I know being a parent is a tough job. Being a parent to a teen/young adult is even harder.
I have two teenagers, ages 17 and 19 (almost 20). The teen years are not easy at all. There are plenty of days I wish I could go back to dealing with their “terrible twos.”
When you have teenagers there is so much more you need to worry about, and plenty of discussions to be had with your teen about curfews, friends, dating, school and more serious issues like sex, drugs and alcohol.
When I was a teenager my parents didn’t talk to me about drugs and alcohol. I guess they assumed that I knew everything I needed to know from my peers and from school. Little did they know my peers were the worst influences on me. I was attending keg parties when I was only 15 years old. In hindsight, I was not too smart to do that at such a young age, especially knowing what I know now. I made extra certain to share all the facts with my kids to aid them in making smart choices.
January 23 – 29, 2017 is National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM (NDAFW). It’s an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to shatter myths about substance use and addiction.
NDAFW is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), both part of the National Institutes of Health.
I wish they had something like this when I was a teenager. This event didn’t launch until 2010. Thankfully my kids were able to participate in school activities during the event.
The purpose of the week-long campaign is to SHATTER THE MYTHSTM,SM that kids might have about drugs and alcohol. Most of what they know about drugs and alcohol comes from their peers, movies, television, the internet and music which often objectifies drugs and alcohol and makes them look “cool” and fun to do.
These events connect teens with experts and scientists so that teens can ask questions about drugs and alcohol and receive the REAL facts about them. It’s a safe place for teens to ask those serious questions without the fear of being judged or getting lectures on why they shouldn’t use drugs and alcohol.
Since its inception, the number of community-based events held has grown dramatically, with more than 2,000 held last January throughout all 50 states and several international sites.
I visited the NDAFW website and learned some facts about drugs and alcohol that really made me think. For example, I read up on e-cigarettes, which seem to be very trendy these days.
Did you know…
- 9.5 percent of 8th graders used e-cigarettes in the past month. – I was shocked when I read this.
- Twice as many boys use e-cigs as girls. – This fact didn’t surprise me.
- 30.7 percent of e-cig users started smoking within 6 months; 8.1 percent of non-users started smoking within that time. – My daughter knows a lot of kids who smoke e-cigarettes. She said they are not addicting. This scary fact proves that she’s wrong.
- Manufacturers don’t have to report e-cig ingredients, so users often don’t know what’s in them. – That is scary! You have no clue what you are actually inhaling into your body. Why would anyone want to take such a risk with their health?
One important resource that NDAFW utilizes is the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.” This is a 12-question multiple choice quiz that teens and adults can take in order to test their knowledge about drugs. If you are a parent you can take the IQ Challenge and share your results with your teen. It’s a great way to start a conversation about drugs and alcohol.
I would encourage all parents and guardians to take the “National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge.” I thought I knew a lot about drugs and alcohol, but I still got several wrong (I did fairly well). I plan on requesting that both my teenagers take the quiz too so we can discuss the results.
Check to see if there are any events going on locally for National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM. If not you should check out their website and find out how you can get involved.
The website is also a valuable resource for talking to your teen about drug and alcohol facts. It’s an important discussion all parents should have with their teens.