National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) is a national health observance designed to link teens to science-based facts about substance abuse. 2020 marks the 10 year anniversary of NDAFW, which will be recognized from March 30 to April 5, 2020.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week was launched in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The goal was – and remains to be – to educate young people about the risks of drug use and addiction, and to Shatter the Myths around substance abuse.
Too often, teenagers are faced with advertisements, lyrics, social media posts, and celebrity stories about the glamor of drugs and alcohol. (Did you know that 1 in 3 songs says something about drug or alcohol use?) Teens get ideas in their head like, “you need to drink to have fun” and “marijuana is natural, so it is safe.” Many teens believe that because prescriptions are given by doctors, the drugs must also be safe to take. These are just some of the many myths surrounding drug abuse.
Yet science has taught us that these drugs and alcohol – especially when taken at a young age – are not safe. Rather, they are addictive and can cause many negative effects in a user’s life. Drugs and alcohol affect a person’s body, behavior, and brain – both short- and long-term.
Yet today, about 38 percent of high schoolers are using illicit drugs. More than 50 percent of teens are drinking alcohol by the time they graduate high school. And while the use of certain drugs is increasing, there are some rising trends in teen drug use. For example, teens now smoke marijuana more frequently than cigarettes.
In light of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week 2020, Turnbridge has decided to share some of the most important facts about drugs. Whether you are a parent, an educator, or concerned loved one, please take these facts and educate the young people in your lives about the dangers of substance use and addiction.
Fact: Anyone can become addicted to drugs. No matter your background, upbringing, age, gender, or financial status, anyone who uses drugs is at risk for a substance use disorder.
Fact: Teenagers are at an increased risk for developing an addiction to drugs and alcohol. This is due to the fact that the brain is still developing until age 25, and is extremely vulnerable to any chemicals introduced during the younger years. Research shows that 90 percent of addictions start in the teen years.
Fact: Marijuana is addictive, especially for youth. 1 in 11 people who use marijuana become addicted to the drug. This risk increases the earlier that you try marijuana: Among those who start using marijuana before age 18, about 1 in every 6 will become addicted to the drug. Today, most people in professional treatment are struggling with marijuana addiction.
Fact: Early marijuana use (in your teen years) can lead to long-term problems with studying, learning, and memory. It can cause poor performance in school, and increase a student’s chance of dropping out. One study found that you can lose up to 8 IQ points with frequent marijuana use during adolescence.
Fact: Regular marijuana use, which is rising among teens, can increase a person’s risk for several mental health problems. These include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, personality disorders, and psychosis. Teens who use marijuana are more susceptible to mental health issues, which you can learn more about here.
Fact: Underage drinking is not safe. In the United States, about 4,300 people under age 21 die each year from injuries caused by underage drinking – including drunk driving, alcohol-induced violence, and other related accidents.
Fact: About 40 percent of adolescents who drink before age 15 will eventually become addicted to alcohol. Yet according to recent research, almost 20 percent of youth start drinking before they enter high school – at a mere 13 or 14 years old.
Fact: Overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 1999. This is due to a rise in synthetic opioid abuse, with drug overdoses due to fentanyl increasing 12-fold. Overdoses can be caused by street drugs like heroin, or prescription pills like Oxycontin. The risk is comparable.
Fact: Mixing drugs with one another, or mixing drugs with alcohol, and significantly increase your risk for accidental overdose. This is called polydrug abuse, and happens when the body responds to different drugs in different ways.
Fact: Drug addiction is a disorder of the brain. It creates fundamental changes within the brain, causing a person to fully rely on the drugs to function. According to the NIDA, drugs “reset the brain’s pleasure meter” and make it so that without the drug, you feel “hopeless and sad.”
Fact: Drug addiction is treatable. While many may be hesitant to go to drug rehab, or feel that getting sober is hopeless, there are many positive outcomes associated with long-term drug treatment. According to Turnbridge’s outcome study, more than 95 percent of residents who have at least nine months of professional treatment will achieve a year of sobriety. If you have a loved one who is facing a drug problem, know that there is hope and there is help available.
How can you participate in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week 2020?
During such unprecedented times right now, you may be wondering how you can do your part in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. What can you do to educate others, dispel the myths, and reduce the stigma around drug and alcohol use? Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can participate from the comfort of your own home.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has put together a variety of free online resources for parents, educators, and their teens. These include:
- An Online Guide to Drug-Specific Facts for Teens
- A Video Library to Share with Students and Teens
- Free Lesson Plans for Teachers About Substance Abuse
- Drug Facts for Parents Seeking to Learn More
- An Interactive, Drug Facts Challenge for Adults and Teens
- An Online Educational Toolkit for “Out of School Time”
Turnbridge also has a variety of resources for parents and their teens. Please don’t hesitate to read any of the following articles for more facts about drugs and addiction:
- A Parent’s Answers to 9 Common Questions About Drugs
- Teens and Drugs: What Parents Should Know
- The Undeniable Signs of Teen Drug Use
- Why Do Teens Use Drugs?
- The Developing Adolescent Brain and Its Vulnerability to Substance Abuse [INFOGRAPHIC]
For even more information about drug and alcohol abuse among teens, or to find a treatment program for your loved one, please do not hesitate to call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793. Turnbridge is a recognized treatment center for adolescents and young adults battling co-occurring drug and mental health disorders.