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Is Marijuana Addictive?

It is a common misconception that marijuana cannot be an addictive substance. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and among people who use marijuana daily (to 25-50 percent). Individuals who frequently use marijuana have reported withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving.

Is Marijuana A “Gate-way Drug”?

This is a difficult question to answer, and one on which researchers cannot agree. What we do know is that research suggests that youth and adults who use illicit substances often have their first drug experiences with tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

What is “Medical Marijuana”?

Medical marijuana refers to marijuana being used for the treatment of a medical condition. 23 states have approved marijuana for medical use. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved smoking/consuming marijuana as a medical treatment. Instead, some of the active chemicals in marijuana, cannabinoids, have been approved for two medications. These pill versions of THC have been approved to treat nausea (feeling sick) in cancer patients and to increase appetite in some patients with AIDS. Also, a new product—a mixture of THC and cannabidiol (another chemical found in the marijuana plant)—is available in several countries outside the United States as a mouth spray and is currently being review by the FDA. There is some evidence cannabidiol may be useful in treating seizures in children with severe epilepsy, so a cannabidiol-based drug also is now being studied.

What is the Difference in Legalized and Decriminalized Marijuana?

Legalized marijuana is marijuana that is available under state law for recreational or medical use. Some states allow both recreational and medical use, while others only approve medical use. Decriminalized marijuana means there are reduced legal penalties for the consumption or possession of marijuana. For example, in California, possession of marijuana under 1 ounce is punishable by a civil infraction, not jail time.

Where is Marijuana Legal?

The answer varies greatly from state to state:

  • Marijuana has been approved for legal recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
  • Medical marijuana use is permitted in different capacities in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
  • Marijuana has been decriminalized to some degree in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
  • Marijuana is still totally prohibited in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

It is important to note that marijuana is still completely prohibited under federal law and is still classified as a Schedule I drug.

What is “Hash”?

Hash, or hashish, is a cannabis product composed of compressed or purified preparations of stalked resin glands, called trichomes. It contains the same active ingredients—such as THC and other cannabinoids—but often in higher concentrations than buds or leaves. Hashish may be solid or resinous depending on the preparation. Hashish can be smoked or orally consumed.

What are “Edibles”?

Edibles are food products made with cannabis in herbal or resin form as an ingredient.

What does it mean to be “drunk”?

Being drunk refers to alcohol intoxication. This includes the effects that come with drinking alcohol.

Intoxication can impair brain function and motor skills; heavy use can increase risk of certain cancers, stroke and liver disease. Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a diagnosable disease characterized by a strong craving for alcohol, and/or continued use despite harm or personal injury. Alcohol abuse, which can lead to alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work.

How does a person stop being drunk?

The only way a person will stop being intoxicated is with time. A person’s body can only process one standard drink an hour. Taking a cold shower or drinking coffee will do nothing to sober a person up.

Why do some people react differently to alcohol than others?

Each individual will have a different reaction to alcohol. This can be dependent on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Physical condition (height, weight, muscle mass, etc.)
  • Tolerance levels
  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Family history of alcohol use
  • Use of other dugs or prescription medications

For instance, women do not typically process alcohol as effectively as men. This is a matter of biology. Men tend to be larger in build, have greater blood volume, and less body fat than women. Men also have more dehydrogense, the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. This means that, if a man and woman of similar weight consume the same amount of alcohol, the woman will actually have a higher amount of alcohol in her bloodstream.

What is a “hangover”?

A “hangover” refers to the unpleasant feeling that some people get after drinking. This can include symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, concentration problems, dehydration, dizziness, gastrointestinal distress and sweating.

From howstuffworks.com:

W­hen alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and causes the pituitary gland in the brain to block the creation of vasopressin (also known as the antidiuretic hormone). Without this chemical, the kidneys send water directly to the bladder instead of reabsorbing it into the body. This is why drinkers have to make frequent trips to the bathroom after urinating for the first time after drinking.

According to studies, drinking about 250 milliliters of an alcoholic beverage causes the body to expel 800 to 1,000 milliliters of water; that’s four times as much liquid lost as gained. This diuretic effect decreases as the alcohol in the bloodstream decreases, but the aftereffects help create a hangover.

The morning after heavy drinking, the body sends a desperate message to replenish its water supply — usually manifested in the form of an extremely dry mouth. Headaches result from dehydration because the body’s organs try to make up for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain, causing the brain to decrease in size and pull on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull, resulting in pain.

Is beer/wine safer to drink than hard liquor?

This is a common misconception. What matters with alcohol is not only the type, but the alcoholic content, the amount consumed, and the rate consumed. For most people, it takes the body about one hour to break down a standard drink. If a person consumed 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of 80 proof liquor over the course of one hour, they will have consumed the same amount of alcohol.

What is binge drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as the consumption of 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men and 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women — generally within about 2 hours. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports about 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

What does “BAC” mean?

Blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood alcohol concentration is the concentration of alcohol in blood. It is usually measured as mass per volume. For example, a BAC of 0.02% means 0.2% (permille) or 0.02 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of individual’s blood, or 0.2 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood.

What is the “legal limit” for driving?

In the United States, the legal limit BAC for adults ages 21 and up is 0.08. For individuals under the age of 21, there is a zero tolerance policy: any alcohol found in someone under 21’s blood stream can result in a DUI arrest.

What is alcohol abuse?

Alcohol abuse refers to a repeated pattern of excessive alcohol use that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work/study. This can include not fulfilling one’s responsibilities at work, school, or home, drinking in dangerous situations such as while driving, and continuing to drink even if it damages relationships with loved ones.


What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that includes a strong craving for alcohol, the inability to limit drinking, and continued alcohol consumption despite health, social, and psychological problems.


My mom/dad has a beer/glass of wine sometimes. Does this make them an alcoholic?

No. Many adults over the age of 21 choose to consume alcohol on an occasional or regular basis. For most adults, alcohol consumption does not cause any health, social, or emotional problems. However, if your parent is ignoring their responsibilities at home or at work to drink, you should discuss it with them or another adult you trust.

How do I know if I have a drinking problem?

If you are under the age of 21, drinking is always a problem. Alcohol consumption can damage your still developing body and brain, causing life-long consequences! If a person is over the age of 21, drinking is problematic if it begins to disrupt that person’s daily life. This can include ignoring responsibilities, being absent from work or school, drinking in dangerous situations (such as driving), ignoring serious health issues, continuing to drink even if it damages relationships with loved ones, craving for alcohol and being unable to limit drinking.

What is methadone?

Methadone is a form of treatment for some people with opioid dependence. It is used in replacement therapy and is intended to help users wean themselves off of heroin and other opioids. While methadone might still cause some of the same effects that heroin does, these effects are to a less intense, and users are often much more functional than they are on heroin.

What does it mean to “overdose” on heroin?

An overdose (or OD) can occur when a user takes a drug in a greater amount than is normal for that user. For heroin users who have overdosed, this can cause a lack of oxygen circulation in the brain, nausea and vomiting, sedation, hypothermia, coma, or even death. It is much easier for heroin users who inject the drug to overdose because the amount of the drug that is “pleasurable” is very close to the amount of the drug that can cause an overdose.

What is “meth mouth”?

Meth mouth refers to the poor dental health of many meth users. Meth mouth is caused by a variety of meth’s side effects such as lack of saliva, tooth grinding or clenching, decreased blood flow, bad hygiene, and poor diet.

Why are meth users so thin?

Weight loss is a side effect of meth use for a variety of reasons. Meth is an appetite suppressant, meaning that, when people use meth, they do not feel hungry. This means that many meth users are not getting adequate nutrition. This can also result in muscle degradation, hair loss, and dull, acne-ridden skin.

What is “chasing the high”?

This refers to meth users trying to replicate their original or first high. A person’s first high produces massive dopamine release which can essentially never be replicated. Meth users will increase their dosage in order to try and achieve their first high. Now addicted, meth users will continue to use meth, even though it gives them little or no pleasure.

Why do meth labs blow up?

Many of the chemicals used to make meth are flammable and incredibly unstable. This includes materials such as acetone, lithium, hydrogen chloride, sodium hydroxide, petroleum ether, ammonia and red phosphorus. This, combined with meth users’ diminished mental capacity, creates a “perfect storm” for fires and explosions.

What are the signs of a meth lab?

Meth labs can exist anywhere, but some things to look for are:

  • Strong or unusual odors like acetone (smells like nail polish remover) or ammonia (smells like cat urine)
  • Open windows vented with a fan, even in winter
  • Fuel cans, glassware with rubber tubing, drain cleaner, and duct tape in the trash or on the property
  • An excessive amount of bottles, containers, or coffee filters in the trash or on the property
  • Blackened windows or curtains always drawn
  • Visitors at all hours of the day and night
What should I do if I suspect a meth lab in my neighborhood?

If you suspect a meth lab in your neighborhood, you should report your suspicions to law enforcement immediately. NEVER try to investigate a meth lab on your own.

By what other names are prescription drugs known?

Prescription drugs are known by a variety of other names, dependent on the type.

  • Slang terms for opioids can include Cody, sizzurp, lean, syrup, OC, oxy, oxycotton, oxycet, hillbilly heroin, and percs.
  • Slang terms for depressants can include Downers, downs, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets, candy, sleeping pills, zombie pills, barbs, benzos, tranks, and xanies.
  • Slang terms for stimulants can include Uppers, bennies, black beauties, hearts, truck drivers, R-ball, Skippy, the smart drug, and vitamin R.
I was prescribed a painkiller for a surgery. I am now healed and no longer need the medication. What should I do with it?

Prescription medications, particularly those with high abuse potential like painkillers, should be properly disposed of immediately. You can do this by depositing them at a prescription drop box. The prescriptions placed in these boxes are disposed of by law enforcement. Contact your local police department to get more information about prescription drop boxes near you.

What can I do to help prevent prescription drug abuse?

There are several things you can do to help prevent prescription drug abuse including:

  • Only take medicines prescribed to YOU – Your prescription was specially written by a medical doctor for your needs, no one else’s.
  • Take your medications as prescribed – Take the set prescription amount. This amount is designed to administer the precise amount of medication that you need.
  • Never share prescription medication with anyone, including friends or family – Again, your prescription was carefully calculated for you, not someone else.
  • Keep your prescription medication in a safe place – People who abuse prescription medication often steal it from friends and family. Do not leave your prescriptions in an obvious, easily accessible place.
  • When you have healed, dispose of your remaining prescription – This can be done by taking the medication to a prescription drop box. Never throw prescription medication into the trash or flush it down the toilet!
  • Be aware of the signs of physical dependence – If you, or someone you care about, experiences physical dependence on a prescription medication, contact your health care provider immediately for help.
What are some other names for spice and bath salts?

There are a variety of brand names associated with both products. Other names for spice can include: K2, fake weed, Bliss, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, Zohai, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, and Moon Rocks. Other names for bath salts can include: Blizzard, Blue Silk, Charge+, Ivory Snow, Ivory Wave, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight and White Lightning.

Do bath salts cause cannibalism?

After the now famous bath salts case from Miami, many individuals believe that the use of bath salts will cause cannibalism. While nothing in the drug itself would give a person desires to eat another human being, bath salts can cause violent outbursts, hallucinations and extreme paranoia. Those things combined can result in some pretty scary behaviors.

Why can bath salts and spice kill you?

No package of bath salts and spice contain the same chemical composition. The people who manufacture these products are constantly trying to stay ahead of the law and regularly change the chemicals used in each batch. Additionally, there are no standards by which these drugs are processed, meaning the contents and the potency varies greatly. This means that a person who has previously used bath salts or spice could come into contact with a drug of much greater potency than to which they are accustomed. This combined with the tolerance and physical dependence of either drugs can easily result in an overdose.

What is Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) and how does it relate to bath salts and spice?

Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a disorder characterized by a continual presence of sensory disturbances, most commonly visual, that are similar to those generated by the use of hallucinogenic substances. This means that, even after a person has stopped using a drug, they can still experience hallucinations. HPPD can occur in both bath salts and spice users.

Is tobacco really that addictive?

Yes! According to Cancer.org, about 70% of smokers say they want to quit and about half try to quit each year, but only 4% to 7% succeed without help. This is because nicotine has a fast-acting effect on the brain. Nicotine causes the release of dopamine, which causes temporary pleasant feelings for tobacco users. It also stimulates the central nervous system, causing a small adrenaline rush. However, after these feelings begin to fade away, smokers are struck with withdrawal symptoms which can include: cravings, headaches, nervousness, irritability, and trouble sleeping. These unpleasant feelings are alleviated by consuming more tobacco. This can make it incredibly difficult for a person to stop using tobacco.

Why do people start smoking?

People start smoking for a variety of different reasons. According to the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report, very few people start smoking after age 25. Nearly 9 out of 10 adult smokers started by age 18, and 99% started by age 26. This means that most adults who smoke actually started smoking as teens. Many smokers had friends or family members who smoked. Some wanted to “look cool” or “fit in.” Additionally, although the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement banned cigarette brand placement in movies, cigarettes appeared in every 2 out of 3 box office hits in 2005, with more than one third of these films being youth-rated. Youth who see smoking in the media are more likely to begin smoking.

What is ‘secondhand smoke?’

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is made up of two different components:

  • Sidestream smoke: Smoke from the lit end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe
  • Mainstream smoke: Smoke exhaled by the smoker

When non-smokers are exposed to SHS, they are taking in nicotine and other toxic chemicals in the same way that smokers do. This is called involuntary or passive smoking. Sidestream smoke has a high concentration of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). The particles in sidestream smoke are also smaller than those of mainstream smoke, meaning that sidestream particles enter a person’s lungs and cells more easily. This means that individuals who are exposed to other people’s smoke are actually inhaling a greater amount of toxic chemicals! SHS causes:

  • About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults. The Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increased the chance of getting lung cancer by 20% to 30%
  • An estimated 42,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are current non-smokers
  • Worse asthma and asthma-related problems in up to 1 million asthmatic children
  • Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections (lung and bronchus) in children under 18 months of age, with 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations a year

The only way to fully protect non-smokers from exposure to SHS indoors is to prevent all smoking in that indoor space or building.



Is there any safe way to use tobacco?

No. Regardless of what type of tobacco a person is using, there are still serious health risks involved.

How do people quit smoking?
  • Quitting can be a difficult process. Smokers must not only address their physical cravings for nicotine, but the mental/social need for smoking as well. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is an option for addressing the physical side of nicotine addiction. NRT provides individuals who are trying to quit with lowered levels of nicotine in the form of gums, patches, sprays, etc. This relieves some of the immediate withdrawal symptoms of nicotine addiction and can help smokers to wean themselves off nicotine. Smokers who chose to use NRT should consult with a physician before doing so.
  • Smokers may also find it helpful to join a support group, such as Nicotine Anonymous (NicA). Additionally, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and local health departments all sponsor classes on smoking cessation. Support from family and friends is also invaluable to individuals trying to quit.


Why should someone quit smoking?
  • Though quitting can be difficult, the health benefits are almost immediate. According to the Surgeon General:
    • Within 20 minutes of quitting, heart rate and blood pressure drop.
    • Within 12 hours of quitting, carbon monoxide levels in the bloodstream return to normal.
    • Within 2 weeks to 3 months of quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases.
    • Within 1 to 9 months of quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
    • After 1 year of quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
    • After 5 years of quitting, risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
    • After 10 years of quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
    • After 15 years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
  • Some additional immediate benefits to stopping tobacco use:
    • Your sense of smell returns to normal.
    • Your breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
    • Food will taste better.
    • Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
    • You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.
    • Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).
Are there warning signs for suicide?
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
Do people who threaten suicide just want the attention?

People who threaten suicide should always be taken seriously. It may well be that they want attention in the sense of calling out for help, and giving them this attention may save their life.


How do I know if I have a STD/STI?

The common symptoms of STD/STIs are things like rashes, bumps, or sores around the genital area, pelvic, abdominal, or back pain, and an unusual discharge from the penis or vagina. However, lots of people with STD/STIs have no symptoms at all. The only way to know if you have an STD/STI is to get tested by a doctor.

How do I know if someone else has an STD/STI?

You can’t. Although some STD/STIs cause observable symptoms in some affected people, many people with STD/STIs show no symptoms at all.

How do I get tested for STD/STI’s?

Title X family planning clinics offer reduced or no cost STD/STI testing. The website http://www.hhs.gov/opa can help you locate a Title X clinic based on your zip code. Your county health department is also an excellent resource for finding affordable STD/STI testing.

If I get an STD/STI test, will my parents find out?

All state give minors some control over keeping their sexual health confidential, but the extent varies from state to state. Some states allow minors to confidentially access testing for all STD/STIs except for HIV, and some leave confidentiality completely up to discretion of the minor’s physician. Many offer unimpeded access to confidential sexual health screening, while others restrict it by age. If you access this handy chart,  http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_MASS.pdf , you will be able to see where your state falls in regards to confidentiality laws.

How do I avoid getting an STD/STI?

The only 100 % effective way to protect yourself against an STD/STI is to practice abstinence and delay sexual activity. However, if you do engage in sexual activity, it is important to use a condom or dental dam during each sexual act, as they can both provide protection against certain STD/STIs.

If I’m not gay, do I still need to worry about HIV?

Everyone who engages in sexual activity is at risk for contracting HIV, regardless of sexual orientation. The idea that HIV is a “gay disease” is a common misconception. In reality, rates of HIV infection are rising the fastest among young people ages 15-24.

I heard that there’s a vaccine that protects you against STD/STI’s. Is this true?

There are two vaccines that offer protection against certain strains of HPV. HPV is a viral STD/STI that has many different strains, some of which can cause cancer and genital warts. Cervarex protects against the two most common cancer causing strains, and Guardasil protects against both the cancer causing strains and the genital warts causing strains. Most doctors now recommend that their patients receive an HPV vaccine before becoming sexually active, and many schools now require it.

How do I know if I’m depressed?
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment


What should I do if I see someone being bullied?

As a bystander, be part of the solution.

  • Don’t take part in bullying—Don’t stay to watch bullying. Don’t laugh along with or encourage someone who is bullying. Don’t provide an audience for bullying. Don’t join in. Don’t pass on rumors.
  • Offer support. Be an ally to someone being bullied—Label the event at bullying. Say that it’s unfair. Talk to the person. Offer help. Stay with the person that’s being bullied until he or she feels safe.
  • Take action against bullying—Help the person being bullied get away from the situation. Tell the person/people who are bullying to stop if you feel it’s safe. Distract the people/person doping the bullying. Get support from a trusted adult about the bullying.
What can I do if I went to an adult for help, but they did not do anything about the bullying?

Go to someone else and keep talking until someone helps and the bullying stops.

How many kids are cyberbullied?

The 2010-2011 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 9% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying.

Is it tough to define cyberbullying?

Research on cyberbullying is growing. However, because kids’ technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends.

Can teens get pregnant?

Yes. There is no safe time, place, or situation to have sex and not risk an unplanned pregnancy. According to the CDC, almost 1/3 of teen moms report that they had no idea they could get pregnant at the time.


Is there a risk-free period to have sex?

No. Although a woman’s fertility levels change depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle, since any sperm that enters her body can live there for up to five days, women can get pregnant any day of the month. Because ovulation (releasing an egg) happens roughly two weeks before the period begins, even girls who haven’t yet started their periods can get pregnant.

Is there a risk-free place to have sex?

No. Pools, hot tubs, and lakes offer NO protection against pregnancy, despite what you may have heard.

Can you get pregnant the first time you have sex?

Not only can you absolutely get pregnant your first time, people who are inexperienced with contraception and STD/STI protection are the most likely to misuse them. Forms of contraception like withdrawal (“pulling out”) and the rhythm method (“counting days”) provide no protection against STD/STIs and can vary wildly in accuracy depending on the people involved. Rumors about “safe” positions are just that, rumors. Whether a person has sex standing up, laying down, or upside down, if sperm enters a woman’s body, there is always a risk for an unplanned pregnancy. Sperm are just too fast and too tiny to be controlled by gravity the way you might think. Even sexual activities like anal sex carry some risk of pregnancy.

What’s the only way not to get pregnant?

The only 100 % effective way to prevent teen pregnancy and STD/STIs is to practice abstinence. However, if you are engaging in sexual activity, you can lower your risk of facing an unplanned pregnancy by using protection EVERY time. Many forms of contraception are even available for free or at a reduced cost from your local Health Department.

Open communication

Both parties can convey their feelings and opinions. Being able to openly communicate means understanding that different opinions are ok, being able to vocalize issues or problems, and working towards mutually satisfying solutions.


The relationship is built on truth, not playing games. Both parties are open with their feelings.


Both parties take responsibility for their actions and do not create excuses for their behavior. This includes being able to admit when you are wrong.

Shared responsibility and Equal Power

Making decisions together and being aware of each other’s needs. Each partner has an equal say in the relationship. No one person makes all the decisions.


Treating your partner like she/he has value. You recognize your partner for the person that they are. You acknowledge each other’s differences and are able to listen to each other with understanding.

Support and Trust

Being supportive and wanting what is best for your partner. You and your partner know that you can rely on each other. You offer encouragement to each other, and acknowledge that it is okay to have other friends outside of your relationship. You open up and share your vulnerabilities with one another, without fear of negative reactions.

Negotiation and Fairness

Negotiation and Fairness – Seeking mutually satisfying conclusions to conflict. You and you partner are able to find solutions that are agreeable to you both. You acknowledge each other’s wants and needs, and when conflict arises, you try to consider it from your partner’s point of view. “Winning the argument” is not important.

Physical Abuse

Any unwanted physical contact on you or your person. Physical abuse does not have to hurt or leave a mark. It can include:

  • Scratching, biting, kicking, punching, or strangling
  • Throwing things
  • Pulling hair
  • Grabbing on clothing
  • Pushing or pulling
  • Using a weapon
  • Grabbing your face to make you look at them
  • Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere
  • Physically forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act
Emotional/Verbal Abuse

Physically forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act

Any non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, ignoring, constant monitoring or “checking in”, excessive texting, intimidation, isolation, humiliation, or stalking. It can include:

  • Isolation or Exclusion – Controlling what a partner can do, who he/she talks to or interacts with, where he/she goes, etc. Limiting a partner’s access to the outside world (such as restricting time with friends or family). Using jealousy to justify these actions.
  • Dishonesty – Being deceitful in one’s behavior; lying.
  • Dependence – Being unable to maintain friendships outside of the dating relationship. Being overly clingy or needy towards a dating partner.
  • Disrespect – Putting a partner down. Making him/her feel bad about him/herself. Name-calling. Making a partner think they are “crazy”. Making a partner feel guilty or humiliating a partner.
  • Intimidation – Making a partner afraid by looks, words, or actions. Destruction of property, harming of pets, or displaying weapons.
  • Hostility or Threatening – Carrying out threats against a partner. Threatening to leave, commit suicide, or call the police if you do not comply with your partner’s wishes. Making a partner drop criminal charges or commit illegal acts for fear of the repercussions.
  • Minimization/Denial/Blame – Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns seriously. Denying that the abuse happened. Saying that you caused the abuse.
  • Using Social Status – Making one partner like a servant. Making all the decisions. One partner defines the gender roles.
  • Peer Pressure – Telling malicious lies about you to your peers. Threatening to expose your weaknesses or spread rumors.
Sexual Abuse

Any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do, and behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape, or restricting access to birth control and condoms. Sexual abuse can include:

  • Unwanted kissing/touching
  • Unwanted violent or rough sexual activity
  • Repeatedly using sexual insults towards someone
  • Repeatedly pressuring of threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity
  • Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control
  • Sexual contact during which a person can’t consent due to drunkenness, being drugged, or otherwise being unable to give a clear “yes” or “no”
  • Rape or attempted rape
Financial Abuse

Any attempt to control a person’s money, what they can and cannot buy, or requiring access to someone’s bank account. Financial abuse can include:

  • Giving you an allowance and closely watching what you buy
  • Refusing to let you see bank statements
  • Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
  • Refusing to give you money for rent, clothing, food, medicine, etc.
  • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
  • Getting you fired by harassing you, your employer or coworkers on the job.
  • Giving you presents and/or paying for things like dinner and expecting you to somehow return the favor.
  • Using their money to overpower you because they know you are not in the same financial situation as they are.
Digital Abuse

the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. Digital abuse can include:

  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
  • Steals or insists to be given your passwords.
  • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
  • Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online.
  • Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls
  • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
  • Pressures you to send explicit video.
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If you need immediate help, please call
1-800-681-7444 for 24-hour Crisis Services.

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