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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A lot of musicians smoke and do drugs. When listening to their music, I notice how raspy their voices sound. Is this a result of doing drugs? If so, how does doing drugs affect your vocal chords?

-88l8chai, Maryland

It is is really unlikely that the drugs affect the vocal chords directly, but how people take them has a huge effect. Passing smoke over the vocal chords on the way to the lungs, whether it comes from tobacco or other smoked drugs like marijuana or cocaine, is never a good idea because these contain a lot of other contaminants, which can lead to the raspiness. We just don't know what all of them are yet. The best thing to do is to avoid smoking--the smart decision.

-Nancy Pilotte

A lot of people say when you drink alcohol, you come addicted to it. I don't think thats nessecaryly true. It does cause effect(s) and can really hurt people. But if people know what alcohol does to you, why do you think they keep doing it?

-Redneck lover<3, North Carolina

It's hard to say exactly why people do things they know are bad for them. First of all, alcohol can be addicting. It affects a part of the brain called 'the reward system.' All drugs, alcohol included, turn this part of the brain on and make people feel good for a little while. Some people keep going back to alcohol to get that feeling. Over time, their brains lose the ability to feel good without alcohol and they become addicted to it, meaning they just can't stop thinking about it or using it.Also, the earlier in life you try alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. That is why it is sooo important to find healthy things to turn on the reward system on and make you feel good. For some people, this can be sports, laughing with friends, or even playing an instrument. Even when people know that drinking too much can have bad consequences, they may still do it. 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

About how many cigarettes do people buy a year?


Hey Slenderman....check out these numbers from CDC: In 2010 in the U.S.: More than 303 billion cigarettes were purchased Approximately 122.6 million pounds of smokeless tobacco were purchased And, about 13.3 billion cigars (i.e., 12.3 billion large cigars and cigarillos; 1 billion little cigars) were purchased Those are some pretty big numbers!

-Cindy Miner

About how many people are sent to the emergemcy room because of drugs each year?

-IMS706cc, Louisiana

Great question! There were about 2.3 million drug-related emergency department visits in the US in 2010.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

About how many people die a year from drugs??????

-maguilera, Texas

According to the CDC, over 38,000 people died in 2010 due to drug overdose.

-Bethany Deeds

about how many people die from car accidents by drinking

-cquiroz, Texas

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:

-Shuly Babitz

About how many people die on cars accidents by drinking alcohol?

-cquiroz, Texas

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:

-Shuly Babitz

about how many people do drugs in a day?

-fhafford, New Hampshire

Nice to meet you Kingswood Regional Middle School! In 2011, among people age 12 or older, about 22.5 million used an illicit drug, 68 million used a tobacco product, and over 133 million used alcohol in the past month. For more information check out the NSDUH site.

-Bethany Deeds

about how many people do drugs in the U.S.A

-killerchef, Maryland

Hey there killerchef, thanks for your question. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 22.6 million people over the age of 12 reported they used drugs in the month prior to being asked. 

-Marsha Lopez

About how much alcohol does it take to get drunk?

-Regina.c, Texas

That's hard to say because alcohol affects different people in different ways. Here are some of the factors that affect how quickly people get drunk:

How much alcohol you drink and how fast you drink it

Whether you have food in your stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body

How much you weigh

Whether you are male or female - girls tend to be affected more by alcohol than boys

-Shuly Babitz

about what percentage of people do drugs

-sarah_ravens39, Maryland

It depends on age. There are 2 major substance abuse studies that track the percentage of people who use drugs. The Monitoring the Future study tracks drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the US. The National Household Study of Drug Use and Health tracks drug use among youth beginning at age 12 and continues into old age. Both of these studies produce yearly reports by age on a wide variety of drugs of abuse. here are the links to those 2 studies:

-Lis Robertson

According to a recent report, A-rod was found guilty of using another banned substance by the MLB. Why do athletes feel a need to use performance enhancers?

-El Diablo, Pennsylvania

Dear El Diablo (great name) Athletes sometimes take drugs because they think it will improve their performance (steroids, for example). And in fact they can improve some types of performance -- in the short run, but at a big cost. Not only is it cheating--as I'm sure you've heard a lot about lately, especially since Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancers throughout his cycling career--but there are also serious health risks associated with taking these drugs. With steroids, they have to be taken at very high doses, which can put people at risk for heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. Also, because steroids are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone, they can wreak havoc on your body's sexual characteristics. In females, steroids can lower their voice, cause hair growth in places you wouldn't want it, and produce severe acne. In males, they can actually be feminizing; and in all youth it can't stunt your growth. And that's just the short list. Liz

-Lis Robertson

According to my mom, my dad is a drug addict and that's part of the reason they broke up. Should I feel ashamed? People say I should but for some reason I don't

-MangoAndGrape, Illinois

Dear MangoAndGrape, I agree with you - you should not feel ashamed about your dad's drug addiction. You are not responsible for your father's behavior or his condition. Good luck.

-Michelle Leff

adhd and add are the same thing so then why do they catagorize the drugs seperatly???

-Jelly2013, Texas

Hi Jelly2013. ADD stands for 'attention deficit disorder' and ADHD stands for 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.' the terms are used pretty much interchangeably. ADHD essentially has 2 general sets of signs or symptoms. The first set involves inattention--like trouble paying attention, concentrating or staying focused. The other set involves behavior, or hyperactivity-- like trouble sitting still or feeling unusually fidgety and sometimes impulsive. In general, whether a person has more trouble with attention or with hyperactivity, the drugs that are used are essentially the same. Most are drugs from the 'stimulant' type, but some other types of drugs are also used. Just as not all individuals experience the same symptoms, not all individuals have the same response to the same drug. So it is important to see a health professional first to determine whether you have ADHD/ADD and then to explore treatment options. For more on ADHD/ADD, visit:

-Joel Sherrill

All drugs are dangerous in some way shape or form but which would be the most harmful to teenagers in our generation

-Jelly2013, Texas

It's a great question. It really depends on the dose, because some drugs at high dose can kill you. Even after a single exposure. For example, stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine can cause sudden death by causing strokes or heart attacks in teenagers. Get the facts on drugs here:

-Anto Bonci

Are there any countries where drugs are legal for non-medical uses? If so, please specify. D. Gionis

-Regina.c, Texas

The most liberal drug policies currently are in Portugal, which has decriminalized drug use--meaning the people don't go to jail for having small amounts of drugs on them for personal use. However, someone caught with drugs must still appear before a panel of people including a psychologist, social worker, and legal advisor to determine whether they need treatment or some sort of brief counseling to help them stop using drugs.

-Susan Weiss

Are there any drugs that can be dangerous to your health in prescription drugs?

-ncayon, New Hampshire

Yes, Rx drugs contain ingredients that can cause serious health problems if abused. For example, prescription painkillers like OxyContin can depress breathing; and prescription stimulants like Adderall, if abused, can cause strokes. See for more.

-Jen Katt

Are there any drugs that can help you?

-ab04b, Texas

Yes, of course. Medications have improved and transformed many people's lives. It's when they're taken in ways or doses or by people they weren't prescribed for that makes them dangerous.

-Jen Katt

are there any drugs that could kiil you within 24 hours of taking them?

-cdowns, New Hampshire

It doesn't take 24 hours for drugs to kill you. Overdoses can happen soon after drugs are injected or snorted. This is because large doses of drugs can get to the blood and brain quickly and cause you to stop breathing. Sometimes people pass out and die from an overdose so quickly they don't even get the needle removed from their arm. Bad way to die!

-Redonna Chandler

Are there any drugs that give you superpowers? If so what are they?

-thesupersam, Indiana

Hey thesupersam! Sorry to burst your bubble, but super powers aren't real! And drug abuse can result in serious, adverse consequences -- especially in teens! Get the facts here: Some drugs might make someone feel like they have superpowers because they may not feel pain immediately. The reason that someone on drugs like hallucinagens might not feel pain is because they are 'dissociative' drugs and cause hallunications (hence the name). This means it distorts perceptions of sight, sound, and physical sensations, producing feelings of detachment (or not being 'in' their body). Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects from PCP, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). Bottom line is we are human. Our brains give us the best 'superpowers' of all. A supersam is a smartsam! Get accurate facts on drugs from the link above to make healthy choices for your brain and body. Stay smart and use your brain well!

-Joni Rutter

Are there any drugs that increase or improve brain activitiy?

-Felisa H, Virginia

Hi TC Williams! Stimulants medications like Adderall and Ritalin have been shown to improve concentration, academic performance and more in individuals with ADD or ADHD. People tend to think that prescription stimulants are safe -- and they are they are when used under a doctor's care -- but misuse poses potential health risks, including addiction, heart issues, problems with sleep, depression and more. Need more information on stimulants? Click here --;

-David Shurtleff

Are there any drugs that make you smart?

-User Name, Texas


-Jen Katt

are there any drugs you can take that reverse the effects of aother drug, so you could safely take the two and feel ay harmful affects, or at least the main harmful effect?

-Zach H, Maryland

Hi again, Zach! Thanks for being so engaged with us during Chat Day!! Not sure I can answer your question well, but people do take stimulants to get high, then take depressants to bring them back down. But, mixing drugs is never a good idea. The harmful effects of the drugs are not counteracted; instead they are exacerbated!! Mixing different types of drugs is very dangerous! Not only is it illegal to drink before age 21, but drinking too much alcohol can impair brain function and motor skills and lead to addiction. Mixing alcohol with illicit or other drugs—even legal ones—greatly increases dangers:

here are some other examples

Combining alcohol with another central nervous system depressant like Xanax or painkillers like Vicodin can slow your heartbeat and breathing and may lead to death.

Mixing alcohol with stimulants like Adderall or party drugs like Ecstasy can cause heart problems, too, as well as strokes and convulsions.

Cough and cold medicines that don’t need a prescription can also mess you up if you abuse them or combine them with alcohol—once again, heart problems and trouble breathing.

Be sure to check out the embedded links to get accurate facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! Thanks for the great question Regina! Bottom line: Play it safe and don't take drugs, let alone mix 'em. What do you think?

-Joni Rutter

Are there any marijuana related deaths directly related to it's use?

-tompkins, Texas

Yes. Very few people die from overdosing on marijuana alone, but it sometimes may be a contributor to overdoses involving multiple drugs (such as prescription opioids) and it is frequently a contributor to fatal auto accidents.

-Eric Wargo

are there any non-addictive drugs?

-Zach H, Maryland

aspirin, Zantac, ibuprofen, antibiotics...

-Nancy Pilotte

Are there any types of drugs that are impossible to quit?

-jlouis, Texas

Nope - treatment can help people addicted to different types of drugs quit. Some people are able to decide to stop taking drugs and quit on their own with the support of family and friends. Some participate in 12-step programs like AA or NA and others need to participate in treatment where they learn how to live without drugs. There are different types of treatment. Medication can help some people with their drug problem. Behavioral treatments help people learn new skills to cope with stress and problems, deal with urges and cravings to use drugs, develop a support system of people who don't use drugs, and increase their motivation to stop using drugs. For specific information about treatment approaches, visit: For assistance locating treatment programs in your area see:

-Redonna Chandler

Are there effect of alcohol abuse other than death and liver damage?

-Coach, North Carolina

Yes, there are a whole range of negative effects you can experience while drinking. With just a little alcohol in your system, you may notice impaired balance and muscle coordination, which will make it more difficult to walk and drive a car. As you drink more and you have more alcohol in your bloodstream, you can experience impaired judgment and difficulty making good choices. You may also have difficulty controlling urges, making it more likely that you will do something dangerous. You can also experience impaired memory -- waking up the next day and not being able to remember what you did while you were drinking. Still more alcohol can cause potentially fatal side effects, including difficulty breathing, low heart rate, and loss of consciousness.

-Shuly Babitz

Are there hazards with e-cigarettes? My friend says they are good for his lungs because they have glycerol

-Andrea B, Hawaii

Really? He thinks inhaling glycerol vapors into his lungs is good for him? Hey ask him the definition of gullible? E-cigs are pretty new to the marketplace and in some of the limited testing of them, scientists have found that they don't always contain what they claim to. Many do contain nicotine, and some that claim to have nicotine don't, and then another chemical to help vaporize the nicotine so it can be inhaled. Remember nicotine is addictive, so these are just another delivery device for nicotine. There are no standards out there for how these are made, so your friend has no idea what he is actually inhaling in those devices. Don't believe the hype of the companies, the bottom line is they just want to make a profit off of gullible people....

-Cindy Miner

are there new drugs created everyday?

-sbarton, New Hampshire

Hello sbarton at Kingswood Regional Middle School! YES! We have experts at NIDA whose primary job is track these emerging drug trends and collaborate with scientists across the nation who are identifying them. Some newer ones are K2/spice, saliva, and bath salts. Click on this link if you'd like to read more about them.

-Bethany Deeds

Are there really any advantages to taking drugs?

-Biebersgurl, Texas

Not really, unless they are prescribed by your doctor! For specific drugs, you can go here to learn more:

-Joni Rutter