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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Do people take drugs because of depressions?

-babycakes123, Pennsylvania

Interesting question. We know that people typically take illegal drugs for two main reasons - because it is new and exciting, or because they feel lousy and want to feel better. People trying to cope with depression may take drugs to feel better. But any relief from the saddness is short-lived and abusing drugs won't help treat depression in the long run. The best way to address depression is through treatment from a medical or mental health professional. Medications and behavioral therapies offer the best way to deal with depression. Using drugs is no solution and because of the way they impact the brain, body, and behavior only complicate treatment for depression. For more information see:

-Redonna Chandler

Do smelly markers effect your brain

-HockeyGirl#99, New Hampshire

Some can make you "high" depending on the chemical used. The high would be caused by the release of dopamine in the reward areas of the brain, 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 drug kill your brain cells?

-chachabunny, New Hampshire

Good questions. Some drugs, like alcohol, can have a toxic effect on brain cells. Also, ecstasy has been shown to kill a specific subset of neurons when given over long periods to monkeys. Most drugs, though, produce changes in the way that brain cells function, and those changes can last a long time after the drug effects wear off and the drug is no longer in your body. However, even though the brain cells have not died, the drug has caused a change in the way the cells function, and the more times you do the drug, the longer those changes can last.

-Steve Grant

do drugs affect day to day activities

-Wind River High, Wyoming

Certainly taking drugs every day will result in effects on day to day activities. The kinds of effects that you might see depend on the kind of drugs taken, but can include both how well you think, how you interact with people, how irritated you get over small things, coordination and reaction time and other physical effects. And that's just to start: someone who has taken enough of a drug to become addicted, seeking and taking drugs may replace his or her previous day-to-day activities. Some drugs can give false feelings that everything is going well even while they are reducing the ability to deal with day to day activities.

-Mark Greene

do drugs affect the form of ur baby while ur pregnant

-hotfatmonkeyman, Michigan

What's up, Lakeview?!If you mean will your baby be deformed when he/she is born, it's not likely. However, if you are asking if drugs can affect how your baby develops during pregnancy, then absolutely--and not in a good way! In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol and opioids (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) are particularly harmful and might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at

-Joni Rutter

do drugs affect your testicles?

-R U Stoned, Michigan

As far as I know it is only chronic anabolic steroid abuse that has been reported to shrink your testicles.

-Ruben Baler

do drugs and alcohol increase confidence

-joshmcfather, Georgia

Yes, drugs and alcohol can sometimes increase confidence, but that is not the same thing as actually helping you to do something. In fact, alcohol and drugs can decrease mental and physical abilities so you may feel more confident, but perform worse.

-Mark Greene

Does drinking effect your althletic ability?

-Spring_Woods=D, Texas

Drinking can leave you dehydrated and it can damage your liver and brain. The dehydration might affect athletic ability right away. The other effects are more likely to occur over time.

-Dave McCann

does drugs make you slow at anything?

-Tiarra, Virginia

It really depends on the drug- drugs like marijuana, heroin, or alcohol can slow you down but nicotine and other stimulants have the opposite effect on your system.

-Nora Volkow

Does ecstacy intensify sex and what are long term effects of ecstacy usage?

-CandiiKiddxo, Maryland

Ecstasy (or MDMA) is a mild hallucinogenic. Its effects on the brain and behavior are complex. On one hand, Ecstasy is associated with many serious medical consequences, but, as you probably know, it is reportedly associated in popular culture with positive sexual effects. However, this latter effect is controversial and hard to prove in the lab, perhaps because the drug affects both the serotonin and dopamine systems, so the complex effects are quite variable depending on the person and the circumstances.

But ecstasy can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which present risks of particular concern for people with circulatory problems or heart disease--and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.

In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature. On rare but unpredictable occasions, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.

-Ruben Baler

Does ecstasy have any medical use?

-S.A.WhiteTiger, Washington

There are studies that are exploring this with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and for end-of-life patients. All of these studies administer the drugs under controlled situations with medical supervision. The results of these studies are not yet out.

-Stephanie Older

Does being under the influence of drugs have an affect on your ability to concieve?

-girarkay13, Maine

Wow! That is an interesting question. Some drugs, like marijuana, may lower sperm counts in males, but this too depends on how much and how often it is used. All drugs, for males, can influence your ability to 'follow-through' (if you know what I mean). In females, abuse of stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine may make you cycle irregularly, affecting your ability to become pregnant. So it is not an easy answer--your chances depend on your behavior.

-Nancy Pilotte

Does doing drugs while you have HIV or AIDS speed up the process of dying?

-Treanna21, Georgia

it will certainly not slow it down!

-Ruben Baler

Hello :) How can i tell if my friends are using drugs or alcohol?


Good question. When someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. But sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.

-Wilson Compton

hello im kenzie and i have had a bad day! what is vicodin

-kenzie&skyler<3, Arizona

sorry you're having a bad day.... things will get betterseveral people have asked what is vicodin today. Vicodin is a medication that is prescribed to relieve severe pain. When taken asked prescribed it can be very effective in relieveing pain and helping people recover from medical procedures for example. But it can be very dangerous if used to party, or get can be deadly.

-Cindy Miner



Have your friend visit this website: luck!

-Lisa Onken

hey Dr. Joseph what can you play on the guitar

-friedchicken747, Pennsylvania

Hi friedchicken747, thanks for the question. I generally play blues and some jazz, but I have been known to play anything. I love's my 'drug of choice!'

-Joe Frascella

hey Dr.joe! what are date drugs and what do they do to you?

-Jasmine, Maryland

Hi Jasmine! Thanks for your question. Date drugs like rohypnol or GHB are generally considered club drugs. They are named club drugs because they tend to be abused at nightclubs, bars, raves, or trance scenes. Ketamine, ecstasy, and meth are other examples of club drugs. Here is some detailed information that I pulled up for you on these drugs. Hope this helps! How are Club Drugs Abused?

Raves and trance events are generally night-long dances, often held in warehouses. Many who attend raves and trances do not use club drugs, but those who do may be attracted to their generally low cost and the intoxicating highs that are said to deepen the rave or trance experience.

Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be ground up and snorted. GHB and Rohypnol have both been used to facilitate date rape (also known as "drug rape," "acquaintance rape," or "drug-assisted" assault). They can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. GHB also has anabolic effects (it stimulates protein synthesis) and has been sought by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building. Ketamine is usually snorted or injected intramuscularly. How do Club Drugs Affect the Brain? GHB acts on at least two sites in the brain: the GABAB receptor and a specific GHB binding site. At high doses, GHB's sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death. Rohypnol, like other benzodiazepines, acts at the GABAA receptor. It can produce anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Ketamine acts on a type of glutamate receptor (NMDA receptor) to produce its effects, similar to those of the drug PCP.1 Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.

Addictive Potential

Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported among patients presenting from an overdose of GHB or related compounds, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.2 Like other benzodiazepines, chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance and dependence. There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, a behavior that is similar to that seen in some 3 What Other Adverse Effects do Club Drugs Have on Health?

Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences.

Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and1,4 butanediol (BD), have been involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths. Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants. Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

-Joe Frascella

Hey i have a question i would like answered if you are getting someone off of heroine what is the easiest and most effective way.

-will, Utah

Hi. Thanks for asking a great question. there are 2 different medications that help people quit heroin: methadone and buprenorphine (also known as 'bup'). each is taken once per day to help reduce the cravings for heroin that a person might feel. but getting counseling or therapy is just as important as the medication in beating an addiction to heroin. that will help a person keep clean. For more information about bup, go to thanks again and keep those questions rolling in.

-Harold Perl

hey i need to know, what is the safest way to quite heroine

-will, Utah

Hi. Thanks for coming to chat day and asking a great question. There are 2 different medications that help people quit heroin: methadone and buprenorphine (also known as 'bup'). Each is taken once per day to help reduce the cravings for heroin that a person might feel. But getting counseling or therapy is just as important as the medication in beating an addiction to heroin. The combination of meds and therapy will help a person keep clean. For more information about bup, go to (Archives). Did you know you can send us questions about drugs anytime of the day on our Teen Web site? It might take a few days, because our scientists are pretty busy - but real questions will get real answers! Thanks again and be sure to send us more of your questions.

-Harold Perl

Hhat is the worst drug out there and why is it the worst drug?

-Tiaa [[, Utah

its hard to specifically say one drug is worse than others since one drug aybe really bad for some people but not for others, this would depend to a large extent on genetic factors. However, overall its recognized that methampehtmine is among the most addictive and most toxic. But heroin is also highly addicitve and accounts from more death from overdoses than any of the other illicit substances.

-Nora Volkow

Hi guys.. why do teens become involved in smoking

-GEORGE, Virginia

Hi! A lot of the movies and TV shows portray smoking as hip or cool and this may be one thing that significantly effects why teens start smoking. Also, many other reasons could influence why teens might start doing something bad for them even after all of the health information they have been exposed to shows that smoking is bad for health. For example, difficult family situations, depression, anxiety, stress, or problems in school could lead to teens making harmful choices. Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at

-Kristen Huntley

Hi there, If you take drugs at a young age what is the percentage that you will still use in your adult years?

-wookiesBiffel10, Pennsylvania

Hi, great question! You would think this should be a really easy question to answer, but to find the answer (or estimate the percentage of risk) researchers would have to do a study that followed people from a young age, before they start using drugs, through the time when they start to use and then through adulthood to be able to see who is still using. That's a long and complicated study! What we do know is that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or with your family. And we know that different people have different risks for long term use. Better never to start! But if you do-the earlier you stop the more you can avoid addiction.

-Marsha Lopez

Hi! Do all drugs affect harmfully to the body because i hard that some doctors prescribe cocaine or such to patients for their diesease??

-11797229, Maryland

Hey Rockville High, great question! Many drugs that are abused are actually used very effectively and safely as medications - for example, morphine, prescription opioids/pain killers, ketamine, benzodiazepines, etc. When used properly, these drugs/medications pose very little danger and are quite useful for many medical reasons. That said, medications, such as prescription medications, can be used for nonmedical purposes, and when used this way, they can be abused and can lead to addiction. Cocaine is still used as a local anesthetic.Check out this site for further discussion of the science of addiction, and thanks for your question:

-Joe Frascella

hi- if you've smoked for about 20 years is your lung dark and black?

-11797229, Maryland

The answer to that question depends on how often you've smoked during those 20 years, and what you smoked. The longer and more frequent the use, the more likely that there is damage. You physician or treatment provider may be able to assess how well your lungs work and can make suggestions to help you stop smoking. The good news is that quitting (or cutting down significantly) can allow your lungs to recover. And when you recover, you can breathe better, things will smell better to you, your breath will smell better, and food will be tastier. You will also reduce your risk of getting lung cancer, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 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. For more information about smoking, check out

-Nancy Pilotte

How are Club drugs made?

-chancemeister94, Maine

Street drugs - such as club drugs - are sometimes made in filthy conditions by people who know very little about chemistry. Keep in mind that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.Some contaminants can be worse than any club drug.In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP) that kills dopamine neurons.People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. You can read more about club drugs here:

-Dave McCann

how bad is a monster energy drink for you?

-mers, Oregon

Energy drinks generally contain the same amount of caffeine as a strong cup of coffee (or expresso coffee). Very high amounts of caffeine can produce anxiety and even heart problems. So think of an energy drink as just a different form of coffee.

-Steve Grant

how bad is the drug addiction in the united states?

-brianna, Virginia

In 2008, an estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse (meaning they were addicted to a substance) in the past year. That's about 8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older.

-Anna Staton

How can cocain kill you

-BabyGurl, Maryland

Thanks for your question. Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. You can find more info about cocaine on our web pages. Go to, click on the Drugs of Abuse drop down menu and select cocaine.

-Brian Marquis

dose smokeing marijuana Make your sperm count low?

-12holtrubw, Utah

Yes, studies have shown that smoking marihuana decreases seprm count

-Nora Volkow