This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. All opinions are 100% mine.
Believe it or not, drugs and alcohol are still a problem among teens, even with all the news coverage of accidental deaths surrounding it. To help SHATTER THE MYTHS around the abuse of, and addiction to, drugs and alcohol, National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM will be held January 25-31, 2016.
Drugs and Alcohol Aren't Benign
With all the coverage surrounding drugs and alcohol over the years, you would think that teens would be staying away from the stuff. However, teens are still using drugs and alcohol. They see it everywhere in mainstream media, and it's a part of almost any movie they see with a rating above PG.
I'm not a fan of this. I've seen more than my share of the bad things surrounding drugs and alcohol. When I was very young, my father actually sold drugs. It was just as crazy as the movies make it out to be. There were a lot of shady characters, a lot of violence, and a lot of death. Luckily, my father got clean and left that life behind, so he didn't fall into the latter category. From all of that, I learned that drugs are bad news. Real bad.
Some Facts on Drugs and Alcohol
There are so many myths surrounding drugs and alcohol that I wanted to address a few of them. Let's talk about marijuana first. Marijuana With all the talk of legalizing marijuana, teens in my area are beginning to feel that maybe pot isn't so bad. I have a huge problem with teenagers thinking it's all daisy and flowy skirts. It's not. Marijuana affects brain development. In fact, a study showed that pot smokers who started regularly using in their teens lost an average of 8 IQ points between the age of 13 and 38. That lost mental ability doesn't come back after stopping the use of pot. Pot literally makes you dumb. Something else to know about pot is that contrary to popular belief, just like other drugs and alcohol, it's addictive. About 1 in 11 pot smokers are addicted to it. So it's not some kind of safe drug alternative. Alcohol While we're talking about "safe" drugs, let’s address alcohol, as well. I've heard a few of my daughter's friends say they felt like teenage drinking was okay because it was legal for adults. They straight up told me that as long as they didn't drive, it was all good. Wrong. Alcohol affects every organ in the body. Every. Single. One. For a teenager, that is terrible. They're still growing and developing. The other thing about booze that teens tend not to acknowledge is how it reduces their inhibitions. All inhibitions. This is about more than making bad life decisions that could lead to pregnancy. It's about teenagers already thinking they're indestructible and then doing extremely dangerous things after they're bombed.
Dispelling the Myths About Drugs and Alcohol
National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW) is a week-long observance sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Both of these are part of the National Institutes of Health.
The goal of the NDAFW is to SHATTER THE MYTHS about drugs and alcohol as seen and perpetuated in television, movies, and music, as well as those "common knowledge" myths that everyone seems to have. NDAFW is making great strides in educating teens on drugs and alcohol, with more than 1,500 community-based events held in all 50 states as well as several international sites last January. These events connect teens to scientists and other experts on drugs and alcohol in a place that's safe for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use and abuse free from judgements or lectures. One tool that's key to NDAFW is the "National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge". This 12 question, multiple choice quiz tests the knowledge of teens and adults regarding drugs and alcohol. I love this quiz, because parents can take it and use their quiz results as a gateway conversation with their teens.
Education is Key to Curbing Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Drugs and alcohol are still a problem among teens. That's why I love the work that NDAFW is doing. Their no judgement, no lecture approach to addressing the issue is one that is helping teens all across the country to learn the facts about drugs and alcohol, and that's important to stopping their abuse of it. For more information on NDAFW, visit the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week website. You can find the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge here. And for more information on drug and alcohol facts, what to do if your child is abusing drugs and alcohol, and other important information, visit the NIDA website.