Drug Free Initiatives

Consuming alcohol is illegal for any youth under the age of 21 and there are heavy fines for adults who provide alcohol to minors. Made from grapes, grains, and/or berries, alcohol alters your mood and stays in your system for several hours. Alcohol loosens and relaxes a person. Potential side effects of consuming alcohol range from relaxing to the point of being out of control to becoming very aggressive. Reaction to alcohol varies from person to person. Generally, alcohol does lower inhibitions which is why it’s often called a “social relaxer”.​

Nationally, many youth start drinking in middle school and alcohol is more likely to be used by youth than any other illegal drug. Recent reports show that youth who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to have an alcohol dependency later in life. Additionally, 67% of youth who start drinking before age 15 will also try other illicit drugs (Office of National Drug Control Policy).


While Santee has a social host ordinance like all 18 cities in San Diego County, still underage drinking remains the number one substance abuse problem among local teens with 31% if 11th graders reporting that they actually set out with a desire to drink "enough to feel it a lot" or "until really drunk." Not surprising nearly 25% of high school juniors report current binge drinking. Some common problems reported by youth include: passing out or forgetting what happened (15%); problems with police (10%); and 7% had problems with school work. Sadly, 7% reported having unwanted or unprotected sex while under the influence. Among youth in Santee, according to the recent California Healthy Kids Survey (2016-17) nearly 20% of high school juniors had a full drink in past 30 days with 11% participating in binge drinking (5 drinks in a row). 


Access to alcohol through retail sources has become attractive to youth and serial inebriates including homeless populations. Single shots, also known as airline bottles, are found littered in and around youth frequented places such as parks and are sold at 93% of independent liquor stores in Santee. This particular product ranges between 80 to 100 proof with flavored vodka (fruity flavors such as watermelon, peach, banana) being popular choices. Single shots are often sold in unsecured baskets at or near counters at a cost equal to a bag of potato chips. The sale of single shot alcohol products combined with excessive alcohol advertising covering storefront windows, increases the likelihood of underage drinking and contributes to neighborhood blight and crime such as public drunkennness. 


  • 93% local independent liquor stores sell single-shot bottles of alcohol


  • Cost is equal to a bag of chips!


  • Excessive alcohol advertising on retailer windows contributes to crime and increases likelihood of underage drinking

Alcohol & Youth Don't Mix



Marijuana - The Truth for our Youth 

Don’t underestimate marijuana. Don't be confused by efforts to "medicalize" marijuana. Your kids need to know how risky marijuana use can be. "Young marijuana users face serious risks", says Surgeon General Richard Carmona, M.D. "Marijuana can harm the brain, lungs, and mental health. Research also shows that marijuana is addictive." Here's the truth about marijuana today: Marijuana is much stronger and more addictive than it was 30 years ago." Average THC levels have raised from less than 1% in the late 1970's to 22% in 2012. .Marijuana use is three times more likely to lead to dependence among teens than among adults. More adolescents enter drug treatment each year for marijuana than for all other illicit drugs combined.


While the City of Santee continues not to allow marijuana dispensaries or businesses, that has not always been the case with neighboring communities in the City of San Diego and Unincorporated San Diego County.  There are over 170 marijuana dispensaries in the City of San Diego alone. This creates increased access to marijuana to our city’s youth.


Getting high impairs judgment, can lead to risky decision-making on issues like sex, criminal activity or riding with someone who is driving while high. Kids ages 12-17 who use marijuana weekly are five times more likely to steal and nearly four times more likely to engage in violent acts than those who don't. A roadside check of reckless drivers (not impaired by alcohol) showed that 45% tested positive for marijuana.  According to 2014-15 California Healthy Kids Survey 10% of 9th grade, 16% of 11th grade and 44% of youth enrolled in non-traditional educational instruction in east county used marijuana in past 30 days. These numbers dropped by as much as 4 percentage points among 9th  & 11the grade prior to the passing of Prop 64 late 2017. Reducing access is important but is also challenging. According to the 2016-17 survey, youth continue to view marijuana as easy to obtain. Among east county youth, 41% 9th graders, 66% 11th graders, and 63% in non-traditional educational settings state pot is easily accessible to them. Place really does matter.  




Prescription Drugs - What's in your medicine cabinet?

Many teens think that since prescription or over-the-counter drugs are mass produced for legitimate use they must be safe. Abuse often begins with legitimate use of pain medication. Others are simply seeking a ‘new high’. Every day 2,500 youth ages 12-17 try some sort of pain medication to get high for the first time in the U.S. Any drug that is used not to deal with a specific pain can lead to serious and even deadly health risks. Depending on the type of drug, the impact can be anything from permanent system damage, heart failure, fatal seizures, impact motor skills, judgment, or ability to learn. (Office of National Drug Control Policy) Misuse of pain medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone are extremely addictive and very expensive. Persons addicted often turn to heroin use when prescription is no longer available.


Prescription drugs have become the #1 drugs of abuse across the nation. There is little data about Santee based abuse with over-the-counter or prescription drug abuse. A local school survey (California Healthy Kids Survey,2013-14). found 12% of East County juniors believe it is not wrong to use prescription drugs to get high. In a more recent survey, we see apathy among youth rising with 54% of high school youth in East County enrolled in non-traditional educational instruction neither approved or disapproved of using prescription drugs to get high (CHKS,2014-15). Like alcohol and inhalants, over-the-counter and prescription drugs are common in households, often used for legitimate reasons, and commonly not seen as threats.


The Santee Solutions Coalition has worked with partnering prevention organizations and local law enforcement to promote Prescription Drug Take Back Events where old and unused prescriptions can be returned safely, with no questions asked. The Santee Sheriff Station, located at 8811 Cuyamaca Street, has a prescription drug take back box in the lobby. Prescription drugs may be returned at that location Monday through Friday during normal business hours. The phone number for the Santee Sheriff Station is (619) 956-4000


This webpage was developed in part under a grant (SPO20018) from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration, US Dept. of Health and Human Services. The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ONDCP, SAMHSA or HHS.