Fast Facts about Marijuana

Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit can have withdrawal symptoms including: irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, making it even harder to quit.

Marijuana users usually inhaled more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increases the lungs' exposure to chemicals in the smoke, resulting in irritated lungs.

THC is a key ingredient in marijuana. Standard urine tests can detect traces of THC several days after use. In heavy users, THC can sometimes even be detected for weeks after use stops.

Longtime marijuana users report being less satisfied with their lives, experiencing memory and relationship problems, poor mental and physical health, lower salaries and less career success.

Many studies have shown that there is a connection between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and a very serious mental illness called schizophrenia.

Did you know that if you use marijuana as a teen, your IQ level could actually drop as an adult? Read about it on the NIDA Web site. Just type “IQ” and “marijuana” into the search box.

Research shows that about 9% of users become addicted to marijuana, but this number increases to about 17% among those who start young, and 25 to 50% among daily users. Ask our scientists about marijuana and addiction.

If you ask 12th graders if they have smoked marijuana or cigarettes in the past month, since 2009, more say they smoked marijuana.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S.

NIDA’s 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey showed that about 11% of 8th graders, 28% of 10th graders, and 36% of 12th graders had abused marijuana at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Congratulations to all the other teens making healthy choices!

A common myth is that marijuana is harmless. But research has shown that it affects learning and memory, which can affect your schoolwork; coordination and judgment, which affects your ability to drive and play sports; and can be addictive.

Studies have shown a connection between regular marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness.

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug found in drivers who die in accidents, often in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

Teens who use marijuana put themselves at risk for joining in or being pulled into other risky behaviors like driving (or riding with someone) under the influence, or taking other kinds of drugs. Remember, people who sell pot benefit from getting you hooked.

Marijuana’s impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the other side effects wear off.

Fast Facts about Prescription Drugs

Taking prescription drugs in an inappropriate way IS drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse includes taking a controlled medication (like pain pills or ADHD drugs) without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed, or to get “high.”

Many people think that abusing prescription drugs is safer that abusing illicit drugs. This is not necessarily true. For example, opioid painkillers act on the same sites in the brain as heroin!

Did you know that more people die from overdoses from prescription painkillers (like Vicodin and Oxycontin) than die from heroin and cocaine combined?

Fast Facts about Alcohol

The minimum legal drinking age in all states in the U.S. is 21.

It takes teens fewer drinks than adults to feel the same effects. Kids who drink alcohol are not only breaking the law, but they also risking dangerous and sudden consequences, such as alcohol poisoning.

In 2011, about 9.7 million young people ages 12 to 20 reported they drank alcohol in the past month.

A 2012 survey showed that about 28% of 10th graders drank alcohol in the past month. That means about 3 in 4 teens chose NOT to do so.

People ages 12 to 20 drink about 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. That’s why companies that sell alcohol make ads that appeal to young people.

Alcohol is the drug of choice for American kids—more kids drink than smoke cigarettes or do other drugs. We have alcohol experts here today—so ask a question about it!

24% of teens say they have been in a car when the driver has been drinking. Is that smart?

Each year in the United States, about 5,000 young people under age 21 die as a result of drinking.

By studying how the brain develops during childhood and the teen years, scientists hope to be able to see when and how development goes off track. The teen brain is affected by alcohol differently than an adult’s brain. Drinking heavily in the teen years is a risk factor of developing alcohol dependence in adulthood.

Binge drinking means drinking so much within about 2 hours that the amount of alcohol in your blood (also called blood alcohol concentration or BAC) reaches 0.08g/dL, which is considered legally intoxicated.

All states have ’zero-tolerance” laws, which make it illegal for anyone under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol.

Each year in the United States, about 1,900 kids under age 21 die from alcohol-related car crashes.

Underage drinking poses dangerous health and safety risks, including sexual risk-taking, car crashes, and unintentional injuries—either to you or to others.

A 2012 study shows that about 70% of 12th graders have tried alcohol.

A 2011 study shows that about 54% of 10th graders have tried alcohol.

In 2012, about 41% of 12th graders reported they drank alcohol in the past month. This means nearly 60% did not drink in the past month.

In 2012, about 11% of 8th graders drank alcohol in the past month.

Fast Facts about Cocaine

Cocaine users can experience acute blood or brain emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, which can cause sudden death.

Experimentation with cocaine can be deadly—literally. Sudden death can occur on or after the first use of cocaine. It doesn’t happen often—but it does happen.

Have you heard the name Len Bias? He was considered one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. But in 1986—two days after being drafted to the Boston Celtics—he died from a cocaine overdose. His family continues to speak out against drug abuse.

Researchers found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol to produce a third substance called “cocaethylene.” Cocaethylene is associated with a greater risk of sudden death than cocaine alone.

The high from snorting cocaine is brief—from 5-30 minutes. So to stay high, a cocaine user has to take the drug again and again. This is why cocaine is sometimes abused in binges—taken repeatedly within a short period of time, at dangerously higher doses each time.

Cocaine users risk a list of health problems: heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, nausea, and more.

Fast Facts about Cough and Cold Medicine (DXM and Codeine Syrup)

Some teens think “over the counter” cough medicine (which can be bought at a drug store without a prescription) are safer to abuse than illegal drugs. But to get high, they need to take high doses, which can be dangerous.

Fast Facts about Inhalants

Inhalants prevent the necessary oxygen from reaching the brain, which can damage brain cells.

Some common household products used as inhalants to get high can have permanent effects including: hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, bone marrow damage, and possibly death from heart failure or suffocation.

Long-term inhalant use results in nerve cells not being able to do their job, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking.

If you inhale a large amount of a solvent or a gas, you could lose consciousness.

Younger teens are more prone to experimenting with inhalants that seem like harmless common products. A study in 2012 showed that about 6% of 8th graders, 4% of 10th graders, and 3% of 12th graders had abused inhalants at least once in the past year.

Inhalants are among the first drugs that preteens or teens abuse. In fact, they are one of the few types of substances that are abused more by younger teens than older ones. Inhalant abuse, if continued, can become chronic and continue into adulthood.

Sniffing dangerous chemicals in solvents and aerosol sprays to get “high” can result in irregular heartbeats, which can lead to heart failure and death within minutes.

Fast Facts about Alcohol, Fast Facts about Tobacco, Nicotine, & E-Cigarettes

Studies estimate that tobacco and alcohol use together are responsible for 80% of throat and mouth cancer in men, 65% of throat and mouth cancer in women, and 25-30% of all liver cancers.

Fast Facts about Tobacco, Nicotine, & E-Cigarettes

If you know someone who has recently quit smoking or is trying to quit, you can share these facts with them: http://www.fda.gov/tobaccoproducts/publichealthscienceresearch/default.htm. Above all, be sure to let them know you’re proud of their decision to become smoke-free.

The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.

Smoking causes disease in every organ system of the body. SA third of all cancer deaths in the United States are linked to tobacco.

Nearly 9 out of 10 adult daily smokers used their first cigarette by age 18.

Each day in the United States, more than 1,500 youth under age 18 start using smokeless tobacco (including chewing tobacco or snuff). Our smoking experts are online now—ask them what this does to your mouth!

More than 1,200 people die each day in the United States because of cigarette use—that is 1 person every 71 seconds http://go.usa.gov/4264

There’s nothing sweet about cigarettes and your health. That’s why the FDA’s CTP banned flavored cigarettes. Learn more here: http://go.usa.gov/426P

Send your friends a free e-card to encourage them to quit smoking—http://go.usa.gov/42se.

The pleasurable effects of smoking tobacco wears off rapidly, causing people who smoke to get the urge to light up again for another dose of the drug. This can lead to a lifetime of addiction, poor health, and an early death.

The FDA Center for Tobacco Products has banned misleading advertising claims about cigarettes such as “low,” “light” and “mild” to avoid misperceptions that these products are safer.

The numbers of teens smoking cigarettes have been dropping over the years. In 2012, “past month” rates were reported at about 17% for 12th graders, 11% for 10th graders, and 5% for 8th graders.)

Each day in the United States, more than 3,600 young people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 900 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers. That’s way too many.

Cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, the number-one cancer killer of both men and women.

Although many hookah (water pipe) smokers think it is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, it still delivers the addictive drug nicotine and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoking.

Tobacco has been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia, and accounts for about one-third of all cancer deaths.

Fast Facts about Heroin

Regular heroin users develop a tolerance to the drug. This means their “high” gets less strong, and more heroin is needed to achieve the same effect. But—taking more heroin increases the risk of addiction and overdose.

Heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog blood vessels when injected leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage to vital organs.

Heroin slows breathing, which means that an overdose can be fatal.

Fast Facts about Mental Illnesses

Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment. If you or a friend is ever in crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Studies showed that a type of psychotherapy (“talk” therapy) called cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce the rate of repeated suicide attempts by 50% during a year of follow-up. Therapy helps people consider alternative actions when thoughts of self-harm arise.  Learn more about suicide prevention here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

Sadly, more than 30,000 people die each year by suicide. Suicide is consistently the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. If you or a friend is ever in crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Teen anxiety can be a normal reaction to stress. It can help us deal with a tense situation, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders in teens last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. Learn more about anxiety disorders here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders-in-children-and-adolescents/index.shtml

Youth are at higher risk for attempting suicide if they have depression, have an alcohol or drug use disorder, experience physical or sexual abuse, or have a disruptive behavior disorder. Sometimes these issues are difficult to talk about, but we have scientists here at Chat Day who are experts in mental health—so now’s your chance ask a question about it.

Did you know that mental illnesses are brain disorders? There are differences in the structure and the way the brain functions in people with a mental illness. Causes of most mental illnesses are not currently known, but the best evidence suggests a combination of influences such as biological, environmental, and social factors. Researchers are trying to find out the exact causes.

People with mental illnesses are not “crazy” or “psycho.” Mental illnesses are real and can be treated. They are not something a person can just snap out of. A lot of people do not get help because they are embarrassed or afraid someone will make fun of them. Learn how to help a friend get help when they need it.

There are many myths about mental illness. Find out more here: http://www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov/learn.asp?nav=nav01_1&content=1_1_mythsfacts.

Did you know that mental illnesses are brain disorders? There are differences in the structure and the way the brain functions in people with a mental illness. Causes of most mental illnesses are not currently known, but the best evidence suggests a combination of influences such as biological, environmental, and social factors. Researchers are trying to find out the exact causes.

Mental illnesses are not as rare of some people think. About 20% of youth will have at least one type of mental illness in their lifetime.

Fast Facts about Brain and Addiction

Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol and drugs can affect this development, and contribute to a range of problems.

Contrary to common belief, drugs are chemicals. They invade the brain and interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information.

Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help.

When you go to college you will experience a lot of changes in your life. Even though you are moving on to new and exciting things it can be stressful. It is important to continue to take care of yourself. If you are receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment now, be sure to find out where and how to continue treatment when you get to college. The college counseling office is a good place to start, or check with an advisor. You can call them and arrange to visit them before you start school.

What is the definition of addiction? Simple. You continue to use, despite negative consequences, such as losing friends, family problems, poor grades, other physical or mental problems or even getting arrested for stealing.

Fast Facts about Viral Infections (HIV, Hepatitis) and Drug Use

Users who inject drugs also risk infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Fast Facts about MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly)

High levels of ecstasy in the blood stream can be life-threatening; they increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart's ability to maintain its normal rhythms.

Makers of MDMA (Ecstasy) can add anything they want to the drug, so you never know what you are really taking. Yuck.

Researchers have seen memory loss among regular users of MDMA.

Some people who use MDMA (Ecstasy) might feel so alert and “hyper” that they could keep dancing at a club for hours at a time and lose their sense of time. However, others can experience anxiety, agitation, faintness, sweating, or chills.

Ecstasy (“X” or MDMA) changes the body in many ways. It even interferes with the body’s temperature regulation, which leads to dangerous overheating, called hypothermia. This can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or even death.

Fast Facts about Eating Disorders

Eating disorders often appear during the teen years. They are marked by extremes. Common types include anorexia (extremely restricted eating); bulimia nervosa (compulsive forced vomiting or laxative use to compensate for over-eating), or binge-eating (severe uncontrolled overeating). They are real, treatable medical illnesses, and nothing to be ashamed of.  Ask for help if you think you might have an eating disorder.

If you have severe distress or concern about body weight or shape, you might have an eating disorder. The media’s obsession with extremely thin models and celebrities can contribute to unhealthy weight goals among girls. The National Institute of Mental Health has supported studies showing that challenging this super thin ideal can reduce the onset of eating disorders. Learn more about eating disorders here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

Fast Facts about Alcohol, Fast Facts about Marijuana

Combining marijuana with drinking even a small amount of alcohol greatly increases driving danger, more than either drug alone. Just ask the CSIs who examine dead bodies at car accidents.

Fast Facts about Stimulants

Stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin are often prescribed for ADHD. When taken properly, with a doctor’s prescription, they are safe. But because prescription stimulants act on the same brain systems as cocaine, they can put people at risk for negative health effects, including addiction and overdose, if not taken properly.

Some people take prescription stimulants—without a prescription of their own—thinking the drugs will make them “smarter” on a test. However, no clear evidence exists for improving performance in people who do not have ADHD. Some research suggests that stimulants may actually dampen creative thinking, although more studies are needed.

Research shows this does not work.

Fast Facts about Alcohol, Fast Facts about Marijuana, Fast Facts about Prescription Drugs, Fast Facts about Cough and Cold Medicine (DXM and Codeine Syrup), Fast Facts about Tobacco, Nicotine, & E-Cigarettes

What are the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders? Alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, like cold medicine.