The idea for me hosting the event for the National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) came from my career as a forensic chemist—that is someone who examines drugs and chemical evidence related to crimes. In my job, I have direct contact with analyzing controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other illicit and diverted drugs.
I am also a training coordinator. One of my duties in this role is to interact with high school students, but I noticed a lot of them use street slang terms for drugs and are misinformed about drugs of abuse.
Since I’ve ordered publications from NIDA in the past to assist with my drug education program, I was on the Web site recently and noticed National Drug Facts Week: Shatter the Myths advertised there. I was immediately intrigued by this initiative because I have been analyzing drugs for 10 years, I love what I do, and I express that by giving back to the community and sharing my knowledge about forensic science and drug education.
The first NDFW event held in Philadelphia will be at the recreation center in the community that I grew up in. The planning process required me to reach out to various businesses, schools, community centers, and radio stations. So far I’ve been a little discouraged because not everyone will support your cause, but what motivates me is my passion for what I do. I'm also motivated by this quote: “My hunger for success is fueled by my passion." :-)
So, if you are a teen and live near the area, you’re more than welcome to participate!
Antoinette T. Thwaites is a Laboratory Program Scientist and a founder of the Association of Women in Forensic Science. She also serves as a training coordinator for the Philadelphia Police Department/Forensic Science Center.