Fighting Drug Addiction this National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
Educating youth about the dangers of drug use can prevent a lifetime of addiction – and this October’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is the perfect opportunity to learn how.
Since 2011, National Substance Abuse Prevention Month has been embraced as a time to acknowledge the harm substance abuse can cause to individual and community health, to remember those who have lost their lives to drug addiction, and to encourage the formation of drug misuse education programs that arm youth with the knowledge to lead drug-free lives – because when it comes to avoiding addiction, preventative steps are the best steps.
National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and Understanding Risk of Drug Addiction in Teens
The earlier an individual begins smoking, drinking or using drugs, the likelier that individual is to develop an addiction.
In fact, the Center on Addiction notes that 9 out of 10 individuals who abuse substances began using before their 18th birthday, during a time when the adolescent brain is still developing and more vulnerable to addiction.
- The 2017 National Survey “Monitoring The Future” found that, by 12th grade, half of adolescents have misused an illicit drug at least once
- According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, 20.3 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2018
- Also in 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens reported that drug overdoses accounted for the deaths of 5,455 15- to 24-year-olds.
- Increased substance use in 8th grade resulted in elevated conduct disorder symptoms in 9th grade, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The above statistics illustrate why it’s so important for parents, teachers, and mentors to be honest with younger generations about drugs, alcohol, and how to lead healthy lives independent from substance abuse.
How to Educate Youth About Substance Abuse During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
Broaching the subject of drugs and alcohol with a teen during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month can be a difficult task – but it’s worthwhile, and can even be a positive experience if handled carefully. Teens (and young adults) often don’t know as much about alcoholism and drug addiction as you might think, so don’t assume they’ve already heard what you have to say.
Tips for Talking to Teens
- Choose the right time to have a conversation. Make sure there’s no time constraint and that each individual is entering the discussion with an open mind.
- Don’t lecture. Instead, ask the teen’s views on substance abuse and listen to his or her opinions and questions.
- Discuss reasons to avoid drugs. Make it clear that abusing drugs or binge drinking at too young an age can damage brain development, and emphasize how it can negatively impact things the teen cares about.
- Brainstorm ways to resist peer pressure. For many young adults, saying “no” is half the battle, so it helps to act out a situation in which drugs are being offered. Most experts agree that role-playing is one of the most effective aspects of a substance abuse prevention program.
- Be prepared to share your own experiences. Be honest. If you’ve chosen to live drug-free, explain why; if you’ve experimented with drugs, share what you learned from the experience.
Why National Substance Abuse Prevention Month?
Preventing substance abuse is far easier than treating an existing addiction – not to mention more cost-effective.
- Prevention saves money. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs the USA an estimated $740 billion annually. Research shows that for every dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program, the costs related to substance use disorders decrease by an average of $18.
- Better choices now, better life later. Focusing on prevention can hinder the development of addiction and save individuals from the destructive paths down which drug dependence can lead. For example, 18.9 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment in 2018 but did not receive it, mainly due to financial concerns and an unreadiness to stop using. Presenting younger individuals with the tools to make healthy life choices saves them from struggles like this down the road.
- Drug-free = more free time. Freedom from drug dependency means youths can funnel energy to positive pursuits that enrich both their own lives and the world around them. Hobbies, sports, friendships, and studying don’t have to take a back seat to drugs and alcohol.
About Pinelands Recovery Center
It’s best to stop addiction before it starts – but it’s never too late to start recovery.
Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.
We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.
We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com