National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, January 22nd – 28th, is a national campaign sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The goal of this campaign is to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music or friends by providing them with facts about how drugs and alcohol affect their lives, brains and bodies.
In Warren County, the average age of first use of alcohol is 11 according to the 2015 PRIDE Survey. According to studies done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, teens who drink before the age 15 are five times more likely to become alcohol dependent as an adult.
“Prevention education must begin in early childhood to truly have a lasting and meaningful impact on the futures of our young people,” said Liz Montalvo, Warren Hills Community Coalition Coordinator.
Often, young people have false perceptions about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and drug use, which can lead them to think that these substances are not harmful. Research shows a low perception of harm about alcohol and drug use is linked to increased likelihood of first use or more frequent use among adolescents. Alarmingly, today’s teens perceive substance use as less risky than students in the past. According to recently released data from NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey, nearly a third of high school seniors nationwide report past-month use of alcohol, 28 percent report vaping and 37 percent report past-year use of marijuana.
In an effort to dispel myths about underage drinking and drug use, the Warren Hills Community Coalition (WHCC) has partnered with local schools, parents and students to educate young people about substance use and abuse by providing scientific, fact-based information. The WHCC will be equipping schools and communities with the materials and tools they need to ‘Shatter the Myths’ surrounding drug use and shine a light on the serious risks drugs and alcohol pose to a teenager’s health, school success and future. NIDA has an online resource for teachers, www.teens.drugabuse.gov/teachers, that offers an easy-to-use Lesson Plan and Activity Finder to search an array of scientist-created student lesson plans, multimedia classroom activities, and other teaching tools on how drug use affects the brain, body and the lives of teens. Additionally, NIDA offers teens direct access to drug facts and related resources, which can be found at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
Parents and guardians can use this information as an opportunity to start the conversation about drugs and alcohol with their child to prevent underage drinking and drug use in the future.
“It is never too late or too early to talk to your children about alcohol and drugs and National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is a great opportunity to start that conversation,” said Montalvo. Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on their child’s decisions about drug and alcohol use, especially when parents start open and honest conversations on the topic.
For additional information on National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week or for assistance in planning your educational event, visit the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week website or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To get involved in local prevention efforts, or to find out more information about the work of the WHCC, contact Liz Montalvo at email@example.com.