Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

March 30, 2020

Fact: Anyone can overdose on prescription drugs.

More than half of the drug overdose deaths in the United States each year are caused by prescription drug misuse. Deaths from overdoses of prescription drugs have been increasing since the early 1990s, largely due to increases in misuse of prescription opioid pain relievers. In 2017, more than 33,800 people died from an overdose of prescription drugs. The good news is that among young people ages 15 to 25, deaths from prescription drug misuse declined slightly in 2017. 

Mixing different types of prescription drugs can be particularly dangerous. For example, benzodiazepines interact with opioids (pain relievers) and increase the risk of overdose. Also, combining opioids with alcohol can make breathing problems worse and can lead to death.

Drug Overdoses, Ages 15-24Number of Deaths, 2018
Total Overdose Deaths4,633
Heroin and other illicit opioids3,177
MarijuanaThere are no reports of teens or young adults dying from an overdose of marijuana alone. But there are many reports of marijuana users seeking treatment in emergency rooms, reporting uncomfortable side effects from consuming high THC levels in smoked marijuana or marijuana edibles.
Prescription Drugs:
      Benzodiazepines (e.g. sedatives) 
      Common Prescription Opioids (pain relievers)



Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice)Deaths have been reported. However, while some state and local governments (and other groups) collect this information, total nationwide numbers are not currently available.

March 31, 2020


Drugs mess with your brain’s wiring and signals.

Drugs and Your Brain

You know they make you fuzzy, but what do drugs do to your brain?

Different drugs do different things. But they all affect the brain–that’s why drugs make you feel high, low, speeded up, or slowed down, or see things that aren’t there.

Repeated drug use can reset the brain’s pleasure meter, so that without the drug, you feel hopeless and sad. Eventually, everyday fun stuff like spending time with your friends or playing with your dog doesn’t make you happy anymore.

April 1, 2020


If you smoke marijuana a lot in your teens, you could lose IQ points (which measure intelligence) that you might never get back.

Can Smoking Marijuana Actually Lower Your IQ?

Many teenagers assume smoking weed is harmless because of all the myths floating around saying it’s safe. What few people know is that the age you start using marijuana actually makes a difference. In fact, if you start smoking it as a teenager, there can be some serious problems for you down the road.

Although we already knew from past research that if you start smoking pot as a teen, you’ll be more likely to get addicted, new research (just published in a well-known journal called Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) now says if you smoke marijuana heavily as a teenager, it can actually lower your IQ!

Scientists looked at more than 1,000 people born in 1972 and 1973. When they were 13 years old, they were given IQ and other kinds of intelligence tests. They were interviewed every few years about their use of marijuana and then tested again when they were 38 years old.

The results? Those who smoked weed heavily as teens showed mental decline even after they quit using the drug—and had, on average, an 8-point drop in their IQ scores. An 8-point loss could push a person of average intelligence into the lower third of testers. Those who started smoking pot after age 18 also showed some decline, but not as much.

This was an interesting study because it also collected information from people who knew the study participants. They reported that people who smoked marijuana heavily had more memory and attention problems and did not organize their lives as well, misplacing things and forgetting to keep appointments, pay bills, or return calls. This highlights the lasting effect marijuana can have on the teenage brain, which is still developing and still wiring itself to handle the onslaught of information it gets every day. The toxic chemicals in marijuana can mess up that wiring process and hurt your ability to do well in school and in life.

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