GREAT FALLS — Abigail Hill, a public health nurse with the City-County Health Department in Great Falls, talks about National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week.
It's an annual observance that is aimed at creating dialogue about the science of drug use and addiction among youth. It was launched in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to stimulate educational events in communities so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug use and addiction.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism became a partner in 2016, and alcohol has been added as a topic area for the week.
"A lot of times, those that are abusing drugs are also abusing alcohol, and it is a major concern, we even have our own task force, and that is their soul mission is to tackle drug usage in our community," said Great Falls police officer Jon Marshall.
While this week may be directed toward people who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction, experts note that there are some myths associated with addiction.
- Myth - If you have a stable job and family life, you are not an addict
- Fact - Just because you have a stable life, does not mean you don't have an addiction
- Myth - Drug/Alcohol Addiction is a choice
- Fact - In the beginning, it's a choice, but prolonged use changes your brain and body's chemistry
The most notable myth is the ability to spot an addict.
"A lot of times, we like to think that it's 'other.' It's someone that doesn't look like me, when they're one of the first symptoms of drug and alcohol use is denial, and so I think you really do see that it could be someone that looks like you or I, you could be a functioning alcoholic, you could have a stable job, you could own a business, you can still have an issue with alcohol misuse," Hill explained.
"They might be more likely to fall into some of that peer pressure and use substances," Hill continued. "And it's really social, and so it's kind of, it's really going to impact our youth because the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have a problem down the road."