Student/Teen Awareness

If you are a teen or parent of a teen, the danger of addiction may be closer than you think.

Teens often face a great deal of pressure from peers and media to engage in risky behavior. Some of these behaviors—like using alcohol or drugs—are more risky than others.

A growing number of teens are becoming addicted to prescription opioids like Vicodin®, Oxycontin® or Percocet® (oxycodone), and codeine, even when taken as prescribed for an injury or routine procedure.

People who became dependent on prescription painkillers were 19 times more likely to have used heroin, an illegal opiate frequently mixed with fentanyl and other powerful drugs that can cause a fatal overdose with only one use. 

While opioids, in particular, are highly addictive, adolescents’ developing brains, in general, are much more vulnerable to addiction. In fact, 90 percent of Americans with a substance use problem started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that children who learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not get that message from their parents. MAHEC is working hard to ensure students get this message at school too through a variety of initiatives including

  • School nurse education and training on substance misuse, screening, and referral for treatment
  • Development of age-appropriate K-12 student health education
  • School presentations and an original staged children's musical
  • Mentoring for student-led public awareness campaigns
  • Participation in regional substance-free youth coalitions
  • Coordination of naloxone distribution and training for school staff

We also provide behavioral health and substance use disorders services for teens and their families at our family health centers as part of the comprehensive primary care services that are available to our established patients.


Student and Parent Resources

Parent & Student Opioid Awareness Flyer—This flyer provides information on opioids and their risks, effective pain relief alternatives, questions to ask healthcare providers, signs of potential substance misuse, treatment and recovery resources, and safe methods for disposing of unused opioids.

This flyer has been distributed to more than 162 middle and high schools across Western North Carolina and in Stokes, Rockingham, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth counties. Click here to download and print.


Safe Opioid Disposal Flyer—Many individuals with opioid use disorders started by misusing family members' and friends' prescription pills that were not secured or disposed of properly.

This flyer provides information on how to safely store and dispose of unused opioids. Click here to download and print.



Above the Influence—This website and associated media campaigns are part of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Above the Influence is inspired by what teens have shared about their lives and how they deal with the influences that shape their decisions. The program's goal is to help teens stand up to negative pressures and influences by providing facts about substance abuse, articles, resources, self-assessment tools, and opportunities to join the conversation and become a positive influence for their peers. Visit website.


NIDA for Teens—This website is a project of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health was developed for teens, middle and high school teachers, and parents to facilitate learning about the effects of drug use on the brain, body, and lives of teens.

Content for teens includes drug facts, a health blog, videos, and games. Content for educators includes lesson plans, activities, and free science-based classroom materials. Content for parents includes tips for talking with children and treatment resources. Visit website.

The Partnership for Substance Free Youth in Buncombe County is a coalition of K-12 schools, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies in Buncombe County and the greater Asheville area that is committed to preventing youth drug and alcohol abuse. 

The partnership sponsors a number of community-based initiatives to raise awareness and prevent substance abuse including unusued prescription drug drop-off events, school programs, and youth summits. Visit website.