There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse — especially when it comes to teens. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, March 30 through April 5, 2020, is a great way to cut through the clutter of misinformation, whether it’s coming from their peers and/or social media and get to the facts.
The week is an outreach of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and its stated theme is to “shatter the myths” about drug and alcohol use. During this period, students are connected to scientists and other experts through public education projects aimed at counteracting the bad information that hits teens from all sides. It was launched in 2010 by scientists at the NIDA in order to elevate awareness about what science has taught and continues to teach us about drug use and addiction. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, also part of the NIH. became a partner in 2016, and alcohol was added as a topic area.
To a degree, National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week can be seen as “tough love,” because the numbers around drug and alcohol abuse are grim. Even so, teens need to be aware that choices have consequences, and overuse and abuse can quickly spiral out of control:
When it comes to teens and substance use, the CDC highlights some enlightening statistics:
This usage pattern results in some pretty severe consequences, the CDC points out, including:
Those are numbers and issues that should shake any teen into wakefulness around drug and alcohol abuse. That said, they should not lead to despair, especially for those who are already dealing with addiction issues or know someone who is. If that’s the case, they should reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMHSA helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. More information can be found at SAMSHA’s website.
A single week won’t solve all the issues around teen (and adult) drug and alcohol abuse, or is it mean to do so. What National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week does do well is put the issue front and center, forcing teens and those around them to have frank conversations about the issue, and how to seek help if it's needed.
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