Pop culture often perpetuates a false perception of the short and long-term implications of drug and alcohol misuse and abuse. Unfortunately, social media, television, internet, music and peer pressure often mislead teens to underestimate the serious ramifications of drug and alcohol use. In the month of January, National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week dedicates time and resources to helping youth learn and understand the true effects of drug use from experts in the field.
January 23 – 29, 2017, is National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, which was launched by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2010 with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The week is specifically intended to educate teens across America, as many are unaware or misinformed about the risks to their physical and mental health when they misuse drugs and alcohol, including the dangers of driving under the influence. National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week aims to inform and educate teens about the effects of drug and alcohol use, so they may be more prepared to make good decisions and encourage others to do the same.
During the awareness week, educational events are hosted in community clubs, hospitals and schools so that teens and community members can gather and ask experts questions about how drugs affect the brain, body and behaviors. While the prevention field has made progress in addressing these issues, the need for our critical work is ever present as new generations of youth face these challenges. According to NIDA:
- 5 percent of teens misuse prescription drugs
- 20+ percent of teens smoke marijuana
- 35 percent use alcohol
I encourage CADCA coalitions to participate in National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week and host a community event. NIDA offers a comprehensive array of free materials, resources and publications to help communities get involved. This is a great opportunity to engage your youth coalition members around this national observance and leverage NIDA science to shatter myths about drugs.