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 you think that when Colorado legalized marijuana for medical reasons that other states will.

-Hamlet, Pennsylvania
Hi Hamlet,
Actually, Colorado even legalized marijuana for recreational use, so the interesting question is whether people will still try to get "medical marijuana" in that state now. But yes, it looks like more states might legalize medical marijuana. So far, 20 states have done so, and it's on the ballot in more.
Great question! 
-Eric Wargo

Do you think the pot is not legal, because the government has no way of taxing it?

-jstreet, Vermont
Hi jstreet,
thanks for the thoughtful question. We know that teens have a lot of questions about marijuana. Right now the federal government has not made the drug legal. However, two states (Washington and Colorado) have made it legal and this presents a difficult legal question about which law---state or federal---should rule.  In the meantime, those states will tax the sales of marijuana and many people are watching to see if there will be more health problems in the states that decided to legalize it. While the lawyers and legislators argue this debate, public health experts are hoping teens will stay away from marijuana because research shows it can harm the developing brain. 
-Susan Weiss

do you think they should band beer and not weed because more die a year of drinking but you dont really hear of people dying of weed

-suicide silence, New Mexico

Interesting question. It's not a question we can answer but one that you, as a member of the next generation of leaders, can decide!

-Aaron White

does activity affect the rate at drugs work?

-green59, Maryland

Hi green59!  Good question!  It kind of depends on the drug, but in general, the more active you are the more your heart is pumping and therefore, the quicker the drug gets through your blood and to your brain, which is where drugs have their main effects.    There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

-Joe Frascella

Does Alchol Cause problems ?

-Lerbon Kenny, New York

Yes, it certainly can! Alcohol contributes to all kinds of diseases and injuries. For instance, the CDC reports that in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

That includes about 1,900 deaths of young people under age 21.

You can learn more statistics like these at:

-Aaron White

Do steroids make you skinny?

-drugsr4thugs, New York
Hey there. 
Anabolic steroids do a lot of things to people, but I have never heard about them making you skinny.  They are used to promote muscle growth, but they do a lot of other nasty things.  They are especially bad for growing bodies.  You can read about it at the attached link.
-Dave Thomas

Do steroids make your testicles swell?

-zdiddy, Maryland
Hey Zdiddy- they can do the opposite- SHRINKAGE (called testicular atrophy)!! Check out for more info.
-Jack Stein

Do teens start using drugs more in early, middle, or late teen years?

-YouthSource, Washington
Hey, YouthSource, great question! Thankfully most teens don't start using drugs at all, but if they do the percentage of teens starting to use drugs increases as they get older.  For example, among those who hadn't used before, nearly 12% of 16-17 year olds started using drugs in 2012, compared to 3% of 12-13 year olds. Science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs the more likely s/he is to get addicted and suffer major social and medical problems, so while we don't want any teens to start using drugs, it's more harmful if they do when they're younger. To learn more about the health effects of drugs, visit NIDA’s teen site here: 
-Marsha Lopez

do the effects of drugs affect family members?

-student 007, Maryland
Hey Spy Guy - Drug abuse and addiction can definitely affect a drug user's family.  Usually the effects have to do with the drug user's time spent getting intoxicated or recovering from the intoxication.  A family's resources may be diverted to support the drug user's habit.  Often times addiction also causes poor decision-making, erratic mood swings, and other irresponsible behavior that can definitely affect a family's well-being and stability.  These effects can be temporary or long-lasting.
Thanks for asking this important question.  Here are some resources:

If you want to ask about getting substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Michelle Leff

do weed effect your teeth

-flygirlniya, Maryland
Hi flygirlniya,
Interesting question. I suppose if you smoke enough, it might turn your teeth yellow like cigarettes do. And it might make you less motivated to brush! 
-Eric Wargo

Do you answer questions from around the world?

-Student6372, Maryland

Most of our questions come from the good ol' USA but right now some of our scientists are answering questions from American students in Rome,Italy! 

-Ruben Baler

Do you consider alcohol a drug?

-SquishyMuffins, Massachusetts

Yes for sure. A drug is a substance that alters how we think, feel, function and behave. Alcohol is a very powerful drug. 

-Aaron White

Do you drink beer before liquor or liquor before beer; and what are the effects of each?

-mchammy, Maryland
There's an old myth that drinking one type of alcohol before the other is better. In reality, alcohol is alcohol. Whether it comes from liquor, beer or wine, alcohol shuts down various parts of the brain and makes it harder to walk, talk, think and make decisions. You can learn more about how alcohol affects your body here:
-Aaron White

Do you feel that it is more dangerous to... Drive buzzed/Drive wile texting/or drive high? I know that they are all bad, but as a SADD member trying to impact teen students, which is the worst?

-Dave-C, Pennsylvania

sorry--i don't know how to rank those--you're right--they are all dangerous and cause accidents.  One other point to make is that combining alcohol and marijuana is worse than either one alone.  In general, alcohol is the most common substance found in drivers who are in accidents, but that's probably because it's most commonly used, and texting may be more difficult to identify as a cause.

-Susan Weiss

Do you forget things after using marijuana the same way you do when you're drunk?

-Not a Drug Guy, California
Hey Not a Drug Guy - I like that - be smart and keep it that way!  Way to go!
Marijuana has clear effects on memory; alcohol also can affect one's memory when drunk.
If you would like to learn more about marijuana's effects, go to: 
For more on alcohol check out: 
-Joe Frascella

do you get diaria from weed

HI Ralf - I haven't heard of that being a specific effect of marijuana, but it does have lots of bad effects. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can cause anxiety and confusion. It can cause impaired thinking that can lead to traffic and other accidents. Please take a look at this website for a more comprehensive overview of the effects of marijuana:
-Steve Gust

Do you get the heebie-jeebies when you try to quit drugs?

-cocainrelli, New York

Good Morning cocainrelli! Thanks for your question! Yes, many people can get the “heebie-jeebies” – also known as “withdrawal”, when they try to quit using drugs. Withdrawal happens when a person is dependent on a drug, so their body and brain have changed after repeated long-term use of the drug and their body now craves and needs the drug. When they don't have access to the drug for any number of reasons – no money, no supplier, trying to quit, etc. – they can enter withdrawal. Withdrawal effects vary for different drugs. You have probably seen heroin withdrawal on TV and in movies. It is difficult – with terrible cramping, vomiting, and inability to think about anything else but getting more drugs. Marijuana withdrawal is more subtle but can affect sleep, and mood – making people highly irritated and upset for weeks. Alcohol withdrawal is very dangerous and people can die without treatment because seizures can happen. Unfortunately, when people are in withdrawal they frequently reuse the drug to stop the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is one of the main reasons that people have a difficult time stopping using drugs even when they want to.

-Jeff Schulden

Do you have a backround of drugs?

-barackobama, New York
Dear Mr. President,
It is an honor to speak with you today!!!! 
I was trained as a pain researcher, and hired at NIDA since we have a pain research program.  Some medicines that are used for treating pain are also abused by people who aren't in pain.  Since working at NIDA I have picked up an understanding of drug abuse.   
I hope that answer your question, sir.  
-Dave Thomas

could steroids be considered drugs

-softball37, Maryland

They are and can produce addiction

-Nora Volkow

dave thomas youve got a lot of balls kudos bro

-snailpenis, Maryland

TY sir!

-Dave Thomas

David from WJ what happens to kids that have ADHD when they smoke.

-david, Maryland

hi David.  Well, smoking isn't good for anyone, of course!  In addition to all the health problems associated with smoking in general, cigarettes include nicotine, which is a drug with it's own effects.  Some people think smoking is calming, but Nicotine can be a stimulant that can affect people differently.  Adding it to the mix with ADD/ADHD and the medications that are used to treat ADD/ADHD can just make things more complicated.  

-Joel Sherrill

Did meth become more popular after Breaking Bad?

-marijuanakills, New York

Hi, marijuanakills, what a great question! Nationally we haven't seen an increase in the popularity of meth since Breaking Bad debuted in 2008. If anything we have seen a slight continued downward trending in use since that time.  Our most timely report of emerging trends comes from a network of City and State researchers, law enforcement, treatment and other health officials who report regularly on what emerging drugs they're seeing in their local communities, so it remains to be seen what will happen in the upcoming months and years.  You can click here to see the most recent reports by region. If you want to learn about the heath effects of meth and other drugs, check out NIDA's website:

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”

-Marsha Lopez

Diffrence between acid and mushrooms?

-tmac316, Maryland

Well one is synthesized in the lab and the other is a mushroom.  That is one difference.  But both are hallucinogens.  The hallmark of these drugs, which include LSD, MDMA  (methlyenedioxymethamphetamine, Ecstasy), and PCP (phencyclidine) is causing distorted perceptions and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there).

For more info, see

-Dave Thomas

Do all drugs and alcohol cause hallucinations and epilepsy?

-felisa.holden, Virginia
Hi Felisa.
thanks for the question!
The answer is no: specific drugs have specific effects. you can visit these sites to find out what drugs have specific neurological and mental health effects.
all the best.
-Ruben Baler

Do all drugs come from mexico?

-DuckDynasty, Maryland

Great question, DuckDynasty. Quack on! To answer you, no, all drugs don't come from Mexico. Much of America's cocaine comes from South America (particularly countries like Colombia, Peru and Venezuela). And a lot of the world's heroine comes from Central and South-Eastern Asia. But let's not forget the United States itself is a major source for drug abuse. Here in America we prescribe more pain medications than any other country in the world. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Study, 15 percent of high school seniors used a prescription drug for a reason other than what their doctor intended. Plus, according to the 2010  National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12 million American teens and adults reported using prescription painkillers to get “high” or for other nonmedical reasons. But regardless of where they come from, drugs can cause really serious harm to those who use them and the people around them. So if you or anyone you know is struggling with drug abuse, check out this site to see how you can get help:

-Marsha Lopez

Do all drugs effect the body.

-Marissa Roybal, New Mexico

 The impact of addiction can be far reaching. Cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and lung disease can all be affected by drug abuse. Some of these effects occur when drugs are used at high doses or after prolonged use, however, some may occur after just one use. Check out for more info.

-Jack Stein

Do all drugs have a similar effect?

-ashley.bowling, Kentucky

All drugs increase dopamine in brain reward regions which is why people take them and why they are addictive. But each drug does it by a different mechanism.

-Nora Volkow

Do parts of the brain begin to shutdown after prolonged drug use?

-eechero, Texas

Hello eechero! This is a really good question. So saying the brain is shutting down is another way of describing the many effects prolonged drug use have on the brain.  For instance, one difference between humans and animals is the large cortex we have in our brains. The cortex is responsible for taking in information, evaluating this information and making good decisions. When someone becomes addicted to a drug, the brain can become rewired to bypass this "control" process and go directly to the reward areas of the brain- where the answer is always "YES take the drug", rather than considering all the negative effects the drug can have on your life and health. 

-Marilyn Huestis

do people do drugs because of bullying or peer pressure

-Deal888, Maryland
Deal888 -- You've asked two good, tough questions. First, I don't think people do drugs because of bullying, but maybe to try to cope with bullying. Bullying can effect someone in lots of ways, including having negative thoughts about themselves, and negative feelings in general. This can be the case for people who do the bullying and those who are the victims. Do people do drugs because of peer pressure? Sometimes. Resisting peer pressure takes skills. Sometimes you can avoid situations where you know you'll be pressured. But, it's best to have a plan for what you will do if you are faced with this situation--to prevent it from happening.  
-Belinda Sims

do people do drugs because they think its cool and so they can show off

-haleyb-p6, Texas

Hi haleyb-p6. This is an important question to ask. Some people probably do try drugs because they think it's "cool" and a mature, glamorous thing to do because of how drugs are portrayed in the media and popular culture. In fact, drugs are NOT cool and can have devastating health consequences. Check out this page to see just how "uncool" drugs are.

-Jacqueline Lloyd