Substance abuse prevention highlighted during October
October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, which focuses on the role substance abuse prevention plays in promoting safe and healthy communities.
Underage drinking, non-medical use of prescription drugs, and illicit drug use take a devastating toll on our families and in our communities.
The good news is that there are substance abuse prevention strategies that have been demonstrated to work with youth.
Such evidence-based programs and practices are essential tools to reduce substance use and help people lead healthier lives.
According to The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) “2012 National Drug Control Strategy,” each $1 invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.00.
“Stopping substance abuse before it even begins can increase a person’s chances at living a longer, healthier and more productive life,” said Karel Homrig, executive director of Prevention First, in a news release.
“Research indicates that the human brain is not fully developed until around age 25. Alcohol use alone can impair parts of the brain that control memory, judgment and decision making, impulse control and motor control.”
With the heroin crisis reaching epidemic proportions, removing unneeded supplies of commonly prescribed opioids such as Vicodin, oxycodone, OxyContin, and Hydrocodone from homes is a vital step to take in preventing abuse of these highly addictive drugs.
These drugs are similar to and affect the brain the same way as heroin, especially if they are used for non-medical purposes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2013 and 2014, the number of Illinoisans who died from a heroin overdose increased by 8.3 percent, from 1,597 to 1,705.
Provisional data from the Illinois Department of Public Health Illinois Center for Health Statistics indicates heroin-related drug overdose deaths increased from 583 in 2013 to more than 800 in 2015.
Although opioid abuse and deaths climb, it is important to still focus on continuing substance abuse prevention in Illinois, particularly in Illinois youth.
The most commonly abused drug among Illinois youth is alcohol, with marijuana second, and tobacco third.
While underage drinking in Illinois is on the decline, Illinois 8th and 12th graders are still more likely to use alcohol than their national counterparts.
Past 30-day use among 8th graders was 14.9 percent in Illinois, compared to 10.2 percent nationally; among 12th graders it was 44.4 percent in Illinois vs. 39.2 percent nationally. Since 2008, Illinois 8th grade youth past year and past 30-day alcohol use rates have exceeded the national average.
Illinois 12th grade use in the past 30 days has exceeded the national rate for high school seniors since 2012.
The news about marijuana use is mixed. *Compared to 2012, more 8th graders now perceive the harm associated with smoking marijuana once or twice a week.
This is the first time since 2008 that a favorable trend in perceptions of risk and harm associated with smoking marijuana has been observed at any grade level. However, perceptions of favorable peer marijuana attitudes are continuing to increase among the oldest adolescents.
The proportion of 12th graders who believe they would be seen as “cool” if they smoked marijuana increased from 2010 to 2012 and again from 2012 to 2014.
Similarly, fewer 12th graders in 2014 vs. in 2012 report they personally believe that teen marijuana use is “wrong” or “very wrong.”
There is good news about cigarette smoking among 8th, 10th and 12th graders.
More 12th graders perceive that daily cigarette smoking is risky, and disapproval of cigarette smoking is high and is increasing at all grade levels from 2012 to 2014.
The only negative trend related to cigarette and other tobacco use is that in 2014, 12th graders are less likely to report that their parents have talked with them in the past year about not using cigarettes, compared to 12th graders in 2012.
Families, communities and organizations can become involved in spreading awareness and importance of substance abuse prevention in a number of free and easy ways:
Educate yourself and others with free or low-cost materials located in Prevention First’s Virtual Clearinghouse at https://www.prevention.org/Clearinghouse/Default.aspx.
Host a substance-free party to celebrate the football season, Halloween or a birthday.
Simply start a community dialogue discussing your commitment to prevention substance abuse.
Starting this conversation is the first step toward change.
(Editor’s note: this article was shared by The Fellowship House.)