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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I once saw on a show that if a kiss someone on the cheek or hug them you can't get HIV from them. Is that true?

-luvsmusic4life,

In order for HIV to be transmitted there needs to be the exchange of bodily fluid. It is not possible to spread HIV through casual contact like hugging or kissing on the cheek, as long as blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids are not shared. For more information on HIV, visit https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/hivaids.

-Steve Gust

I think my friend is on drugs ... he won't talk to me. What do I do?

-Shanequa,

It's hard to be in this situation, seeing a friend and not being sure what you can do.It can be helpful for your friend to know that someone cares about him. You can let them know you are concerned and let them know that there are people he can talk with. There are some resources for him that are anonymous - for example the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide but about a lot of issues and can connect him with a person close by). There is also a website to learn about treatment programs where you live http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. You may want to talk with an adult you trust about this too.

-Nicolette Borek

I heard that lsd is the worst drug to take. i heard that it can kill you on the first time trying it. is that true?

-cheyenne,

LSD can have very profound effects even on the first time you take it. But it is highly unlikely that the drug itself will kill you. It takes an enormous amount of LSD to kill a person. But LSD greatly distorts your perceptions and judgement, so people have died under the influence of LSD by falling off cliffs, getting hit by a car, or doing other dangerous things that they would not otherwise do.

-Steve Grant

I heard that men grow women parts when they take anabolic steroids, is that true?

-Micheal,

their breasts can grow and that has to do with the fact that steroids will decrease the production of testosterone

-Nora Volkow

If a parent used drugs when they were a teen whould you be more likely to use as a teen?

-R.Pierce,

It's possible, and we know that your genes can influence the chances of becoming addicted to drugs. But there are lots of other reasons that teens would use drugs. That's why we are using the chat day to try to educate teens on the dangers of trying drugs. here's a good website to check out for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

-Joni Rutter

If a person has smoked about 7 years and they decide to quit, do their lung(s) still look bad but are getting better or do they stay the same as if they were still smoking but don't get worse?

-BLAH....BLAH.....BLAH,

they get better

-Nora Volkow

How will ridillen affective you if you do'nt have a.d.d

-shlangbang44,

Ritalin is a stimulant that can affect your heart rate, blood pressure and other vital functions.It can cause nervousness and insomnia.Because it is such a strong medication, it must be prescribed by a physican who can monitor how it is working for their patient. The important thing to remember is that for people with ADD, it can correct imbalances in brain chemistry and is less likely to cause side effects and because it is being taken under a doctor's supervision any problems that arise can be treated effectively--this is not the case if you take it without a doctor's prescription.

-Aria Crump

How will steroids effect your body and health in the long run ?

-Nd CoUgArS 55,

Steroids are human-made substances related to male sex hormones. As you probably know, some athletes abuse anabolic steroids to enhance performance by boosting muscle size and reducing body fat .High school athletes,for example, have also been known to use steriods to enhance performance on the field. But the down side is that steroids disrupt the normal production of hormones in the body,and can lead to reduced sperm production and shrinking of the testicles.Other changes include male-pattern baldness and breast development in men-(Yuck!).In the female body, anabolic steroids cause masculinization. This means that females will experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin,and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair(chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. Examples of other effects are increase of the risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Steroid abuse has also been associated with liver tumors and a rare condition called peliosis hepatis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Both the tumors and the cysts can rupture, causing internal bleeding.Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects become irreversible. If you want to know more about steroid abuse, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/steroids-anabolic.

-David Shurtleff

How much damage to the brain does drugs do?

-kloter,

It depends on many factors including the drug, your age, and your genetics. There are drugs that are more harmful than others such as ecstasy which can produce damage to neurons in your brain at relatively low concentrations.Also when you are young and your brain is still forming the effects of drugs will be longer lasting than when you are old.Your genes also affect your sensitivity to drugs and there are people that are more sensitive to the toxic effects of drugs than others.

-Gaya Dowling

How much dose your life decrease from smoking?

-tmills,

Good question. We have found that smoking causes a lot of medical problems, including mortality (death). You might find it interesting to know that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and for people who develop lung cancer, their life ends quickly and early. Smoking also causes emphysema (long-term trouble breathing and lung damage), cancer of the mouth and tongue and can make heart disease worse. While not everyone who smokes gets these diseases, many unfortunate people do develop major medical problems, and often die much earlier. For more information, see: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/

-Wilson Compton

how much drugs do you have to take in order for the drugs to affect your baby while you are pregnant

-lexiepooh714,

Not much, but it depends on which drug and how early or late in pregnancy you take it. In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol is particularly harmful and opioid drugs (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction. For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Steve Grant

How often do you do a chat day?

-11_lacey_11,

this is our very first chat day. We've certainly gotten a much greater response than we thought we would.....so we will probably being doing this again!

-Moderator

how quick do people get addicted

-Dale Sr,

depends on the drug,the way it is taken,your age and other factors.methamphetamine can produce addiction rapidly, and if you are younger you may become addicted faster than if you are older.To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

If one parent does drugs, will the child of the couple become addicted?

-amber,

Drug abuse is indeed heriditary,which means that the disease tends to "run in families." Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person's vulnerability to addiction.Social factors in families of drug abusers also play a role, such as stress levels and the amount of drinking that goes on.So, to answer your question as directly as possible, children of addicts are at increased risk of developing addiction themselves -- but this can be avoided entirely if the child never uses drugs. Here's NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-Kevin Conway

If you are an alcoholic but you stop drinking because you are pregnant, will it still affect the baby?

-george,

if you drink during pregnancy it will affect the baby. if you do not drink then it will not have any effect since the fetus will not be exposed to alcohol

-Nora Volkow

If you were once addicted to a drug and then stopped will you always have the urge to go back to that drug again? or does the urge go away?

-JWP health,

Not everyone has the same feelings after stopping drugs, but many say that they have an urge to use, especially in the early days after quitting. One of the things that treatment does is help people to deal with any urges to use, and over time, urges to use become less bothersome.

-Melissa Riddle

im on drugs ....................... what shuld i do?

-kkkkkkkkkkkkkk,

From the sound of your question, it sounds like you want to stop, but aren't sure how? If this is the case, it can help to know that treatment for drug abuse can be very helpful- that people can and do stop using drugs. If you need to speak with someone immediately, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide, they cover a lot of issues and will help put you in touch with someone close by). If you'd like to find out about treatment programs that are close to where you live, please look at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.I wish you the best of luck!

-Lisa Onken

If I was interested in this career, what would be some of the things that are required?

-Tweety101,

I'm assuming you are referring to what's required to become a scientist. I am a geneticist by training and I took biology, chemistry, computer sciences, and statistics courses. Most scientists start with very general courses in college and then go on to graduate school for an additional period of more intense training in a particular area, such as genetics (or some other area you might be interested in). After graduate school, most scientists continue with their training. I spent another 4 years "in training" to do research on my own.It's a long, hard process, but it is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun.Imagine the moment just after you make a discovery when you know you are the only person in the world that actually knows about it!!! and then you get to use that information to help people.It's a really wonderful feeling. Now I have a great job and I get to talk to smart students like you on drug facts chat day! Here is a website that you might find helpful: http://nihlifeworks.org/feature/index.htm

-Joni Rutter

if you get addicted to drugs, can you ever quit?

-xocsxo,

yes, you can and many people have in the past .Drug treatment works but it is important to recognize that a person that has been addicted in the past to a drug will be in most cases at risk of relapsing if exposed to the drugs again. For more on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the go to the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

-Nora Volkow

if you have an addictive personality, should you stay away from alcohol?

-apollo 13,

If you feel you have an addictive personality , you should definitely stay away from alcohol and other drugs. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Frank Vocci

If pot is legal in Canada, and used for some medical purposes, why is it illegal in the US?

-Bullet-Hog,

Marijuana is not legal in Canada. In some countries, there are reduced penalties for illegal marijuana use and even some small legal programs for medical use, but these are experimental and not the national law.

-Steve Gust

If someone did drugs for about 2 to 3 years and still does them how do I help them?

-chellzee,

Routine use can lead to drug abuse and addiction. You can help someone you know by recommending they get help for this problem. Drug abuse treatment is the most effective way to help someone deal with their addiction.For more information on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

-Eve Reider

If someone did drugs for about 2 to 3 years and still does them how do I help them?

-chellzee,

Routine use can lead to drug abuse and addiction. You can help someone you know by recommending they get help for this problem. Drug abuse treatment is the most effective way to help someone deal with their addiction.For more information on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at
http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

-Eve Reider

If someone has done them for abut 2 to 3 years and still does them how do I help them?

-chelsea,

This is a very interesting question. There is a lot you can do to help a person who is becoming addicted to drugs. The advice from a good friend is very important and sometimes can have better results than coming from parents or therapists. You can help that person by listening to his/her problems, provide support, invite them to participate in activities that help them stay away from drugs, and, if necessary, encourage the person to seek professional help. There is a lot of information about the medical and psychiatric consequences of drugs that you can offer to the person to see if that helps them to consider seeking help. For more information on how drugs affect your brain and treatment go tohttps://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction Thanks for your question!

-Ivan Montoya

If someone i know is using cocaine and she says that she can go with or with out it does that make her an addict?

-rae,

Good question! Well... it sounds like the person is showing one of the signs of becoming addicted. When a person can't stay without using a drug for a long time it's possible that their brain is being affected by the drugs and is unable to stop using. Researchers are discovering the mechanisms in the brain that may explain how a person becomes addicted.You can find more information at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction. Thanks for your question!

-Ivan Montoya

If someone in your family has had problems with drugs, how do you talk to them about it? He is a great kid and I wish I could help

-soccerman,

It is hard to watch someone you care about in this situation - Many people wonder what they can do.It might help at first just to listen to this family member. It can be helpful for him just to know that someone cares. It can also be helpful to let them know that you are concerned about the ways in which this might be harmful to him. For more information about the harmful effects of drugs,you can look at www.drugabuse.gov, and you can let him know about this website too. If he's interested in getting some help to quit,you can find out about treatment programs near where you live at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. If things don't change, it could be helpful to talk to an adult you trust.In any case, please don't get discouraged - there is help available.

-Lisa Onken

If someone takes drugs when they have bipolar disorder do the effects differ?

-alec,

Definitely ! Drugs that might otherwise have minor effects could have very strong and long-lasting bad effects if you have bipolar disorder. If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder, go to a doctor to find out about the many treatments that are available. Don't try to treat it yourself by taking drugs. You can find out more about that at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-Steve Grant

If someone threatened you to take a drug, but you say no what should you do?

-bader_s11,

That is a difficult situation. It is good that you say no to taking drugs and care about your health. No one wants to be threatened in anyway, and think talking to an adult that you trust would be helpful.

-Eve Reider

If you are healthy and play sports and you smoke weed will you have a better chance to passing out while your playing your sport?

-Kylan,

One of the effects of marijuana is that it increases heart rate. In a sport like football, this could definitely cause light headedness and possibly fainting.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Steve Gust

If you are older are you more or less able to be affected by drugs?

-Daley:],

A very good, and very important,question. How much you might be affected by drugs is dependent on many, many factors, and your age is one of them. There is a lot of evidence that the earlier that a person begins to use drugs the more likely that they are to abuse them later on.This might very well reflect the harmful effects that drugs can have on the developing brain - an area of research that the National Institute on Drug Abuse is very interested in and in which a number of NIDA scientists are actively working. We know that the developing brain can be more affected by drugs. Since your brain does to fully develop until you are a young adult, drugs can have a greater affect on you than on someone who is older. For more information, please see To learn more,please take a look at"The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Larry Stanford