Early Warning Signs - Substance use in Middle & High School

Essential Question:
Substance abuse and disaffection are closely linked. Both can lead to dropping out. What do we know about substance use that can help us choose where to target interventions?

A story in our Early-Warning Systems Data Story Series. Here we'll examine student reports of substance use.


Throughout this story, we've looked at substance use as related to school-connectedness and after-school supervision.

Because there are no data that explain why students are using drugs, schools -- especially at the high-school level -- need to discuss with their own students the reasons for substance use. Are students self-medicating depression? Is the peer culture normalizing substance use? In any case, closer relationships with the students themselves is probably the most efficient road for understanding and preventing substance use.

The need for closer relationships holds true for parents and guardians as well. Too many students are left unsupervised after school. Schools and parents need to work together to provide adequate after-school activities and to make sure students willingly engage with them.

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