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 drinking kill brain cells?

-pHlevel1, Maryland

Drinking large amounts of alcohol may kill brain cells. But more importantly, drinking interferes with how the brain develops and how brain cells communicate with each other - especially in teenagers.

-Aaron White

does drinking stunt growth

-babels, New York

It's possible. Alcohol could affect growth in several ways. Alcohol alters hormone levels in the body, including levels of testosterone which plays important roles in muscle growth and the physical changes that males go through during puberty. In females, the hormone changes can disrupt the menstrual cycle. Alcohol interferes with sleep (some people think it helps them sleep but it actually doesn't!). Because it interferes with sleep cycles, alcohol reduces the release of something called growth hormone, which plays a very big role in growth and development throughout the body. Alcohol also interferes with brain growth and development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the part of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

-Aaron White

does drug affect sex?

-N.S.K, Maryland

some drugs can. for example:anabolic steroids can lower sex drivemarijuana can lower sperm countecstasy and poppers are often abused to enhance sexual arousal.thanks for a great question.

-Ruben Baler

Does drug use vary with age?

-dever, New Jersey

Yes, many studies show that the rates of drug use vary with age. Young adults (age 18-25) are more likely to be using drugs than any other age group. In 2009, about 21% of young adults reported using an illicit drug in the past month, compared to about 10% of teenagers (age 12-17), and 6% of adults older than 25. This difference between age groups is observed for different types of drugs, including marijuana -- the most commonly abused illicit drug. Focusing on marijuana use in 2009, about 18% of young adults reported using an illegal drug in the past month, followd by 7% of teenagers and 5% of adults older than 25.This information comes from a national survey that's conducted every year. You can see the latest one at:

-Kevin Conway

does drugs affect your hormones

-bricurti2, Georgia

some do, this is why anabolic steroids have all the bad effects they are known for. Check my video here:!!

-Ruben Baler

does ecstasy have a little bit of every drug in it !

-keytuh, Virginia

No, ecstasy is a name for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. It is a stimulant which shares its effects with other drugs of the stimulant class like cocaine and nicotine. That is, it can make you feel focused and energized, it can produced hyperthermia and reduce your appetite, and it can alter the way your brain works. You can see this by examining the decisions that people make when they are using the drug and when they are not--they are often very different.

-Nancy Pilotte

does every teen take drugs

-love_fletcher, Kentucky

You might think so from watching some television and movies, but you would be wrong. Most teens do NOT take drugs. In 2009, about 37% of 12th graders reported using an illegal drug in the past year; fewer 10th graders; and many fewer 8th. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug, with about one third of 12th graders reporting using it in the past year.It's a good question you ask, because many teens tend to want to do what other teens do, and if they think everyone else is using, that might influence them to use. That would be making two mistakes.

-Kevin Conway

does getting high affect your abiliity to drive?

-Rocky, New Jersey

What do you think?

-Ruben Baler

does gettinghigh affect your ability to drive?

-google, Maryland

Let's put it this way...I wouldn't want to be in the car with you or even on the road with you if you were high! In all seriousness, drugs significantly affect the brain, body, and behavior. Decision making, judgment, and reaction times are compromised when an individual uses drugs. These skills are essential for safe driving. Here's a little fact...did you know that ~14% of fatal automobile accidents involved someone who smoked marijuana?

-Redonna Chandler

Does herion start off as a powder?

-Special K,

Hi Randolph Clay!Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, which is extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. 'On the street', heroin usually is usually sold as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as "black tar heroin." Need more facts? Check out:

-David Shurtleff

Does it effect your body to take adderal when not its not perscribed to you?

-fellowhomie, Virginia

Hi fellowhomie...Yes! Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat ADHD/ADD. It falls into a class of medications call stimulants. Like any other medical condition, you should not take medicine for something you don't have, as the effect on your body would be different than what is expected when the medicine is used to treat an illness. Addiction to stimulants can happen if they are taken without medical supervision. For more information on stimulants, see

-Amy Goldstein

Does K2 Kill You

-Moni&Cardo2012, Maryland

Thanks for your question.K2, Spice is a fairly new phenomenon. There is no solid indication that this herbal mixture is lethal. But since this mixtures are not regulated nor standardized different batches from different manufacturers could end up containing dangerous contaminants. Stay healthy and take care.

-Ruben Baler

does maraguanna help cure glacoma ?

-15952329, Maryland

Glaucoma is indeed one of the diseases that has the potential to be successfully treated with active ingredients derived from marijuana.Thanks for your question.

-Ruben Baler

does alchol make you go crazy and make you want more of it

-wwhi, Pennsylvania

Alcohol causes changes in the brain that make it more likely that people will do things they normally would never do. Some people like the effects of alcohol and want more after they drink it, but this defnitely is not the case for everyone. Being addicted to alcohol, according to the National Library of Medicine, means that you have the following problems: Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high" Check this out at:

-Aaron White

does alcohol have a long-term effect if you consume it once

-luckysoccer, Kentucky

It depends on how much a person drinks that one time. It only takes one time to drink enough to shut down the brain, cause serious damage, or even death. One episode of heavy drinking may also make you do something dumb or get in an accident. A small amount one time probably wouldn't do any long-term damage.

-Aaron White

Does alcohol have any other effects on the body other than the brain and the liver

-howaboutthat6, Kentucky

Yes, it actually affects pretty much every part of the body. It increases acid secretion in the stomach, which can irritate the stomach. It affects levels of hormones in the body, which can influence growth and development, as well as sleep and athletic ability.Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, as you mentioned, as well as your pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer. For more information on how alcohol can impact your help, check out:

-Aaron White

Does alcohol or marijuana have more negative effects?

-c7f3e, Maryland

They have different negative effects. It's really hard to compare. For teenagers, using either one is associated with lower grades, and more problems at home and in school. Research suggests that both of them can cause long-term problems with thinking and memory.

-Aaron White

does alcohol slow down your body?

-rfer, New Jersey

Drinking just once causes a bunch of changes in the brain that usually go away once the alcohol wears off. Alcohol slows down a part of the brain called the 'frontal lobes.' The frontal lobes help us make good decisions and stay out of trouble. Drinking alcohol increases the chances we will make bad decisions and get in trouble. Alcohol turns on a part of the brain called the 'reward system.' This is what makes alcohol feel good for some people. Alcohol slows down an area called the 'amygdala.' This area helps tell us when we are in danger. By slowing this area down we often fail to recognize when we could be in danger and makes it easier to make bad choices. Alcohol also shuts down a part of the brain called the 'hippocampus', which helps us make memories. Drinking too much alcohol can make it harder for us to make memories and even cause 'blackouts.' These are blank spots in our memories that prevent us from remembering what happened while we were drinking alcohol. Finally, alcohol can slow down the 'cerebellum', which is important for letting us keep our balance and walk without stumbling. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the frontal lobes smaller. As mentioned above, the frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

-Aaron White

Does animals respond in the same way as humans if they were to take drugs?

-meiluvspandas, Maryland

Great question...and the answer is, yes they do. In fact, animals will take exactly the same drugs that humans take, and they take them in ways that suggest they experience similar effects (timing of doses, etc). Researchers use animals as models to help development treatments for these drugs because of their reactions; they are important tools in the search for anti-drug medications when used in controlled environments. Now, that said, please don't try this at home--your pet deserves better.

-Nancy Pilotte

Does any addiction cause your brain to lose knowledge?

-tthomp172, New Jersey

Addiction is a process that changes both our brains and behavior. Studies have shown that all drugs affect the brain, some in very profound and powerful ways...that is, some drugs can cause damage to the brain and brain processes, and in many cases, these effects can affect the brain's ability cognitively - for example with learning, memory, ability to plan, etc.For more info, check out:

-Joe Frascella

Does beind alcohol and drug free really pay off in the end?

-2 cool 4 school,

That is a great question! Here are some facts about drug and alcohol use that might help you think about being drug free. Using drugs can have both short term and long term effects on a person's mental and physical health. In the short term, people can injure themselves, others, and can even die from overdosing or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the long term, drug and alcohol use are associated with chronic diseases such as lung cancer, liver disease, and heart problems. Also, people who abuse or are addicted to drugs and alcohol often have problems academically or in their jobs. They may get into arguments and withdraw from family and non-drug using friends. With so many possible problems that can result--its definitely a good call to be alcohol and drug free.

-Aria Crump

does body wieght effect the amount of drugs you need for and overdose like alcohol does?

-20115625@pjphs, Pennsylvania

It is one factor. In general, smaller doses act like larger ones in smaller people... for more info, see

-David Thomas

does cocaine make you invincible? if not can i fly if i get drunk?

-i am mike, New Jersey

what exactly are you on now?good luck and safe landing.

-Ruben Baler

does cough syrup realy have that big affect on you ?

-leslie, Maryland

it certainly could. deaths have been reported as a result of abusing cough syrup.

-Ruben Baler

does crack hurt other people around u for example ur familly

-16969838, Maryland

Yeah, unfortunately using crack and/or other drugs can affect your family and friends. It can take away your attention, time, focus, and energy away from raising your children, spending time with your brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. A person may spend money on crack that would normally go towards other things like hanging out with your friends, food, clothes, or family items. It can be rough for the person using and for those close to them. Here's a resource if you have a family member or someone close to you who is using: Also, if you know someone who needs help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

-Nicolette Borek

does depression lead 2 tha use of drugs, or suicide????????????????

-paperoberts, Maryland

All of those things (depression, drug use, suicide) tend to go together. Knowing which comes first (depression or drug use) may be a harder question to answer. We do know that we see more drug use among teens who are depressed than those who are not depressed. Drug use is a risk factor for suicide, as is depression. For more information on suicide prevention go to: And remember, if you or anyone you know is in crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.

-Amy Goldstein

Does depression play a role in the use of drugs & if so, how depressed would you have to be?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

Hi there. Yup, it does. For many teens (and adults) depression and drug use go hand-in-hand. Sometimes, folks who are depressed use drugs to make themselves feel better (commonly called 'self-medicating'). This is not a good approach to treating depression. I don't think there is an answer to how depressed someone has to be before they try drugs - that would likely be different for different people. If someone is depressed and they are thinking about using drugs, this is a great opportunity for both prevention and treatment (preventing drug use and treating depression). Using drugs when depressed will only make it harder to treat a depression. So, if someone is depressed, best to seek professional help - we have many effective treatments for depression in teens.Here is some general information about depression: to know more about Depression in Children and Teens? See: find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment a good place to start is the Web site of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

-Amy Goldstein

does doing drugs increase your sexual arousal?

-seniorbrwnwater, Kentucky

There are a few drugs that are reportedly abused with the purpose of increasing sexual arousal or pleasure. Nitrites (poppers which are inhaled) and MDMA (Ecstasy) come to mind. Thanks for the great question.

-Ruben Baler

Does doing drugs while pregnant put the baby at higher risk of doing drugs when its older?

-boiling springs, Pennsylvania

Excellent question? Are you a researcher? Because they are looking at this very question right now. We have some evidence that exposure to smoking in utero (in the womb) can make you more vulnerable to addiction to cigarettes. As a matter of fact, smoking more than a pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of the child becoming addicted to tobacco if he or she starts smoking. Ongoing studies are trying to find out whether that is true for other drugs too, like cocaine.

-Nicolette Borek

does drinking affect someone at birth

-january baby,

Fetal alcohol syndrome is what happens to babies when their mothers drink too much when they are pregnant with them. Babies born with FAS have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.

-Aaron White