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.

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does weed make you feel bettter


In some people who use it, weed can make them feel better, but this effect is short-lived. Soon thereafter, once the active ingredients in weed leaves their bodies, they may feel even worse than before.

-Nora Volkow

does weed make you stupid

-cg, Utah

Some people who use weed were stupid before they started. But...weed does affect brain function and it can definitely affect learning, memory, and coordination. School grades can be affected. Here's some more on the topic:

-Dave McCann

Does weedaffect athletes?

-Valley Vista, Arizona

This is an important, interesting and complex question.In the short term, of course, the marijuanais likely to impair an athlete's coordination, leading to subpar performance. In the longer term, continued use of marijuana can cause impaired respiratory function, again leading to a decrease in performance.For more information on the possible consequences or marijuana use, please see

-Larry Stanford

Doing drugs can harm your future but can it harm your loved ones to?

-heyy123, Michigan

They can harm you and your future, and everyone that uses drugs affects about 10 people in a very harmful way. The loved ones suffer the most, the person using drugs is high and does not feel the suffering it causes, but the loved ones go through the pain stone cold sober, and they feel all the pain.

-Richard Denisco

does marijuana affect driving

-batman, Maryland

marijuanaaffects perception, reaction time, and coordination-all of which are necessary for being a safe driver. some people claim they can compensate for its effects, but in an emergency situation, where you have to react quickly, marijuana is not going to serve you well. Also, the combination of marijuana and
alcoholis worse than either one alone on driving performance.

-Susan Weiss

does marijuana affect driving

-batman, Maryland

Yes. marijuana affects perception, reaction time, and coordination-all of which are necessary for being a safe driver. some people claim they can compensate for its effects, but in an emergency situation, where you have to react quickly, marijuana is not going to serve you well. Also, the combination of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either one alone on driving performance.

-Susan Weiss

does marijuana effect your driving abilities?

-aolinger, Oregon

What a great question! That is one of the aspects of using marijuana that has been studied a lot, and we can say definitively that the answer is 'YES.' NIDA research indicates that in 2006, more than 10 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination and other faculties needed for safe driving. Did you know that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24? Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.For more information about marijuana, check out

-Nancy Pilotte

Does marijuana have any long term effects to the body?

-smokvica, Pennsylvania

Yes- it can affect the brain leading to addiction. Smoking marijuana can also lead to cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs. Research has shown that smoking marijuana increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck, and that the more marijuana is smoked, the greater the risk.For more information about drugs, please visit

-David Shurtleff

how dangerous is E?

-butterteer, New York

Hey thanks for the's a good one! Here's the long answer: As for ecstasy or MDMA, it primarily affects brain cells (also called neurons) that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin plays an important part in controlling mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. MDMA also affects the release of of two other chemicals in the brain - dopamine and norepinephrine, which can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur right after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking it. Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain - one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused brain damage that lasted at least 6 to 7 years. Although similar damage to the brain has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption. This is currently an area of active research. MDMA can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which are particularly dangerous for people with circulatory problems or heart disease - and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. In high doses, MDMA can cause hyperthermia, which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time. Hope that helps.Check out this site for more information on ecstasy:

-Joe Frascella

how dangerous is salvia?

-purple, Utah

People who abuse salvia experience hallucinations including psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, feelings of detachment, and importantly, a highly modified perception of external reality and the self. The long-term effects of salvia abuse have not been studied.

-Stephanie Older

How do addicts feel when they are trying to stop using drugs?


Thanks for your question. This depends a lot on the type of drug that's being abused. In the long run, addicts feel BETTER when they are off drugs, but for the first few days or weeks, they may feel much worse. Alcohol and painkillers can have a lot of uncomfortable symptoms and may need medical attention when someone quits them. These withdrawal symptoms depend on how long and how heavily someone has been using.

-Wilson Compton

how do counslors and teachers get there numbers for people who smoke and drink how do they fully now that it may be 7% or 10%? they never fully know that a kid could do drugs or drink

-BLUE055, Utah

We get information on how many people take different drugs from National surveys. There is one - the Monitoring the Future Survey - that collects information on how many students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades abuse different drugs. It's true that some kids may not be honest in these surveys (even though they are anonymous), but since the various surveys come out with consistent results, we're pretty confident in the numbers we get.

-Gaya Dowling

How do drug tests know if you have been high or not?

-casagrannde, Arizona

Drug tests can tell if a person has or hasn't used a certain amount of a drug, but they can't tell if a person has been high or not.

-Ivan Montoya

how do drugs afect your brain

-mayhewcory, Michigan

Great question! It depends on the particular drug and the particular individual, but we do know that all drugs of affect the brain's dopamine system. This brain system is involved with reward and pleasure. Repeated use of drugs can start to change this system, causing a person to no longer be able to control their drug use. The person becomes 'driven' to take the drug, even when he/she realizes that he/she isn't able to do well in school, isn't able to enjoy the things that used to make him/her happy, and is hurting his/her relationship with friends and family. Bottom line: drugs affect the brain and brain processes (and other systems such as cardiovascular), which in turn, affects behavior.For more information about addiction and drugs, please visit

-Joe Frascella

how do drugs affect teenagers?

-brianna wilson, Virginia

This is a great question Martinsville!Teenagers are highly susceptible to the affects of drugs because as humans, our brains are still developing up to the age of 25 or so! When you are a teenager, your brain is changing a lot, and if you take drugs, they can interfere with how your brain functions and develops. It can slow your learning and ability to think and make decisions--that's never good! For the best answer and most up to date information, you should check out: It's a great website and highly interactive. It will give you information about teens and drug abuse. There's also a pretty cool video about one of the most highly abused drugs--prescription drugs, like painkillers. See

-Joni Rutter

how do the effects of heroin have less of an effect each time it is taken in

-SClions007, Pennsylvania

Many drugs when taken repeatedly produce what is called 'tolerance'. That means that you need more drug to produce the same effect it had initially. Tolerance happens because the brain and the body adapt to the presence of the drug--trying to reestablish normal functioning. That is also why when you stop taking a drug, you can experience withdrawal symptoms--because the body adapted and now has to rebalance itself without the drug. People often take higher doses to attempt to achieve the original effect, but that could put them at increased risk of overdose. And some drugs produce both tolerance and 'sensitization'--which means that some drug effects diminish over time (usually the 'high') while others become enhanced (often the toxic effects).

-Susan Weiss

how do u stop a drunk driver?


I would just hide his/her keys.

-Ruben Baler

How do you convince someone you love not to smoke without hurting their feelings?

-music, Utah

Well, it requires good communication and finding the right time when the person can be more open to suggestions. It's good not to be judgemental and to use scientific facts to show the person of the dangers of smoking. You can find good information about the health consequences of smoking at

-Ivan Montoya

how do you get alcohol poisioning?

-Halo, Utah

Alcohol poisoning comes from drinking much too much alcohol. Avoiding alcohol altogether is best, staying away from high alcohol content (like vodka or whisky) drinks can reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning or alcohol-induced brain alterations. Read more about it:

-Dave McCann

how do you guys know how it feels to get high?

-puppy, Michigan

Good question! We talk to lots of people who use drugs and have learned alot about it. Of course, people have different responses to drugs and the personal impact (how it feels to get high) varies alot. One thing we've learned is that people keep using even when they don't get high any more.

-Wilson Compton

How can you get someone help for an addiction if they are not willing to undergo treatment?

-agalenkamp, Vermont

Agalenkamp, Great question. The reality is that you can't make anyone go to treatment. You can express your concern about their drug use and let them know the impact it has on you and how you see it negatively impacting them. You can also provide them with information about where to find help if they change their mind and decide to seek treatment. For more information on where to find treatment see: . Finally, make sure you take care of yourself. Supporting someone who needs but is unwilling to enter drug treatment is difficult. Talk to a trusted adult - parent, teacher, coach, guidance counselor, parent of a friend - about the situation and get the emotional support you need while going through this process. Hope this helps.

-Redonna Chandler

how can you get someone to quit smoking cigarettes

-wookie73, Pennsylvania

First, they need to want to quit. Explaining the risk of developing cancer may help. Once they want to quit, medications are available to help. Seeing a doctor is a good idea. Here are some good reasons on our blog to not smoke: Check it out and leave a comment.

-Dave McCann

How can you help an alcoholic?

-chiaverinis, New Jersey

That's not easy. You might let the person know that you are concerned about his or her health, and wish they would seek help. They may be willing to speak to a trusted indivicual--for example, a teacher (if the person is a student) or minister. They may find help in locating a treatment facility at or 1-800-662-HELP, where private and confidential help is available 24/7.Alcoholism is a very difficult problem for people close to alcoholics as well as for alcoholics themselves. If that's your situation, it would be a good idea for you to talk to an adult who can support you as you try to help your friend or relative.

-Kristen Huntley

How can you help children whose mother was an alchoholic or smoked tobacco while she was pregnant?

-jessie, Massachusetts

That is a tough question. Effects of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy can range from severe to minimal, depending on how much alcohol or tobacco was used and also when during the course of the pregnancy they were used. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause, at the worst, fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition whose signs and symptoms include particular facial features and mental retardation. The worst effects of tobacco include lowered ability to process sounds and increased risk of personality disorders and becoming a smoker.There are things that can be done, but first the children have to be evaluated medically and the steps taken need to match the kinds of problems that are found. The link below has some great information about alcohol and pregnancy

-Mark Greene

how can you help people that use drugs

-skyler13, Michigan

You can help get them into treatment. Behavioral therapy (like 'talk' therapy) can help someone addicted to drugs. It teaches important skills for avoiding drug use. Medications are also available to help people quit using some drugs of abuse. To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

-Dave McCann

how can you learn from others drug mistakes?

-me73, Maryland

I think there are many lessons to be learned from the drug mistakes of others. It would be great to understand how people ended up in these situations and what could have been done to prevent the situation from occurring. The best thing you can do is learn the facts about drug abuse and addiction. Our teen web site has some stories about teens who have become dependent or addicted to drugs along with videos, quizzes and information about specific drugs of abuse. Go to Connect and Interact. Free downloads and cool videos about drugs.

-Eve Reider

how can you prevent your boyfriend from doing drugs?

-lil_one22, Maryland

You cannot prevent him from not using drugs but you can HELP him not to use drugs. This will require that you are able to discuss with him your concerns about his drug use and why he might be using it. Many times kids use drugs because they are feeling blue and they want to escape their reality. So it is improtant to recognize if your boyfriend has an emotional problem or a difficult situation at home that may be driving his behavior. You should also make him aware that you are concerned about his drug use and that you want to help him stop using them. If you think he is in danger you also should speak to a trusted adult regarding your concerns. In an actual crisis you can always call the SAMHSA hotline at 1800 273 TALK.

-Nora Volkow

how can i tell is some is an alcoholic?

-pancakesssss, Pennsylvania

Good question. When someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. But sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.

-Wilson Compton

how can people get off of drugs if they are mentally addicted to it?

-wierd123, Pennsylvania

Medications and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, can be very helpful for people who want to stop taking drugs. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for long-term success. Sometimes, as with other chronic conditions, episodes of relapse may require a return to treatment.

Medications offer help in suppressing withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. However, medically assisted detoxification is not in itself 'treatment' - it is only the first step in the treatment process. Patients who go through medically assisted withdrawal but do not receive behavioral or other therapy show drug abuse patterns similar to those who were never treated. In behavioral therapy, typically, patients learn strategies to control urges to take drugs and avoid situations that make them want to take drugs.

Medications can be used to help re-establish normal brain function and to prevent relapse and diminish cravings. Currently, we have medications for opioids (heroin, morphine), tobacco (nicotine), and alcohol addiction and are developing others for treating stimulant (cocaine, methamphetamine) and cannabis (marijuana) addiction. Most people with severe addiction problems, however, are polydrug users (users of more than one drug) and will require treatment for all of the substances that they abuse.

Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at

Also, did you know you can send us questions about drugs anytime of the day on our Teen Web site? It might take a few days, because our scientists are pretty busy - but real questions will get real answers!

-Kristen Huntley

How can taking ritalin affect you if you have not been prescribed ritalin?


Dear Freeman-Jones,Yes, Ritalin affects the brain and behavior and should only be taken while under the care of a physician. Ritalin is a stimulant prescribed for people with ADHD. As seen with amphetamines, including Adderall, numerous studies have shown its effectiveness when used as prescribed. When it is abused, however, methylphenidate can lead to many of the same problems seen with other stimulants. More information about prescription drug abuse can be found at More information about the consequences of stimulant abuse can be found at: .Hope this helps and thanks for your question.

-Redonna Chandler