Substance Abuse

Most youth don’t use alcohol or drugs with regularity. Cigarette smoking and alcohol use among youth continues to drop nationwide and in Hawai‘i. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, when asked about their current drug use (the last 30 days) 88% of middle school youth and 70% of high school youth in Hawai‘i were not using either alcohol or marijuana.

For those teens that do use drugs and alcohol, they’re at increased risk for academic and behavioral challenges in school, involvement with the legal system, motor vehicle accidents, suicide, homicide, risky sexual practices, and problems with cognitive development. The younger a person is when they first try alcohol, the greater their risk of developing a substance use disorder later in life. The reality is, that some kids do go down this path and need help. Substance abuse can happen in any family. The 2007-2008 Hawaiʻi Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Study found that 18% of 12th graders and 10% of 10th graders could be classified as having a substance use disorder and needing treatment.

Helping a teen with life’s challenges can be difficult, but when your teen is struggling with drugs and alcohol it can be overwhelming. Help and support is available. Below are some links to help you find substance abuse treatment services for your teen.

  • To learn more about Hina Mauka’s substance abuse treatment services in O‘ahu and Kaua‘i check out our Hina Mauka website where you can get more information about our adolescent programs.
  • A list of substance abuse treatment providers throughout Hawai‘i is available through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Department of Health here.
  • SAMSHA has a Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator that can help you find substance abuse treatment services throughout the US by inputting a zip code. Click here or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).


If your child does attend substance abuse treatment services, here are some ways you can support them in the process. Know that you’re not alone. Hear these stories of hope and courage from those who understand how addiction impacts families. Recovery is possible.

Family Support

When your child is using, it impacts the whole family, so it’s vital you get your own support. Though your teen is responsible for their own actions, long-term change is connected to systems – the community environment and, most importantly, the family system. Whether your teen is getting treatment services or not, it’s beneficial to seek out your own support. If your loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol, the following resources can provide you with support and education.

  • If you are in O‘ahu, learn more about Hina Mauka’s weekly family program, an education and support group for those who have a family member struggling with substance abuse.
  • Talk to your doctor or health insurance about a referral to a therapist for your own support. Your workplace may offer an Employee Assistance Program through which you can receive counseling.
  • Find an Al-Anon meeting where you can find support from others with similar experiences. Al-Anon meetings can be found in Hawai‘i and nationwide.


Mental Health

One in five youth are estimated to have a mental health disorder. Mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders that occur during childhood and adolescence include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders, conduct disorder, eating disorders, developmental disorders, and schizophrenia. If you believe your child may be struggling with a mental health disorder, take him or her to mental health professional to be assessed. Young people who experience mental health problems report a higher rate of suicidal ideation and other health risk behaviors, including smoking, drinking and drug use. Youth who don’t have a mental health diagnosis sometimes need some extra support as well. If your teen is acting out or having trouble coping, seeing a counselor can help.

  • If you believe your child is at risk of hurting himself or others, call 911.
  • If you’re looking for a therapist for your child, a place to start is asking your pediatrician or insurance company for a referral, preferably one that has expertise with youth.
  • The Hawaii Youth Service Directory provides a directory of youth services from across Hawaii that you can search by type of service, location, or age range.
  • SAMSHA has a Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator that can help you find a behavioral health provider throughout the US by inputting a zip code. Click here or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • If your child has a mental health disorder, talk to your teen’s school counselor to see if they can suggest any additional resources or support. They may recommend that your child be assessed by the school to see if they qualify for school behavioral health services.



Suicide is something we never want to believe will happen in our families, but an alarming and increasing number of teenage suicide attempts are successful. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors should always be taken very seriously. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, 11% of Hawai‘i high school students surveyed had attempted suicide in the past year, with 3.2% of those attempts resulting in injury, poisoning, or an overdose that had to be treated.

  • Call 911 if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide.
  • You can talk to someone at Hawaii’s crisis line 24 hours a day: 832-3100 (O‘ahu) and 1-800-753-6879 (Neighbor Islands).
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Please watch this video about teen suicide prevention created by the Mayo Clinic. Through this video you can learn to identify the signs indicating that a teen could be considering suicide. It provides support to help you communicate directly and immediately with your teen. It includes suggestions for what to say to a teen that may be at risk for suicide and ways to keep them safe.