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Demystifying Substance Use Disorder for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

Press Release

When it comes to substance use, there’s a great deal of both misinformation and disinformation out there. From fictional portrayals to media coverage to local gossip, there’s a lot of people saying a lot of things about drug and alcohol use, and it’s easy to get lost in the noise. As a result, many people are confused and don’t always have the facts about drug use, and the alcohol facts they need to make smart decisions.

The fight against substance use and addiction is real, and in that fight, both teens and adults benefit from having correct information in their arsenal. To help with that, we’d like to show our support for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week by sharing some facts about these substances, and their impact on the body.

We hope that these cold hard facts will leave you better prepared to make choices that protect your health and the well-being of your friends and family.

Alcohol Facts

Media representations are often quick to glorify alcohol use, including use by underage drinkers. It’s important to be aware, however, that alcohol use carries risks at any age. Alcohol impacts an individual's ability to make decisions, their ability to identify risk and danger, and their ability to process information quickly. This is especially true for teens, whose bodies and brains are still developing. Here are some additional facts regarding alcohol use:

  • In addition to short-term mental impairment, alcohol use carries several long-term effects, including negative impacts on mental processing and learning, and damage to the liver.
  • In 2007 alone, alcohol-related traffic deaths in the US reached almost 13,000—more than three times the number of American soldiers that died in combat during the first six years of the Iraq war.
  • Many people are surprised to learn that not every drink has equal alcohol content—a can of beer has about 5% alcohol by volume; a shot has about 40%.


Despite unchanging federal laws, recent years have seen several states legalize medicinal use marijuana—and in some cases recreational use marijuana—for citizens within their borders. Despite this, marijuana use continues to be problematic, especially when combined with dangerous tasks like driving. As a result, many companies still have a zero tolerance policy against marijuana use.

Here are some important facts about the drug and its use:

  • The primary chemical in marijuana responsible for the high is called THC, and concentrations of the chemical in the plant have been increasing over the past few decades.
  • There’s a synthetic form of THC, sometimes called “synthetic marijuana,” “spice,” “herbal incense,” or “K2”; these synthetic forms are more potent and are much more dangerous.
  • Contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive, resulting in a condition known as marijuana use disorder, and users below the age of 18 are 4-7 times more likely to develop the disorder.
  • While there have yet to be any cases of fatal marijuana overdoses, recent years have seen numerous users seeking treatment in emergency rooms for help with severe side effects, including paranoia, hallucinations, and even psychosis.

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are dangerous to use for a number of reasons—doctors carefully choose the prescription, dosage, and frequency based on the age, weight, and need of the patient; beyond that, doctors monitor usage to watch for negative side effects and dangerous interactions with other prescriptions.

Use by a person other than the one prescribed, or in a way other than how it was prescribed removes that oversight, leaving the user vulnerable to overdose, addiction, and potentially fatal side effects or drug interactions.

Here are some additional facts about prescription drug use:

  • After marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most commonly over-used substances by Americans over the age of 14.
  • Over-used prescription drugs come in three categories: stimulants, depressants, and opioids.
  • Prescription drugs aren’t always used in order to get high; often, they’re used in misguided attempts to help stay alert, complete coursework, lose weight, or other purposes that may seem positive or productive to the user.

Hopefully, these drug and alcohol facts have given you a little better understanding of the risks involved with the most commonly over-used substances. Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute specializes in helping those with substance use problems. Among the services we offer are an Intensive Outpatient Program and a medical detox program for adults, as well as adolescent boys & girls programs. For more information about substance use and chemical dependency, our services, or to find help for someone struggling with a substance problem, contact us today.