National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week was March 22nd through 28th. This week exists to clear up myths and misconceptions surrounding alcohol and drug use. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that by 12th grade, 2 out of 3 students have had alcohol at least once.
Drug and alcohol use is a very real temptation that teenagers face, but they often don’t realize the potential impact of their choices. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week hopes to help teenagers understand the risks that come with substance use.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week History
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, is responsible for a variety of nationwide tasks related to drug abuse. They research how to decrease the extent of drug abuse and prevent the problem from growing. Part of their work involves numerous informational campaigns aimed at helping adolescents understand the risks of drug use.
NIDA scientists first launched National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week in 2010. They saw the growing trend of misinformation surrounding alcohol and drug use among teens. Since many people start experimenting with substances during adolescence, NIDA wanted to do their part to clear up myths and misunderstandings.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week exists to “Shatter The Myths” about drug and alcohol use among teens. Every year for the last decade, NIDA encourages and backs events across the country to help communities share the reality of drug abuse.
The Need for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
Some may wonder whether there’s a need for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Do adolescents really struggle with drinking and drug use? Sure, movies might portray one side of things but what is the reality of alcohol and drug use in teens?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), alcohol and drug use is still prevalent among adolescents ages 12 to 17. In terms of alcohol use,
- 9.4 percent drank at least once in the last month
- 4.9 percent had a binge-drinking episode in the last month
- 0.8 percent reported heavy alcohol use in the last month
- 1.7 percent had a problem with alcohol abuse in the last year
- 17.2 percent used illicit drugs in the last year
- 3.6 percent had a problem with drug abuse in the last year
One of the major problems with teen drug and alcohol use is their limited understanding of the impact of substances. Many don’t realize that one mistake can lead to consequences that last the rest of their lives. Ongoing use can create lifelong changes to their developing minds and bodies.
With so many adolescents still experimenting with alcohol and drugs, there is still a clear need for raising awareness. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week has a significant place in the lives of adolescents across the United States.
Signs of Drug or Alcohol Use in Teens
Are you concerned your teen might be using alcohol or drugs? There are various signs of drug or alcohol use in teens you can keep an eye out for.
Sudden Changes in Behavior
Teenagers tend to be unpredictable to an extent, but you might notice some out-of-the-ordinary behaviors. Keep an eye out for a sudden drop in academic performance, randomly changing friend groups, lack of respect for others (especially authority), or little to no eye contact. Note when their behavior changes and consider whether it’s unusual.
Teens are prone to mood swings and emotional outbursts but those associated with drug and alcohol use are different. Drug and alcohol use can lead to short- and long-term psychological changes, especially erratic shifts in mood. When their mood swings are severe, or they’re having problems with focus or memory, drugs and alcohol might be at play.
Drug and alcohol use can lead to abnormal health problems that teens don’t usually experience. Look for appetite changes, severe or excessive headaches, regular unexplained illness, nausea, or vomiting. If these health problems aren’t explained by a known sickness, you might have reason to be concerned.
How You Can Recognize National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
Recognizing National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week can start within your own home. Use the week as the springboard for a conversation about substances with your teenager. Discuss the risks of using drugs and alcohol, from the short-term problems like grades dropping to the long-term problems like developmental effects.
Opening the conversation with your teen may keep them from feeling the need to sneak or hide their use. When you’re honest with your teen, you lay the foundation for open communication with them about other topics, too. Use this National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week as a way to start the talk.