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Drug prevention and education




Helping children and teenagers to "just say no" to drugs becomes a little easier with a new high tech educational tool that shows them the science behind addiction.

Addictive drugs have the power to destroy brains and end young lives.

A new software program, called Visualizing Addiction, uses brain scans from actual drug users to show young people the short and long term effects of drugs.

Victor Shamas, of the Center for Image Processing, says, "We're not telling them anything about 'don't do drugs.' We're showing them images of the brain and letting them decide for themselves what to conclude."

The brain imaging data is from CT and MRI scans that used to be available to professionals only.

One of the images is a CT scan of a normal healthy brain, compared to a CT scan of the brain of a methamphetamine user.

The meth brain has significantly less red, illustrating reduced brain activity due to long term drug use.

Jordan Matti went through the Visualizing Addiction program as part of his college psychology course.

He says it was eye-opening.

He says, "We got to see from a physical and chemical level, exactly what the effects of drugs are on the brain."'

Educators say the Visualizing Addiction program is a valuable tool on several levels.

The Visualizing Addiction program is currently being used in middle schools, high schools and colleges around the country.

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  • Drug Facts
  • Methamphetamine kills by causing heart failure, brain damage and stroke.
  • Cocaine is classified as a Schedule 2 Controlled Substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act and is illegal in most circumstances.
  • Ironically, methadone used to control narcotic addiction is frequently encountered on the illicit market and has been associated with a number of overdose deaths.
  • The variability in quality of street heroin can range from 0-90%, which greatly increases the risk of accidental overdose and death.