Substance abuse, from underage drinking to the non-medical use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, affects the health and well-being of people of all ages across the nation and the communities we live in. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 10 million teens and underage adults drank alcohol during the past month, 23 million Americans abuse drugs and prescription medications, and 18 million Americans abuse alcohol.
While some people do recover from drug and alcohol dependence and go on to live a perfectly normal life, many alcohol and drug abusers aren’t so lucky. The best chance of leading a long, healthy, happy, and productive life is to prevent substance abuse before it starts.
First held in October 2011, National Substance Abuse Prevention Month was created to emphasize the important role of substance abuse prevention in both individual and community health and safety. The month-long event also celebrates those who continuously practice and promote prevention efforts and reminds us to remember those who lost their lives to alcohol or drugs.
Foremost, National Substance Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness of substance abuse and encourages prevention efforts by the public, both during the month and year-round. By focusing on prevention, we have a better chance of curbing alcohol and drug abuse and ensuring our teens and young adults live long, healthy lives free of substance abuse and the consequences that come with it.
You can help prevent substance abuse in your family or even your community by following these tips:
- Start an open, honest, and ongoing conversation with your children about the dangers of alcohol and drugs
- Share facts and statistics related to substance abuse on your social media account, blog, or website
- Host a neighborhood or community event designed to raise awareness about substance abuse and call community members and leaders to action in preventing such abuse
- Celebrate National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and the football season, an upcoming birthday, or even Halloween simultaneously by throwing a substance-free party
To find facts about substance abuse, more prevention effort ideas, and resources on substance abuse and prevention, start at www.samhsa.gov.