National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week falls from January 22-27, 2019 – an event begun in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to shatter the myths about drug and alcohol use.

It was originally designed to boost educational events in communities to teach teens what science has discovered about drug use and addiction. Upon merging with the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2016, the program added alcohol as a topic. Both NIDA and NIAAA are part of the National Institutes of Health.

The week-long affair now connects 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.

During the week, teens, scientists, and various other experts join together in community and school events all over America to talk about how drugs affect the brain, body, and behaviors. There are a good number of federal partners who also work in conjunction with National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students in the U.S. Department of Education, and the Drug Enforcement Administration in the U.S. Department of Justice.

There’s also a Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day scheduled for January 24th where students from around America can ask the questions they most want the answers to about drugs and drug misuse, including drug effects, how to help friends or family that are abusing drugs, and what causes addiction. Expert scientists provided by NIDA and NIAAA give them the facts.

Teenagers’ drug and alcohol abuse rates are currently holding steady at the lowest levels in over twenty years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse,

Substances at historic low levels of use include alcohol and cigarettes, heroin, prescription opioids, MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly), methamphetamine, amphetamines, and sedatives. Other illicit drugs showed five-year declines, such as synthetic marijuana, hallucinogens other than LSD, and over-the-counter cough and cold medications. Five-year trends, however, did reveal an increase in LSD use among high school seniors, although use still remains lower compared to its peak in 1996.

The 2017 study revealed a general decline in perceived risk of harm from using a number of substances and declining disapproval of people who use them. For example, the percentage of 8th graders who think that occasional use of synthetic marijuana or an over-the-counter cough and cold medications is less than it was last year and in prior years. Among 10th graders, there was a decrease in the proportion of students who perceive a risk of harm when trying inhalants, powder cocaine, or an over-the-counter cough and cold medications once or twice. High school seniors reported reduced perception of harm in occasional cocaine, heroin, and steroid use, and reduced disapproval of trying LSD.

According to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, the National Center for Children in Poverty, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the CDC, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Roughly 50% of teens have misused drugs (prescription or illicit) at least once.
  • 23.6% of 12th grade students report using illicit drugs in the last year.
  • 6.5% of 8th-grade students report using marijuana in the last month.
  • 7.5% of teens said they smoked marijuana for the first time before turning 13.
  • 14.8% of 10th-grade students said they used marijuana in the last month.
  • 21.3% of 12th-grade students said they used marijuana in the last month.
  • 34.9% of 12th grade students said they used marijuana in the last year.
  • 7.7% of 12th grade students said they used amphetamines illegally in the last year.
  • 7.5% of 12th grade students said they used Adderall non-medically in the last year.
  • 5.4% of 12th grade students said they used prescription painkillers for non-medical needs in the last year.
  • 5.2% of 12th grade students said they used synthetic cannabinoids (ex: K2, Spice) in the past year.
  • Reported use in the past year of OxyContin, sedatives, MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, other hallucinogens, cocaine, Ritalin, inhalants, and Salvia among high school seniors were each less than 4%.
  • Teens often have access to prescription pills or inhalants within their home.
  • The majority of adolescents that abuse prescription opioid painkillers are able to get them from friends or family members, with around 33% getting their own prescriptions.

And in stats focused on alcohol abuse from the same sources as well as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse:

  • 63.2% of high school students said they drank alcohol at least once in their life.
  • 17.2% of high school students said they drank alcohol for the first time before they were 13 years old.
  • 58.2% of 12th graders said they drank alcohol in the past year.
  • 37.7% of high school seniors said they were drunk in the last year.
  • 9.7% of 8th graders said they drank alcohol within the last 30 days.
  • 21.5% of 10th graders said they drank alcohol within the last 30 days.
  • 35.3% of 12th graders said they drank alcohol within the last 30 days.
  • 17.2% of 12th graders said they were binge drinking (having 5 or more drinks in a short period of time) in the last two weeks.
  • Almost 25% of teenagers reported that they have ridden in a car with a drunk driver.

If you’d like to get involved, look at the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® website for more info. NIDA offers online toolkits with many suggestions on how to plan events, how and where to find experts who can participate, and how to connect with NIDA staffers who can help. The site also tells you how to register your event, and how to get free materials for teens, including the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge quiz, and their popular SHATTER THE MYTHS®  booklet.  Toolkits explain how to focus events on all drug use, or on specific drugs that might be a problem in your community. There is also a toolkit en Español.

Make 2019’s National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week count – and do what you can to help educate teens and shatter the myths around drug and alcohol abuse. And for more facts and information about drugs and alcohol visit our website or call us at 855-491-7694.