Today begins the start of Drug and Alcohol Facts Week for 2019, which runs from January 22nd to January 27th. This week encourages teenagers to connect with medical professionals and experts to learn the truth about drug and alcohol use.

The medical community across the country organizes FAQs about drug use, alcohol consumption, and other public health issues related to drugs and alcohol. The week aims to dispel any myths about drugs and alcohol whether it is from cultural, media, or other influential factors.

We’re here to participate and inform the community of some common drug and alcohol facts to adequately inform teenagers of how alcohol affects the body, the health risks of using drugs, and why it is important to make safe choices about drugs and alcohol for long-term health.

Make sure to talk to your child about the risk factors and health facts of drug use to promote healthy decision-making:

Early alcohol use is linked to risky behaviors and health problems that extend later in life

Teenagers that begin drinking before the age of 15 are more likely to become a long-term drinker as well as a problem drinker. MedLine Plus, an extension of the US National Library of Medicine, listed increased behavioral risks from early drinking including drunk driving, violent interactions, risky sexual behavior, and legal trouble.

In addition, early alcohol use leads to significant declines in overall health and wellness. Health issues that may stem from early alcohol use include memory loss from damaged brain cells, depression, disrupted puberty, and even liver damage and cirrhosis from long-term chronic alcohol abuse.

If you believe your child has been frequently consuming alcohol, make sure you go to your nearest medical and behavioral health specialists for immediate treatment. Organizations including Al-Anon, student health centers, counseling, and psychiatric professionals can help address the root of your child’s alcohol use and teach healthier behaviors over time.

Behavioral and Emotional factors significantly influence teen drug use

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a teenager’s risk of using drugs increases based on their family’s mental health history, predisposed mental disorders, trauma, and impulse control problems.

However, it is important to note that a teenager’s risk factors are not the most important indicators of drug use. A mix of behavioral, emotional, and social factors are most likely to cause teenage drug use.

For example, teens are more likely to use drugs based on peer pressure, cultural influence, boredom, or to cope with a traumatic event. These events in combination with one another likely increases drug use.

E-cigarettes and vaping is growing among high school students

E-cigarette use, commonly known as “vaping,” has surged among high school students and is the most common form for tobacco use among teens, says the American Lung Association.

Products including JUUL, vape pens, and similar e-cigarettes are usually marketed as safer for consumers since they don’t contain similar tar and additives of normal cigarettes. However, vaping can still increase the risk of developing lung diseases since many e-cigarette products expose the user to some potentially toxic materials.

E-cigarettes, JUUL, and vapes pose a significant risk among younger generations due to their exploding popularity and viral social media attention. Recent advocacy action has lead to lawsuits against JUUL and other e-cigarette manufacturers for exposing youth to the products, but parents should talk to their children about the facts regarding e-cigarette use.