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 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: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine.

-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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications 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 -http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/directors-page/messages-director/2011/02/bath-salts-emerging-dangerous-products.

-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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts. 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: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/club-drugs-ghb-ketamine-rohypnol 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: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine 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: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-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 - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/brain-actions-cocaine-opiates-marijuana/section-ii-introduction-to-reward-system/1-reward-drug-

-David Shurtleff

Does alchol posion your body?

-Yramirez, Texas

If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as 'alcohol poisoning.'

-Shuly Babitz

does alcohol affect people with adhd?

-crazybrat101, Missouri

Sure! People with ADHD already have difficulty concentrating and paying attention. Alcohol makes it even harder to do those things.

-Shuly Babitz

Does alcohol destroy brain cells???

-skhan, Texas

Alcohol certainly damages the brain. 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 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.

AN ANATOMY OF ADDICTION

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: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants

-Nancy Pilotte

Does crack affect your lungs?

-IMS524jt, Louisiana

Smoking cocaine (crack) delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous (IV) injection. These effects are felt almost immediately, are very intense, but do not last long. The high from smoking cocaine may last from 5 to 10 minutes. The high from snorting cocaine on the other hand comes on slower and can last for 15 to 20 minutes. There is evidence that suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at greater risk of causing harm to themselves-including becoming addicted-than those who snort the substance, because smoking or injecting the drug reaches its brain targets so much faster. But how does it affect your lungs? It would be similar to any other harsh substance that gets into your lungs, like the particles from tobacco smoke. The first response of the lung to such a foreign substance would be to cough! It can't be good for you!

-Nancy Pilotte

Does doing drugs make you cooler?

-JosephM, New Mexico

Now do you really think I'm going to say yes? Of course using drugs doesn't make you cool. Doing well in school, being a good friend, taking care of your health, volunteering in your community - that makes you cool.

-Redonna Chandler

do teenagers drink because the are haveing a hard time?

-betty123, North Carolina

Good question - teens drink alcohol for a lot of different reasons. Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.' Others may feel that they can escape problems in their life by drinking. But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.

-Shuly Babitz

Do you believe that if we make marijuana legal in the staes, that we have to make all other drugs legal. Like Cocaine, Meth, or Heroin?

-arvieXburgos, Utah

Hope not, and frankly I doubt it, since there's much less enthusiasm for legalizing the other drugs you mention. The concern we at NIDA have, is that with 2 States legalizing marijuana, people will not consider its risks, especially for a young person, who's academic success and career potential may be affected, not to mention the risk of addiction, car accidents, and other problems. Also, keep in mind that even though states have legalized marijuana, it remains illegal on a Federal level, and Federal law beats State law in the courts.

-Susan Weiss

Do you consider the use of cigarettes as drug abuse?

-Daisy, North Carolina

The short answer is yep. The longer 'scientific answer' is people who use tobacco regularly are likely addicted to nicotine, the major psychoactive and addictive chemical in tobacco. Addiction, including nicotine addiction, is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and abuse, even in the face of negative health consequences. In the US, almost 35 million people smoke cigarettes every day (and a lot of these people are youth and young adults). Many of these people want to quit, but unfortunately, often fail. In fact, more than 85 percent of those who try to quit on their own relapse, most within a week. Fortunately there are effective medications and therapies that work to help people quit. For more information on smoking, click here - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco.

-David Shurtleff

Do steriods help build muscles?

-msiddiqui, Texas

Great question and the short answer is yes; steroids can increase muscle mass. But this will not occur without exercise and excersing is a much better way to build muscles and get fit. Steroids have some negative side effects that are sometimes permanent. Among males this includes shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development. Females may experience coarsening of the skin, deepening of the voice, excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.), and loss of hair on the head. Steroids can even increase the risk of blood clots and damage heart muscle. So, my advice is go for a run, pump iron, ride a bike, and find safe ways to get fit! More information on steroids can be found at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids

-Redonna Chandler