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An Ounce of Prevention

The Pocahontas Prevention Coalition and the Youth Leadership Council continue to “Shatter the Myths” about drug and alcohol use.

MYTH: Drug addiction is a voluntary behavior and it can be overcome by will-power. Like many people I used to think that. 

FACT: According to Alan Leshner, Ph.D., Director, National Institute On Drug Abuse, “A person starts out as an occasional drug user, and that is a voluntary decision. But as time passes something happens and that person goes from being a voluntary drug user to a compulsive user. Why? Because, over time, continued use of addictive drugs changes your brain in subtle and sometimes in dramatic, toxic ways. But in ways that virtually always result in compulsive and even uncontrollable drug use.”

Thus, like any organ that is not functioning properly, the brain has developed a disease that requires treatment. 

Here are some more facts from members of the Youth Leadership Council: 

Hello, I’m Savannah McMillion, a student at Pocahontas County High School, and I am featured on the newest Warriors Above the Influence poster.

March 22 through 28 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. This annual health observance week connects teens with resources to “Shatter The Myths” about drugs that the youth get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music or friends.

Here is a fact I’d like to share with you:

Each day in the U.S., more than 192 people die as a result of a drug overdose, according to

In West Virginia alone, in 2018, there were 702 confirmed overdose deaths. Overall, drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury and death in the United States.

I hope you choose to “Live Above the Influence.”

Hello, I am Autumn Lane, a student at Pocahontas County High School. I’m a member of the Pocahontas County Youth Leadership Council and am featured on the newest Warriors Above the Influence poster.

To “Shatter the Myths,” here is a fact I’d like to share with you:

You have probably heard a lot about the “opioid overdose crisis” in the news lately. But what are opioids? And why are they such a problem?

Opioids are depressant chemicals that bind to special receptors in the brain that release dopamine that causes feelings of euphoria and reduces pain.

You might not realize this, but if you have had a sports injury, dental work or surgery, it is possible your doctor gave you a pain reliever that was actually an opioid medication. While opioids can be very effective at treating pain, they can be very addictive and should only be used under a doctor’s careful watch.

In addition to opioids given to you by a doctor, there is another kind of opioid you have probably heard about called heroin. Heroin is a very dangerous drug that is used by injection, snorting or smoking. The chemical makeup of heroin is the same as that of pain relievers and both can be very addictive and cause deadly opioid overdoses.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2.14 million people, ages 12 and older, had an opioid use disorder in 2016, including 153,000 12-to-17 years olds.

The effects of opioids include euphoria, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, severe itching and clouded thinking.

Using drugs, especially early in life, can lead to poor grades, worse performance in sports, and bad relationships with friends and family. Opioids also alter judgment, which can cause you to do risky things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. If the dose is too strong, it can cause you to stop breathing, resulting in death.

Long-term effects include insomnia, heart infections, liver and kidney disease, depression and addiction and collapsed veins in people who inject heroin. People who inject drugs are at an increased risk of getting HIV or hepatitis C.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported 67,367 drug overdose deaths in 2018. West Virginia is in the top five states for overdose deaths by opioids and in the top 10 states of highest opioid prescriptions.

You can participate in National Alcohol and Drug Facts Week by going to NDAFW.

As a member of the Pocahontas County Youth Leadership Council, I encourage you to be “Above the Influence.”

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