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From the Director's Desk: – National Drugs and Alcohol Facts Week

It can be tough to convince your children of the dangers of drugs and alcohol, especially when popular culture makes them seem so cool.

Luckily for us, our friends at the National Institute on Drug Abuse have helped to make these conversations easier. With the help of scientists and other experts, we’ve got the facts to help us keep our youth alert and aware of the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.

Marijuana is one of the most popular drugs today, especially among teens. In fact, research tells us that this group is more likely to use marijuana than tobacco. What teens may not know about the drug is that it can become addictive and cause serious problems with learning, feelings and health. Marijuana increases your risk for mental health problems, lung and breathing problems and even low birth weight and potential behavioral problems in unborn babies.

Cigarette smoking can have some of the same effects, whether it’s with the old-school papers, or the new school vapors. Not only can nicotine be addictive, but it can affect the part of teen’s brains that control attention and learning, make other drugs, such as cocaine and meth, more pleasurable to the brain, and increase risk for mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control.

Opioid use, and other prescription drugs, is among the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. Death from overdose is the most serious consequence of misusing prescription drugs, but other effects include increased sensitivity to pain, liver damage, slow breathing, which can rob the brain and body of oxygen, and a host of other harmful issues.

Finally, alcohol is often portrayed as one of the coolest drinks on the market, but it can have short- and long-term effects on the developing brains of teens. For instance, it increases their ability to make bad decisions, decreases their ability to recognize potential danger, and could increase their risk of developing an alcohol disorder later in life.

Drug and alcohol use among teens is no laughing matter. For more information, visit the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Thanks for stopping by the Director’s Corner, where your health, is our priority!