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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 psilocybin mushrooms really the safest drug?

-sssssssssssssss, Illinois

Hi sssssssssssss
There really are no safe drugs. It is true that psilocybin like most hallucinogens is not powerfully habit forming and, almost by definition, a non-addictive drug. It belongs to class of drugs that do not interact with the dopamine or reward (pleasure) system in the brain. However, this does not mean that it is a safe drug; psilocybin can cause nervousness, paranoia, and panic attacks. It's a bad idea to introduce any psychoactive drug in a devloping brain, its effects are really unpredictable.
Be smart and stay healthy.

-Aaron White

Are psychedelics harmful?

-shmo, Illinois

Hi shmo - I'm glad that you're thinking about this and thanks for asking. Psychedelic drugs can cause you to have terrifying thoughts, elevated stress and out of control scary feelings. You can become dizzy and have trouble sleeping. You may feel paranoid and lose control of yourself! Psychedelics, or any kind of illegial drug, can hijack your brain from working normally. Check out this fact sheet for more info: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens

-Kris Bough

Are some people have more risk of drugs and alcohol than others?

-Kelly,

Great question about risk for drugs and alcohol. There are multiple factors that can increase a person's risk for using drugs and alcohol. Research has shown that some of the factors can be biological, psychological, behavioral, or environmental. Often it is not one particular factor, but we do know that early experimentation with substances can increase risk for later use. A number of prevention interventions have been developed to prevent initation of substance use and prevent those who've experimented with drugs to progress from use to misuse.

Here's a great resource that talks about what makes some more likely to use drugs:
https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/what-makes-someone-more-likely-get-addicted-drugs

-Belinda Sims

Are some people more at risk of addiction to drugs and alcohol than others?

-Julia, Maryland

Hello Julia,

Yes, they are. The problem is, we don't have a way to know who's at risk for having a problem with different types of drugs. All illegal drugs and many others (like prescription drugs) have the potential for addiction and they can all alter the way your brain functions -- which puts you at risk of injury or injuring others. Check out this information about addiction and the brain: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

Thanks,
Roger

-Roger Little

Are steroids considered a drugs, can they kill you?

-Mohammad, Illinois

Hello Mohammad.
Anabolic steroids are indeed considered drugs, and even though they have legitimate medical uses, some people misuse them long term for various purposes, typically to enhance their performance, seeking more stamina in the gym, pumping more iron, or shortening their recovery time between training sessions. But they do have serious negative effects. anabolic steroids can cause profound hormonal changes, mood changes, uncontrolled rage, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. So, yes, they can kill you.
B smart. B safe.

-Ruben Baler

are sucide drugs are very dangerous ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

Yes.

-George Koob

are the chemical's in Juuls just as addictive as weed

-m, Maryland

Thank you for writing in, m! It's difficult to say whether the chemicals in Juul are more or less addictive than those found in marijuana. E-cigarettes are the most common way young adults in the United States use tobacco which contains nicotine. Nicotine is very addictive, and evidence shows that using e-cigarettes may lead young people to try other tobacco products, including cigarettes. Teens may be more sensitive to the effects of nicotine and more likely to become addicted to cigarettes. In addiiton, it is not possible to predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genes and the environment each play a role. The bottom line is that we're all different and unpredictable, so any drug use is risky.

-Heather Kimmel

do the people who play video games produce the same brainn waves as when someone is using cocaine.

-SB, Montana

hi s b
good question.
Brain waves could be useful but may not be all that informative in this context. Dopamine on the other hand tells a more interesting story: the dopamine releases people display in their brain reward centers during video gaming or online social interactions can be very similar to those that happen in the course of a drug experience. This is one of the reasons we think that some video games could be actually quite addictive.
Thanks for your interest.
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Do u get worse when combining different types of alcohol

-romina ,

Thank you for your question! All of the forms of alcoholic beverages that people drink contain a type of alcohol called ethanol. It's the only type of alcohol that is even remotely safe to drink.
In terms of the different types of beverages -- wine, beer, distilled spirits -- they all contain the same drug, ethanol. Whether a person drinks beer, wine, spirits or all of the above, they're taking the same drug. It's not the combination, it's the amount of alcohol that causes harm.

-Heather Kimmel

Do you believe marijuana should be Legal?

-#VapeNation, Illinois

Hi -- Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA hopes that good science will inform decisions about legalization. Whatever happens, we do not want more teens to use marijuana, because of the potential impact on the developing brain (whcih does not stop developing until you are in your mid-20s.) For more information on the negative effects of marijuana, see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Steve Gust

Do you believe Marijuana should be used for medical purposes?

-Chungus, Illinois

There has been a lot in the news lately about medical marijuana. While the marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition, there is early research suggesting that some of compounds in marijuana may potentially help treat things like epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. Smoked marijuana isn't an ideal medication due to its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Tisha Wiley

do you guys feel using scare tactics is the best way to prevent kids from using drugs ya yeet

-dash, Illinois

Hi Dash--I perfer being honest. For instance, we know that the earlier that kids try drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. we also don't know the long-term ways drugs can affect the growing brain and if you can recover from these changes. You get only 1 shot a growing a FABULOUS brain--why risk it? I should also mention that just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs, so we recommend creating a positive environment for yourself (by cultivating an awesome support network of family and friends) so that you don't go down that road. Here is a link to learn more about preventing drug abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents. Thanks for the great question!

-Ruben Baler

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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. If you are interested in resources about drug treatment see treatment: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

-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?

-Pichimimi,

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?

-Pichimimi,

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: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/alcohol

Thanks,
Roger

-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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/i-wish-that-i-could-be-like-the-co... 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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. 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?

-alumno33-12,

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: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-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: https://www.drugabuse.gov/ and https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-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: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm

-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