This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Institute on Drug Abuse. All opinions are 100% mine.
Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting our not-so-little-anymore ones from the craziness out there. These facts about drugs help dispel common myths about drug use that are often perpetuated by the media, misleading parents and teens.
I’ve teamed up with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) for National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) to help SHATTER THE MYTHS® and provide true science-based facts to replace them.
Addiction and substance use is a very hard subject to talk about.
But it’s also a critical one.
I’ll be honest with you, I thought I knew a lot more about drug use than I really did. A few people close to me have fallen prey to this disease. Some are still struggling with it and some have emerged but watching them deteriorate has had an everlasting effect on me. We can’t possibly be too prepared.
To prepare me for writing this article, I took the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge – a quick twelve question multiple-choice quiz. I was sure I’d score at least 80%. I didn’t. I scored 50% on the quiz – there are lots of things I thought I knew but didn’t.
It kind of scares me, some of the things I learned just from that one quiz. It made me realize how harmful some substances that are so readily available can be. It made me realize the importance of sharing this message with you even more and spreading real drug and alcohol facts.
7 Actual Scientific Facts About Drugs to shatter the myths now:
Get the Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet and read through it thoroughly to learn the facts!
1. Marijuana isn’t as safe as you think.
Marijuana, which goes by a lot of different names, including weed, reefer, pot and Mary Jane, comes in different forms, and various strengths. Vaping it also delivers dangerous amounts of a potent chemical to the mind, and can be responsible for an increase in breathing issues and mental health problems.
See more: Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know
2. Cocaine WILL become an endless cycle
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes people feel good when they do something they enjoy. Cocaine causes a buildup of dopamine in the brain, causing a “high”- a feeling of intense pleasure and increased energy.
However, after the high wears off, the person will crash and feel tired or sad for days. This will lead to a craving for more cocaine to feel good again, leading to a vicious cycle. People who use cocaine are at high risk of heart attack or stroke, impaired judgment that can put them at risk for HIV, and losing touch with reality.
3. MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly) is its own worst enemy
Because MDMA does not always break down in the body, it can interfere with its own metabolism. Simply put, this will cause harmful levels to build up in the body when it is taken multiple times in a short amount of time.
High levels of the drug in the bloodstream can increase the risk for seizures and affect the heart’s ability to beat normally.
4. A standard alcoholic drink is less than you think
Drinking of any amount is not safe or legal for anyone under the age of 21. Unfortunately, many teens do drink, and they often drink “just a few”- just a few too many, which is quite dangerous.
A standard drink of beer (about 5% alcohol) is only 12 ounces. A standard drink of wine (about 12% alcohol) is only 5 ounces. A shot of liquor (gin, rum, vodka, tequila or whiskey, about 40% alcohol) is only 1.5 ounces.
5. Tobacco, and nicotine are far from “easy and harmless”
Teens often consider smoking purely for social reasons. Tobacco use is THE leading cause of disease, disability and death in the US. And it’s preventable!
About 1,300 deaths every single day are due to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. For every one person who dies from smoking, thirty more suffer from a serious, tobacco-related illness.
6. Heroin use causes more than just a dry mouth
Heroin, a highly addictive drug made from morphine, has a long list of symptoms, both short-term and long-term.
Short-term includes numb limbs, nausea, itching and becoming comatose. Longer term effects can include sleeping issues, heart infection, liver and kidney disease, depression and sexual problems.
7. Methamphetamine (“Meth”) is incredibly hard to quit
Meth is a very addictive, stimulant drug. Stimulants are drugs that are mood boosters, but they have dangerous effects and its use easily leads to addiction. Meth causes tolerance- tolerance is when a user needs more of it to keep the “high.”
When people try to quit using, they will likely experience withdrawal feelings which are quite uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. One of the withdrawal feelings is the strong craving to use more meth, which makes it so hard to stop using.
6 Ways to approach this subject with your teen in a non-confrontational way:
I’m not that far-gone from my teenage years. I’ve also had a close relationship with many teens in more recent years, working with them in craft workshops, in summer camps, and in other settings.
All kids respond negatively to confrontation – multiply that by a thousand when it comes to teens.
Use the resources provided to navigate you around this complex situation and to help protect your kids.
Please note: I have outlined just a tiny drop in the bucket of how to help your teen stay drug-free. Please refer here for in-depth, researched ways to help your child.
1. Have them take the quiz:
As I mentioned, knowledge is power!
This will be the easiest test to take and will teach them simple facts that can serve as deterrents. Start conversations around the different points raised to open up discussion about it.
2. Find a SHATTER THE MYTHS® event designed for this purpose:
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) is an annual week-long event to help dispel myths and educate.
Find a community event to educate your child.
3. Use this resource for researched techniques:
Get educational materials written by people in the know. Check out the Family Checkup pamphlet for researched-based techniques to keep your teens drug-free.
4. Keep lines of communication open:
Are you approachable? Can your child discuss relationship problems with you? Can you communicate calmly and clearly with your teen? Are you able to work through emotional conflicts with your child and come to a positive solution?
The Family Checkup mentioned above will help you navigate this complicated relationship.
5. Be aware: Ensure that you know where your child is, who his or her friends are, and that you can communicate openly about these friendships.
The Family Checkup mentioned above features in-depth information on how to do this.
6. Encourage positive behaviors:
If your child is struggling in school, it’s up to you to find areas of success to encourage – whether it’s your child’s creativity, her kindness, his ability to pick up and try again…
Learn encouraging phrases. Make them believe in themselves.
Drug and alcohol use is a problem in our communities – in your community. It does not discriminate. It is a discussion that we need to be having, and these resources help us have this discussion in the right way.