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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Do people get depressed when they use drugs?

-fun101, Maryland

Sometimes. Drugs can be both the cause and effect--can cause mood changes or be the effect of attempts to self-medicate feelings of sadness or emptiness--usually, in the end, only making things worse for people trying to counter these feelings.

-Jen Katt

do people get more depressed when they use drugs?

-kruiz, Texas

Many drugs with continued use have been shown to cause depression...for example, cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamine, alcohol, ecstasy, marijuana, opioids, etc. For more information on drugs, check out:

-Joe Frascella

do people really eat faces when take bathsalts? does that make you a canable

-Shanaynay S, Missouri

Hi Shanaynay, Bath salts are bad news, but they won't make you eat faces or act like a cannibal (probably)! Some violent and cannibalistic attacks reported in the news last year were attributed to bath salts by the media before the facts were known, and those drugs turned out not to be involved. The 'face eater' in Miami turned out only to have marijuana in his system when his blood was tested. But bath salts (technically called synthetic cathinones) have powerful stimulant and hallucinogenic properties--they can cause hyperactivity and delirium and even violent psychosis in a minority of users. For more on bath salts, see Eric

-Eric Wargo

do people smoke and do drugs, because they think they are cool?

-chastings, New Hampshire

Thanks for a good question. Peer pressure does cause some people to try drugs. Drugs activate chemicals in your brain such as opioids, dopamine, serotonin, and many others. The problem is that after a while, the 'reward system' in the brain that involves these chemicals takes over and it soon becomes too hard to stop using drugs. You go from 'using drugs' to 'needing drugs.' Imagine if someone puts a plastic bag over your head, your desire for air becomes so strong that it overwhelms any other desire. That is what it is like when dopamine takes over. To find out more about drug addiction, go to:

-Richard Denisco

do people take drugs mostly cause they have depression

-fhoosein, Texas

Hey Sugar Land Middle. People begin taking drugs for lots of reasons but common ones include: they are bored and want to experience something new, they feel bad and have heard drugs can make you feel good, or their family/friends have encouraged them to use drugs. Regardless of the reason people try drugs, they have a powerful impact on the brain, body, behavior, and shoud be avoided. To learn more about drugs and teens see:

-Redonna Chandler

Do people take steriods to be stronger or faster?

-SilverDolphin13, New Jersey

Anabolic steroids, like testosterone, are used by people who want to get stronger or appear bigger or to lose weight. Although your own body produces steroids, people who abuse them are usually taken in far greater doses than those that are prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions. But there is a down side when steroids are used for such non-medical purposes, because they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the body, and can lead to a long list of alterations, such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in men. In the female body, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may 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 increased risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible. Our teen site has more information on steroids: Other steroids like estrogens, progesterones, and cortisol are not anabolic and have other uses, ranging from contraception to immune suppression (such as asthma inhalers). These do not build muscle (like the anabolic steroids) and in fact, break muscle down. Your body produces all these steroids in very small amounts at times when they are needed, and they help maintain a healthy body.

-Nancy Pilotte

do people take steroids just because they want to be better at sports or is there another reason

-fhoosein, Texas

Hi fhoosein, Very interesting question. People take steroids for a variety of reasons. Some people are interested in using steroids to change their appearance especially to build muscle or loose weight. Other people take steroids to improve their athletic performance. However, there are negative consequences to taking steriods - some of them serious and permanent. For example did you know that when males take steroids they can reduce sperm production, shrink the testicles, lead to male-pattern baldness and even breast development. More information on steroids can be found at: Drug use does not solve problems or get teens what they really want or really need. And, stopping drug use once you start or become addicted is really difficult so it is best not to start. For more info and resources on youth drug use go to: this helps! Harold

-Harold Perl

do pills affect your lungs?

-thdfert, Maryland

not unless you smoke them. some pills (painkillers, tranquilizers) can suppress breathing.

-Susan Weiss

Do shrooms grow in the ground with certain bad molecules or do people put the bad molecules in shrooms?

-Spencer t, Colorado

They come fully equipped with all the chemicals they have. They usually grow in the woods, on the forest floor, or on dead tree trunks. But picking mushrooms is not for the uneducated--many are highly poisonous and can curtail your career plans.

-Nancy Pilotte

do some drugs actually make you grow hair on your tounge

-JHinojosa, Texas

Interesting question. Black, hairy tongue is a temporary, harmless (benign), painless oral condition that gives your tongue a dark, furry appearance. The distinct look of black, hairy tongue usually results from an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. It is stated that smoking cigarettes and methamphetamine use could contribute to this condition, largely due to bacteria growth from a lack of saliva, which methamphetamine can cause as part of 'meth mouth'. For more information on methamphetamine go to:

-Joe Frascella

Do some drugs really help cure cancer?

-Arlyssa13, Georgia

Yes--chemotherapies and other anti-cancer drugs. Marijuana does not cure cancer, and its active ingredient THC (marinol) is used to treat the nausea associated with chemotherapy, but not to cure the disease.

-Susan Weiss

Do speed and cocaine have similar effects?

-Felisa H, Virginia

Hi TC Williams. Both drugs are stimulants, so they have similar effects, including causing users to feel nervous, edgy, and sometimes paranoid. they also increase a person's heart rate and blood pressure, which can be dangerous leading to heart attack and stroke. Through it's effects on the brain chemical dopamine, it can also lead to addiction-not good! For more information on how drugs affect the brain, click on

-David Shurtleff

do any drugs other than steroids make you stronger?

-JESUSF, New Mexico

no, but some drugs can make you 'think' your stronger like PCP- not good!!

-David Shurtleff

do any every day medications have life threatening sideffects or contains addicting drugs?

-onedirectionst1, Illinois

'Everyday' medications like ibuprofen, available 'over the counter,' can have bad effects if people take too much. Iburprofen can worsen asthma, for example, sometimes fatally. Along with several other NSAIDs (like tylenol), chronic ibuprofen use has been related to risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, especially if used a lot and in high doses. Other common medications are prescribed and do contain addictive substances, particularly pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin. See for more.

-Jen Katt

do any of the drugs have posion in them if so.. what kind of drugs?

-harrys, Illinois

no, but the way they are manufactured or sold into tablets can result in some instance in the addiction of other, unknown and sometimes hazardous or poisonous contaminants introduced into them.

-Nora Volkow

do bath salts make you eat people

-551817, Texas

I don't know about them necessarily making you want to eat people, or turn you into a zombie or anything, but they could make you aggressive and act in peculiar ways by causing hallucinations and make the user feel anxious and paranoid. Bath salts are a group of dangerous new drug stimulants much like cocaine but much more potent - because they are not regulated they may contain dangerous contaminants or cutting agents. These are generally cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, sometime to dangerously high levels. They also tend to produce hallucinations and cause panic reactions. These drugs are dangerous and can cause death, so it is not surprising that many people react strangely after taking them some ending up in the emergency room with medical complications such as psychosis, that requires treatment. Want to learn more about bath salts? Click here - and

-David Shurtleff

do bath salts really make you eat other people

-jbarrares, Minnesota

Hi jbarres, Bath salts are bad news, but they won't make you eat people (probably)! Some violent and cannibalistic attacks reported in the news last year were attributed to bath salts by the media before the facts were known, and those drugs turned out not to be involved. The 'face eater' in Miami turned out only to have marijuana in his system when his blood was tested. But bath salts (technically called synthetic cathinones) have powerful stimulant and hallucinogenic properties--they can cause hyperactivity and delirium and even violent psychosis in a minority of users. For more on bath salts, see Eric

-Eric Wargo

Do club drugs dissolve in water? (so you would know if someone sneaked one in your drink)

-Honeybee7777, Illinois

Hey Honeybee7777! Because some club drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others without their knowing. This property makes these drugs very dangerous. For more information on club drugs see: Thanks for the great question Honeybee7777!

-Joni Rutter

do doctors use weed for medical uses. what king of medical conditions

-joshm69, Maryland

hi josh. No, in fact there are no approved medications that one can smoke, because even if there is a beneficial compound in the cannabis plant (which probably there is) it would be irresponsible and counterproductive to deliver that compound together with a thousand other chemicals most of which are likely to cause damage. take a look at this doc: you might find it interesting. good luck and thanks for your question. Ruben

-Ruben Baler

Do drug uses cause many people to do commit suicide

-Commment101, Illinois

This is a difficult question to answer. From what we know about drug addiction, drug use can make a mental illness worse (like depression). Also, people with drug addiction can become depressed because of their addiction and the consequences that come with it. Drug use can also impair judgement. Drug use can also lead to isolation (because people lose important relationships, can not keep a job, etc.). We do know that these factors - mental illness, impaired judgement, and isolation - are risk factors for suicide. So, drug use may exacerbate suicide risk, but it is not a clear risk factor for suicide.

-Michelle Leff

do drugs afect people with ADHD difrently then people without ADHD?

-TigerBaby, Missouri

Yes. In people with ADHD, stimulant medications generally have a calming and 'focusing' effect, particularly in children. However, because these medications affect the dopamine system in the brain (the reward pathway), they are also similar to illegal drugs when they're abused--like taken at doses or by routes other than prescribed. For those who abuse stimulants, the range of adverse health consequences includes risk of dangerously high body temperature, seizures, and cardiovascular complications.

-Jen Katt

Do drugs affect ability to sleep? -SNORLAX

-snorrrrrlaxxx, Texas

SNORLAX? Sounds like a Dr. Seuss character. Yes, drugs can affect your sleep, your mood, your family relationships, your achievement in school, your ability to drive, and many other things.

-Jen Katt

Do drugs affect any of your other senses? If so which ones and which drugs affect them?

-ClariceR, Colorado

Yes, and some more than others. For example, LSD can enhance and disturb visual perceptions, marijuna can also increase somatosensory perception making touch or food flavors more intense.

-Nora Volkow

do drugs cause major brain damage

-troll man, Maryland

Yes, they can, and in many different ways. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here:

-Anto Bonci

Do drugs effect animals like they do with humans?

-Leah K, Missouri

Why? You're not planning to give your cat 'Fluffy' any drugs are you? Just kidding, Yes- if fact scientists often use animal like specific genetically bred mice and rats as a model to better understand how drugs affect the body and how addiction develops. They use these animals because believe it or not our brains are not that different from other animals like rats and mice and when given the opportunity to take drugs, they show signs of addiction that we see in people! Have a uncontrollable desire to learn more about the use of animal models in research? Click here -

-David Shurtleff

Does alcohol really kill brain cells?

-BlakeKiddo, Minnesota

Well, alcohol can seriously affect the way your brain develops. The teenage years are a very important time for development of the brain. The thinking parts, memory parts, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area 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. 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. For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!

-Shuly Babitz

Does alcohol really make you throw up

-TheChosenOne, Pennsylvania

Yup - not very appealing, right? Alcohol seems to trigger vomiting in two different ways. One is by irritating the stomach. There's also an area of the brain that monitors the contents of the blood for toxins. If the level of alcohol in the blood reaches a high enough level, the area triggers vomiting. Vomiting is your body's way of showing it feels threatened by the high level of alcohol in the system and is trying desperately to get rid of the alcohol to protect itself. Blech.

-Shuly Babitz

Does caffine stunt growth?

-Shashank, Maryland

There is no evidence that caffeine affects growth. but keep caffeine intake at reasonable levels; we are only beginning to investigate what might be the effects of regularly drinking the large doses of caffeine one can find now in some energy drinks. stay safe and good luck ruben

-Ruben Baler

Does cocaine have any benefits , is it only bad for you

-Omarw, Colorado

Hi Omarw. Cocaine used to be used in medicine as an anesthetic, but not any more. It is too harmful to be used as a medication. Check out this book below and see what you think.


Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine

By Howard Markel

-Joni Rutter

Does cocaine lower your voice?

-ls13, New York

Uh, no. It has no direct effect on your vocal chords. Here is what cocaine does do:

-Nancy Pilotte