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 know what DMT is

-squallaaa, Maryland
Hi squallaaa,
Yes I do know all about DMT! It's a chemical that is related to serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters in your brain that controls mood and other things. Some hallucinogens like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and ayahuasca (a vine used in South American religious ceremonies) contain DMT, and produce powerful hallucinogenic effects--altering a person's sense of reality. 
Great question! 
-Eric Wargo

do you personaly think the drug age should be higher lower or stay the same?

-elephant11elisa, Pennsylvania

Hello elephant11elisa, I'm assuming you mean for alcohol and tobacco since these are the only legal drugs. Personally, I think it's a good thing that you have to be age 18 to smoke tobacco and 21 to drink alcohol because they present so many health risks for young people. Better to wait and make a careful decision about use because of these health dangers.

-Marilyn Huestis

Do you remember the experiences you have when you get high? If you don't, why do people get addicted to the positive rush they get when using drugs?

-sharkesha476584, Massachusetts
Hey sharkesha476584!  Depends on the drug, how much is taken, etc., but in general, people will remember their experiences when getting high, which often is why people will take drugs again, to recapture the feelings. The positive rush is the result of the brain chemical, dopamine, that is released in the brain reward areas.  Often, the more you take the drug, the less its effect because you build up a tolerance. So users find they need to escalate the amount they take, which increases the risk of harmful effects including addiction.  
You can read more about this very fascinating brain pathway in The Science of Addiction, and watch videos explaining why drugs are hard to quit and how you become addicted by linking here:
-Joe Frascella

Do you think 12-step programs are necessary for recovery from drug or alcohol abuse?

-Kfitzy28, Massachusetts

Hi Kfitzy28.  This is a very important question.  The simple answer is that 12 step programs are not necessary for recovery.  Some people find 12 step programs helpful, but others do not.  There are many different types of treatments for drug addiction, but the best ones are those that have been proven to work through rigorous empirical scientific studies, which are called "evidence-based" treatment.  You can find out more about the different types of treatment here:

-Steve Grant

Do you think marijuana should be legal in all states?

-lordkickbutt69, New York

Hi lord - If tobacco and alcohol are any example, marijuana should not be legal at all.  It has a lot of detrimental effects on the brain and behavior.  There are a lot of reasons to consider changing the legal penalties for using it.  But making it legal will only make it more available, and that will lead to more people becoming addicted, more traffic accidents related to its use, and more effects on the developing teenage brain.   

-Steve Gust

Do you think people in the army that has fought and seen alot and been threw use drugs to deal with all what is going on mentally in the war

-ericwoods5, Mississippi
Hello, ericwoods5, I appreciate your concern about our service members' health in times of conflict.  Overall drug use is lower in the U.S. military than in the civilian population, but alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug use are higher among men and women in military service.  As you suggested, those with multiple deployments and exposure to combat are at the greatest risk for developing substance use problems such as smoking, heavy drinking, and are more likely to be prescribed pain medications (nearly 4 million prescriptions in 2009) which can be addictive. If you or someone you know could be suffering from a substance abuse problem, 

call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7 or go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Marsha Lopez

do you think pills are okay to be taken for depression?

-#hella, California

Hi Hella--that's a good question and one that a lot of people ask!  Research studies suggest that both antidepressant medications and specific forms of counseling or talk therapy can help people with depression.  Some studies suggest that a combination of medication and counseling/therapy works best for many people.  We know that certain kinds of therapy have been shown to work in research studies.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT (which helps people change their thoughts and behavior), and Interpersonal Psychotherapy or IPT (which focuses on difficulties in relationships) both can help.  Just like different people experience depression differently, responses to treatment can be different and sometimes it takes a while to find a treatment that is a good match.  For more information about treatments for depression: Here's more on depression and teens:

-Joel Sherrill

Do you think that celebrities influence teen's views on drugs?

-#FreeBieber, New York
Hi FreeBieber. Good question. I am interested in what you and your friends think about this. My answer: I think youth tend to believe things as they are portrayed in music videos and in the media. The problem is that drug use is often glamorized and glorified and the "truth" about the consequences and realities of drug use are not portrayed accurately. I wish more celebrities would help spread the word and portray the negative affects and realities of drug use and also portray healthy alternatives and a healthy lifestyle. I also think that peers can help influence teen views on drugs. So, you and your friends can play an important role in sharing the facts on drugs and drug use with your friends and encouraging your friends to not start using drugs. For more information on drugs and their effects go to
-Jacqueline Lloyd

do you think that people arrested for DUI should be forgiven easily?

-sampugliese, New York

That's a tough question. We know that strict laws prevent people from drinking and driving and reduce the number of repeat offenders. So, forgiving them easily probably would be a very bad thing and would lead to more drunk driving deaths.

-Aaron White

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

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. 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

Do people get bath salts from stores? Like actual bath salts?

-gk22, New York
Hey gk22,
Bath salts (the drugs) are mostly illegal, so you shouldn't be able to get them in stores. But the people who make them are always inventing new chemicals to put in them, to get around the laws.  
There's no resemblance to actual bath salts though.
-Eric Wargo

do people get many heart problems after drugs?

-leone21157, Maryland

yes, particularly if they smoke and use stimulant drugs like cocaine or meth.

-Nora Volkow

Do people go to jail when they're caught to drive after they drug?if yes, how many yrs?

-infinityNBeyond, Massachusetts
Hello Mount Alvernia HS! Yes they can go to jail and the term length (and other penalites) vary. All 50 states and the District of Columbia laws that target drugged drivers. Additionally, 1/3 states have adopted a "per se standard."  Per se refers to any detectable amount of a controlled substance, other than a medicine prescribed by a doctor for the driver, found in the driver's body fluids and constitutes evidence of a "drugged driving" violation. This is a fact sheet about the problem of drugged driving: [link removed]
-Bethany Deeds

Do people take drugs to be cool or do they think they actually need them?

-imtyping..., Maryland

Well hello imtyping! Some people may think that using drugs is an "adult" and "cool" thing to do. IN FACT using drug is not cool at all. Using drugs can cause all types of health problems as well as problems at home, with the law, with friends, at school, etc.  Also drug use can lead to addiction which makes it difficult to stop use once people start. This can make people feel that they actually "need" to keep using and use even more to get the same effects. Not cool at all.  

-Jacqueline Lloyd