National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is an annual, week-long health observance that was created to spark conversation among young adults around the science of drug abuse and addiction. This year it falls from March 21st through the 27th. Although this dialogue is primarily focused on education for teens, the information we share can be used as a tool to support the parents of those teenagers, along with their teachers, mentors, siblings, and friends alike. If we are all equipped with progressive evidence to share the negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse, we can help educate today’s youth and fight to improve prevention and awareness for substance use disorders here in the Charlotte, NC area and nationwide.
To participate in the week’s events, The National Institute on Drug Abuse has pulled the top ten drug-related questions among American teenagers. Our team has listed a few of these questions below that we believe are especially important to share and elaborate on.
What is the worst drug?
No one drug is “worse” or “better than” another – all substances have the potential to cause serious harm. A drug induces health issues or becomes life-threatening depending on how it is consumed, the quantity that is used, and other factors that vary from person to person. For example, 70,630 individuals died from drug-involved overdoses in 2019. That same year one person died every 52 minutes in car accidents involving a drunk driver and over 480,000 deaths could be attributed to cigarette smoking. Three very different substances all with staggering statistics attached.
Why do people take drugs when they know they’re bad?
People begin to use drugs for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it can help individuals deal with difficult life changes, for others, it relieves pain or acts as an escape from a tough reality, and many times it is a result of peer pressure. Even though it is clear that using drugs can negatively impact someone’s life, it is hard to stop after repeated drug use because this abuse leads to changes in the brain. Addictive substances cause the brain to release the chemical dopamine, which can trick you into associating drug use with the feeling of satisfaction and pleasure, reinforcing the desire to continually seek out that substance.
How can I help someone with a problem stop taking drugs? How can I help if they don’t want help?
At The Blanchard Institute, we are big believers in the idea that you do not have to hit “rock bottom” to get help for substance abuse, and that an individual does not have to want help to receive it. But at the end of the day, it is up to the individual to begin and stay the course of their own recovery journey. As your loved one inevitably resists help or strays from this path, it can become increasingly difficult for teens and adults alike to continue supporting them. While you may not be able to control their substance use, there are resources and tools available to help everyone involved cope. It is important to remember that addiction is a family disease, and everyone in the family will need support to handle the disease.
Our team provides weekly, free support sessions for the families of those struggling with addiction. Please join us for our virtual Resilience Group every Thursday evening from 7:00 to 8:15 pm. View our online events calendar for details. For more information on National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week and tips on how to talk to teens about substance abuse, visit https://teens.drugabuse.gov.