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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Why is Marijuana illegal when there has been no case of anyone ever overdosing on it? When there are things such as Beer, liquor and alchohol that aren't illegal

-Casa Grande, Arizona

Because (among other effects) marijuana impairs memory, learning, attention, and is addictive. Just because of these effects alone, we should be seriously concerned that if marijuana (which is already very prevalent among youth) is made broadly available and accessible to young people the negative impact in academic achievement, long term mental health, and job and life satisfaction would be unacceptably high.

-Ruben Baler

why is meth so addictive. what is in meth to make it so addictive

-daltho1, Utah

Addiction is a complex process that involves our brain (see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction ). Drug addiction is a brain disease. Every type of drug of abuse has its own individual way of changing how the brain functions and causes addiction. Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/ for more info. Meth ( Methamphetamine) is a stimulant drug that acts in the central nervous system. Repeatedly abusing meth can lead to addiction, which brings with it chemical and molecular changes in the brain (http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/methamphetamine.html). Keep your brain healthy!

-Cheryl Boyce

why is red wine good for your heart

-blue, Maine

It has been reported that drinking red wine in moderation may have some benefitial effects for health. However, the beneficial dose of wine is really not known and therefore someone who might be vulnerable to alcohol abuse may drink red wine in large amounts and become an alcoholic. Check out these FAQs about alcohol on another NIH website: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

-Ivan Montoya

Why is there a big debate on what is worse between alcohol and drugs?? Why cant we just all agree that both are bad no matter the consequences??

-Casa Grande, Arizona

Casa Grande, I like the way you think. Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, other drugs, they all can have very serious consequences, I hope that we all can agree on that.

-Cindy Miner

why is weed considered a drug

-tjohnson1234, Arizona

Marijuana comes from a plant that contains THC, which is 'psychoactive' (it affects mood and behavior) and can be addictive. For more information on mariijuana see https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana and http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

-Stephanie Older

Why is weed illegal and alcohol is not?

-balllllllllerrr, Maryland

This is a very good question, but unfortunately there is no easy answer. Other countries have experimented with legalizing marijuana, but the long-term impact of going this route is not yet clear. One of our concerns, as public health officials, is that we don't fully understand the range of possible unintended consequences of making marijuana widely available. We are particularly concerned about the young people that are so much more likley to become addicted to a drug once they start using it. Now, going back to your comparison to alcohol, do you know the impact of early alcohol (or cigarettes for that matter) use by young people--especially among disadvantaged populations? It is truly devastating! This should give us pause before pushing forward and making another dangerous substance widely available because it tends to disproportionately harm the most vulnerable.

-Ruben Baler

Why is weed illegal when the physical damage is less than tobacco which IS legal?

-1337pwnerer, Maryland

The reasons why drugs are legal or illegal in this country are not so simple, and often based on historical considerations. In fact many drugs have been legal at some point in time and illegal at others (for example, tobacco illegal given what we know about the damage it causes? I would. Also weed causes its own set of problems--it messes with your memory, your coordination, and your perceptions. If you're smoking weed and trying to learn something in school, you're going to have big problems, or if you are trying to drive, you could get into an accident. We all know that tobacco is highly addictive--and can cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, but did you know that marijuana is also addictive. Among people that smoke weed every day, some 25-50% become addicted--that means that they have trouble stopping use even though they recognize that marijuana is negatively affecting their lives. So, you pick your poison, but both can cause problems

-Susan Weiss

why shouldnt people do drugs

-I D 10 T, New York

That's a very basic and good question. In short, drugs can harm or kill you. Some drugs are more dangerous than others but keep in mind that when you get drugs on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. Read "teens real stories" with drugs on our teen website: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/stories/index.php

-Dave McCann

Why would people do drugs even if they know that they will harm themselfs?

-suryptitious17, Virginia

Some people (particularly very young kids) use drugs simply because they are not aware of the dangers involved. Many young kids sniffing glue probably fall into this category. Now, there are many reasons why people use drugs in spite of knowing of their harmful consequences. Some try drugs because of peer pressure. Some try to alleviate a medical condition, such as depression or other underlying mental disorder (did you know that close to 90% of schizophrenics smoke cigarettes?). Yet others, seek the pleasurable sensations of euphoria that the initial drug exposure is supposed to bring. Many drink alcohol or abuse other sedative drugs to dull the senses or escape from painful circumstances.

-Ruben Baler

why you get addicted to drugs?

-squale_sam, Pennsylvania

Hi there in Pennsylvania! Addiction is a complex process that involves our brain (see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction ). In fact, you may not know that drug addiction is a brain disease. Different types of drugs have their own unique ways of changing how the brain works and possibly causing addiction. Generally, drugs alter the brain and behavior so that a person wants the drug no matter how bad the consequences are. Luckily, we have treatments for addiction to help our brain and body recover. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/ for more info.

-Cheryl Boyce

will a baby be addicted to alcohol if the mother drinks alot

-student, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin, what's up?!

We know from research that alcohol (including both beer and liquor) can seriously harm the baby of a mother who drinks during pregnancy, causing a variety of health problems including a disorder called fetal alcohol syndrome. For more details about all the birth defects associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, check out this link: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa50.htmThe highest risk of health problems is to babies whose mothers drank HEAVILY while pregnant, but it is not clear yet whether there is ANY safe level of alcohol during pregnancy! For this reason, the U.S. Surgeon General released advisories in 1981 and again in 2005 urging women who are pregnant or may become pregnant NOT TO DRINK alcohol (http://www.lhvpn.net/hhspress.html). If a mom is drinking while pregnant, the most important thing is that she quit - because it can have serious effects on her baby if she does keep drinking. She should talk to her doctor about her alcohol use, and get help if she is having problems stopping. Feel free to pass along this information and keep sending your questions!

-Joni Rutter

Will drugs affect my physical performance in sports?

-Justnothing, Maryland

Some most definitely will:Steroids may increase your body mass and strength but at a heavy price in the form of some nasty medical consequences like, hair loss, shrunken testicles, and breast development.Stimulants (coke, meth) could give you a running edge for example, but put you at risk of cardiovascular accidents.Marijuana will impair your coordination and focus.

-Ruben Baler

will my mom always be a meth addict? will i be one because of her?

-whyaskwhyDBT, Washington

Hi there and thanks for writing in. It can be really difficult to see a parent struggling with addiction. There are treatment programs out there that can help your mom manage her addiction. One website that can help is:www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential assistance 24/7. There are also programs for people whose parents abuse drugs that can be really helpful for information and support: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/. Whether a person will be addicted if their parents are addicted is a very complex question - because drug abuse is a complex disease - there's no one factor that predicts whether someone is going to be addicted. With that said, we do know if you don't use drugs you can't get addicted. So not using or stopping drug use if you are and taking really good care of yourself is a great place to start. And talking with other people about your concerns including an adult that you trust is a great way to take care of yourself. A couple more resources for you: if you find yourself in a crisis, you can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk with someone who can help - and for more information, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine. Good luck to you.

-Nicolette Borek

Will N.I.H. ever ban smoking from everywhere? like, make it illegal?

-lollipop15, Maryland

NIH conducts scientific research. We are working to understand drug addiction (including smoking) and to develop treatments that will make it easier for people to quit. We don't pass laws though. Smoking bans may be a good idea but they don't come from NIH. But speaking of smoking, did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008. Read more on our blog: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/know-the-scene-four-reasons-not-to-smoke/ Leave a comment!

-Dave McCann

will there be any birth effects if you were on crack and you didn't know you were pregnat?

-Kookiesnia, Maryland

Hi Einstein,First, using drugs is a bad idea. If you're using drugs and you're pregnant, that is an even worse idea! Drug use during pregnancy can cause harm to the developing baby's brain and organs. The best thing to do is stop using drugs once you find out you are pregnant and get help. There is still a VERY GOOD chance you will have a normal, healthy baby. For more information on the effects of cocaine and crack during pregnancy, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.I'm not sure of what type of drug you are taking, but we do know that babies born to mothers who use cocaine during pregnancy can be smaller at birth, are more likely to be premature (born early) and may go through withdrawal from cocaine following birth. These factors that can put them at risk of cognitive (example, learning and memory) disadvantages later in life. With proper treatment, however they can recover significantly. What we don't know, however, is if children born to mothers that used cocaine during pregnancy are at greater risk of becoming addicted to cocaine as they grow older. If you're interestied in getting more information on cocaine and also the consequences of prenatal drug use, please see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/cocaine/treatment.html.

-Joni Rutter

will using cigarettes one time effect your body?

-jcg, Maryland

Using cigarettes just once, will probably not have much of a long-term effect on your health. But an interesting fact for you, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States causing over 400,000 premature deaths per year.

-Cindy Miner

Will you please answer my question!! My friend has been cutting her self. And I am VERY scared and concernd! She has also been having a lot of mood swings....what does it mean??

-spt0617, Michigan

People who become depressed, lonely and isolated sometimes look to dangerous behaviors to 'feel better'. Try talking to a counselor, trusted adult or doctor that can help. If you'd like some more info about how to help your friend try calling 1-800-662-HELP or 1-800-273-TALK, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

-Richard Denisco

will you tell me an interesting fact about drugs?

-Ladybuff_00, Virginia

Here's an interesting fact - In 2007, nearly 288,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

-Gaya Dowling

witch drug kills the most

-balljay, Michigan

In 2006, about 35,000 people died from what were called 'unintentional drug poisonings' and many of these deaths involved prescription pain relievers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). But if you added deaths related to tobacco that brings the total to about 475,000. So tobacco is definitely the drug that causes the most deaths. It causes about 440,000 deaths a year.

-Anna Staton

Would drinking or smoking(weed) occasionaly.. drasticly affect your grades/how smart you are?

-Bhelferty, Pennsylvania

Marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions-- so yes, even occasional use can cause someone not to study and/or have their grades drop. The same holds true for alcohol.

-Stephanie Older

Would somebody commit suicide if they cant stop taking a drug???

-fani^_^, Texas

Drug abuse contributes to suicide risk--that is, drug abusers are more likely to commit suicide than people who don't abuse drugs. For example, marijuana use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. But there is help available and people can turn their lives around before it is too late.

-Wilson Compton

would you smoke weed and crack for a 500,000 dollars?

-anthony, Pennsylvania

Hmmmmm, I doubt that anyone will offer you a lot of money to use drugs! The negative consequences such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse (addiction) are too great.

Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genetic makeup, the genes that make each of us who we are, and the environment each play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its potentially devastating consequences.

-Wilson Compton

would you stop me from doing drugs if you seen me doing it?

-DoyleCassie, Michigan

Well, there is no point in using physical force to stop someone from using drugs. It is likely that the person may react and want to use more. If someone is using drugs, I would talk about the harm they're doing to themselves and give them some scientific facts that might make them reconsider their choice. However, in the end, it's up to the person to stop or not. Hopefully, the healthy decision will win out. Take a look at our teen website: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/

-Ivan Montoya

y do people smoke

-lie961, New York

Great question! People smoke for lots of different reasons. Smoking (cigarettes) can have a stimulating effect, but it is also very dangerous and addictive. So, whereas most people start smoking because they are curious about the effects of nicotine or because of peer pressure, once they become addicted, they can't stop.For more information see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/ and http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html

-Kevin Conway

y is speed called speed

-JDT24, Massachusetts

I believe that speed is called speed because many people become stimulated by it and they feel that their thoughts are racing through their heads. Of course, there are also dangers. Keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. 'Speed' may not be speed. Some pills can contain contaminants that are worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about speed and other stimulants at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

-Dave McCann

you dont like rockville high dont u

-Nachosssss, Maryland

Love Rockville High School, I even visited and spoke at your school a year ago.. But I don't like those speed cameras in front of the school!! :)

-Cindy Miner