How to Shatter the Myths about Drugs and Alcohol

Published: January 2, 2018

Many young people are unaware of the serious risks drugs and alcohol pose to their health, to their success in school and to their future. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism invite you to shine a light on substance misuse this New Year by participating in National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW).

According to recently released data from NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey, nearly a third of high school seniors report past-month use of alcohol, 28 percent report vaping and 37 percent report past-year use of marijuana. Today’s teens perceive substance use as less risky than students in the past. For example, high school seniors reported reduced perception of harm in occasional cocaine, heroin, and steroid use.

But there’s good news; use of many illicit substances are at historic lows. Fewer teens are using alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, prescription opioids, MDMA, methamphetamine, amphetamines and sedatives than in the past. NDAFW is an opportunity for school staff, parents and students to effectively educate this generation of young people about drug and alcohol misuse by providing teens with fact-based information.

NDAFW is a national health observance designed to equip schools and communities with the materials and tools they need to educate young people about the effects of drugs on their brain, body and behavior. Now in its eighth year, NDAFW will be held Jan. 22–28.

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All around the country, guidance counselors, teachers, school resource officers, social workers, drug prevention programs, colleges, health care providers and community support programs are using the science-based information available FREE from NIDAan Institute within the National Institutes of Health supporting most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addictionin educational events designed to equip young people to make informed choices about drugs and alcohol.

This year, National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is expecting more than 2,000 events to be held around the country and world. These events range in size and scope, but they focus on educating young people about drug and alcohol use and their consequences. Event participants range from kindergartners to college students.

Some event ideas include:

  • A panel discussion with local law enforcement, substance abuse counselors or individuals affected by drug abuse
  • A graffiti fact wall
  • A trivia night or bingo game
  • A social media campaign
  • A school assembly
  • An addiction-themed art contest
  • A contest during halftime at a sports game

Get more ideas for activities and help with planning your National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week event.

5 Steps to Hosting an NDAFW Event

  • Step 1: Form Your Planning Team: The most successful teams involve youth in organizing the event. Students have credibility with their peers and play an important role in making sure the messages and activities will speak to other students.
  • Step 2: Plan Your NDAFW Event: Determine what type of event will work best for your space and your audience. Identify the focus of your activities—will you focus on all drugs? Alcohol? Opioids? A specific illicit drug, such as marijuana?
  • Step 3: Register Your Event: To make your event an official NDAFW event, you must register your event. Once registered, your event will be added to the official event map of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week events, where it will join hundreds of others. You can also upload pictures to the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Flickr page, and your event may be highlighted by NIDA in one of the NDAFW emails or on the NDAFW website.
  • Step 4: Secure Your Science: NIDA provides a dozen online toolkits that include useful information on ways to create events, publicize them, and obtain scientific facts on drugs and alcohol. NIDA will support those who stage an event by offering its signature booklet, Drugs: Shatter the Myths, free of charge as well as an online National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge, a 10-question, multiple-choice quiz that teens and adults can take to test their knowledge about drugs and alcohol. NIDA can even help customize the quiz for your organization.
  • Step 5: Promote Your Event: NIDA has tools and resources to help publicize your events. Start with Tools for Success, a resource designed to provide planners with everything they need to get the word out about their event using traditional and social media channels. NIDA offers sample flyers, social media language, resources for media outreach, stickers and T-shirt iron-on printable graphics, and other promotional items.

How NIDA Can Help                      

For additional information on National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week or for assistance in planning your educational event, visit the National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week website or email

Brian Marquis is the public liaison officer for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series