National Prevention Week


Jennifer Distefano, PDHP

May 10-16, 2020 is National Prevention Week, which is hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The focus is on increasing substance use prevention and promoting mental health. Each day this week, a topic is dedicated to helping increase substance use prevention and promoting mental health and wellness.

Today’s topic is on Preventing Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana Use

 Methamphetamine, also known as Meth is a heavily addicted drug, which means that a person can get “hooked” after their first use. Other illicit drugs are Cocaine, Heroin and LSD, just to name a few. Meth has become a major problem for this country, let’s

take a look:

The Rise of Meth Use 

in the United States

“The number of fatal overdoses involving meth has more than tripled (PDF | 336 KB) between 2011 and 2016, according to the CDC. Use is also on the rise between 2016-2018 for most age groups. In 2018, more than 106,000 adults aged 26 or older used meth—a 43 percent increase over the previous year” (SAMHSA).

Short-term Effects of Meth: Even taking small amounts of meth, or just trying it once, can cause harmful health effects, including:

  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat, faster breathing

  • Loss of appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, or nausea

  • Bizarre, erratic, aggressive, irritable, or violent behavior

Long-term Health Risks of Meth:  Chronic meth use leads to many damaging, long-term health effects, even when users stop taking meth, including:

  • Permanent damage to the heart and brain, High blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death.

  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage.

  • Anxiety, confusion, or insomnia, Paranoia, hallucinations, mood disturbances, delusions, or violent behavior (psychotic symptoms can sometimes last for months or years after quitting meth. 

  • Intense itching, causing skin sores from scratching, Severe dental problems (“meth mouth)


  • What is Marijuana: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Marijuana is the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. It contains a mind-altering or psychoactive chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is the addictive compound in Marijuana. Marijuana is also known as weed, pot, dope or cannabis. There are other chemicals in the cannabis plant such as cannabidiol or CBD, which is not mind-altering or known to be addictive.

Here are some facts to consider about Marijuana use:

  • People who begin using Marijuana before age 18 are 4-7 times more likely than adults to develop problematic use.

  • 1-in-10 adults who use the drug can become addicted.

  • Marijuana use is on the rise between ages 18-25. Although THC remains illegal at the federal level, many states have legalized its use, selling it in retail stores, growing it at home and coffee shops.

  • Since the brain is still not mature, marijuana use causes impairments in the overall growth and brain development for the youthful brain since neurodevelopment continues well into the age of mid 20’s.

Marijuana Risks: Take a look at this useful information provided by SAMHSA:

Marijuana use can have negative and long-term effects:

Brain iconBrain health: Marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss of as much as 8 points when people start using it at a young age. These IQ points do not come back, even after quitting marijuana.

Gears iconMental health: Studies link marijuana use to depression, anxiety, suicide planning, and psychotic episodes. It is not known, however, if marijuana use is the cause of these conditions.

Bicycle iconAthletic Performance: Research shows that marijuana affects timing, movement, and coordination, which can harm athletic performance.

Driving signDriving: People who drive under the influence of marijuana can experience dangerous effects: slower reactions, lane weaving, decreased coordination, and difficulty reacting to signals and sounds on the road.

Baby carriage iconBaby’s health and development: Marijuana use during pregnancy may cause fetal growth restriction, premature birth, stillbirth, and problems with brain development, resulting in hyperactivity and poor cognitive function. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other chemicals from marijuana can also be passed from a mother to her baby through breast milk, further impacting a child’s healthy development.

Arrow iconDaily life: Using marijuana can affect performance and how well people do in life. Research shows that people who use marijuana are more likely to have relationship problems, worse educational outcomes, lower career achievement, and reduced life satisfaction.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that you are not alone and help is out there. Call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.

Also, 1800-NYC-WELL can provide assistance.