The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently offered adolescents the first ever "Drug Facts Chat Day." Students from high schools and middle schools across the country submitted anonymous questions online—about alcohol, the brain, addiction and everything in between—to NIDA scientists, including some of the nation's top experts in substance abuse. The scientists then responded with personalized, nonjudgmental answers. Below is a sample of the inquiries that relate specifically to alcohol. All the questions and answers below are unedited.
Among the scientists were Steve Grant, a neuroscientist who investigates cognitive processes in addiction at NIDA; Aria Crump, who helps develop drug prevention programs for NIDA; Ivan Montoya of NIDA's Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse; Barry Hoffer, a neuropharmacologist and director of NIDA's Intramural Research Program; Marsha Lopez, an epidemiologist at NIDA's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse who has expertise in behavioral pharmacology, drug epidemiology, and co-occurring psychiatric conditions as they relate to drug use. —Compiled by Sarah Baldauf
6 Questions Adolescents have about Alcohol:
Curious George - L.M.S - Would a kid get drunk or high faster than a adult?
Steve Grant - You bet. A drug can have a larger effect on a child for many reasons. One reason is that children's and adults' brains are different. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/
Dsl;jafl;k - briarcliff high school - What percent of students in high school drink?
Aria Crump - As many as 70% of high school students have used alcohol (at some point in their lifetime). However, it's important to realize that all drinking is not equal. This 70% figure includes everyone who ever tried alcohol even once. Many fewer students drink on a regular basis, and even fewer drink many alcoholic beverages over a short period of time (binge drinking), which is particularly dangerous.
Fergalicious - Institute of Notre Dame - How do you know if you're an alcoholic?
Ivan Montoya - Hi good question! A person is considered an alcoholic when they cannot control the amount and frequency of alcohol use. That is, the person uses alcohol in situations that can put him or her at risk or in danger, for example, while driving a car. A person is also considered an alcoholic if they use larger amounts than what they intended to use, when alcohol affects his or her social, family, work, or emotional life, or continues to use alcohol in spite of knowing that it causes them medical or psychiatric (mental) consequences. The American Psychiatric Association publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which has the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. You can look at them at http://www.dsmivtr.org/ For more information on alcohol and resisting peer pressure go to http://www.thecoolspot.gov/ Thanks for your question! Keep them coming!
brody - Ephrata - why is it bad to drink while youre pregnant
Barry Hoffer - when you drink alcohol it goes right into your bloodstream and large amounts of it will reach the fetus. While the baby brain is forming, alcohol can disrupt the delicate process of brain development and produce Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This causes, at worst, physical deformations that are obvious at birth and mental retardation.For more information on alcohol abuse, including fetal alcohol syndrome, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
rae - newfane - does drinking at a young age make you more likely to become an alcholic?
Marsha Lopez - Alcohol is a drug, and the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse. The teen brain is a work in progress: It undergoes dramatic changes during adolescence and into adulthood.There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted, why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing "Russian Roulette" if you choose to use drugs. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html.
rae - newfane - will drinking make me unpretty?
Barry Hoffer - Drinking, particularly heavy drinking, can make you unattractive because of your behavior while intoxicated. And it can also lead to impaired decision making and even dangerous behaviors that could have long lasting physical consequences.For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/