Teen Life: What is Your Drug Fact IQ?
Is There a Connection Between Missing Sleep and Using Drugs?
Sleep! That is something you and numerous other teens do not get enough of. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shares recent research on the connection of sleep and drug use. You probably know it’s important to get enough sleep. However, you may be surprised to learn exactly how important it really is. For many of you, the demands of school, friends, work, and family take up many hours and leaves limited sleep time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends teens should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, many of you get less. This lack of sleep puts you at risk for several health issues. One very important risk is the higher risk level between less sleep and the start of drug use. The data shows that teens reporting less than 6 hours of sleep are three time more likely to start using drugs. Realistically, this does not mean getting less sleep caused the drug use but the link to beginning use is there and research is continuing.
NIDA shared other health problems that are at higher risk for you with less than healthy sleep. Examples are:
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Mental health issues.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has tips for getting a good night’s sleep. You’re doing yourself a huge favor by catching all the Z’s you need. Just take a peek: Set a schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day but no later than a few hours before going to bed.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and alcoholic drinks before bed.
- Relax before bed – try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine.
- Create a room for sleep – avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom.
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t get to sleep, do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired.
- See a doctor if you have a problem sleeping or if you feel unusually tired during the day. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.
“Why Can’t I Get My Friend to Stop?”
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) teen website states that 31 percent of teens agree that they have tried to help a friend stop using drugs. Your desire to help is a good effort. However, you cannot “fix” a friends substance use disorder. (SUD’s) Understanding why you can’t “fix” a friend’s issue with alcohol and/or drug use is difficult. As a young adult or a teen that is in this situation, it is important to educate yourself about SUD’s and about the recovery process. Recognizing that it is not in your control to “fix” your friend or family member’s issues allows you to become better equipped to assist them in finding the treatment and recovery help they need when they are ready. As a family member or friend, it is the best interest for you to take care of yourself, educate yourself about substance use disorder and stay healthy yourself.
For hints on how to be the best friend when SUD’s is a concern. The NIDA teen website also has a link to a list of questions from a “You Said It” poll generated by questions from “real” teens. Review the statements on the poll and the responses. Link to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-alcohol-facts-week/chat-with-scientists/2017/truth-poll/accessible. See where you fit in with other young people’s knowledge and experiences. Use the NIDA teen website as a learning tool. It offers many opportunities to learn and to explore knowledge about SUD’s.
The best thing you can do is to protect your own health and realize this is not your issue to “fix.” Stay aware and supportive as is appropriate.
Are the Non-addictive Drugs Safe?
- Do all drugs lead to addiction?
- Do all medications have a side effect?
- Is it safe to take more than one over-the-counter medication at a time?
These are all good questions. Understanding the potential for addiction or side effects to any medication, over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed medication is important. There are myths about the safety of taking OTC medicines since they do not require a prescription. To better understand the risk of abusing OTC or mixing with other medications, either prescription or OTC, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse website for Teens at: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/non-addictive-drugs-are-they-always-safe.