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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6 beer bottles cant kill someone over 21, I mean what's so bad about it a lot of people stand against it and people hate beer commercials

-akhan, Texas

Well, actually, drinking 6 bottles of beer is enough to make someone too drunk to drive and that leads to more than 10,000 deaths every year.

-Aaron White

9% out of all of the people that actually use pot get addicted isnt even a bad number. Considering the how many use it and abuse it.

-12196, Massachusetts

Hi 12196

I think you are looking at this the wrong way.
Precisely because it's such a large number of users, even a 9% addiction rate represents a huge number of people. Besides, the addiction rate goes up significantly when use starts in adolescence or if use is regular. Finally, addiction is not the only negative effect of marijuana use. Young people who use weed are constantly performing below their peak level, at a time when they should be at the top of their game. So, nothing to sneeze at. 

I would reconsider.


-Ruben Baler

a child as young as 8 starts smoking, what is the outcome of there future

-LeeAnn, Massachusetts

Hi LeeAnn,
Well nothing is set in stone, even smoking. People can quit at any age, no matter when they started. But starting in early childhood will make it harder to quit, and also make it more likely that they will try and use other drugs. 

-Eric Wargo

a lot of my family members drink beer and some said there stomachs ache all the time what is this AwNSer

-trumpnation!!!!, Texas

Alcohol increases the amount of acid released in the stomach, which can cause some nausea and upset stomachs.

-Aaron White

Aaron White are you an alcoholic?

-George W Bush, Michigan

I sure hope not! I keep my consumption well within the low-risk guidelines to be safe. For more about the low-risk guidelines visit our webpage:

-Aaron White

About how many people die from drug use each year?

-HVasquez, Texas

Hi, HVasquez! When I talk about drug deaths, not only do I think about overdoses, but also all the health conditions as a result of drug use that could shorten an individual's life, so I would say tobacco and alcohol cause the most deaths by far.  If you are asking about other drugs and overdose, the Centers for Disease Control just published a report showing that more than 6 out of every 10 drug overdose deaths involve opioids, which is the class of drugs that includes heroin and many prescription pain relievers, which is a huge increase over just last year!

-Marsha Lopez

Adults who do drugs like marijuana and weed get high easily. Does the same effect happen when children and teens do it?

-mcamacho, Texas

Yes, but it depends on the marijuana and the person's past use of the drug.  There are stronger and weaker varieties which can effect how quickly someone gets high, and a person who uses it regularly may require larger amounts than someone who has never used it before.

-Susan Weiss

After a period of sobriety, does the brain ever return to the way it was before heavy active drug use?

-youth move, Florida

Hello youth move. So, can the brain recover after you stop using drugs? Fortunately, and probably, yes, but that depends on many things, like how young somebody is when they start, and how often they use. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to develop addiction and other problems, like bad grades or problems with your family. It is therefore best to never start; however, 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.

-Roger Sorensen

alcohol helps me not feel sad so I drink a lot to feel happy is this bad?

-gabe the boss, Massachusetts

Hi Gabe the Boss. The problem with using alcohol to feel better is that the next day it has worn off and depression may be even worse. Alcohol can worsen depression in the long run and there are better ways to feel happy. This is an important issue for you to discuss with your doctor or school counselor. There are many other ways that work better than alcohol to improve your mood. If you need to talk to a trained counselor who can help you (anonymously), call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Someone can help you 24/7.

-Wilson Compton

alcohol? does it affect you more if you take pills with it to

-discovery, Washington

It depends on the pills. Anything that makes people feel sleepy is generally very dangerous to combine with alcohol. And alcohol can interfere with antibiotics and some other medicines. If you're under age 21, it's best not to drink alcohol at all. If you're over 21 and take medication, it's best to speak with your doctor about potential effects before combining pills with alcohol. Generally, this is not a good idea.

-Aaron White

Are their drugs that people use that were originally created for animal use?

-SMS, New Jersey

I got another question from you, SMS. The one drug that I can think of is ketamine. Ketamine is used as an animal anesthetic, and it can have adverse consequences in humans. Unfortunately, some people are abusing ketamine.

-Roger Sorensen

Are there any drugs that can cause birth defects?

-HeWasNumberOne, Michigan

Yes, alcohol is one of the most well characterized drugs for this.  Other drugs have more subtle effects or are still being studied.

-Susan Weiss

Are there any long-term effects of taking ecstasy?

-fdadabhoy, Texas

fdadabhoy, here is some information about ecstasy. High levels of Ecstasy in the bloodstream can be life-threatening; they increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart's ability to maintain its normal rhythms. Some people who use MDMA (Ecstasy) might feel so alert and “hyper” that they could keep dancing at a club for hours at a time and lose their sense of time. However, others can experience anxiety, agitation, faintness, sweating, or chills. Ecstasy (X, Molly, or MDMA) changes the body in many ways. It even interferes with the body's temperature regulation, which leads to dangerous overheating, called hypothermia. This can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or even death.

-Roger Sorensen

Are there any new drugs that are significantly increasing in usage in the U.S.?

-Max, Michigan

Good morning, Max!  According to the Monitoring the Future survey--the most recent study we have on US youth drug use behaviors and attitudes--there were actually no significant increases in drug use from 2014-2015. Generally we are seeing downward trends in most types of drug use, including cigarettes and alcohol.  While marijuana use isn't showing a decline, it isn't increasing, either, even though kids are reporting they don't see it as harmful or disapprove of use as much as they used to.If you know someone who isn't part of this downward trend be sure to talk to a counselor, nurse, parent or teacher to get them they help they need. For more information on trends the United States, check out the Monitoring the Future website for a wealth of other information!

-Marsha Lopez

Are there any nonaddictive recreational drugs?

-laurend, Texas

Good question, and a tough one--caffeine maybe--although high doses may not be good for you and regular caffeine users sometimes experience headaches when they try to quit.  I think you're better looking for non-addictive recreational activities--sports, music, dancing....

-Susan Weiss

are there different types of cocaine

-tsangosanya, Texas

There is powdered cocaine and crack cocaine. The active compounds are the same in both, but crack cocaine is processed and used in ways that make it more potent. Powdered cocaine is often mixed with chemicals or drugs that can be dangerous, and making crack involves combining powder cocaine with toxic chemicals. The effects on the body are similar, though the crack form sets in and disipates more quickly. Both stress your heart and are highly addictive.
You can find out more here:

-Roger Little

Are there drugs that can calm severe anxiety?

-gumballeater, Michigan

Hi gumballeater...I am going to assume that by drugs here, you are meaning medications.  Yes. There are certain medications that may help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders.  These are medications that must be prescribed a doctor and taken under his/her supervision.  Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs and beta blockers are the main medications used to treat anxiety.  Psychotherapy is also used to treat anxiety disorders.  For more information, see

-Amy Goldstein

Are there health effects of occasionally taking study drugs like Adderall (once a month or less)?

-gaas01, Minnesota

Hi Gaas01
good question.
It really depends on the person. Some people at risk for addiction could enter a vicous cycle of use and dependance on the drug even after sporadic or rare use. Combined with the stress of taking exams and the peer pressure of knowing that others may be taking advantage of these drugs to gain an edge is a very dangerous mix of circumstances that could easily transform a one time pill into a life long battle with stimulant addiction and mental illness.

be very careful!


-Ruben Baler

Are there recreational drugs that are completely nonaddictive?

-gaas01, Minnesota

Probably not, with one possible exception.
LSD is not considered an addictive drug because it doesn't cause uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior. However, LSD does produce tolerance, so some users who take the drug repeatedly must take higher doses to achieve the same effect. This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug. In addition, LSD produces tolerance to other hallucinogens, including psilocybin.

-Ruben Baler

Are there ways to help you recover from drugs?

-kanguyen, Texas

long term treatment first, and then exercising, sleeping, eating good food, engaging in social and school activities 

-Nora Volkow

are vapor pens more addicting the cigarettes

-aescamilla, Texas

Hi aescamilla,
 We still don't know all the effects of using vape pens because they are so new. One thing we worry about with e-cigarettes is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. On the other hand, if a cigarette smoker is able to give up cigarettes by using e-cigarettes, it’s probably a good thing. About 13 percent of 12th graders have tried e-cigs. Check out these resources on e-cigs –

-Maureen Boyle

Are video games more addictive than drugs?

-Sydney Liles, Alabama

Hi Sydney Liles,
That's a great question. No, they are not more addictive--they don't cause painful physical withdrawals when you stop, for example. Technically, they would not be considered addictive. But they do act on some of the same systems in the brain as addictive drugs. For instance they produce bursts of the reward neurotransmitter dopamine, and some people think that using video games a lot might cause problems similar to drug use: being unable to get satisfaction from other things in life, which is what happens with drug addiction.

-Eric Wargo

Are you likely to be an addict, if a family memeber if a family member is?

-mazeem, Texas

Hello Mazeem,  there do seem to be genetic factors that increase a person's risk for becoming addicted but having a family history does not mean that you will be an addict. If you never use a drug you cannot become addicted to it.  If you have family members who have been addicted to drugs you should tell your doctor that before they give you drugs like pain killers.  There is more information about the brain and addiction here:

-Roger Little

Are you more likely to become an alcoholic if allot of people in your family were alcoholics?

-Anyonomous, Massachusetts

Unfortunately, yes that's true. The odds of being an alcoholic are much higher if you have alcoholism in your family. For instance, if someone has their first drink of alcohol at age 14-15 and has a family history of alcoholism, their odds of becoming an alcoholic are about 1 in 2, while for those without a family history the odds are about 1 in 3.  

-Aaron White

As scientists, if had the possession of a drug that is not pure. Will you be able to decipher what other chemicals reside in the drug that is not pure?

-Charlize Reyes, Michigan

Hey Charlize Reyes. Yup. Scientists can do that. Your chemistry classes can help you understand how!  

-Joni Rutter

at what age are kids more vulnerable to drugs?

-jimenezC, Massachusetts

Hi jimenezC - all ages! Kids brains don't mature until around mid to late 20's, so the effects of drugs can be all the more harmful.

-Michelle Rankin

at what age do drugs start to effect your body

-Aali, Texas

Hi Aali, Drugs can effect your body at any age. They can even affect children in the womb.

-Maureen Boyle

Austin N. IMS, KS- What is MDMA and what does it do to you? What are the side effects too?

-AMY KARR, Kansas

Good afternoon, AMY KARR. Ecstasy (X, Molly, or MDMA) is a stimulant like amphetamine and cocaine and it can also cause hallucinations. MDMA changes the body in many ways. It even interferes with the body's temperature regulation, which leads to dangerous overheating, called hypothermia. This can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or even death.

-Roger Sorensen

Besides alcohol and marijuana, what is the next most-popular addictive drug?

-bob, Illinois

Hi, Bob, good question. Accordng to the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey, certain tobacco products like hookah and small cigars are the next most popular, which is really problematic considering we know that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.  After that, non-medical use of stimulant/amphetamine drugs such as Adderall® or Ritalin®, which are often prescribed for ADHD, are the next most popular.  

-Marsha Lopez

Are mushrooms more dangerous than any other drug?

-JLe, Texas

Hi JLe, we often get asked: What is the worst drug?
This depends on what you mean by worst.  Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. Many drugs, and alcohol, can impair your coordination and lead to devastating accidents (like drunk driving). Other drugs, like meth, can be especially toxic to your brain. And taking drugs, like heroin or cocaine, or misusing prescription drugs, has the potential to cause overdose and death even the first time you use them.  They can also result in addiction. So any drug you use can be the most dangerous drug for you. Please protect your brain and your health, you need them! Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs:

-Maureen Boyle