Posted January 28, 2016
By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week takes place January 25 through January 31, and aims to shatter the myths about drug and alcohol abuse. In 2010, this week was launched by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to stimulate educational events so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction. In 2016, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism became a partner to incorporate the focus of alcoholism as well.
Throughout the nation, communities and schools host events to show the effects drugs and alcohol have on the brain, body and behavior. The information not only focuses on illegal drugs, but also drugs that are more accessible to teens, such as nicotine, alcohol, prescription pills and even cough syrup. Students are educated on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse/misuse and resources on how to get help overcoming addiction.
For Athletic Trainers (ATs), this awareness week is a great opportunity to educate your athletes on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Choose topics that are relevant to athletes like the dangers of using illegal performance enhancement drugs or the risks of abusing prescription medication when recovering from an injury. Athletes should even be cautioned about the danger of abusing alcohol or drugs when celebrating a victory.
Take time and be aware of the signs that a person may be developing a drug or alcohol use problem:
- Hanging out with different friends
- Getting worse grades or negative performance feedback
- Frequently missing classes or work
- Getting in trouble in school, on the job or with the law
- Having different eating or sleeping habits
While most of the educational handouts are geared towards parents, there are several tips that ATs can implement in the athletic training facility if you suspect an athlete is suffering from alcohol or drug dependence.
- Show understanding, interest and concern. Don’t blame and accuse
- Stay CALM
C—Control your thoughts and your actions
A—Assess and decide if you are too upset to continue
L—Leave the situation if you are feeling too angry or upset
M—Make a plan to deal with the situation within 24 hours
- Don’t place blame or put the other person down
For more information on events near you or educational handouts to pass out, visit https://teens.drugabuse.gov.