Did you know that alcohol and drugs play a major role in increasing violence toward a partner in a relationship? February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, designed to raise awareness about this and related issues.
So, how do drugs and alcohol play a role? One study found that, in junior high and high school, teens who drank alcohol before age 13 were more likely to be both victims and abusers when it comes to physical dating violence. Another study found that teenage girls in abusive relationships are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, have eating disorders, engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, and attempt suicide.
Unfortunately, the number of teens who suffer from abuse in relationships is not small: nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical, emotional, and sexual violence in a relationship during their adolescent years. Many of the contributing factors are preventable, and NIDA needs your help to spread the word and stop the violence.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Here are some signs that a partner might have abusive tendencies. He or she may:
- Be unable to control his or her anger or frustration.
- Lack social skills.
- Use drugs and/or alcohol.
- Be extremely jealous, insecure, or possessive.
- Constantly put you down.
- Check your personal email or phone without asking permission.
- Isolate you from your loved ones.
Although some of these characteristics might sound common, they are extremely unhealthy. If you or someone you know is in a relationship where one person acts like this, there are places you or your friend can go for help.
What Can I Do To Help?
Creating awareness about dating violence among teens can help prevent more teens from getting physically or emotionally abused in their relationships. For example, you might talk to your guidance counselor about hosting an event at your school. The Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month’s website provides free materials to help get your event started.
Or, try talking to someone in your school’s newspaper office to see if they’d be willing to publish an article about teen dating violence. Anything you do to help create awareness could have a positive impact on someone you know.
How Can I (or Someone I Know) Get Help?
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help. Many organizations are willing to provide a free, safe space, as well as counseling. You can call the 24-hour National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or go to LoveIsRespect.org for live chat support. Help is only a text message away. Text “loveis” to 77054 to begin texting with an advocate who can help you.
Also, check out the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Relationship Violence Toolkit.
The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women offers more detailed information on dating violence.
A child looks to his parents or caregivers for total support—from birth to adulthood. But what happens to a child when the parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol?
It’s estimated that 25 percent of youth under age 18 are exposed to family alcohol abuse or dependence. Research shows that children in this environment are more likely to develop depression or anxiety in adolescence and use alcohol or other drugs early on. Having a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can lead to lifelong problems if the child or teen doesn’t get help and support.
February 12–18, 2012, is Children of Alcoholics Week, an event to celebrate the recovery of children of all ages who have gotten the help they needed to recover from the pain they experienced as a result of a close family member’s alcohol problems. The observance also offers hope to those still suffering.
Help is out there. Teens can talk to a school guidance counselor, coach, or trusted teacher. For those who attend religious services, a clergy member is also an option.
Teens may be reluctant to talk to an acquaintance about such a personal problem. Another good option is Alateen, a program that offers support for children of parents who are addicted. Alateen members come together in a free and confidential setting to:
- Share experiences and hope.
- Discuss difficulties.
- Learn effective ways to cope with problems.
- Encourage one another.
Another option is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This service is also confidential, and counselors can help with substance abuse and family problems, in addition to suicide prevention. Find out more about Children of Alcoholics Week.
This week is the first annual National Prevention Week (NPW)—a celebration of what people and organizations do in their communities to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and to promote mental and emotional well-being. We want to celebrate every teen that makes healthy choices when it comes to drug abuse and mental health.
How Are You Taking Action?
Most teens don’t use illegal drugs or drink alcohol. Instead, they focus on their futures, school, hobbies, family, sports, clubs, etc. You can participate in National Prevention Week by spreading the word that most teens make healthy choices and by encouraging others to think twice before taking risks with their health and safety.
Each day during the week, National Prevention Week focuses on a different theme:
Monday: Prevention of Underage Drinking
Tuesday: Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Use
Wednesday: Prevention of Alcohol Abuse
Thursday: Suicide Prevention
Friday: Promotion of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being
You can set a positive example for your friends and family by posting a message on Facebook about your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, focusing on the daily theme. Or, tweet about the daily theme using the hashtag #NPW2012. It only takes one person to make a difference!
Take the Prevention Pledge on Facebook
Along with setting a good example, you can do other things to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and promote mental health in your own life and the lives of those you love. You could talk with someone who’s having a difficult time, or encourage your friends to eat healthy and exercise. Read and take NPW’s Prevention Pledge on Facebook to learn more about ways you can help.
Share NPW’s Official PSA Developed by Teens
In February 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration challenged teens to create an original 15- or 30-second public service announcement (PSA) that showed how young people are working to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and promote mental health in their communities. The winning PSA, "I Am More Than Meets the Eye,” was made by a group of young adults and teenagers from Richmond, California. Inspire more teens to help their communities by sharing this PSA on your social media pages:
What will you do to celebrate National Prevention Week? Is your school or community participating? We’d like to hear about it in your comments.
For many Americans, celebrating the Fourth of July includes fireworks, parades, sparklers, and backyard picnics. Alongside the hotdogs and potato salad, though, usually sit bottles of beer.
Alcohol is often a part of our cultural celebrations. When someone gets married, we toast the happy couple with champagne. Many people binge drink on St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo. Wherever someone is celebrating, chances are, alcohol is there.
Statistics PDF [138.44 KB] show that the Fourth of July is no exception. Teens and adults alike can end up in unhealthy situations from celebrating with alcohol. During the holiday weekend of July 3–5, 2009, an average of 942 ER visits occurred per day related to alcohol use by people under age 21—two-thirds by young men, which is double the usual number for this group.
When people see others around them drinking alcohol, it can seem like alcohol is harmless. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future study shows that in general, most 12th graders don’t see binge drinking on weekends PDF [1.64 MB] as being very risky. The study also shows that such thinking makes drinking alcohol more likely.
In fact, alcohol is illegal for teens and can alter the developing brain. Further, drinking heavily can lower inhibitions and open the door to taking more risks—such as driving or riding with someone when you really shouldn’t be.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Fourth of July holiday period (July 2–6) is particularly deadly. During the 2010 holiday, 392 people were killed in car crashes, 39% involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, which qualifies as a DUI offense.
This Fourth of July, set the example for your friends: Opt for a cold lemonade, and stay safe.
Check out these resources about alcohol and underage drinking:
An alcohol-free party, that is.
Every April—which is Alcohol Awareness Month—people take a moment to learn about the dangers of abusing alcohol. For those under 21, taking even one drink is illegal—never mind unhealthy.
Still, some teens choose to drink alcohol for a variety of reasons—boredom, curiosity, or just because it seems like “everyone else is doing it.” But the truth is, not all teens are drinking—in fact, over the last 5 years, the rates of alcohol use and binge alcohol use among teens have been on the way down.
What Can You Do?
Celebrate Alcohol Awareness Month by throwing a “booze-free bash” for your friends and classmates. To help get you started, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a Guide to Safe and Sober Event Planning.
You’ll need a place to have the party—like a parent’s house, a park, or a local YMCA—and you’ll probably need some help getting everything organized, so get your friends, parents, teachers, coaches, and older siblings involved.
Do your part to help keep yourself and your friends safe and alcohol-free.
Facts About Alcohol:
- Alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among 12 to 20-year-olds (unintentional injury, murder and suicide).
- Those who start drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to have alcohol problems as adults than those who start drinking at age 21 or older.
Check out these resources about alcohol and the dangers of underage drinking:
While we are still not sure exactly what killed Amy Winehouse, many people are speculating that it had something to do with her admitted drug and alcohol abuse. As we blogged a few weeks ago, Winehouse was booed off the stage in her last concert. Now she may be among what some call the “27 Club”—famous people who died at the age of 27 from drug and alcohol abuse, including Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, all major music heroes of their times. Coincidence?
Not really. As their fame and wealth increased, so did their access to drugs and so maybe, too, their belief that they were outside the rules, invincible. But that wasn’t true. By the time they were in their mid-twenties it is likely their bodies started to rebel, screaming enough is enough!
Going to rehab is a smart move, even if it takes several tries. Rehab is hard. It calls for major changes in an addicted person’s life beyond stopping drug use—like a change of friendships (maybe even of a best friend or partner), not to mention a change of lifestyle and even where you live. When you’re “on top,” too much change might be harder to accept.
Still, the alternative is worse—just ask the people who loved Amy Winehouse. She was a great talent who could really have moved the world. To quote one of our 2010 GRAMMY winners from their video "Drug Free State of Mind," "…we all shootin’ stars basically waitin’ to be seen…"
What is your talent that is waiting to be seen? Make a plan not to waste it!