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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Why do you get instantly as soon as you take drugs? What makes it the most important thing in your life?

-20115000@pjphs, Pennsylvania

Hello - Are you asking why you get high or asking why people get addicted? The time it takes to get high varies with the type of drug and method of administration and it is hard to predict who will get addicted to drugs. Many different factors may influence who gets addicted such as genetic vulnerability, family environment, mental health. Addiction is characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drugs are needed to achieve it. That said, drug addiction is a treatable disease - with medications (in some cases) and behavioral or psychosocial therapies. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at

-Kristen Huntley

why do you get memorie loss or what ever from pot/weed

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Marijuana has been shown to have direct effects on memory by affecting the systems in the brain responsible for learning and memory. Marijuana binds to specific proteins in the brain, called 'cannabinoid receptors'. These receptors are found in the hippocampus--crucial for memory formation; the cerebellum--important for coordinating movements; the cortex--involved in thinking and judgment; and reward areas--important for motivation.

-Joe Frascella

why do you get so hungry after smokeing weed?

-apart123, New Jersey

Fascinating question - and this is one of the truthful folktales about marijuana. Whenever someone smokes marijuana they are taking over one of the most important systems in the body. This system affects your short term memory, body temperature, some aspects of reproduction, and hunger. It also produces the effects of euphoria and relaxation. So in essence smoking takes over or highjacks the normal functions of this system. Therefore, you stimulate the receptors in your brain that tell you you are hungry. Another example that the drug is affecting the normal functioning of your brain. You might find this additional info on marijuana intersting:

-Marilyn Huestis

why do you get the munchies after smoking weed?

-957532, Maryland

This is a very interesting observation that has been made from the time marijuana has been in use. Now we know that its active ingredient, THC, binds to the same receptors in the brain as a naturally-occurring cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) that we produce ourselves. These receptors are found in places in the brain that are known to increase appetite. But it is a complex problem. Drug companies that have tried to capitalize on the actions these receptors to produce weight-loss aids have found that blocking these receptors also produces anxiety and depression in some people; such drugs are not on the market in the US for that reason. The message is we know part of the answer but will have to do much more research to understand it fully. For more information on marijuana, go to .

-Nancy Pilotte

Why do you have to be over 21 to drink alcohol?

-craigb, New York

The legal drinking age was raised to 21 because too many young people were being hurt by alcohol. Raising it to 21 resulted in a big reduction in the number of young people being killed in alcohol-related car crashes. The decision to raise the drinking age to 21 was made before researchers started studying the teenage brain and how alcohol effects it. Now we know that the brain keeps growing until after the age of 21 and that alcohol can damage the teenage brain. So, it turns out that a drinking age of 21 makes sense from a brain standpoint, too! For more info on how alcohol affects kids, check out:

-Aaron White

why do you pee a lot while drunk


Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes us excrete - or get rid of - more water than normal. Urinating is also one way the body gets rid of toxins. Alcohol is toxic to the body. Peeing more is part of how the body clears out the toxins from drinking.

-Aaron White

why do you pee a lot while drunk


Alcoholis a diuretic, meaning it makes us excrete - or get rid of -more water than normal. Urinating is also one way the body gets rid of toxins. Alcohol is toxic to the body. Peeing moreis part of how the body clears out the toxins from drinking.

-Aaron White

why do you pee more after drinking a lot?


Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes us excrete - or get rid of - more water than normal. Urinating is also one way the body gets rid of toxins. Alcohol is toxic to the body. Perhaps urinating more in the morning is part of how the body clears out the toxins from drinking the night before.

-Aaron White

Why do you think many who have been rehibilitated resort back to drugs? ex: Lindsay Lohan

-LadyGaga, New Jersey

New Jersey - What a great question! It does seem puzzling why someone would start using again after they've stopped, but it happens all the time. Why? Because drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder, and treatment often cannot be done in one episode. Even after 'rehabilitation,' people may crave drugs, and they need to learn ways to cope with their craving. Also, after rehab, they may go back to their old living situation, and their old friends, and all of these people and places may be linked in some way to using drugs. So people need to learn ways to avoid the people, places, and things associated with drug use, or they are at high risk of using again. And even if they learn this, they need to learn ways to deal with these situations if they happen to be caught in them. People need to understand though, that even though all of these people seem to relapse after 'rehab', that there are, in fact, really good treatments for drug abuse, and that there is hope if they keep trying and stick with treatment! For more information about relapse, visit:

-Lisa Onken

Why do your eyes get blood shot when using drugs?

-hannahnajafi, New Jersey

great question.Now, that's not really true of all drugs. it only applies to those drugs that have an effect on blood vessels, so that they get wider. For example, within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red.take care and stay healthy

-Ruben Baler

Why is there high prices on drugs but they have no tax?


Interesting question. State and federal taxes are collected during the sale of LEGAL goods and services. Since illicit drugs are illegal there is no way to collect state and federal taxes. However, addictive substances like tobacco products and alcohol are legal and taxes are collected on those products.

-Redonna Chandler

why is weed bad


Thanks for your question - In general marijuana can affect your short-term memory and learning, your ability to focus, attention, and coordination. It also increases heart rate, can harm the lungs, and can cause psychosis in those at risk. We've got a bunch of studies looking at how weed/marijuana use can affect your brain as it is developing. Did you know your brain develops until age 25?! It's important to keep your brain healthy at all times, especially when it is still developing and can be really vulnerable to drugs. To find out more about marijuana, go to our teen website:

-David Thomas

why is weed good for health to some people

-salm, Maryland

Marijuana contain ingredients with potential medical uses, such as reducing nausea from cancer chemotherapy, increasing appetite among those who are suffering from severe malnutrition due to their illness, and relieving pain. But smoking marijuana is potentially addictive, is bad for the lungs, and the plant contains more than 400 chemicals with unknown health effects that vary from one plant to the other. Thus, the promise lies in isolating ingredients from marijuana that may have beneficial effects, or in synthetic compounds that act similar to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in the brain and the body. This is a very active research area right now.

-Joe Frascella

why is weed soo fun?

-addicted2druggs, New Jersey

I don't know you tell me. I have always preferred to be in full control of my mental faculties.

-Ruben Baler

Why must it go through your blood to get the desired results of the drugs?

-josh9994, New Jersey

The blood is the 'highway' of the body. Like all food that is digested and metabolized, drugs/food are circulated to every living cell in your body and brain through the blood and circulatory system. Check out:

-Kris Bough

why people on drugs tend to have suicide thoughts

-Alonso, Maryland

That's a good question, and something that I don't have a precise answer for. One reason can be that a person starts taking drugs to relieve pain, or escape from feeling depressed or anxious. Drugs may make them feel better for a while, but eventually the drugs wear off, and the feelings can come back. Plus now they may have a drug abuse problem. Another hypothesis is that drugs produce two effects: an initial high followed by a mild but long-lasting 'low.' With continued drug use, the lows get lower and longer lasting. Eventually, the person can only escape the low by taking drugs; in other words, taking drugs becomes a vicious downward spiral. This despair may be very hard for people to deal with on their own--and without help the person may feel trapped and suicidal. The good news is that there are treatments that are very effective for drug abuse and for mental health problems. For more information on suicide prevention go to:

-Steve Grant

why r drugs bad for u

-bigseltz, New Jersey

Drugs r bad for u bc they have a negative effect on the brain, body, and behavior. Consequences of drug use include medical problems - lung cancer, heart disease, liver disease, addiction; changes in brain function - problems with memory, learning, exerting good judgment; and behavior - engaging in risk behaviors in spite of serious consequences like driving while intoxicated. People under the influence of drugs are also more prone to break the law and committ violence. For more information on the negative effect of drug use c:

-Redonna Chandler

why some people that take drugs act violently

-Alonso, Maryland

Hi Alonso. Drugs can affect our brain and therefore, also our behavior. Sometimes when people take drugs it affects those parts of the brain that affect our moods and behavior and can cause a person to act violently. For exmple, metamphetamine abuse can produce aggression. Check out for more info.

-Cheryl Boyce

why u pick this jod?

-16341892, Maryland

I am doing this job because I get to study and learn more about the wonders of the brain. Studying the brain and its effects on behavior have always fascinated me.Thanks for asking.

-Joe Frascella

why was this website created???????????

-mulliganc, New York

We at NIDA have heard from you that teens have a lot of questions about drug use and want the facts, not opinions and judgments. So, we created this chat day three years ago to do just that, give you drug abuse facts from scientific experts. And this year, we launched National Drug Facts Week so that there can be similar events to this in communities across the country. See our NDFW website ( We also have a blog that discusses drug abuse issues. Check it out and leave a comment.

-Gaya Dowling

why would a pregnant person use drugs?

-ab's, Kentucky

When you see a pregnant person using drugs it might not seem to make sense. Sometimes a woman may not realize that drugs, including cigarettes and alcohol, can affect the growth and development of the baby in the womb but also during infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. But sometimes they know drugs affect the baby, but the moms are having trouble stopping because of their own addiction. This can be true for the various drugs of abuse -- including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, oxycotin, vicodin, methamphetamine. If a mom needs help with stopping smoking, drinking, or using drugs during pregnancy she can talk to her ob/gyn. or there are treatment facilities that offer treatment services particularly tailored to pregnancy women. Moms can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Check out the Sara Bellum blog on drugs and pregnancy:

-Nicolette Borek

would eating shrooms and weed at the same time kill you or make you really really high?

-zack s, Kentucky

What's wrong, you don't like pizza?But seriously, it is impossible to predict what the mixing will do to you. It does sound though like a very dangerous experiment. Do you feel like a guinea pig tday?

-Ruben Baler

Would I get arrested as a minor for being in posession of one bottle of beer?

-sitchmhenk, Pennsylvania


-Aaron White

would the use of alcohol affect people with asthma?

-20142375@pjphs, Pennsylvania

It's not clear. Some studies suggest it can trigger an asthma attack but not all studies agree.

-Aaron White

y do people do drugs

-nidachat, New Hampshire

People start doing drugs for a number of reasons, including peer pressure, bordom, and depression. But for people who develop problems, eventually, they take drugs to stop feeling so bad. Life and the fun things about life tend to not be so fun anymore when you're hooked. Just drugs. Learn more at

-David Thomas

y does alcohol make u go crazy

-micky mouse, Georgia

Alcohol affects our behavior by messing up the part of the brain called the frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are located right behind your forehead. The frontal lobes help us make decisions and keep us from saying and doing things we otherwise would not, or that we know could be bad for us. Alcohol makes it harder for the frontal lobes to prevent us from making bad decisions and acting differently than we normally do.

-Aaron White

y in tennessee you can not drive down the road and smoke with a kid under 16 bc when your at home your going to smoke with them in the same room

-NOdrugs, Kentucky

I don't know what you are asking, but for more information on smoking see:

-Redonna Chandler

y is it hard to give up drugs if u are addicted to them

-liltone14@yahoo, Pennsylvania

Quitting drugs can be very difficult if you are addicted, depending on a lot of issues. It can depend on the drug being abused. For example, it can be very difficult to quit smoking (nicotine) cold turkey--people swear they will stop smoking but the cravings become too intense. But, it can also be difficult to quit depending on your environment (a lot of friends or family members use drugs) or stressors that may cause to reuse drugs. Immediately after quitting, people tend to experience withdrawal. The effects of withdrawal can be characterized by a variety of symptoms such as mood changes, sleeplessness, anxiousness, and/or appetite disturbances. Withdrawal can be very uncomfortable ---even painful-- which is why many people start using drugs again ---to get rid of the discomfort. Withdrawal symptoms can last several days or weeks, depending on the person's biology, the drug abused, the types of withdrawal effects produced by that drug, and how long the drug has been abused. To avoid withdrawal---never, ever use. It's that simple.

-Kris Bough

you guys have no life whatever at all. is that why you guys are sitting at a computer and awsersing these Questions???

-midgettp, New Jersey

Actually, we all have very full lives that include families, friends, and a desire to improve public health. This is why we are sitting at a computer for a few hours to answer some of your questions.

-Marsha Lopez