National Drug Facts Week – Help Shatter the Myths

National Drug Facts Week – help shatter the myths by taking advantage of the many opportunities provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for the 2013 National Drug Facts Week celebration. Though we’re mid-way through the week, it’s never too late to take advantage of the many tools and options NIDA provides:

And of course, their National Drug IQ Interactive Challenge Quiz!

ndfw_logoIf you don’t have the time to take the Quiz, I’ve copied and pasted the questions, answers and LEARN MORE resources – it’s the latter – the “learn more” resources – that can really help you shatter the myths!

1. An opioid is a mind-altering chemical that can come from a plant (the opium poppy) or be man-made. Which of these drugs is NOT an opioid?

Answer: Cocaine

Vicodin, morphine and heroin are opioids, which can slow down most bodily functions, including your breathing and heartbeat. While some opioids—like Vicodin and morphine—are powerful prescription pain relievers, they are sometimes abused and not taken as prescribed by a doctor. Cocaine, however, is a central nervous system stimulant – a class of drugs that can produce feelings of energy, power and intense concentration. Both stimulants and opioids can produce a “high” but can also be dangerous, addictive, and in cases of overdose, result in death.

Learn more: Research Reports: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction


2.  What percentage of people who smoke marijuana every day become addicted?

Answer: 25-50%

It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens) and to 25-50 percent among daily users.

Learn more: Research Reports: Marijuana Abuse


3.  For several years now, there have been more deaths from prescription pain reliever overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined. The deaths usually result from:

Answer: Respiratory failure (breathing stops)

Taken as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain safely and effectively. However, when abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death.

Learn more: Research Reports: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction


4. People who take drugs can develop tolerance over time. This means:

Answer:  They need to take more of a drug to get the same effect.

When some drugs of abuse are taken, they can release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do. The brain adjusts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less of it, so a drug abuser must keep taking drugs just to bring the dopamine function back up to normal. And they must take larger amounts of the drug than they first did to create the dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance.

Learn more: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction


5. Sharing your ADHD medications with a friend is:

Answer:  Prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction.

Learn more: Research Reports: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction


6. What is NOT true about “bath salts,” often sold in head shops:

Answer:  They are really only dangerous if snorted or injected.

“Bath salts” often contain amphetamine-like chemicals including mephedrone, which can put users at risk for an overdose. While snorting or injecting bath salts are linked to the most serious health problems, including death, taking them orally can also be dangerous. These synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions.

Learn more: Emerging Drugs


7.  K2 or Spice is a mixture of chemicals and herbs sometimes called “fake marijuana.” If you smoke it, what will you be inhaling?

Answer:  Powerful chemicals similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, but much stronger and untested in humans.

Spice abusers who have needed emergency care report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart, and in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks. Regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.

Learn more: DrugFacts: Spice (Synthetic Marijuana)


8. Taking drugs can lead to HIV/AIDS—either through shared needles or risky sexual behaviors. About how many people in the US become infected with HIV each year? 

Answer:  50,000

Drug and alcohol intoxication affects judgment and can lead to risky sexual behavior that puts participants at risk of contracting or transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, drug use and abuse can facilitate the progress of HIV infection by further compromising the immune system.

Learn more: Research Reports: HIV/AIDS


9. What is the worst thing that can happen to you if you “sniff” an inhalant?

Answer:  You can die.

Most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication. Possible irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, and bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs).

Learn more: Research Reports: Inhalant Abuse


10. Which best describes a good drug treatment program:

Answer:  Tailors treatment to the needs of each patient.

Scientific research has shown the value of behavioral counseling or counseling combined with medication to treat addiction. In addition, follow up care and attention to other medical or mental health problems are important.

Learn more: Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What To Ask

11. What do all drugs of abuse have in common when it comes to the brain?

Answer:  They cause a spike in dopamine levels, which makes us feel pleasure and want to repeat the experience.

Most drugs of abuse target the brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine—a neurotransmitter in parts of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, which teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it.

Learn more: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction


12. Which drugs work by mimicking a chemical naturally found in the brain?

Answer:  A, B, and C (Heroin, Marijuana, Alcohol)

These drugs are chemicals. They work in the brain by tapping into the brain’s communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Although these drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don’t activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the brain’s network.

Learn more: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction (See page 17)

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at
Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!," "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," and "Secondhand Drinking: the Phenomenon That Affects Millions." She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, and founder of She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.
Lisa Frederiksen

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