Help Make Our Community a Better Place
You as a parent play a major role in the life of your child, they are listening to you and looking to you for direction. 

Studies show that 90% of youth who abuse substances started using before 18 years of age. In an article by Partnership to End Addiction they compiled a list of signs to look for if you think your teen or young adult is involved in abusing substances.

What to look for
Shifts in mood & personality

  • Sullen, withdrawn or depressed
  • Less motivated
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Deceitful or secretive
  • Unable to focus
  • A sudden loss of inhibitions
  • Hyperactive or unusually elated

Behavioral changes
Changed relationships with family members or friends

  • Absenteeism or a loss of interest in school, work or other activities
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Locks doors
  • Disappears for long periods of time
  • Goes out often, frequently breaking curfew
  • Secretive with the use of their phone
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Uses chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Often uses over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening or nasal irritation
  • Has cash flow problems
  • Has become unusually clumsy: stumbling, lacking coordination, poor balance
  • Has periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep
Hygiene & appearance

  • Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
  • Messier than usual appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Frequently red or flushed cheeks or face
  • Burns or soot on fingers or lips
  • Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)
Physical health
  • Frequent sickness
  • Unusually tired and/or lethargic
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech or rapid-fire speech
  • Nosebleeds and/or runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Frequent perspiration
  • Seizures and/or vomiting

How & where to look

Use your nose.

Have a real, face-to-face conversation when child comes home after hanging out with friends. If there has been drinking or smoking, the smell will be on their breath, on clothing and in their hair.

Look them in the eyes.

Pay attention to their eyes, which will be red and heavy-lidded, with constricted pupils if they’ve used marijuana. Pupils will be dilated, and they may have difficulty focusing if they’ve been drinking. In addition, red, flushed color of the face and cheeks can also be a sign of drinking.

Watch their behavior.

How do they act after a night out with friends? Are they particularly loud and obnoxious, or laughing hysterically at nothing? Unusually clumsy to the point of stumbling into furniture and walls, tripping over their own feet and knocking things over? Sullen, withdrawn, and unusually tired and slack-eyed for the hour of night? Do they look queasy and stumble into the bathroom? These are all signs that they could have been drinking or using marijuana or other substances.

Search their spaces.

The limits you set with your child don’t stop at the front door or their bedroom door. If you have cause for concern, it’s important to find out what’s going on. Be prepared to explain your reasons for a search though, whether or not you tell them about it beforehand. You can let them know it’s out of concern for their health and safety. Common places to conceal vapes, alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia include:

  • Inside drawers, beneath or between other items
  • In small boxes or cases — think jewelry, makeup or pencil cases, or cases for earbuds
  • Under a bed or other pieces of furniture
  • In a plant, buried in the dirt
  • In between or inside books
  • Under a loose floor board
  • Inside over-the-counter medicine containers (Tylenol, Advil, etc.)
  • Inside empty candy bags such as M&Ms or Skittles
  • In fake soda cans or other fake containers designed to conceal

Don’t overlook your teen’s cell phone or other digital devices. Do you recognize their frequent contacts? Do recent messages or social media posts hint at drug use or contradict what they’ve told you?
If your search turns up evidence of drug use, prepare for the conversation ahead and do not be deterred by the argument of invaded privacy. Stand by your decision to search and the limits you’ve set.
If you discover that your child is not likely to have been drinking or using other substances, this could be a good time to find out if there’s another explanation for any changes in their appearance or behavior that needs to be addressed.
Remember it is important to start and continue the conversation. Let your child know what you think about these issues. Ask them are you drinking? They need to know you love them and are there to support them.
Carey Pomykata
Executive Director, Coalition Rx
In The News
Nebraska has One of the Nations Highest Binge Drinking Rates.
By Chris Dunker & Molly Hunter, Omaha World Herald
"Like other states with large rural populations, Nebraska has a drinking problem.

The percentage of adults in the state who report binge drinking — that’s four drinks for a woman and five for a man — has been consistently higher than the country at large.

While the Cornhusker State’s numbers are down 2% from 2011, the CDC has reported a bounce from the decade low of 20.4% in 2015.

Health experts, law enforcement and education officials in Nebraska say that’s cause for concern.

Excessive drinking comes with a host of short-term problems, including a penchant for violence and poor decision-making.

“Driving under the influence, domestic assaults, assaults in general — we respond to more of those type of calls because of a direct correlation between alcohol use and changes in demeanor and poorer choices,” said Platte County Sheriff Ed Wemhoff.

Other long-term health problems associated with excessive drinking include hypertension, heart and liver disease, various cancers and addiction.

Before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, the number of people seeking treatment for alcohol addiction at The Bridge Behavioral Health had been increasing greatly, according to Tammy Stevenson, executive director of the Lincoln treatment center.

In 2019, the number of patients seeking a bed increased 150% over the previous year, which she attributed to law enforcement encouraging people to get help.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with 20,000 undergrads, has taken steps to curb drinking among students. UNL has noted some progress over the last few years.

Connie Boehm, UNL’s director of student resilience, said binge drinking rates at the state’s flagship university are slightly below the national average.

Still, 35% of those who reported drinking in the two weeks before the survey was conducted in 2019 were classified as “high-risk drinkers.”

Social pressures, socioeconomic factors and cultural norms also have contributed to excessive alcohol use in more rural parts of the state like Columbus, a town of 23,000.

Across Nebraska, health officials emphasize building and maintaining a support system and resources for those who need it. Many of the programs are taxpayer-funded."

The Negative Effects of Marijuana.
By Buddy T, Verywellmind
"Although legalization activists and many marijuana users believe smoking pot has no negative effects, scientific research indicates that marijuana use can cause many different health problems.


Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States.

When smoked, it begins to affect users almost immediately and can last for 1–3 hours. When it is eaten in food, such as baked in brownies and cookies, the effects take longer to begin, but usually last longer.

Short-Term Effects of Marijuana
The short-term effects of marijuana include:

  • Difficulty thinking and problem-solving
  • Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of coordination
  • Problems with memory and learning

Sometimes marijuana use can also produce anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.

The active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, acts on cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors, but other areas of the brain have few or none at all.

Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.


When high doses of marijuana are used, users can experience the following psychotic symptoms.

  • Delusions
  • Disorientation/disorganization
  • Hallucinations

Within a few minutes after smoking marijuana, the heart begins beating more rapidly and the blood pressure can rise.

According to a review published in 2017, marijuana users' risk for a heart attack increases after smoking marijuana, compared to their general risk of a heart attack when not smoking."

The More You Know
For more information on methamphetamines. Click here.
For more information on opioid abuse. Click here.
For more information on vaping & smoking. Click here.
This month we're focusing on what we do as an organization.

For more information on Coalition Rx as an organization. Click here.

We have two programs that we offer within the community!
Too Good for Drugs & Violence.

"Too Good is a comprehensive family of evidence-based substance use and violence prevention interventions designed to mitigate the risk factors linked to problem behaviors and build protection within the child to resist problem behaviors.

Too Good develops a framework of social and emotional skills through the development of goal-setting, decision-making, emotion management, and effective communication skills in addition to peer-pressure refusal, pro-social bonding, and conflict resolution skills."

For more information. Click Here.

Wellness Initiative for Senior Education (WISE)

"The Wellness Initiative for Senior Education (WISE) program is a wellness and prevention program for older adults, designed to help them celebrate healthy aging, make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid substance abuse. It provides valuable educational services to older adults on topics including nutrition and exercise, medication use, stress management, depression and substance abuse."

For more information. Click here.

Spotlight
We would like to congratulate Coalition Rx board member Deputy Chief Kanger on being inducted into the National Society of Saint Florian and Saint Michael through the First Responders Foundation!
We would also like to congratulate Coalition Rx board member Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. He was Promoted from Captain to Chief Deputy!
Upcoming Events
Our next community meeting is coming up! Please RSVP!
One of our partners the UNO Collegiate Recovery Community are hosting an ally training event on January 26th!
Online Programming
If you are looking for educational and engaging activities for your kids during this time of social distancing Coalition Rx has you covered! We are working hard to transition our evidence-based programming into online lessons. We are currently posting one video per program a week on our Facebook page and website.

We're also working on Zoom lessons if parents, teachers or students are interested in joining please email coalitionrx@gmail.com and we will get some class times set up!
Tammie Dickens - Too Good for Drugs Decision Making Example
Help Reduce the Misuse of Substances of Abuse
We provide three evidence-based programs for youth and families. Strengthening Families Program 10-14, Too Good For Drugs and Violence K-8 and WISE. If you are interested in these programs please check out our Facebook page for the virtual lessons we have started in the wake of social distancing guidelines.
Our next community meeting is February 25th at 1pm.

Stay tuned for more details!
Founded in 2015, our mission is to reduce the misuse of all substances of abuse by raising awareness and partnering with community organizations to provide public and professional education, prevention and treatment resources, and policy advocacy.
Carey Pomykata Executive Director
(402) 871-5622