Tuesday, January 22, 2019 to Sunday, January 27, 2019
This year marks the tenth annual recognition of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week () – a national observance linking teenagers and youth to evidence-based facts about substance abuse. This yearly initiative is put forth by the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( ) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse (NIAA), aiming to dispel the myths and educate young people about substance addiction.
This year, Tuesday, January 22nd marks National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week 2019. Throughout the course of the week, the NIDA and NIAA will host and support several educational events and activities for teenagers, parents, and teachers alike. On Thursday, January 24th, scientists and science writers will answer questions from high school students across the country, during a live web chat called . Last year, teenagers participating asked many important questions like:
- What are the physical signs of drug abuse and addiction?
- Why do people start using drugs?
- How many people die each year from drugs?
- How many teens start using drugs or alcohol underage?
- How many brain cells do you lose from using drugs?
- Can you overdose the first-time using drugs?
- What are the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain and in life?
- Can marijuana be laced with other drugs?
- Is addiction genetic?
- Can drugs make you suicidal / depressed?
- Do I really need to attend a treatment program?
If you are a parent, an educator, a clinician or a guardian, it is important to encourage your teenager to ask questions about drug and alcohol use. Asking questions is key to the learning process. Welcome conversations about drugs in your home and in your classroom. If your teen comes to you to talk, be open and receptive of this topic. By establishing a line of communication, your adolescent will trust they can come to you for any future conversations – or situations – that arise. It is also important, as an adult, to be prepared with factual information about substance abuse and addiction.
In light of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week 2019, Turnbridge – an evidence-based, adolescent and young adult drug treatment center – has outlined some important facts and statistics regarding teen drug use below. We’ve also provided a variety of helpful resources for those looking to learn more about substance addiction, and a look into the importance of evidence-based addiction treatment.
Shattering the Myths Around Drugs & Alcohol
You may have heard your teen say things like, “Marijuana is legalized – it’s totally safe!” or “You did LSD back in the day and you turned out fine!” You may hear things that make you question whether it’s okay for your teenager to experiment with drugs and alcohol. There are many myths surrounding substance use, which often mask the dangers that come along with it. Here are some examples of myths, and some truths to relay to your child:
Myth: I’m just experimenting! I won’t get addicted.
Fact: As much as your teen believes addiction won’t happen to him or her, there is no telling who and who will not develop a drug problem. Drug addiction does not discriminate. And due to their stage of brain development (the teen brain is still under construction, developing and absorbing), adolescents are at . Research shows that 90 percent of addictions start in the teen years.
Myth: Marijuana is not addictive.
Fact: In 2016, about 4 million people ages 12 and older had a marijuana use disorder. About 1 in 11 people who use marijuana will become addicted to it. Teenagers are most vulnerable to addiction.
Myth: Marijuana is a natural plant, so it is totally safe.
Fact: Despite the fact that marijuana is “natural” and legal in several states, does not mean it is safe for young people to use. Teenagers who smoke marijuana regularly are at risk for losing IQ points that they may never get back. They are also more likely to suffer academically, with a higher high school dropout rate and poorer performance on cognitive tests involving memory and decision-making. A also shows that early marijuana use is likely to increase the risk of psychotic and anxiety disorders.
Myth: If prescription painkillers are legal, they must be safe.
Fact: While prescription drugs are not “illicit drugs” like heroin, they are still very dangerous and have a high potential for addiction. As the NIDA reports, more people die from prescription pain reliever overdoses (like Vicodin and OxyContin) than from heroin and cocaine combined.
Myth: Medications prescribed by a doctor are also totally safe.
Fact: When taken exactly as prescribed, prescription medications are safe. However, it becomes abuse when a person takes pills that aren’t their own, or increases their dosages (in frequency or amount). Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to overdose and other serious health issues. For example, abuse of prescription stimulants like Adderall (which many teens believe is a “study aid”) can cause serious health problems such as panic attacks, seizures, and heart attacks.
Myth: It’s okay to drink alcohol because my parents do it!
Fact: About 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics. These early drinkers are four times more likely to become addicted than those who start at age 20 or later. Underage alcohol use is also not safe, as many teenagers and young adults binge drink to get drunk. In the U.S., about 4,300 people under age 21 die each year from injuries caused by underage drinking.
Despite the dangers surrounding adolescent drug and alcohol use, it is still very common across the United States. According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future Study, more than 27 percent of high schoolers have used an illicit drug in the past year, with marijuana being the most common. Throughout the nation, young people (ages 12 to 29) need substance abuse treatment. Yet only 1 out of 10 of these youth get the treatment they need. If your teen is using, abusing, or addicted to drugs, know that you are not alone.
And whether you are a parent or teacher, mentor or friend, guardian or clinician, know that you can make a difference in a troubled teenager’s life. Often, because of their stage of , young people do not recognize when they need help. By opening up the conversation with your teen; by educating your teen with science-based facts and resources; by showing your teen the way towards good physical and mental health – you can make an impact. Below are some resources, from Turnbridge and from the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week website, for adults to share with their teens:
There are also a variety of other resources listed on the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week website (), for parents and organizations interested in getting involved.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week 2019, though it is just six days out of the year, is a great reminder of the role we can play in preventing substance abuse and addiction amongst our youth. It reminds us to spread awareness about the dangerous effects of drug abuse, and to educate teens on how to make safe, smart, and rational decisions when faced with peer pressure and uncomfortable situations. It reminds us to be present in the lives of our teens, and to be receptive of their questions and concerns.
Help Turnbridge spread the news about National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week this year. Share this article with a friend, family member, or classroom. And if you know a teen or young adult who is in need of substance use treatment, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call us at 877-581-1793 to learn more.