We need not look any further than the devastating impact opioid addiction has had in the United States, to understand the continued need for educating young people about the dangers of substance use and abuse. Thousands of people who went to the doctor for pain, who were in-turn treated with opioids—are now fighting heroin addiction and putting their life at risk every day.
The opioid epidemic is a clear example of how seemingly innocuous use of a drug can quickly spiral into addiction, a disorder that is easy to develop, infinitely harder to treat and recover. Opioid narcotics, while they top the list of deadly drugs, are just one of many mind-altering substances that can lead people down the dark and dangerous path of addiction. Without treatment and continued maintenance, the outcomes are rarely positive.
Preventing young people from developing inaccurate beliefs about drugs, alcohol and how addiction develops—is of the utmost importance. Millions of dollars and countless man hours are spent every year attempting to prevent early initiation to drugs and alcohol. The efficacy of such efforts is reviewed every year by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey.
Monitoring the Future
The MTF survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The findings in 2016, released in December, come from researchers surveying 45,473 students from 372 schools across the country. The survey mainly focuses on teenage alcohol, marijuana and tobacco use, as they are the most commonly used substances among teenagers. That is not to say that the researchers don’t look at other substances that are used less frequently. But alcohol and tobacco are most commonly used first.
The findings in 2016 were promising. A sign that efforts to prevent teenage use of drugs and alcohol are working. The survey showed the continuation of a long-term decline in the use of a number of mind altering drugs with the potential for addiction. Including:
- Some Prescription Drugs (i.e. Vicodin)
Please take a moment to watch an interview of NIDA Director Nora Volkow on the MTF survey findings:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
MTF On Opioids
Given the deadly nature of prescription opioids, as witnessed among adult demographics around the country, it is vital that teens understand the dangers. And, according to the MTF, they appear to be getting the picture. Prescription opioid past year use among 12th graders dropped 45 percent, compared to five years ago, according to NIDA. With 2.9 percent reporting past year use of Vicodin in 2016, compared to nearly 10 percent ten years ago.
“Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use, especially among eighth graders,” said Volkow. “However, when 6 percent of high school seniors are using marijuana daily, and new synthetics are continually flooding the illegal marketplace, we cannot be complacent. We also need to learn more about how teens interact with each other in this social media era, and how those behaviors affect substance use rates.”
Counseling Adolescents and Adults
At Family Recovery Specialists, our program for adolescents and adults includes education about the physical, emotional and social risks associated with substance use. Clients are taught refusal skills and other coping mechanisms in order to make better choices related to living a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle free from substance use.
Staying abreast of the latest observations and conclusions regarding use and abuse of addictive substances adds to our ability to provide our clients with the most up to date information. If you or a family member needs treatment for substance abuse, please feel free to give us a call. Wellness and recovery are possible.