Shattering the Myths: "National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week"

Last updated: April 2020

The "National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week" (NDAFW) connects students with scientists and other experts in drug and alcohol education to interact and challenge the myths surrounding drug and alcohol use that teens may receive from social media, television, movies, music, or their peers. Launched in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), scientists and alike seek to provide educational events and chats in communities across the nation to educate teens about the science behind drug use and addiction. In 2016, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) joined the NIDA to provide alcohol content education to the same population.

Below are some points on five substances and the effects of peer pressure on substance use.

Drug Addiction

  • Chronic, relapsing brain disease, characterized by compelling drug seeking and use despite any harmful consequences.
  • Drugs can change and impair the brain, sometimes long-lasting detrimental changes.
  • There are a variety of reasons why people may take and abuse drugs: to feel good, better, to do better, and out of curiosity.
  • Some risk factors can induce the likelihood of drug abuse and subsequent addiction such as:
    • Aggressive behaviors in childhood
    • Lack of parental supervision
    • Poor social skill
    • Experimentation with drugs
    • Availability of substances
    • Poverty within the neighborhood or community
  • Biological and environmental factors may increase the risk of addiction.
  • Addiction is a treatable disease. While it may not always be cured, addiction can be successfully managed to allow individuals to lead a fulfilling life.

Retrieved from NIH Drug, Brains, and Behavior - The Science of Addiction in 2020

Cough and Cold Medicines

“Robotripping, Robo, Tussin, Dex, Skittles, Drank”

  • There are two types of abused cough and cold medicines: those containing dextromethorphan (DXM) and promethazine-codeine.
  • DXM abuse can cause loss of coordination, increased blood pressure, and a faster heartbeat.
  • Promethazine-codeine cough syrup can cause a slowed heart rate and slower breathing.
  • When taken in high doses and repeated use, cough and cold medicines can lead to addiction.
  • Promethazine-codeine abuse can lead to death as it slows down the central nervous system which can slow the lungs and heart.
  • In high doses, DXM acts on brain cell receptors similar to ketamine or PCP. Codeine attaches to brain cell receptors much like heroin.

Retrieved from NIDA for Teens - Cough and Cold Medicine in 2020

Prescription Drugs

“Oxy, Percs, Barbs, Tranks, Speed”

  • Three different types of abused prescription drugs exist: depressants, stimulants, and opioids.
  • When directed by a doctor, prescription drugs are safe. However, when taken in different amounts or for different reasons, they can affect the brain and body in ways similar to illicit drugs.
  • Opioids affect the brain cell receptors and react similarly to heroin; stimulants have similar effects to that of cocaine; and depressants react similarly to club drugs such as GHB.
  • Opioid abuse will cause you to feel sleepy, nauseous, and constipated.
  • Stimulant abuse leads to paranoia, increased body temperature, and a faster heartbeat.
  • Abuse of depressants can lead to slurred speech, shallow breathing coupled with sleeplessness, and lack of coordination.

Retrieved from NIDA for Teens - Prescription Drugs in 2020


“Pot, Grass, Herb, Weed, Mary Jane, Reefer, Skunk”

  • THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main active chemical in marijuana and has been increasing in strength and potency since the 1980s.
  • The most common drug involved in auto fatalities, often combined with other substances.
  • Negatively affects attention, memory, and learning leading to possible school failure.
  • Agitates psychotic symptoms for individuals who have schizophrenia and induces acute psychotic reactions in high doses.
  • Traces of THC can be detected in urine tests up to several days after use.
  • Marijuana use is different for everyone; some experience nothing, some feel relaxed, or some users begin to panic and experience an onset of anxiety.
  • Stopping marijuana use causes withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and cravings.

Retrieved from NIDA - Marijuana Facts for Teens in 2020.


“Booze, Brew, Liquor”

  • Alcohol poisoning is caused when an excess amount of alcohol is in a person’s blood. This is accompanied by confusion, seizures, trouble breathing, clammy skin, and a slow heart rate to name a few.
  • There is an increased likelihood of physical or sexual assault involving underage drinkers.
  • Long-term consequences of underage drinking include negative effects on information processing and learning as well as an increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life.

Retrieved from NIDA for Teens - Alcohol in 2020.

Peer Pressure

“Fitting In, Just Try It”

  • People who still smoke tobacco most likely started before they were 18 years old.
  • E-Cigarettes also contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals.
  • Of the 4,300 underage people who die from drinking every year, more than 35 percent are involved in car crashes.
  • 4 out of 10 children/teens who begin to drink before the age of 15 eventually become alcoholics.
  • Using meth reduces the amount of saliva used to protect the teeth, increasing the vulnerability of decay.
  • In 2008, 1 in 3 songs mentioned drugs, alcohol, or tobacco use while 75% of rap songs mentioned the same.
  • There are more overdose related deaths with prescription pain relievers than from heroin and cocaine combined.

Retrieved from previously listed sources.

To learn more about National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week or for other information on substance use, check out the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the following resources:

Information on is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your physician or other qualified professionals with any questions you may have regarding substance use.