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

-SWEETEST GIRL, Maryland

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

drugs make me feel good like cocaine but when i come down from it im pissed. im angry and irratable. and grumpy! why is that?

-[B]ri, Arizona

Great question! Drugs can have different effects when you are taking them compared to when you are coming off of them. That is there is the pleasurable or reinforcing phase that can be followed by a period of negative consequences, as you have described. These effects are due in part by how cocaine effects the brain. Initially there is a surge of brain chemicals, such as, dopamine causing the rush/high, and thereafter, the brain is depleted of these chemicals that leads to the negative consequences.Hope this helps.For more information on cocaine, check out: http://drugabuse.gov/drugpages/cocaine.html

-Joe Frascella

drugs were poular in the 60s and the hippie style is realy in so are more people doing drugs now then in the 90s

-larkinsalexis, Michigan

Great question! Every year NIDA supported researchers at the University of Michigan ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their use of drugs. They have shown that drug use in 2008 is higher than it was in 1990, but lower than it was when it peaked in the mid-90's. You can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html.

-Marsha Lopez

Dude my EX girlfriend was on drugs and i still care for her how can i help her?????

-darknessr1sing, Washington

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If your girlfriend is using drugs, encourage her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. If she doesn't feel comfortable doing that then she can also use anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP). It's important to not make her feel judged and show her support by listening. I hope this helps.

-Redonna Chandler

Es Chocolate una drug?

-Bubbles, West Virginia

Hi there,Chocolate is not considered a drug; although--like anything--it should be consumed in moderation (sadly for me b/c it's my favorite food)!

-Stephanie Older

everytime i hide my stash, somehow my dog still manages to find it. its costing me alot of money what shoud i do?

-stephyyttt, Oregon

You should thank your dog, sounds like he or she is looking out for your best interest. Good dog!

-Cindy Miner

for instance if we take an overdose of advil we might die. is there any such thing as overdose for drugs like heroin, cocaine, opium and marjiuanna

-filmon, Maryland

Absolutely--heroin/opium can stop your breathing--in fact, there are about 35,000 'unintentional poisonings' each year--most are drug overdoses, and many related to the abuse of prescription opioids. Cocaine can cause convulsions that can also stop your breathing or cause cardiovascular events. Marijuana does not generally produce overdose deaths, but it can make you take risks--like driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol or both-which can have fatal results.

-Susan Weiss

for some reason, i like the smell of gasoline, is this harmful. I dont sniff it straight out of a can, but it stand close to the pump

-toothfairy, Ohio

The chemicals that make up gasoline belong to a class of drugs called 'inhalants.' They are all organic compounds. Like gasoline, many of the inhalants have a sweetish smell that is somewhat pleasant. But don't be fooled! These chemicals, when inhaled deeply, stick around in your body fat for a long time and can be released from the fat stores for several hours. Because these are all fat-soluble, they can interfere with the functions of many of the lipid membranes in your body. They can lead to liver and brain damage and these deficits are usually permanent. Did you know that inhalants can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen too?

For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

-Nancy Pilotte

does nicotine have any medical uses?

-mn cashmere, Washington

That is a great question. As you probably know, nicotine is the ingredient in tobacco that makes it so addictive. Some therapeutic drugs make use of low doses of nicotine to help people who are trying to quit smoking. So nicotine is in Nicorette gum and in the nicotine replacement patches that so many smokers wear. These products are designed to wean people off of cigarettes and other tobacco products that have a lot of other toxic products in them. Some of the health risks associated with these other tobacco products range from oral cancers (from chewing tobacco) to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. 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 nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

-Nancy Pilotte

Does overdosing on a drug, neccesarily mean that you are going to die?

-Craig Tress, Pennsylvania

Not everyone who overdoses on a drug dies. On the other hand, some people can die after taking a 'normal' dose of a drug. For example, because of genetic differences, some people have hearts that are extremely sensitive to the effects of http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Dave McCann

does sex feel good or does it hurt?

-Hobbs#59, New Hampshire

Thanks for being willing to ask a sensitive quesiton. Sex should not hurt. Though, it may be uncomfortable. If you are sexually active and experiencing physical pain you should see a physician and discuss this issue. If you are inquiring about mental/emotional pain definitely not - sex should not be an emotionally painful experience. If you are feeling coerced into sex in anyway or experiencing emotional distress, you should reach out to a trusted adult for help. Talk to a teacher, parent of a friend, coach, or school counselor for help if you are being pressured in any way to have sex.

-Redonna Chandler

does smoking pot prevent getting the H1N1 virus?

-itstooearly8, Vermont

Hey up there in Vermont! There is no evidence to suggest that smoking pot will prevent the H1N1 virus--but we do know that drugs of abuse can actually reduce our body's immune function.

For more information about marijuana, check out https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana!

-Joe Frascella

Does smoking weed have long term effects?

-eddie747, Pennsylvania

Great question. Yes, in general marijuana has been shown to have long-term effects. Its use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. What we know is that the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis. Marijuana intoxication can, though rarely, produce a reversible psychosis, and it may be a causal agent in development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. Data on causality are weak, although many studies have found an association present in certain groups: young users, frequent users, those with cannabis dependence, etc. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or sub-clinical illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above. Hope this helps.

-Joe Frascella

does sniffing scented erasers for an extended period of time cause a loss of brain cells?

-ZayJ34, Ohio

That depends on what they are scented with. Potpourri usually does not cause loss of brain cells but chemicals like toluene could. For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

-Nancy Pilotte

does sniffing scented erasers for an extended period of time cause a loss of brain cells?

-ZayJ34, Ohio

That depends on what they are scented with. Potpourri usually does not cause loss of brain cells but chemicals like toluene could.

For more information about
inhalants, check out
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

-Nancy Pilotte

does steroids really make ur penis smaller?

-C Ronoldo Sucks, Maryland

No, but they can make your testicles smaller.

-Nora Volkow

Has anyone died smoking marijuana?

-banger92, New York

Yes, although its rare. One study found that smoking marijuana increases the risk of a heart attack almost 5 times within the first hour after smoking--which can be lethal if you are vulnerable. But its more likely to be lethal through its role in automobile accidents. Marijuana on its own impairs driving ability, and makes driving under the influence of alcohol even worse. So it can be a causal or contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents.

-Susan Weiss

has anyone's brain fallen out of their heads by doing drugs

-unicorn, New Hampshire

Anyone with a brain doesn't use drugs! Seriously, though, no one's brain has 'fallen out of their heads' by doing drugs, but what does happen is that your brain can get hijacked by the drugs themselves--in other words, you can lose your free will to the drugs you use. Do you want to be a slave to a drug? If you do enough drugs, those drugs physically and structurally change the brain in a way that makes it difficult to make good decisions--like not to use drugs anymore. For more information on facts about drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php

-Joni Rutter

have any of your close friends been addicted to marijuana?

-Holt_01, Washington

Yes, and its a very difficult thing to see happening to a friend. If this is happening to you, encourage your friend to stop, if they can't stop they need to seek help, keep encourageing them to get help from their parents or a trusted adult.

-Cindy Miner

have you ever drank???? did you ever get addicted to it???

-DEJESUS KID, Washington

Yes, I do have a drink now and then. But I know because several people in my family including both my parents had problems with drinking, that I am probably at high risk for alcoholism. So I am very careful...I saw what alcoholism did to several people in my family, it isn't worth it. I can have just as much fun drinking a diet coke!

-Cindy Miner

haver you guys ever done drugs before

-thenry, Michigan

Can't speak for anyone but myself. I have had a drink or two from time to time. In general, I don't want drugs to interfere with my job, family life, music, and other hobbies.For more info on drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

-Joe Frascella

Does the meth cause schizopherinia?

-LovelessWedding, Virginia

Methamphetamine use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between methamphetamine and psychosis. Meth intoxication produce a reversible psychosis (paranoia and hallucinations), and it may be a causal agent in development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.

-Wilson Compton

does the use of drugs cause A.I.D.S. or H.I.V.?

-whatitcalled, Georgia

Using drugs can put you at risk for getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. One reason is that drug and alcohol abuse can harm your judgment. People who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for getting HIV. Also, people who inject drugs can transmit the virus through shared needles or other injection equipment. To Learn the Link between drug abuse and HIV check out http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/

-Gaya Dowling

does weed affect athletes?

-The dog, Ohio

Weed can affect anyone who takes it. It is a drug and even those who may be healthy because they are athletes can suffer from its effects--like losing their coordination (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana ). Some people feel nothing at all when they smoke marijuana. Others may feel relaxed or high. Sometimes marijuana makes users feel thirsty and suddenly hungry. Some users can get bad effects from marijuana. They may have sudden feelings of anxiety and paranoid thoughts. It does not matter whether you are an athlete or not, weed can affect your brain and behavior. So keep your brain healthy!

-Cheryl Boyce

Does weed cause cancer?

-TRIGON, Pennsylvania

We don't know the answer to that. Smoking weed does expose the lungs to many of the same poisons as tobacco--tar, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens. And you don't need to smoke as many joints as you do cigarettes to get the equivalent exposure. But studies in patients have not yet made a direct link to cancer. Also, many long time weed users also smoke cigarettes, and in some countries marijuana joints are laced with tobacco, making it even more difficult to figure this out. Nevertheless, marijuana does cause other respiratory problems--coughing, phlegm production, bronchitis, etc.

-Susan Weiss

does weed cure cancer???

-shawla, Washington

No, there are no data that indicate that marijuana can cure cancer.

-Cindy Miner

does weed kill brain cells

-WEEDISNTGOOD95, Pennsylvania

Hi there! There are many bad things that can happen when someone 'does weed.' When someone smokes marijuana, THC (which is in weed), passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC acts on specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of brain reactions that lead to the "high" that people talk about when they smoke marijuana. Smoking weed can affect your memory, thinking and problem solving skills, as well as coordination. These bad affects can last for days. Keep your brain healthy! Weed is not healthy for your brain cells. Click here to find out more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Cheryl Boyce