Two students
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The folks at Kacie’s Cause recognize that many young people are concerned about the toll that substance is taking on our communities.

Many of you have lost friends or family members. Others are worried about loved ones or themselves.

Although drug use by teens in America has declined in recent years the number of overdose deaths involving teens has increased dramatically. This fact demonstrates how complex and lethal illegal drug use has become. We also recognize that drug use and mental health problems often go hand in hand. We hope that you find the suggestions below to be helpful as you navigate what can be a very difficult part of life.

Find a trusted adult to talk with if you need help

Talking about substance use or mental health problems can be very difficult. It is important that you find an adult that you trust to talk about these sensitive topics. For some this may be a parent or other family member. For others it can be a person at school, like a counselor, a teacher, or a coach. If you prefer an anonymous conversation check out our telephone hotlines page. Remember that drug users and dealers often use social media to promote their lifestyle and their products. Many of these individuals do not have your best interest at heart.

Teen talking with adult
Photo by Max Fischer at

If you are concerned about a friend’s substance use let him or her know in a caring way

Talking with a friend about drug or alcohol use can sometimes be tricky. This type of conversation can also be life changing or even life saving. Here are some tips to help you talk with a friend

  • Wait until he or she is sober. Trying to have a sensitive conversation with a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to poor results. Wait until the person is sober.
  • Speak from a place of support and compassion. Let the person know that you care about him or her. Tell them how their use makes you feel.
  • Focus on behavior. Don’t criticize a person’s character or call them weak. Give him or specific examples of when drug use has concerned you.
  • Listen to what he or she has to say. This should be a conversation not a lecture. The more you listen the more the person is likely to share with you.
  • Be patient. Don’t expect your conversation to have immediate results. Don’t take it personally if the person becomes angry or defensive. His or her attitude may change later
  • Offer to help. Getting help for a drug or alcohol problem is often very difficult. Offer to help the person get the help they may need. For a description of the different types of drug and alcohol treatment available in our community check out our Treatment section.
  • If a person ever expresses a desire to hurt or kill him or herself be sure to tell a trusted adult and make sure that adult takes action to help your friend. Never promise to keep such statements secret. Call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273 TALK if you need help. If you think the threat is imminent, call 911. Your actions might save your friend’s life.
Caring friend with headscarf
Photo by thirdman Pes

Know about the dangers associated with Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a dangerous opioid that is similar to morphine but can be 50-100 times more powerful. Last year fentanyl was involved in more overdose deaths of young people than heroin, meth, cocaine, benzos, and other prescription drugs combined. Read more here.

It has been found to be increasingly present in recreational drugs such as counterfeit pills (Xanax, Oxycontin, Percocet), cocaine, and methamphetamine. The inclusion of fentanyl in other drugs, often without the user’s knowledge, is largely to blame for the recent increase in overdose deaths of teens and young adults. To learn more about this incredibly dangerous drug visit Fentanyl Drug Facts here.

The image below shows the size of a deadly dose of fentanyl.

Penny in relation to fentanyl
SADD logo

If you would like to become involved with preventing substance use problems and other dangerous behaviors consider joining Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

SADD is a national student led organization devoted to mobilizing students and adult allies to engage in positive change through leadership and smart decision-making. If your school does not have a SADD club you may want to consider starting one with a supportive faculty member. To learn more about SADD, click here.

If you are a college student consider starting a chapter of Kacie’s Cause at your school

The very first college chapter of Kacie’s Cause was started at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The chapter was so successful they were recognized by the administration at IUP for excellence and making a difference in the lives of students and the Indiana community. Working as a Kacie’s Cause provides students interested in working in a helping profession to gain valuable experience working in the field of prevention. Kacie’s Cause experience also looks great on a resume. You can check out the IUP chapter here. Contact our President Luis Tovar at if you are interested in starting a chapter of Kacie’s Cause or if you would like to volunteer your time.

IUP Crimson Hawks