Note: There is no transcript for CHAT DAY 2018, which was cancelled due to the Government Shutdown initiated on January 20, 2018.

These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions.

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Are the effects of hard alcohols different from wine or beer?

-porkchop, Utah

They all contain the same drug -- alcohol. Because liquor is so much more concentrated than wine and beer, it is absorbed into the body more quickly and can produce effects much more quickly. However, a single serving of each (for liquor, this is a 1.5 ounce serving of 40% alcohol; for beer, this is a 12 ounce serving of 5% alcohol) has the same amount of alcohol and therefore has the potential to produce the same amount of harm. For more information on standard drink amounts for different types of alcohol, check out:

-Aaron White

are drugs bad?

-amanda, New Jersey

Hi, Amanda. Thanks for the questions. Not all drugs are bad. Medications prescribed to you by your doctor and taken as instructed are generally not harmful. You need to steer clear of drugs that are illegal and prescription drugs when not prescribed specifically for you, or taken in a way that was not intended.

-David White

are drugs hard to make?


Some drugs like marijuana or coke are much easier to just extract from a plant. Some drugs like meth or ecstasy can be made (or synthesized) quite easily. Which is a problem of course.Thanks for the question.

-Ruben Baler

Are electric cigarettes better for you?

-Snookiewantsmu, New Jersey

Thanks for the great questionThe jury is still out on this one. Recently, the FDA tested some versions and found diethylene glycol and some specific nitrosamines in addition to nicotine. based on these and other findings, the FDA issued a press release discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes and repeating previously stated concerns that electronic cigarettes may be marketed to young people and lack appropriate health warnings.Personally, I'd worry that young people would perceive the e-cigarettes a safer alternative to smoking even though there is no evidence to support that claim.take care.

-Ruben Baler

are energy drinks dangerous

-klagarda=D, Maryland

They could be. Some people may be at risk of serious cardiovascular consequences when exposed to the large amounts of caffeine that some of these drinks pack. thanks and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

Are four loko's going to be made illegal sometime soon?


In fact, this week it was made illegal in Michigan. We'll have to wait and see whether it gets banned in other states.

-Aaron White

can alcoholism and drug use cause mental disorders?

-genbeloin, Vermont

Hi. This is a bit of a chicken and egg question - it's not clear which comes first, though we know that they are associated. For example, some people with mental health problems use alcohol or other drugs as a way of 'self-medicating,' while use of drugs and alcohol can lead to cognitive impairments, memory loss, depressed mood, and other mental health symptoms. So, no definitive answer on cause - but a great question.

-Amy Goldstein

Can an animal get high?

-rossmand, New Jersey

Yes, drugs affect animals much the same way that drugs affect humans. Research has shown that animals have receptors for drugs in the same parts of the brain as humans. In fact, one way that new drugs are tested to see if they can be abused is to see if animals (typically rats) will press a lever in order to get an injection of a small amount of the drug. The more they press the lever, the more likely the drug will be addictive in humans. This is called 'self-administration'. Animal models of addiction have been very helpful in enhancing our understanding of addiction, leading to better ways to prevent and treat it in humans.

-Steve Grant

can animals get "high"?

-big bird, Kentucky

yes and no - depending on the type of drug, the type of animal, and the quantity of drug the animal consumed. Animals may not react to drugs in the same way that humans do b/c their brains are different from humans' brains in many ways. Because of these differences, they may not 'get high' at all or they may react even more serverely where they end up with more severe behavioral reactions to the drug (such as seizures or maybe even death) depending on the type and quantity of drug the animal consumed...

-Kris Bough

Can animals get drunk?

-hackettstown, New Jersey


-Aaron White

can animals get high?

-big****bandit, Maryland

Probably. They can't say to us, 'Dude, I am really messed up' but there are a lot of similarities between animals and people in how they act when on drugs of abuse. You should see the spiderwebs made by spiders on drugs. Very messed up... For more information see

-David Thomas

Can any drug permanently afffect you?


This is a complicated question with no simple answer, but let me try to answer it.Remember that there are direct and indirect effects of drug use AND there is tremendous variation among people, so each person will react differently to the effects of drugs. One person may be affected by cocaine (for example, developing a heart condition -- a direct effect) and another person might not. There is also huge potential for permanent indirect effects, for example, dying or becoming permanently disabled after a car accident in which you were driving (or be driven by someone) under the influence of alcohol or drugs.Need more information on the effects of drugs? Visit: and

-Michelle Leff

can any medicine become a addictive drug to a person if used to much

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Drugs that directly affect the brain and its chemistry and connections, like meds that affect mood and sleep, can be addictive. Most people who use drugs for a while do not become addicted, but many do, and we still don't understand who will get addicted. This is why it's important not to take the chance. Once someone is addicted, it's VERY hard to treat, and be forever rid of cravings altogether. More info on how drugs impact the brain is on our teen site at

-Jim Bjork

can babbys be addicted to crack when born

-master8675309, Wyoming

Hello Wyoming + thanks for your question! Babies exposed to crack in utero usually aren't born addicted, but there can be other aspects of development that are affected. Early on these babies might have lower birth weights or smaller heads, although this difference can disappear over time. Researchers are following groups of kids who were exposed to cocaine and/or crack in utero (in the womb) and following the same kids through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. They are finding that these kids are more likely to have attention and behavior problems compared to their non-exposed peers, even those from the same neighborhoods and with similar backgrounds. There are other abused drugs that moms take when pregnant that can result in babies being in withdrawal when they are born, namely opiates --heroin, morphine, oxycotin, vicodin and other opiate based pain relievers. Not all, but many of these infants are born with neonatal abstinence sydrome, a set of symptoms that appear to be uncomfortable for the baby, and they go through withdrawal the first days of life. There are treatments for these infants - behavioral and medicine, that can help with the withdrawal. Here's some more information on prenatal drug exposure.

-Nicolette Borek

can babys be effected by drugs for long term time


It depends, but drug exposure to a baby can cause serious damage. Prenatal exposure can affect a child and affect his or her brain and behavior development . The medical consequences of drug exposure can range depending on many factors. Negative consequences can be short or long term affects on the brain resulting in problems in memory, attention and behavior. If someone is pregnant and using drugs, there are treatment programs designed to help them and their baby. If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Tha

-Cheryl Boyce

can becoming an alcoholic be tied to genetics rather than just an addiction?

-genbeloin, Vermont

Because of genetics, a person can be born with a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic if they have alcoholism in their family. That means that if either of your parents is an alcoholic, your chances of becoming alcohol dependent are higher than someone whose parents are not alcoholics. This is true even if you are raised in a home without the alcoholic parent. If you have a family history of alcoholism, it's very important to wait to try alcohol for as long as possible. The earlier a person starts drinking alcohol the greater the chances they will become alcohol dependent. For instance, if a kid with a family history of alcoholism who starts drinking alcohol at age 14-15, he or she has about a 50/50 chance to go on to have a serious alcohol problem. Waiting just a few years lowers the odds significantly! Only 16% of people with a family history of alcoholism develop alcoholism if they wait until age 21 to drink.

-Aaron White

Can being an addict or alcoholic be hereditary?

-2 cool 4 school,

What a great question.Addiction is a 'complex' disease. That means that part of the risk (about 50%) comes from your genes. So,addiction does run in a family. But it is definitely not a 'sentence'. Because the other half is contributed by the environment (family, friends, school, etc) whose combined power can either block or boost whatever hereditary risk might be lurking in your genes. So, even if your parents handed down to you really high risk gene variants there is always hope and the possibility to avert disaster in a nurturing, loving, positive, and drug free environemnt.good luck

-Ruben Baler

Can breath mints be a drug?

-warda, New York

Probably not. Not counting alcohol, something needs to have molecules in it that fit special molecules on brain cells to give a mood effect to be a real drug. Have you taken the National IQ Challenge? Go to

-Jim Bjork

Can caffeine be addictive? Does it have negative short- or long-term effects? Is there any reason to be concerned for friends who have a lot of it?

-271828, Vermont

Caffeine can cause dependence, as anyone trying to stop drinking his or her two regular morning cups o'joe can tell you. But it is certainly not addictive to the same extent as drugs like cocaine, nicotine, or marijuana. In the amounts that are normally taken the short or long term effects are nothing that I would really worry about.

-Ruben Baler

Alot of people do drugs because they are bored. What else is there to do on a friday night?

-Smith, New Jersey

Smith - can't think of something to do on Friday night? Why not - see a movie, go to a sporting event, attend a concert, participate in a rousing game of Twister with friends, read a good book, play video games, watch TV, go out to dinner, select something from a cook book and make it, do a craft or art project, clean your room, get a jump on homework, or visit the NIDA teen website at: The possibilities are endless all you need is an imagination.

-Redonna Chandler

Are 'light' beers like, bud light, better for you than regular beers?

-I love Pink! :), Kentucky

They have fewer calories, so they might make a person gain less weight than if they drink other beers. They have a little less alcohol in them than regular beers, but they still have alcohol in them. Alcohol is what hurts the body, particularly when we are young like you!

-Aaron White

are all illeagle drugs plants?

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Many illegal drugs are found in plants, but not all. Some drugs are completely synthetic, meaning that they were created in a laboratory and are not present in either plants or animals. LSD. MDMA (Ecstasy), and methamphetamine are examples of synthetic drugs.

-Steve Grant

Are all illigal drugs plants/

-16984560, Maryland

Many illegal drugs are found in plants, but not all. Some drugs are completely synthetic, meaning that they were created in a laboratory and are not present in either plants or animals. LSD. MDMA (Ecstasy), and methamphetamine are examples of synthetic drugs.

-Steve Grant

Are all of you scientists sitting in the same room right now or are you looking at a group of questions and choosing which to answer?

-jthschorus, New Jersey

We are all in the same room and trying to answer as many questions as fast as we can. Thanks for participating.

-Gaya Dowling

are anti-depressent bad for people who use them daily?

-15952329, Maryland

Antidepressants are often very effective medications for people who have depression. However, there are some side-effects associated with their use. The most common types of antidepressants used these days are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The most common side effects associated with SSRIs include:Headache, which usually goes away within a few days. Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), which usually goes away within a few days. Sleeplessness or drowsiness, which may happen during the first few weeks but then goes away. Sometimes the medication dose needs to be reduced or the time of day it is taken needs to be adjusted to help lessen these side effects. Agitation (feeling jittery). Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women and may include reduced sex drive, and problems having and enjoying sex. You can find more info on antidepressants and their side effects at: here's some general information about depression: to know more about Depression in Children and Teens? See:

-Marina Volkov

are any drugs being tested in labs other then weed, lsd, and acid?

-morphinelover69, Vermont

Researchers are studying most abused drugs trying to better understand how they do what they do, why people get addicted, and what can be done to reverse their detrimental effects.

-David Shurtleff

Are cigarettes or pot healthier

-I AM MIKE, New Jersey

Hi--good question! The answer is that neither is healthy. Many studies have shown that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and is an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections.

-Kristen Huntley

are cigars any healthier that cigarettes?

-firedude311, Pennsylvania

I don't think so.but they smell kind of better, don't they?

-Ruben Baler

are cigars or pipe smoking any healthier than cigarettes?

-firedude311, Pennsylvania

Not that I know of.But cigars and pipe smoking does tend to transfer the risk of cancer from the lungs to the oral cavity. Trust me those cancers do not look pretty.Thanks for your question and stay healthy!

-Ruben Baler

Can depression bring forth the urge to do drugs, even if that person have never smoked or accepted them? -K

-AC2ezio, Virginia

Hi...depression and drug use do often go together. Which comes first is up for debate. The great part of your question is you are talking about an urge to use - so the use hasn't happened yet. That means this is a great opportunity to stop drug use before it starts! While someone may think using drugs when depressed will help them feel better, in the long run it will make things worse as depression is harder to treat when someone is also using drugs. If you or someone you know is depressed rather than giving in to an urge to use drugs, talk to a trusted adult and get professional help. If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation, help is readily available by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Here is some general information about depression: to know more about Depression in Children and Teens? See:

-Amy Goldstein