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Drug Facts Chat Day: NIH Experts Answer Students' Drug Questions

On October 12, thousands of students at more than 200 U.S. schools found answers to their questions about drugs and drug use from experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse during their first Drug Facts Chat Day.

People sitting at computers.

Photo courtesy of NIDA

The questions poured in…

High School Student: Can doing drugs at a young age screw up your life?

Eve Reider: 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

High School Student: How long do you think the average person can live if they smoke cigarettes?

Ivan Montoya: The lifetime of a person depends on many factors, but what is known is that a person who smokes cigarettes has a lower life expectancy. That is because of all the medical complications associated with smoking, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, etc. A person who smokes has a chance of a shorter life. For more information about smoking, go to:

Dr. Nora Volkow

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, answers a student's e-mail as part of the Drug Facts Chat Day.
Photo: NIDA

Students throughout the U.S. submitted questions through e-mail for the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) Drug Facts Chat Day. Top NIDA scientists were online to answer questions about drugs and their impact on the teen brain and body, and about illicit drug use and abuse of prescription drugs.

NIDA received more than 35,000 questions; close to 700 were answered immediately and the remainder were grouped into categories and added to NIDA's Frequently Asked Questions page. Questions focused on topics such as smoking, marijuana, and alcohol. Many students were also interested in tips to help friends in trouble with drugs and to find out what are the most dangerous drugs. All participants needed to join in the chat was a computer with an Internet connection.

NIDA will also stay in contact with the more than 200 schools that participated in the chat by providing them with new materials about drug abuse as they are developed. A full transcript of the Drug Facts Chat Day questions and answers is available on the NIDA Web site at

Fall 2007 Issue: Volume 2 Number 4 Page 28