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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first of all goodmorning, my first question is what happens if you inhale drugs at a young age?


Good morning, wigettaisreal! This is a great question. Drugs are chemicals. When someone puts these chemicals into their body, either by inhaling or smoking, they tap into the brain's communication system and tamper with the way the brain sends, receives, and processes information. Different drugs—because of their chemical structures—work differently. Since the brain is not fully developed until the mid twenties, inhaling chemicals at a young age can negatively affect brain function. Impaired brain function can persist even after the person has stopped using drugs. Here is more information about drugs and brain development Teen Brain, a Work in Progress.

-Katia Howlett

Given that nearly every adult out there, including a current justice of the Supreme Court, drank in high school, are the effects really as big as anti-fun industries want us to believe?

-nico, California

Thanks for your question, Nico.
We have learned a lot about alcohol and how it affects the developing teen brain over the past few decades. We know that the risk of developing a problem with alcohol is higher if people start drinking before the age of 21. We also know that alcohol can disrupt how the brain develops and leads to problems with attention, memory and reasoning. It is just best to wait until at least the legal drinking age of 21 before drinking.

-Marsha Lopez

Good afternoon, I am curious to know how bad is it for a person to start drinking at a young age, such as 16 or 17 years old. Have a nice day.

-4o reich,

Great question. We've learned a lot in the last few years about the risks of drinking at such an age. We know that the risks of developing an alcohol use disorder are much higher if someone starts drinking anytime before the age of 21.
We also know that the brain is still developing at this point in life and that alcohol can disrupt brain development in ways that lead to lingering problems with memory and attention. It's simply best to wait.

-Emily Einstein

Greetings fellow EPIC gamers, is it ok to lotion my body with CBD lotion?

-BigKid459, Illinois

Hi BigKid -- It is very unlikely that CBD lotion will cause any harm, or benefit. The science on CBD suggests that it isn't well-absorbed through the skin. If you're using it for its possible anti-inflammatory purposes, for a rash for example, it could be helpful, since CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. One thing to be cautious about is that many products sold as containing CBD (or other compounds from marijuana) actually contain very little if any of it.

-Kristen Huntley

has anybody ever died by ONLY smoking marijuana?

-g, Illinois

Hey g. Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol or opioids do. Marijuana-related deaths are most likely to be the result of injuries, car accidents, etc.

-Heather Kimmel

Has anyone ever overdosed by smoking only marijuana?

-lyonslions, Illinois

You may have heard that nobody has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. However, a person can certainly overdose on a drug without dying, and marijuana is no exception. If a person uses a large amount of marijuana, perhaps by smoking too much of a high-potency marijuana or eating a lot of food products containing marijuana, they can experience very negative consequences, such as paranoia, severe anxiety, and even psychotic symptoms, which is when a person loses touch with reality. You can learn more about overdoses here:

-Steve Gust

do you like your job.

-Alfonso, Illinois

I LOVE my job!!! This chat day thing is a lot of fun! Plus, we support a lot of cool research that can help people. I like cool sceince!

-Dave Thomas

do you play fortnite?

-LB, Oregon

Nope, and when I asked around about it, I got laughed at. Seems everyone knows about it but me. Hmm, maybe I should look into it?

-Jinhee Lee

Do you see school districts with 'tip lines' used by students as a way to get help

-BMS, Oklahoma

Hey Bixby Middle School, I don't know of any school based "tip lines" in your area to assist teens with drug use and other issues but that is a great idea and could be a helpful resource. You might want to talk with teachers, your guidance counselor, or principal about resources and your ideas. More information about drugs can be found at on NIDA's teen site: If you are interested in resources about drug treatment see treatment:

-Redonna Chandler

do you snort Heroine?

-D, Illinois

Hi D
Personally? no, i don't. And I don't recommend anybody doing it either.
Try to respect your brain, It's the only one you've got, and you need it to achieve your full potential.
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Do you support the use of medical marijuana?

-Sunny, Illinois

I support research to figure out whether marijuana or its components can be used medically. We need to know more, but there's certainly lots of reasons to think that there is medical potential if we can figure out the right ingredients, doses, delivery methods, and conditions to use it for.

-Susan Weiss

Do you think alcohol should be illegal, if it doesn't has anything good?


Hi Pichimimi,
In the U.S., it's not legal for folks under 21 years of age to drink alcohol. The harmful effects of alcohol on the teen brain are well known.
In adults and teens, binge drinking - drinking too much and too quickly - can cause alcohol to accumulate in your body and increase the risk of damage to the brain, liver and other organs. Alcohol overdose is a serious problem. Check out this fact sheet on Alcohol Overdose for more information.

Hope this helps!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Do you think alcohol should be illegal?


Hello Pichimimi,

This is a complicated question, I do not believe alcohol should be illegal, but that doesn't mean it can't be harmful. Having an addiction to alcohol puts a person at risk for many diseases including cancer, and it can have devastating effects on the lives of people who suffer from it and their family members. When alcohol was illegal, people still made it and used it so that did not solve problem of alcohol addiction. See more here:


-Roger Little

do you think it is hard for some people to say no to drugs

-Tas, Montana

Hi Tas - When it comes down to it if you have friends who are pressuring you to do something you don't really want to, perhaps they aren't friends after all. NIDA has a Drug and Health Blog post about peer pressure here: that may be useful. It's also helpful to be equipped with facts to help you make decisions that are right for you, so here is some information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site: Surround yourself with peers who will support you no matter what!

-Roger Little

do you think Marijuana should be legal -LTHS

-D, Illinois

Hello D at LTHS! Great question. Legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use and for medicinal purposes is currently the subject of much public debate, and policy makers must consider a lot factors, including how marijuana affects health and whether or not it contributes to other drug use. There is still a lot we don't know. States are testing policies for both ‘medical' and recreational use of marijuana. Whatever happens, public health experts are worried that these changing policies could lead to more use among teens. Regular marijuana use as a teen may harm the developing brain – making learning and memory worse – and can impair the ability to drive safely (especially when combined with alcohol). Researchers are currently investigating questions such as these as we speak..

-Marsha Lopez

do you think that the adict's emotions are as big a factor as his physical attributes when they want to quit?


Hello - this is an important question. Thanks for participating in Chat Day and asking this. Emotion and stress are incredibly important factors to consider in recovery - see what some of the science says about this:
, Continued Drug Use, and Relapse | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

-Ruben Baler

Do you think that the positive effects of marijuana outweigh the negative effects?

-LeF507749, Illinois

Good question, LeF507749! No, I don't. Even if someone finds that marijuana boosts their mood and relaxes them, those positive effects to my mind are outweighed in the short term by the drug's effect of dulling thinking and memory, and symptoms of irritabilty and low mood that can occur as the drug leaves their system; and in the long term by potential disruption of normal brain development and addiction. Marijuana can impair school performance and driving, and reduce life satisfaction and motivation. Nor does everyone who tries marijuana experience any positive effects. Some people experience anxiety instead of relaxation, and some have sought treatment in emergency rooms, reporting unease and shaking, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations, and in rare cases, extreme psychotic reactions. So I'd say, no, there is not a net benefit to using marijuana, especially for teens.

-Michele Rankin

Do you think the combination of alcoholic beverages an other drug substances is the reason our death rates increase each year?

-JE, South Carolina

Great question JE! Combining alcohol with drugs, even some prescription drugs used as directed, can cause drug interactions that are dangerous and may lead to deaths. If you go to our website or the CDC website you can look up rates of overdose deaths due to drugs or alcohol but I'm not sure that we have rates on cases involving both drugs AND alcohol. Keep an eye out for updates on our site for that information. Thanks for your question!

-Aria Crump

DO you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

yes--many clever chemists out there... we know alot about the chemical structure of addictive drugs, so people can play around with those and keep coming up with new drugs with unknown risks, as long as there's a demand for them.

-Susan Weiss

do you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years?

-nyla-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hey Nyla- This is an interesting question! Something we've noticed recently about the drug supply is that there are many more illegal synthetic (or human-made) drugs than ever before, and new versions with slight tweaks to the chemical structure are popping up all the time. So yes, the number of drugs does seem to be increasing.

-Emily Einstein

Do you think weed should by legalized across the U.S.?

-frog, Oregon

Hi frog -- Thanks for the question. Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA does not support legalization. For more information on the negative effects see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens:

-Dave Thomas

do you work with all types of drugs or does your group focus on a certain type?

-theboyz, Illinois

Dear theboyz, thanks for asking! At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we support research on the causes and consequences of drug use overall. This includes tobacco, anabolic steroids, inhalants, pills, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids (like painkillers and heroin), hallucinogens and many other substances. Another agency at the National Institutes of Health works with alcohol--the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For more infomation about these agencies, see: and

-Wilson Compton

do Zoloft and alcohol interact in the body?

-aidan, Illinois

Yes they can! Zoloft and alcohol are both drugs, and taking drugs together can increase the risk of negative consequences. Since both Zoloft (sertraline) and alcohol affect the brain, there is a risk of greater side effects like dizziness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, headache, nausea and diarrhea! Alcohol should be avoided in people that take Zoloft.

Learn more about harmful interactions between alcohol and medicines here:

-Vijay Ramchandani

Doctor Einstein any relation to Einstien himself

-MS, Illinois

:) my family did come to America from the same part of Germany, but we would be distant relatives at most

-Emily Einstein

Does a mothers cocaine addiction affect the unborn children?

-AB, New Hampshire

Hi, when a pregnant woman uses any substance, including cocaine, this can have harmful effects on the baby. All drug and alcohol use should be avoided when pregnant.

-Emily Jones

Has marijuana caused any deaths?

-SH , California

Yes--mostly because it increases the risk of fatal car crashes. Its worse when used in combination with alcohol..

-Aaron White

has their ever been a death from weed overdose

-owc12, Illinois

Neither the CDC nor the DEA have reported any fatal marijuana overdoses.

You can learn more here:

Hope this helps, owc12!

-Steve Grant

Have people died from vaping?

-Blackhole, Illinois

Thank you for joining us, Blackhole! I am not aware of anyone dying from vaping itself. However, there have been several cases of people suffering severe injuries from exploding e-cigarette batteries. Vaping liquids often contain nicotine, which is addictive and can lead to the use of regular tobacco products, like cigarettes, which are very harmful and can lead to death. Exposure to drugs, including nicotine, can affect brain development and contribute to a range of problems later in life. While vaping may not expose you to all of the same chemicals that cigarettes do, it's still not safe. However, if someone is vaping to quit using cigarettes, this can reduce the number of toxic chemicals they are exposed to. The goal should be to quit use of all tobacco products! For more information, see:

-Heather Kimmel



Hey daniberry- nope, I've never vaped.

-Emily Einstein

hay una droga que haga que te sientas atraido por a gente de tu mismo sexo

-soprise ,

Hola soprise,
Una pregunta muy interesante. No conozco una droga que tenga ese efecto especificamente. Sin embargo, se me ocurre que hay muchas drogas que tienen la capacidad de desinhibir tu conducta, y podrian, en forma indirecta y en algunas personas, inducirlas a estar mas dispuestas a experimentar sexualmente con una persona del mismo sexo.

Tiene sentido? Gracias por tu pregunta.

-Ruben Baler