Many teens are not aware of the serious risks drugs and alcohol poses to their health, to their success in school, and to their future. So the question is: What can communities do to effectively educate this generation of teens about drug abuse?
One way is for school staff, parents, and students to work together on awareness events that will provide teens with the facts about drug use. National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) is a national health observance designed to arm communities with the materials and tools they need to influence teens to say no to drugs. Inspired by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institute of Health, NDAFW is in its sixth year and will be held from January 25 through 31, 2016.
"This week is designed to counteract the myths teens have about drug abuse, often reinforced by their peers, the Internet, and the entertainment industry," said NIDA Director, Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "When given the facts from people they trust, teens are in a better position to make good decisions about drug use.”
All around the country, science teachers, health teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, drug prevention programs, and community support programs are using the science-based information available FREE from NIDA in their curriculum, school assemblies, PTA meetings, and evening workshops to get the truth out. In some cases, local research scientists and government officials can be invited to participate in these important events.
This year, NDAFW is expecting more than 1,700 events with every state represented. These events range in size and scope, but they are all focused on educating and communicating with teens about drug and alcohol use and its consequences. NIDA staff can provide ideas and information to help make an educational event successful.
Some event ideas may include:
• A school assembly
• An addiction-themed art contest
• A graffiti fact wall
• A trivia night
• A panel discussion with local law enforcement, substance abuse counselors, and individuals affected by drug abuse.
• A government proclamation.
By: Brian Marquis, Public Liaison Officer, National Institute on Drug Abuse
New alcohol advertising guidelines, based on findings by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, could dramatically reduce the number of alcohol ads viewed by children – if advertisers follow them.
The new report, published in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that our youth were exposed more than 15 billion times to alcohol ads on television – mostly on cable networks – between 2005 and 2012.
That means that about one in eight alcohol commercials were seen by children. No, make that absorbed by children. Not to mention these occurrences were already not in compliance with the alcohol industry’s previous self-regulatory advertising guidelines.
These commercials painted a picture of alcohol as fun and frivolous that children couldn’t help but take in, sending a dangerous and deadly message to our kids. Have no doubt, these ads played a role in shaping attitudes toward drinking and contributed to the number of underage drinkers and underage drunk drivers.
Underage drinking kills more than 4,300 people under the age of 21 annually, making it one of the top three leading causes of death in this age group. Study after study (14 reports, in fact) have concluded that alcohol advertisements play a role in the decision to drink by kids. It makes them more likely to drink and, if people under 21 years old already drink, it makes them more likely to drink even more.
The paper also outlines new standards for ad placement, often called a “no-buy” list, which would address almost all non-compliance issues – if advertisers chose to follow them more closely than the previous guidelines. These guidelines won’t end underage drinking, bottom line, but the new recommendations will have an impact if advertisers see the sense and cents in following them.
MADD’s Power of Parents® program gives parents the tools to start ongoing and intentional conversations with their kids about alcohol. If you see one of these alcohol advertisements on a program that your child watches, take the opportunity to have a discussion with them about the real consequences of drinking underage. If you need help getting started, download our parent handbook for tips and tricks on tackling this difficult subject at home.
This week the National Institute on Drug Abuse released the 2015 Monitoring the Future report which follows the dangerous issue of underage drinking and drug use.
MADD is encouraged to see that teen alcohol use continued to show a significant decrease. In 2015, teen alcohol use declined in all grades surveyed (8th, 10th and 12th grades).
More highlights from the report:
• Binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row within the past two weeks) is now 17% among 12th grade students, down from 19% percent in 2014.
• In 2015, 38% of 12th grade students said that they have been drunk in the past year, compared to 41% in 2014, and 52% in 2001.
• Past-month use of alcohol was 10%, 22%, and 35% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, respectively, compared to 5 years ago, with rates at 14%, 29%, and 41% percent in 2010.
Even though progress is being made, the percent of teens drinking underage is still unacceptable. 40% of 12th graders have reported being drunk in the past year. And each year, almost 4,700 people are killed as a result of underage drinking. Even one life is too many!
With MADD’s underage drinking prevention programs, we’re confident that MADD can and will empower school-aged youth to make smart, healthy choices about alcohol before they turn 21.
Research shows that children are weighing the pros and cons of drinking alcohol as early as age 8, and evolve those perceptions through age 21. That’s why MADD urges parents to talk early and talk often with their children about the dangers of underage drinking. With the support of Nationwide Insurance, MADD’s Power of Parents equips parents of high school and middle school aged children with the tools they need to have intentional, ongoing and effective conversations.
MADD’s Power of You(th) program, made possible thanks to State Farm Insurance, is about empowering teens – individually and in groups – to influence each other, younger kids and even adults to take a stand against underage drinking, and to never ride with an impaired driver.
Parents can learn how to have intentional ongoing conversations with their children by downloading MADD’s free Power of Parents handbook. And teens can learn how to take a stand against underage drinking and influence their peers with the free Power of You(th) handbook.
Just like our efforts to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving and serve the victims of these violent crimes, the prevention of underage drinking plays a crucial role in creating a future of No More Victims™.
Drunk driving deaths drop below 10,000 for first time since 2011
Today, MADD learned that the number of drunk driving fatalities on our nation’s roadways dropped below 10,000 for the first time since 2011. According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 9,967 fatalities involving an alcohol impaired driver in 2014 (compared to 10,076 in 2013), accounting for 31 percent of all traffic fatalities. Yet NHTSA also noted that overall traffic deaths for the first half of 2015 are up as much as 8.1 percent. This is troubling, especially given that the holiday season is upon us, one of the most dangerous times of the year for drunk driving.
While the 2014 decline in drunk driving fatalities is welcome news, there is still much to be done to create a future of No More VictimsTM. As a nation, we must stop these senseless tragedies.
Today, MADD issues a national call to action and challenges every state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense. Ignition interlock laws are a key feature of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. Since the Campaign was launched in 2006, drunk driving deaths are down by 26 percent. The newly released NHTSA data shows a continued decline in states with ignition interlock laws; such as Arizona, which has experienced a 50 percent reduction in drunk driving fatalities since its law passed in 2007. Drunk driving fatalities in West Virginia have dropped 40 percent since 2008; and other states – such as Oregon, Washington and Hawaii – have had reductions of 25 to 33 percent.
MADD also encourages every law enforcement agency to participate in NHTSA’s upcoming Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign to increase enforcement during the holidays. Law enforcement plays a pivotal role in preventing drunk driving, and MADD applauds their tireless work to protect the public during the holidays and year-round.
The public can also plan ahead for a safe ride home this holiday season and show their support for law enforcement by participating in MADD’s Tie One On For Safety® campaign. For more information, visit madd.org/toofs.