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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do you think Europe has the right idea for a drinking age of 18 and having parents let their kids drink in moderation?

-chenoahsmall, Vermont

In general, no. It turns out that kids not only start drinking at younger ages in European countries compared to the US, they also get drunk at earlier ages and are more likely to binge drink than teens here. In other words, European teens do not drink more moderately than teens here in the US. In fact it is the opposite. Other research tells us that kids whose parents let them drink at home are more likely to develop problems with alcohol than kids who can't drink at home. Taken together, the facts tell us that the 'European model' is not one that would produce the desired results here.

-Aaron White

Do you think everyone will try drugs at least once in their life time...even if they dont get addicted?

-chicky, Maryland

Good question. Not everyone will - but, lots of people do try drugs. The problem is we can't predict who will keep going with drug use or get addicted. And anyone who uses can get into trouble--like having an accident or having a heart attack.

-Wilson Compton

do you think smoking can affect your life span?

-958832, Maryland

We know from scientific research that the earlier you smoke or use other drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences, like having yellow teeth, lack of physical activity, asthma and other lung problems, as well as increasing your risk for cancers. Smoking causes so many health consequences--it can certainly shorten your lifespan. So....tell your friends that smoking is not good for them! Thanks for your question. Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.

-Joni Rutter

Do you think that the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18?

-augie117, Minnesota

The legal drinking age was raised to 21 because too many young people were being hurt by alcohol. Raising it to 21 resulted in a big reduction in the number of young people being killed in alcohol-related car crashes. The decision to raise the drinking age to 21 was made before researchers started studying the teenage brain and how alcohol effects it. Now we know that the brain keeps growing until after the age of 21 and that alcohol can damage the teenage brain. So, it turns out that a drinking age of 21 makes sense from a brain standpoint, too! For more info on how alcohol affects kids, check out: http://thecoolspot.gov/index.asp

-Aaron White

do you think that when teens see people smoking on tv or in magazines, they want to to start smoking?

-mwhite, Illinois

Great question. There has been research showing that some teens (not all) can be influenced by seeing people smoke in ads, or on tv, or in movies. Some of these researchers have also tried to understand why this happens, including understanding what is happening in the brain when teens are exposed to media with people smoking. For more information on smoking, click on: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

-Belinda Sims

Do you think the legalization of

-avincent, Kentucky

Hello Kentucky! Drug abuse research has shown that in general if use increases, known harms (negative health consequences) can also increase. What we don't know is whether these rates of dependence will increase proportionately with a rise in use or increase or at a faster or slower rate. FYI. In the United States, a number of states have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical uses; however, since all other medicines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their safety and efficacy--marijuana has not met these standards. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in
marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases including pain, obesity, and addiction. 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. However, it is unlikely that smoked
marijuanawill be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.Currently,the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states. This link has some topline data about the increase in marijuana use in 8th, 10th and 12th graders from the latest NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future survey:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/mtf10overview.html

-Bethany Deeds

Do you think the legalization of marijuana will increase peoples' use?

-avincent, Kentucky

Hello Kentucky! Drug abuse research has shown that in general if use increases, known harms (negative health consequences) can also increase. What we don't know is whether these rates of dependence will increase proportionately with a rise in use or increase or at a faster or slower rate. FYI. In the United States, a number of states have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical uses; however, since all other medicines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their safety and efficacy--marijuana has not met these standards. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases including pain, obesity, and addiction. 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. However, it is unlikely that smoked marijuana will be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.Currently,the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states. This link has some topline data about the increase in marijuana use in 8th, 10th and 12th graders from the latest NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future survey: http://www.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/10/mtf10overview.html

-Bethany Deeds

doe sniffing sharpies kill brain cells? like forreal?

-p3nqu1n,

Not sure about actually killing neurons, but repeated or long-term use can cause damage (some permanent) to brain cells and their myelin that could result in tremors, difficulty walking, solving complex problems, and remembering things.See this webpage for more information: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-can-inhaling-sharpie-markers-make-you-high/.

-Jim Bjork

Does

-Allison, Indiana

Yes, it does. Heavy drinking - even for just a few days at a time - can cause fat to build up in the
liver. This condition, called steatosis, or fatty
liver, is the earliest stage of alcoholic
liverdisease and the most common alcohol-induced
liverdisorder. The fat build-up makes it harder for the
liverto operate and leaves it open to developing dangerous inflammations, like alcoholic hepatitis.For some, alcoholic hepatitis does not present obvious symptoms. For others, though, alcoholic hepatitis can cause fever, nausea, appetite loss, abdominal pain, and even mental confusion. As it gets worse, alcoholic hepatitis makes the
liverget dangerously big, and causes other problems like jaundice, bleeding, and difficulties getting bleeding to stop (clotting).Another
livercondition associated with heavy drinking is fibrosis, which causes scar tissue to build up in the
liver. Alcohol changes the chemicals in the
liverneeded to break down and remove this scar tissue. As a result, your
liverdoesn't work very well.If you continue to drink, this excessive scar tissue builds up and creates a condition called cirrhosis, basically causes the
liverto slowly shut down and stop working.A variety of complications, including jaundice and diabetes, and even
livercancer, can result as cirrhosis weakens
liverfunction

-Aaron White

Does adderall stunt growth?

-Kai D, Pennsylvania

Good question. Research has shown that the stimulants used to treat ADHD can reduce growth is some people. It's uncertain whether taking time off the medication (such as during the summer) can help to reverse this effect. That's one of the reasons why doctors are careful to prescribe these medications only to people who definitely need them.

-Wilson Compton

does age affect how your body reacts to drugs?

-sshs18, Nevada

Yes, age does affect the way drugs and medicines act in the body. Unfortunately, most studies of medicines are conducted in adults, so we don't know exactly all the ways age can change the way a medicine works. We do know that older people may inactivate or absorb drugs at a different rate, making it likely that they would need more or less than a younger adults. And the brains of children and teens are still developing, and we don't know how drugs may impact brain development. If you look on the package of prescription or over-the-counter drugs (like cold medicine), you will often see that the different amounts are recomended for different ages. We do know that harmful drugs, like marijuana or cocaine, can have a strong effect on young people because their brains are still developing.

-Steve Grant

Could someone get high off of second-hand smoke?

-Batman, Pennsylvania

Do you mean a 'contact high' from second hand marijuana smoke?? If so... the answer is yep! If you breath enough of the second hand smoke, the active ingredients of MJ like THC get to the lung and to the brain. It can also get into your hair, etc. So...don't hang around folks that are smoking...especially if you have to take a pee test any time soon!!!

-David Shurtleff

could you die from drinking alchohol?

-aromero, Texas

Yes. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, your heart will stop beating and you can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. You can also die from injuries sustained while doing dangerous things while drinking.

-Aaron White

could you say childern useing useing illegal drugs is just from bad parenting?

-Mr.flopicuse, New York

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to your question. Kids use drugs for lots of reasons. Parenting has a big impact on the risk of drug use in kids but it's not the only reason. For example, parents can model (or not) drug use behavior and they can carefully (or not) supervise their kids' activities. Another major risk factor for drug use in kids is having friends who use drugs. So, it is likely that both parenting and peer influence play significant roles in drug use among kids.

-Kevin Conway

Could your brain actually be slowly disintegrated? Cuz everyone says drugs kill brain cells

-egrimes, Texas

Some drugs do kill brain cells, such as volitile chemicals found in glue and other inhalants, but the bigger problem is that drugs that people take to get high can lead to long term changes in the the way that brain cells function. Recent research has found that there can be profound changes to the structure and function of the brain cells, including changes in the expression of genes. We don't know how long these changes last when you stop taking drugs or even what all of these changes do to overall brain function. So while drugs may not kill brain cells, they do change brain cells and probably not for the better.

-Steve Grant

couldn't you blame the government for bringing wide spread drug use tot he united states? amphetamines were given to fighter pilots on long bombing runs, and MKULTRA brought

-saltybeefstick, Pennsylvania

i don't think so

-Ruben Baler

Cynthia-From Kenmore: What makesdrugs addicting?

-pdoug, Virginia

What's up Kenmore!!The short answer is Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good!

-David Shurtleff

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a
plantthat contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from
plantto
plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See
http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Susan Weiss

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like marijuana? Is there a way other than smoking it it that it can be taken?

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a plant that contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from plant to plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Susan Weiss

define mushrooms

-gracem, Pennsylvania

Hi Grace,Mushrooms are fungi that grow on the ground or on tree bark. But you probably already knew that! Some mushrooms are good to eat, some are poisonous and can kill you, and some have a psychoactive compound called psylocibin in them. When people talk abut using 'shrooms, those are the ones they are using.

-Nancy Pilotte

Depending how much you smoke, can it affect how long you live?

-naynay25, Iowa

Yes! About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking.

-Dave Thomas

Did they use to put some kind of drug in Coca Cola

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yes, but that was more than a century ago. When Coca Cola was first invented, part of the formula included leaves of the coca plant which contains cocaine. But when people realized how harmful cocaine is, Coca Cola changed the way it was made so now it doesn't contain cocaine....just lots and lots of sugar. Here's a fun experiment, put a nail in a glass of cola and see what happens over the next day or so.

-Steve Grant

DMS Sugar Land, TX -Are some people more prone to become alcoholics than others? Please explain

-harry.h, Texas

Yes, absolutely. Here are the key risk factors:Having a family history - Both the genes related to having a family history of alcohol use and being raised in a home where you see others drinking increases your risk for alcohol problems. Starting to drink early - Someone who has their first drink at age 14 is around twice as likely to become an alcoholic at some point in life as someone who starts drinking at 18.

-Aaron White

DMS Sugar Land, TX Is crystal meth injected or smoked?

-harry.h, Texas

Both. It can also be taken by mouth, but the hit to the brain is much faster when injected and smoked, and it is thought that the faster a drug gets to the brain, the more likely the user is to become addicted to it.

-Jim Bjork

DMS Sugar Land, TX- What is the difference between crack

-harry.h, Texas

Hello Sugar Land-They are essentially the same thing, but crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov

-Carol Krause

DMS Sugar Land, TX- What is the difference between crack cocaine and cocaine?

-harry.h, Texas

Hello Sugar Land-They are essentially the same thing, but crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov.

-Carol Krause

DMS, Sugar Land Middle Is it illegal for a parent to give their child

-harry.h, Texas

The laws vary greatly from state to state, but in most states, this is illegal. There are about 16 states that do allow parents to serve alcohol to their underage children. 

-Aaron White

DMS, Sugar Land Middle Is it illegal for a parent to give their child alcohol?

-harry.h, Texas

The laws vary greatly from state to state, but in most states, this is illegal. There are about 16 states that do allow parents to serve alcohol to their underage children. 

-Aaron White

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded

-Jim Bjork

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking LSD? (Explain)

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded.

-Jim Bjork