Mice Addicts

Lexi Harder, Staff Writer

Every student at Harriton High School is required to take health class as a prerequisite for graduation. As a part of the health curriculum, students cover drug and alcohol abuse and are alerted to the dangers of becoming addicted to potentially harmful drugs like marijuana, heroin, and alcohol, to name but a few.

What we aren’t taught, however, is exactly how these drugs affect the most basic chemistry of our brains. A useful website provided by the University of Utah does just that in an entertaining and engaging format.

Called “Mouse Party”, this website features a cage full of cartoon mice “addicts”. Each mouse displays the symptoms that a person who was addicted to a certain drug would. The mice can then be picked up and dropped into a machine, which then details the chemical effects the drugs have on the brain.

Although initially I found it hard to figure out how to drag the mice into the chair, I found the website generally very easy and fun to use. While I was originally attracted to this website because of its entertaining graphics, I ended up learning more than I had expected to.

However, the most shocking revelation is that people become addicted on a cellular level to drugs. It’s not simply a question of having the willpower or desire to end drug abuse; the addicted person’s body becomes dependent on the added supplement. The knowledge that drug ingestion isn’t really up to your rational side anymore is a scary and sinister prospect.

The website can be found at this address: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/drugs/mouse.html