January 22-28 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. This week exists to link students with scientists and other experts to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music, or from friends. In 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse launched the event to not only educate teens about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, but to also debunk some of the myths they may have heard regarding addiction. Use the facts below to start a conversation with your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Is marijuana addictive?
Yes. The chances of becoming addicted to marijuana or any drug are different for each person. For marijuana, around 1 in 11 people who use it become addicted.
Marijuana Fact: Those who smoke marijuana a lot in their teens risk losing IQ points that they may never get back.
Why do people smoke when they know that it’s bad for them?
People start smoking for different reasons, but all continue it for the same one—they are addicted to nicotine. Teens that see characters in movies smoking are more likely to start smoking themselves. Sometimes characters smoke to look edgy and rebellious; but sometimes it’s just about “product placement” — the tobacco industry trying to get into teen’s heads.
Smoking Fact: Most people who smoke started before the age of 18.
Is drinking and driving dangerous?
Each year, over 4,000 people under the age of 21 die from injuries caused by underage drinking. 35% of those deaths come from car crashes (about 1,500).
Alcohol Fact: About 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before the age of 15 eventually become alcoholics.
How can prescription drugs be dangerous when they are prescribed by a doctor?
Prescription drugs aren’t inherently bad. When used correctly, they help the people they are prescribed for. There are several things that should be considered when taking prescription drugs:
- Was the drug prescribed for you by your doctor?
- Are you following the directions on the label?
- Are you taking them for a medical necessity, or to get high?
Some teens abuse stimulants thinking it will improve their grades, but the truth is, it may do the opposite.
Messages in Media
Teens are being bombarded with messages about drugs and alcohol in music and movies. A 2008 study of popular media found that:
- 1 in 3 songs said something about drug, tobacco or alcohol use
- 3 in 4 rap songs said something about drug, alcohol or tobacco use
- 7 in 10 movies showed a character smoking
- 1 in 3 movies showed a character getting drunk
Encourage your children to make their own choices, despite how the media may glamorize these dangerous behaviors.
Drugs and Alcohol in Virginia
Statistics released in 2015 show that 6.49 percent of Virginians suffer from alcoholism, which is just slightly lower than the national average of 6.7 percent. 18 to 25 year olds are the most likely to suffer from alcohol dependency. Additionally, Virginia is seeing an uptick in the percentage of children and adolescents addicted to alcohol.
In Virginia, marijuana, prescription medicines and psychotherapeutic medications are the most likely drugs to be abused. Virginians ages 12 through 25 are more likely to abuse drugs over alcohol.
Central Virginia Hope Initiative
If you or a loved one needs help recovering from alcohol or drug abuse, the Central Virginia Hope Initiative is here to help. The Initiative offers a network of local, regional and national recovery service providers who will rally behind someone with a substance use disorder to provide access to detoxification programs, support groups and more.