Behind the Scenes during Chat Day 2008 NIDA

Video Length: 4:24
Male Speaker: It's drug facts day.
Carol Krause: It's Drug Facts Chat Day at the National
Institute on Drug Abuse at the National
Institutes of Health.
This is our second annual Drug Facts Chat Day.
We learned a lot from last year, so this year we have
a bigger room, more scientists.
They're answering questions from kids at high schools
all over the country.
Dyan Gomez: Today we're at Rockville High School in
Montgomery County, MD, and we are celebrating Drug Chat Day.
The students right now are chatting online with
scientists from NIDA and asking questions about drugs.
Trenae Mack: Can your baby get hurt from smoking
cigarettes if you're pregnant?
Anna Damone: I came up with a question.
Curtis Clemons: What do people do to get you
more addicted --
Melanie Demb and Anna Damone: -- to drugs?
Wendy Roit: With it being anonymous, the kids have
no holds barred.
They're used to talking on the computer.
They're going to send everything out there, hopefully.
Carrie Roberts: Ask any question and they're not
judged, and they can can get truthful, honest answers
that are factual from scientists.
Curtis Clemons: Scientists know what they're talking about.
Carol Krause: The scientists, they're pretty hip.
They're pretty good.
We picked the ones that can really talk to teenagers
to be in this room.
We're going to come over here to the moderator's table.
This is really the heart of the whole operation.
The moderator sends the question to the scientist,
the scientist answers it.
Wilson Compton: I said that people who are addicted
to one substance often get into trouble with others too.
Carol Krause: And when the scientist is done with it,
it goes to the editor.
The editor makes sure that there are no spelling errors.
The editor might add a resource or two, like --
Wilson Compton: For more information, go to
That was Jessica's answer.
Carol Krause: And then when the editor feels the question
is in good shape, it goes back out to the student.
Male Speaker: "Thanks, Wilson Compton, for the info.
KoolAidMan [phonetic sp] out.
See ya."
Wilson Compton: That was KoolAidMan's question.
His mom had a real problem with addiction, and he
didn't know what to do.
Tim Condon: This is great opportunity for us to even
find out what might be going on with young people
that our surveys haven't been able to pick up yet.
Carol Krause: So what you're saying, it's not just
about them learning from us, it's also about us learning from them?
Tim Condon: It's a really good early warning system for us.
Anna Damone: You don't really want to ask questions to teachers.
Female Speaker: Why not?
Anna Damone: Because it gets awkward.
Carrie Roberts: You know, they might be embarrassed
to ask certain questions in health class.
In here they can ask any question, and they're not judged.
Wendy Cloit: And high school kids are all about being judged.
Carol Krause: This is Dr. Cindy Miner,
and this is Dr. Gaya Dowling.
Cindy, what kinds of questions are we getting this year?
Cindy Miner: We're getting lots of different questions,
like "Why do people use drugs?"
"What is the safest drug?"
Gaya Dowling: Kids are really opening up in this chat
and asking things that are really personal, so that's
also been, you know, very interesting and gratifying
in a way that if we can really reach out to these kids.
Carol Krause: How on earth do you keep it up with
10,000 questions coming in?
Cindy Miner: Lots of Diet Coke and Mountain Dew.
Carol Krause: One of the things that surprised us
last year on Chat Day was we got a lot of questions about
pregnancy and drugs.
We really didn't expect that at the high school level,
but clearly kids are thinking about it.
Bonnie McGowan: What does weed do to a fetus if a woman is pregnant?
Female Speaker: When we answer this question about
what marijuana can do to a pregnant woman,
what are you -- what do you think is the most important,
hit-home message?
Male Speaker: You can never control what
other drugs they've been taking.
Jen Elcano: It's just exciting thinking that that button,
when you press that button your answer goes out nationwide.
Lizzy Smith and Bonnie McGowan: There it is!
There's our question!
Bonnie McGowan: "Hi and thanks for your question.
Weed or marijuana can affect the baby in utero during
the pregnancy." 
Well, I think it's really important to give people
a chance to ask questions, because, you know, if people
don't have answers, they may just go off and do something
because they don't know how dangerous it is.
Lizzy Smith: And it's just good to know, I think.
I think it's interesting, whether or not you're going
to be put in a situation, just to know about all the
different drugs and things, the difficulties that other
people have out there, the questions that people
want to know.
Trenae Mack: I think it's really cool that we can
just ask anything we want.
Carol Krause: Obviously, we can't give treatment
over a computer, but we can offer resources and
offer some advice.
We're hearing some very sad stories, and we want to help.