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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will any drug effect your physical features

-unc, Maryland
Sure, and depending on the drug, it can be a huge affect. Google "methamphetamine" and look for before and after photos.  It is amazing how much that drug can change appearance (and not in a good way) in just a couple of years. Try looking up "meth mouth" while you are at it.  Other drugs can all affect appearance, but not so dramatically.  
 
 Dave
-Dave Thomas

Will drinking underage effect your future life?

-meaghangibbons, New York
There are lots of negative long term effects of drinking before age 21. First of all, your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development and your academic achievement. 
 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior

Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/ -Aaron White

Will drinking water lessen the effects of drugs?

-felisa.holden, Virginia
Drinking water won't change the effects of drugs but it could affect the concentration of drugs in your urine, and the ability to detect the drugs. It isn't a good idea to drink too much water though- you can actually cause your heart to be affected and get into bad trouble with too much water.
--Choose smart and healthy over dull and impaired.-- 
-Marilyn Huestis

will drugs effect your physical appereance?

-devondonahue, New York

Oh yeah, someone else just asked about this.  For example, Google "methamphetamine" and look at before and after pictures of people that got addict to meth.  It is amazing how much they change in such a short amount of time. And it is not a good change.  And if you have a strong stomach, Google "meth mouth."  Smoking meth basically melts ones teeth!!!!  Other drugs also can have a effect on how you look - all negative!

-Dave Thomas

Will I be popular if I use drugs?

-kellner, Maryland
Hi Kellner,
You know...I get why you asked that...people just want to be liked...and some think that if I do drugs, others will think I'm cool.  Let me be honest...doing drugs can cause SO many problems in your life, from school to home to health, that it's just not worth it.  Find friends who think you're cool just as you are.  In the end...your friends want to help you do things that are good for you...not potentially life-threatening.  Live above the influence!  http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/
 
Dave 
 
 
-Dave Thomas

Will I become a cannibal if I use lsd?

-gec731, New York
Hi gec731. I'm not aware of any science showing that drug use can result in cannabilism. But LSD does have some effects that you should be aware of, such as distorting perceptions of reality and producing hallucinations. These effects can be frightening and cause panic, so you could do things you normally wouldn't do if you weren't on LSD.
 
 
-Ruben Baler

will i sweat if i pop the molly?

-miracow, Maryland

Molly (MDMA, also known as ecstasy) increases body temperature, miracow.  It'll definitely cause sweating.  Not to mention all the other bad things molly can do....increased heart rate, high blood pressure, nausea, erectile dysfunction, and more.  

-Joni Rutter

Will marijuana sincerely kill you?

-hana, Maryland
Hello Hana
This is a good question. While intoxication or withdrawal states of marijuana are typically not fatal, driving under the influence can kill you. So while it may not result in immediate death, one risks developing a lot of chronic medical and emotional illnesses that could increase your chances of death. Studies have shown a connection between regular marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness. The best way to stay safe is to avoid it!
Thanks! 
-Geetha Subramaniam

will more kids be likely to do drugs if rappers sing about it in their songs?

-swagystudent666, New York

Hi Swagystudent--thanks for your question. I do think that music--including rap music--can have a powerful influence on people, especially youth. We know that music can affect learning and memory. 

-Jacqueline Lloyd

will smoking more than one ciggarte do more damge to your system?

-Blackgurl, Maryland

Hey BG. Good question. The answer is yes, most definitely. Although it depends on how much and how frequently you smoke, the more you smoke, the more toxic chemicals and nicotine your body is exposed to. Exposure to high doses of nicotine can be extremely toxic.  It can cause vomiting, tremors, convulsions, and, rarely, even death. Repeated cigarette or other types of smoking (e.g., hookah) can increase significantly your chances for cancer, especially lung cancer. So, every day that you choose not to smoke, is a win - choose to be healthy! 

-Kris Bough

will steroids make all my body parts big ;)

-vkk, Maryland
Yeah, steriods are used because they make your muscles big....but guess what!?  People using steroids might get buff, but they will have very small testicles!  Check out this informational video on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc
  
Boys taking steroids risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility!  YIKES!  Girls taking steroids risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice!  
 
Teens risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.  And some more info is here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
 
 
-Joni Rutter

will you go craze if you take meth

-Allen12, Maryland
Good question, Allen12...but hard to answer definitely!  Meth affects the brain and in some users, psychiatric problems have been shown - specifically, it can change brain structure and how the brain functions, which can lead to aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, memory loss, and changes in your movement or motor system. Like other stimulants, meth can affect your appetite and sleep.  It is hard to predict which negative effects will occur, so it is much safer and healthier to avoid it.
 
-Joe Frascella

Will you remember the experiences you have when you get high? If you don't, then why do people get addicted to drugs for that positive rush they feel?

-Milgatroid, Massachusetts
Hi Milgatroid,
Great question!
Will you remember? Maybe, maybe not--it really depends on the drug and on the particular circumstances. But you probably don't need to remember the experience consciously to still get addicted. Yes, it's partly trying to recreate the rush. But addiction is also partly because areas of your brain start to expect the drug, and you feel bad if you don't take it.
Check out our page on addiction and how it works. The videos are pretty cool!-- http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science
-Eric Wargo

With drugs that make you hallucinate, what kinds of things do people see?

-2050719, Texas
Hi 2050719, It's different for each person and each drug. People often report seeing insects or animals, being in frightening situations, and seeing colors and people in distorted ways. Actually, it can be almost anything that is not real. Many people find the experience very uncomfortable because they are not in control of their feelings. Thanks for your question!
--Every day you don't use drugs you are a prevention campaign!-- 
-Marilyn Huestis

Would a drug cause a allergic reaction?

-Radog, New York

Hi Radog - yes, absolutely.  Many drugs can cause an allergic reaction, both legal drugs and illegal drugs. There is no easy way to predict who will have an allergic reaction, but if you have one and have difficulty breathing, develop a sudden skin rash, or have a sudden fever or chills you should see a doctor right away!

-Steve Gust

would cofee be considered a drug because its addicting?

-student 007, Maryland

Hi student 007--Sort of.  Repeated use of caffeine, the drug in coffee, can cause dependence and some people that give up drinking beverages with it or reduce their intake can have withdrawal.  It doesn't cause addiction--because there is a lot more to being addicted than just wanting the drug or feeling the need for it.    

-Lis Davis

Would Mental Health and Illness be the main cause of drugs and alcohol?

-AshleyP-P2, Texas
Hello there AshleyP-P2!  Thanks for the interesting - and actually, complicated question! The short answer is no, mental illness is not the main cause of substance abuse, yet it may contribute. At NIMH, we are finding that symptoms of mental illness can emerge during childhood and adolescence. Sometimes, these symptoms can be confusing and difficult to deal with, so some folks try drugs and/or alcohol to feel better (temporarily). NIDA has a great resource to check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/comorbidity-addic... which might provide additional info. 
 
-Denny Pintello

would my girlfriend remember what happened last night if we were both high

-damn #5, New York

I would hope so!

-Joe Frascella

Would taking a drug cause a black out?

-Radog, New York

Hi Radog - many drugs can cause blackouts. Certainly alcohol, but also many others, such as sleeping pills or other types of drugs. If you want to ask about substance abuse treatment for yourself or someone you care about, call 1-800-662-HELP 24/7.  Or, you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

-Steve Gust

Would the amount of people taking drugs decrease if their was less peer pressure?

-friendlyperson1, New York
Hi Friendly person, I'm friendly too!
I would say yes ---but it is complicated because the reason any one person uses drugs is a combination of factors such as: family dynamics,  personality, how they react to stress, knowledge about drugs, etc. They might want to feel better, or do better in school and they mistakenly think it will help.  Certainly for youth who would not otherwise use drugs, peers can  play a huge role.  Also for kids who lack in self-confidence or the skills to say no to drug offers, peers can play a significant role in starting to use drugs.  If a friend wants you to try a drug are they really a friend? It might seem like everyone is doing it---especially when there are so many drugs on TV, movies and in popular music. But in fact, most kids don't use drugs---We actually have scientific surveys that show this. Maybe the non-users just don't talk about it as much as drug users do. 
-Lis Robertson

Would you get arrested if you were drunk driving?

-carlyjustdance, Maryland

Absolutely. For adults, driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, which would happen if a typical person had about 4-5 servings of alcohol in a few hours, is illegal in every state. For people under 21, it is illegal to drive after drinking any alcohol. It is important to know that even one serving of alcohol can make it more dangerous to drive. 

-Aaron White

WWhy does alcohol make you throw up?

-Afroman, New York

Two reasons. Sometimes people throw up after drinking because the alcohol irritates their stomachs and makes them feel full, bloated, and nauseous. Other times it's because a part of the brain that monitors the blood for toxins detects high levels of alcohol and the brain triggers vomiting to try to get rid of any remaining alcohol that might be in the stomach.

-Aaron White

y do men prodouse less sperm after smoking marijuana

-master gamer, Pennsylvania

Hello master gamer, I know that the sperm that men produce do not fertilize eggs as well as when marijuana is not used. The sperm's motility (it's ability to move toward the egg) is also affected by marijuana. Thanks for your question.

-Marilyn Huestis

yo what if one of your prescribed meds makes you have hallucinate??????????

-krista, Texas

Hey Krista!  Pleeease talk today with one or your parents and your doctor who prescribed yours meds. This is a serious side effect - so please, promise me that you'll do this right away. Your doctor will adjust the meds ASAP.

-Denny Pintello