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Today, I’m joining educators across the U.S. to kick off National Drug Facts Week by offering up my own shout-out for educating teens about drug abuse. Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Drug Facts Week is an official health observance designed to shatter the myths and spread the facts about drug abuse and addiction. To learn more about today’s “CyberShoutout” in support of National Drug Facts Week, checkout Sara Bellum Blog.
My discussion today will start off with a brief understanding of the world of drugs. Then I will delve deep into current data that looks at the prevalence of illegal drug use in the U.S. and current research that will take us to some interesting places. By the end of the article, I hope to provide insightful knowledge that teens can use to prevent illicit drug and alcohol use.
When discussing drugs, it’s best to understand that they can be categorized into four groups (image courtesy of David McCandless of Information Is Beautiful). It’s interesting to note that Cannabis falls right in the center as the “Super Drug,” and that Alcohol is categorized as a “Depressant.”
Now, what is the prevalence of illicit drug use by teens? Recent data (2007) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that:
- 8.0% of persons 12 years of age and over have used illicit drug in the past month.
- 5.8% of persons 12 years of age and over have used marijuana use in the past month.
- 2.8% of persons 12 years of age and over have used a psychotherapeutic drug (for non-medical use) in the past month.
Also, a report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy found that even though there is a “significant downturn in usage levels, they remain at high levels and it has been shown that the earlier drug use is initiated, the more likely a person is to develop drug problems later in life.” It goes without saying that there are a number of health effects that can undermine a teen’s academic performance, peer and family relations, and even lead to increased chances of juvenile delinquencies. In relation to excessive alcohol consumption and marijuana use, a recent report published in the January 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (summary found HERE) found that “drinking during adolescence alters normal developmental processes in a way that negatively impacts learning and social adjustment into adulthood.” In other words…alcohol consumption is associated with BRAINDAMAGE! To learn more about U.S. trends for teen illicit drug use, please visit the following LINK.
I want to share three pieces of research that have been conducted this year.