28 Jan 7 Myths teens hear about drugs and alcohol
The days of “Just say no” are behind us and experts say teens need scientific facts about drugs and alcohol to be better prepared to make the right decisions.
To help counteract the myths teens often receive about drugs and alcohol, the National Institute on Drug Abuse started National Drug Facts Week in 2010. This year, NIDA partnered with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to include alcohol information for teens and changed the awareness week’s name to National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week.
Here are the 7 common myths teens hear about drugs and alcohol (click the myth for to see more information and the facts):
Myth: Drinking is a rite of passage and everyone is doing it
Only 1 in 5 East Texas 7th-12th graders are current users of alcohol, according to the 2014 Texas School Survey. Since we work in prevention, we won’t be happy until that number is 0, but the silver lining is that 79% of those teens aren’t frequently drinking. So not everyone is doing it.
Myth: Underage drinking is okay as long as no one is driving
While drinking and driving is a very serious issue, it’s not the only reason underage drinking is dangerous. A survey by Caron Treatment Centers revealed that 29 percent of parents agreed it’s fine for high-school students to drink as long as they don’t drive.
This low perception of harm against underage drinking is then passed onto kids, even though the research is clear about the dangers of underage drinking.
Underage drinking can seriously impair brain development and put teens at an increased risk for addiction.
Research shows that the brain doesn’t finish developing until the mid-twenties and exposing the developing brain to alcohol has serious effects on memory, learning and personality development.
It also shows that children who begin drinking at age 13 have a 45 percent chance of becoming alcohol-dependent. A person who starts drinking at the legal age of 21 only has a seven percent chance of becoming addicted, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration.
Other consequences include engaging in risky sexual behavior, an increased risk for physical and sexual assault and poor academic performance. (Click here for the full list of consequences.)
Myth: Marijuana use isn’t harmful since it’s legal in some states
Teen marijuana use is closely related to how dangerous they thing the drug is. Currently, the number of teens who think marijuana is harmful is declining – in part because of the mixed messages being conveyed by the passage of medical marijuana laws and legalization of marijuana in some states. The
However, scientific evidence shows that regular marijuana use during teenage years can affect the developing brain, and lower a person’s IQ well into adulthood. Science tells us regular recreational marijuana use interferes with other aspects of functioning and well-being. Even in the states that marijuana use is legal, marijuana use is illegal in all states for those under 21 because of the harmful effects
Myth: Marijuana isn’t addictive
The chances of becoming addicted to marijuana, or any drug, is different for each person. However, for marijuana, 1 in 11 people who use it become addicted, according to NIDA.
Myth: Synthetic marijuana is just like marijuana
Synthetic drugs are commonly called synthetic marijuana (K2 and Spice are other common names) and teens think that it’s “natural” and therefore harmless. This misconception has made the drugs popular among the high-school age group.
However, synthetic drugs are far from natural. The drugs contain dried, shredded plant materials and chemical additives that are responsible for psychoactive affects. Each bag of synthetic drugs can have a completely different, and dangerous, chemical makeup.
Myth: Synthetic marijuana is harmless
Synthetic marijuana, also known and sold under names such as Spice, K2, Moon Rocks, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, and others—and labeled “not for human consumption” — are products that contain dried, shredded plant materials and chemical additives that are responsible for psychoactive affects similar to marijuana. The drugs are also being marketed and sold as legal alternatives to marijuana, cocaine, meth, and heroine.
For several years, synthetic marijuana was easy to purchase in head shops, gas stations, and over the internet. Easy access and misperception that these products are “natural” and “harmless” have contributed to their popularity. Another “selling point” is that the chemicals used in synthetic marijuana are not easily detected in standard drug tests.
However, the unknown chemical compositions that are often widely unknown can cause a wide variety of dangerous health consequences, including heart trouble, vomiting, agitation, confusion, hallucinations, violence, suicidal thoughts, and even death.
Myth: Prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional
When it comes to prescription drugs, teens often thing they’re safer than illicit drugs since they are prescribed by a health professional. However, when prescription drugs are abused, they can be just an addictive and dangerous as illicit drugs.
For example, teens think they can take a friend’s prescribed ADHD medication to focus when studying for a big test, even if they themselves don’t have ADHD.
However, teens who abuse these drugs for their stimulatory properties are at risk for series effects, including, dangerously high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, seizures and tremors, stroke, hallucinations and mood disorders.
In addition, experts say the increase in heroin use is linked to prescription opioid abuse. Young people often become addicted to pain pills and progress to heroin, which provides the same euphoric high, when pills are hard to come by.
This week provides a great opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about the facts about drugs and alcohol and help counteract some of the myths they may receive. I want to encourage parents to talk to their kids and empower them with the facts so they can make healthy decisions.
Other info and tips: