January 23-29 is National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW). It is an annual, week-long observance sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health. The goal of the week-long observance is to bring together teens and scientific experts to shatter myths about substance use and addiction.
Alcohol and drug abuse can come in many forms. From alcohol to e-cigarettes. From prescription/over-the-counter medicines to illicit drugs. Repeated use of drugs and alcohol can have the severe negative effects on the brain and body. The worst part is that the potential risks multiply over time.
Some of the negative effects of drug and alcohol use and abuse are:
- Lowered inhibitions and decreased memory
- Poor decision-making skills
- Loss of coordination and physical control
- Loss of proper brain and nerve cell function
Results from an annual national survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders funded by NIDA and conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, measures drug, alcohol, and cigarette use among these age groups, and related attitudes.
Both teens and parents alike are bombarded with myths about drug use. Teens often hear these myths from the Internet, TV, movies, music, or friends. That is why it’s important to have credible resources that share scientific facts at the ready to dispel the myths.
Did You Know:
About 19,000 people died from a prescription pain reliever overdose in 2014, more than 3 times the number in 2001.
Each year, an estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, and almost 41,000 nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure.
Cold showers, hot coffee, or walking will not reverse the effects of alcohol overdose and could actually make things worse.
One of the key resources for NDAFW is the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge – a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their knowledge about drugs and assist in sorting fact from fiction.
My teen daughter and I took the challenge ourselves, and discovered that we both have much to learn about the effects of alcohol and drug use and abuse. I encourage you to take the IQ Challenge together with your teen during NDAFW. Compare results, and use them as a tool to start the discussion with them.
Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse offers a plethora of resources to educate families on drug and alcohol facts and encourage healthy discussion. The Family Checkup Resource provides parents with research-based skills to help keep children drug-free. There’s even expert advice for parents on what to do if you suspect a teen has a problem with drugs, and a free downloadable booklet that walks through shattering the many myths of drugs.
One of the best ways for parents to encourage discussion about alcohol and drug abuse with their teens is to create a safe and comfortable space for them to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures. Also, don’t be afraid to admit that the two of you are learning. Remember that a little reassurance will go a long way in helping your teen feel confident in knowing that the two of you are on this journey together.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Keep the conversation going beyond National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM. Set aside time throughout the year to talk to your teens about drugs and alcohol.