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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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

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

do you advice teenagers to use drugs to help out in school or in street problems. ily

-waldo, New York

I would never advise anyone, teenager or adults, to use drugs on their own to solve problems they are having. However, some teenagers have problems such as depression, anxiety or attention deficit disorder. A person with those types of problems should see a doctor, who can prescribe specific medications to help them and closely monitor their use to make sure that the person doesn't use too much or suffer adverse effects.

-Steve Grant

do you believe in the saying-'once an addict, always an addict'?

-somebody, Arizona

Good question. When someone has been using drugs for a long time and becomes addicted, they have long term changes and problems. The real issues is that they have memories for their drug use that may last a very long time. They are still at risk for relapse. The good news is that it becomes easier and easier for them to remain clean and sober. Recovery is possible with effective treatments such as behavioral-based therapies in which people learn to change their behavior; and, for addiction to some drugs, such as tobacco, alcohol, heroin,or other opiate drugs, medications can help. Treatment will vary for each person, depending on the type of drug(s) being abused and the individual's specific circumstances. For many people with drug addictions, multiple courses of treatment may be needed to achieve success.

-Wilson Compton

Do you enjoy eating pizza?

-SCLions018, Pennsylvania

Yes, my favorite is Mac and Manco's on the Jersey shore

-Cindy Miner

do you get high even if you have never smoked before

-jeriwhiting, New York

I assume you're talking about marijuana...People have different experiences. Much would depend on the amount smoked. Here's a good link to learn more:

-Dave McCann

do you guys love to do your job? and teach kids.

-Mr.Bigberrys, Maryland

I can speak for myself....yes I do love my job, and one of the best things about it is teaching!

-Cindy Miner

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

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

Dr. Joseph, what is alcohol and do you have a drinking problem?


Dr. Lisa Onken Is you job easy? I wato become a psychologist

-Casa Grande*, Arizona

I wouldn't call it 'easy.' (I hope that's not the ONLY reason you want to become a psychologist!). But I would say that the job is very fulfilling in many ways. It is rewarding to help in the development of treatments for people with addictive and psychiatric problems because it is great to know that people can have these problems, recover from these problems, and go on to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives. People can really change for the better, and that makes all the hard work worth it!

-Lisa Onken

Dr.Joseph, have you ever done drugs before. You help all these people out with their questions but have you had your own addiction to drugs anytime in your life?

-lexxie, Maryland

Hi Lexxie,Thanks for your question! Fortunately, I have not had any struggles with addiction anytime in my life, but that said, I do believe that we are all capable of becoming addicted to drugs or to other things...such as food, internet, gambling, shopping, even work! We all have the brain biology that can allow us to fall victim to addiction. I am currently addicted to playing the guitar!Thanks much for your question.Dr. J

-Joe Frascella

dr.richard if you took drugs before skiing would u die from wrecking? if i took X and went scuba diving in a fish tank with a without a O2 tank would i drown? will a painkiller remove the feeling from my face allowing me to cook it in a frying pan?

-SCLions073, Pennsylvania

Hi SCLions 073. That's exactly the problem. If you get messed up and try to do things that require coordination you could wreck BAD! When the pain reliever wears off you will feel all the pain and then some. When I go skiing I want to feel all the sensations and not have them dulled. That way I can enjoy the experience. For me going skiing and not remembering is not much fun. Why would you want to put your face on a frying pan? Not a good move to improve your looks, but on drugs it might just SEEM like a good idea.

-Richard Denisco