“This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
Sound familiar? For some of our readers, maybe not. This line actually dates back to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s 1987 classic television public service campaign. Perhaps even more memorable than the slogan was the imagery that accompanied it—a sizzling egg in a hot frying pan. Check out the video and see for yourself.
When it launched in the late 1980s, this classic public service campaign challenged the idea that drugs’ effects were temporary. The campaign message that drug addiction changes people’s brains and shatters people’s lives would soon start to take hold.
Brain Scans Replace Fried Eggs
Today, we don’t have to use a frying egg to demonstrate what a “brain on drugs” might look like. Through the use of brain-imaging technology, science can show us a real picture of how drug use affects the brain. By measuring the amount of glucose in a particular area of the brain, a brain scan (called positron emission tomography) can tell how active the brain is.
Take a look at the “control” scan on the left, which is the brain of a normal person. Look at all the red—this means that these regions of the brain are highly active since red represents glucose. The right scan is taken from someone who is on cocaine. What do you notice? A lot less red, right?, which means less activity. Reduced glucose can affect many brain functions, such as decision-making, memory, and concentration.
“This is your brain on drugs” just got a whole new meaning.
What drug-prevention slogans or images have the greatest impact on you? Send us a message or leave us a comment, and let us know what you think.
First off, big thanks to teens and adults everywhere who took the time during NIDA’s first-ever National Drug Facts Week to learn new facts about drug abuse.
After a week full of activities around the country, what can teens take away?
At the center of the week was our annual “Chat Day,” which gave high school students around the country a chance to ask NIDA scientists their questions directly…we got more than 5,000! Here’s a sample?
Q: Does genetics play a big role in addiction?
A: That’s a sophisticated question….I sense future scientists. Research suggests that about 50-60% of the risk for drug addiction is due to your genes, and that about 40% is due to environmental influences (like access to drugs, media influences, drug use among friends).Scientists are now starting to identify some of the exact genes that cause this influence. That is giving them clues to how to develop new medications to help addicted people recover.
Of course, no matter what your genes are, you won't get addicted if you just don't take drugs.
Q. Does every teen take drugs?
A. You might think so from watching tv and movies, but you would be wrong. Most teens do NOT take drugs. In 2009, little more than a third of 12th graders reported using an illegal drug in the past year, mainly marijuana. Fewer 10th graders and even fewer 8th graders reported using an illegal drug. It’s a good question you ask, because many teens tend to want to do what other teens do, and if they think everyone else is using, that might influence them to use. That would be making two mistakes.
Q: How can prescription drugs be fatal to us?
A. Pretty much by how they can affect blood flow in your body (like blood vessels getting narrower), or how the brain tells the heart to beat and the lungs to expand and contract. Several medications are ”depressants,” and combined with other drugs, especially alcohol, can shut down that breathing machinery. That’s why these kinds of drugs have warning labels. The key is to only use prescription medications under the care and direction of your doctor. They can be life-saving that way. The problems come when you abuse them or take someone else's prescription.
Q: How does marijuana get you high specifically
A. The exact nature of what ”high” is still up in the air, but here is some of what we know. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which causes cellular reactions in the brain that ultimately lead to the high that users get. THC acts on what are called “cannabinoid receptors,” found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, time perception, and coordinated movement. This is why some 'weed' smokers experience problems with memory, concentration, and coordination. And some marijuana users, about 9%, get addicted.
Know the Facts, Think before You Act!
Teens and adult sponsors organized events to shatter drug myths from California to Florida to Maine and everywhere in between. At Rockville High School, in Rockville, Maryland, teens produced this public service announcement advertising National Drug Facts Chat Day. http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/rockvillehs/Ramvision/index.html
Other events included the following:
- The Boys and Girls Club’s family advocacy network in Sulphur Springs, Texas, hosted a symposium for parents, caregivers, and youth of all ages, giving them the chance to ask questions about drugs.
- YOUth CARES of El Cajon Valley, California, shared drug facts during morning announcements for middle and high school kids and sponsored a carnival for middle school, high school, and college students. One review called “a great event,” adding that it was “encouraging to see so many teenagers taking action against substance use, and promoting health and fun!”
- NIDA held a CyberShoutout to kick off National Drug Facts Week. All over the country, people blogged, tweeted, and posted to Facebook in support of “shattering the myths” about drug abuse and addiction. Click here to see what people had to say!
This first-ever Drug Facts Week couldn’t have been such a success without your help! But we’ve only just begun: watch this blog for more facts, games, and quizzes to get the drug facts.
In 1982, then-First Lady Nancy Reagan launched an anti-drug campaign famously known as “Just say no.”
While many people—including public health experts—believed the message was an important one to get out to teens, others thought it was way too simplistic and would not appeal to them.
The message appealed to Mrs. Reagan, who campaigned tirelessly for the effort, appearing on television news, giving speeches, and writing newspaper editorials. She even produced a series of public service announcements with actor Clint Eastwood and got help from movie theaters to deliver the message.
In the end, the campaign was not effective in preventing teen drug abuse, and the phrase “just say no” has become something of a pop-culture joke.
Since that time, developing effective prevention messages has become a lot more sophisticated. Lessons learned include focusing on the facts about drug abuse so teens can make informed decision for themselves.
Another lesson learned is that teens are much more likely to pay attention when they are involved in the process. The Above the Influence campaign, for example, invites you and your peers to “share your voice” by submitting stories and videos about how drugs may have affected you or someone you know.
Check out the bulletin board at Above the Influence to see what teens are saying about peer pressure and other things. Lynn says, “Giving in is giving up.” Or Bobbi: “We are what we want to be, not what others want us to be, so don’t let the pressure get to you!”
Or as J.J. raps in his post, “Live Your Life:”
What’s the point of doing those drugs,
It just makes u weak, and clouds up ya lungs,
It messes you up, It gets u high,
But then you’ll see,
That you only did it to die
That’s a powerful message. So, now you tell us—how do you say no to drugs?
Update: Above the Influence has taken down the bulletin board. Share your voice on the Above the Influence Facebook page.
In communities across the country, students, teachers, and parents joined forces in NIDA’s second annual National Drug Facts Week from October 31 to November 6, 2011.
From Knoxville, Tennesee, to Siskiyou County in northern California, to La Plata, Maryland, teens gathered in school and neighborhood events to get real about drugs and addiction. In addition, teens from 71 schools from coast to coast participated in an online Drug Facts Chat Day event and submitted more than 10,000 questions to NIDA scientists.
Following are some examples of other events held around the country in honor of National Drug Facts Week.
Creating PSAs in Tennessee
In Knoxville, TN, the Metropolitan Drug Commission produced a series of public service announcements (PSAs) that Comcast Cable will air for free throughout the fall and winter.
Five teens posed questions to experts on camera to help shatter the myths about alcohol and other drugs. Topics were chosen based on the top five most commonly abused drugs in Knox County, where Knoxville is located. Those drugs are marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, tobacco, and inhalants. View the PSAs:
A Painted Bridge and Real-Life Stories in California
Students from a leadership class at Mt. Shasta High School in Siskiyou County, CA, painted a “grafitti bridge” to honor those who had lost their lives to drug addiction. The goal of the project was to encourage teens to get the facts about drugs, tobacco, and alcohol by visiting the NIDA for Teens Web site.
In addition, a panel of speakers spoke to teens about how their lives were affected by drug addiction and the toll it took on themselves and their community. Leon, for example, crashed his pickup truck while driving drunk 6 years ago and was in a coma for 9 days. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him with speech, coordination, and memory deficits.
The Siskiyou County Office of Education and the local public health department also sponsored a poster contest entitled, “It's a Fact.” They received close to 500 student entries. A kindergartener from Butteville Elementary School, was one of 16 winners. In all, 800 posters were professionally printed and posted around the county.
Facing the Facts at Juvenile Drug Court in Maryland
The city of La Plata, MD, applied the messages of National Drug Facts Week in a completely different way.
A crowd of more than 50 family members came to witness as two teens “graduated” from Juvenile Drug Court and had their records cleared. The teens participated in therapy and counseling in an intervention program designed to offer treatment and a chance for a clean start for nonviolent offenders who are chronic drug users between age 14 and 17.
Invited speaker Stanley Goodall, a counselor who worked with both graduates, recalled the changes that the two teens experienced and how their lives are much different now than when he first met them. “We thought the young man would be a casualty,” Mr. Goodall said. But now, with a clear record and a strong sense of purpose, he intends to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
What ideas do you think would work to share the facts about drugs and addiction at your school or in your neighborhood? What would inspire you to host an event next year so that you can make a difference?
Read about more 2011 National Drug Facts Week events.
According to the Surgeon General’s report on smoking and young people, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes.
In March 2012, the Surgeon General launched a video contest encouraging teens to develop videos around the facts in the tobacco report. SBB announced the contest, and now we want to share the winners.
Grand Prize Winner (Ages 13–17 Category): “Tobacco—I’m Not Buying It Rap”
The Manatee Youth for Christ SOZO team from Bradenton, Florida, raps about the dangers of smoking and why some teenagers start smoking, emphasizing with the chorus, “Tobacco OH NO I Ain’t Buying It.”
Grand Prize Winner (Ages 18–25 Category): “You Don’t Smoke Cigarettes, Cigarettes Smoke You”
Ayyaz Amjad’s video features a young man who realizes that people who smoke may not be as in control as they might think.
Grand Prize Winner (Spanish Category): “El Tabaco y la industria”
A narrator describes the dangers of smoking as her friends hold up signs with selected facts on them. The video was created by Sarah Skipper, Karolina Almasi, Taylor Crews, Natalie Curtis, and Malorie McKinnon.
Check out all the winning videos, including the runners-up.
What do you think of the videos? Do their messages inspire you to make your own video or to think differently about smoking?