Educate Youth About Drug Addiction During National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

Teens playing soccer.

National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW), which will take place Jan. 23-29, 2017, is an annual opportunity to raise young people’s awareness about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this year’s campaign has the theme “SHATTER THE MYTHS.”

Organizations can visit the NDAFW event map to see whether any events are planned for their area or plan their own NDAFW event by following these five steps recommended by NIDA.

Here are some highlights from NIDA’s suggested activities for National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week:

Encourage New Year’s resolutions. National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week takes place in January, so it’s a good time to integrate alcohol and drug use prevention into the seasonal practice of committing to start new, healthy habits. NIDA suggests that facilitators divide a group of young people into pairs and have each partner share three resolutions with the other. The commitments should focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and enjoying life without drugs.

Give youth the facts.  NIDA wants to educate youth about the harmful effects of the many substances of abuse they may encounter. The NIDA for Teens website has detailed information on substances ranging from MDMA and methamphetamine to bath salts and OxyContin, including their alternative names, appearance, and effects on the brain and the body. At the end of each description are answers to frequently asked questions such as “Can you die if you misuse prescription opioids?” To complement drug prevention activities for youth, use some of NIDA’s free booklets and pamphlets, such as “Drugs: SHATTER THE MYTHS” and “Marijuana: Facts for Teens.”

Remember celebrities who died because of drug abuse. Over the last several years, many talented people have lost their lives because of drug abuse, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Prince, and Amy Winehouse. To help young people fully understand the consequences of drug abuse, NIDA recommends that facilitators invite youth to events where they can share details about their favorite celebrities who died as a result of their drug addiction.

Show short films. Videos are a great way to engage youth in discussion, and thanks to NIDA and HBO, the Addiction film series provides multiple opportunities to talk about drug abuse. These short films, each six to 11 minutes long, cover real-life stories that reveal how drugs affect people’s everyday lives. In “Saturday Night in a Dallas ER,” viewers get an insider’s perspective on the kinds of emergencies people experience as a result of drug-related injuries. In “A Mother’s Desperation,” viewers learn about a mother’s struggle to keep her 23-year-old daughter, who uses heroin, safe and drug-free.

More on Substance Use Prevention

Comparison of Three Evidence-Based Practices to Reduce Substance Use

Peer Groups Affect Substance Use in Homeless Youth

Screening and Assessment Tools for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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