Most teens don’t use alcohol or drugs. In a 2013 study, when asked about use in the last month, 88% of middle school students and 70% of high school students in Hawai‘i were not using either alcohol or marijuana. Yet the reality is, some people do go down this path and need help. Talking to someone about your concerns shows a lot of courage, so don’t be afraid to talk to a trusted adult.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Need help? Just ask.

In Hawai`i, in most public middle and high schools there are substance abuse treatment programs that can help teens in the school setting. Ask your school counselor if you’re not sure where to turn. No matter what state or community you live in, there are programs in your local area that can help. Talk to your family about what’s going on. If you’re not sure how to talk to your family, get support from another trusted adult such as your doctor or school counselor. Here are some tips to help you approach your family. There is a whole network of adults who want to help you. Asking for help is the first important step.

Do you have a friend who needs help?

Are you concerned about a friend who may be using drugs and alcohol? Maybe you noticed that they no longer hang out with old friends, but have new ones that are known to be users. Your friend has been missing school lately and when they do come to school, they seem tired and irritable. You really want to help your friend, but you’re afraid they will get mad at you because it will seem like you are getting into their business and may not want to be your friend anymore. You don’t know whether to talk to them directly, tell a trusted adult or maybe just ignore the problem? True friendship takes courage and sometimes you have to help a friend who may not know that they need help. Here is some information on ways to assist your friend because you never know, you may be the one they need to help change their life.

Understanding Depression

As a teenager your life is busy, filled with homework, school activities, friends, relationships and part time jobs. Even though these are exciting times in your life, you may feel a little overwhelmed. It is normal to feel sad at times, but if there are moments where you feel hopeless or depressed for an extended period of time, it is important that you seek help. You are not alone in this battle and there are people out there willing to listen and provide guidance in a safe supportive environment. For more information about depression check out The Teenager’s Guide to Depression.

If your feelings become so overwhelming that you can’t see any solution besides harming yourself or others, you need to get help right away. If at anytime you feel like hurting yourself, talk to a trusted adult, friend or school counselor. No matter what problems you are having, there is help and support.

  • To talk to someone 24/7 who can help you deal with your feelings, call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also chat online with someone who can help.
  • If you or someone you care about is in need of help call 911, or the Crisis Line of Hawai`i Crisis at 832-3100 for Oahu and 1-800-753-6879 for the neighbor islands.

Building Healthy Teen Relationships

Being a teen is an exciting age filled with discovering who you are and wanting to share these moments with someone who understands you. Relationships can be filled with intense emotions but also at the same time a little confusing. You may ask yourself, “What is a healthy relationship?” or “What do I do if my boyfriend is physically abusing me?” or “What is the best way to break up with my girlfriend?” Your friends are great support, but they also may be seeking the same answers.

A healthy relationship takes effort and commitment. They enhance our lives and help us feel connected to those that are important to us. If you are in an abusive relationship or need immediate support, please seek out a trusted adult like a family member, counselor or health teacher. Trust and mutual respect are the building blocks for all healthy relationships. Check out the Love is Respect website for more information about healthy relationships. The Teen Action Program of Hawaii can provide support and information regarding issues such as abuse, consent, and cyberabuse. That’s Not Cool can help you draw the digital line with friends and peers.

Dealing with Teen Pregnancy

One of the scariest and confusing times in a young girl’s life is finding out she may be pregnant. So many questions may be running through your head right now and you just don’t know where to begin. It may seem like your world is turned upside down, but don’t panic – there is help out there and resources are available. To start with, it is really important that you tell a trusted family member, teacher, counselor or youth leader. Find someone who will listen to your concerns and provide guidance in helping you get the resources that you need. You may feel like you are all alone, but you aren’t. The best way to meet this challenge is to take action! For more information, check out Resources for Pregnant Teens  and Scarleteen.

Stop Bullying

Bullying is a serious problem that occurs in many ways, such as physical (hitting, tripping, pushing) and verbal abuse (teasing, insults, intimidation), being excluded from a group, and cyberbullying. According to a 2014 study by the Department of Health and Human Services, 1 out of 3 students reported being bullied in school. Bullying can cause extreme emotional pain not only for the person being attacked, but also the person doing the bullying. These effects can continue long into adulthood.

Are you being continually harassed? Or do know of a friend who is being bullied and you don’t know how to help them? Being bullied is not your fault and there are people and resources out there to help you. The first step to ensuring your safely is to talk to an adult such as your parents, school counselor, or teacher. If you or someone you know is being bullied in school, the Hawai‘i DOE anti-bullying website can help with reporting and resources. Check out Teens Against Bullying for more information on how to help yourself or a friend.