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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how do drugs affect your mental health?


Depends on the drug, your age, and your genes. Smoking cigarrettes in young adolescent increases their risk of anxiety and use of marijuana in sensitive individuals can result in psychosis. Repeated use of cocaine or methamphetamine can also produce paranoia. Steroids can produce depression and increase the risk of suicide. Alcohol can facilitate aggressive behaviors in some poeple, All drugs of abuse can produce addiction.

-Nora Volkow

How can drugs lead to suicide or homicide?


Drugs can lead to suicide in those individuals in whom they induce depression. Some drugs are more likely than others to induce depression, such as steroids. Homicide is usually related to criminal activites linked with trying to get drugs when you become addicted to them, although some drugs like methamphetamine can make people aggressive.

-Nora Volkow

How can I talk to students about the warning signs of inhalants without introducing them info. on how to use inhalants?


This is a great question, and one that scientists and teachers stuggle with constantly! I would suggest you visit the website it gives the straight fact about inhalant abuse.

-David Shurtleff

how does alcohol affect your brain???


Alcohol acts as a stimulant and a depressant, depending on quantity, and whether the body is in the process of absorbing the alcohol, or whether it is in the process of metabolizing the alcohol and getting rid of it. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and behavior control, and can cause us to not perceive or respond to social interactions appropriately, and of course affects the brain's motor coordination centers. Finally, over time with frequent heavy use, alcohol increases the rate at which the brain shrinks with age.

-James Bjork

How does an overdose of drugs kill you?


Different drugs can kill you in different ways. Opiates such as heroin or prescription pain killers can depress breathing, sometimes to the point of respiratory arrest. Cocaine can produce abnormal heartbeat, leading to cardiac arrest. Alcohol also can depress respiration to the point of respiratory arrest.And believe it or not, the nicotine in a cigarette can be toxic to babies and toddlers. It's considered a medical emergency when a baby eats a cigarette. For more on health consequences of drugs, click on Did you know that in 2007, one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin?

-Frank Vocci

How do you know students are doing drugs if they dont tell you?


Well, if you mean how could someone tell if a person is using drugs....there can be many possible signs that a person is abusing them. These signs can vary depending on the drug and the individual. For example, stimulants would make a person unusually alert while marijuana may make them seem sluggish.

-Anna Staton

How does marinol affect the body? If it is prescribed, can you drive or are you considered to be under the influence


Marinol is the active ingredient in marijuana. A person taking Marinol should not drive, as they would be impaired.

-Frank Vocci

how does meth affect your body?


Great question. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that has it main effects in the brain. The effects of meth on the brain can lead to memory loss, learning impairment, movement disorders, and addiction. Use of meth can lead to cardiac (heart) and neurological damage. Behaviorally, meth can lead to aggression, violence, and psychotic behavior. For more information, please visit:

-Joe Frascella

How does people get addicted to drugs?????


People get addicted by using drugs repeatedly, which changes their brain in such a way that they now need the drug just as you need water when thirsty or food when hungry.

-Nora Volkow

how does self esteem affect your body?


If your self esteeem is very low this can be stressful which can make you anxious and more vulenrable to feeling depressed, and using drugs.

-Nora Volkow

How does smoking contribute to lo lung cancer?


The lung is lined with cells that normally die after a certain period of time. Smoking causes changes in the cells lining the lungs. The DNA of these cells is damaged. Some of these changes are irreversible, causing the cells to someimes become "immortal". The lung cells that don't die become cancer. See for more info.

-Frank Vocci

How does the young kids get started with drugs?


Hi and thanks for your question - one of the big influences for kids starting drugs is being around kids who use drugs. The people you hang out with can really influence what you do - especially when you are a kid.

-Nicolette Borek

how does using drugs affect your acedemic life?


As a student, it's important that you get good grades, right? And you need your brain to work properly in order to study, learn, pay attention, right? So when you take drugs it makes it very hard to focus and stay motivated to do what you have to do. When you take drugs they become more important than anything using drugs is really bad for your academic life, not to mention life in general.

-Elisabeth Davis

How expensive can drugs get?


Drugs don't seem too expensive at first but people end up using more and more. It can take your all your time and effort to pay for a drug habit.

-Wilson Compton

How does cocaine affect the body?


I appreciate your interest - cocaine is a stimulant that has most of its effects on the brain, as do all drugs of abuse. Cocaine leads to an increase in the brain chemical, dopamine, in the brain synapses, and continued use can change the way your brain works. As for effects on the body, cocaine can increase your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It definitely "pushes" your cardiovascular system. Thanks again for the question.

-Joe Frascella

How does Cocaine effect teenagers?

-RockerGirl 101,

Cocaine is a stimulant that can make a person paranoid especially with repeated use, and it can produce addiction

-Nora Volkow

How does consuming drugs during pregnancy affect the fetus?


Thanks for writing in. Drugs can harm the developing fetus in many different ways. We have research that looks at prenatal exposure to marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and the research shows that drugs cause all kinds of problems with growth (low birth weight), paying attention, thinking, language, and behavior. How exactly the fetus is affected depends on the drug. For example, alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a very serious condition (see this website for lots of detail on FAS: ) And tobacco use during pregnancy has been linked to behavior problems in kids. We recommend moms not use alcohol and drugs, including tobacco, during pregnancy and talk with their doctors if they do to make sure they and their babies are healthy!

-Nicolette Borek

how does drugs affect your mind


Good question. All drugs affect the brain, and therefore can affect the way you think and feel. One part of the brain affected by drugs is the "reward system" where a brain chemical called dopamine is released. Sudden surges of dopamine in the brain is what causes the feelings of rush and high that can then lead individuals to continued use, abuse, and then addiction. But if you continue to use the drugs, the amount of dopamine in the brain decreases so you end up feeling bad from using the drugs. You list different classes of drugs, and the specifics of each can be found at: www.teens.drugabuse.govThanks for this question.

-Joe Frascella

How does drugs Effect your brain more than any other place on the Body?

-RockerGirl 101,

All drugs of abuse affect the brain reward areas and some drugs affect other brain areas as well. The web site below gives more information on how drugs affect the body.

-Joe Frascella

how long does it take for date rape drugs to take effect?


Date rape is unwanted sexual contact from someone you know, may have just met, and/or thought you could trust. A number of drugs have been used in date rape because they can be slipped into someone's drink and have no taste or smell; these include ketamine, rohypnol and gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). These drugs can sedate a person and make them forget what happens to them. Rohypnol and GHB are predominantly central nervous system depressants and can be very dangerous, even fatal, because of their effects on the respiratory system.To learn more about the side effects and medical consequences of these drugs, visit: If you have experienced any sexual assault report the attack by calling 911. You can also call 1-800-656-4673 to speak with a counselor at any time. More information can be found at If you have experienced any sexual assault report the attack by calling 911. You can also call 1-800-656-4673 to speak with a counselor at any time. More information can be found at

-Jan Lipkin

How long does it take for the effects of chewing tobacco to take affect?

-rashid yhs,

It's fairly rapid, in a minute or two. Chewing tobacco can cause gum disease and has been linked o pancreatic cancer. See for more.

-Frank Vocci

How long does it take to get addicted to a drug?


Good question. Some people report that they were hooked after their first drink, first hit of crack cocaine, first cigarette, or first hit of heroin. Medical professionals use certain criteria to make a diagnosis of drug dependence, For one thing, the pattern of use must be persistent and last over a certain period of time, about a year. See our illustrated and easy-to-read booklet for more info:, please go to: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)301-443-1124 By clicking on the link Students and Young Adults from NIDAs home page you will be able to access resources tailored for students and young adults , whether you are in middle school and doing research on the effects of marijuana use, or high school student looking to find out about drug use and HIV.If you need help, you will also find a link there to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on specific drugs on NIDAs Web sites:

-science of addiction and treatment

How long does it take to get bad/ black lungs?

-RCMS Health,

Not long. There are particles in cigarette smoke that stay in the lungs and accumulate there. Army recruits who smoke have poorer lung function than non-smokers, probably due to inflammation of he airways. Quitting smoking causes a reversal of the inflammation and lung function improves in just weeks. For more on nicotine visit this link at our teen website:

-Frank Vocci

how long does it take to make you addicted to a drug?


Depends on the drug, your genes and your age. The younger you start the less time it takes. Some drugs like metamphetamine produce addiction faster than others. It also depends on the doses used and routes of administration. Forr example when a person smokes or injects cocaine, they are more likely to become addicted than if they snort it.

-Nora Volkow

how long do drugs in general stay in your system?and can they have long term affects if if used once?


Hi! How long a particular drug stays in your system depends on the drug itself. Drugs of abuse are excreted from the body over time. Use of drugs can definitely lead to long-term changes in the brain and body and can lead to addiction and other adverse consequences and problems. For more information on the long-term effects of drugs, clilck on

-David Shurtleff

how long do you have to use a drug to become addicted?


Hi, that's a great question! It depends on the drug, on how you take it (smoked, orally, intravenously), how much of it you take, and it also depends on you. Some people are more vulnerable than others. If you have a family history of drug problems--that's a big red flag, but even if you don't you may have other risk factors that make you vulnerable. There is a lot we still dont know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so its a little like playing Russian Roulette if you choose to use drugs. The teen brain is a work in progress, undergoing dramatic changes during adolescence and into adulthood. We also know that the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse, and that risk of drug abuse increases during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information go to

-Marsha Lopez

How long do you stay drunk when you drink


In a heathy, non-alcoholic person, the body clears away the equivalent of about one drink an hour. Also, the body and brain get "acute tolerance" to the alcohol within a single drinking session, where it adapts to the chemical assault to maintain its normal function as best it can, and this reduces the effective duration of drunkenness. In other words, if your breathylizer reads .06 while you're consuming drinks and getting more intoxicated, you will likely not feel as drunk when your BAC is .06 on the way back down.

-James Bjork

how long do you think it will take for somebody who is extremely addicted to drugs to become drugfree?


Depends on the drug and how long they have taken them The longer a person has taken the drug in general the longer it will take them to be drug free. However another factor that affects the process is the support system that the person has. For those with strong support from family and friends the process may be faster.

-Nora Volkow

How long does any drug take for you to die?


Good question. Deepending on the drug, an individual can die from a single use. For example sniffing chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes of sniffing. This syndrome, known as "sudden sniffing death," can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. For more information on inhalants, click on:

-David Shurtleff

How long does weed stay in your system?

-Ryan73, Maryland

A long time. Some of the chemicals in weed go into body fat and leave the body slowly. We can detect marijuana use for several days up to a week after a person's last use.The effects on the brain can also last several days, and some studies have shown effects lasting for a month. See for more info.

-Frank Vocci