January Awareness–National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week


Ashley Masse, Contributing Editor

From January 23rd-29th, education about the danger of alcohol and drug use is given national attention during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. Established by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2010, this awareness movement is meant to debunk the myths that social media spreads about drugs and alcohol while demonstrating how scientific evidence can make the world a safer place.

Through the NIDA, schools and local communities hold events where students are able to talk with scientists about their concerns regarding the use of drugs and alcohol. This serves as protection from the myths circulating the media that mislead our youth and encourage further substance abuse. Phoenix House gathered the ten most popular myths about drugs and alcohol:

For example, cited Myth #1 says that “if it’s a prescription, it must be safe; you can’t get addicted to something your doctor prescribes”. This is NOT TRUE! “Although many medications are perfectly safe if taken in the prescribed dosage for a short period of time, prolonged use can be dangerous—and, yes, addictive. Some prescription drugs are especially hazardous if the user exceeds the prescribed dosage or takes a combination of drugs.”

Again, cited Myth #2 states that “’natural’ drugs are safer than synthetic ones”. According to scientific evidence, this is FALSE! “Marijuana, mushrooms and other ‘natural’ highs still alter brain chemistry and produce dangerous side effects. They aren’t harmless just because they grow in the ground.”

This information, provided by Phoenix House, debunks common assumptions by providing solid scientific evidence. This process can help young people to learn to make more responsible decisions and to think for themselves. These are very important skills to have in situations where drugs and alcohol are offered.

Education is the first step in the fight to end the misuse of drugs and alcohol. Step into the movement by participating in a local NIDA event or registering for the annual National Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day on January 22nd. Through ‘Chat Day’ students will get their questions answered by professionals and go forward with more logical outlook on substance use.