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Faculty answer questions about drugs with scientific facts

By

Margaret Coulombe

Faculty from ASU’s School of Life Sciences and the Department of Psychology, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will host a "National Question and Answer Day" today at Mesa Community College (MCC), Red Mountain campus. The event, coordinated by MCC undergraduate Marti Denee, was developed in connection with the MCC's Peervention Program and the National Drug Facts Week, sponsored by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 

The Peervention event offers students one-on-one opportunities to get answers to questions related to drugs, alcohol and drug abuse prevention. Students can attend a talk by ASU professors Janet Neisewander and Foster Olive about the "Biological basis and consequence of alcohol, tobacco and stimulant abuse," at 9 a.m., then get more personal attention at a question and answer (Q & A) table staffed by the speakers and their ASU colleague Peter Killeen starting at 10:30 a.m. In addition, a second Q & A table will be at the Apache Junction Boys and Girls Club in Mesa at 4 p.m., hosted by Laurie Chassen and Clark Pression, faculty members with ASU's Department of Psychology.

Neisewander holds the 2010 Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Mentoring of Women from the Society for Neuroscience. Her research investigates biological risk factors for substance abuse and dependence, as well as changes that occur in the brain as a result of chronic self-administration of drugs of abuse.

"We have found that relative to the brains of drug naive individuals, that brains of individuals who have chronic experience taking drugs of abuse respond more intensely, not only to those drugs, but also to cues in the environment that remind them of drugs," Neisewander notes. "I hope that by sharing information about the long-term consequence of drug abuse and the loss of control over resisting drugs that can develop as a result, it will deter students from trying drugs."

The Peervention program is a student volunteer-driven, research-based college credit program designed "to get the word out" in hopes of preventing drug problems. Based at MCC, students in this program plan, implement and host events to achieve this mission. Denee coordinated with Brian Marquis, a NIDA public liaison officer, and Neisewander to bring ASU expertise on neuroscience, the effects of drugs on the brain and developmet of drug abuse to a wider student audience. National Drug Facts Week runs from Nov. 8-14 nationally. Developed specifically for teens, community partnerships and venues offer youth access the experts in the scientific community, to better understand for themselves what is myth and what is fact.

This lecture will take place at 9 a.m., in the Mesquite Building, M200 at the Mesa Community College, Red Mountain campus, 7110 East McKellips Road, Mesa, Ariz. 85207.