National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW) is a national health observance for teens to link up with scientists and other experts to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that are seen on the Internet, on TV, in movies, and even heard from friends. It runs this week, Jan. 25 to Jan. 31.
NDAFW was launched in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to stimulate educational events in communities so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction. Just this year, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism became a partner and added alcohol as a topic area for the week.
Drugs and alcohol can be glorified and presented in ways that appeal to teens. It’s important for teens—and everyone else—to understand that there are risks any time you’re using drugs or alcohol. Drug abuse affects the lives of teens and the lives of adults differently.
The signs of drug abuse can vary and depend on the person and the drug being abused. Behavioral changes may indicate drug abuse, although up and down moods, sneaky behavior, and poor relationships may also be signs of other issues, such as stress or depression. Physical symptoms of drug abuse and dependence may include red eyes, sore throat, dry cough, losing weight without trying to, changes in sleep behavior, and more. These changes pale in comparison to the statistics, however:
- Alcohol abuse causes about 88,000 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs cost our nation more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care.
- Drug overdose deaths, at nearly 44,000 per year, now exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 36 states and Washington, D.C., according to a report released by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from a drug or alcohol dependency, help is available. The benefits of quitting alcohol or drugs are many. Find out about treatment options through the National Institutes of Health.