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 peer pressure and drug experimentation. All the questions and answers below are unedited.
Among the scientists were Frank Vocci, director of NIDA's research into medications for the treatment of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine, and opiate dependence; Elizabeth Robertson, chair of NIDA's Prevention Research Branch in the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research; Joe Frascella, director of Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at NIDA; Kevin Conway, deputy director of NIDA's Division of Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research; Steve Grant, a neuroscientist who investigates cognitive processes in addiction at NIDA; and Aria Crump, who helps develop drug prevention programs for NIDA. —Compiled by Sarah Baldauf
7 Questions Teens have about Peer Pressure and Sizing up Drug Experimentation:
Kaitlynn - Kaitlynn - How do you say no?
Frank Vocci - It's really tough, especially when you're a teenager. One of my kids never did drugs. He just told people that he did not want to have to admit to doing something later in life that people would think less of him for.I remember when I was a teenager that people offered me heroin and speed. I just was not interested and told them so. Anybody who persists and keeps bugging you isn't really your friend.
dg - Eastern Regional High School - Are any drugs okay in moderation?
Liz Robertson - It is very hard to say for several reasons. First, it depends on your individual body. Everyone is different and we don't know who will become addicted at what level of drug use. We do know that the brain is not fully developed until the mid-20's so any drug use is assumed to have the potential to affect your brain development. In adulthood light and moderate alcohol use is assumed to be harmless, but this again depends on the particular person and their life situation -for example, someone who has a very stressful life and starts out drinking occasionally can move on to higher levels of use as a way to self medicate.
anniexlovesxuux - sterling high school - what is the least harmful drug?
Joe Frascella - This question is hard to answer precisely. There is a lot we still don't know about which drugs are more harmful than others. We do know that each person is different with different vulnerabilities to drugs, so it'shard to predict a drug's effects on an individual. 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. Hope this helps, and thanks for the good question.
Addie (Is.:.Awesome) - Cawley Middle School - Are some drugs more addicting/harmful than others? If so, which ones are worst? Which ones are least addictive?
Kevin Conway - Well, many drugs are addictive, and nearly all can be harmful. We do know that nicotine (the drug in cigarettes) is very addictive — perhaps more so than any other drug. But crack cocaine is also highly addictive. Even marijuana can be addictive. So, it is dangerous to start using drugs of any kind because use could quickly become an addiction.We also know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to become addicted and have other problems, such as in school or with your family. 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.