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Drug and Alcohol Facts Week shares risks with teens

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Alcohol and tobacco are the drugs most commonly abused by adolescents, followed by marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

By age 15, 33 percent of teens had at least one drink. By 18, 60 percent of teens had one drink, according to national statistics.

“It’s alarming. Drinking alcohol can cause these teens to have accidents, to get hurt,” said the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s public liaison officer Brian Marquis.

In 2013, at least 119,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 21 visited the emergency room for alcohol-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This week is Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The institutes provide scientific-based information to schools and youth organizations throughout the country. The teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-alcohol-facts-week website provides many facts and activities that explain the dangers of youth using drugs and consuming alcohol.

“The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA’s) website has all sorts of activities,” said Shelley Rogers, the Coalition for Auburn and Lincoln Youth (CALY) program director. “It’s about NIDA sharing scientific facts so that coalitions and prevention organizations can share it in their communities.”

It’s extremely important to provide the information and resources to parents, teens and the community, according to Rogers.

“We’re doing a few things during this week. Tuesday, we are doing presentations for middle school students in Auburn around vaping and e-cigarettes, the risks and harms, and letting the kids know that they are being marketed to,” Rogers said. “We’re also bringing this same presentation to Lincoln students. And we are sharing drug and alcohol facts on our website, RasingPlacer.org, and via social media all week.”

The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among young teens, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry last March.

Teenagers abuse many drugs, including alcohol, prescribed medications, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols and solvents) and over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep and diet medications, the academy reported. Also abused are marijuana, stimulants (cocaine, crack and speed), LSD, PCP, opiates and opioid painkillers, heroin and designer drugs such as Ecstasy, according to the academy.

There are warning signs signaling teen alcohol and drug use.

“Certainly parents and teachers should pay close attention to changes of mood, including anger and irritability, academic and/or behavior problems in school, smelling alcohol on a young person’s breath and their changing groups of friends,” Marquis said.

Other signs include red eyes, a persistent cough, fatigue, and eating and sleeping changes.

Remember that resources and information is out there to help teens struggling with drugs and alcohol, Marquis emphasized.

“It’s a tough time for teens because they’re going through different social influences, there’s environmental factors, there’s peer pressure and stress,” Marquis said.