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 all drugs alter your physical appearance in a bad way?

-HWP4Y , Oregon

Hi Hwilson,
Yup, depends on the drug but they can do all sorts of things to you brain and body, including your physical appearance. One very disturbing example is "meth mouth." If you haven't ever seen a picture of that, trust me, it is awful!!!

-Eric Murphy

Do all people have a reaction to drugs

-DB, California

Hi DebB - hope you are enjoying the Chat. Yes. Drugs are chemicals that will act on various systems in the human body to have effects or reactions. All drugs of abuse can lead to addiction and have different health impacts--it's a tough question to answer because it all depends on the particular drug and the individual misusing it.Here's a list of commonly abused drugs with the health consequences of each: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts/common....

-Roger Little

Do all vaping devices cause popcorn lung?

-Jimmy, Illinois

Hi Jimmy - this is a great question. "Popcorn lung" is another name for a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which makes you cough and feel short of breath. Workers at a popcorn factory were found to have this disease more than other people, and it turned out that the cause was a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical is also present in many vaping liquids, which is a cause for concern. The contents in vaping devices are not regulated, so it's impossible for a user to know what he or she is vaping. Check out these resources on e-cigs - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e...

-Heather Kimmel

Do any studies actually prove that medicinal marijuana works, if so by who?

-Ben the dog, Oregon

This is a great question, Ben the dog, but we don't have a good answer yet. So far, we do not have enough large-scale clinical studies that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its risks in patients it's meant to treat. You can find some examples of studies on medical use of marijuana here and here.

The purified version of CBD (extracted from the plant) has been approved by the FDA to treat seizures and to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy . Use of the whole plant will not necessarily provide the same benefits because the plant has so many more chemicals in it that can cause other problems. More research is needed on this topic!

-Vani Pariyadath

do certain drugs effect animals too?

-BS, Montana

Yes, drugs have similar, if not identical, effects in animals as they do in humans. Of course, animals can't describe the subjective effects of drugs, but the effects on their brain and behavior is usually the same and is a good indication of their effects in humans. Animals will self-administer nearly every drug of abuse that humans do. So, animal studies are commonly used to test whether a new drug is likely to have abuse liability in humans.

-Steve Gust

do different drug require different specialized treatment plans for rehab

-spence_5644, South Carolina

Great question! Actually, each PERSON in treatment requires a specialized treatment plan tailored specifically to that person. This includes addressing the drug(s) being used as well as multiple other factors including family dynamics etc. This is why treatment plans are SO important.

Thanks for asking!

-Jack Stein

do people get energy drinks as a drug just like steroids is it ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

People may take energy drinks for different reasons but is quite possible that some people take them because they can be addictive. Many energy drinks have caffeine, which provides a short-term boost of energy, but can be addictive.

-Carlos Blanco

Do people like vaping more than smoking pot in the world.

-JH, New Hampshire

The most recent data show that there are similar rates of vaping and marijuana use in high school seniors.

-Emily Einstein

Do shrooms help cure depression?

-LTHS2019, Illinois

Shrooms (psychedelic mushrooms) do not cure depression. However, some of the chemicals in shrooms are under study for possible effects in mental health conditions. So stay tuned -- someday we may have new treatments based on this research, but for now, don't look to shrooms for help. See a doctor or talk to a trusted adult.

-Joshua Gordon

do some teens vape to be considered "cool"?

-g, Illinois

Hi g from LTHS! People vape and use drugs for lots of different reasons. One is wanting to be 'cool' for fitting in (peer pressure). Other reasons may include boredom, rebellion, curiosity, and the list goes onnnnnnnn...... Check out this link for more reasons: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-why-take-drugs FYI: People can know drugs are bad for them, but they may still choose to take the risk, while others may not be aware of all the risks. Then, once they're hooked, it can be very difficult to stop. Check out one of NIDA's Drug and Health Blog posts about peer pressure here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/i-wish-that-i-could-be-like-the-cool-kids. Thanks for the terrific question.

-Jinhee Lee

do tactile drugs exist

-Maite,

Hi Maite,
Several recreational drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, narcotics and (more famously) magic mushrooms have been reported to cause tactile hallucinations (the false perception of tactile sensory input that creates a hallucinatory sensation of physical contact with an imaginary object). These types of hallucinations can also be caused by neurologic disorders like Schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
Thanks for the great question. Respect your brain and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

DO teens smoke more in high school or in college

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi Angela! About 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 98% first tried smoking by age 26 so both high school and college as prime times where smoking starts. More Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.

-Steve Grant

do the people who play video games produce the same brainn waves as when someone is using cocaine.

-SB, Montana

hi s b
good question.
Brain waves could be useful but may not be all that informative in this context. Dopamine on the other hand tells a more interesting story: the dopamine releases people display in their brain reward centers during video gaming or online social interactions can be very similar to those that happen in the course of a drug experience. This is one of the reasons we think that some video games could be actually quite addictive.
Thanks for your interest.
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Do u get worse when combining different types of alcohol

-romina ,

Thank you for your question! All of the forms of alcoholic beverages that people drink contain a type of alcohol called ethanol. It's the only type of alcohol that is even remotely safe to drink.
In terms of the different types of beverages -- wine, beer, distilled spirits -- they all contain the same drug, ethanol. Whether a person drinks beer, wine, spirits or all of the above, they're taking the same drug. It's not the combination, it's the amount of alcohol that causes harm.

-Heather Kimmel

Do you believe marijuana should be Legal?

-#VapeNation, Illinois

Hi -- Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA hopes that good science will inform decisions about legalization. Whatever happens, we do not want more teens to use marijuana, because of the potential impact on the developing brain (whcih does not stop developing until you are in your mid-20s.) For more information on the negative effects of marijuana, see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Steve Gust

Do you believe Marijuana should be used for medical purposes?

-Chungus, Illinois

There has been a lot in the news lately about medical marijuana. While the marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition, there is early research suggesting that some of compounds in marijuana may potentially help treat things like epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. Smoked marijuana isn't an ideal medication due to its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Tisha Wiley

do you guys feel using scare tactics is the best way to prevent kids from using drugs ya yeet

-dash, Illinois

Hi Dash--I perfer being honest. For instance, we know that the earlier that kids try drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. we also don't know the long-term ways drugs can affect the growing brain and if you can recover from these changes. You get only 1 shot a growing a FABULOUS brain--why risk it? I should also mention that just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs, so we recommend creating a positive environment for yourself (by cultivating an awesome support network of family and friends) so that you don't go down that road. Here is a link to learn more about preventing drug abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents. Thanks for the great question!

-Ruben Baler

do you like your job.

-Alfonso, Illinois

I LOVE my job!!! This chat day thing is a lot of fun! Plus, we support a lot of cool research that can help people. I like cool sceince!

-Dave Thomas

do you play fortnite?

-LB, Oregon

Nope, and when I asked around about it, I got laughed at. Seems everyone knows about it but me. Hmm, maybe I should look into it?

-Jinhee Lee

Do you see school districts with 'tip lines' used by students as a way to get help

-BMS, Oklahoma

Hey Bixby Middle School, I don't know of any school based "tip lines" in your area to assist teens with drug use and other issues but that is a great idea and could be a helpful resource. You might want to talk with teachers, your guidance counselor, or principal about resources and your ideas. More information about drugs can be found at on NIDA's teen site: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. If you are interested in resources about drug treatment see treatment: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

-Redonna Chandler

do you snort Heroine?

-D, Illinois

Hi D
Personally? no, i don't. And I don't recommend anybody doing it either.
Try to respect your brain, It's the only one you've got, and you need it to achieve your full potential.
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Do you support the use of medical marijuana?

-Sunny, Illinois

I support research to figure out whether marijuana or its components can be used medically. We need to know more, but there's certainly lots of reasons to think that there is medical potential if we can figure out the right ingredients, doses, delivery methods, and conditions to use it for.

-Susan Weiss

Do you think alcohol should be illegal, if it doesn't has anything good?

-Pichimimi,

Hi Pichimimi,
In the U.S., it's not legal for folks under 21 years of age to drink alcohol. The harmful effects of alcohol on the teen brain are well known.
In adults and teens, binge drinking - drinking too much and too quickly - can cause alcohol to accumulate in your body and increase the risk of damage to the brain, liver and other organs. Alcohol overdose is a serious problem. Check out this fact sheet on Alcohol Overdose for more information.

Hope this helps!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

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