Stronger Than You Think
Stronger Than You Think
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Stronger Than You Think

As a parent or caregiver, you are the number one influence on whether a child you care for chooses to use cannabis, tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. You are their guide and role model.

What you say to the youth in your life is stronger than you think.

The Stronger Than You Think campaign supports open conversations between parents, caregivers, and adults who have strong relationships with youth, and the young people in their lives. The campaign highlights the importance of having conversations about:

  • Expectations around using substances
  • Setting age-appropriate boundaries
  • Planning safe activities and accountability
  • Educating about the risks and consequences of using any substance
Black man and young teen sitting together in conversation on porch steps
man and woman, sitting on the couch at home with their arms around a young tween girl, in conversation together
Youth need love, support, and accurate information from trusted adults in their life. An effective conversation with youth should focus on listening and sharing facts, not judgment. Stronger Than You Think encourages adults to talk with the youth in their lives about the risks associated with marijuana/cannabis and cannabis derivatives, prescription medications, stimulants, alcohol, and other drug use, and the difference between adult use and youth use. Your opinion and involvement in the lives of the youth you care for makes a difference—it’s much stronger than you think.

Additionally, modeling responsible use sets a good example. Young people will learn how to manage stress from adults and, if substances are a part of your life, how you use them.

Share the Stronger Than You Think campaign to help educate others and support the New Hampshire prevention community’s response to the harmful effects of substance use on youth. Click the buttons below!



Even if cannabis/marijuana is right for you, it’s not for them. As an adult you may choose to use cannabis/marijuana for a number of reasons, including a decision you have made with your healthcare provider. But it is important to understand and educate young people about the risks associated with their use of the product.

Our brains don’t fully develop until late adolescence, around age 25, and any cannabis use before that can have long term effects. Increasing evidence finds that cannabis use among young people may be associated with cognitive deficits, such as impaired learning, and physical changes in the brain, affecting attention and memory. Developing brains are still building pathways and connections. Substance use during this process can alter how the paths and connections are made.


Black woman and teen girl sitting on the couch together in face to face conversation
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Risks of Youth Cannabis Use

Youth cannabis use can be also associated with depression, social anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and poor school performance.

Risks of High THC Cannabis Use

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that gives the high. THC potency has increased in cannabis from less than 4% in the 1980s to up to 30% in the current market, with concentrates containing 40% to 90% potency.

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Increased Risk

High concentrations of THC increase risk of:

  • Drug poisoning (overdose)
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidality
  • Addiction (also known as cannabis use disorder or substance use disorder)


Opioids & Fentanyl

Fentanyl-laced drugs are widespread, and the first dose can be deadly.​ Fentanyl is estimated to be 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. Just two milligrams of fentanyl, the size of two grains of salt, is enough to end a young person’s life. In 2022, about 85% of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire involved fentanyl.

Opioids are a group of drugs that include synthetic opioids like fentanyl, illegal drugs like heroin, and legal prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, and morphine.

Latina woman sitting on couch in conversation with adolescent girl
Experimenting with substances is dangerous because there is no certainty of what they actually contain. Six out of 10 fake prescription pills can contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl. In New Hampshire, 15.9% of high school students offered, sold, or gave an illegal drug to or from someone on school property in 2021. It is important to discuss with young people that just because a substance comes from someone they may know, including a friend, even if it looks like something that came from a doctor or pharmacy, it does not make it safe. The person selling or sharing the drug may not even know it contains fentanyl.


It is not just opioids that may be fake or altered. Any pill or powder from a source other than a healthcare provider or pharmacy should be assumed to contain fentanyl. This includes when youth may think they are getting a “study drug” like adderall, from a friend.

Talk with the young people in your life about the real probabilities that the drugs they may think they are being offered, could actually contain deadly substances. Encourage the youth in your life to carry naloxone and become trained on how to use it. Since overdose can happen to anyone, even someone using opioids for the first time, it’s important for you to carry naloxone, have it at home, and learn how to use it as well. In NH, this life-saving medication is available at any of the nine Doorways, through a prescription from your healthcare provider, and without a prescription at many pharmacies throughout the state.



Risks of Youth Opioid Use

The misuse of opioid pain medication—even just one time—can lead to serious illness or death. In 2016, one in five deaths among young adults were opioid related. Talk to the teens in your life about the dangers of taking prescription pain relievers that don’t belong to them.

Risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Coma
  • Breathing problems
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Death

Risks of New Substances Entering the Illegal/Counterfeit Drug Supply

There has been an increase of illicit fentanyl mixed with xylazine, an animal tranquilizer not approved for human use.

  • Xylazine is not an opioid, but it is a depressant that slows down a person’s breathing and brain function.
  • Similar to fentanyl, you cannot see, taste, or smell xylazine.
  • Fentanyl test strips can be used to detect the presence of fentanyl, strips for people to test a drug for xylazine are currently awaiting release to the market.
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Underage Alcohol Use

At the most basic level, we know that drinking during adolescence (under 20 years of age) puts youth at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder (previously called alcohol addiction). Developing brains are still building pathways and connections (even up to age 25). The introduction of substances, like alcohol, during this building process can alter how the pathways and connections are made.

two friends sitting together in a bright room, talking and smiling, on a couch
We also know that drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that young people will engage in risky behavior or do something that they will regret when they are sober – especially with the damaging effects of social media. Some of these risky behaviors include trying other drugs, engaging in risky or unprotected sexual activity, and making bad decisions that can result in injury, sexual assault, or death.


The concept of “learning to drink” is not real. Using alcohol is not actually something you should practice, like driving.

Nationally almost 18% of young people 12-17 say they have had alcohol in the past year. And in New Hampshire, about 21% of high school students reported they had at least one drink of alcohol, on at least one day during the past 30 days.

Research shows that “parenting styles” or impactful youth-adult relationships can affect whether or not teens choose to drink. Children whose parents or caretakers set clear boundaries and keep close track of their teen while showing care and love are less likely to drink alcohol underage.

  • Keep communication open, honest and respectful.
  • Know where the young person is going, who will be there and if alcohol will be present.
  • Make a plan so that the young person can let you know that they are uncomfortable and secretly ask to be picked up.
  • Model responsible alcohol use.



Risks of Youth Alcohol Use

Using alcohol during youth and young adulthood can impact the developing brain and young people can be more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction) and increases the chance for risky behaviors.

Binge Drinking Risks for Youth

Binge drinking is described as consuming five or more drinks for males at birth or four or more drinks for females at birth in about two hours (NIAA) or on the same occasion (SAMHSA).

  • Each year, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries, such as falls, burns, and drowning.
  • Binge drinking is responsible for more than 25,000 years of potential life lost among people under 21 each year.
  • There is also a strong connection between teen alcohol use and depression, poor school performance, fighting, stealing, and unintended sex.
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Stimulants increase attention, alertness, and energy. Stimulants are often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a therapy that has increased in the last two decades. The fact that the prescription has become more common may decrease the perception of risk of using the substances in ways other than as prescribed. A young person may misuse prescription stimulants, or take illegal/copycat stimulants or illegal methamphetamine, thinking the substances will help them perform better at school by staying focused, alert, and awake.

When taken any way other than as prescribed—including taking someone else’s prescription and taking the stimulant to get high—prescription stimulants can be dangerous and addictive. However, prescription stimulants are one of the most commonly shared and misused prescription drugs among teens. Medication-sharing among teens is a big reason that youth who aren’t on stimulant therapy have access to prescription stimulants. Fake pills made to look like prescription medications have been found to contain methamphetamine or other chemicals. Because of the way it is made, each batch is different in potency or contents and can be laced with other harmful substances, including fentanyl.

portrait of a family with two women posing affectionately together with their arms around a girl, all smiling while standing on a train platform

A recent study found that schools with the highest rates of teens using prescribed ADHD medications were about 36% more likely to have students misusing prescription stimulants during the past year. A 2020 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that just under 25% of young adults aged 18 to 24 initiated or increased substance use as a means of coping with pandemic related stress and emotions.


The protective factors that can lessen or weaken the likelihood that a young person will use substances exist at each level of the socio-ecological model: individual, family, and relationship, community and peers, and society and culture. Children whose parents or caretakers set clear boundaries and keep close track of their teen while showing care and love are less likely to misuse or take stimulants.

  • Start talking to your teen about managing their medications.
  • Educate the young people you care for about the consequences of prescription stimulant misuse and dispel the myths they may have heard about them enhancing their performance at their studies.
  • Role play so kids know how to respond if asked to share their prescription stimulants.
  • Always store controlled substances in a lockbox and monitor pill counts.
  • Make sure schools have safe storage and dispensing policies, and ask if they are aware of misuse within the student body.


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Risks of Youth Stimulant Use

Common side effects of prescription stimulants when taken at therapeutic doses may include decreased appetite, weight loss, headache, insomnia, dizziness, and nervousness.

When taken at greater than therapeutic doses, prescription stimulants may have serious health consequences, which can include:

  • A dangerous increase in body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Adverse cardiac events
Misusing prescription stimulants and illegal methamphetamine makes it difficult for a young person’s developing brain to communicate, learn, regulate emotion and mood, and process information now and later in life.

Over 97% of youth who misuse prescription stimulants by age 18 have also used at least one other substance in the past year (usually alcohol or marijuana). Long-term use can lead to stimulant use disorder or other substance use disorders.

Feel strongly or want more information?
Posters (Click on each individual image to view and/or download.)
Your opinion makes a difference; it is stronger than you think. - Stronger Than You Think - campaign poster
Honest conversations are stronger than you think. - Stronger Than You Think - campaign poster
Communication is stronger than you think. - Stronger Than You Think - campaign poster
Your influence is stronger than you think. - Stronger Than You Think - campaign poster

Palm Cards

Click on each individual image to view and/or download. Please note that each palm card is double-sided. Want to order free hard copies? Visit our order form here!

THC Potency Has Increased - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
They Still Look Up To You - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
THC Potency Has Increased - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
There Are Big Risks - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
Cannabis Can Harm Brain Development In Youth - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
Know Before They Go - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card
It Can Wait - Stronger Than You Think - campaign palm card

Stronger Than You Think Campaign Social Media Toolkit

This social media toolkit includes sample messages and images from the Stronger Than You Think campaign to encourage prevention partners to help educate and support our community response to the harmful effects of substance use on youth. Messages can be modified to suit your needs. (Right-click+Save As on each individual image to download.)

Know Before They Go: Checking in with the youth you are for can actually make them feel safer. | #StrongerNH
Cannabis Can Harm Brain Development in Youth: The brain isn't fully developed until about age 25. | #StrongerNH
There Are Big Risks: Let youth know that experimenting with substances is dangerous because there is no certainty of what they actually contain. | #StrongerNH
They Still Look Up to You: Young people need love, support, and accurate information from trusted adults. | #StrongerNH
Stronger Than You Think: Teaching refusal skills to youth ahead of time can help them negotiate an uncomfortable situation. | #StrongerNH
THC Potency Has Increased: Adolescent brain development is a time of increased risk of cannabis use disorder. | #StrongerNH
Help Them Understand: It's never too early to talk to the youth in your life about substances, especially the dangers of fentanyl. | #StrongerNH
Stronger Than You Think: You are the #1 influence on whether the youth in your life choose to use substances. | #StrongerNH
It Can Wait: Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. And listen. Really listen. | #StrongerNH
Stronger Than You Think: Since fentanyl is undetectable by sight, smell, or taste,, even trying a substance for the first time could be deadly. | #StrongerNH
Help Them Understand: Talk to the young people in your life about only taking medication as prescribed by a healthcare provider. | #StrongerNH
They Still Look Up to You: You are the #1 influence on whether the youth in your life choose to use substances. | #StrongerNH
Make An Exit Plan: Making a plan for a situation they need to get out of can keep them safe and let them know you care. | #StrongerNH
Help Them Understand: Make sure the youth you care about understand the risks of taking opioids. | #StrongerNH
Stronger Than You Think: There is no such thing as a "study drug". Misusing stimulants could lead to substance use disorder, heart problems, and psychosis. | #StrongerNH
Show youth that they are your #1 Priority: Put down the phone. Turn off the TV. And listen. Really listen. | #StrongerNH
Important Note on the Use of the Term Cannabis

Important Note: The Partnership uses the term cannabis to refer to the plant and all types of derived products such as—vape cartridges, edibles, smokable “weed” or “pot”, oils and tinctures. We are not using the term marijuana on most of our resources because this term has a complicated past that was slanderous towards certain people. It is, however, important that the language we use in some instances is accessible to the audience that we are trying to reach and we understand that marijuana is a commonly utilized term for products that contain the form of THC (Delta 9) that provides a euphoric affect or intoxication.