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 drugs make you drive odd when you are driving?

-mackenziem32, Iowa

Yes but it depends on the drug. Alcohol and marijuana interfere with your reflexes and coordination but other drugs like opiates (prescription painkillers) and benzodiazepines (drugs to treat anxiety, like valium) can make you sleepy and drowsy. Drugs like cocaine can make you aggressive and a risky driver.

-Nora Volkow

Do drugs rapidly spread in your body as soon as you use them?

-fc bobcats, Texas

This is a great question!How quickly a drug spreads throughout the body depends on many things, specifically on how the drug is injested (e.g., by mouth in a pill [slower] or injected directly into the blood stream [much more quickly]). Some drugs, for example, like nicotine, if smoked, can reach the brain within 10-15 seconds!!

-Kris Bough

do drugs shorten your life?

-kyle, Ohio

Great question. They sure can, in many different ways. Here are just a few examples:Some drug use, like smoking cigarettes, produce many kinds of cancer; some others such as cocaine, amphetamine, and psychostimulants, can cause strokes, heart attacks, and even death. Others can cause brain hemorrage (bleeding). Drugs like alcohol can cause many kinds of negative brain effects and liver disease, if abused. So abusing any drug, legal or illegal, can certainly shorten your life.

-Anto Bonci

do gay people do more drugs than straight people?

-willz, Pennsylvania

The research shows that drug addiction does not discriminate. Both gay and straight people are affected by drug addiction.

-Joni Rutter

Do genetics determine your likelihood of abusing drugs and

-Hyper4Hetalia, Pennsylvania

I am a geneticist, so this is my favorite type of question!! All diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but how much you inherit can vary. Here's an example. Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also. In fact, research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches. Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? For more information: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/

-Joni Rutter

Do genetics determine your likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol?

-Hyper4Hetalia, Pennsylvania

I am a geneticist, so this is my favorite type of question!! All diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but how much you inherit can vary. Here's an example. Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also. In fact, research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches. Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? For more information: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-addiction and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary.

-Joni Rutter

do girls have a diffrent effect when they drink or smoke

-greggy3, Ohio

In general, girls are affected more by alcohol than guys. Girls can feel the immediate effects of alcohol more quickly and for a longer time than guys. Thanks to natural differences in body chemistry and metabolism, girls retain more alcohol in their blood than men do, and also break down and get rid of alcohol more slowly than guys do. Girls may also be more likely to get cancer from drinking alcohol than males.

-Aaron White

Do girls or boys do drugs more often?

-fort settlement, Texas

Hello to you at Ft. Settlement Middle School! According to a recent Monitoring the Future Suvery it is even...Past year use of Illict drugs among 12-17 year olds was 19.4% for both boys and girls in 2010, Here is a summary from last year's Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Because the survey has been going on for years, it helps us see trends. The summary is at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/mtf10overview.html If you are interested in more details, go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/MTF.html. We expect to release 2011 data from MTF some time in December.

-Bethany Deeds

Do Inhalants causes brain seizure?

-iofoegbu, Texas

I'm not sure about brain seizures, but here's want I do know about inhalants. They seem harmless, but they can actually be quite dangerous. Inhalants are chemical vapors that people inhale on purpose to get “high.” The vapors produce mind-altering, and sometimes disastrous, effects. These vapors are in a variety of products common in almost any home or workplace. Examples are some paints, glues, gasoline, and cleaning fluids. Many people do not think of these products as drugs because they were never meant to be used to achieve an intoxicating effect. But when they are intentionally inhaled to produce a “high,” they can cause serious harm. The lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Within minutes of inhalation, users feel 'high.' The effects are similar to those produced by alcohol and may include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. The high usually lasts only a few minutes. With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others stay for a long time and get absorbed by fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers. Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their messages to and from the brain. Damage to myelin can slow down communication between nerve fibers. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis—a disease that also affects myelin. Inhalants also can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen. The effects of this condition, also known as brain hypoxia, depend on the area of the brain affected. The hippocampus, for example, helps control memory, so someone who repeatedly abuses inhalants may lose the ability to learn new things or may have a hard time carrying on simple conversations. If the cerebral cortex is affected, the ability to solve complex problems and plan ahead will be compromised. And, if the cerebellum is affected, it can cause a person to move slowly or clumsily.Inhalants can be addictive. Long-term use can lead to compulsive drug seeking and use, and mild withdrawal symptoms. For more information, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

-Joni Rutter

do kids become addicted to drugs easier than adults?

-mgeiger, Oklahoma

Great question! Evidence seems to suggest that the earlier one starts abusing drugs, the more likely one is to become addicted to the drugs. Of course, there are lots of individual variability with respect to ease of becoming addicted, but kids are particularly vulnerable to the addicting effects of drugs. If you are interested in learning more about this topic and other related issues, please check out:http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joe Frascella

do medicated drugs get tested by animals?

-Hellothere, Maryland

always!this testing is very thorough and is one of the early stages in medication development. thanks for the question

-Ruben Baler

Do more people prefer to drink, wine or beer?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

In the US, people prefer beer, then wine, then liquor.

-Aaron White

can you overdose on steriods

-alex, Ohio

Good question, Alex. Steroids can have negative or adverse effects and you can become addicted or dependent on steroids, but people don't really overdose on steroids. It doesn't affect your respiratory system to stop breathing and doesn't cause your heart to stop beating. But it can really affect the way in which your body functions. Thanks for asking!

-Marilyn Huestis

can you please answer this qustion in the next 5 minutes/how can people die from getting drunk

-Jvarughese, Texas

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. Here's an example: In the last month, several teenagers, mostly college students, died from alcohol poisoning with blood alcohol levels around 0.35%. For a healthy, 140 pound female, reaching this level would require around 10 drinks in a 2 hour period, or around 13 drinks in 2 hours for a 160 pound male. It is important to point out than having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings or car crashes. If you drink enough alcohol, it can shut down parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive. If those areas are shut down, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off.Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.

-Aaron White

can you put

-doug r, Ohio

Hmm. Well, you can probably put many things in peaches, including cinnamon and sugar, or even chicken soup...but why would you want to? As far as heroin is concerned, it would be ineffective if you eat it

-Nancy Pilotte

can you put heroin in peaches

-doug r, Ohio

Hmm. Well, you can probably put many things in peaches, including cinnamon and sugar, or even chicken soup...but why would you want to? As far as heroin is concerned, it would be ineffective if you eat it.

-Nancy Pilotte

can you run faster when you are high on cocain?

-cesarnajera, Oklahoma

I doubt it, although it is possible that someone on any stimulant drug might be able to run farther.

-Ruben Baler

Can you slap the drug addict out of them?

-J Nguyen, Texas

Well, our treatment system would be a lot less expensive if slapping worked, but we don't have any evidence that it would succeed as a long-term strategy! Recovery from drug addiction is a complex process -- NIDA scientists have spent years researching medications as well as behavioral (counseling) strategies that work for people with drug addiction problems. To learn more about science-based drug abuse treatment, check out our publication, 'Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment,' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html.

-Lori Ducharme

can you smoke

-lthors, Massachusetts

No. The heat would cause the alcohol to vaporize and burn off

-Aaron White

can you smoke alcohol

-lthors, Massachusetts

No. The heat would cause the alcohol to vaporize and burn off.

-Aaron White

can you stop doing drugs without help from family friends, or doctors?

-chenoahsmall, Vermont

Some people quit using drugs without treatment - but I'm not sure they are able to do it successfully without the help from family or friends. For a person addicted to drugs it is extremely difficult to quit. Research indicates that the support of family, friends, and treatment are extremely important. Here is a website about treatment approaches: http://www.nida.nih.gov/PDF/InfoFacts/IF_Treatment_Approaches_2009_to_NIDA_92209.pdf. Another helpful website is: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/. For more information on drug treatment see: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

-Redonna Chandler

Can you swim well when your high, or would you just drown like when your wasted?

-GradyW, Indiana

Just had a similar question about driving, and the answer is simple...if you are high, your abilities to drive, swim, or do other activities that require concentration and some physical effort, being high can negatively affect your behavior and performance. For more general information on the science of addiction check out this link: http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/Hope this helps.

-Joe Frascella

can you tell if someone is addicted to drugs?

-hlgesel, New York

Hi Hlgesel! Thanks for your question. Drug addiction has a lot of symptoms -- or signs that someone has a problem with drugs. Some common symptoms include losing control over drug use, getting into trouble because of drug use, doing poorly at school or work, using more and more of a drug to get 'high', and giving up activities (like sports, hanging out with family) because of drug use. Essentially, drug use becomes more and more important to a drug addict -- more important than other things in life. For more information on how drugs affect your brain go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php .

-Kevin Conway

Can your mental health be affected with drugs and cigarettes or because of depression? Are there any other reasons why people kill themselves? Which affect is the worst?

-jum, Texas

hi: This is a really good but really tough question! Drug use and mental health problems can definitely be related, but the relationship is complicated. It is a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg question. Sometimes people use drugs when they are experiencing mental health problems in an attempt to feel better, but often use of unprescribed drugs leads to more problems, such as depression. If someone who isn't already having mental health problems starts to use drugs, the drug use can lead to problems (for example, problems at school, and in relationships with parents, family, and or friends), and these stresses can than affect their mental health. Getting high can also lead to using other drugs; and drug use in general affects your brain functioning. Sometimes, effects such as memory problems can be lasting. We don't know everything we need to know about why people become suicidal, but we do know that mental illnesses such as depression or PTSD and alcohol or other drug-use disorders can increase the risk for suicide, so it is important to get help and stick with a treatment plan. Suicide is often an impulsive act, and use of alcohol and drugs can make people act more impulsively. And at the time that a suicidal person is feeling at their worst, their focus might be on ending their suffering without considering how final suicide is and how many friends and family members would be affected. They may not realize that they can feel better with treatment. Suicide is preventable. For more information about suicide prevention, resources and where to find help in your area, check out these links: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml and http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/getting-help-locate-services/index.shtml and http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/selected-suicide-prevention-online-resources.shtml

-Joel Sherrill

could a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-wramirez, Illinois

Hey Golder College Prep HS. You've asked a really interesting question, one for which we do not have an answer. We do not know if a baby in the womb gets high when the mom smokes marijuana, but we do know that the active ingredient in marijuana do get into the baby's brain where it can affect the baby and later during childhood and longer. Illegal drugs used during pregnancy, such as
cocaineand marijuana, have been associated with a variety of adverse effects, though more research is needed to draw causal connections. Effects may be subtle and generally range from low birth weight to developmental deficits affecting behavior and cognition. For example, impaired attention, language, and learning skills, as well as behavioral problems, have been seen in children exposed to cocaine and marijuana, all of which can affect success in school. So, although we do not know whether a baby gets high when the mom uses illegal drugs during pregnancy and when she smokes during pregancy, the baby is at risk for unwanted outcomes during development. Here's a link that talks about risks of prenatal drug exposure:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

-Cora Lee Wetherington

could a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking marijuana???

-wramirez, Illinois

Hey Golder College Prep HS. You've asked a really interesting question, one for which we do not have an answer. We do not know if a baby in the womb gets high when the mom smokes marijuana, but we do know that the active ingredient in marijuana do get into the baby's brain where it can affect the baby and later during childhood and longer. Illegal drugs used during pregnancy, such as cocaine and marijuana, have been associated with a variety of adverse effects, though more research is needed to draw causal connections. Effects may be subtle and generally range from low birth weight to developmental deficits affecting behavior and cognition. For example, impaired attention, language, and learning skills, as well as behavioral problems, have been seen in children exposed to cocaine and marijuana, all of which can affect success in school. So, although we do not know whether a baby gets high when the mom uses illegal drugs during pregnancy and when she smokes during pregancy, the baby is at risk for unwanted outcomes during development. Here's a link that talks about risks of prenatal drug exposure: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Do you have a life or are yall computyer?

-548819, Texas

We might be scientists and science writers but we definitely have cool lives--have you read the bios we are posting?

-Carol Krause

Do you reccomend the 12 steps of recovery for drug addicts and alcoholics?

-katiejs, Wisconsin

Some people find these programs extremely helpful, especially in supporting their recovery over the long run. There are also treatments that have been shown by research to help people recover from various addictions and medications that can help with some (nicotine, alcohol, and opiates). People need to find the right approach for them, and they may need additional help such as job training, linkage to other medical care etc. NIDA has a booklet that describes the principles of effective treatment that you can find at : http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html

-Susan Weiss

Do you think

-ims301, Louisiana

Hello to Iberia Middle School! The relationship between cocaine use and seizures is complex one. The likelihood that someone would experience a seizure can vary by frequency, mode of intake (how you do it), and the amount. Want to read more about it? Check out this link https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants 

Curious about it still? Why don't you become a drug researcher--you ask great questions!

-Bethany Deeds

Do you think cocaine causes people to have seizures?

-ims301, Louisiana

Hello to Iberia Middle School! The relationship between cocaine use and seizures is complex one. The likelihood that someone would experience a seizure can vary by frequency, mode of intake (how you do it), and the amount. Want to read more about it? Check out this link http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_stim1.php Curious about it still? Why don't you become a drug researcher--you ask great questions:>

-Bethany Deeds