TULSA, OK – [January 19, 2018] – National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) is January 22 – 28, and the Tulsa Health Department’s substance abuse prevention program encourages parents to get involved.
This national health observance links students with scientists and other experts to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music, or from friends. NDAFW celebrates the inquisitive minds of teens by giving them a space (virtual or physical) to ask questions about drugs and alcohol and to get scientific answers from experts.
“There is good news and bad news regarding drug use by young people in the United States,” said Marianne Long, Tulsa Health Department’s substance abuse prevention program manager. “The good news is that on the national level, the use of drugs by teens down. Findings from the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey of 360 schools across the nation show misuse of prescription and over the counter pain medications dropped dramatically since the 2004 survey, and use of illicit drugs is at the lowest rate in history. While teen binge drinking remained at the same level as the 2016 survey, it is significantly lower than its peak years of 1996-1998. Cigarette use has also declined from nearly 25% in 1997 to 4% in 2017.”
The bad news is that marijuana use is not declining, and ‘vaping’ is increasing. Just under 28% of high school seniors in the survey reporting vaping. The danger is that teens do not know what they are vaping, and labels are not reliable. E-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals and nicotine, and research has shown they are more likely to smoke regular cigarettes in the future.
Locally, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services conducts the Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment (OPNA) every two years in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12. The survey is designed to assess students’ involvement in specific problem behaviors, such as drug use. The survey was last administered in 2016, and Tulsa County results indicated an increase in prescription pain killer abuse for all grades except the 10th. Teen binge drinking showed a decrease for all grades except the 6th. Marijuana use declined for all grades. Vaping was not measured. The 2018 OPNA survey results will be available this summer.
For more information and facts about teen drug and alcohol use, parents should visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for parents. The website provides resources to help parents talk to their teens about drugs and their effects, and learn where to go to get help.
Tulsa Health Department
Since its establishment in 1950, the Tulsa Health Department serves as the primary public health agency to more than 600,000 Tulsa County residents, including 13 municipalities and four unincorporated areas. The agency is one of two autonomous local health departments in Oklahoma, with statutory public health jurisdiction throughout Tulsa County and the City of Tulsa. THD’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of all Tulsa County residents, in order to make Tulsa County the healthiest county in the country. THD was among the first health departments in the U.S. to receive national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. For more information, please visit www.tulsa-health.org.