It’s National Drug Facts week—and to help spread awareness about addiction, we’re sharing some lesser-known facts about commonly abused substances. We also invite you to test your knowledge by taking NIDA’s National Drug IQ Challenge quiz.
1.) Illegal drugs aren’t the only “bad guys.” Prescription painkillers are the second most-abused drug in the U.S. after marijuana, with approximately 7 million Americans currently using them in a reckless or illegal manner (obtaining prescriptions from multiple physicians, using without a prescription, using more than the prescribed dosage, or using along with other dangerous substances).
2.) Neither are drug dealers. Over 70 percent of people who abused prescription painkillers got them from friends or relatives, and 20 percent of teens say that these drugs are easier to access than beer.
3.) Marijuana is addictive—for approximately 10 percent of users. According to SAMHSA, almost 80 percent of adolescent treatment admissions, aged 12 to 17, had marijuana as their primary or secondary drug of choice.
4.) Being “natural” doesn’t make marijuana is safe. Don’t forget: cocaine and opium are natural, too. Like these more obviously dangerous drugs, marijuana can have a significant negative effect on teen brain development. Plus, studies have shown an association between marijuana use and anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and schizophrenia.
5.) Alcohol can be lethal—in several ways. Alcohol poisoning, leading to death, is most common in new (often younger) drinkers who binge drink, taking in more than the body can cope with or metabolize. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 79,000 Americans die of excessive alcohol use every year. Long-term drinking increases a person’s risk of cancer, stroke, and liver disease, and can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome—or “wet brain.” The mortality rate for late-stage wet brain is 20 percent.
6.) The legal drinking age makes sense. If a person reaches the age of 21 without developing a substance abuse problem, they are unlikely to develop one in the future. If teens hold off on drinking until they’re of the legal age, they’re more likely to be able to drink safely and moderately without becoming dependant; that’s why early education and prevention efforts are so important.
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