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.

Download Full Year

Do you think alcohol should be illegal?

-Pichimimi,

Hello Pichimimi,

This is a complicated question, I do not believe alcohol should be illegal, but that doesn't mean it can't be harmful. Having an addiction to alcohol puts a person at risk for many diseases including cancer, and it can have devastating effects on the lives of people who suffer from it and their family members. When alcohol was illegal, people still made it and used it so that did not solve problem of alcohol addiction. See more here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/alcohol

Thanks,
Roger

-Roger Little

do you think it is hard for some people to say no to drugs

-Tas, Montana

Hi Tas - When it comes down to it if you have friends who are pressuring you to do something you don't really want to, perhaps they aren't friends after all. NIDA has a Drug and Health Blog post about peer pressure here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/i-wish-that-i-could-be-like-the-co... that may be useful. It's also helpful to be equipped with facts to help you make decisions that are right for you, so here is some information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Surround yourself with peers who will support you no matter what!

-Roger Little

do you think Marijuana should be legal -LTHS

-D, Illinois

Hello D at LTHS! Great question. Legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use and for medicinal purposes is currently the subject of much public debate, and policy makers must consider a lot factors, including how marijuana affects health and whether or not it contributes to other drug use. There is still a lot we don't know. States are testing policies for both ‘medical' and recreational use of marijuana. Whatever happens, public health experts are worried that these changing policies could lead to more use among teens. Regular marijuana use as a teen may harm the developing brain – making learning and memory worse – and can impair the ability to drive safely (especially when combined with alcohol). Researchers are currently investigating questions such as these as we speak..

-Marsha Lopez

do you think that the adict's emotions are as big a factor as his physical attributes when they want to quit?

-alumno33-12,

Hello - this is an important question. Thanks for participating in Chat Day and asking this. Emotion and stress are incredibly important factors to consider in recovery - see what some of the science says about this:
, Continued Drug Use, and Relapse | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

-Ruben Baler

Do you think that the positive effects of marijuana outweigh the negative effects?

-LeF507749, Illinois

Good question, LeF507749! No, I don't. Even if someone finds that marijuana boosts their mood and relaxes them, those positive effects to my mind are outweighed in the short term by the drug's effect of dulling thinking and memory, and symptoms of irritabilty and low mood that can occur as the drug leaves their system; and in the long term by potential disruption of normal brain development and addiction. Marijuana can impair school performance and driving, and reduce life satisfaction and motivation. Nor does everyone who tries marijuana experience any positive effects. Some people experience anxiety instead of relaxation, and some have sought treatment in emergency rooms, reporting unease and shaking, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations, and in rare cases, extreme psychotic reactions. So I'd say, no, there is not a net benefit to using marijuana, especially for teens.

-Michele Rankin

Do you think the combination of alcoholic beverages an other drug substances is the reason our death rates increase each year?

-JE, South Carolina

Great question JE! Combining alcohol with drugs, even some prescription drugs used as directed, can cause drug interactions that are dangerous and may lead to deaths. If you go to our website or the CDC website you can look up rates of overdose deaths due to drugs or alcohol but I'm not sure that we have rates on cases involving both drugs AND alcohol. Keep an eye out for updates on our site for that information. Thanks for your question!

-Aria Crump

DO you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

yes--many clever chemists out there... we know alot about the chemical structure of addictive drugs, so people can play around with those and keep coming up with new drugs with unknown risks, as long as there's a demand for them.

-Susan Weiss

do you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years?

-nyla-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hey Nyla- This is an interesting question! Something we've noticed recently about the drug supply is that there are many more illegal synthetic (or human-made) drugs than ever before, and new versions with slight tweaks to the chemical structure are popping up all the time. So yes, the number of drugs does seem to be increasing.

-Emily Einstein

Do you think weed should by legalized across the U.S.?

-frog, Oregon

Hi frog -- Thanks for the question. Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA does not support legalization. For more information on the negative effects see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Dave Thomas

do you work with all types of drugs or does your group focus on a certain type?

-theboyz, Illinois

Dear theboyz, thanks for asking! At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we support research on the causes and consequences of drug use overall. This includes tobacco, anabolic steroids, inhalants, pills, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids (like painkillers and heroin), hallucinogens and many other substances. Another agency at the National Institutes of Health works with alcohol--the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For more infomation about these agencies, see: https://www.drugabuse.gov/ and https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Wilson Compton

do Zoloft and alcohol interact in the body?

-aidan, Illinois

Yes they can! Zoloft and alcohol are both drugs, and taking drugs together can increase the risk of negative consequences. Since both Zoloft (sertraline) and alcohol affect the brain, there is a risk of greater side effects like dizziness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, headache, nausea and diarrhea! Alcohol should be avoided in people that take Zoloft.

Learn more about harmful interactions between alcohol and medicines here: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm

-Vijay Ramchandani

Doctor Einstein any relation to Einstien himself

-MS, Illinois

:) my family did come to America from the same part of Germany, but we would be distant relatives at most

-Emily Einstein

Does a mothers cocaine addiction affect the unborn children?

-AB, New Hampshire

Hi, when a pregnant woman uses any substance, including cocaine, this can have harmful effects on the baby. All drug and alcohol use should be avoided when pregnant.

-Emily Jones

Does medical marijuana actually helpful or are doctors just handing it out.

-Bshields, Montana

Thats a good question. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved marijuana for any medical uses; the FDA has approved several components of marijuana for medical use, however, just not the whole plant. The distribution of "medical" marijuana in the states that have approved it is being done on very little scientific evidence. We'll see whether -- and if so, how -- good clinical research shows the many purported benefits of marijuana to be true.

-Aaron White

Does medical marijuana still have the same effects of non-medical marijuana

-Brevin Tating, California

Depends--people mean a lot of different things when they talk about "medical marijuana". If they are talking about products that contain high levels of THC (the ingredient that gets you high), then there's no real difference. But some people are talking about products that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) and have no or almost no THC in them. These are the products that are being used to treat seizures, e.g., in children. CBD is a very different chemical and doesn't seem to have many of the same risks as THC--its not addictive, doesn't mess with your memory, etc. The problem with CBD products that are widely available is that they are not Federally regulated and you risk getting something that is not what you think it is or that has not be manufactured safely. The exception is a recently approved medication (Epidiolex), for treating seizure disorders in children.

-Susan Weiss

does mixing diferent kinds of drugs affect my body in a different way than if i use them separately

-dj nini,

Hi dj nini! Yes, that can definitely happen. Different kinds of drugs affect different parts of the body - some may affect one organ or another and some affect many all at once. Sometimes mixing drugs can intensify their effects on one organ system or make you not aware of the effects on others. For example, alcohol is a depressant that can cause you to feel sleepy. When alcohol is mixed with caffeine, the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making you feel more alert and awake than you would if you were only drinking alcohol. As a result, you may drink more alcohol and become more impaired than you realize, increasing your risk of a lot of negative consequences.

-Michelle Jobes

Does nicotine affect athletic play for better or worse? I have teammates that are all juuling before games and telling all of us who don't, that we should do it, because it helps their game and would help ours- they think they are faster and more accurate.. I thought they played worse than normal in our last tournament and we got a lot of "conduct calls" from them mouthing off on the field.

-madchrist7, California

This is a great question, madchrist7! When nicotine enters the body, it initially causes the adrenal glands to release a hormone called adrenaline. The rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing, which may be why your teammates think they are performing better. However, long-term brain changes brought on by continued nicotine exposure from tobacco products, such as Juul, result in addiction. A person can develop tolerance to nicotine, which means that he/she no longer responds to the drug in the way that person initially responded and needs more nicotine to get the same effect. When a person tries to quit, he or she may have withdrawal symptoms, including:irritability, problems paying attention, trouble sleeping, increased appetite, and powerful cravings for tobacco. To learn more about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigs, see https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Shwe Gyaw

Does people under 18 years old shouldn't drink because of health issues or because of responsibility and immatureness

-Mendhoza,

The teenage years are a time to learn how to have fun and cope with life in healthy ways. It is also a time of intense brain development. It's best to avoid alcohol until the legal age of 21 to allow the brain to reach its full potential. The chances of developing problems with alcohol are much lower when people wait until the legal age to drink. NIAAA's Underage Drinking fact sheet has more info: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/UnderageFact.htm

-Emily Einstein

does redbull and cocaine fix your problems

-MG, Montana

Hi mg
hardly. for starters, redbull is legal and if you drink it responsible it's unlikely to fix your problems (although I don't know what your probelms are) or create serious ones. ON the other hand, cocaine is illegal and it can definitely get you into a whole lot of trouble.

-Shwe Gyaw

does second-hand smoking have the same effects as smoking?

-kelly, Arizona

Hi kelly,

There are real risks linked to exposure to secondhand smoke. Every year tens of thousands of Americans die from exposure to secondhand smoke. And those exposed risk some of the other diseases that smokers can suffer from.

The good news is that we are seeing the lowest record rates of smoking in teens and adults. The bad news is that each year almost 500,000 Americans die prematurely from tobacco use...and almost all of that is from firsthand and secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke.

-Mitch Zeller

does smoking affects concentration?

-Olatunji,

Smoking what? Marijuana certainly affects concentration and makes it difficult to learn new things and remember them. Tobacco--less so, but it has other health risks as I'm sure you are very aware.

-Aaron White

Does smoking marijuana cause cancer?

-Wiley Wildcat, Illinois

Hey Wiley- It's actually still not known whether smoking marijuana leads to lung cancer. However, there does appear to be a link between marijuana use in adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer. 

-Emily Einstein

does smoking marijuana have any positive effect on you?

-her508310, Illinois

Hello Her508310,

Marijuana, like tobacco, is a plant that contains many hundreds of chemicals, including potentially pesticides (which kill insects). One of these chemicals, cannabidiol, may be effective for preventing seizures in some children, but researchers are still studying this. Most of the chemicals in marijuana are harmful both physically (they have negative effects on a person's brain) and because they can affect a person's judgment and their ability to drive safely, for example. For more information, check this out: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

Best,
Roger

-Roger Little

does taking drugs make you suicidal?

-YG, Illinois

Illicit drugs raise the risk of suicide. More than half of people who die by suicide have alcohol or drugs in their blood at the time of death! If you are already depressed or having suicidal thoughts, get help and don't use drugs or alcohol. If you have suicidal thoughts while taking a drug, stop taking the drug, and get help right away from a friend or trusted adult. People having suicidal thoughts can also get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, 24/7 (you'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area).

-Joshua Gordon

Does the alcohol is dopping?

-dadio,

Hi dadio,
I am not sure what you are asking about...
If you mean "is alcohol use dropping?" the answer is Yes. Recent surveys do show that alcohol drinking, particularly in teenagers and young adults is decreasing.
On the other hand, if you mean "is alcohol used in doping?", i suppose the answer could be yes. Alcohol can slow down our reflexes and performance and if used before sports or other activities, it can casue impairment.
Hope this helps!!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Does the current scientific literature reflect the assertion that habitual marijuana use is correlated with a reduced IQ?

-Pajamadunes, California

Wow--excellent question. Yes and no. The original study that showed this indicated that many years of chronic use (and cannabis dependence) was associated with a reduced IQ (and numerous other factors were ruled out as causal). Some more recent studies have failed to replicate the finding and suggest instead that some other environmental factor is associated with reduced IQ and cannabis is not critical for the decline. Its always difficult to know conclusively what the answer is because you can't do the definitive experiment which would require you to randomize people to heavy use or not, holding all other factors equal. But the recent non-replications covered much shorter time frames, so it still may be the case that long term (30 years) persistent cannnabis use, begun in adolescence, does cause a reduced IQ. We hope to answer that question more definitively with an ongoing study: ABCD

-Dave Thomas

Does the usage of marijuana cause cancer??

-Ye'07, Illinois

Still not sure--it has been associated with a fairy rare form of testicular cancer, and the jury is still out on lung and other airway cancers.

-Susan Weiss

does the way you take the drug effect how bad it is

-peyton, Maryland

Hello Peyton,

Drugs are dangerous because if you start taking them and develop an addiction, then you feel like you have to keep using them, even if they're damaging your health. For instance, some people who develop an addiction to opioid pain medicine would never have dreamed they'd ever inject heroin, but that's what happens for some people, and they can't help themselves. So taking a drug one way is no guarantee it won't escalate to something more dangerous like injection -- which can result in the spread of diseases like HIV, hepatitis, and other infections. For more information, see this: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/

Thanks,
Roger

-Roger Little

does using marijuana while bodybuilding actually help?

-Hat, Illinois

hi hat
of course not.

-Heather Kimmel

does vaping affect your brain ?

-jamyia, Illinois

Hi there Jamyia! Thanks for your question. We don't know all the effects of vaping because these devices haven't been around for long. However, we do know that most vaping devices contain nicotine. Like other drugs, nicotine increases levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. One thing we worry about with vaping is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. Check out this blog post for more information: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/e-cigarettes-inhaling-more-than-yo...

-Mary Kautz