Did you know that talking about addiction is the first step toward recovering from it? Talking openly with your loved ones has the power to remove the fear and shame surrounding addiction, and ultimately save lives. Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on their children’s decisions to experiment with substances. And, research shows that children who have dinner with their families are 50% less likely to drink alcohol or use other drugs. So, what better time to talk than over dinner?
A report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, will be released on Thursday, November 17, in response to this major public health crisis. In conjunction with this groundbreaking report, I encourage you to observe the National Night of Conversation using this guide. Let others know that you will be having this important conversation with your family and inspire them to do the same by posting a picture of an empty dinner plate with the hashtag #NightOfConversation.
To have this conversation, here are some important facts you can use from the guide. Click on each fact to learn more:
- Addiction is a chronic brain disease that has the potential for both recurrence and recovery.
Substance use disorders (SUD) are not the result of bad behavior; they are actually classified by The American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as a chronic brain disease that is not only progressive, but sometimes fatal. Although there is no known cure for SUDs, they can be prevented, they are treatable, and recovery is possible for everyone.
- Alcohol is still the most widely used substance among Americans under age 21.
According to the Monitoring the Future survey (2015), alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance of misuse among America’s youth and young adults—more than tobacco or other drugs
- The chance that children will use alcohol increases as they get older.
According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 5.1% of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol, but by age 15, that number jumps to 33.1%.
- By the end of high school, more students will have used alcohol than have
According to results from the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, in 2015:
64 percent of 12th grade students had used alcohol; and 7 percent of 12th grade students reported being drunk at least once in their lives.
- Parents play a critical role in children’s decisions to experiment with alcohol use.
Your children are listening, and they care about what you have to say. Around 80% of children feel that their parents are the leading reason they choose not to drink.
- The conversation is often more effective before children start using drugs or alcohol.
By establishing yourself as a trustworthy source of information, your child will be able to make informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers.
- Some children may try alcohol as early as 9 years old.
Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to view alcohol positively. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK, and some may start to experiment. It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol.
- If you do not talk about it, you are still saying something.
Remember that parents play a critical role in their children’s decisions. If you do not talk to your children about drug and alcohol use, your silence on the topic may still impact their decision.
- Use of marijuana can affect the developing brain.
Research proves that marijuana disrupts the areas of the brain responsible for learning, coordination, and judgment. This may result in a reduced IQ, impaired driving, and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
- America has an opioid epidemic.
- In 2014, more than 28,000 people died from opioid overdose, and at least half of those deaths involved a prescription opioid.