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Health fact or fiction: How much do you know about teens, drugs and alcohol

How much do you know about drug and alcohol use in teens? 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson helps us decipher fact from fiction.

DENVER — It is National Drug & Alcohol Fact Week, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

How much do you know about what is fact or fiction on teens and their drug and alcohol use? 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson helps set the record straight. 

1) Drinking has decreased by 33 percent in the 12-20-year-old group? FACT

This is good news: For the last 10 years, we are seeing a decrease in the number of underage teen drinkers. The bad news: When kids drink, they are more likely to binge drink. More than five million people ages 12-20 years old said they had binged on alcohol in the last month. So, we still have a lot of work to do. Underage drinking is associated with a higher likelihood of alcoholism later in life, effects on the brain development and learning later in life, poor performance in school, motor vehicle accidents, and risky sexual behaviors. Talk to your kids about the risks of drinking.

2) Dabbing is a dance. And, is also a way to take prescription opioids. FICTION

It is a dance, but it is also smoking marijuana extracts like “hash oil, wax or shatter.” These marijuana extracts are much more concentrated than regular marijuana. THC, which is the chemical which can cause the mind-altering effects of getting high, is about 12 percent of most regular marijuana. Hash oil can have up to 80 percent THC in it, so people can get very high very quickly. And, because dabbing often times uses lighter fluid, people have been seriously burned and hurt with fires and explosions. 

3) Kids may be abusing prescription opioid painkillers. FACT

In 2017, about 1 in 25 kids reported misusing opioid painkillers in the last year. Most commonly, kids can get opioids from their parents, or at home from unused or leftover medications. They also can get painkillers from their own surgeries, commonly dental procedures like getting their wisdom teeth pulled. If you have leftover prescription painkillers at home, dispose of them if you are not using them. If you are still using these medications, put them in a safe so they are not easily accessible (like in the medicine cabinet). And, if your child needs to get any type of procedure done, like wisdom teeth removal, ask your healthcare provider about other non-opioid options for pain relief.

4) Vaping is a safe alternative to smoking. FALSE

There is a lot of research which shows kids are likely to move onto cigarettes after they start vaping. The young adult brain continues to develop until the mid-20’s. So, when kids start to vape in their youth, they are more likely to get addicted to the nicotine. E-cigarettes are easy to conceal, marketed to youth with fruity flavors, and has skyrocketed in use. Parents and school officials need to be aware of the signs of e-cigarette use. It is not just the nicotine in the e-cigarettes, but there are also other inhaled chemicals like formaldehyde which can cause long-term effects on the lungs, heart, brain and other vital organs.

Follow 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson on Facebook and Twitter. Have a medical question or health topic idea? Email Dr. Comilla at c.sasson@9news.com