Of the 312 million people in the United States:
120 million misuse alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs in ways that affect their health and safety (1)
$600 billion is the cost of substance misuse in the U.S., including loss of productivity, destruction of property, health, and crime related costs (2)
40 million are dependent upon alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs, a disorder affecting more Americans than heart conditions (27 million), diabetes (26 million), and cancer (19 million) (1)
60 million suffer from a behavioral addictions, including gambling, sex, pornography, spending, etc.
90% of people with an dependency, started using before the age of 18 (1)
1:4 people will become dependent if they begin using substances before the age of 18 (1)
1:25 people will become dependent if they begin using substances after the age of 21 (1)
75% of High School students have tried alcohol, nicotine, or other substances (1)
46% of High School students are current users of habit forming/dependency possible substances (1)
1 in 4 High School students had five or more alcoholic drinks in the past 30 days (3)
1 in 5 High School students smoked marijuana in the past 30 days (3)
70% High School students perceive no to slight risk in smoking marijuana (3)
37% High School students perceive no to slight risk in drinking alcohol everyday (3)
1. Statistics provided by the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia.org)
2. Statistics provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov)
3. Statistics provided by 2011 Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey (miottawa.org)
THE PROBLEM FOR YOUTH
The perception of “Bad vs Dangerous”.
Too many kids are exposing themselves to alcohol and drugs, increasing their risk for developing an addiction (1 in 4 vs 1 in 25). This is in large part because kids do not perceive alcohol and drugs as dangerous, but rather “illegal” or “bad”. This is compounded by parents who also do not understand the dangers, and therefore do not appropriately convey the correct message to their children. With the glamorizing of adolescent binge drinking and substance abuse in our movies, t.v., and music, kids develop a misguided belief that these things are to be enjoyed when they are young, wild, and free, and that the biggest risk to participating is that they may get into trouble. This misguided perception has led to our nation’s #1 public health epidemic, which includes 40 million people who meet clinical criteria for addiction to alcohol, nicotine, or illicit drugs and an additional 80 million risky substance users who are exposing themselves to potential addiction. With over 75% of our children exposing themselves to these dangerous and addictive substances, we need to better educate society and our kids with the facts to help them make better choices for their future.
PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS FOR YOUTH
The largest anti-drug and alcohol education program D.A.R.E has been criticized by several studies, including the U.S. Surgeon General, for not being effective at keeping kids away from drugs (studies show D.A.R.E has had no effect at reducing drug and alcohol use rates among adolescents). D.A.R.E. utilizes the “drugs are bad” philosophy, and typically targets its programs to 3rd and 5th grade students. According to national studies, the sharpest increase in teenage alcohol and drug use begins after the 8th grade.
The U.S. government has developed a national media campaign called “Above the Influence”. This is targeted at teens, with the goal of helping kids fight “peer pressure”. According to recent studies, it has shown positive correlations with those who identify with the campaign and those who choose not to participate in risky substance use. However, it has not proven to effectively reduce the amount of risky substance and alcohol use among teenagers. As of this year, the U.S. government has cut funding for this program. One drawback to this campaign is that it does not focus on educating kids about the dangers and science of addiction. There is nothing wrong with empowering kids to fight peer pressure, but they still desperately lack the appropriate knowledge and facts to understand “why” they should not do drugs or drink before 21. With this knowledge, kids can better fight peer pressure with reasons to back it up.
THE SOLUTION FOR YOUTH AND ADULTS
Educate, Empower, and Evaluate
The solution is simple: Educate our kids about the real dangers of adolescent alcohol and drug use (utilizing the science of addiction approach) and empower them to make healthier choices. These healthier choices include 1) Waiting until at least 21 years of age before considering alcohol, 2) Never experimenting with nicotine or illicit drugs and 3) Not abusing alcohol or other addictive substances after 21. Kids who make these choices will reduce their risk for addiction by over 90%. To understand exactly how, we encourage you to watch our quick 3 1/2 minute animation video explaining the science of addiction (http://wait21.org/#video-section). The direct benefits of these better choices include a lower risk for addiction, greater success in school and work, and an overall happier life. The benefits to society include over $480 billion in cost savings per year, lower violent crime rates, lower divorce rates, lower teen pregnancy, lower child abuse and neglect, and lower rates of homelessness. Overall lower rates of addiction will improve communities and family life for millions of families across America.
The solution may be simple, but is it easy? History has shown that it's not. At New Way, we are taking a different and more practical approach, one that is measurable and effective. We are pioneering new and innovative programs that are modeled for scale and sustainability. We invite everyone to join us in sharing their talents and resources to finally put an end to substance use disorders and shift our culture in a healthier direction. Want to get involved? Contact us today!
MORE DATA & FACTS