Why do people take drugs if they know they’re bad? Is vaping bad even if it's just flavoring? Can you get addicted to ADHD medication? The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) seek to provide us answers to questions like these and more during National Drug and Alcohol Facts week.
This year marks the 11th annual National Drug and Alcohol Facts week (NDAFW) - an initiative hosted by the NIAAA and the NIDA. With almost 2,000 events happening across the world, NDAFW is one of the largest efforts dedicated to education on this topic. PATH believes firmly in the value of education as a tool for growth and progress with teens - inside and outside of the classroom. Therefore this week is special to us as an opportunity to get more folks talking about the science based realities of addiction and how we can address the issue within our communities. PATH’s website is a great place to start seeking out resources on drug and alcohol abuse, but be sure to check out the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website for teens for information specific to NDAFW as well The Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge found there is a fun way to test your knowledge on the topic. Try and beat my score - I got all but one right on my first try!!
So, as for those introductory questions? We know there are many reasons that people take drugs even when they are aware of the consequences, such as peer pressure, or because they perceive drugs as an escape from their problems. Yes, vaping can still be harmful to your body even if it is seen as just flavoring - many flavors still contain harmful and addictive chemicals. And lastly, ADHD medication is safe when taken as directed but like many other prescriptions can be harmful when used improperly. We encourage you to start these conversations with your teens and to look into the facts for yourself to make sure you know how to answer these types of questions as they arise. Having conversations with the teens in your life about drug and alcohol abuse could be a crucial step in preventing a lifetime of struggle with addiction. Events being hosted by PATH and other organizations that share our mission are a great way of furthering your family’s knowledge on the dangers of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
With March upon us it is only natural to reflect on how these last 12 months have gone. My personal journey with PATH may have only started this past September but even my short time with them has been enough to assure me of this team's resilience in such trying times. We have continued to put 110% into serving our community’s needs across all spectrums.
The PATH Cares initiative is likely the best example of how this organization has stepped up for our community in these last 12 months. We began with packaging and distributing over 100 care packages for Lake county students that included food, entertainment, mental health resources, and more. When school started back up, PATH brought backpacks of school supplies to the students at River Forest Middle School. Next PATH brought students face masks and headphones to help them with their E-Learning. We are currently in phase 4 of our project and are working to collect craft supplies for the teens at the LCJC.
While we worked hard on our community outreach in those spheres, we also furthered our dedication to our usual programming - even when that programming had to happen in unusual ways. Our teams of educators never let the digital format discourage us from giving our students the best possible access to resources and information on healthy life choices. In fact, we even expanded our programming this year with the new Love Notes program - which serves an additional 208 students on top of the over 4,000 students we serve digitally in our other 5 programs. We have expanded our team, bringing in new team members, and training 25 new program facilitators.
As an AmeriCorps volunteer, I cannot speak highly enough of how serving one's community helps in these difficult times. The needs of our community are greater than ever - and doing something about it makes a world of a difference not only in their lives but in your own as well! If you’re interested in being a part of this, check out our website for volunteer opportunities or ways to donate to our cause. We are incredibly proud of the work we have been able to do since last March, but none of that would be possible without the help of our supporters.
Hello, PATH Parents!
Spring is about to be sprung, and here we are at the one-year anniversary of when the COVID Pandemic got real for us last year. A year ago in March, we all experienced a national shutdown where almost no one went to work, no one went to school, and we were required to stay inside our homes for weeks on end.
This was a historic “forced break” from the rat race of work, school, and extracurriculars that previously (and relentlessly) dominated our schedules. We had the chance to rediscover valuable things that had inadvertently fallen by the wayside amidst all our commitments and busyness. We were able to enjoy extended family time, cooking together and having family dinners every night. We were often bored, so some of us broke out old-school board games and cards and had fun being reminded of which ones of us are the most competitive in our families! Maybe some of us watched entire seasons of Netflix shows together or finally finished watching the Star Wars movies (yes, all 9+ of them)!
We savored the simple things, like getting outside, enjoying fresh air and exercising as a family in any ways we could. We also learned to appreciate things we had perhaps taken for granted before the shutdown, things like eating out in restaurants or gathering together with friends.
Basically, March was a month of uncertainty tied to a hope that while we were going through something historic (and even a little scary with all its unknowns), we would get through it TOGETHER as a family. Now, a year later, we can celebrate that we DID!
We here at PATH want to wish you a BIG congratulations on finishing an entire year of pandemic parenting! You made it through one of the most difficult years to parent, as you had to figure out your own grown-up dynamics with real-world consequences while helping your teens navigate all the changes in their world as well. You had to put on an “educator” cap, as well as every-other-kind-of-cap imaginable in this historic mashup. Kudos to you for staying the course and using resources like ours to stay encouraged and equipped! You really are SUPERSTARS, keeping it together for your families in tough times. We are incredibly proud of you and are grateful to be on this journey with you and your amazing teens!
In this together,
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.