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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Do think alcohol should be illegal like other drugs?

-porkchop, Utah

The current laws in the United States allow for alcohol to be sold to citizens aged 21 and older. Even though alcohol can be very dangerous, it's safe for some adults to have up to one (females) or two (males) servings per day. However, there is no known safe amount for kids, including teenagers. For this reason, it is not legal for teenagers to drink.

-Aaron White

Do you ever get annoyed or bored answering all these questions?

-mcskwezme, Pennsylvania

Not at all.....we really enjoy all the great questions we get every year. Keep them coming! We've had almost 3000 questions sent to us in the first four hours and we are working hard to answer as many as we can!

-Cindy Miner

Do you feel that alcoholic drinks like "Four loko" should be banned from being sold?

-cvteacher, Pennsylvania

That's a decision for lawmakers to make, not scientists. They might be more dangerous than just alcohol because the caffeine keeps the person awake and allows them to keep drinking when they normally might stop. Plus, too much caffeine can make a person sick all by itself.

-Aaron White

D u think it's good marijuana is becoming legal in certain places ?

-derek, Maryland

Currently marijuana is not 'legal' anywhere although it is available as a medical treatment for certain conditions in some states. I think it is important for teens to know that marijuana is a serious drug that can have harmful effects on the brain and body. Teens are at a critical period in the development of the brain. All addictive drugs - including marijuana impact the development of the teen brain and can create problems in function including memory, concentration, decision making, and even the development of addiction. Making marijuana legal might increase its availability and make it more accessible for teens. We have seen this with other drugs - including prescription drugs. The rates of teen abuse and addiction to prescription pain killers and other drugs has risen as the number of presriptions have risen. Whether you are for or against 'legalization' of marijuana, increased avilability and use by teens would not be good for their health, development, or brains.

-Redonna Chandler

Describe the type of brain damage drugs can do to you

-green kittens, Kentucky

Great question! Drugs are chemicals and because of their chemical structures they all work differently and affect the brain in different ways by interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, like marijuana or heroin, activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. In fact, these drugs can "fool" receptors, lock onto them, and can activate the nerve cells. The problem is, they don't work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, so the neurons wind up sending abnormal messages through the brain. You can read all about the brain and how different drugs affect it at

-Marsha Lopez

Did cigarette companies eventually start to add harsh chemicals to their food over the years? Or did they start out with chemicals? If they started out with chemicals; what's the point of them there? Why not just tabacco?

-NickP, Maryland

Tobacco companies have worked over the years to create cigarettes that will deliver nicotine in the most efficient way to the smoker to enhance their addictiveness. They have done this by adding flavors like menthol or vanilla or chocolate, and also by adding ventilation holes to the filters.

-Cindy Miner

Did there use to be coke in coca cola

-Connor, Wyoming

yup, there was, and it was green! Fortunately though, you can drink cola without getting any cocaine.For more info, see

-David Thomas

did u ever try any illegal drugs?? lets be honest here, its all in the past anyways

-qwerty123, New Jersey

Hi there! I can honestly say that I have never tried any illegal drugs. Was there pressure, yes, but I had other goals, which didn't involve using illegal drugs. For additional information go to

-Belinda Sims

Do all drugs create addiction?

-Elisabet, Other

No, it is mainly the drugs that impact the reward center in the brain and hijack the 'dopamine' system. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that controls pleasure, habits, and emotional learning. stay healthy and use your dopamine wisely.

-Ruben Baler

Do all illegal drugs plants? If not what is concidered a drug that isnt a plant?

-12345, New Jersey

good question, some drugs, like psilocybicin, come from mushrooms, others like ecstasy or methamphetamine, are made in clandestine (illegal) laboratories. take care.

-Ruben Baler

Do all overdoses of drugs lead to death?

-Giggle monster, Kentucky

hopefully not. Different drugs -- whether legal or illegal -- can always be taken in too high of quantities and ultimate produce toxicity. There is always the possibility that any drug can be taken in dangerous quantities and produce serious adverse events such as death in some - hopefully very rare - instances. To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

-Kris Bough

Do alot of people use over the counter drugs when they dont need them

-january baby,

I'm guessing you mean drugstore-bought drugs--which would include prescription medications like vicodin and oxycodone as well as over-the-counter things like antihistamines.The answer, unfortunately, is yes. In 2008, 7.7 percent of youths aged 12-17 reported using prescription drugs that a doctor hadn't directed them to take. Even though that means the vast majority of youths didn't, 1.9 million did. The most commonly misused drugs were pain killers, reported by 6.5 percent of youths, or 1.6 million. In fact, each day an average of 2,000 teenagers age 12 to 17 used a prescription drug without a doctor's guidance for the first time. For more information general information go to: information on how prescription drugs affect the body and common effects, go to:

-Jacqueline Lloyd

do antiseptics,disinfectics ar cleaning products have drugd in them???

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Not really. Some other household products can be abused as inhalants because they have volatile chemicals that can be sniffed and cause a type of high similar to the feeling of being drunk.thanks for the question.

-Ruben Baler

do people commit suicide when they are drunk or on drugs?

-nidichat, New Hampshire

Drugs impact the brain and behavior disrupting decision making and leading people to do things they would not normally do. Unfortunately, this includes committing suicide. Also, sometimes when people have drug problems, they feel hopeless, which could lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Want more information on drugs and information on getting help for someone considering suicide, go to:,

-Redonna Chandler


-cuz, Pennsylvania

Wonderful question. People - especially teens - may take drugs because it is something new and exciting. They are often curious and want to know how it 'feels' to be high. Another reason people use drugs is to make themselves feel better. Those struggling with mental health conditions like depression or anxiety may take drugs to relieve uncomfortable feelings and body sensations associated with these disorders. Because drugs negatively affect the body and brain there are much better ways to add excitement to life or deal with a mental illness. For more information regarding the negative impact of drugs see: Here's a tip, for excitement, maybe they can try a sport, travel, making new friends, etc. For general information on mental health condition, see

-Redonna Chandler

do people do drugs to be cool to fit in or do people make them?

-shane(, Kentucky

It's probably a little of both don't you think? Going your 'own way' and saying 'no' are skills that everyone needs to learn, and it becomes easier when you practice it! Check this out:

-Bethany Deeds

do people get a quicker reaction from smoking or using a syringe

-some guy, Kentucky

When someone smokes or injects a drug via a syringe, the drug is very rapidly taken up by the body. Sometimes, like with nicotine, this can occur w/ in seconds! There is less of a chance of the drug to be metabolized by the body, so nearly all of the drug injected or smoked is taken into the blood. This is very different when someone takes a drug orally, the body 'processes' the drug very differently. It requires time for the drug can be digested, it may be only partially absorbed in the gut / stomach / mouth, and is more gradually introduced into the bloodstream. This means it also more slowly enters the brain. Because the body has less of a chance to 'protect itself' from the amount of drug when they are taken by smoking or injecting, it can be potentially much more dangerous and an addictive means for introducing a drug into the body in either of these ways.

-Kris Bough

do people just buy illegal drugs from drug dealers?

-luckysoccer, Kentucky

No. Some people abuse prescription drugs like Vicodin or Ritalin and they often get them from friends and family, which is also illegal.

-Gaya Dowling

Do people recieve pleasure from chewing tobacco??? It seems like the MOST pointless drug(They all are pointless). How do you use it? put a gob of it on your gums? I don't understand what chewing tobacco is

-PoloBoy, Maryland

They do it mostly for the same reason people smoke tobacco. Its the nicotine in the leaves that gets them addicted. No, I do not use it. It is super gross!!! The spitting in the cup is not a good look!!! Chewing tobacco can cause mouth cancer too!For more info, see

-David Thomas

do people use drugs as a refuge for comfort

-Davidp, Maryland

What's up, Parkdale??!!! Believe it or not, this is a complex question with a complex answer! People use drugs for different reasons. Some people - especially teens -use drugs because it is novel and exciting. They may be curious about the effects of drugs. Other people use drugs to help them feel better or to cope with situations in their lives -- for example, coping with divorce, stress or a mental health condition like depression or anxiety. There are better ways to both gain excitement and deal with life in general. You can play a sport, make a new friend, or travel if you are seeking the novel. For individuals dealing with stress or mental health issues, they should talk to their doctor...they'll help them deal with their issues in a better way! For more information on drug addiction and treatment, click on

-Redonna Chandler

do sniffing hand sanitizer get you high?

-Jazzy bae, Maryland

Very unlikely!

-Aaron White

Do specific types of people do drugs?

-healthclass, Vermont

That is a much more complicated than you might think. Pretty much anyone with an opportunity to use a drug can be a type of person who uses drugs. There are certain characteristics we call 'risk' and 'protective' factors that might make it more likely someone would use drugs. For example, if you are born and raised in a crack house you are more likely to use drugs than not. Even if you are considered to be at higher risk for using drugs, that absolutely does not mean that you will, and everyone has the ability to make good desicions for their future. A couple of large national studies look at the rates of use in different subgroups, like gender, race/ethnicity, geography, education, etc. and you can check those out at and (appendix D).

-Marsha Lopez

Do any places/schools encourage drugs? If there is, can it be stopped?

-warda, New York

Encourage the use of illicit drugs like LSD or coke?? Not that I'm aware of. They may encourage the use of stimulant medications to treat symptoms associated with ADHD (but only in kids who are diagnosed with ADHD), but for the most school encourage kids to live drug free lives and I know that ALL encourage homework. Thanks for the question!

-Redonna Chandler

do black people have a higher rate of doing drugs?

-cowsrcool, Kentucky

Hi there!No, they don't. In fact, African-American students use most drugs, including legal ones like cigarettes and illegal ones, at substantially lower rates than Whites. Epidemiologists--scientists who study the rates of problems to try to understand what causes them and how to reduce them--report these figures based on an annual Monitoring the Future survey of high school students nationwide: survey, this National Survey of Drug Use and Health, found that smaller percentages of Black adults over age 18 had engaged in alcohol use and binge alcohol use during the past month, compared to the national average (44.3 vs. 55.2 percent and 21.7 vs. 24.5 percent, respectively). The Black adults' rate of use of illegal drugs during the past month was higher than the national average, however (9.5 vs. 7.9 percent).

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Do date rape drugs have long term effects?

-bluewindmagic, Maryland

Chronic use of Rohypnol (one of the most common date rape drugs) can produce tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.

-Kristen Huntley

do different drugs have different dosage rates. For example would i have to take more of tylenol than advil to get high


Zinzi, different drugs are taken at differing doses and frequencies. It depends on how quickly the drug is absorbed, how quickly it's metabolized (or broken down by the body), and how easily it can get to the brain. Recommended doses--how much and how often--are always on the label and should be followed to avoid negative consequences. By the way, there is no evidence that tylenol and advil can get you high.

-David White

Do drugs affect the way you socialize

-16312723, Maryland

Yes - taking drugs can change your decision making and lower your inhibitions making it both easier for you to socialize and more likely you will participate in risky behaviors like engaging in unprotected sexual activity or driving under the influence. To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

-Redonna Chandler

do drugs affect your school work?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

Yes, drugs can impact academic achievement negatively. Check out our teen web site for a ton of information.

-Bethany Deeds

Do drugs affect your sports performance?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

Some drugs impair your ability to play a sport by affecting your attention, reaction time, or judgement, while others, like steroids or stimulants, may give you a short-term unfair advantage. That is why competitive sports ban the use of many drugs. There's a reason doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles---it's just too dangerous! Read more at NIDA for Teens,

-Michelle Leff

Do drugs change the color of your tinkle!? PLEAAAASE ANSWER! :)

-LOLLLZZZZ <3, Kentucky

they never do. trust me.

-Ruben Baler