National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
January 21-25, 2019
SHATTER THE MYTHS
It can feel challenging to stay up-to-date with current substance use trends and facts in order to guide your teen to make healthy choices. For National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week on January 21st-25th, we’ve compiled a list of common parental myths about teen substance use and the latest research and facts you need to know to talk with your teen.
Myth: I know my kid will drink at some point in high school; drinking is a rite of passage.
Fact: Most teens do not drink alcohol. Since the 1980s, alcohol use by teenagers has been declining steadily. In 2018, the District 99 Illinois Youth Survey results show that 73% of students did not drink alcohol during the past 30 days. Teens who do choose not to drink are less likely to engage in risky behavior, such as drinking and driving, sexual activity (like unprotected sex), and impulsive or aggressive behavior. Talk with your teen about the risks of underage drinking and remind them that drinking is not as popular as they might think. More facts about alcohol.
Myth: Marijuana isn’t really that harmful. When I was a kid, it wasn’t a big deal to smoke marijuana.
Fact: Marijuana is more potent today than it’s ever been. THC, the main active chemical in marijuana, is responsible for many of the drug’s mind-altering effects. In the 1970s and 1980s, marijuana generally contained less than 5% THC. Today, marijuana often contains up to 25% THC, and many young people use marijuana extracts (hash oil, budder, wax, and shatter) that are nearly pure THC or edible products with high THC levels. Smoking or vaping these extracts (also called dabbing) can deliver dangerous amounts of THC to users, and has led some people to seek treatment in emergency rooms. THC’s effects on the brain include problems with studying, learning new things, recalling recent events, decision-making, and much more. Marijuana use has also been linked with depression and anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts among teens. More facts about marijuana and concerns related to potential legalization.
Myth: I would be more concerned if my teen was smoking regular cigarettes, since vaping isn’t as bad for you.
Fact: The use of nicotine in any form by youth, including in e-cigarettes or vapes, is unsafe. Nicotine exposure during periods of significant brain development, such as adolescence, can disrupt the growth of brain circuits that control attention and learning, leading to deficits in cognitive functioning. These effects can be long-lasting and can include lower impulse control and increase mood disorders. The aerosol (vapor) created by e-cigarettes can also contain flavoring chemicals linked to serious lung disease and dangerous heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. In fact, of the 65 compounds found in e-cigarette aerosol, 26 are listed on the FDA established list of harmful and potentially harmful substances, including 9 known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Vape information from the Surgeon General and more vape facts for parents.
Myth: Teens don’t listen to anything their parents say. There’s nothing I can do anymore except hope I raised my kid to make good choices.
Fact: District 99 students consistently tell us a major reason they choose not to drink or use drugs is to keep trust with their families (biennial D99 Illinois Youth Survey). Though it may not always seem like it, kids really do hear their parents’ concerns, which is why it’s important that parents continue throughout high school to discuss the risks of using alcohol and other drugs. Remember, it’s not too late to send a clear and strong message that you disapprove of underage drinking and drug use. Check out these links for suggestions on how to talk to your teen about the risks of underage drinking and marijuana use.
Also, be sure to review our Drug & Alcohol Facts Infographic Poster created with data from the 2014, 2016 and 2018 district-wide anonymous Illinois Youth Survey.
Keith Bullock, LCSW, CADC Diana Benoist, LCPC, NCC
Student Assistance Program Coordinator Student Assistance Program Coordinator
Downers Grove North High School Downers Grove South High School
The Student Assistance Program supports the development of student leadership, coordinates school-based prevention activities and events, and provides education and intervention services in the area of substance use and social-emotional health. The goals of the Student Assistance Program are to help prevent alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use and to promote healthy choices that support positive student development and encourage academic success.