A large percentage of young adults who struggle with addiction began using drugs and alcohol when they were in high school. The reasons for substance initiation are varied. Sometimes use begins due to pressures from your peers (i.e. siblings, friends and older classmates). Others begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol because of something they saw in a movie or television show. Media outlets have a penchant for showing people drinking and drugging with a smile on their face, veritable pictures of conviviality.
People often gauge the risks and dangers of doing something based on inaccurate images presented to them, and there isn’t a law mandating that media always present the dangers of drug and alcohol use when they show characters engaging in such pastimes. More times than not, it seems, media outlets effectively glamorize substance use, painting pictures of people having fun while engaging in activities that can beget addiction down the road. While it is easy to say that movies and TV shows are works of fiction, not intended to be taken at face value—young people (it would appear) often struggle to differentiate between fact and fiction. Dangerous misconceptions, to say the least.
It isn’t that movies and television are completely off when they show alcohol and drugs being a good time. Anyone working a program of recovery can likely recall a time before they lost control of their substance use, before the transition into abuse when getting drunk or high went from being a choice, to a need that felt like life depended on it. While the majority of young people who experiment with mind-altering substances are able to skirt the hooks and snares of addiction, there is a significant number of individuals who are not so fortunate. Those whose causal alcohol and drug use in high school would soon end up morphing into full-blown addiction. Many of those same people’s use began with misrepresentations in the media, resulting in misconceptions in the mind.
That being said, it is vital that teenagers and young adults have all the facts, so that they can make informed decisions before they engage in substance use.
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week
Every January, the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsors National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW). The organization’s goal is to Shatter the Myths that young people have about drug and alcohol use. In partnership with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the two along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) help organize events in communities and schools across the country, which give young people an opportunity to speak with experts about drug and alcohol use. This year’s NDAFW is happening right now, ending on Sunday, January 29th.
While the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey shows that teen alcohol, cigarette and some other drug use has continued to drop in recent years, in order for the trend to continue persistence is required. Data indicates that among high school seniors, more than 5% misuse prescription drugs; more than 20% smoke marijuana, and 35% use alcohol in the past year. It is likely that those same young adults who reported past year use, do not have all the facts regarding these behaviors. Both NIDA and NIAAA believe, when given information about how drugs affect the brain, body, and behaviors—young people will make different choices.
Please watch a short video about National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week:
If you are having trouble seeing the video, please click here.
If you are interested in taking part in NDAFW, please visit the website. There you can find the National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge quiz, the Drugs: SHATTER THE MYTHS booklet and a number of other valuable resources.
Young People In Recovery
If you began using drugs and alcohol in high school, which resulted in addiction as a young adult, please contact PACE Recovery Center. Recovery is possible, and there are many young people dedicated to working a program every day of the week. The sooner the problem is addressed, the sooner you can begin working towards a future free from the deadly symptoms of addiction.
At PACE, we specialize in treating young adult males who have been impacted by drugs and alcohol. Our qualified staff can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction, and learn how to live a healthy, balanced life.