In The Know Zone

Dangers for Nonusers

Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Just being around drug users can be hazardous to your health. If the people around you are using drugs, you’re exposed to a variety of dangers.

Contact High

Did you know that simply breathing the smoke exhaled by marijuana smokers can intoxicate you? It’s called a "contact high," and it’s probably even more of a risk for someone who doesn’t use than for someone who does. If you hang around pot smokers, you could even test positive for THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

Crime and Violence

People using alcohol and drugs may become violent toward you.

  • Over half of arrestees in the U.S. said they had used a psychoactive drug within the previous three days. More than 35% of the drug-using arrestees had committed a personal crimes of violence, like robbery.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive that the offender had been drinking alcohol at the time of the offense. About 20% of those perpetrators were believed to also have been using drugs.

As an "innocent bystander," you could be the victim of a drug-related robbery, mugging, or other assault. If you’re hanging around with people who use drugs, you are more likely to meet drug dealers. Drug dealers could be there to collect a debt, and you could get hurt or robbed.

People who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are more likely to be victims of crime, and if you’re with them, you could get hurt too. A recent study found that victims of violent crime are six times more likely to be intoxicated than are victims of nonviolent crime. The researchers said that intoxicated persons may engage in more risk-taking behavior, are more likely to be out at night, to frequent places where violence is likely, or behave in ways that make them attractive targets. They also may not be aware of subtle danger signs.

Trouble with Authorities

  • 32% of incarcerated teens were drunk at the time of their crime and/or arrest.

You’ve probably heard of "guilt by association." Spend enough time with drug users, and you’re likely to be around when they get busted. Maybe you would get out of the situation without getting in trouble, maybe you wouldn’t. You could be suspended from school, could lose your job, or even be charged with a crime. At the very least, you could be seriously inconvenienced, waiting to prove your innocence.


  • Drunken driving accidents kill approximately 15,000 and injure over 300,000 people every year in this country alone. About 20% of the victims are teens.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is deadly. Whatever you do, don’t get in the car with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs.

Auto accidents aren’t the only way that drunk and drugged people get hurt, either. People who use drugs are 3.6 times more likely to have an accident than other people are. If you are nearby, you could be injured too.


Rapists look for easy-to-control victims. One way rapists have found to get quicker control over their victims is by drugging them. A variety of drugs have been used over the years to give rapists access to defenseless victims. The most common "date rape drug" is alcohol. In fact, two out of three college men who sexually assaulted women were drunk, and 55% of the victims were also drunk.

Now, if you don’t drink alcohol – great! You would be able to taste any alcohol slipped into your drink, so you could avoid becoming a drunken victim. The scary, newer date rape drugs, however, can be slipped into a soda without adding a telltale flavor. Drugs like GHB, Rohypnol, and Ketamine have been used many times in recent years to drug people unawares. Both males and females have been robbed and raped under their influence. Visit the In the Know Zone GHB, Rohypnol, and Ketamine pages to learn more about these drugs and about date rape.

If you are at a party where people are drinking alcohol and using drugs, these date rate drugs could be part of the mix.

In The Know: Substance Abuse Pamphlet/ DVD Package
"In the Know: What to Say When You Want to Say NO" Pamphlet
In The Know: Substance Abuse DVD Package