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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-suryptitious17, Virginia

Cocaineis a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that is snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack is cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been processed to form a rock crystal that is then usually smoked.

Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at>

-Kristen Huntley

(sean and drew moore) how is the brain efftected by marijuana?

-ganstersjg, Pennsylvania

Good morning! Great question. Marijuana smoke goes into the lungs, and then the blood, and then the brain. Once marijuana is in the brain, its active ingredient--THC --attaches to proteins called receptors which are located on the surface of brain cells. The normal function of these receptors is to attach to or link with natural chemicals called cannabinoids. In effect, the THC molecules mimic (have similar effects) the actions of cannabinoid molecules, but with one big difference: there are many more THC molecules than cannabinoid molecules, so their effects are much more extreme. They are so extreme that they cause people to get high, but they also disrupt memory--not a good thing for school or life--and can cause addiction. Need more info on marijuana?? Visit Keep the questions coming!

-David Shurtleff


-S.H, Maryland

Yes. This is based on measures of the marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana, and the average amount of THC in marijuana was about 3.5% in the 1980's and is close to 10% in recent years.

-Susan Weiss

a lot of my friends get high. how could i help them??

-shawty, Virginia

Great question...difficult to answer. You you might consider talking with them in a nonconfrontational or nonjudgmental way. You could learn more about the effects of marijuana on brain and behavior to share with them. Let them know that you care enough about them to try to convince them to stop because we do know that the earlier someone starts and the longer he/she takes them, the more likely he/she is to become addicted.Here is some information for you, and also check out our website for other information: you would like a little more information about helping a friend, please visit Good luck.

-Joe Frascella

about how many people die from drinking?

-cochina, New York

About 85,000 people a year.

-Anna Staton

After alcohol, what is the drug most commonly abused by teens?

-Doc, Pennsylvania

Great question! Other than alcohol, some teens abuse tobacco and marijuana. We have a lot of info about drug abuse. For instance, every year researchers at the University of Michigan supported by NIDA ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their attitudes towards - and use of - drugs. This is the Monitoring the Future Survey, and you can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at . You can also check out

-Wilson Compton

after being in rehab and quiting your addiction and be clean for a good couple of months can their be a chance that you go back because your head and body wants it?

-kandy, Maryland

Kandy, Some people do relapse and use drugs even after treatment. Dealing with urges and cravings to use drugs is a standard component of drug treatment. When relapse occurs it doesn't mean treatment failed rather that there is a need for on-going intervention. This is just like my grandmother who is diabetic. Through diet, exercise, and medication her blood sugar was stable. However, when her blood sugar goes up it doesn't mean treatment failed or that future treatment won't work. It is an indicator she needs to be re-evaluated by her doctor and her treatment tailored. This is the exact same with addiciton. Relapse is a sign that there is still a need for additional treatment and the person should seek additional professional help. For more information about relapse and drug addiction see: or to this helps.

-Redonna Chandler

after being in rehab, and being clean, what are the chances that i will go back to doing it again?:/

-pk483303, Maryland

Dear PK483303, Statistically speaking somewhere between 40-60% of those who complete drug treatment relapse. Good addiction treatment recognizes that urges and cravings to use drugs persist beyond treatment and help people prepare for this fact. The good news is that relapse doesn't mean treatment failed or that additional treatment won't be successful. Relapse is an indication that additional treatment is needed. Maybe a new type of intervention needs to be used or additional support from a professional is needed. It's just like my grandmother's diabetes. Her blood sugar can be stable through diet, exercise, and medication. However, that doesn't mean her blood sugar won't ever spike again or that she won't need to see her physician for additional treatment. So, if you or someone else who completes treatment relapses don't give up and get more help.

-Redonna Chandler

are the use of drugs increasing from all the drug smuggleing in Mexico? and are there more deaths now that theres a drug war

-Halo, Utah

Drug use is increasing for certain age groups whereas in teenagers drug use has gone down. Also drugs like pain killers have gone up whereas drugs like ice have gone down.Your question is more a question about enforcement. We focus on research about drugs of abuse and addiction.

-Nora Volkow

Are there any drugs that can kill you?

-lilmiach, Ohio

Just about any drug taken in a way or amount that is not as prescribed can kill you. Even when the drug is taken correctly, it is possible to have an allergic reaction and get very sick. The bottom line is drugs/medications are safe if taken as prescribed, but when abused any thing can happen including overdose/death.

-Richard Denisco

Are there people who have tried a drug a few times and they were so repelled that they couldn't get addicted?

-jessie, Massachusetts

The initial response to drugs and alcohol varies a lot. Some people really like drugs when they first use them and others do not. While this may relate to why people first use drugs and continue at the start, even people who don't like drugs at first, sometimes keep taking them and become addicted anyway. The only safe approach is to avoid drugs completely. For more info go to

-Wilson Compton

are u a real person or this computer answering r qestion

-mejiaelexis, Michigan

Yes, we are real people - most of us are scientists, all of us are dedicated to get out the facts about drug abuse.

-Gaya Dowling

Are weed brownies as bad as smoking weed?

-muffinslice, New York

Good question. The active component in marijuana is THC. THC gets into the blood differently when MJ is ingested as a brownie or when it is smoked. Brownies are eaten and therefore THC gets into the blood stream (through the stomach and intestinal lining) much more slowly compared to smoking, where the THC is taken up in the lungs and gets into the bloodstream much more quickly. Once the THC gets into the blood, it has its effects in the brain. Both ways gets THC into the brain but at different rates.

-Joe Frascella

As a school who has drug testing, do you know how many schools in PA or nationally have drug testing and are there any statistics to support positive outcomes?

-Mrs. Y, Pennsylvania

Hmm, well i found found one stat from 2007 that says 'Since 2003, the Department of Education has awarded more than $36.1 million dollars in multi-year grants to over 80 school districts to support random student drug-testing programs in more than 400 schools.' Some schools have adopted a random student drug testing policy hoping it will: (1) serve as a deterrent and give students a reason to resist peer pressure to take drugs; (2) identify adolescents who have started using drugs so that parents and counselors can intervene early; and (3) identify adolescents who already have drug problems, so they can be referred for treatment. It is not intended to be punitive, but rather to prevent drug use or promote early intervention. The Supreme Court has ruled drug testing as legal for any students participating in extracurricular activities. Currently, there is insufficient research in this area to show whether random drug testing is an effective approach.

-Anna Staton

Avez vous deja trop utilise l'alcol? P.S Aimez vous les patates?

-SClions027, Pennsylvania

pas du tout, je n'aime pas l'alcohol et je n'aime pas les patates

-Nora Volkow

Back in the day..why would they actually put cocaine in the coke a cola products?>

-gruberec, Pennsylvania

Ah, great question! I believe that cocaine was originally put in Coca-cola products for its stimulant properties and for it flavor-enhancing properties?!

-Joe Frascella

because of drugs is the percentage a greater risk of being alone when your older

-Casa Grande, Arizona

People who abuse drugs or develop an addiction often end up hurting their friends and family because the drug slowly takes over and becomes the most important thing in the addict's life. When a person starts stealing from their friends and family to buy more drug, or becomes abusive and hurtful over and over again, then no one, not parents nor children, not husband nor wife, will tolerate having the person around. So, over time, their social circle is likely to get smaller and smaller, and unless they realize their substance abuse problem and decide to seek help, they can indeed end up being alone as they grow older.

-Steve Grant

are people more likely to do drugs if they have to much stress in their lives?


Yes, but its not a good idea--it won't really lessen the stress, and its likely to lead to more problems in the long run. In fact, stress is one of the factors that makes someone vulnerable to becoming addicted, especially if they are using drugs to cope. Plus some drugs, like alcohol, can initially make you feel better, but then later make you depressed--its how they work in the brain. And stimulants, which can make you feel high temporarily, also lead to a big come down and depression when the effects wear off.

-Susan Weiss

are people that once were adicted to one drug be more likely to start using another to cope with the withdrals from the other?

-jumpman23, Utah

Sometimes people who were addicted to one drug may start using another substance of abuse. That's why doctors recommend that people who have had an addiction should stay away from trying any addictive sustance because they run the risk of getting addicted to the new substance.

-Ivan Montoya

Are prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin, Vyvanse, Adderol, or others the same as those sold on the street? If not, what's the difference?

-noiseless, Wisconsin

Not sure I can tell you what's being sold on the streets--but I certainly wouldn't trust that your getting what you think you are. We know from our National Surveys that people are abusing stimulants prescribed for other people--but most report getting them from friends and relatives--either knowingingly or not (e.g., stealing from the medicine cabinet). Taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you can be dangerous, even if it is a medicine. Doctors prescribe them for a specific purpose, and knowing the medical history of their patient to determine the risks and appropriate dosages. For more information on this topic, please check out

-Susan Weiss

Are single mothers more likely to do drugs than married motheres?

-Phillies0809, Pennsylvania

Hi Upper Dublin,Drug abuse can affect everyone. Keep the questions coming and thanks for participating in Chat Day!

-Joni Rutter

Are some drugs good for a person?

-Alvarado16, Arizona

Thanks for your question. Many substances that are addictive also have medical purposes. For instance, stimulants can be useful for people with attention deficit disorder, opiate drugs are helpful for people with pain and sedatives can help people with severe anxiety. The key is that these substances are taken under a doctor's careful supervision.

-Wilson Compton

Are some drugs more addicting/harmful than others? If so, which ones are worst? Which ones are least addictive

-casa grande, Arizona

Whichever one you are using. Some drugs can kill you quickly (heroin, methamphetamine), and some can kill you slowly (nicotine). Some won't kill you, but will ruin your health or life prospects. There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so when you choose to use drugs it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette'. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it.

-Steve Grant

Are steroids considered an illegal drug?

-billy, Pennsylvania

Hi there!Well, first of all, we have to define a few things. First, a steroid is a representative of a class of hormones that your own body makes. Steroids you may recognize include cholesterol, estrogen, testosterone, vitamin D, and corticosteroids. Second, each of these kinds of steroids has a special function in your body and is present in very, very small amounts. Misuse of anabolic steroids (which are used to build muscle mass) can result in serious adverse health consequences. Altogether, there are hundreds of anabolic steroids, including many that are manufactured (and not found in nature), and some that are metabolic by-products of androgens. They vary in potency and in side effects. Anabolic steroids are classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) as Schedule III drugs and it is illegal to obtain or use them for the purposes of performance enhancement. So, if you want to get 'pumped up', do it the natural way - through exercise! For more information on anabolic steroids, check them out at

-Nancy Pilotte

are teens more propense to drug addiction

-giggles, Maryland

yes, and we think this is because the adolescent brain is still actively growing and developing.

-Nora Volkow

Are the effects of steroids always true?

-thegirl, Arizona

There are a lot more harmful effects of steroids than most people think. Steroids have very powerful effects on a wide range of bodily functions, including the brain. Doctors prescribe steroids in relatively small amounts to help treat diseases, but people who use them for body building take much larger amounts and for a longer periods of time, and that increases the chances that there will be harmful effects. You can learn more about the consequences of steroida buse by visiting our site:

-Steve Grant

Are drugs more common in college or high school?

-BlackRavenWings, New York

Some are. Unfortunately the abuse of stimulants (like ritalin) and other prescription drugs are more common in college. In high school we are still dealing with a high prevalence of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use.

-Ruben Baler

are drugs on the street more dangerous today than they were 20 years ago?

-TeeZy21, Pennsylvania

they've always been dangerous, and they vary over time, plus weird mixtures or components show up--most recently cocaine laced with a veterinary drug called levamisole that can produce a deadly type of blood disease. some drugs are more potent now than they used to be, which means that you could get exposed to higher doses and be more likely to overdose.

-Susan Weiss

are flavored cigars as bad as regular cigars?

-casa grande, Arizona

Yes. They are equally bad. Check out our blog post:

-Ivan Montoya

Are household products really in Meth?

-casa grande, Arizona

Yes. It's really disgusting. In addition to chemicals from over-the-counter cold medicines, anhydrous ammonia (an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant), red phosphorus (used in matches), rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, gasoline, brake cleaner, acetone, among a lot of other harmful chemicals are used to make meth in small clandestine labs.

-Gaya Dowling