Helping Teens Shatter the Myths About Drugs and Drug Abuse

11/14/2012  |  By Brian Marquis Public Liaison Officer, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Many teens are not aware of the serious risks drugs and alcohol pose to their health, to their success in school, and to their future. According to a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina are among the top five states for teen abuse of methamphetamine, marijuana, inhalants, heroin, or steroids.
 About a third of high school seniors reported using an illicit drug sometime in the past year; more than 10 percent report nonmedical use of potentially addictive prescription pain killers; and more than 20 percent report smoking marijuana in the past month. So the question is: What can schools do to effectively educate this generation of teens about drug abuse?

One way is for school staff, parents, and students to work together on awareness events that will provide teens with the facts about drug use. National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) is a national health observance designed to arm communities with the materials and tools they need to influence teens to say no to drugs.Inspired by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institute of Health, National Drug Facts Week is in its third year and will be held from January 28 through February 3, 2013.

"This week is designed to counteract the myths teens have about drug abuse, often reinforced by their peers, the Internet, and the entertainment industry," said NIDA Director, Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "When given the facts from people they trust, teens are in a better position to make good decisions about drug use.”

All around the country, science teachers, health teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, drug prevention programs, and community support programs are using the science-based information available FREE from NIDA in their curriculum, school assemblies, PTA meetings, and evening workshops to get the truth out. In some cases, local research scientists and government officials can be invited to participate in these important events.

This year, National Drug Facts Week is expecting more than 200 events to be held around the country. These events range in size and scope, but they are all focused on educating and communicating with teens about drug use and its consequences. NIDA staff can provide ideas and information to help make an educational event successful. Some event ideas may include:

·       A school assembly

·       A concert with local bands

·       An addiction-themedart contest

·       A graffiti fact wall

·       A trivia night

·       A walk or run to raise awareness

·       A panel discussion with local law enforcement, substance abuse counselors, and individuals affected by drug abuse.

Get more ideas for activities and help with planning your National Drug Facts Week event.

How NIDA Can Help

NIDA provides an online toolkit that provides useful information on ways to create an event, publicize it, and obtain scientific facts on drugs. NIDA will support those who stage an event by offering its popular teen booklet, Drugs: Shatter the Myths, free of charge as well as a new online National Drug IQ Challenge, a 10-question, multiple-choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their knowledge about drugs.

Register your event!

Once you have decided on your event be sure to register your event. Once registered for National Drug Facts week, your event will be added to the Google map of National Drug Fact Week events, where it will join hundreds of others. You can also upload pictures to the National Drug Facts Week Flickr page, and your event may be highlighted in one of the NDFW e-Newsletters.

Drug Facts Chat Day

As part of the National Drug Facts Week health observance, NIDA scientists will hold their annual Web chat with teens around the country during Drug Facts Chat Day, January 31, 2013 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.Registration is offered to any school staff on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the website offers more information on the popular annual chat.

For additional information on National Drug Facts Week or for assistance in planning your educational event, visit the National Drug Facts Week website or call (301) 443-1124.                 

For additional information on National Drug Facts Week or for assistance in planning your educational event, visit the National Drug Facts Week website or call 301-443-1124.
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