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January 25, 2016

Teens, Communities and Scientific Experts Team Up for National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

d_a_weekAmerican teens are bombarded with false information about drugs and alcohol — from the Web, the media, the entertainment industry and friends. To SHATTER THE MYTHS, HHS scientists and other experts in communities around the country are getting together with teens during National Drug & Alcohol Facts WeekSM to offer science-based facts about drugs and alcohol.

This year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is partnering with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to host the sixth annual National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week from Jan. 25-31. This week-long health observance provides opportunities for teenagers to ask scientists and experts the questions they most want answered about drugs and alcohol, especially the effects on the body, brain and behavior. Fifty states and several foreign nations have traditionally hosted National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week community events in schools, community centers and local organizations, with more than 1,700 events currently scheduled

National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week is a time for teenagers to have an open and honest conversation about drug and alcohol use with scientists and other experts. Topics could include emerging trends like e-cigarettes and synthetic drugs that claim to be like marijuana, or general drug use in communities. Communities can also develop events around the consequences of drunk and drugged driving, or the dangers of new synthetic drugs. NIDA and NIAAA provide topical toolkits online so events can be customized to specific community needs. 

Science-based information on the effects of drug and alcohol use is especially important for teens, whose brains are still developing. Research shows a definitive link between drug use, including marijuana, and cognitive abilities and development. Research also shows that if more teens perceive drug use as risky, they will use them less.  With scientific facts about drugs and alcohol, teens can be better prepared to make good decisions. This is especially important now, as a growing number of states consider legalizing marijuana, and fewer high school students think marijuana smoking is harmful, according to NIDA’s recent Monitoring the Future survey.  The week’s events include community-based activities, online activities and a web chat with NIDA and NIAAA scientists, called Drug and Alcohol Facts Chat Day, on Jan. 26. Chat Day also includes scientists from the National Institute on Mental Health and the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.  Online resources, including the popular National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge, are interactive and accessible on mobile devices.  There are even videos of scientists answering the questions from the Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge to illustrate the science behind the answers.

For more information about National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, visit teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-alcohol-facts-week. To join the conversation on social media, follow @NIDAnews  and @NIAAAnews , using the hashtag #NDAFW .