Thinking back to your middle school or high school health classes, you may recall photographs of lungs blackened by cigarette tar or videos of teenagers dropping out of school, fighting with friends and family, or even dying because of their errant drug and alcohol use. Exposing children and teenagers to the most damaging consequences of these behaviors has long been a mainstay in America’s addiction prevention strategy – but that poses the question: do scare tactics work?
While scanning the latest news, it’s easy to feel as if we’ve traveled back in time to the 1980s. “Just say no?” “The war on drugs?” After nearly three decades, there’s still little evidence to suggest these outdated addiction prevention and treatment strategies work, and some evidence even shows that they are counterproductive. Yet, they continue to influence how we both talk about and treat addiction. And just last month, dialogue about the “gateway drug theory” resurfaced in the New York Times, raising the question: is this highly publicized hypothesis, which also originated in the final quarter of the 20th century, grounded in fact or fiction?
Did you watch the ball drop with a glass of champagne? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. New Year’s Eve is the most popular drinking holiday of the year. But, festivities filled with friends and family may occasionally lead to overconsumption. For some, a few too many drinks can even cause alcohol-induced amnesia, better known as a blackout. In our December poll, we asked readers about another factor that affects the likelihood of blacking out from drinking: whether the person consuming alcohol is male or female.
In 2016, U.S. pharmacies dispensed more than 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin and OxyContin – enough for every adult American to have a full bottle of these pills. However, most people receiving these prescriptions report using only some or none of the pills. As many as 92 percent of people recovering from surgery stop taking their medications before the pills run out. Yet, only about one-quarter properly store or dispose of their unused meds – leaving the highly addictive prescriptions vulnerable to fall into the wrong hands.
The holiday season is meant to be a time of celebration, but, for many, it can take a tragic turn. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that every year between Christmas and New Year’s, over 300 people are killed because of drunk driving. However, alcohol isn’t the only substance partygoers may choose to consume while feeling festive. That being said, all those who think they are being safer by swapping a martini for marijuana before hitting the road are sorely mistaken.
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