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 here.

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Do drugs have a different affects on people with ADD/ADHD versus someone without them? - A

-Aveson, California

hi there-- They sure do!  The drugs that are used to treat ADD/ADHD target brain functioning in a very specific way and they impact the body in other ways, too.  Many of the medications that are used for ADD/ADHD are 'psychostimulants" that help people with ADD/ADHD who often have trouble focusing stay more focused.  People who don't have ADD/ADHD can experience the drug effects very differently and they don't get the intended benefit of the drug but they might experience some of the side effects or problems.  As with all drugs, it's very important not to "share" medications that are prescribed for a specific person.  Learn more about ADHD/ADD here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-di...

-Joel Sherrill

Do drugs have the same intoxicating abilities as alcohol?

-RrRrRayG, Maryland
HhHhHey RrRrRayG
Thanks for asking.
 
Drugs and alcohol both intoxicate--basically,"intoxicate" means "poison". Intoxication from drugs and alcohol are the same in some ways--for example, both cause a chemical called dopamine to build up in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, and both alter thinking and memory. In other ways, each drug produces intoxication effects of its own.  
-Roger Sorensen

Do drugs help increase the consideration and the commitment of suicide?

-Gingerale, Maryland
Important question. Yes - studies suggest there may be a link between use of certain drugs and increased risk for suicide. For example, people who use opiates, cocaine, and sedatives may have a higher risk of suicide than those who use other drugs. Among those with an alcohol use disorder, a greater severity of recent drinking is associated with an increased likelihood of suicide attempt and death by suicide. And combining alcohol with drugs - or using more than one drug - may increase risk of suicide even more. Bottom line: stay away from drugs!
 

Here is a Web site for more information on suicide prevention as well as information on other serious problems like drug abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and depression. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ -Anto Bonci

Do drugs make people violent

-#FreeBieber, New York

Some drugs make people violent.  For example, bath salts (which are synthetic stimulants), cocaine and alcohol can make people violent when they are intoxicated. Indeed many violent crimes are committed under the infleunce of drugs

-Nora Volkow

do drugs make the user have more of a sex drive?!?

-bmorse, New York
Not really.  But drugs of abuse do typically impair a person in many ways.  For more information on drugs see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
Dave 
-Dave Thomas

do drugs make you happy

-RALF_WEINER, New York

Hi again, ralf-weiner.  People say that they take drugs to make them happy, but the happiness is short-lived and for a very high price. Aren't there other and better ways to make you happy?  I like to read, hike, and hang out with friends.  What makes you happy?  Live above the influence !!!  http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/

-Joni Rutter

do drugs really kill your brain cells?

-tamara francois, New York
Drugs can change your brain, never mind damage or kill brain cells!  
 
Some examples of drugs that damage brain cells: 
Meth not only damages endings of dopamine-containing nerve cells, it also kills other nerve cells in additional brain pathways.  Inhalants prevent the necessary oxygen from reaching the brain, which can damage brain cells.
To learn more about how drugs make changes to your brain, check out this Sara Bellum blog on
-Joni Rutter

Do electric cigarettes have any drugs in them?

-gallarda.19, New York

Hi...thanks for question. E-cigs have liquid nicotine in them along with other chemicals to create the "smoke" (or vapor) produced. Check out drugabuse.gov for more info about them.

-Jack Stein

Do heroin increase or decrease reaction time?

-felisa.holden, Virginia

Hello again felisa,holden! Thanks for all of your great questions. Heroin is a depressant and could definitely decrease your reaction time while you are under the influence. It would affect many more aspects of your performance too- like your coordination.

-Marilyn Huestis

do hookah pens ruin your lungs? do they cause you to get high?

-jenny, Maryland
Good morning, Jenny! My first question of the day and its a great one! Hookah pens, like many related e-cigarette products, are new products. There are many, many types of these pen-sized products and it is the subject of active research right now! The worst health consequences that we know about associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion. Since we don't know much about the consequences of using e-cigarettes, we don't know if the nicotine or flavorings that they contain will ruin your lungs... We do know that nicotine (the active ingredient for these products) is a stimulant drug that can have pleasurable, reinforcing and addictive properties, which makes it hard to quit! Check out our pub on e-cigarettes if you have more questions: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-...  
-Kris Bough

Do I have more of a chance to do drugs of any sort if i have family members who do? How and why?

-Aveson, California
Great question, Aveson!  
Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, so if you have relatives who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that it can be passed on from parents), but the amount of heritable can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
 
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.
 
 
Aveson, make sure to use the links above to get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 

 

-Joni Rutter

do most people try drugs once in their life

-leone21157, Maryland

Most people try drugs in their lifetime, since alcohol and tobacco are both drugs

-Nora Volkow

Can you overdose on tylenol?

-c322d, California
Yikes, no, but it could make you very very sick.  Plus, overtime it could cause organ failure and that can cause death.   
 
 Dave
-Dave Thomas

can you overdose/die from marijuana?

-chomer, New York

u cannot overdose from marijuana.  

-Nora Volkow

can you quit smoking marijuana as easy as it is to quit smoking cigarettes?

-Tyost@vtsd.com, New Jersey

Hi Tyost!  I am not sure, but I would imagine both are equally challenging to quit.  The best thing to do is not to start!  For more information on quitting either drug, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Bethany Deeds

Can you smoke alcohol???? Asking for a friend

-Peniswrinkle22, New York

No, you can't actually "smoke" alcohol. However, it is possible (although very dangerous) to force the alcohol in a beverage to vaporize (i.e., turn to gas) by using dry ice or high pressure from an air pump. Then the vapor is inhaled. When this is done, the alcohol enters the blood stream faster than when it is consumed. This is a VERY dangerous thing to do as alcohol vapor is highly flammable and it's difficult to control how much alcohol gets into the body. 

-Aaron White

Can you smoke bath salts?

-felisa.holden, Virginia
Hi felisa,
Good question. Bath salts are usually inhaled, snorted, or injected, not smoked. For more info on bath salts, you can check out our fact sheet: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts 
-Eric Wargo

Can you smoke the leaves that fall from trees?

-GodIsMyInfluenc, Massachusetts
Hi GodIsMyInfluen
 
Of course.
YouTube is full of this and other silly behaviors!!
 
Ruben 
-Ruben Baler

Can you snort cocain trough any hole in your body?

-RALF_WEINER, New York

Hey Ralf-weiner.  I thought snorting by definition was through the nose.  Some people are also known to inject cocaine or inhale crack smoke.  Interesting...and bizarre question....

-Joni Rutter

Can you tell me what Molly is?

-Kfitzy28, Massachusetts

Hi Kfitzy! Molly is nothing more than repackaged Ecstasy, or MDMA. Some drug dealers claim that "Molly" is a pure form of Ecstasy but when they have tested it in labs, they have discovered there are all sorts of adulterants (bad things added) in it. People who make and sell drugs to young people try to create fads, or trends, to get kids to buy it. It's all about the marketing. But in reality, it's the same drug. Check out this info on Molly: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly

-Ruben Baler

can your heart explode if you smoke too much meth

-icecreamswirl5, Maryland
Hey icecreamswirl5!
YEP,  Meth can kill.  Here's how:  An overdose of meth can result in heart failure. Long-term physical effects such as liver, kidney, and lung damage may also kill you.  And, if it doesn't kill you, it will do terrible transformations to your mouth! (see this image of "meth mouth" from the department of justice website)  YUCK!!  There's an article, too, on meth mouth on the Sara Bellum blog: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/meth-mouth-and-crank-bugs-meth-morphosis.
 
Be smart and stay away from meth!
 
-Joni Rutter

Cant poeple who have anorexia take cocaine to avoid feeling hungry?

-gk22, New York
Hey gk22--If someone has anorexia one of the last things they want to do is start abusing drugs, especially one like cocaine.  People with anorexia can develop heart problems and cocaine also effects your heart by making it beat faster--combining the two could be deadly.  While cocaine can reduce appetite, it can also, cause stomach aches, shakes, make you throw up and pass out.  Abuse it regularly and you can also become addicted.  Definitely a bad call.
 
The trained counselors at the crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7 can help people struggling with anorexia and other mental health issues.  If you know someone who needs help--give them this number.
-Lis Davis

Cigarettes kill thousands of people in the US every year, yet they are legal. Marijuana has produced no deaths, yet they are illegal. Why is this?

-DynamoDude2801, Maryland
Hey DynamoDude2801,
You ask a really interesting question. There are lots of reasons. History and greed are two of the reasons: Tobacco was an important part of American society and our economy even before we were a nation, and by the time we found out how harmful it was (in the 1950s), lots of Americans were hooked, and the companies that made cigarettes weren't about to give up a big money-maker--so they have fought hard to keep people using their products. Although marijuana has been used for a long time, even in early America, it hasn't been as important in our society, so it was easier to make it illegal when its dangers became apparent. It's dangers are very different from those of tobacco though: It affects intelligence, motivation, and other mental factors, especially when used by young people.
I'm glad you're thinking about this--it's an important question! 
-Eric Wargo

Colorado legalized marijuana, what do you think of other states future

-scarey, Pennsylvania

Hello Scarey! Great question. Currently, Colorado and Washington have passed ballots for recreational marijuana (commonly called legalization) for adults. Alaska may be considering a ballot in the future as well. Please be aware that although all this policy activity is happening at the state level, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S.

-Bethany Deeds

Could alcohol be in the food that we eat? Can that be another way kids get drunk?

-Luma, New York

Yes, there are foods and beverages that contain small amounts of alcohol, though probably not enough to make people intoxicated. Legally, non-alcohol products are allowed to contain up to 0.5% alcohol, which is about the amount that might be present in fruit juice as a result of natural fermentation. A standard beer contains 5% alcohol, ten times the amount that can be present in non-alcoholic beverages. 

-Aaron White

Could drug addictions be passed down to the baby?

-:), New York

Hey :)--great question!  I'm a geneticist and we've worked very hard to address your question.  

It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents.  For 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 Disease is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also.
 
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.
 
 
Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
 

 

-Joni Rutter

could drugs be breathed in and get intoxicated through the air?

-green59, Maryland

Hey Green 59! Good question. The answer is: yes. Drugs can be breathed in and you can get intoxicated by inhaling from a drug product directly - or even indirectly, e.g., from other people smoking in the room! 

-Kris Bough

could mixing viagra and beer kill you

-sean, New York

It's possible if you take enough!

-Aaron White

do you have less chances of getting drunk if you drink on a full stomach?

-asdfghjkl, Maryland

Yes, for sure. Drinking on a full stomach can reduce the peak amount of alcohol that makes it into the body by 30%, which is a big amount. 

-Aaron White

Do you just sit at your computer and answer questions

-aram_dadourian, New York

Oh I wish my job were that easy. Today I am sitting at a computer in a large room filled with other scientists answering smart questions like yours. But this only happens one day a year. While I like being able to share all this science with kids like you, my regular job is very different. I manage a division at NIDA that supports scientists all over the world who are doing some very exciting research into how drug abuse is treated. We take research findings and "translate" them into practical steps doctors and other health providers can take to help people with addictions get better. I love my job. We need more young people like you to become interested in science...even thought about it as a career? 

-Joe Frascella