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 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

Why would the makers of 4 Loko's purposly put alchohol & why was it being sold to kids in the first place

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

Four Loko contains a large amount of alcohol (about 4-5 drinks in just one can) and caffeine. The company that makes Four Loko says that it intends for the drink to be consumed safely only by people over the age of 21. Other people feel that products like Four Loko are designed to be appealing to people under 21. The only thing that is clear is that drinking too much Four Loko can be quite dangerous, as is the case with drinking too much of any product that contains alcohol.

-Aaron White

Why would they make pain killers so strong if they know someone could accidently kill themselves using them?

-201440502@pjphs, Pennsylvania

Insightful observation. Lot's of the overdoses of pain killers are from when people crush and snort the pills This gives them an immediate dose that is much larger that if one swallows the pills. Plus, some of the larger dose pills are for people that have been taking them for a long time by prescription and are tolerant to the drug effects, thus need bigger doses for pain relief. If someone get a hold of one of these high dose pills that is not pain or tolerant to the drug effects, and snorts it, they can get a huge dose that their body cannot handle... plop, they are dead. For more info on pain killers see

-David Thomas

why's heroine have such an intense withdrawl

-bn cv, New Jersey

Heroin is not the only drug with a difficult withdrawal. Most drugs have some kind of withdrawal and some---including alcohol and nicotine----can have very uncomfortable withdrawals. But since you asked about heroin you shold know that it is definitely a drug you should stay away from at all costs. If a dependent user reduces or stops use of the drug abruptly, he or she may experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms - which can begin as early as a few hours after the last drug administration - can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), and kicking movements ("kicking the habit"). Users also experience severe craving for the drug during withdrawal, which can precipitate continued abuse and/or relapse. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of the drug and typically subside after about 1 week. Some individuals, however, may show persistent withdrawal symptoms for months.People who are regular drug users should consult their doctor to find the safest way to detoxify...or wean themselves from drugs.

-Kris Bough

Why, in a lot of countries, is the consumption of the tobacco not prohibited, unlike the other drugs?

-Elisabet, Other

Tobacco use has extremely negative health effects but is not associated with the commission of crimes like other drugs such as cocaine and heroine. Laws are often passed that prohibit the possesison, sale, and use of drugs that are linked to crimes including property and violent crimes. Even though it my not be prohibited, tobacco use is not good for your body and brain. Consequences of tobacco use include: lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders among others. More information can be found at:

-Redonna Chandler

Whys is salvia legal and what are the effects of it that make it legal compared to other illegal drugs?

-najafi, New Jersey

Because it takes time to investigate their effects. Also, scientists are worried that scheduling Salvia divinorum as an outright illegal drug could negatively impact important research on the plant. However, even though Salvia is not yet illegal at the federal level, several states like Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and others, have passed their own laws.thanks for the question. please stay healthy. we care.

-Ruben Baler

wich is more unhealthy nicotine or thc which is safer and i belive weed is a whole lot better than nicotine will you explain to me what scientist think

-Mystery kid, Georgia

Each has its own set of problems associated with it. We know a lot about the adverse health effects of smoking cigarettes--cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc. Marijuana's long term effects on health are less well known--it certainly causes some lung problems, like cigarettes--e.g., bronchitis; but its not clear whether or not marijuana also causes cancer (and many people smoke both). Weed can be a factor in car wrecks--some 14% of people in car crashes test positive for marijuana (possibly in combination with other drugs). And marijuana can affect a person's ability to learn and remember things--crucial for someone in their teen years especially. Using both can lead to addiction and when you try and stop either! So, its kind of pick your poison.

-David Shurtleff

will doing drugs break the relationships you have with everyone around you?

-20140850@pjphs, Pennsylvania

Terrific question. Using drugs can have a major impact on your relationships. People who care about someone using drugs will likely find their use upsetting. Since drug use impacts academic, sport, and work performance individuals using drugs are often in conflict with teachers, coaches, and employeers. Concerned parents may fight with teens about their drug use. To read real stories from real teens about drug use, click on:

-Redonna Chandler

will doing drugs effect how long it takes for you to hit or go through puberty?

-Luie, Wyoming

Hi and thanks for your question. You might want to think about a research career, because that's a question without data! The studies I've seen on puberty and drug use are usually looking at rates of drug use during different times in puberty (more in late puberty than midpuberty) or looking at whether early puberty is related to increased risk for drug use (earlier onset more at risk). So maybe you should become a scientist and study this important question!

-Nicolette Borek

Will drugs affect handicap people more or less than average people?


Drugs of abuse act on the same regions of the brain in all people. Individuals with psychiatric disorders, however, such as depression or schizophrenia, may be more likely to abuse and become addicted to drugs of abuse, however. Thanks for the question!

-David Shurtleff

will drugs make you popular?

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Nope. But being the fabulous, lively person you already are will likely do the trick:> Check out these sites to learn more:,, and

-Bethany Deeds

will marijuana kill you if only taken once?

-20142750@pjphs, Pennsylvania

Hi! Interesting question...hard to answer exactly because marijuana is generally not toxic in the sense that if you smoke it, it is going to kill you. But, if you were to get high and then drive, have unprotected sex, or do something else that could be dangerous, the consequences could be really serious...even deadly.

-Joe Frascella

will sniffing a sharpie make you high

-some guy, Kentucky

The type of organic solvent that makes the Sharpie ink dry so quickly belongs to a class of drugs known as inhalants. These kinds of drugs can cause irreversible damage to your liver and to your brain, both organs that have a lot of lipids in them. These solvents dissolve lipids, and produce damage in that way.

-Nancy Pilotte

Will sniffing sharpies for a long period of time cause brain damage?

-Cookie*Monster, Maryland

Cookie Monster, I don't have a specific answer for you about Sharpies, because lots depends on the how much sniffing and the 'state' of the brain, etc. I can say that generally inhalant abuse leads to some of the most profound brain damage that we can study. For example, the most serious hazard for inhalant abusers is a syndrome called 'sudden sniffing death.' A single, prolonged session of inhalant use can produce rapid and irregular heart rhythms, heart failure, and death. It can happen within minutes and can strike an otherwise healthy young person. But inhalant abuse can cause death in other ways, too-asphyxiation, suffocation, or choking. With respect to damage, chronic exposure to inhalants causes widespread and long-lasting damage to the brain and other vital organs. The toxic chemicals damage parts of the brain that control learning, movement, vision, and hearing. Damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys may be permanent.For more info, check out:

-Joe Frascella

Will Weed Affect The Size Or Growth Of Ah Newborn Baby?

-CoCo&Chanel2012, Maryland

Excellent question, and something that everyone should be aware of. Cannabinoid receptors are now known to play an important role in the development of both the brain and other parts of the body. While we don't know the exact effects that marijuana has on a baby's brain, anyone who is pregnant or thinks they may be pregnant should never take any drug unless it is prescribed by a doctor. Go here for more:

-Steve Grant

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