Educating teens this National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

This week (March 18-24) is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW), a public health initiative aimed at debunking drug and alcohol myths among teenagers.

Founded in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) becoming a partner in 2016 – NDAFW was created to encourage dialogue between teens, educators and experts, promoting the facts surrounding drug and alcohol use; and in turn reducing incidents of misuse among teens.

During the week, scientists, students, educators, healthcare providers and community partners are encouraged to host educational events in their communities.

The NIDA also provides a host of resources on its website to help people plan and promote local NDAFW events.

Why is NDAFW important?

NDAFW provides a dedicated time frame during which communities can educate young people on the risks of drug and alcohol misuse.

This can help prevent misconceptions that can lead teens to engage in risky behaviors. It also ensures they are equipped with the knowledge to make informed choices regarding drugs and alcohol.

Research conducted by Sandstone Care – a treatment center for teens, young adults and adults with locations across the US – found that teenagers and high schools students are particularly vulnerable to substance use disorders due to a combination of social pressures, developmental challenges and mental health struggles.

Feelings of isolation were also highlighted as a risk factor.

10 drug and alcohol facts

As a laboratory that provides drug and alcohol testing services, we know the importance of education when it comes to helping people make informed choices about drug and alcohol use.

Here are 10 drug and alcohol facts that can benefit teenagers, young adults, and adults alike.

1. Alcohol and drugs affect different people in different ways

How alcohol and drugs affect the body – and the kind of experience you have when drinking alcohol or taking drugs – depends on a variety of factors including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • The type of substance used
  • Frequency of use
  • The quantity consumed
  • Your state of mind at the time
  • Whether you have used that substance before
  • Whether or not you have eaten
  • Whether you have been drinking and taking drugs at the same time

This means that not everybody will have the same experience when taking drugs or drinking alcohol to excess.

In fact, alcohol and drugs can even affect the same person differently when taken at a different time.

2. When we talk about alcohol, we are actually talking about ethanol

When we talk about the type of alcohol that we drink and which causes intoxication, we are talking about ethanol; a type of alcohol found in drinks including beer, wine, and liquor. It is also found in other products including cleaning solutions.

Ethanol is a small molecule that can pass through the blood-brain barrier, impacting our mental and physical behaviors.

Drinking alcohol (ethanol) can make you feel calmer and relaxed at first. However, the more alcohol you drink, the more it affects your brain. You might also start to slur your words or find movement and coordination more difficult.

3. Alcohol misuse has been linked to more than 200 diseases, injuries and other health conditions

This is according to figures published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This figure includes incidents in which alcohol consumption played a part, including road traffic collisions, and violence.

Excess alcohol consumption has also been linked to mental and behavioral problems, as well as liver cirrhosis, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.

4. Alcohol tests can detect chronic and excessive alcohol consumption for a period of up to 12 months – depending on the type of test you take

The amount of time it takes for alcohol to pass through your system depends on how well your body can metabolize it.

Age, sex, body mass, medications and pre-existing health conditions can all affect how long alcohol stays in your system.

However, on average, alcohol remains detectable in the blood for about 24 hours, in urine from 12 hours to 4 days, in breath for 12 to 24 hours, and in hair and nails for up to 12 months.

Hair alcohol testing and nail alcohol testing are methods which provide a wide window of detection, due to the way that alcohol metabolites are deposited onto the hair, and the way that alcohol biomarkers become trapped in the keratin fibers of the nails.

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

5. Marijuana remains illegal at a federal level

Although some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational purposes, marijuana is still illegal at a federal level, and is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This is due to its potential for abuse and dependency.

Despite this, it remains the most used illegal drug in the US, with around 18% of Americans having used it at least once in 2019.

6. CBD is not the same as marijuana

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – are both chemical compounds found in marijuana and derived from the Cannabis sativa plant.

However, unlike marijuana, CBD produces few if any psychoactive effects, as it only contains small amounts of THC.

The purchase and sale of CBD products is legal at a federal level, provided products are hemp-derived and contain less than 0.3% THC. However, this varies from state-to-state, with some states considering the use or possession of any marijuana (cannabis) product illegal.

This means it is important to know the law for CBD in the state in which you reside.

CBD vs THC – What’s the difference?

7. Legal highs are not actually legal…

New Psychoactive Substances (NPSs) – often known as designer drugs or, misleadingly, ‘legal highs’ – are not actually legal.

NPSs are man-made synthetic drugs that are manufactured to mimic the effects of ‘traditional’ illegal drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, or marijuana. However, rather than being ‘legal’, they are often designed to get around drug laws, making it easier for people to purchase them via ‘legitimate’ channels (e.g. online).

They are also extremely unpredictable and dangerous due to their potency.

Examples of designer drugs include synthetic cathinones (Bath Salts), and synthetic marijuana (Spice/K2).

8. Opiates and opioids are different from each other

Although the terms ‘opiates’ and ‘opioids’ are often used interchangeably, the two are different.

Opiates are natural chemical compounds that are extracted or refined from plant matter, such as poppy sap and fibers. Examples include heroin, morphine, and codeine.

Opioids are chemical compounds that are generally not derived from plant matter and are commonly manufactured in a ‘lab’ or ‘synthesized’. Examples include methadone and fentanyl.

Opiate & Opioid Facts

9. You can never truly know what you’re getting with street drugs…

Unsurprisingly, the fact that street drugs are sold illegally means that there is rarely any quality control involved in the manufacturing process.

This means that most illicit substances sold at street level will contain other substances that the user is completely unaware of.

Illegal street drugs can be cut with other drugs but can also contain naturally occurring impurities from the manufacturing process.

Examples of impurities include opiate alkaloids in heroin, which may be present due to the process of refining opium into heroin.

Adulterants – drugs which are designed to mimic or enhance the effects of the drug that is purportedly being offered – may also be present, and could include caffeine or ephedrine, which are often found in amphetamines or ecstasy.

Furthermore, diluents might be used to ‘bulk out’ the product. Examples of diluents include sugars like glucose and lactose.

10. Drug tests can detect drug use for a period of up to 12 months – depending on the type of test you take

When a person consumes drugs, they are broken down by the liver, and a proportion of the drug and its metabolites are released into the bloodstream.

Some of the drug and its metabolites can then be detected in the body in different ways including in urine, saliva, hair and nails.

Drug tests using urine or saliva provide a narrow window of detection for drugs, letting us know whether the person has taken drugs in the 2-4 days leading up to the test.

However, drug tests using hair or nail clippings samples can provide an overview of drug use for a period of up to 12 months (from the time the samples were collected).

This is because of the way that drugs and their metabolites become trapped in the hair shaft (medulla) and in the keratin fibers of the nails.

Where can I buy a home drug or alcohol test?

Whether you suspect a loved one is misusing drugs or simply want a test for other personal reasons, AlphaBiolabs can help.

Our state-of-the-art laboratory can test a range of biological samples for the presence of drugs and their metabolites.

Simply order your Home Nail Drug & Alcohol Test Kit, Home Hair Drug Test or Home Urine Drug Test Kit, online, and we’ll mail your kit out to you immediately so that you can collect your samples quickly and easily at home.

For more information on our at-home drug and alcohol testing kits, call 727 325 2902 or email

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