Myth Buster:
Questions & Answers From Drug Facts Chat Day

  • Print

    PRINT THIS PAGE

    Close

Each year, as part of National Drug Facts Week, teens can join scientists in a live chat to get expert answers to pressing questions about drugs. Popular questions and answers are featured below, and you can find many more questions and answers on a wide variety of topics on the Drugs Fact Chat Day website.

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“What is Spice?”

Scientist Answer:

“Spice is a variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis). They contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that cause psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. They're sold under many names, including K2, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, and others. Figure this out: They're marketed as 'safe', but labeled "not for human consumption." These chemicals are often way more powerful than marijuana and these products can cause extreme physical reactions and hallucinations, paranoia, etc. People sometimes die (or kill themselves) after using some of these products—so they are much more dangerous.”

More Info: Spice/K2 (Synthetic Marijuana) Facts from the Scientists at NIDA

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“How many teen lives are lost approximately each year from alcohol poisoning?”

Scientist Answer:

“We don't know for sure. We think that around 5,000 teens die from alcohol-related reasons every year. How many of those are caused by poisonings is not entirely clear. However, poisoning is a very real possibility when someone drinks too much. Alcohol can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us breathing and keep our hearts beating.”

More Info: Alcohol Info from the Scientists at NIDA

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“What is the difference between smoking pot and eating it?”

Scientist Answer:

“Smoking pot (marijuana) gets the THC (the active ingredient) into your system faster, so it takes effect quickly. When you eat it, it can take a long time—longer than an hour sometimes—and the effects also last longer. Unfortunately, lots of people eating marijuana candies or cookies end up eating too much because they think it's not affecting them, and then they end up having a terrible experience or even ending up in the hospital!”

More Info: Marijuana Facts from the Scientists at NIDA and Marijuana: Breaking Down the Buzz

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“What is the worst emerging drug that you have seen out in the past year [2014–15]?”

Scientist Answer:

“In the past year I've read a lot of really scary stories about new synthetic cannabinoids--types of "fake marijuana" (sometimes called K2, Spice, and lots of other names). These drugs are bad news, causing deaths, emergency room visits, and scary psychotic reactions. Some people harm themselves deliberately after taking them. Definitely something to steer clear of.”

More Info: Spice/K2 (Synthetic Marijuana) Facts from the Scientists at NIDA

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“What does molly do to people's systems?”

Scientist Answer:

“Molly is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria and emotional warmth. It acts on the brain's chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which cause the emotional and pro-social effects of Molly. The problem is it can be toxic to the brain and can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with circulatory problems or heart disease. Users may also experience muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. At high doses it can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature and if you're dancing a lot, or exercising, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can result in liver, kidney, or cardiovascular system failure or even death.”

More Info: Molly (MDMA) Facts from the Scientists at NIDA

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“Can hookah pens harm you in any way?”

Scientist Answer:

“Hookah pens are really just one name for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, it is still unclear how safe they are. E-cigarettes, including hookah pens, are battery-operated devices that many people think are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes...and their use is growing in popularity. E-cigarettes often contain nicotine and produce a flavored aerosol that looks like tobacco smoke but without the tar produced by burning tobacco leaves. They can still deliver nicotine—a highly addictive drug—which poses a significant risk for teens to become addicted. Also, the aerosol from some e-cigarette products has been shown to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde. Until more studies are conducted, there is no way of knowing what the short- and long-term health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals may be.”

More Info: Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes Info from the Scientists at NIDA and E-Cigarettes: What You Need to Know

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“Which, in your opinion, is worse: chewing tobacco or smoking it?”

Scientist Answer:

“Both chewing tobacco and cigarette smoking are bad for your health. Both can lead to nicotine addiction and increase the likelihood for a number of diseases, including cancer of the lung, bladder, esophagus, kidney, liver, and pancreas. Chewing tobacco is especially associated with cancer of the mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips, and tongue. There is no safe level of tobacco use, so don't play Russian roulette with your health by trying to choose which is "best" because there is no "best" except to avoid the use of any kind of tobacco.”

More Info: Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes Info from the Scientists at NIDA

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“Why do people smoke when they know it's so bad for them?”

Scientist Answer:

“People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, and it is a very hard addiction to break. Over 480,000 people die from smoking every year. Over half of smokers try to quit every year but the majority find they are not able to. The great majority of smokers were addicted before age 18, which is not surprising because young people are especially sensitive to the addictive effects of nicotine. The best way to avoid this problem is never to start smoking.”

More Info: Tobacco, Nicotine, and E-Cigarettes Info from the Scientists at NIDA

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“How can I encourage my friend to stop taking drugs and get her some help?”

Scientist Answer:

“The first thing you can do is listen to what she has to say about her drug use and about why she is using. It is always a good idea to encourage your friend to confide and seek advice from a trusted adult.

If she doesn't realize the negative health effects drugs have on her body, brain and life, there is a lot of information you can share with her that can be found on NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov). If she is already aware of the negative consequences drugs have on her health, school, family, etc., she may be prepared to make a change and seek treatment. You can help her find a doctor, therapist, support group or treatment program by visiting the website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov, or calling 1-800-662-HELP.

If your friend is not ready yet to get help, don't give up on her. Keep reaching out, and hopefully some day soon she will be ready. Helping her go through the process of starting treatment, keeping in touch with her while she is in treatment, and supporting and encouraging her while she is in recovery are the best things you can do for your friend struggling with addiction.”

More Info: Recovery from Drug Addiction

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“I think my friend is on drugs, but he won't talk to me. What do I do?”

Scientist Answer:

"It's hard to be in this situation, seeing a friend going down a dangerous path or suffering, and not being sure what you can do to help. First, let your friend know that someone cares about him. You can let him know you are concerned without being judgmental, and that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated.

There are some resources for him that are anonymous—for example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They don't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect your friend with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

Because talking with someone about his or her drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your friend."

More Info: Recovery from Drug Addiction

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

“If you were once addicted to a drug and then stopped using it, will you always have the urge to go back to that drug again?”

Scientist Answer:

“Not everyone has the same feelings after stopping drugs, but many say that they have a continuing urge to use, especially in the early days after quitting. And in some cases the triggers for this urge or craving, may not even be consciously realized—passing by a place where drugs were once purchased or used, seeing an old friend with whom drugs were taken. One of the things that treatment does is help people to deal with the urges to use. And over time, these urges to use can weaken and become less frequent.”

More Info: Recovery from Drug Addiction

 

"Chat Day" Student Question:

"I thought marijuana was all-natural; how can it hurt your body if it's natural?"

Scientist Answer:

"Many drugs of abuse come from plants, and therefore can be considered "natural." For example, heroin comes from poppy plants and cocaine comes from the coca plant. That doesn't mean they are healthy—think tobacco. Similarly, marijuana comes from a plant that contains THC, which is "psychoactive" (it affects mood and behavior) and can be addictive."

More Info: Marijuana Facts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse