March 21st kicked off this year’s annual National Drugs and Alcohol Fact week. This is an annual weeklong event that was started over a decade ago by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). According to NIDA’s website, National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, or NDAFW, is an annual, week-long, health observance that inspires dialogue about the science of drug use and addiction among youth. It provides an opportunity to bring together scientists, students, educators, healthcare providers, and community partners—to help advance the science, so that we can improve the prevention and awareness of substance misuse in our own communities and nationwide. This year the event was held from March 21st through March 27th.
During the week, there were several events held across the nation during the week. However, Utah was one of the very few states that did not have a single event or activity planned for the duration of the celebration. This leads me to believe that individuals throughout Utah should be more educated on the facts surrounding drugs and alcohol in our state.
According to Utah’s Public Health Indicator Based information system alcohol in 2019, alcohol and marijuana were the most commonly abused substances among adolescents in Utah.
To give you an idea of just how present marijuana use is in adolescents here is a survey released by Utah’s health district in 2019. For the survey students were asked how many occasions (if any) they had used marijuana (grass, pot) or hashish (hash, hash oil) during the past 30 days.
The following are the results by county
County Percentage Reporting Marijuana Use (Grades 8, 10, 12)
Salt Lake County 11.9%
State of Utah 8.2%
San Juan 5.9%
Davis County 5.3%
Utah County 5.1%
Bear River 4.4%
This is a problem that is affecting several individuals in our adolescent population, and the numbers are continuing to climb. Marijuana use comes with a slew of negative effects that should be recognized.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse marijuana can:
• Lead to breathing problems
• Increase your heart rate
• Cause hallucinations
• Cause paranoia
• Lead to nausea and vomiting
These are just a few of the negative side effects that can be present due to marijuana use.
As stated above, along with marijuana, alcohol was the most abused substance among adolescents in Utah. The Utah health department warns against underage alcohol use stating the numerous effects it can have on adolescents. They state that youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
• School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
• Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
• Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
• Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
• Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
• Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
• Physical and sexual assault.
• Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
• Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
• Memory problems.
• Abuse of other drugs.
• Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
• Death from alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol and drug use is a serious problem that is currently plaguing our adolescent population and it important that we realize the risks that surround the due to these substances.