A Day in the Life of a Chat Day Question

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Scientists and staff sit in a large room together to answer questions from teens as the questions display on a large screen.

Image by NIDA. 

UPDATE: Based on guidance by NIH regarding COVID-19, the National Drugs and Alcohol CHAT DAY scheduled for Wednesday, April 1, 2020 has been cancelled.  Please stay tuned: we will connect with all registrants about the next CHAT DAY opportunity. The NIDA CHAT DAY team thanks you for your enthusiasm and interest! Please note that transcripts from past CHAT DAYS are always available on this website. Students can also use this site to search for drug and alcohol topics, view the results of student polls, take the interactive National Drug IQ Challenge, and read other science-based information about substance use.

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If you ask anyone around the halls of NIDA to name a single event that personally connects them to teens, odds are they’d tell you it’s participating in National Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day.

Since 2007, Chat Day has become NIDA’s signature event during its National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) educational observance. Top scientists from NIDA, NIAAA, NIMH, and FDA* have dedicated an entire day once a year to answer thousands of questions from teens registered all across the country and around the world—live.

“How does my question get answered?”

Topics range from A to Zombie drugs, and the diverse experts on hand embrace the challenge.

Once the questions start pouring in, a person assigned as a “Filter” reviews each one to ensure personal information isn’t shared, and then sends the questions to the Moderator. The Moderator reviews hundreds of questions and selects the perfect Expert for each question.

Once the question is received, the Expert uses their experience and scientific resources at their fingertips to respond as quickly as possible. The Expert then sends the response to an Editor for a final review, and the answer is returned to the sender—checked twice.

The live chat can be viewed online throughout the event. As an added resource, a transcript of the entire chat is also made available on the website shortly after NDAFW.

More than 80 scientists and staff dedicate over 350 person-hours throughout the day. Although it sounds exhausting, Chat Day is one of the only events where the volunteers show up before the coffee pot’s “ON” button lights up! 

For more information and to register for Chat Day, visit the National Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day page.

*National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Mental Health, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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