Monday, March 22 to Sunday, March 28, 2021
Among teenagers in the United States, the use of alcohol, prescription painkillers and cigarettes actually declined in 2014. This, however, is no time to get lazy as research suggests there’s a lack of perceived harm from youth where drugs like marijuana and e-cigarettes are concerned.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has designated March 22 to March 28, 2021, as the next National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW).
National Drugs & Alcohol Chat Day will be held on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
The weeklong public awareness campaign provides toolkits, in both English and Spanish, which are full of scientific facts that dissolve myths about substance abuse and addiction. Communities holding events can take advantage of information that they can tailor to the needs of their surrounding neighborhoods.
What Will National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Highlight?
1. State Recreational and Medical Marijuana Laws
Studies show that the waters have been muddied when it comes to how safe teenagers believe the drug is.
With an estimated 46 percent of teenagers admitting to using marijuana at least once by the time they graduate high school, it’s vital to understand the dangers it presents to brain development. Regular marijuana use among teenagers can lower IQ well into adulthood and interfere with aspects of normal well-being.
2. Designer and Club Drugs
These types of drugs, often classified as synthetics, go by names like K2, Spice, Bath Salts or synthetic marijuana. Manufacturers skirt drug laws by altering compounds and market these dangerous chemical cocktails as a “legal high.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are the second most used drug to marijuana among the teen population, according to a 2014 NIDA survey. Potentially toxic ingredients can lead to vomiting, hallucinations, violence, suicidal thoughts and, in some cases, death.
3. Underage Drinking
Though it’s decreased somewhat, underage drinking is still a very serious problem with nearly 9 million young people, ages 12 to 20, admitting to drinking in the past month.
Research has consistently shown that the earlier an individual drinks, the greater the likelihood that they will develop dependency issues later in life.
4. Prescription Drug Abuse
The troubling rise in prescription drug abuse has received a lot of media attention this year. Teenagers are among those abusing these painkillers, which, evidence has shown, can lead to heroin addiction.
According to NIDA, one in 12 high school seniors reported using Vicodin in the past year, and one in 20 said they’d used Oxycontin. More than half of those questioned said they bought the prescription drugs from a relative or friend, or that they were given the pills.
The study and science of substance abuse in the last decade have led to the overwhelming conclusion that addiction is a complex disease of the brain. Treating the physical and psychological symptoms of addiction has shown that the disease is not a “moral failing” or a “lack of character,” as once believed. It is a medical condition that deserves psychological and medical attention.
Young people are particularly vulnerable due to the fact that their brains are still maturing. Illicit substances, such as prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol and even nicotine, can permanently alter and damage their brain chemistry.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) is a perfect time for communities and their leaders to raise awareness among not just teens, but their parents and caregivers as well.