January 23rd marks the beginning of National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week 2017. Founded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this week will be a conscious effort to educate teens across the nation about the risks of using drugs and alcohol, and to shatter the myths and media-ized glamour surrounding drug use.
The Internet. Social media. Television. Movies. Music. Popular culture. Social circles. On a daily basis, teens are inadvertently exposed to misinformation and half-truths about drugs and alcohol. On a daily basis, our teens’ perceptions of substance use are being impacted and shifted by the media, by their Facebook newsfeeds, and even by friends at school. According to a recent survey by ProjectKnow, nearly two-thirds of young adults aged 18 to 20 believe that youth are pressured by social media to use drugs.
Time and time again, research shows us that teenagers are more likely to see the social benefits of drug use than they are to recognize the negative effects. Largely because of their stage of brain and social development, teens will typically prioritize being accepted among peers at school over being healthy and safe. Not only this, but their perceived risk of addictive drugs is also particularly low. According to the recent Monitoring the Future survey, only 31 percent of high school seniors report that regular marijuana use is harmful. On top of that, 78 percent of teens have friends who use marijuana regularly.
So often masked as “harmless” and “glamorous,” addictive drugs are progressively making their way into the hands of teens and young adults. Throughout the nation, 10 million young people (ages 12 to 29) are in need of substance abuse treatment. Yet among the millions, only one in 10 adolescents who have a substance use disorder actually receive the professional treatment they deserve.
Substance abuse, particularly opiate abuse, is becoming a constant epidemic among our youth. Yet many do not realize the tolls that overdose and addiction are taking on our teens. It is time we face the facts. It is time that we start providing honest drug education and accurate drug facts for teens. It is our mission, as drug treatment professionals, as educators and parents, to increase awareness about the dangers of teen drug use and the reality of substance addiction.
True Drug Facts for Teens:
The teenage years, ages 12 to 17, are regarded as the most critical risk period for the initiation of alcohol. The risk of abuse and addiction grow much greater when illicit substances (such as marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs) are used in adolescence.
Yet still, the average age of first-time experimentation with drugs is 13 years old. And among adolescents, the transition from initiation to regular use of alcohol, marijuana, and other hard drugs often occurs within the next three years.
About to 90 percent of addictions start in the teen years. A recent New York Times article revealed that those who first drink alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to become addicted at some point in their lives than those who have their first drink at age 20 or older.
The figures are much higher for those who try illicit drugs in adolescence. About 70 percent of those who try an illicit drug before age 13 develop a substance use disorder within seven years. That number drops to 27 percent for those who try an illicit drug after their seventeenth birthday.
Teenagers who begin using any addictive substance before the age 18 are 6.5 times more likely to develop a clinical addiction. About 7 percent of America’s teenagers (ages 12 to 17) already meet the standard psychiatric criteria for substance abuse.
Sharing the Facts: National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week is a national health observance that aims to spread the truth about teen drug and alcohol use. Since their annual efforts began in 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has dedicated an entire week to sharing drug facts for teens and educating them about the realities of substance addiction.
January 23rd, 2017 begins this year’s dialogue about teen drug use and prevention across the nation. Turnbridge invites you to join in on the conversation. During this week-long observance, we call you all to take a stand against teen drug use and to work towards a more aware community in our schools and homes alike.
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week truly allows us all the opportunity to spread awareness about the dangerous effects of substance abuse. It gives us the voice we need to stand up against drugs and alcohol in our youth. And, most of all, it allows us the chance to show teens how to make safe, smart, and practical decisions when faced with peer pressure and uncomfortable, drug-related situations.
This year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as well as addiction professionals, and scientific experts, will come together to combat the myths surrounding drug abuse and addiction. Together, they will assemble across schools, clubs, and events nationwide to have an open and safe conversation about the drug epidemic today.
Early drug education and intervention is critical to protecting our teens. To learn about drug addiction and the developing teenage brain, the importance of early intervention, or about Turnbridge’s teen and young adult drug rehab programs, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call 877-581-1793 today.
To find out more drug facts for teens, or to see how you can get involved with National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week this year, you may also visit Teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-alcohol-facts-week.