National Addictions Awareness Week
As you may already know from our previous blog, this week (November 15-21) is National Addictions Awareness Week.
The theme, ‘Addiction matters’ is meant to portray the message that addiction is a chronic health condition that affects individuals, families, and communities. Although addiction is a serious health condition that negatively impacts everyone, it is preventable and treatable. Prevention is a critical component to changing the impact alcohol and drug use currently has on our communities and the responsibility is on all of us.
At BeYouPromise.org we strongly believe that every individual, whether they use alcohol and drugs or not, plays an important role in diminishing the impact of alcohol and drug use on our society. A key aspect of preventing addiction is targeting substance use before it even begins, which means focusing on our youth.
It is estimated that approximately 85% of Canadian teenagers have consumed alcohol and at least 50% have tried illegal drugs. What is worrisome about these numbers is that 90% of people who end up becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs began smoking, drinking, or using drugs before they turned 18. Furthermore, of those who start using any addictive substance prior to age 18, one in four will be become addicted (National Center On Addiction and Substance Use, 2012). The adolescent years are often considered an experimental stage, but it is also the critical period for the onset of substance use and its negative consequences.
Our youth are faced with a myriad of mixed messages about substance use. Media and advertising ads often portray substance use as glamorous, sexy, fun, and relaxing. There are cultural and social influences that condone and even sometimes encourage substance use. What we need to do is start to change the culture of substance use so that everyone can begin to understand the potentially debilitating consequences alcohol and drug use can have on our minds, our bodies, our families, and our communities.
So what are some ways that you can help to prevent addiction? The first step is to get informed. By reading this blog you have already taken a step in the right direction. Becoming aware and knowledgeable of the risks and harms associated with drug and alcohol use helps to dismantle the stigmas associated with addiction. Step 2 – get involved.
Now that you are armed with knowledge we encourage you to use it. If you have kids, try talking to them about drug and alcohol use so they can also become properly informed. If not, try engaging someone you know in a conversation about addiction and see if you can share some of the education that you have gained. If you notice moments where alcohol and/or drug use is being condoned or encouraged take the knowledge you have and use it to neutralize these messages and makes other aware of the costly problem of addiction. Most importantly, remember that you have the power of prevention in you. One by one we can change the culture of substance use. Our youth deserve to live their lives without experiencing the debilitating effects of drug and alcohol use.