History

October was first declared as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in 2011

The month is a dedicated time to:

Highlight the vital role of substance abuse prevention in both individual and community health

To remember those who have lost their lives to substance abuse

To acknowledge those in recovery, as well as children, parents, family, and friends supporting them

Studies show that the earlier an individual starts smoking, drinking or using other drugs, the greater the likelihood of developing addiction. Said another way, the earlier a person begins using a tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs the likelier that person is to develop an addiction.

Recent Data

The 2019 national “Monitoring the Future” survey overview prioritized the following information:

There were highly significant increases in vaping nicotine and vaping marijuana

Alcohol remains the substance most widely used by teenagers

9 out of 10 – 9/10 people who abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances before they were 18

7x more likely – People who began using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly 7x likelier to develop a substance problem than those who delay first use until age 21 or older

KCTC Student Survey Data

KCTC Student Survey data indicates decreasing prevalence of regular substance use among youth in recent history, as evidenced among surveyed 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Kansas reporting:

  • Past 30-day alcohol use has trended down from 32.2% in 1995 to 15.9% in 2020
  • Past 30-day marijuana use has remained relatively stable from 8% in 1995 to 6.8% in 2020
  • Past 30-day methamphetamine use has decreased since the question was first asked in 1997, from 2.4% to 0.3% in 2020
  • Past 30-day tobacco use through smoked cigarettes has trended down from 18.1% in 1995 to 2.5% in 2020
  • Past 30-day e-cigarette use has increased since the question was first asked in 2016, from 5.5% to 9.8% in 2020

Strategies for Educating Youth About Substance Abuse

Talking about drugs and alcohol with youth and young adults can be a difficult task, but National Substance Abuse Prevention Month can give parents, caregivers, and other adults a good opportunity for the topic.  Most people don’t know as much about addiction and brain development as we think, and yet it’s important to lead without lecturing.

Here are some tips recommended for talking with youth and young adults this month, and throughout the year-

  • Pick a good time for the conversation when time is less limited and you are all calm
  • Ask youth and young adults to share what they’ve been told about the subject and what they believe
  • Ask about reasons most youth and young adults avoid addiction and other substance use disorders
  • Discuss reasons to avoid drugs with education if needed, especially about the importance of delaying the age of initiation to reduce the likelihood of addiction
  • Brainstorm ways to resist peer pressure if that is a challenge
  • Share your own experiences if asked, and if you’ve been successful at living drug-free explain why and how. If you’ve experimented or misused substances, share what you’ve learned and any advice you have to offer