What to Know About Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
The last week in March is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW), and it’s a great time to update the teens in your life—and yourself—about drug and alcohol use and abuse.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, launched in 2010, is an annual event founded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as a way to share drug and alcohol education resources with young people and their communities. This year’s event, scheduled from March 22 to March 28, was dedicated to “shattering the myths” around adolescent drug and alcohol use statistics, with resources that included classroom lessons and games, toolkits, and other activities and materials.
If you missed out on National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week there are still plenty of ways to keep the conversation going. Below, we’re sharing a brief overview about the event, including how you can stay involved with the cause year-round.
What to Know About NDAFW
Drug and alcohol abuse among teens is nothing new, but there are a lot of serious risks involved that are important to be aware of. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is focused on spreading awareness about what these risks are — as well as what the realities of adolescent drug and alcohol use looks like — to both teens and their caregivers.
The goal, according to the NIDA, is to open up a dialogue about both the truths and science behind teen substance use and, in doing so, “to improve prevention and awareness of substance misuse in our own communities and nationwide.”
Recent adolescent drug and alcohol use statistics show that this dialogue is an important one. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- About two in three adolescents have tried alcohol by 12th grade
- About 50% of 9th through 12th graders have tried marijuana
- About 40% of 9th through 12th graders have tried cigarettes
- About 20% of 12th graders report using prescription medications without a prescription
Risks of substance misuses in this age group include interference with brain development and contributions to chronic health problems in adulthood, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.
By joining the NDAFW’s efforts, you can help teens become more aware of the risks of substance misuse. You can also make it clear that you offer judgement free support, and that they can come to you if they or someone they know is struggling with a substance problem.
Drug and Alcohol Resources: How to Get Involved
You’re never too old or too young to discuss the issues surrounding teen drug and alcohol misuse. In honor of NDAFW, here are some ways to spread awareness around this important topic.
The more you know, the more you can share with others. In addition to the statistics above, look at other resources around adolescent use of drugs and alcohol to make sure you have a clear picture of what the realities are.
Use your social network to share resources with others and get more people up to date on both the topic of teen drug and alcohol use and why it’s so crucial to talk about.
Open Up the Conversation
Have an open and honest conversation with any teens in your life about drugs and alcohol, including what the short- and long-term risks are and when it might be time to get help.
Reach Out to Schools
If you’re comfortable doing so, contact your teen’s school to find out if they’re aware of NDAFW and what resources are available to help them spread awareness to students.
Be a Good Listener
The best way to learn about how drugs and alcohol can affect teens is to listen to them talk about it. If you have the opportunity, sit down and lend an open ear to others.
We all have a part to play in spreading the word about drug and alcohol facts. This NDAFW and beyond, commit to doing your part, especially if you have a teen or teens in your life who could benefit from the discussion.
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