Project Here is dedicated to keeping young people safe by raising awareness about the risks and consequences of substance use, de-stigmatizing the disease of addiction, and promoting healthy decision-making. To do that, we are making educational and prevention resources available to every public middle school in Massachusetts.
Check with your child’s school to see if the school is registered for Project Here. If not, please encourage them to do so. Schools can register here.
As a parent, what do I need to know about substance use and prevention?
According to the 2015 Report on the Health and Risk Behaviors of Massachusetts Youth, a vast majority of middle school students (6th – 8th graders) reported never having used alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other substances. 
However, these students often become exposed to and curious about substances, and research tells us that early substance misuse, including alcohol misuse, is associated with a greater likelihood of developing a substance use disorder later in life. 
Because most children at this age have not yet used substances, middle school is an ideal time to implement prevention efforts, which should reinforce healthy decision-making and help keep young people safe.
How do I talk to my kids about the risks and consequences of substance use? How can I help reinforce healthy decision-making?
“Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention,” published in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, includes information about how to talk to your kids about substance use and how parents can be involved in prevention.
The Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse provides educational resources for parents and youth of all ages on the issue of substance use.
You can also learn more by visiting the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s website: Protecting Your Kids from Prescription Drug Misuse.
What are some tell-tale signs of the disease of addiction?
- Changes in mood
- Becoming more withdrawn
- Changes in grades
- Lack of interest in activities that used to be exciting to them
- Problems at school or work
- Changes in friends, hanging out with a different crowd
- Being unable to keep a commitment to stay away from drugs
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms, including shaking, seizures, anger, personality changes
- Denying that there is an issue and becoming defensive
- Hiding drug use and using substances in private 
For more information about the disease of addiction and how to talk to your child if you are concerned that he/she may be using substances or addicted, read Boston Medical Center’s “Adolescent Addiction: What Every Parent Should Know.”
If you or a loved one may need help with substance use or the disease of addiction, here are some available resources:
- Get Help: Guide for Parents (Massachusetts Department of Public Health)
- Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline: 1-800-327-5050 (Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Addiction Services). The only statewide, public resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services in Massachusetts. This is a one-stop source for learning about addiction and finding services that are right for each person. Residents can find information, and treatment and recovery support services online via the link above, by phone or by online chat.