National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) runs from January 22-27, 2019 and is a national health awareness week that offers teenagers and young adults with clinically researched facts about drugs, alcohol, and addiction. NDAFW is a national health observance linking teens to science-based facts to “Shatter The Myths” about drugs, this year’s current theme. The following are researched facts about teen alcohol and drug use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for teachers lists all of the events occurring during this awareness week. Community chats, ideas, and toolkits are used in classrooms and special events in order to inform parents, teenagers and teachers alike. The following are facts related to alcohol an drug abuse in teenagers.

Marijuana is not a stress reliever but is used to self-medicate

“Research shows that some teens are using drugs to alleviate feelings of depression (“self-medicating”), when in fact, using marijuana can compound the problem. The report shows a staggering two million teens felt depressed at some point during the past year, and depressed teens are more than twice as likely as non-depressed teens to have used marijuana during that same period. Depressed teens are also almost twice as likely to have used illicit drugs as non-depressed teens. They are also more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become dependent on marijuana. Marijuana use is associated with depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.”

Why teenagers use ______.

Teenagers use and abuse drugs for many different reasons, including the desire for new experiences, to fit in with their peers, or to cope with problems/weak academic performance. Adolescents are “biologically wired” to seek new experiences and take risks, as well as to carve out their own identity. Trying drugs may fulfill all of these normal developmental drives, but in an unhealthy way that can have severe long-term consequences. Many factors influence whether an adolescent tries drugs, including the availability of drugs within the neighborhood, inherited genetic variability, community, academic environment, and whether the adolescent’s friends are using them. The family environment is also an essential factor to consider: Violence, physical or emotional abuse, mental illness, or drug use in the household increase the likelihood an adolescent will use drugs. Even if you think you are doing everything right as a parent and are providing a safe and healthy environment that does not automatically protect your child against experimenting with drugs or becoming addicted to drugs.

Consequences associated with alcohol addiction in teenagers

Addiction is a psychological condition affecting the brain that is characterized by compulsive drug and alcohol-seeking behavior. Chronic drug and alcohol use changes the brain chemistry and communication systems by rewiring the reward and pleasure pathways in the brain creating more intense cravings for these illicit substances rather than natural rewards. Addiction results in compulsive and harmful behaviors that can affect every aspect of an individual’s life including their occupation, relationships, and home life. The following are known consequences of alcohol addiction among teenagers.

• School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
• Social issues, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
• Legal issues, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
• Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
• Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
• Disruption of healthy growth and sexual development.
• Physical and sexual assault.
• Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
• Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, accidents, and drowning.
• Memory problems.
• Abuse of other drugs.
• Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
• Death from alcohol poisoning.

Source: National Institute of Health