My name is Zofia, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about my experience interning with NIDA this past summer. I worked at NIDA last summer also, but in a different office. This time, I got a chance to learn more about how NIDA works by interning in the Public Information and Liaison Branch, otherwise known as PILB. (For those of you who don’t know, there are a LOT of acronyms to keep track of in the Government. Definitely made life a little bit more interesting and kept me on my toes!)
Even though I just graduated from college and thought I knew everything about everything, I learned a new fact every single day at NIDA. Aside from memorizing acronyms, another thing that kept things interesting in the office for me were the phone calls I handled. If someone looking at the NIDA Web site had a question, they called a phone number that went straight to my desk at PILB.
People would most often call to get more information about drug abuse, and I would forward them on to the appropriate NIDA staff member to answer. Sometimes it was a teary family member who had a loved one they suspected was abusing drugs, and they wanted to get more information about how to spot signs of drug abuse. Sometimes it was a teen who had tried a drug and wanted information about how it affected their body. It was really difficult sometimes to hear the despair and heartbreak in the voice of the callers, but for me, the silver lining in these situations was that people wanted to be as informed as possible about substance abuse problems.
And I hope that goes for you too! If you have a second, check out the awesome info on the NIDA for Teens Web site. Maybe you think that you can’t get hooked on cigarettes if you only try one. Or maybe you think marijuana is totally harmless. These are both myths that you can learn more about.
Working at NIDA has challenged my idea of what addiction really is, who it affects, and what can be done to treat it. Did you know that ANYONE could become addicted to drugs, especially drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers? Any person with a brain can become physically dependent on drugs.
Before my internship ended, I worked on “National Drug Facts Week,” an awesome NIDA-sponsored event that uses an entire week from January 28 to February 3, 2013, to dispel myths around drug abuse. Think about putting National Drug Facts Week on your calendar, and definitely tell your friends about it! And bookmark the NIDA for Teens Web site and come back often to check it out.
Zofia Klosowska, a graduate of the University of Maryland, was a summer intern in NIDA's Office of Science Policy and Communications. Now she is a Research Training Award Fellow at NIDA's Intramural Research Program labs in Baltimore, Maryland, where she will work with scientists looking into environmental and individual reasons people use drugs and relapse after treatment.