Column: Talk to young people about the dangers of drug use

SAN ANTONIO — National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is an annual, week-long health observance that inspires conversation about the science of drug use and addiction among youth. Geared towards youth, the week helps educate people on what science has taught us about youth drug and alcohol use in our community.

It takes place March 20-26.

When it comes to alcohol, most young people in the San Antonio area don’t drink. The 2022 Texas School Survey shows that 75.3 percent of seventh to 12th graders haven’t had a drink in the past 30 days.

Underage drinking isn’t harmless fun. School-aged youth are going through critical periods of physical and emotional growth. Youth who drink during this time can experience real damage by exposing their developing brains and lives to serious consequences. Youth who begin drinking before they turn 15 are more likely to develop a drinking problem at some point in their lives than those who begin drinking at age 21 or older.

Electronic cigarette use, or vaping, is also a substance prevalent among youth today. Many young people do not realize that e-cigarettes can contain nicotine and flavors that are harmful to them. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, and it is important to educate young people on what they are putting in their bodies.

The teen years are a time of growth, exploration and risk-taking. However, some risky behaviors such as using marijuana can have adverse effects on a young person’s health and well-being.

If you suspect that a young person needs help with drugs or alcohol, contact Rise Recover 210-227-3624, or the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The Recovery Helpline is available for all ages by calling 210-SAY-CARE (729-2273). For mental health issues, contact 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Vicki Thomas is the Coalition Coordinator at the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Awareness.

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