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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can different strains of weed get you higher than others?

-coolkid33, Michigan

Hi coolkid33. 
Yes, different strains are bred to have different concentrations of THC, the chemical that makes you high, and different amounts of other chemicals like CBD that act against the THC. So high-THC strains will make a person much higher than low-THC/high-CBD strains.

-Eric Wargo

can drinking offten affect the way you think and act in school?

-aranaa, New Mexico

Yes, it could. Alcohol disrupts sleep, making it hard to pay attention in class. Alcohol produces hangovers, which leave a person feeling sick the next day. Drinking a lot over time can damage the parts of the brain that allow us to pay attention and learn.

-Aaron White

can drugs (marijuana, acid, ecstasy, molly, ect.) effect your mental health?

-LeeAnn, Massachusetts

hi LeeAnn. Thanks for the question.  The short answer is YES! Long-term use of drugs is likely to result in mental illnesses such as psychosis, depression, anxiety and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.

-Amy Goldstein

can drugs affect animals

-jasmineb, Georgia

Hi jasmineb,
Chemicals can have different effects in different animals—like how chocolate is delicious to humans and poisonous to dogs—so even small amounts of a drug could be very harmful for your pet. Alcohol can cause a dog to suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature. They can also have seizures and stop breathing.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, signs may be seen within 3 hours, and include severe depression, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, hyperactivity,  seizures, and vomiting. Also, your pet wouldn’t understand that it had been given a drug, and the sensations that might feel like a high to a human would be a very scary experience for an animal. For more information, check out: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/be-friend-mans-best-friend-keep-marijuana-away-from-your-dog

-Maureen Boyle

Can drugs affect animals?

-autumna, Georgia

hey autumna - yes they can. Chemicals can have different effects in different animals—like how chocolate is delicious to humans and poisonous to dogs—so even small amounts of a drug could be very harmful for your pet. Alcohol can cause a dog to suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature. They can also have seizures and stop breathing.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, signs may be seen within 3 hours, and include severe depression, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, hyperactivity, seizures, and vomiting. Also, your pet wouldn’t understand that it had been given a drug, and the sensations that might feel like a high to a human would be a very scary experience for an animal. For more information, check out: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/be-friend-mans-best-friend-keep-marijuana-away-from-your-dog

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect you eye sight and your hearing?

-SFreeman, Texas

Hey SFreeman - yes.  Drugs can affect your eye sight and hearing.  And more. What is the science of addiction? See Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect you for the rest of your life even if you stop. Luz S. Fieldsotone Middle School

-mnealon, New York

Excellent question mnealon

From the brain's point of view, becoming addicted is very similar to learning something really well, like riding a bike. It is very difficult or close to impossible to "unlearn" how to ride a bike, right? Well, the same goes for addiction. Even if you stop, the brain will always remember. This is why relapse is a constant threat to people in recovery and why they have to keep trying to overcome those deeply ingrained drug experiences with new better, healthier experiences.  
best luck to you

Ruben

-Ruben Baler

Besides marijuana and nicotine what other things do people use for vaping?

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

alcohol, cannabis extracts.

-Nora Volkow

Besides the mental aspects of using marijuana are there any physical side effects?

-cody, Massachusetts

Hi Cody. Marijuana use leads to addiction in 1 out of 6 people who start using in their teens.  Many people have problems with:

  • learning and memory
  • perception (distorted time, touch, sound, etc)
  • poor coordination
  • increased heart rate

Thank you for your question!

-Joni Rutter

Ca E-cigarettes causes as much or more damage than normal?

-Swaggyp, Michigan

Hi Swaggyp, 
There are a lot of misconceptions about vape pens and e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor,that e-cigs and vape pens produce is really made of the specific chemicals in the vape pen, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, THC, chemical flavorings, and others.  Surveys show that many teens don’t even know what chemicals are in their e-cig device. We still don't know all the effects of using vape pens because they are so new. One thing we worry about with e-cigarettes is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. On the other hand, if a cigarette smoker is able to give up regular cigarettes by using e-cigarettes, it’s probably a good thing. About 13 percent of 12th graders have tried e-cigs. Check out these resources on e-cigs – https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Maureen Boyle

Cameron H. IMS, KS- How do drugs make you high?

-AMY KARR, Kansas

Drugs make people high by causing activation of the reward centers of the brain.

-Wilson Compton

Can a child get high in womb?

-autumna, Georgia

As one NIDA scientist put it, “We know that drugs of abuse can cross the placenta and reach the fetus. So, drugs used by the mother definitely can affect the baby’s health and can even cause long-term harm many years later. That is why doctors recommend that pregnant mothers not smoke or use alcohol or other illicit drugs.”  Check out more here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-will-drugs-hurt-unborn-baby.

-Joni Rutter

Can a hookah cause disease after using for a while?

-jgarcia, Texas

Hey jgarcia. You may think that using a hookah (waterpipe) is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but it still delivers the addictive drug nicotine and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoking. In fact, research shows that hookah smokers inhale 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke in a 1-hour hookah session than they would from a single cigarette. OY!!!

-Joni Rutter

Can a marijuana addiction be passed down from your parents?

-mkovesdvn, Texas

It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents. For example, Huntington's Disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's Disease is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also. Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/genetics and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/

-Joni Rutter

Can addiction be cured easily?

-AXia, Texas

HI 
There are medications to help with some addictions including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and opioids (e.g. heroin or pain pills). And there are also behavioral therapies to help people recover. But addiction is often a lasting condition, like heart disease or diabetes; there are treatments that help someone live a healthy, productive life but there is no cure. NIDA scientists are working hard to develop better treatments to treat addictions to all types of drugs. You can learn more about effective treatment programs here:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment

-Maureen Boyle

Can addiction be passed from mother to child?

-GGAStudent, Texas

Hi GGAStudent - addiction is considered a complex disorder with both genes and the environment at play. The ways in which the baby can be affected depends on the drug the mother takes, how much she uses, and when in pregnancy she uses. But the good news is that the sooner a pregnant woman stops using drugs, the better the results for her baby. You can read more at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby. 
And, if that's not bad enough, "Recent evidence suggests that parental drug exposure produces behavioral, biochemical, and neuroanatomical changes in future generations." This could happen because the parent used drugs before the woman becomes pregnant, but the drugs still affect the eggs (if mom used) or sperm (if dad used).  There are many scientists who are studying this important question so that we can undersand what these effects are and why they happen. 
 

-Joni Rutter

Can addictions to drugs and alcohol be passed down from parents to their children?

-ASC123, Illinois

Great question ASC123!!  It's possible. It's true that you can inherit the vulnerability to diseases from your parents, including addiction. For example, Huntington's Disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's Disease is 100% genetic. Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
Want more information on genes, addiction, and teens? Check out: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/genetics and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/

-Joni Rutter

Can Advil be addicting

-Mahats, Massachusetts

I have not heard of Advil addiction, but it can be harmful if you take too many.  

-Dave Thomas

Can alcohol (besides getting you addicted) affect your body permanently?

-Karli Nadsady, Ohio

Alcohol affects every part of the body. The immediate impacts of drinking include impaired judgment, thinking skills, and memory. Alcohol's potentially fatal side effects include difficulty breathing, low heart rate, and loss of consciousness.

Over time, drinking too much can also cause some cancers, stomach, and liver problems, and makes it harder for the body to fight off infections. It also damages the brain and interferes with how the brain grows and develops. Studies show that people who are alcohol dependent are also 2-3 times as likely to suffer from major depression or anxiety over their lifetime. 

Genes, environment, and even diet can play a role in whether you develop an alcohol-related disease. On the flip side, some people actually may benefit from drinking alcohol in small quantities.

You can learn more about these effects at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

-Aaron White

Can alcohol abuse affect your brain and lungs ?

-yfeghali, Texas

Definitely the brain. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think, and pay attention. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking. 

However, there is some evidence that, for older people, drinking small amounts of alcohol (a drink per day for women or two for men) might decrease the changes of developing dementia, a condition in which brain function deteriorates and it becomes harder to focus attention and learn new things.  

Learn more about how alcohol can impact your health

-Aaron White

can alcohol affect the way you act ?

-adriannaw, New Mexico

Yes, for sure. Alcohol alters how the brain works, including the areas involved in how we act. Unfortunately, many young people do not fully recognize the negative effects alcohol can have on their health and behavior. Drinking can lead teens to make poor decisions about engaging in risky behavior, including drinking and driving, risky sexual activity (such as unprotected sex) and aggressive or violent behavior.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol benefit you? If it does what does it benefit

-George_Jettson , Pennsylvania

There is some evidence that small amounts of alcohol might help improve heart health.

-Aaron White

CAN DRUGS AFFECT YOUR HEART IN ANY TYPE OF WAY.

-TyreeM201, Georgia

Yes.  And none of them is helpful.  Stimulants like cocaine, amphetamine, and nicotine raise blood pressure and heart rate, and can lead to death by heart attack or stroke.  Anabolic steroids can also impair heart function.  Instead, treat your heart to a healthy environment, with healthful foods and exercise.  And enjoy!  For mor info, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Nancy Pilotte

Can Drugs be combined To make a Harm-fuller drug?

-Aarash.a, Texas

Hi Aarash.a,
That's a great question. The answer is YES. Combining different drugs is always a bad idea (much worse than taking either of them individually), because the substances can interact in all kinds of dangerous and unpredictable ways. 

-Eric Wargo

can drugs cause corroading of your tongue?

-Mertumbim, Michigan

Hey Mertumbin - this is an interesting question.  I don't know about corroding, but check out this paper and the image on page 2. http://www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-71/issue-10/759.pdf.  YUCK!

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs cause you to do things you don't want to do?

-autumna, Georgia

Hi autumna,
Great question! Drugs can't make you do things you don't want to do, but they can sometimes make you want to do things you wouldn't otherwise want to do, and do those things. Does that make sense? For instance alcohol can make some activities (and people) more attractive than they would otherwise be, and people behave differently when drinking then when sober. And they often regret their actions the next day. Other drugs can also remove normal inhibitions, which is why the dangers of drugs include things like risky sex and sexually transmitted diseases. 

-Eric Wargo

can drugs change your brain to act like your always on them slightly

-ennisisd, Texas

Hi ennisisd,
Different drugs act on the brain in different ways, but they all cause release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's reward area, which is what causes the high.  After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. Brain cells (neurons) make less dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain—like turning down the volume on the reward signal. This can mean that the person starts to find natural rewards – like food, relationships, or sex – less pleasurable, a sign of addiction.

Some drugs are toxic to the brain and cause some brain cells to die. Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits, which result in addiction. Learn more at:  http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm. And on this link to find out how drugs affect your body: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/.

-Maureen Boyle

Can drugs destroy your brain

-jquezada, Texas

Sometimes drugs cause major brain damage. All drugs cause measurable changes in the brain and, sometimes, damage can be severe--strokes from cocaine, damage to the movement centers of the brain from synthetic drugs. Even alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage when taken in large quantitities over a long period of time. Check out this video for some more info on how drugs affect your brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV6zKmt7S5E. 

-Wilson Compton

can drugs effect your mental health?

-baconman, Massachusetts

Hi baconman

There is little doubt that drugs of abuse can cause or at least make a mental health much worse. And this makes sense: a healthy brain depends on the optimal flow of information between different parts of the brain. This is precisely the process that drugs of abuse interfere with. So, we shouldnt be surprised to find such strong associations between drug use and mental illness.

hope this helps

Ruben

-Ruben Baler

Can drugs harm how your body systems work?

-AXia, Texas

hi again AXia
that is in fact what drugs do: the harm multiple systems in your brain and body.
ruben
 

-Ruben Baler