Sometimes people cope with difficult life situations or seek new experiences in harmful ways, such as experimenting with drugs to try to overcome stress or feel something new.1 Others assume that if they’re not using an illegal drug, but a medication prescribed by a doctor, it’s safe to do so. However, illicit drug use and the misuse or abuse of prescription drugs are always dangerous and can lead to addiction, impaired decision-making, increased risk of psychosis, and severe physical consequences, including seizures, heart failure, and even death.2
The goal of today’s National Prevention Week theme is to raise awareness about preventing drug use and abuse in the United States. In 2010, there were an estimated 23 million people aged 12 and older in the U.S. who were current illicit drug users, and 7 million Americans reported using prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes.3 With the right tools, facts, and resources, you can take action to prevent illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse in your own community:
- If you’re a parent, get involved in your child’s day-to-day activities and discuss the risks of using illicit and prescription drugs;
- If you’re a teacher, create positive learning environments by setting high expectations for positive social interactions and addressing inappropriate behavior; and
- If you’re a community leader, learn about effective prevention programs, such as those listed through SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices, an online registry of more than 200 proven prevention interventions.
- If you’re an interested community member, visit the National Prevention Week Events page to get involved in an event taking place in your area, or to get inspiration for event ideas for your community.
SAMHSA’s Prevention of Illicit Drug Use and Prescription Drug Abuse in the U.S. fact sheet, found within the National Prevention Week 2012 Toolkit, has information on other ways to take action in your community. You can visit SAMHSA’s Prescription Safety Web site for advice on the proper disposal and safe use of prescription drugs. Informative brochures about prescription drug abuse, its consequences, and ways to prevent it are also available for parents and teens.
Community leaders, SAMHSA grantees, employers (including the military), and employees interested in workplace improvement are encouraged to learn more about SAMHSA’s efforts to prevent prescription drug abuse through the Prescription Abuse in the Workplace Technical Assistance (PAW TA) Center. The PAW TA Center assists workplaces and communities in reducing prescription drug abuse problems and provides a host of resources, including assessment tools, fact sheets, Web and social networking products, recommended science-based strategies/programs and training. For assistance and more information, send requests to PAWTArequest@PIRE.org.
The prevention of drug use and abuse can be effective when it begins early. To help prevent teen drug use, visit the NIDA for Teens Web site from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which offers facts for teens about this topic.
The best protection from the consequences of these substances is not to use illicit drugs or misuse or abuse prescription drugs in the first place. The better our prevention efforts, the more we can protect our relationships, our families, and our health.
Visit the National Prevention Week Web site to learn more about this new health observance and SAMHSA-supported resources and programs focused on prevention. Take and share the “Prevention Pledge” on SAMHSA’s Facebook page to commit to a healthy lifestyle year-round and get others involved! If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be using illicit drugs or abusing prescription drugs, help is available at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2008). Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care. Why would anyone abuse drugs? Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/addiction-science/why-do-people-abuse-drugs/why-would-anyone-abuse-drugs
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). (2010). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Addiction and Health. (National Institutes of Health, NIH Publication No. 10-5605, 24). Bethesda, MD: NIDA. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction/addiction-health
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2011). Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Vol. I. Summary of national findings, (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH Series H 41, HHS Publication No. SMA 11 4658). Rockville, MD.