Today kicks off the start of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week which runs from January 25-31, 2016. It was started in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has since joined forces. Teenagers (and society in general) are bombarded with information about drugs and alcohol from the news, television shows, movies, music, and more. Some of this information is true, while some of it is not. It’s important that teens have the right facts so that they can make healthy choices and steer clear of drugs and alcohol that could have damaging effects on their wellbeing.
This year’s theme is “Shatter the Myths.” Unfortunately there are still many myths and stigmas that exist about drug and alcohol use. It is this misinformation that can increase people’s risk of developing addictions and deter them from seeking treatment at a Los Angeles drug and alcohol rehab center. Conversations about healthy habits should start when children are young. Parents should provide them with age-appropriate facts and information on an ongoing basis. Talking about substance use shouldn’t be a once-and-done conversation. It needs to be reinforced and new questions addressed as they arise.
There are plenty of opportunities to bring up the subject in everyday life. Whether you see someone drinking in a movie or hear a story about drug use on the news, use these situations as starting points to begin a conversation. You don’t have to belabor the point, but make sure your children are educated and aware of the risks that come with substance use. Equip them with the knowledge and resources they need to make healthy decisions, resist peer pressure, and cope with challenging situations in a positive way.
Here are a few facts about drugs and alcohol to keep in mind:
- Prescription drugs can still be dangerous even though they’re prescribed by a doctor.
Many people think that prescription drugs are safer than other drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor. While they are generally safe when used as directed, they can still come with a risk of addiction, especially when used in high doses or for an extended period of time. Prescriptions should never be shared with anyone else, and you shouldn’t change your dosage on your own. If you are unsure whether the medication is working as it should, or feel that you may be developing an addiction, talk to your doctor.
- Having a high tolerance for alcohol can indicate a problem with alcoholism.
Just because you feel fine after a few drinks, doesn’t mean the alcohol hasn’t had any effect. If you need to drink more and more before you start feeling it, that means that you have built up a tolerance, which comes from excessive drinking. This does indicate a problem because most people notice the effects much sooner. When you are drinking heavily or binge drinking, this can increase your risk for alcohol poisoning and other serious health effects. Alcohol poisoning can lead to death if not caught early enough.
- Drinking during adolescence can increase a person’s risk of developing alcoholism.
According to NIDA, “About 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics.” Their brains are still developing and alcohol can impair this process. Not only are they not emotionally mature enough to handle the consequences of alcohol, their body is not physically ready either. In addition, genetics and environment also play a role in addiction risk and when there is a family history of alcoholism, or drinking is commonplace in the home, this can send children the wrong messages. They need to be educated about their risk of alcoholism and how to be proactive in preventing it.
- Drug and alcohol addiction are not a choice.
The decision to start using drugs or alcohol is a choice, but no one intends to become addicted. Prolonged use changes the way the brain functions and alters its reward system. Many people think that they can stop whenever they want. While this is true for some people who do not use drugs or alcohol often, for those who engage in substance use regularly, it can be much more difficult to stop on their own. Even when they want to, they are physically or psychologically unable to without professional help from a luxury rehab center.
- Long-term addiction recovery is possible.
Some people think that once a person develops an addiction, they will always go through cycles of relapse. This is not true. There are people who are committed to their recovery and work hard to implement the strategies that they have learned so that they can maintain a drug-free lifestyle. While there is always a slight risk of relapse no matter how long a person has been in recovery, there is no guarantee that it will happen and they’ll return to a life of substance use. Many people go on to live productive and healthy lives, starting a new chapter for themselves. They do not let their previous addiction dominate or define their life.
Talk to your children honestly about substance use disorders and keep lines of communication open. They should feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns they may have. Do your part to shatter the myths and ensure they have accurate facts and information. If there’s something you don’t know, research it together.
And if you are struggling with addiction in your own life, be a positive role model and seek treatment. Chapters Capistrano offers 12-step and non 12-step based approaches as well a variety of holistic therapies to provide comprehensive and individualized addiction treatment. There is also a family program to help rebuild relationships and address the impact that addiction has on the whole family. Do your part in fighting back against addiction by contacting Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 and getting started in a drug and alcohol rehab program.