NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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Test Your Knowledge

See if you’re up for the challenge. Exercise your brain and test your knowledge of drugs and how they affect the brain and body.

Anabolic Steroids

Muscular Man

Question 1

The word “anabolic” means...

Correct! Athletes abuse anabolic Steroids in order to artificially increase muscle mass. Some people like to look big even if it means doing ugly things to their insides.

Well, the types of Steroids that are prescribed by doctors to reduce swelling are called corticoSteroids and are not addictive. When medication is taken in moderation it can be very helpful to a patient.

Wrong! Estrogen is any of several major female hormones that develop and maintain secondary female characteristics such as breasts. Both girls and boys have a balance of female male hormones.

No, but interesting anyway! Coined by the U.S. mathematician Edward Kasner's nephew, this term represents a number that is equal to one followed by 100 zeros and is expressed as 10 100.

Question 2

The body’s defense against germs and diseases is called...

Uh Uh! This term refers to a decimal system of weights and measures, adopted first in France but now used widely in science.

Nope! This term refers to the region of the brain that functions as the main control center for the autonomic nervous (system) by regulating sleep cycles, body temperature, appetite, etc

Yup! The immune system protects the body from foreign substances by destroying infected cells. When the immune system gets weak that's when we are more prone to getting sick.

No. This term refers to structures in the brain that are involved with emotions and memory.

Question 3

Anabolic Steroids in the brain may trigger behavior known as...

Right! This term refers to the aggressive behavior exhibited by those who regularly use Steroids. People may also become highly irritable, depressed and moody.

No. The use of Steroids makes the person anything but stable. Most people show irritable, aggressive, depressed and even moody behavioral changes.

If anything, the use of Steroids doesn't make an individual hilarious or even moderately funny due to severe mood swings.

While a person may get depressed during sustained use of anabolic Steroids, this is not the answer we were looking for.

Question 4

Healthy ways to gain muscle that won’t leave you feeling all gross and irritated with your friends and family include...

Yes! Lifting weights is the natural way to gain muscle mass on your body. Not only do muscles make you look more slender, but also you burn more calories per hour even when you are watching television!

French fries will not help you gain muscle, but eating a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables will help your body be healthy and strong.

Dream on! If increasing muscle mass was that easy, our country would have the most muscular populace in the world.

Nope! While playing chess may be good exercise for your brain, it won't help you build more muscles.


Teen double image

Question 1

The word hallucinate comes from the latin words meaning:

Yup! No wonder some people refer to hallucinating as tripping. Hallucinogens powerfully affect the way our five senses work, and change our impressions of time and reality.

The influence of hallucinogens does make your brain lose control of how you perceive the world. In fact, senses seem to get crossed - giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. However, this wasn't the answer we were looking for.

In some people hallucinogens can cause drowsiness, but this is not the correct answer.

Hallucinogens can disrupt how the brain works, but this isn't the answer we were looking for.

Question 2

MDMA and MDA cause neurons to release the neurotransmitter serotonin. This can cause which of the following:

Ulcers are medical conditions in which there are sores on a sensitive lining such as the stomach. Ulcers aren't caused by the release of serotonin.

Correct! Serotonin neurons have a role in lots of things such as mood, and sleep. MDMA and MDA can disrupt the function of these neurons and alter behavior.

Although gingivitis is a disease, it is caused by poor dental hygiene. While serotonin doesn't play a role in getting gingivitis, we just wanted to remind you to keep up the good brushing.

Gray hair is not caused by the neurotransmitter serotonin, but your parents may get gray hair if you abuse MDMA, MDA or any illicit drug.

Question 3

LSD and PCP can change the way that neurons communicate, which can cause changes in the way you sense the world around you. Which of the following is used by neurons to communicate:

Right! Chemical messengers , or neurotransmitters, send information from nerve cell to nerve cell in the brain and body. These speedy couriers trudge through wind, hail, sleet and snow to deliver your nervous system messages on time!

Chromosomes carry the genetic code (genes) for the production of neurotransmitters, but they themselves are not used by neurons to communicate.

Morse code is a system of communication that consists of either long and short sounds or dots and dashes to transmit messages. Although morse code can be used to transmit messages over long distances, it is not used by neurons to communicate.

Nope, although the computer system you're accessing these questions off of is kind of like a brain. The computer network around the world does constantly send messages back and forth with amazing speed, much like your brain and body.

Question 4

Some hallucinogens are natural. However, many hallucinogens are chemicals that don't occur in nature. Can you identify some of these?

Correct! Lysergic acid (LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP) are powerful hallucinogens which aren't found in nature. The effects of these drugs are unpredictable: they can alter your senses, affect your moods, or cause vivid hallucinations.

While mescaline is a potent hallucinogen, it is found in nature. Mescaline comes from a cactus called peyote.

Gasoline is an inhalant, not a hallucinogen. But it is a chemical you should be wary of.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, not a hallucinogen. But hallucinogens can affect neurons that contain serotonin.


Question 1

Inhalants, like hair spray, gasoline and spray paint can often be identified by their:

Yes! Many inhalants can be identified by their strong smell. People inhale the vapors because vapors can change the way the brain works and make people feel good for a short time.

No, Myelin is a fatty tissue that protects many of the body's nerve cells. While myelin is affected by inhalants, myelin itself is not a characteristic of inhalants.

No, Inhalants harm the brain by preventing neurons from receiving oxygen. Then the neurons may stop functioning, making it hard to remember things such as schoolwork.

No, while many inhalants are household products or art supplies, you can't really identify inhalants by their usefulness.

Question 2

Inhalant vapors may get lodged in a fatty tissue of neurons called:

Yes! Myelin is the protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve cells. When chemicals from inhalants get into the system, they can break down myelin and prevent nerve cells from transmitting messages.

No, Noradrenaline is a neurotransmitter that causes the heart to beat faster. Inhalants can make the heart more sensitive to noradrenaline so that even a normal jolt of it may cause a heart to lose its rhythm or even stop.

No, This is the part of the brain that solves complex problems and plans ahead. When inhalants are ingested, nerve cell activity in the frontal cortex can be slowed. But the frontal cortex isn't a fatty tissue.

No, Polyneuropathy is a permanent change or malfunction of nerves in the back and legs that can be caused by inhalant use.

Question 3

Butane, found in cigarette lighters and refills, makes the heart extra-sensitive to:

No. Myelin is the fatty tissue that protects many of the body's nerve cells. Inhalants may deplete myelin content, but they don't make the heart more sensitive to myelin.

Correct! The chemical noradrenaline tells the heart to beat faster when you are stressed. Butane makes the heart extra-sensitive to noradrenaline so that a normal jolt of noradrenaline can cause the heart to lose rhythm or stop pumping.

No. The hippocampus, the part of the brain which is important in memory, doesn't really have an effect on the heart. Sniffing inhalants, though, does damage it. Someone who repeatedly inhales these drugs may lose the ability to learn new stuff.

No. Inhalants can actually interfere with romance by causing a person to be slow, clumsy, and uncoordinated.

Question 4

Damage from long-term use of inhalants can slow or stop nerve cell activity in some parts of the brain including:

Yup! This is the part of the brain that solves complex problems and plans ahead. If the frontal cortex is damaged, you could find yourself continuously stumped in school.

The liver is not part of the brain. But use of inhalants can cause the liver to stop working, which can lead to death.

While inhalants can slow, stop or make the heart lose rhythm, the heart isn't part of the brain.

Hardly! The gluteous maximus is Latin for your royal backside. Scientists haven't yet documented any of inhalants' effects on the rump.


Marijuana Leaf

Question 1

Tetrahydrocannabinol is:

No. Despite its technical sounding name, this chemical has no ties to the gasoline we use in cars. Try again!

Yes! Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short, is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

No. Although it can act at the same receptors as the brain's neurotransmitter anadamide, tetrahydrocannabinl itself is not a neurotransmitter.

No. Don't confuse this chemical with the dinosaur Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Question 2

The hippocampus is:

Yes! The hippocampus is one of the places in the brain that helps us remember important things such as the information we need to pass an upcoming biology quiz. Because the hippocampus has lots of receptors for tetrahydrocannibinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, marijuana is able to act in the hippocampus to reduce memory.

No. Though it might sound like a cool hangout place for hippos, remember the hippocampus is one of our brain areas that actually help us to remember.

No. There are many brain areas that have a role in hearing, some of which are affected by marijuana, but the hippocampus is not one of them.

No. The liver plays an important role in the breakdown of all drugs that enter the body, but it does not have a hippocampus.

Question 3

A person who has smoked marijuana may have difficulty keeping his or her balance because of marijuana’s effect on what brain area?

No. But through its actions in the cerebral cortex, marijuana can change a user's sense of smell, vision, hearing, taste, and touch.

No. But marijuana does act in the limbic system to produce feelings of euphoria.

No. But users of marijuana may have trouble remembering things because of marijuana's effects on the hippocampus.

Yes! The cerebellum is one of the most important brain areas for balance and coordination. It also contains lots of receptors for tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, which is why someone who uses marijuana may have difficulty keeping his or her balance.

Question 4

A student who smokes marijuana may do poorly on a test given the next day because of marijuana’s effect on what brain area?

No. But marijuana does act in the limbic system to produce feelings of euphoria.

Yes! The hippocampus is an important brain area for processing memory. Users of marijuana have trouble remembering things because of marijuana's effects on the hippocampus.

No. But users of marijuana may have problems with balance and coordination because of marijuana's effects in the cerebellum.

No. But through it's actions in the cerebral cortex, marijuana can change a user's sense of smell, vision, hearing, taste, and touch.



Question 1

Methamphetamine is able to act in the brain because it has a structure similar to which brain chemical?

No. Endorphins are the brain's own pain fighting system, but they have no similarity to Methamphetamine.

No. The amygdala isn't a chemical. It's an important brain region that helps you feel pleasure.

No. Although chocolate can make your brain feel good, there are no chocolate chemicals in the brain.

Yes! Dopamine, which is sometimes called the pleasure chemical, has a shape and chemical structure that is similar to Methamphetamine. This is part of why Methamphetamine is able to cause its many effects in the brain.

Question 2

Which of the following is part of a neuron?

Correct! Axons are the long processes that neurons use to communicate with each other. Drugs like Methamphetamine can change the way neurons communicate.

No! Crystal is another name for Methamphetamine.

Serotonin is actually a neurotransmitter that is found within neurons. Methamphetamine can change the way neurons that contain serotonin work.

Positron Emission Tomography, or PET for short, is a fancy technique for looking inside the brain to see how it works.

Question 3

Which of the following are effects of Methamphetamine?

Although this is correct, there are also many things Methamphetamine does to the body.

This is correct, but there are also many other effects from Methamphetamine.

This is only one of many things the Methamphetamine can cause.

Correct! Methamphetamine can also cause certain types of hallucinations, loss of appetite and even strokes.

Question 4

Methamphetamine can cause long term damage to neurons that contain the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Correct! Researchers have found that even years after Methamphetamine users have stopped using the drug, their dopamine neurons are still damaged.

Methamphetamine can not only damage neurons that contain dopamine, but it can also cause damage to neurons with another neurotransmitter, serotonin.


cigarette buts

Question 1

Which of the following are ways that nicotine can enter the bloodstream?

Nope… Nicotine can enter the bloodstream by passing through the skin, but is only part of the correct answer.

Nicotine can get into the bloodstream by passing through the tongue and mucous membranes of the mouth. In fact, one drop of pure nicotine placed on the tongue can be lethal. Although this is correct, it is only part of the answer.

Almost! The major way that nicotine enters the bloodstream of smokers is through skin, lungs, and mucous membranes of the mouth and nose. This is correct, but is only part of the correct answer.

Correct, Nicotine can enter the bloodstream by passing through skin, lungs, and mucous membranes of the mouth and nose.

Question 2

Nicotine acts by attaching to which type of receptors?

Uh Uh! Remember marijuana attaches to the brain's anandamide receptors.

Correct! Because the nicotine molecule has a similar shape to that of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, it is able to attach to the same places in the brain where acetylcholine acts.

Nope! Television receptors have nothing to do with Nicotine, but you know that…

No. Remember myelin is the fatty covering for nerve fibers. It helps nerves to work right.

Question 3

True or False – One of the reasons that people like cigarettes and other tobacco products is because nicotine can cause an increase of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain areas that are involved in feelings of reward and pleasure.

Correct! Levels of dopamine, which is sometimes called the pleasure neurotransmitter, increase in the brain when a person uses tobacco or other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.

Try Again! Remember, dopamine is an important neurotransmitter that is affected by all drugs of abuse.

Question 4

Long term smoking can lead to which of the following?

Nope! Smoking can actually turn teeth brown.

Try again! People who smoke for a long time often end up with skin that is more wrinkled than the skin of nonsmokers.

Correct! People who smoke are at greater risk for having a stroke that can either kill them or leave them paralyzed.

Nope! Chewing tobacco can cause loss of teeth as well as mouth cancer, but smoking usually does not cause loss of teeth.


Poppy Flowers

Question 1

Which of the following is an opiate drug that doctors prescribe for the treatment of pain?

Wrong, heroin is a powerful opiate that has no accepted medicinal uses. Its use can quickly lead to addiction.

Nope, although cookies and milk may make you feel better, they are not an opiate drug.

Yes! Morphine is used for treating severe pain, such as following surgery. If it is used as directed by a doctor, it is safe.

No, A mu receptor is one of the three types of receptors that recognize opiates. It is responsible for the pain-relieving effects of the drug morphine.

Question 2

Opiates are made from opium which can be found in which type of plant?

Nope! This plant has bright red flowers and is found in the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada in California.

No! This plant can be recognized by its thimble-shaped fruiting head. Even though it has the slang term for marijuana in its name, it does not contain ingredients that are found in opiate drugs.

Yes! The poppy plant is the source of opium which is used to make opiate drugs. Maybe you didn't know this when you watched it the first time, but in the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy arrives at a poppy field on her way to meet the wizard. In only a few minutes, both she and Toto need to take a nap. Do you know why?

No. An industrial plant is a place where people work to produce something.

Question 3

True or False. Your body actually produces its own version of opiates.

True! Your body's opiates have lots of functions, including controlling pain and breathing.


Question 4

Which of the following is not a region of the brain where opiates act?

Nope, Opiates act in the Limbic System to produce an increased feeling of pleasure.

Opiates act in the brainstem to slow breathing. If someone overdoses on heroin his or her breathing can stop entirely which leads to death.

Correct! The midwest is part of the United States, and is not a brain region.

Nope! Opiates can block pain signals in the spinal cord, which helps reduce the amount of pain a person feels.


Speeding lights

Question 1

There are lots of different kinds of stimulants. What of the following is NOT a stimulant?

Nope… Caffeine, which is found in coffee and many soft drinks, is a mild stimulant.

Correct! Heroin is not a stimulant. In fact, it causes a person to feel sleepy, which is the opposite of stimulants.

Almost! Methamphetamine is a powerful and addictive stimulant. It can cause long-term damage to the brain.

Nope, Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that changes the functioning of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.

Question 2

Cocaine can damage the heart by causing:

Uh Uh! Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It's actually a problem with the stomach that is caused by excess acid.

Correct! Cocaine can cause blood vessels to narrow, which causes the heart to beat faster. Fibrillation is when it beats so fast that it loses its natural rhythm.

No! Cocaine actually causes the heart to beat faster.

No. Cocaine reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the heart by reducing blood flow to the heart. Remember, blood carries oxygen.

Question 3

Scientists are using cloning to learn more about how cocaine acts in the brain. What is a clone?

Yes! By copying a gene, scientists can study how that gene works which may help them in developing treatments for a lot of things, including drug addiction.

Try Again! Although the famous sheep Dolly was an identical clone of another sheep, most baby sheep are not clones.

No. Scientists can use cloning to understand how the brain works, but there is no part of the brain that is a clone.

No, You're probably thinking of a clown.

Question 4

Which of the following is the part of the brain that controls feelings of pleasure?

Yes! Dopamine is a brain chemical, classified as a neurotransmitter, found in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and pleasure.

No, Dendrites are a part of a neuron that receives messages from another neuron.

No. Scientists can use cloning to understand how the brain works, but there is no part of the brain that is a clone.

Good Going!