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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Why do some states make some drug legal

-PS, Illinois

Thanks for the question (and it's a good one!). Legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use and for medicinal purposes is currently the subject of much public debate. For the last few years, the Department of Justice has said that won't focus on enforcing Federal marijuana laws when state laws allow for possession of small amounts of marijuana and would give states the flexibility to test new policies for both ‘medical' and recreational use of marijuana. Whatever happens, public health experts are worried that these changing policies could lead to more use among teens. Regular marijuana use as a teen may harm the developing brain – making learning and memory worse – and can impair the ability to drive safely (especially when combined with alcohol).

-Marsha Lopez

Why do teen like drugs

-Znovo, California

See these videos on how anyone can become addicted, and why drugs are so hard to quit: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/

-Ruben Baler

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 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 teens do drugs?

-SebVet , Illinois

Hello,

While the specific answer may differ from person to person, some common reasons are that people think they will feel good, forget their problems, perform better, or fit in. Drugs may have these effects at first, but they do not last, at least not like the long-term negative consequences can. For more information, check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-why-take-drugs.

-Suzanne Lim

why do teens drink?

-abauers, Michigan

This is a good question... Most people drink because it gvies them a feeling of being high or drunk. Teens, in particular, might choose to drink due to peer pressure or to deal with stress. However, we know that alcohol affects many organs - from our brain to heart to lungs to liver. In children and teenagers, the effects of alcohol on the developing brain can be particularly harmful! Check out our website The Cool Spot for more info!

Remember it's not legal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.
Thanks!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Why do teens seem to struggle the most with drug and alcohol use?

-Ashleigh, Illinois

Hi. Teens and adults struggle with drug and alcohol use. Teens get a lot of attention because it's a time when you try new things, and many teens get offers to try drugs and alcohol for the first time. Also, drug and alsohol use are tempting, illegal, and typically forbidden by parents. Keep in mind that habits that start in the teenage years can be hard to change later, so it's a great time to learn all you can about drugs and alchol.

Research shows that brain development continues into a person's twenties. Alcohol and drugs can affect this development and contribute to a range of problems later in life.

-Aria Crump

Why do they sell drugs in the store if they know it's bad for you?

-KL, Wisconsin

Hi Klaroque,
I think I answered a different question from you a while back. For this question, all drugs are not the same. Some drugs are medicines and can help a person when used as prescribed, including opioids. However, sometimes prescription drugs are misused, and this can be dangerous. Plus, people buy drugs from the street like heroin. These drugs can be very dangerous!

-Roger Little

why do they still produce alcohol or tobacco if it kills people?

-g, Illinois

Hello g,

That is a deep question. For alcohol, many if not most people can drink it occasionally and enjoy it and not become addicted and not experience many harms. Tobacco is less clear because it seems to be far more addictive and there are no health benefits and, very dangerous harms--such as cancer. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Aaron White

why do vaping is better than smoking a cigarette?

-chancliux,

Hi Chan!
There are a lot of misconceptions about vaping and electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor, that is produced by vaping is really made of the specific chemicals in the liquid, such as propylene glycol, glycerin and others. Surveys show that many teens don't even know what chemicals are in their vaping device. We still don't know all the effects of vaping because they are so new. One thing we worry about with vaping is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer.

-Dave Thomas

why do we have the urge to take drugs or drink?

-TY, New Mexico

Hi TY-
The simple answer is addiction. When one becomes addicted, they experience these urges which makes it hard to quit. Sometimes these urges are from withdrawal, a very uncomfortable reaction to not having the drug. People also get cravings which can be caused by such things as experiences cues associated with taking the drugs. Plus, there can be changes in the brain that make it harder to resist taking drugs. We are working to understand these brain changes, cravings, withdrawal and other aspects of addiction to help find better ways to treat and prevent addiction.

-Dave Thomas

why do we have the urge to take drugs or drink?

-TY, New Mexico

Hi TY
This is a great question and something that researchers spend a lot of time thinking about. The science shows that in people who have become addicted to drugs or alcohol, the brain chemistry changes, so that when you stop taking the drug/alcohol, the changes at the receptor level lead to the person experiencing craving. The feelings of craving are often triggered by exposure to substances but in many craving occurs when reminded of the substance by images, talking about it, etc. without it being around you.
Here is a NIDA link behind the science if you are interested
https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/latest-science/look-drug-craving.
All the best!

-Geetha Subramaniam

why do you get addicted to drugs

-merek, Arizona

Drugs cause addiction by changing brain circuits over time. Many addictive substances increase levels of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Circuits in the reward system use dopamine to “teach” the brain to repeat actions we find pleasurable—a process called reinforcement. When people take drugs, the brain releases a lot of dopamine, which strongly reinforces the action of taking the drug. Over time, dopamine is released less by taking the drug itself than by other activities, people, and places that are associated with drug use. This leads people to feel highly motivated to take the drug whenever they encounter those cues.

-Emily Einstein

Why do you get so lightheaded when you're tipsy?

-Memo Hérdez,

Depends on how one got tipsy, but lightheadness is generally associated with not getting enough oxygen to the brain. Some drugs prevent some oxygen to getting to ones brain. Not a good thing, since your brain needs oxygen to stay alive.

-Dave Thomas

Why do you guys copy and paste some answers?

-CM, Illinois

Hi there! In general we try to answer each question! We get thousands of q's so if there are repeats we sometimes provide previous responses to keep things moving. Thanks for asking!!

-Jack Stein