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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Which state in the USA drinks the most?

-Jim, Maryland

NIAAA surveillance data indicate that people in New Hampshire drink the most. Followed by Delaware and Nevada.

-Vani Pariyadath

Which vaping device is the worst for you? (JUUL, Suorin, Phix)

-samiw, Illinois

These devices all use liquids that may contain nicotine and flavorings, propylene glycol, glycerin, and more. The liquids are heated into an aerosol that users inhale. These products are marketed under all kinds of names but none are safe for youth to use.

-Suzanne Lim

why do people get hungry when they smoke weed?

-TY, New Mexico

Hi
The actual mechanism is not all that well known and there have been some rather paradoxical observations, but the effect (the munchies) has something to do with the actions of THC (marijuana's active ingredient) on a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, especially with a type of cells there called POMC neurons, which play an important role in controling feeding behaviors.
thanks for a great question.

-Ruben Baler

Why do people get prescribed medical marijuana? It must not be that bad for you then.

-CH, California

Hi Claire -- Thanks for the question. It's true that many states have approved marijuana for some medical uses, despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for any use. It's worth noting that two components of marijuana (THC and CBD) have been approved by the FDA for limitied uses. The States that have approved it for medical uses have not used rigorous evaluations to determine its medical value yet, and it remains to be seen if clinical research will prove its value.

-Ruben Baler

Why do people get so addicted to drugs?

-KateCross, California

Hi KateCross. Thanks for your question! There are many ways that drugs may lead to addiction. Drugs directly activate brain reward systems which makes you want to take the drug again. Those same brain systems also facillitate the development of habits, which again, make it increasingly likely you will take drugs again. Drugs also impair brain systems involved in assesing risk and adverse consequences associated with taking drugs (like being caught). On another level drugs can provide relief from social anxiety or stress, and you can come to rely on taking drugs to cope with those conditions.

-Steve Grant

Why do people get so addicted to smoking cigarettes?

-Wiley Wildcat, Illinois

Hey there Wiley Wildcat. The most addictive chemical in cigarettes is nicotine. Cigarette smoking causes nicotine to get to the brain quickly, within 10 seconds of inhalation. However, the rapid effects of nicotine go away quickly, like the feelings of reward, which causes the smoker to continue smoking to maintain the drug's pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal. For more information on nicotine, check out NIDA's website - https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Kevin Walton

why do people juul in my school bathroom?

-dino , Illinois

Hi dino.
Well, very good question. Very unfortunate that this is happening. Vaping is on the rise among your age group. Nearly two in five 12th graders report past-year use of some kind of vaping device. This raises concerns about the impact on brain health and potential for addiction. What they put in the device ranges from nicotine, to marijuana or hash oil, to “just flavoring.” When asked what they thought they were vaping in the past year, more than 25 percent of 12th grade vapers said “just flavoring,” 30 percent said “nicotine,” and 13 percent said “marijuana” or “hash oil". The resources below may also give you further insight:

Monitoring the Future Survey shows an alarming rise in teen vaping: https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2018/12/monitoring-future-survey-results-show-alarming-rise-in-teen-vaping

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/...

-Jacqueline Lloyd

why do people juul in the bathroom

-mrs piggy, Illinois

I assume because they are trying to hide the fact that they are doing it.

-Tisha Wiley

why do people like drugs? do they just do it to impress people?

-skyler1220, Illinois

People do drugs for lots of different reasons. Some people do it to impress people. Some people do it feel good in the moment, kind of like eating junk food. But the effect of using drugs - any drugs - on your brain and body can be severe, especially if you start using drugs when you are in your teens. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Stay safe!

-Carlos Blanco

Why do people make drugs and expect people not to get addicted? (prescription opioids)

-klaroque, Wisconsin

Hi klaroque,
They are prescription drugs for a reason. A clinician can help understand how to use such drugs and how not to use them. If used as directed and prescribed, they can help people some with moderate to severe pain. However, if misused, they can be VERY dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that in past years, some clinicians have inappropriately prescribed or have prescribed too much, was has also contributed to our opioid crisis. Educating doctors has improved this overprescribing practice as of late and we hope we will continue to see improvements.

-Suzanne Lim

why do people overdose on drugs?

-guinea pig!, Oregon

Hi guinea pig! Your question makes me think that you have heard a lot about people overdosing when using opiates such as heroin. Opiates are used to treat certain kinds of pain. However when people take too much, it can cause the person to stop breathing and they can die. People can take too much opiates the first time they use them but more people overdose when they regularly abuse the drug. These people can overdose on drugs because they become tolerant to the effects of drugs. When they become tolerant, they need to take more of the drug to get the same feeling. By taking larger amounts of a drug, the person risks overdosing on the drug, and the harmful consequences of using too much drug.

-Roger Little

why do people overdose?

-guinea pig!, Oregon

Hi and thanks for the question. Most overdoses are accidental. Some people who use drugs to try and get high don't know how much of the drug they're actually taking. Others are trying to get as high as possible, and the amount needed to kill a person is often not much more that the amount needed to get high. It's is also true that some overdoses are intentional, that is, done to commit suicide. Read more about overdoses here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/say-what-overdose

-Dave Thomas

why do people prefer vaping

-saroo, Illinois

Hi saroo, People may prefer vaping for different reasons. It could be because they think that they are easily available or because they think that vaping is safer than cigarettes, but we don't have data on the long-term health effects. For more information on vaping, check out our Teen Website.

-Aria Crump

Why do people put drugs in kid's food and candy? Just why?

-DJ, New Hampshire

Hi! Your first question is an excellent question, and your second question is even more awesome.
Given the harmful effects of drugs on the developing brains of children and teens, as well as the fact that drug use can lead to misuse, this is very concerning. Our goal is educate teens and adults on the harm of drugs, and prevent this sort of thing from happening.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Why do people say it feels good/ what about it feels good to be high or drunk?

-DBRAD, California

Hi DBRAD
They are referring to the temporary often pleasurable effects of addictive drugs. Once that fleeting feeling goes away, though, the person falls into a vicious cycle in which he/she eventually uses to just feel normal. Its a really bad deal in the long run.

-Aaron White

why do people smoke in general?

-her508310, Illinois

Hi her508310,
Cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical found in tobacco products. Many teens underestimate how easy it is to become addicted to nicotine. Addiction can make quitting harder than it seems; it keeps people smoking even when they want to quit. Because of nicotine addiction, 3 out of 4 teens end up smoking into adulthood, even if they plan to quit after a few years.

-Suzanne Lim

why do people start drugs if they know they are not going to be able to stop?

-queen.bee, Illinois

Hi there queen.bee.
People can start using drugs for a number of reasons--including availability, the people around them may use, they think it is cool, they are experiencing physical or emotional pain, etc. The thing is that most people may not be aware of the effects of drugs on the brain, and that drugs can be addictive. It is important for teens to be informed and know the facts about drugs. For information on the effect of drugs on the teen brain, please look at the following resources:

https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/drug-use-hurts-brains
Publication: The Teen Brain: 6 Things to Know https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-6-things-to-know/index.shtml

-Jacqueline Lloyd

why do people start taking drugs in the first place?

-chamness_a, Oregon

People do drugs for lots of different reasons. Some people do it to impress people. Some people do it feel good in the moment, kind of like eating junk food. But the effect of using drugs - any drugs - on your brain and body can be severe, especially if you start using drugs when you are in your teens. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Stay safe!

-Carlos Blanco

why do people still smoke cigarretes?

-skimaskhumpgod, Illinois

This is a very good question. Cigarettes are both legal and very addictive. Despite lots if evidence that smoking tobacco is very bad for your health many people continue to smoke. More information on smoking can be found at: To learn more about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigs, see https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes. Check out these videos to understand how anyone can become addicted, and why drugs are so hard to quit: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/

-Redonna Chandler

Why do people still use drugs?

-Foxtrot15, Illinois

Drugs are addictive, and addiction means you continue using drugs even when it causes you harm. There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing “Russian Roulette” if you choose to use drugs. 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.

-Aaron White

why do people think it is cool to do drugs

-LA, New Hampshire

I am not sure i can give you a scientific answer to your question. I can speculate though that sometimes young people tend to follow their peers, and something that is objectively bad for you becomes popular. Young people sometimes tend to take risks and feel a strong urge to belong. That combination sometimes makes us do stupid things and call something cool just to fit in, even if we know deep down that it's not.

Hope this is helpful.

-Aaron White

Why do people think vaping is cool? It makes you look like an idiot.

-Garfield , Illinois

Hello! Thank you for participating in Chat Day! This is a good question. The Monitoring the Future Survey shows an alarming rise in teen vaping: https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2018/12/monitoring-future-survey-results-show-alarming-rise-in-teen-vaping

Information about vaping can be found here: Drug Facts – Electronic Cigarettes (E-cigarettes): https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes

It is unclear why people think it is cool - it could have to do with a number of reasons like people wanting to fit in, peer pressure, advertising, etc. This website about peer pressure could be useful to some of the people you are seeing!
Check out https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Kristen Huntley

why do people try to peer presser someone into drug use

-JL, New Hampshire

Hi JL. People are social beings. We tend to want to do things with others and may build bonds around things we do together. The most important thing is trying to stay true to yourself and feel comforatble with who you are. It may seem sometimes that your friends' opinions matter more than your own opinions about yourself -- but THAT IS JUST NOT SO!

-Aria Crump

Why do people turn to drugs in the first place

-Foxtrot15, Illinois

People do drugs for lots of different reasons. Some people do it to impress people. Some people do it feel good in the moment, kind of like eating junk food. But the effect of using drugs - any drugs - on your brain and body can be severe, especially if you start using drugs when you are a kid or in your teens. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-Tisha Wiley

Why do people use drugs even though they know they are bad for them?

-ER, Oregon

Hi there. Great question.
People use drugs for a number of reasons--including availability, the people around them may use, they think it is cool, they are experiencing physical or emotional pain, etc. Most people may not be fully aware of the harmful and addictive effects of drugs. It is important for teens to be informed and know the facts about drugs. You can learn all about the impacts of different drugs on the body here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Why do people want to do drugs?

-wms, Illinois

Thanks for the question, wms! There are lots of reasons people may want to use drugs or start to use drugs, such as peer pressure, boredom, curiosity, and so on. People can know drugs are bad for them, but they may still choose to take the risk, while others may not be aware of all the risks. It is important to know the risk of drug use, and think ahead about how to resist drugs if they are offered. Here are some resources about the health effects of drugs and about peer pressure.
You can read more about health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-Belinda Sims

Why do some doctors want to prescribe their patients with something that is not meant for them?

-Kylie-FVSU4h, Georgia

They are prescription drugs for a reason. A clinician can help understand how to use such drugs and how not to use them. If used as directed and prescribed, they can help people some with moderate to severe pain. However, if misused, they can be VERY dangerous.

-Dave Thomas

why do some medicines have a great side effect

-coryfvsu4h, Georgia

If by "have a great side effect", you mean "produce a high", scientists are still trying to understand why some drugs can be addictive. Different addictive drugs act on the brain in different ways, but they all cause the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's reward area, which is what causes the pleasurable sensation (the high). You can learn more about dopamine here.

-Vani Pariyadath

Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don't?

-Dre507943, Illinois

Hi Dre507943! Great question! There is a lot of variation in who becomes addicted to drugs, and a lot depends on your own family's genetic susceptiblity to substance abuse and the environment you grow up in. The best bet is to not even start taking them and avoid the risk! See these easy-to-understand videos on how anyone can become addicted, and why drugs are so hard to quit: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/

-Mary Kautz

why do some people become addicted while others don't?

-DE, Montana

Hello d.edmisten,
This is a great question, and I can only give you a partial answer. We know that genetics are a factor, a family history of addiction is one of the biggest risk factors for people. We know that people from backgrounds where they have experienced trauma and stress are also at greater risk for addiction. Factors such has higher socioeconomic status, years of education, healthy lifestyle, are factors that protect people from becoming addicted. We are learning a lot about the biology of addiction and this is increasing revealing the mechanisms underlying risk and resilience. For more information, check out these videos https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/ and this link www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface

-Jinhee Lee