This week kicks off National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW). The aim of this national event, under the leadership of the National Institute of Health, is to shatter the myths surrounding drug and alcohol abuse. The focus is on educating teenagers about the truth regarding drugs and alcohol. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week was launched in 2010 by scientists of both the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), who collaborate on research and prevention initiatives. The NDAFW’s focus is on promoting educational events in communities to teach teens about what science has to say regarding drug and alcohol abuse.
The events open up a forum for scientific facts to be presented about alcohol and drugs that are popular among teenagers. Each community has its own unique set of problems, and events can be customized to address this specific issues. About one-third of teens have reported using illicit or prescription drugs for recreational use within the past year. Many do not know the risks and dangers involved when taking illicit and prescription drugs and using alcohol. During National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, community members are taught the dangers of substance abuse and both short and long-term effects. They get the facts about how drugs and alcohol affect them physically, psychologically and spiritually. Scientists and other experts are brought together by the events, which offer attendees a safe environment where they are able to ask questions without negative repercussions. The events are usually sponsored by schools, community groups, organizations, sports clubs and hospitals. Event holders are equipped with an online toolkit that advises them on how to host a meeting, promote publicity, secure an expert for the event, and gather scientific information on alcohol and drugs. More than 1,500 events were held nationally last year with a few international sites as well.
Past success stories, along with ideas for events, are presented on the NIDA for Teens website. Resources on alcohol and tobacco are also available there. Event holders who register online receive free booklets of scientific facts about drug and alcohol abuse. They also receive the publication, Drugs: Shatter the Myths. This year, the website also offers three interactive tools that can be projected onto a large screen and used at events, or on mobile devices:
NDAFW is supported by many federal agencies including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Michael Botticelli, director of ONDCP states, “We are not powerless when it comes to drug and alcohol use among young people. We know that preventing substance use before it begins is the most cost-effective approach to reduce substance use and its consequences. By raising awareness and educating young people and their families, we can help reduce drug use and the number of people affected by substance use disorders.” NIDA and NIAAA scientists will hold their annual Web Chat Awareness with teens across the country. National Drug and Alcohol Chat Day will be held January 26, 2016 from 8 AM to 6 PM EST. To receive more information about NDAFW go to the NIDA webiste or call 301-443-1124. To share your story or to take part in the event, use the hashtag #drugfacts on social media. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction and needs helps, speak to a treatment professional who can help.
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