Drug Abuse Show
Art Alexakis and ITM's Andrea: He's Everclear about how drug use has messed with his life.
Description | Drugs and Their Effects
First Person: Julio's Story | Read All About It
Transcript | Raw Footage | Order Videotape
Drug Abuse: Altered States

Winner of the 2000 PRISM Award for TV Reality Series or Special

Here's the truth: Drugs aren't cool or glamorous, and you don't have to be a heavy user for them to mess up your life. According to a study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 22 percent of all 8th-graders and nearly half of all 12th-graders in the U.S. said they have tried marijuana. [Current stats about teen drug use] This dangerous reality of drug use is just one of many taken on in "Drug Abuse: Altered States". Co-hosted by Art Alexakis, lead singer of the band Everclear, this special gives you the hard facts on how drugs affect the mind and body, breaks down common myths and misconceptions about substance abuse, and features teens speaking candidly about the lasting and sometimes tragic consequences drug use has had on their lives. [How do you feel about drug use?]

In "Altered States", Everclear's Art Alexakis offers personal insight on the mental and physical fallout he still experiences as a result of past drug addiction, and drives home the fact that "the image of drugs being cool is just that, an image that isn't real." Dr. Alan Leshner, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, outlines the various ways substance abuse wreaks physiological havoc on the mind, explaining that "if you have this compulsion to use drugs, it's because your brain has literally been changed by drugs. Your brain has been hijacked." He also debunks common misconceptions about drugs and lays down the bitter truth about specific substances such as heroin, LSD, and crack cocaine. [More from Dr. Leshner]

An in-depth exploration of the social consequences of drug use first takes In the Mix to prison boot camp, where teen cadets serving time for drug-related crimes try to straighten out while coping with loss of freedom and separation from family and friends. A visit to a residential treatment center introduces young people literally fighting for their lives as they battle back from addiction and, in one girl's case, a rape that occurred while under the influence. At a hospital, another young woman copes with mental illness triggered by LSD experimentation. [Get and give advice] In another segment we meet a group of teens who strongly speak out on why they live by the Straight Edge philosophy, a growing national counterculture which promotes abstinence from smoking, alcohol and drug use. [Take our poll about marijuana]

"Altered States" presents a gritty, unfiltered look at the often devastating consequences of substance abuse without being judgmental; the sooner you know the facts, the sooner you can make the right decisions about your life. Advisors on the special include the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention; the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University; the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information; and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.
[Great resources] [Get help 24/7]

"Drug Abuse: Altered States" was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The program is regularly re-broadcast on PBS affiliates across the country. Please check our schedule and station list for airtimes.

Related In the Mix episodes: