January 26 to February 1 2015 was the fifth annual National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) held, which helped teens, young adults and families learn the facts surrounding drugs and drug abuse, directly from the scientific experts. With sponsorship from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health, the event was much welcomed throughout the North Carolina rehab community.
NDFW was intended to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse, subjects that are of great relevance to so many American teens and young adults. This aim was supported by the delivery of teen-oriented community events, NIDA’s Drugs Facts Chat Day and partnerships with leading organizations, media outlets and other government agencies.
Drugs Facts Chat Day, for instance, took the form of an annual live chat between high school students and NIDA scientists. It gave students from across the United States the opportunity to ask whatever questions they wished to ask about drugs and drug abuse, including drug effects, the causes of addiction and how drug abusers among their friends and family could be helped. Participants were given the facts by NIDA’s expert scientists.
Although the Drugs Facts Chat Day was held online and involved hundreds of high school students, the week saw similar question and answer sessions between teens and scientists taking place across the United States. Students on the Chat Days have previously asked such questions as “Are there any medical benefits to illegal drugs?”, “Is smoking marijuana more harmful than smoking cigarettes?” and “How many young people are addicted to drugs?”
NIDA even challenged both teens and adults to take its Drug IQ Challenge, an interactive 10-minute quiz designed to test their knowledge on drugs and drug abuse. Answering the quiz questions allowed the risks and side effects of drug use to be better understood by participants. For example, despite marijuana’s active ingredient – THC – being more than four times higher than it was two decades ago, most high school seniors do not consider regular marijuana smoking to be harmful.
Dr. Wilson Compton, NIDA Deputy Director, commented: “An open and honest dialogue that connects teens with leading experts on drugs, National Drug Facts Week has grown exponentially – from 92 events at its inception to now more than 1000. The continued popularity of this effort demonstrates the value in giving teens science-based facts that counter widespread misinformation about drugs.”