Benefits of Early Education on Substance Use

Overview of the Curricula

The Emily’s Hope Substance Use Prevention Curriculum is carefully designed to address growing concerns surrounding substance use and overdose in our communities. Our curriculum focuses on age-appropriate and evidence-based content that educates children about the risks of substance use while empowering them to make healthy choices. By fostering open communication between children, parents, and educators, we aim to create a supportive environment that promotes well-being and resilience.

Early intervention plays a crucial role in preventing substance use and promoting healthy decision-making among children and adolescents. Research has shown that early education on substance use can help reduce the likelihood of substance experimentation and delay the onset of use.1 Furthermore, programs like Emily’s Hope that focus on developing emotional intelligence, communication skills, and coping strategies contribute to the long-term well-being of children, enhancing their ability to navigate challenges and resist peer pressure.2

Learn more about Emily’s Hope, a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Addressing Parental Concerns

Parents may have concerns about exposing their children to information about drugs and alcohol at a young age. However, as mentioned previously, studies have shown that age-appropriate education on substance use does not encourage experimentation or increase the likelihood of use. Instead, it provides children with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Our curricula are designed to be sensitive and engaging, fostering open communication and trust between children and their parents or guardians.

Substance use and overdose have become pressing public health concerns in recent years, affecting individuals across various age groups. The opioid crisis, involving both prescription opioids and illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl, have been particularly devastating. In 2021, over 100,000 overdose deaths occurred in the United States, the highest number ever recorded in a single year.3 Unfortunately, these numbers continue to climb.

Alcohol remains a familiar drug of abuse and remains one of the most widely used substances in the United States. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and
Health (NSDUH), 29.5 million people ages 12 and older (10.6%) had developed an alcohol use disorder.4 Alcohol is the reason for nearly 20% of emergency room visits, is involved in 30% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents, and has led to over 150,000 deaths in the previous five years.5 6 7

Methamphetamine use has also seen a resurgence in recent years. Methamphetamine overdose deaths increased nearly fivefold from 2011 to 2018.8 The potent stimulant poses serious health risks, including addiction, cardiovascular issues, and cognitive decline.9

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among adolescents, with 11.4% of 8th graders, 28.1% of 10th graders, and 35.3% of 12th graders reporting past-year use in 2021.10 While marijuana is increasingly legalized for medical and recreational purposes, its use among adolescents can have negative effects on brain development and cognitive function.11

Our goal is to address these concerning trends by providing age-appropriate education on substance use prevention and empowering children to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.


Find helpful guides, research, hotlines, treatment and prevention resources.

  1. Faggiano F, Minozzi S, Versino E, Buscemi D. Universal school‐based prevention for illicit drug use. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD003020. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003020.pub3. Accessed 18 June 2023.
  2.  Botvin, G.J., Griffin, K.W. Life Skills Training: Empirical Findings and Future Directions. The Journal of Primary Prevention 25, 211–232 (2004).
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved from ↩︎
  4. SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Tables 5.6A, 5.6B—Alcohol use disorder in past year: among people aged 12 or older; by age
    group and demographic characteristics, numbers in thousands, 2021. [cited 2023 June 18]. Available
  5. National Center for Statistics and Analysis, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2021 [Internet]. Washington: U.S. Department of Transportation; 2023 Apr [cited
    2023 Apr 12]. 50 p. Available from: ↩︎
  6. Jones CM, Paulozzi LJ, Mack KM. Alcohol involvement in opioid pain reliever and benzodiazepine drug abuse-related emergency department visits and drug-related deaths—United States, 2010. MMWR Morb
    Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63(40):881-5. PubMed PMID: 25299603 ↩︎
  7. White AM, Castle IP, Powell PA, Hingson RW, Koob GF. Alcohol-related deaths during the COVID-19 5
    pandemic. JAMA. 2022;327(17):1704-6. PubMed PMID: 35302593 ↩︎
  8. Kariisa, M., Scholl, L., Wilson, N., Seth, P., & Hoots, B. (2019). Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Cocaine and Psychostimulants with Abuse Potential — United States, 2003–2017. Morbidity and Mortality
    Weekly Report, 68(17), 388–395. Retrieved from
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Methamphetamine DrugFacts. Retrieved from ↩︎
  10. US Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, April 22). Data and statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ↩︎
  11. Fischer AS, Tapert SF, Lee Louie D, Schatzberg AF, Singh MK. Cannabis and the Developing 9
    Adolescent Brain. Curr Treat Options Psychiatry. 2020 Jun;7(2):144-161. doi: 10.1007/
    s40501-020-00202-2. Epub 2020 Apr 18. PMID: 32714742; PMCID: PMC7380653. ↩︎