- How many people a year die from drugs?
- What drug is the most addictive?
- Do drugs affect relationships?
- Why don't some users stop and try to seek help?
- Can drugs used once kill you?
- Is it easier for a teenage kid to get addicted than an adult?
These are all real questions about drug abuse from teens. They are only a few of the over 36,000 sent in to the medical doctors and scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse during "Drug Facts Chat Day" on October 12, 2007. This unique online event at www.drugabuse.gov provided an opportunity for students and teachers in classrooms across the United States to ask questions of the nation's top experts in the field of drug abuse and addiction.
Questions like the ones above came from students in over 200 schools across the United States, as well as from Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. To answer these questions, NIDA enlisted the services of over 30 scientists, doctors, and communications specialists.
To view a transcript of these questions and answers, visit: www.drugabuse.gov/chat/2007. Here's a sample of what you'll find:
Q: JEtgrl, Lower Merion: Could LSD kill you? Could Ecstasy kill you?
A: Nancy Pilotte—These are kind of scary questions, but I know the answers are important to you. LSD itself is not likely to kill you. However, it alters your perceptions and your abilities to make good decisions, and when you are under its influence, you may do something that will lead to your own harm. Ecstasy, which is methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), is another powerful chemical that affects your brain, and, like LSD, can affect your decision-making. In addition, MDMA can also lead to severe dehydration because it has effects on the part of your brain that regulates temperature and you may not recognize that you need to keep yourself hydrated (drinking water). This can have serious consequences for you. MDMA can also cause nausea, chills, sweating, involuntary teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. MDMA overdose can also occur—the symptoms can include high blood pressure, faintness, panic attacks, and in severe cases, a loss of consciousness and seizures. Here is a source of free information about the latest science-based drug abuse facts, publications, and teaching materials for parents, teachers and students: www.backtoschool.drugabuse.gov
Q: a, asd: Have most teens used marijuana in their life?
A: Marsha Lopez—Although it may seem that everyone is doing it, it is probably way fewer than you guess. In a national school survey last year, about 15% of 8th graders, 32% of 10th graders, and 42% of 12th graders reported having used marijuana in their lifetime.
Q: ABC1234, Lower Merion: How come some people are greatly effected by doing drugs when others aren't?
A: Nancy Pilotte—That is a really great question. You probably already know that individuals have different skills and abilities in other aspects of life, so it is natural to expect that different people respond to drugs differently. The ability of drugs to affect different people in different ways is called vulnerability, and we do not really understand what makes one person more or less vulnerable to drugs than others. We believe that genetics most likely influences how people respond to drugs, but there are other factors, like the social setting and effects of your peers and your expectations that can alter your perceptions of what a drug is doing to you. We are very interested in learning more about vulnerabilities because that knowledge can help us devise treatment and prevention strategies to reduce drug use. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/
Q: kp, Eastern: Why do you think most people start taking drugs?
A: Eve Reider—This is a popular question. People take drugs for a variety of reasons: to feel better, to feel good, and because others are doing it are just some of the reasons. The important thing to realize is that the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse. It is also important to know that the earlier you stop using drugs, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information, see www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html.
The questions covered a wide range of topics related to drug abuse. Some of the top categories asked about were:
- smoking cigarettes
- steroids and athletic performance
- OxyContin® and Vicodin®
- the effects of doing drugs or alcohol during pregnancy
- getting help for a friend
For further information about the specific effects of drugs on your body, visit www.teens.drugabuse.gov.