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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Why do you do this when you know people like us are gonna get on here and not ask you serious questions?

-Shanequa,

Because, we know that there are many very serious questions that people have out there and we want to try to answer as many of those that we can. For the crazy questions....we just delete them and move on!

-Gaya Dowling

why do you get addicted to cigerettes?

-browniez,

Cigarettes and other tobacco products contain many harmful compounds. Nicotine is one of the main addictive substances in these products and nicotine is a highly addictive drug.

-Moderator

Why do you think most people start taking drugs?

-kp,

This is a popular question. People take drugs for a variety of reasons: to feel better, to feel good, and because others are doing it are just some of the reasons. The important thing to realize is that the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse. It is also important to know that the earlier you stop using drugs, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html

-Eve Reider

Which is worse: LSD or Ecstasy?

-JETgrl,

Both are powerful psychoactive substances that can have potentially dangerous side effects. LSD can produce unpredictable psychological effects and there have been reported cases of persistent problems with your senses following the use of LSD. Ecstasy has been shown in animals to produce long-term damage to brain cells that are involved in mood, thinking, and judgment--so both drugs have high risks associated with them.

-David Shurtleff

Which one tends to help more smokers quit, the patches or the gum?

-shoffner,

Both things are types of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) - What is more important than what type of NRTa person chooses, is that they also use behavioral techniques to help break the habit of smoking. This is because addiction to nicotine is only a part of the habit of cigarette smoking that is difficult to break. People get used to having cigarettes in particular situations, and at regular times, and with certain people. If these "habits" are ignored, stopping smoking is much more difficult. Please take a look at this website for more information: http://www.smokefree.gov/. Best of luck to you!

-Lisa Onken

who has a harder time quieting adults or kids?

-jkingma,

the longer you have been abusing a drug the harder it is to quit and depends on the drug and how it has been taken. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

Who is sponsoring this chat?

-amar2193,

This chat is being sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. We are part of the National Institutes of Health. We support most of the worlds research on the health effects of drug abuse and addiction and we have many of our scientists here today answering your questions.

-Moderator

Why is marijuana so bad?

-T,

Marijuana can lead to several health problems including addiction and respiratory problems. Marijuana can also affect your memory and your ability to learn .A study has shown that individuals who smoke marijuana as teenagers are at risk for developing "schizophrenia-Like" symptoms by the time they reach their 20s.For more information on marijuana, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html.

-David Shurtleff

Why is Missouri the biggest state for Meth? Why do so many people make it?

-volleyball54,

Fascinating question! It turns out that, drug use varies a lot across the different states. We have found that meth use has been seen at higher rates in the west, midwest and in rural area. Missouri does not have the highest rates of methamphetamine overall, though rates in the boot heel area and other rural regions have been terrible. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: For youths aged 12 to 17, rates of past year methamphetamine use were among the highest in South Dakota (2.3%), Montana (2.2%), North Dakota (1.6%) and Wyoming (1.6%). Methamphetamine use was the lowest among youth in the District of Columbia (0.1%), New York (0.2%), and Maryland (0.2%). Young adults aged 18 to 25 were the most likely to use methamphetamines in the past year. For adults aged 18 to 25, rates of past year methamphetamine use were among the highest in Wyoming (4.6%), Arkansas (4.4%), Minnesota (3.8%) and Nevada (3.8%). Methamphetamine use was the lowest among young adults in New York (0.3%), Connecticut (0.4%), and Vermont (0.4%). If you are interested in learning more about the drug use in each state, you can learn more by visiting: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/population-data-nsduh

-Wilson Compton

why is smoking bad when your pregnant?

-m.rFieldhockey,

Smoking during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Smoking produces carbon monoxide, which reduces the amount of oxygen that is transferred to the baby. Smoking also exposes the baby to nicotine. Babies exposed to nicotine have been reported to have lower IQs, lower birth weight, a higher risk of dying during the first year, and a higher risk of becoming obese. Study findings suggest that girls exposed to nicotine in the womb may also be at higher risk of becoming smokers. For more information about smoking, go to: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/

-Frank Vocci

why is smoking so bad for people?

-burt_a11,

It is well established in the medical literature that smoking can produce many health consequences. For example, it is known that smoking is associated with cancer, in particular some types of cancer like lung cancer. Smoking is also associated with respiratory problems like bronchitis and emphysema. In addition, smoking stains the teeth even within just a few years of smoking, and may harm the gums that house them. For more information you may want to visit www.smoking.drugabuse.gov

-Ivan Montoya

why should I stop using drugs?

-richboy5678,

because you don't want to get addicted to them, because even if you don't get addicted to them they can harm your brain and body--To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

Why are drugs so accessible to young people?

-Sarah,

As you know, some drugs are legal and available for young adults, such as tobacco and alcohol, and under-aged young people are often able to get drugs through older friends. Youth also have easy access to marijuana and prescription drugs. The good news is that teens are taking better care of themselves: illicit drug use declined by 23.2% from 2001 to 2006. It is our hope at NIDA that through continued education and greater awareness, teens will make positive choices for their lives.

-Eve Reider

Why are drugs so addictive

-Eastern 25, New Jersey

All drugs of abuse target the brain's reward system by flooding it with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Dopamine is released when you do something pleasurable such as eat ice cream for example, but drugs cause a much more powerful release. This "overstimulation" of this dopamine system produces the euphoric effects sought by people who abuse drugs and can create an overwhelming urge to repeat the behavior.Our brains are wired to ensure that we will repeat life-sustaining activities by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way. Unfortunately, this can lead to drug addiction. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-David Shurtleff

Why does ex dehydrate the body?

-swood,

"Ex" raises body temperature and results in what is known as "hyperthermia." Combined with dancing at raves, many individuals using "ex" become dehydrated, experience hypertension, and could even have heart failure.Increasing body temperature can lead to organ damage and in extreme cases death. For more information about "ex," see http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/MDMA/default.html.

-David Shurtleff

why does ex dehydrate your body

-swood,

That is a really great question. Ecstasy, which is the chemical methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), acts in different parts of the brain to help produce dehydration. It affects centers in the brain that help to regulate body temperature, other areas that affect your ability to make good judgments, and parts of the brain that normally tell you when you are thirsty and to drink more water. When all of these brain areas are impaired by use of MDMA, you may not realize you are thirsty and thus become dehydrated. Additionally, this drug is often taken in club settings where there are lots of people and vigorous activity like dancing, which makes you even warmer and thirstier and presents fewer opportunities for rehydration. You can find out more about that at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-Nancy Pilotte

Why does meth cause teeth to rought?

-toridawomen,

The oral effects of methamphetamine use can be devastating. Reports have described rampant cavities and periodontal disease, referred to as"meth mouth."" A distinct and often severe pattern of decay can often be seen on the area near the gums. These effects of meth are probably caused by a combination of drug-induced psychological and physiological changes resulting in dry mouth, extended periods of poor oral hygiene, frequent consumption of high calorie, carbonated beverages and tooth grinding and clenching. If you would like to learn more about the health consequences of methamphetamine abuse you can visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html

-Joni Rutter

why do people do drugs

-articfrost1564, New Jersey

for many reasons, including wanting to get high and have a good time, because they are shy and drugs make it easier for them to interact with others, because they are depressed and drugs make them feel better, some times because they are bored and don't have anything else to do. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

why do people do drugs

-articfrost1564,

for many reasons, including wanting to get high and have a good time, because they are shy and drugs make it easier for them to interact with others, because they are depressed and drugs make them feel better, some times because they are bored and don't have anything else to do. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at
http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

will drinking make me unpretty?

-rae,

Drinking, particularly heavy drinking, can make you unattractive because of your behavior while intoxicated. And it can also lead to impaired decision making and even dangerous behaviors that could have long lasting physical consequences.For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Barry Hoffer

will drugs make you crazy?

-stlouisv,

Methamphetamine and PCP can produce severe mental disturbances that doctors call a psychosis. Marijuana smoking has also been linked to schizophrenia, a serious and often life-long mental disorder. Schizophrenia occurs in 1 % of the population. Young users and those who are dependent on marijuana may be especially vulnerable. Research also shows greater rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking in people who smoke a lot. For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/parents/.

-Frank Vocci

Will someone still have urges after years after getting off drugs?

-kloter,

Excellent question! People can have urges to use drugs, years after they have stopped. Sometimes a stressful event or a familiar place will trigger an urge to relapse--use drugs after having stopped. Sometimes these urges come up for no particular reason. I'm sure you've known people who have stopped smoking, and many years later they still say they get the urge to smoke. I do. To help people remain drug-free, there are behavioral techniques--strategies--that people learn to use when these urges arise. For example, "urge surfing" is the practice of recognizing that you are having an urge, accepting it, and not act ing on it. There are also techniques that help peolple to avoid having the urges (leaving situations where an urge is likely), and there are also strategies if people do relapse. The more these techniques are practiced, the more skilled people get.And the longer they have been drug-free, the more likely it is that they will continue to be drug-free!

-Lisa Onken

will taking herioin once get you addictied?

-cameron,

its unlikely that a person would get addicted after a single exposure to heroin--although people do overdose even after a single use.

-Nora Volkow

Would a cigarette still be a cigarette if you took the nicotine out of it ?

-XoLEXiSXo,

Yes but it would be less addicting. Still, there are other ingredients in cigarettes (besides nicotine) that can negatively affect the brain and contribute to the addictive properties of cigarette smoking.

-Frank Vocci

Would a kid get drunk or high faster than a adult?

-Curious George,

You bet. A drug can have a larger effect on a child for many reasons. One reason is that children's and adults' brains are different. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Steve Grant

wouldn't steroids as a doctor prescription give you the same effects as using it illegaly?

-crazy clown,

This is actually a very complex question. The effects of anabolic steroids is going to depend not only on the exact type and amount of drug that is used, but, very importantly, on the person that is taking them. Steroids are usually prescribed to treat conditions that occur when the body produces abnormally low amounts of testosterone, such as delayed puberty and some types of impotence. In other words, they are prescribed to correct low levels of the hormone.Steroid effects will be different in someone in which the levels of hormone are not abnormally low and, in this case,their use can affect the normal production of hormones in the body. This disruption will have different effects in males and females. You can find a lot of information on the effects of steroids at https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/steroids-anabolic

-Larry Stanford

wth is goin on?

-zcbxcvb,

Hey, we are really busy here! We've gotten over 16,000 questions already this morning and we are answering as fast as we can!

-Moderator

yall are cool what do you do and what is your salary :)

-spartan8224,

thanks! you are cool, too! To answer your question, I am a geneticist. Genetics researchers make anything from $40,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars/year, depending on what kind of work they do, how much experience they have, and where they work.

-Joni Rutter

Yesterday my friend pulled out a cigarette from his pocket and smoked it. Should i try it?

-joshB,

I would not try it. About 1 out of every 3 people who try cigarettes become addicted and smoke for years. Over 440,000 people die each year in the US from cigarette smoking. We estimate that 1 billion people worldwide will die in this century from cigarette smoking. Don't be one in a billion.

-Frank Vocci

young people and older adults react different to the same drugs why is that?

-desibby01,

One reason is that young people are smaller, so the same amount of drug has a bigger effect. A second reason is that young people's brains are still developing, and differ in a lot of ways from older brains. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Steve Grant