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 here.

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Can you get high off of sharpies?

-SaldanaHope, Michigan

Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used--and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!For more information about drugs, check out!

-David Shurtleff

Do drugs ever improve your health?

-imreallytired, Pennsylvania

That's a great question. Many substances have both good and dangerous sides to them. For instance, pain killers like morphine and other opiates are really important when you have surgery or a serious injury. But these medications can be abused and also are addictive. The key is to keep the drugs used for medical purposes.

-Wilson Compton

do drugs have the worst effect on teens or adults

-student, Pennsylvania

Drug use can have bad effects on anyone no matter how old they are. But, we do know that the brain is still developing when you are a teenager. Drug use while you are developing can affect how you learn and feel and whether you reach your potential in life. We want people of all ages to keep their brain healthy. Check this out--and leave us a comment:

-Cheryl Boyce

do fat people do drugs to get skinny

-jazminsBigdaddy, Arizona

Hi there in Arizona!. It is true that some people missuse stimulants to lose weight, but they do so at a great risk to their health. There are healthy ways to loose weight. You can find resources from the National Institutes of Health on healthy weight loss at: . Doing drugs to get skinny is not a good choice. Check with your school health providers about maintaining a healthy weight without using drugs. Have a great afternoon and keep your brain and body healthy.

-Cheryl Boyce

do i have a risk of getting addicted to alcohol if my dad has drinking problems?

-lilman, Texas

Great question! Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction. This occurs for several interrelated reasons. First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs. Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs. Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction. Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol. And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to

-Kevin Conway

Do Infants of smokers tend to experience low birth rate and slow growth rate?

-CAS, Maryland

Great question - and you are absolutely right - smoking during pregnancy has been related to low birth weights and slower growth rates. And some other problems as well. Because of that it is recommended that women not smoke during pregnancy and try to stay away from second hand smoke. Here's some more information about tobacco effects from our NIDA website, including this:

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with several adverse outcomes for fetuses, including increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, preterm birth, and respiratory problems. Why? Carbon monoxide and nicotine from tobacco smoke may interfere with fetal oxygen supply - and because nicotine readily crosses the placenta, it can reach concentrations in the fetus that are much higher than maternal levels. Nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects.The adverse effects of smoking during pregnancy can include slowed fetal growth and decreased birth weights, the latter reflecting a dose-dependent relationship - the more a woman smokes during pregnancy, the more infant birth weight is reduced. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition and is associated with behavioral problems. In addition, smoking more than a pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of the child becoming addicted to tobacco if he or she starts smoking. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause problems. For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight and premature birth. Exposure during the postnatal period has been associated with a number of physical health outcomes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory illnesses (asthma, respiratory infections, and bronchitis), ear infections and cavities, and increased medical visits and hospitalizations. Please visit: for more information. I hope this information is helpful!

-Nicolette Borek

do majjawana afect spellin?

-pen15club, New York

well--it certainly negatively affects learning, and i won't comment on your spelling.

-Susan Weiss

can you please answer more questions from Valley Vista High school in surprise Az

-chente :), Arizona

patience, you should see some of your questions coming soon!

-Cindy Miner

can you please explain me how the mariguana can be good or bad to the health

-aracely, Texas

Smoking marijuana is not good for your health--it exposes the lungs to many of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco. It also effects your brain--it can be addictive, it disrupts memory, coordination, and it increases appetite. However, some of the ingredients in the marijuana plant appear to have health benefits--which is why scientists are working tirelessly to identify and isolate these components to develop new medicines. THC, one of the main ingredients in marijuana is already available in pill form--it is useful for treating nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy, and as an appetite stimulant for people with wasting syndromes --such as AIDS.

-Susan Weiss

can you quit gettin high?

-C101809Z, Texas

Some people can quit on their own but many need help. Speaking to a doctor may be a good idea. Behavioral therapy (like 'talk' therapy) can help someone addicted to drugs. It teaches important skills for avoiding drug use. Medications are also available to help people quit using some drugs of abuse. To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

-Dave McCann

can you really get high off of huffing spraypaint of rubber glue ?

-brooksy9, Michigan

Yes- these compounds are inhalants, and they can give a 'high' resembling alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemical are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can cause hearing loss, limb spasms, brain, or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)--not good!For more information about inhalants, check out

-David Shurtleff

Can you think your mom is hot when you are high?

-El Salvadoreno, Texas

Well now, there's a good reason not to do drugs and get high. Plus, I'm sure your Mom wouldn't appreciate it!

-Joni Rutter

Can your body ever get used to drugs? Meaning will they stop affecting you

-misscurious, Maryland

That is a really good question. As you probably know, medicines are only effective for a certain length of time, and then you have to take another dose. Part of that has to do with the kinetics of the drug in your body, or how long it will last before it is excreted. But another side to this is that many drugs lose their effectiveness if you keep taking them, a condition we call 'tolerance.' A person is becoming tolerant to drugs when they take the same dose of the same drug more frequently to get the same effect as they got at first. For example, if you take a decongestant for a cold over several days, the effective time becomes shorter and shorter. Similarly, if you take opiate medications to control pain, you may need to take more to achieve the same level of pain control. In 2008, nearly one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin, and one in 20 abused OxyContin. Abuse of these drugs can be associated with overdose and death, especially when they are taken at high doses, in non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), or in combination with alcohol or other drugs. For more information about drugs, check out

-Nancy Pilotte

Considering the lethargy that accompanies the use of marijuana is there concern that the productivity of this generation will decline in comparison to generations prior?

-Ms.P, Oregon

The prevalence of marijuana use among young people has been fairly high for many decades. I don't expect that the slight differences in rate of use over past decades will translate into significant fluctuations in productivity when comparing different generations

-Ruben Baler

could drugs make a persons mood change

-kp, Virginia

Absolutely! One of the main effects of drugs is to cause mood changes. People can be unusually giddy, silly, talkative at one time and depressed, slow, irritable at another. These are some of the common effects of drugs.

-Wilson Compton

could mariguana be addictive because i know somebody and he somkes but he feels like he can stop anytime he wants??

-761603, Maryland

Yes, about 9% of those who smoke marijuana may become addicted, and about 25-50% of those who use it daily. Some people think they can stop anytime but they don't recognize when things have gotten out of control until its too late. Its different for everyone--it depends on your genes, whether you have other problems (like anxiety or depression), how old you are when you started (the younger you are, the more likely you are to develop drug problems later on), what other drugs you are using, how frequently you are using, among others. Essentially, its a gamble, and you may want to talk to your friend and encourage him to stop or get help if needs it. There are a number of resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, which doesn't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect a person with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs:

-Susan Weiss

Could somebody commit suicide if they are so addicted to a drug and cant stop????

-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

Do you increase your chances of contracting an STD when you use needles to get a drug inside you?


Yep, HIV/AIDS is considered a sexually transmitted disease can easily be spread by sharing needles with infected individuals. For more information on how drug abuse and HIV/AIDS are linked (by more than just needles) please visit

-Anna Staton

do you know all of this from experiance?

-coolkidsfriend, Massachusetts

No! Fortunately, we can learn a great deal about drugs by conducting studies in animals and in humans, using all kinds of technologies, like brain scans, to see the effects of drugs on their brains; unfortunately, we also learn a lot by observing the many people who take drugs, who are addicted to drugs, or who are trying to quit.

-Dave McCann

Do you know anybody that has died from drugs?

-Reeses, Virginia

Yes. I've been treating people with drug addiction for over 20 years and have had patients and family members who died from drug abuse. These are always painful situations and make it more and more important for us to find solutions.

-Wilson Compton

Do you know that they put alcohol in energy drink?

-grinnellaustin, Michigan

Yep, I heard that some people mix alcohol and caffeine. Not a very smart idea--you know why? Because the alcohol in the mix will still get you drunk (and mentally impaired) but the caffeine in the mix (which is a stimulant) will give you the misperception that you are just fine and are perfectly able of, for example, driving. Again, bad idea!

-Ruben Baler

Do you see alcohol ever becoming illegal in the future?

-lacey123, Pennsylvania

Alcohol can have many adverse affects, however I do not know the answer to this. I can tell you that since raising the drinking age from 18 to 21, many thousands of lives have been saved through decreases in automobile accidents. In fact, one report showed that by 2002 over 20,000 lives had been saved. (See Also, we know that the earlier you start using drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes, the more likely you are to develop drug problems when you get older. So, there are good reasons for NOT drinking. Whether it will ever become illegal is anyone's guess.

-Stephanie Older

do you smoke and when yes, why?

-stefanie, Oregon

No, I don't smoke. I did at one time, but I quit

-Larry Stanford

Do you think Stalin used drugs? And if so, is there a drug that would make you go crazy?

-Papa Marx, Maryland

Interesting question. I have no idea whether Stalin used drugs, but people from all sorts of backgrounds use drugs. The dangerous thing is that drugs can cause mental symptoms, especially in high doses. For instance, cocaine and methamphetamine are well known for causing hallucinations in high doses. And even marijuana can cause hallucinations and delusion in some people.

-Wilson Compton

Do you think that everyone should try a drug before they say anything bad about them??

-Keemy, Massachusetts

No, I don't think someone should try a drug before they can talk about its negative effects. This is because drugs can have deleterious effects event the first time you take them. Also, each one of us has unique genes that can make us sensitive to the adverse effects of some drugs and since we really dont know our genetic background ahead of time, experimenting with a drug is very much like playing russian roulette.

-Nora Volkow

Do you think the use of drugs in teens will go down in the following years?

-conley1, Washington

Good question. Drug use in teens has been going down since the mid 1990's...but the rate that use is dropping is slowing, so we need to keep a close eye on the trend.

-Cindy Miner

Does a drug that gets shot into you from a needle do more damage (and,or) have more of an afect on your body than a drug that gos into your body by inhailing or snorting?

-Brad, Michigan

When a drug is injected it is entered directly into the blood stream and therefore has a more immediate effect on the body, compared to when a drug is snorted or taken orally.

-Anna Staton

do steroids really make your wiener smaller?

-bear, Utah

Not your weiner, but steroids can shrink your testicles. That is because steroids alter your body's hormonal balance including hormones related to sexual organs. You can find out more by clicking here on steroids.

-Steve Grant

do u think old people do drugs?

-dixie smurf123, Utah

You know that is something we are watching out for. The baby boomer generation had a history of drug use when they were young, and has lived in a 'quick fix' world of taking medications for whatever ails you (as have younger generations). So we are interested in whether they will return to using illicit drugs, or become abusers of prescription drugs as they age and retire from their jobs and responsibilities. This could be highly problematic--especially if they have other health conditions and/or are taking medications that can interact with drugs or alcohol. At NIDA we continue to focus most of our efforts on young people--trying to prevent problems before they take hold, but older people are on our radar too, and they may need specific treatment and prevention interventions geared towards their motivations for drug use and its consequences.

-Susan Weiss

Do wine have the same afect on you as drinking beer

-rcmhs014, Georgia

Hello to Georgia! You ask a very good question -- it is one that many people wonder about. Some people think that wine is less harmful than beer or other so-called 'hard' liquor. But the truth is that all alcoholic beverages contain the same chemical called 'ethanol.' The only difference between the different drinks is the percentage of ethanol that each contains. So, the answer to your question is that drinking any kind of alcohol -- including wine -- is harmful at a young age. Teen brains are still developing -- in fact, our brains keep developing until at least the mid-20's. Alcohol can harm the brain even more during this developmental period. And research shows that persons who start drinking early in life are much more likely to develop alcohol use problems later in life, including alcohol addiction, or alcoholism. Please check out the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). They focus on the problems caused by drinking alcohol and have a great site for teens at Thanks for asking and keep those great questions coming in!

-Harold Perl