Are the Non-addictive Drugs Safe?

(Posted August 2017)

Do all drugs lead to addiction?
Do all medications have a side effect?
Is it safe to take more than one over-the-counter medication at a time?

These are all good questions. Understanding the potential for addiction or side effects to any medication, over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed medication is important. There are myths about the safety of taking OTC medicines since they do not require a prescription. To better understand the risk of abusing OTC or mixing with other medications, either prescription or OTC, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website for Teens at:

College: “Here I Come.”

(Posted July 2017)

Now is an exciting time for many young adults who are beginning their college experience or who are returning to continue their education. When you enter the college social environment, there may be significant challenges for those of you in recovery. This is especially true where alcohol and other drug use defines the college social norms. In addition to recovery priorities, you may be adjusting to course work demands, employment issues and the new freedom offered by college life. All of these circumstances may create triggers that lead to relapse of substance using behavior or may create a level of stress interrupting a healthy recovery. In response to the need for recovery support in the college environment, Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRP) are gaining support in academic settings. CPR’s offer an alternative for students who may be faced with the decision of maintaining a healthy recovery or staying in school. The CRP assists students to do both. In order to assist you in making your college experience a safe and healthy journey, take a look at the following resources about the CPR options:

Bugbee, B.A., Caldeira, K.M., Soong, A.M., Vincent, K.B., Arria, A.M. (2016). Collegiate recovery programs: A win-win proposition for students and colleges. College Park, MD: Center on Young Adult Health and Development. Available at

Wiltz, Teresa. (2016).  Colleges use sober dorms to combat opioid epidemic. Available at

Know the Risks: Value Yourself

(Posted March 2017)

Are you familiar with the term “Spice”? Be aware that when dealing with addiction and substance use, “Spice” is not a food additive. The substance known as “Spice” increases the risk of brain damage or even death. Synthetic marijuana, often known as “Spice,” “K2,” “fake weed,” or “Bliss,” is not really “fake weed” as many teens think. In reality, “Spice” is a combination of chemicals that are sprayed onto a leaf, tricking you into thinking you are using the real stuff. On their teen website, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers information about the substance called “Spice.” It shares that “Spice” is often marketed as an herbal incense and marked “not for human consumption,” thus allowing for sale of the product. The packaging often features cartoons and is packaged to appeal to the younger age group. The scariest part is not knowing for sure what you are placing in your body. Even though there is still much to be discovered about these substances, the hazards are known and the health dangers are bigger. To learn more about how “Spice” affects your brain, your body or how to get help for someone who is using the substance, visit Be safe, smart and informed!  

What’s Your Holiday Drink? Check out the Facts

(Posted December 2016)

The holidays are upon us. Celebrating is part of our holiday traditions. Our family gatherings and holiday parties usually include holiday drinks of some variety. When it comes to teens and young adults, how to celebrate is often a challenge. Alcohol is not a legal or healthy option for those of you under 21 years of age. That means, for many teens, you are seeking alternative drinks to help you feel “adult” during the holidays. Even though studies indicate that 17 and 18 year olds are consuming less soda than 11 years ago, the alternative appears to be the use of coffee and energy drinks. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teens typically consume drinks that are high in caffeine and these drinks double the amount of caffeine being consumed. What you may not realize or may ignore is that consuming high amounts of caffeine can create health concerns. To help you understand concerns about caffeine consumption, NIDA has placed a “Caffeine” Quiz on their teen website. Take the challenge. Answer the quiz on and have happy, healthy holidays.

Do You Know the Risks?

(Posted October 2016)

 Myth or Fact?

  •    I can drink and still be in control.
  •    I’d be better off if I learn to “hold my liquor.”
  •    I can manage to drive well enough after a few drinks.

If you are began your journey as a college student this fall, there is a good chance that you have been confronted with the decision of whether to consume alcohol or not. Often students feel alcohol is a “rite of passage” into adulthood and part of the college experience. Unfortunately, the “rite of passage” has unhealthy consequences for many who begin to drink.

In order to assist you in making healthy decisions, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) has developed a series of special college materials to help you through the decision process. Knowing the facts is an important part of the process. To test you in your knowledge about the myths surrounding alcohol use, NIAAA has provided an interactive page that provides the real facts related to the top seven myths surrounding alcohol use. Test yourself on the myths

In addition, NIAAA offers an interactive “body” that will allow you to click on different body organs and learn what impact alcohol may have on that part of the body. Be a safe and smart college student. Know all your facts. Be aware of the academic and legal consequences of alcohol usage. Take a look at and have a great year.

The 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age: Be In the Know

(Posted September 2016)

As a young adult you may wonder why the age for purchase of alcohol is 21 years of age. It has been reasoned that if you can fight for your country, make legal transitions or vote, that you should be able to drink alcoholic beverages. In 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act was created. The act made the legal age when alcohol can be purchased to be 21 years of age in every state. Prior to that date the states varied with the age of legal purchase and consumption. You may ask why the age limit is such a big deal? To find out how the law saves lives and protects the health of our young people, look at the fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Fact Sheet offers information in regard to decreased drinking, fewer high school dropouts, health problems and other important facts. To be “in the know” go to

Do you want “To be in the know?”. On August 23, 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), posted a link to a new app on their youth website Too Smart To Start. The app is titled Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain or AlcoholFX. The new mobile app is free and designed to teach the knowledge and skills needed to avoid underage drinking. AlcoholFX has research-based, interactive games that teach social skills, lesson plans for educators and information on how alcohol affects a young person’s brain. Download AlcoholFX at:

Chat Day: Real Questions and Answers

(Posted May 2016)

“Why do some people become addicted, while others don’t?”

“How can I help someone if they are on drugs”?”

“Are video games more addictive than drugs?”

Where do you go to find the answers? Every January the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) hosts a teen “Chat Day” as part of the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW). Last January, over 1,600 “Chat Day” questions were received by the NIDA scientists. Most likely you have wondered about many of the same issues other teens called about on “Chat Day.” In response to the many questions, the NDAFW web page has posted a summary of the question and answer session on: The entire question & answer transcript is available at:

“Brain Science”: What is it?

(Posted April 2016)

Do you ever struggle with a seemingly easy task? Do you sometimes sense that your brain simply isn’t working? Many of us have had similar experiences. It shows us that our brain functions can be very puzzling. To help understand your brain, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently posted an article, “Their Work Really is Brain Science,” that talks about the research that brain scientists conduct. Brain scientists have helped solve a variety of mysteries such as how drugs affect different areas of the brain and how drugs influence the brain’s “reward system.” Scientists are learning new facts in many ways. One method is to take pictures of the brain activity by a technique called brain imaging. These images show how the parts of the brain are connected to each other, and how those connections are affected when someone uses drugs. (NIDA, 2016)

If you are curious about the work of a brain scientist, meet Dr. Dave Thomas, who is introduced through a web video link. Dr. Dave talks about his research for NIDA and the role he has in examining the relationship between the brain functions and addiction. Go take a look around! You might be surprised by what you find. The article could even motivate you to consider “brain science” as a career. To find out more, go to:

Do You Know?? Test Your Knowledge

(Posted March 2016)

The annual National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) was held January 25-31, 2016. The Week was a partnership between the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). During the 2016 week there were 2029 registered events occurring across the country. As part of the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, NIDA placed a new interactive National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge Quiz on the teen website. Test your knowledge by taking the 2016 quiz on For an additional challenge that will exercise your brain, test your knowledge of drugs and show the impact on your brain and body, click on the NIDA teen site at

For more information about the events held during the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, go to Mark your calendar for the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week 2017 to be held on January 23-29, 2017. The tools and information to assist in planning an event in your community are available now on the NIDA teen website.

Marijuana: Be Informed!

(Posted January 2016)

In the booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens,  Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), wrote an open letter to teens and asked, “Did you know that teen marijuana use has dropped dramatically since the late 1990’s? So, if you were thinking everyone smokes marijuana, they don’t.” She goes on to say, “However, many teens do not consider marijuana to be a harmful drug. Some believe marijuana cannot be harmful because it is ‘natural.’ But not all natural plants are good for you – take tobacco, for example.” (NIDA, 2015)  To help teens obtain accurate information, the NIDA booklet provides summaries of the research that address the following:

  • Marijuana is addictive.
  • Marijuana is unsafe if you are behind the wheel.
  • Marijuana is linked to school failure.
  • High doses of marijuana can cause psychosis or panic when you’re high.
  • Frequently ask questions and answers most often asked by teens.

Take the time to read Marijuana: Facts for Teens and learn the truth about marijuana. The booklet is found at, You may also want to check out NIDA’s teen site, or for more information.


Marijuana: Facts for Teens, (December 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January 4, 2016 from 

Marijuana. (September 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved December 22, 2015, from

Is Marijuana Medicine? (July 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved December 22, 2015,


(Posted December 2015)

SHATTER THE MYTHS about drugs and alcohol. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has announced their partnership with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in sponsoring the annual National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) to be held January 25-31, 2016. NDAFW is a national health observance week for teens. The weeklong event will provide factual information and promote local events that use NIDA science to SHATTER THE MYTHS about drugs and alcohol. Take a look on to access NDAFW event publications and promotional resources for the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week.

A Journey to the “COOL” Spot (Posted October 2015)

Looking for a “cool spot” to escape to? Visit the website with the “COOL” name. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) sponsors, an interactive website offering factual information on alcohol and the skills for resisting negative peer pressure. The site explains peer pressure and discusses how your peers may apply pressure. To address the issues of peer pressure there are opportunities to learn and practice your “bag of tricks” to resist negative peer pressure. The Cool Spot accomplishes their goal through quizzes, games, and videos that make learning fun and engages you through visual applications common in the media today.

Take a journey to: and have some fun.

Myths Versus Facts Challenge (Posted August 2015)

The challenge is to see how much factual information you know versus a myth. Read the statement and think about what you have learned about underage alcohol use. Challenge a friend (or your parent) and track who knew the most correct information. Have fun with the challenge but remember the facts are important life changing information. The challenge is adapted from the Too Smart To Start website.

Real Facts About Underage Drinking

The Myths

1. Myth: Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
2. Myth: Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
3. Myth: Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
4. Myth: All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
5. Myth: I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
6. Myth: Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink, too.
7. Myth: Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
8. Myth: I can drink alcohol and not have any problems

The Facts

1. FACT: Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.
2. FACT: Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights).
3. FACT: There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.
4. FACT: If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that almost 75 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds have not used any alcohol during the past month.1
5. FACT: On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”
6. FACT: A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. In 2012, adults who had taken their first drink before age 15 were seven times more likely to experience alcohol problems as those who had not started drinking before age 21.1
7. FACT: Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!
8. FACT: If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.
1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Author.

Adapted from: Real Facts About Underage Drinking. (November 2014). Too Smart To Start, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved on July 23, 2015 from:

What is Your Drug Fact IQ? (Posted July 2015)

Take the 2015 National Drug IQ Challenge to find out. This teen challenge is a yearly challenge related to the National Drug Fact Week. This IQ test has ten questions and two “Brainiac” Bonus challenge questions. Challenge your friends. Challenge your parents. See who knows the most. The 2014 Challenge is also available.

to take the test
we challenge you!

Drug Facts: Real Questions from Real Teens

How did you do with the challenge? Need more information? The NIDA teen site has more drug fact information for teens based on real questions from real teens. See what other young people are asking and learning: