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National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Scheduled
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) announced recently that the next National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) will be held January 23-29, 2017, with event registration beginning immediately. NDAFW is an annual, week-long observance that brings together teens and scientific experts to "shatter the myths" about substance use and addiction. NIDA and NIAAA are both part of the National Institutes of Health.

NDAFW was launched in 2010 to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens often hear from the internet, TV, movies, music, or friends. Events during the week-long observance link teens with scientists and other experts, creating a safe place for teens to ask questions about drug and alcohol use, without judgment or lectures. Since its inception, the number of community-based events has grown dramatically, with more than 2,000 held last January throughout all 50 states and in 10 countries.

"This observance continues to grow year after year, showing that teens are really responding to opportunities to learn about drugs and alcohol from non-judgmental, scientific sources," says NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, MD. "We continue to expand our resources to help teachers and other organizations create events that are specific to their communities in an effort to educate teens across the nation about the risks of using drugs and alcohol." 

"Scientists at NIAAA and NIDA work together to broaden our knowledge of the havoc that alcohol and drugs bring to the lives of young people," says NIAAA Director George F. Koob, PhD.  "This partnership is an extremely important part of our shared mission to ensure that young people get the facts about how alcohol and drugs affect their brains and bodies, both in the short-term and over their lifetime."

NIDA is also launching teachers.drugabuse.gov, a new online resource that offers teachers classroom activities for NDAFW and other year-round lessons on drugs and alcohol. This resource features an easy-to-use Lesson Plan and Activity Finder to search an array of scientist-created student lesson plans, multimedia classroom activities, and other teaching tools on how drug use affects the brain, body and the lives of teens. The resource can be found on the very popular teens.drugabuse.gov, which has been updated with new features for teens to directly access drug facts and related resources that serve to increase student knowledge.

Events can be sponsored by a variety of organizations, including schools, community groups, sports clubs, and hospitals. Event holders are provided with an online resource that advises teens and their adult coordinators how to create an event, publicize it, find an expert, and obtain scientific information on drugs.

Ideas for events, previous success stories, as well as recommendations for event promotion are highlighted on the NDAFW webpage, which also features several drug-specific toolkits for event holders who want to focus on the scientific facts about smoking, marijuana, prescription drugs, alcohol, and/or new psychoactive substances (synthetics). New this year will be toolkits for college-aged and young adults, teens in the juvenile justice system, and a video toolkit, which includes a teen-friendly video showing parts of the brain and their functions. In addition, a general NDAFW toolkit is available in Spanish. Event holders also have access to resources to help promote a NDAFW event, including a "Tools for Success" presentation and sample press and social outreach materials.

NDAFW is supported by many federal agencies, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Office of Safe and Healthy Students in the U.S. Department of Education; the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Each agency will post NDAFW information on its website and encourage the development of special events linking experts to teens.

"Preventing substance use from beginning in the first place is the best way to reduce substance use disorders and the problems that stem from them," says Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy. "Everyone in the community has a role to play, from teachers to parents, and from public health officials and law enforcement officers to your local leaders. National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week is an important resource for doing your part to help your students live healthy, productive lives."

Event holders who register online will receive free booklets with science-based facts about drugs and alcohol, including one of NIDA's most in-demand teen publications, Drugs: Shatter the Myths. NIDA and NIAAA also offer the interactive 2017 National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge, a 12-question multiple choice quiz that can be projected on large screens at events or used with mobile devices. Past-year challenges can be found here. The 2017 challenge will be posted later this year.

Also during NDAFW, NIDA and NIAAA scientists will hold their annual web chat with hundreds of teens from around the country. National Drugs & Alcohol Chat Day will be held January 26, 2017 from 8 AM to 6 PM EST. Further details on the popular annual chat, including registration information and transcripts from previous years, can be found at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-facts-week/chat-with-scientists.

For questions about events, or to receive an e-newsletter following NDAFW planning, organizations can e-mail NIDA at drugfacts@nida.nih.gov.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse