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Welcome to The Buzz—The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's online conversation about addiction and substance use.

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In 2016, approximately 2.1 million Americans over the age of 11 suffered from addiction to opioids such as the prescription pain medications OxyContin and Vicodin or the illegal drug heroin. Yet, 11.8 million people – nearly six times as many – reported misusing opioids, primarily prescription medications.

Although it does not receive the same media attention as addiction – clinically known as opioid use disorder - this startling figure highlights a serious yet often overlooked problem within our society: the issue of opioid misuse.

College is a stressful time for students. Balancing the rigors of studying and coursework with the social and financial demands of college life can be particularly challenging. Some students try to deal with these challenges by taking amphetamines or stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, thinking it will improve their focus and academic performance or allow them to stay awake and alert late into the night to study, work or party. While Adderall has proven benefits for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), taking amphetamines for nonmedical or non-prescribed purposes can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.

In our most recent poll, we asked readers if there is a difference between an opioid and an opiate. Approximately 65 percent of people responded with the correct answer: yes. But, do you know what that difference is?

Dr. Copeland, founding director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre at University of New South Wales Australia, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about the rise and fall of Australia’s cannabis policy responses. We interviewed Dr. Copeland to get some deeper insights into her research and experience regarding cannabis (or marijuana) use and the prevention and treatment of cannabis use disorder.

Parents who know or suspect their child is using drugs or alcohol are often at a loss for what to do next. Do you take a hard-lined punitive approach? Confront your child? Approach your child as you would a friend?

Molly Bobek, a Senior Research Associate here at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) and a licensed therapist who specializes in family therapy, provides some suggestions for what parents can do when it comes to this difficult situation and explains her approach to helping families concerned about their teen’s substance use. 

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