May is Mental Health Month, and this is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Prevention Week (NPW). With summer closing in, SAMHSA is using this opportunity to raise awareness about behavioral health issues and to implement alcohol and substance use prevention strategies. There are several ways that organizations, communities, schools can join forces to educate young people about the value of abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Addiction can develop in individuals when they are young; research shows that those adolescents and young adults who initiate substance use are at a heightened risk of use disorder. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that young people have several misconceptions about drugs and alcohol, particularly regarding the use of marijuana. For instance, a statistically relevant number of teens believe that cannabis use carries little risk; a mindset that is reinforced by states relaxing their stance on marijuana.
Teenagers, young adults, and parents alike, must understand that “legal” doesn’t mean safe. Cannabis can have a detrimental effect on developing brains, and regular use of the drug can result in cannabis use disorder or marijuana addiction. It is not widely known that habitual “pot” smokers often experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to abstain. It is vital that efforts are taken to disseminate the facts on cannabis use and implore teens to exercise caution.
Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana
The primary theme of National Prevention Week is: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow. The steps that communities will take today to prevent substance use and reinforce positive mental health, will pay off exponentially down the road. The events this week include a variety of sub-themes, including:
- Monday, May 14: Promotion of Mental Health & Wellness
- Tuesday, May 15: Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse
- Wednesday, May 16: Prevention of Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse
- Thursday, May 17: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana
- Friday, May 18: Prevention of Suicide
- Saturday, May 19: Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use
Today’s theme is: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana. Among 18 to 22-year olds, research shows that first-time use of marijuana spikes during the summer months of June and July. Right now, teens and college students are still in class; but, they will not be for much longer. National Prevention Week is a perfect opportunity to talk with American youths about drug use and encourage them to take part in the NPW Prevention Challenge: Dear Future Me. SAMHSA asks young people:
“What would you say to your future self about what you’re doing today to ensure a healthier tomorrow?”
Taking part in the challenge is fairly straightforward; and, those who get involved not only help themselves, they encourage others to take action today for a healthier tomorrow. You can find the guidelines below:
- Write a letter or draw a picture about the choices you’re making to live a healthy, happy life.
- Take a picture of your letter or record a video of yourself reading your letter.
- Share it on social media using the hashtag #DearFutureMe and #NPW2018.
- Tag a few friends so they can participate and add their Dear Future Me letter to the NPW conversation.
- Share any or all of the Dear Future Me videos on social media to encourage others to participate as well.
Please watch a short video below to get a feel for the challenge:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
The more you can do to protect your future, the better! It is likely that some people are not comfortable with sharing their thoughts on this critical subject matter, and that is OK; however, there are still myriad things you can do today for your future’s sake. Even if you have begun experimenting with drugs and alcohol, you can take steps to pivot away from such behaviors and ensure that an unhealthy relationship with substances doesn’t develop.
Young Adult Addiction Treatment
If you are a young adult who is struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact The Haven at Pismo. We can help you begin a life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs.