National Drug Facts Week 2013- January 28th
through February 3rd
By Wendy Tepfer
Director, Community Parent Center
Teen drug use is a serious issue
facing our youth. Drugs can be found everywhere, and it may seem like
everyone is using them. Teen drug use
should not be looked at as a rite of passage.
It is a critical public health problem that has ruined too many futures
and ended too many lives.
address this important issue, the National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health
established National Drug Facts Week in 2010.
This national health observance is a
time for parents, schools and communities across the country to help educate
teens about drugs and drug abuse. It is a time to empower teens with the truth about
drug use, so that they will make knowledgeable decisions to protect their
health and their future.
In a recent report on drug, alcohol and tobacco use among teens in
the U.S., the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at
Columbia University found that 75% of all high school students have used
alcohol, tobacco or either legal or illicit drugs. 20% of these teens are
addicted. The report further states that
adolescence is the critical period both for starting
to smoke, drink or use other drugs and for experiencing more harmful
consequences as a result. The teen brain is primed
to take risks including experimenting with these substances and, because it is
still developing; it is more vulnerable to their harmful effects. Some teens
are at even greater risk because of genetics, family history, trauma and mental
health or behavioral problems.
Here are some facts and statistics
from NIDA and CASA:
- Alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined.
- Traffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for all persons age 6–33. About 45% of these fatalities are alcohol-related crashes.
- More than 60% of teens said that drugs were sold, used, or kept at their school.
- Youth who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink alcohol.
- About 64% of teens (12-17) who have abused pain relievers say they got them from friends or relatives, often without their knowledge.
- While rates of illicit drug use are declining, the rate of prescription drug use remains high with 15.4% of high school seniors reporting non-medical use of at least one prescription medication within the past year.
- In 2008, 1.9 million youth age 12 to 17 abused prescription drugs.
- Around 28% of teens know a friend or classmate who has used ecstasy, with 17% knowing more than one user.
- By the 8th grade, 52% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 41% have smoked cigarettes, and 20% have used marijuana.
- 90 percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18.
- 1 in 4 Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 developed an addiction, compared to 1 in 25 Americans who started using at age 21 or older.
- 46 percent of all high school students currently use addictive substances; 1 in 3 of them meets the medical criteria for addiction.
Teens have many questions about drugs and drug abuse.
Without a dependable source for answers, they turn to the media, Internet, TV,
friends, and pop culture—where the answers they get might be false or misleading.
Moreover, when it comes to drugs and drug abuse, the misinformation they
receive can have serious and dangerous consequences.
is a fact that teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers
of drugs are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those whose parents don't,
yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations. The Community Parent Center urges parents to
speak early and often to their children about drug abuse and addiction. You can help your teen stay safe and make
healthy choices by:
Talking and listening regularly
Being directly involved in your child’s everyday
Making it clear that you do not want him or her
drinking or using drugs
Being a positive role model
For more information concerning teen
alcohol and other drug use visit these websites:
National Institute for Drug Abuse
–NIDA for Teens
National Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University
Established in 1988, the
Community Parent Center is Bellmore-Merrick’s resource center for quality
parent and community education programs addressing safe teen driving, substance
and alcohol abuse prevention, bullying/ harassment and youth violence
prevention. The mission of the Parent Center is to provide parents and families
with education, resource information and the support they need to raise
resilient children who are safe, confident, non-violent and drug-free. The
Parent Center is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization, underwritten by
private donations, grants and legislative appropriations. Information about programs and educational
materials can be obtained by visiting the Community Parent Center Website at
or by calling (516) 771-9346.