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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in your opinion why do kids do drugs?

-helga,

Alot of people want to know why do kids do drugs. Kids take drugs for different reasons. Some take drugs because they have are hanging out with other kids who do drugs, some kids take drugs to feel good, some to take their minds off problems, and some because they think they will have more friends. Even though it isn't true, some kids take drugs because they think alot of other kids their age are using drugs.

-Eve Reider

In your opinion, which is worse: alcohol or marijuana? ANSWER ME NOWWW!! OH EM GEE

-screamngseagull,

The effects of alcohol and marijuana vary and BOTH can be dangerous. Some people are surprised that marijuana is addictive but i've seen many patients who are addicted to marijuana and need help to quit. I've also worked with a lot of alcholics. The response to each of these drugs depends on the individual.

-Wilson Compton

Inhalants are a type of drug right?, What is in a marker that makes you high?

-tomotuhombre,

Indeed, many people do not think of household products as drugs because they were never meant to be used to achieve an intoxicating effect, but they definitely are and can have serious health consequences like addiction and even death. Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Markers are a good example of a product that can become dangerous when somebody chooses to inhale its vapors which contain highly toxic volatile organic compounds. For more information go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Ruben Baler

Is alcohol better or worse then doing drugs?

-hello123,

This does not have an easy answer. Alcohol, in moderation, has health benefits for adults. One drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men actually protects against heart disease. Drinking more than that can cause other diseases. Alcohol in excess can hurt your liver, heart, and brain, and can lead to death from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol has been shown to damage the brains of adolescents--AND alcohol is addictive. It causes about 100,000 deaths in the US per year. Doing illicit drugs has no known healh benefits--and you can also overdose on them. Alcohol, in moderation, after you reach 21, is probably better. For more information, please visit http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Frank Vocci

IS DRINKING BEER BETTER THAN SMOKING POT

-CODY,

No! Remember, to the brain, beer, wine, and hard liquor all have the same ethyl alcohol molecule that does its thing to the brain. Beer is no safer than Jack Daniels. Many alcoholics who drink beer are under the illusion that they don't have a problem because it;s only beer they are drinking. Laboratory studies in rodents and monkeys show that it is a bit easier to get an animal hooked on giving itself alcohol than to marijuana.Bottom line- trying both drugs holds a risk of getting hooked on them.

-James Bjork

Is Ecstasy commonly combined with any other drugs to make more powerful ones? If so, are their more side affects?

-Jeremiah,

That's a great question. Most of our studies show rates of each drug separately (see www.monitoringthefuture.org) but in real life, people often take multiple drugs at the same time. Combinations are especially dangerous. For example, alcohol combined with drugs can produce unexpected side effects and complications. Ecstasy is often taken in combination with other substances and the results are unpredictable. It's kind of like playing "russian roulette."For more information on Ecstasy, visit www.drugabuse.gov and search "ecstasy/mdma.

-Wilson Compton

Is alochol a type of drug?

-awright,

Survey says - "Yes, alcohol is a drug." It impacts the same brain areas as other drugs of abuse and additionally it's the most commonly abused drug among teens. For more information on alcohol abuse you can visit www.niaaa.nih.gov

-Redonna Chandler

Is beer a drug?

-dora,

Beer contains alcohol and alcohol is a substance of abuse, so in that respect alcohol can be considered a drug

-Nora Volkow

Is caffeine soda addictive?

-igloosRcool,

Caffeine can cause problems--like headaches, jitteriness, anxiety--but it's not really clear whether it is addictive. Some people seem to have trouble controlling their intake of coffee, tea and other sources of caffeine but scientists haven't figured out whether caffeine can really become addictive.

-Wilson Compton

is coffee addictive? o;

-mslice,

Maybe. It contains caffeine, which can withdrawal syndrome consisting of headaches and craving for coffee.

-Frank Vocci

Mary: When is the most dangerous time to drink alcohol or take drugs if you are pregnant? Also, why is alcohol (within limits) consumed safely by humans when methanol, from the same chemical family is extremely poisonous?

-Westglades Midd,

This is still unclear. There are currently NO "safe" guidelines or limits for prenatal alcohol exposure! Bad idea. Period. That said, laboratory rat studies show that rat pups have the most brain and behavior abnormalities when mom rat is given alcohol in the THIRD trimester.Methanol is a smaller molecule than ethanol (about half the size), and in even low amounts destroys the optic nerve between the eyeballs and the occipital lobe in the back of the brain that processes vision and makes sense of images.

-James Bjork

most substances are direected towards some part of your body which substance can direct mostly your brain??

-jonatangaleano,

All drugs of abuse affect the brain reward areas and some drugs affect other brain areas as well. The web site below gives more information on how drugs affect the body. http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joe Frascella

My boyfriend tells me if i do weed then he won't leave me. I love him but i don't want to do them. i guess you can say that if he wants me to do that then hes not being a good boyfriend

-bumxxxchaos,

You'll have to decide for yourself whether your boyfriend is good for you or notBut--good for you for knowing that marijuana, besides being illegal, is a health hazard. There are many negative effects of smoking marijuana. It can cause loss of coordination, and affect memory, judgment, and perception. Under the influence of marijuana, you could fail to remember things you just learned, watch your grade point average drop, or crash a car. Some people may suffer sudden feelings of anxiety and have paranoid thoughtswhich is more likely to happen when higher doses are used or when it is taken orally. Its difficult to tell what the effects of marijuana will be for any given person at any time, because they vary based on the person, their drug history, how much marijuana is taken, and its strength. There's lots more information about marijuana at http://drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

-Eve Reider

my dad has a high chance of dying from alcohol abuse, what should do to make him stop?? please answer, he's arguing with my mom right now

-yhsKevin,

Sounds like you are in a touch spot and dealing with some really difficult stuff. The decision to stop using alcohol is ultimately your father's and you can't make him stop. You might consider having an frank conversation with him and point out that his alcohol abuse has a significant impact on your entire family - especially you. You might consider reaching out to get support yourself during this difficult time. There are groups for people whose family members are struggling with drug addiction like Ala-non - in some areas there are special groups for teens. Regardless of your father's decision don't be afraid to reach out and get the support you need. There are also some phone numbers you should note. By calling 1-800-662-HELP you can get advice about treatment in your area and if you need someone to talk to about what you're going through please call 1-800-273-TALK.

-Redonna Chandler

my name is dorey i do drugs andi finally want to quit but i dont no how to get help were is a good place to get help?

-fransein,

I want to congratulate you since you are aware you want to stop. Your parents can be of great help in a situation like this. If they are not availble then the school may have a person that can direct you towards a proper referal to help you stop using drugs. There are also some resources that are anonymous - for example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They don't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect you with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ which includes information about programs based on where they located. Please do follow through--treatment can work and can change your life.

-Nora Volkow

OMG MR DR FRANK VOCCI I LOVE PUGS!!!! what are their names??

-ambuhhhxo3,

Ollie and Greycie

-Frank Vocci

On average how many kids die from tobacco each year?

-soccerstar0,

The impacts associated with tobacco are mostly long term. While there are deaths each year due to fires caused by cigarettes most of the 440,000 deaths associated with tobacco are linked to cancer and respiratory illnesses.

-Anna Staton

On average how old are kids who start using drugs?

-soccerstar0,

Often drug use starts in adolescence. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start using drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences. The reasons for this are complex--first, drugs affect the brain, and the brain is still developing until early adulthood. So, it's possible for drugs to alter the normal developmental pattern--research is still ongoing to help us figure this out. Second, people who use drugs when they are very young often have other problems that led to their drug use in the first place. For example, they may have difficult family situations or problems with depression or anxiety, etc. and attempt to use drugs to help them cope. Unfortunately, drug abuse just makes things worse in the long run, and doesn't address the problems that led to its use. Third, using drugs can interfere with success in school, in sports, and in relationships with friends and family, further creating problems down the road. So the bottom line is that early drug use can lead to later drug and other problems, and the best advice is to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it. For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html. So the bottom line is that early drug use can lead to later drug and other problems, and the best advice is to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it.

-Jan Lipkin

On average what percentage of students have tried drugs upon entering high school?

-MsP,

According to NIDA's latest survey (Monitoring the Future, which surveys 8th, 10th, and 12th graders) in 2007 28% of 10th graders had used some type of illicit drug within the past year. Please go to www.monitoringthefuture.org for more information. Thanks!

-Anna Staton

On average, how many bottles of beer does it take to make someone fully drunk?

-ehsknights,

It depends on how much exposure or history a person has with drinking, and how much lean body (muscle mass) they have. Someone new to drink, and who is smaller, may only need 2-3 to start feeling tipsy. A larger person who drinks regularly might need 5-6, and a full-blown alcoholic may need many more servings than that due to having developed physiological tolerance to alcohol. For an average sized person, 4-5 beers in one hour can bring one to the legal intoxication threshold for drunk driving.

-James Bjork

my dad smokes. how can i stop him from doing it?

-CC101vids,

That is good you want to help your dad quit smoking. You can tell him that you know it's hard to quit but he can get into a quit smoking program or see his doctor for a medicine to help him stop. Good luck. he National Cancer Institute has help on their website www.nci.nih.gov and you can also check out www.smoking.drugabuse.gov

-Frank Vocci

My friend Hayley does drugs, how can i help her?

-cms,

There are a couple of ways that you can help Hayley. The first is to ask her about why she is using and to listen to what she has to say. If she understands that drug use is dangerous-to her health and for her life-then the second thing to do is to offer to go with her to talk with a trusted adult and you may also want to go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or call 1-800-662-HELP to find a doctor, therapist, support group or treatment program for your friend. If your friend doesn't realize how drugs can really mess up her life in a big way, then visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/ and look over all of the information we have and share it with her. She's your friend and her health is on the line, so even if she doesn't appreciate it at first, as a friend, you keep trying and don't give up on her. It's a hard situation, but keep trying and hopefully someday soon she'll get the professional treatment she needs to get off drugs.

-Elisabeth Davis

my friend is addicted to smoking and drinking how do i stop them?

-alan123,

The first thing you can do is listen to what he or she has to say about their drug use and about why they are using. It is always a good idea to encourage your friend to confide and seek advice from a trusted adult. If they don't realize the negative health effects drugs have on their body, brain and life, there is a lot of information you can share that can be found on NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov). If they are already aware of the negative consequences drugs have on their health, school, family, etc., they may be prepared to make a change and seek treatment. You can help them find a doctor, therapist, support group or treatment program by visiting the website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov, or calling 1-800-662-HELP. If your friend is not ready yet to get help, don't give up. Keep reaching out, and hopefully some day soon they'll be ready. Helping them go through the process of starting treatment, keeping in touch while they are in treatment, and supporting and encouraging them while in recovery are the best things you can do for your friend struggling with addiction.

-Redonna Chandler

my friend lil c is a recovering crackhead but i fear he is starting to do ice how can i help?

-dirty white boi,

Be a friend - tell him you are glad he stopped doing crack and hope he doesn't turn to other drugs. Support his efforts to quit using drugs and encourage him to get help through a school counselor, treatment provider, or self help group like Narcotics Anonymous. You can also call 1-800-662-HELP to get info on treatment options in your area or you can call 1-800-273-TALK if you need to talk to someone anonymously about the situation.

-Redonna Chandler

My friend sniffs markers and jokes around, but im afraid it will affect his brain. its no laughing matter if he's going to get hurt. what should i do?

-fred,

You are absolutely right, sniffing is no joke! Most markers are probably non-toxic, but some markers do contain volatile solvents. Inhalant abusers risk devastating medical consequences because prolonged sniffing of chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes of a session of prolonged sniffing. Sudden sniffing death, as it is known, is usually not found in individuals sniffing markers, but we want your friend to know that there are dangers associated with sniffing inhalants. Share this information with them!

-David Shurtleff

my friends eric is a cokehead what should i do to stop him from doin it

-hopscotch52,

Well you're in a tough spot because you can't really stop him from doing drugs. What you can do is express your concern for him and try to be a good friend by talking to a trusted adult about the situation. You can listen, point out any problems you see with his drug use, be supportive of any efforts by him to stop using, and be ready with information on how he can stop if he decides to take that step. See www.drugabuse.gov for more information on the problems associated with drug use. Also you can call 1-800-662-HELP to ask about treatment options in your area.

-Redonna Chandler

is weed mentally addicting or physically

-element,

Great question, Yes! About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana become addicted. When they stop, they experience a "withdrawal syndrome"--they are irritable, can't sleep, lose weight, and are anxious, often prompting them to start using again. Whats more--long term marijuanna users themselves report not only poorer educational and job outcomes, but less life satisfaction and worse mental and physical health compared to those who don't use marijuana. Check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana for more info. Thanks for joining in on Chat day!

-Marsha Lopez

is smoking weed everyday bad

-party all day,

"Here are some facts, and you can make up your own mind.Marijuana affects memory, judgment, perception, and coordination. Under the influence of marijuana, you study and learn less effectively--not just school things, but anythying. The more you smoke the more of the time you are in this state. Your risk of accidents is elevated more of the time, and the likelihood that the effects will mount up and result in things like a drop in grade point average, or not achieving your potential in sports or other recreational activities.Some people may suffer sudden feelings of anxiety and have paranoid thoughts after smoking marijauan. This is more likely to happen when higher doses are used or when the drug is taken orally. In general, it's hard to tell what marijuana effects a particular person will experience, because the drug's effects vary based on the person, their drug history, how much marijuana is taken, and its potency.Also, since marijuana can affect judgment and decision making, using it can lead to risky sexual behavior, resulting in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For more on marijuana, see http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html

-Eve Reider

Is taking pills bad for you if they are someone else's pills?

-laura.duenas,

Great question. Sometimes kids share each other's prescribed medications, which could be a disaster. Medicines prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition are based on the doctor's judgment that the medicine will cause more good than harm FOR THAT PERSON! For example, your friend may not have high blood pressure but you do. If you take one of your friend's pills, your blood pressure could rise to very unsafe levels, causing a stroke. To learn more, see our illustrated booklet at http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-Frank Vocci

Is the nervous system affected if you do drugs?

-tomotuhombre,

Great question! All drugs of abuse affect the nervous system (your brain), and depending on the drug, these affect different systems in the brain. We know that all drugs of abuse affect the "reward systems" in the brain, which leads to an increase of the brain chemical, dopamine. We also know that continued use of drug can change the brain in long-lasting ways. For more information - please check out: http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-Joe Frascella