The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls on schools and communities to observe the week of Jan. 28 through Feb. 3 as National Drug Facts Week. This week is a health observance week for teens that aims to debunk myths about drugs and drug abuse. Through community-based events and activities on the Web, on TV, and through contests, NIDA is working to encourage teens to get factual answers from scientific experts about drugs and drug abuse.

"This week is designed to counteract the myths teens have about drug abuse, often reinforced by their peers, the Internet, and the entertainment industry," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "When given the facts from people they trust, teens are in a better position to make good decisions about drug use."

Teens in Waldo County may have little access to scientific experts, but they can get straight answers from informed parents, grandparents, clergy, mentors and other community members. Too often, children and youth may get the idea that adults expect them to experiment with alcohol or other drugs, or that such use is considered a rite of passage to adulthood.

Research demonstrates that children and youth respond to a clear “no use” message from parents, coaches, teachers, ministers and other important people in their lives.

At Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast there will be informational posters in the school and discussions in health classes. Mount View High School is planning an event designed by student groups and will be highlighting drug facts, along with focusing on the problem of driving while texting.

The following is information about drug use from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services:

Is marijuana addictive?


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the chances of becoming addicted to marijuana or any drug are different for each person. For marijuana, around one in 11 people who use it become addicted.

Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services says adolescents are three times more likely to become addicted than adults.

According to Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, in 2011, 27-percent of Waldo County high school students reported that they had used marijuana at least once in the prior 30 days. — the state average was 22-percent. Thirty-three percent had tried marijuana before age 13 — the state average was 22-percent. In Maine, of the 613 substance abuse treatment admissions in 2009 for youths under the age of 18, 57-percent listed marijuana as their primary drug — 26.4-percent listed alcohol.

More than four in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In 2011, 40.6-percent of Waldo County high school students said they had their first drink of alcohol before age 13; 32.7-percent said that they had had at least one drink of alcohol in the prior 30 days, according to the 2011 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey. While 20.4-percent of Waldo County students reported that on least one day in the prior 30 days they had five or more drinks in a row, as reported in the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey 2011.

How can prescription drugs be harmful when they're prescribed by doctors?

Prescription drugs aren't bad — they help a lot of people. It really depends on the who, how and why of it: who were they prescribed for — the person taking them, or someone else — how a person takes them — as prescribed or not — and why a person takes them — to get well or to get high?

Some teens abuse stimulants thinking it will improve their grades; in fact, it may do just the opposite!

In 2011, 17.7 percent of Waldo County high school students reported that they had taken a prescription drug without a doctor's prescription at least one time.

Mixing pills with other drugs or with alcohol really increases the risk of death from accidental overdose.

Abuse of prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall can cause serious health problems, including panic attacks, seizures and heart attacks, says the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In the past year, misuse of painkillers is highest among 18 to 25-year-olds in Maine and increased from 12 percent in 2007-2008 to 14 percent in 2008-2009, compared to only 3-percent of adults age 26 and older, according to Maine Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

What do drugs do to the brain?

Different drugs do different things. But they all affect the brain — that is why drugs make you feel high, low, sped up, slowed down, or see things that aren't there.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that repeated drug use can reset the brain's pleasure meter so that without the drug a person feels hopeless and sad. Eventually, everyday fun stuff like spending time with friends or playing with their dog doesn't make them happy anymore.

The National Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction's most important finding, based on almost two decades of research is that a child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so.

How do parents' attitudes about alcohol affect their child's decisions?

Among Maine high school students who believe that their parents feel it is "a little wrong" or "not wrong at all" for the student to drink alcohol regularly, 56.9 percent had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with 23.4 percent of students who think that their parents feel that it is "wrong" or "very wrong." Students who don't believe that their parents think that it is wrong for them to drink are 2.4 times more likely to drink, according to the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey 2011.

The brain develops during the teen years and continues to develop into the early twenties. According to a statement from the American Medical Association "The brain goes through dynamic change during adolescence and alcohol can seriously damage long- and short-term growth processes."