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Transcript for 2009 Chat Day

Questions Answered Between Approximately 1 pm and 6 pm

The transcript is in reverse chronological order (earlier questions are at the bottom of this page)

* To search this page for specific words type "Ctrl" + "F" on your keyboard (Command + "F" on a Mac). Then, type the word (or words) you are searching for in the window that pops up, then hit "enter" on your keyboard. The word(s) you searched for will be highlighted.

Moderator Icon HEY THERE!  Thanks for participating in our third Drug Facts Chat Day!  We had over 13,000 questions from 70 schools across the country.  We were able to answer over 1200 questions today, even if we didn't answer your specific question, read through the chat transcript, you will probably find an answer to a similar question from someone else.  We will be posting the transcript in the next few days, so please check back and look to see if we answered questions from your school!
User Icon joints - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: why do people do drugs

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a complicated question.  Some people try them because their friends are using them.  Some think they will alleviate stress or depression, so some people may be trying to self-medicate.  Some people use them to feel good, or better.  And some people use them compulsively, in spite of negative consequences.  We call these people addicts.  But the good news is:  Teens are taking better care of themselves: illicit drug use declined by 24% from 2001 to 2008.

 Did you know that 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? It's the Monitoring the Future Survey, and you can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html

User Icon tborland2 - Junction City High School, Oregon: when heroin was first made was it for a medical use.

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: No one really knows the answer to that question!  Heroin is one of the oldest drugs we now, having been cultivated in Asia for hundreds of years.  It may have been smoked (opium) well before its medicinal properties were discovered.  But we do know it (and its close relative, morphine, and their derivataives) are extremely addicting. Did you know that in 2008, nearly one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin, and one in 20 abused OxyContin. Abuse of these drugs can be associated with overdose and death, especially when they are taken at high doses, in non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), or in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

User Icon silly goose - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what are the effects of acid? My cousin died form it on his try. why?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: I'm sorry that your cousin died from ingesting what he took as LSD.  LSD is usually concocted in someone's home laboratory and can have a host of contaminants in it that can be lethal.

Hallucinogens, such as LSD, can cause unpredictable psychological effects including delusions and visual hallucinations. Physical effects can include dangerously increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. People taking acid can also experience sleeplessness, and rapid, intense emotional swings. This experience, as you can expect, can be extremely confusing and frightening to the person taking acid. For more information on acid and other hallucinogens, please click on www.abovetheinfluence.com and www.abovetheinfluence.com.  Please take care!

User Icon kolinger - Junction City High School, Oregon: What is the effect of shrooms on the brain and body?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: what's up?!
Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used - mostly during religious rituals - for centuries. While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.

Psilocybin
(4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. The active compounds in psilocybin-containing "magic" mushrooms have LSD-like properties which can produce hallucinations, an altered perception of time, and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Long-term effects such as flashbacks, risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory, and tolerance have been described in case reports.  Want more information on hallucinogens?  Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/ACIDLSD.html and http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/PCP.html

User Icon annarules - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: some people say that u can get high off of scented markers is that true?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Markers contain volatile organic compounds that can affect your lungs (decreasing the amount of oxygen you can use), your liver, and your brain (both lipid-intense organs that are damaged by these compounds).  Some of the components of markers are also chemicals that are abused as 'inhalants' because you breathe them in.  Markers dry pretty quickly when they are exposed to air, but if you have enough, it is possible to abuse them.

You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on specific drugs on NIDA's Web site:  www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov

User Icon Atowers14 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: How does smoking and other drugs effect a womans pregnancy? and her child?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: Thank you for asking that very important question.  It is an important question for every teenage female smoker.  In the United States, it is estimated that about 16 percent of pregnant women smoke during their pregnancies. Carbon monoxide and nicotine from tobacco smoke may interfere with the oxygen supply to the fetus. Nicotine also readily crosses the placenta, and concentrations in the fetus can be as much as 15 percent higher than maternal levels. Nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk. Combined, these factors can have severe consequences for the fetuses and infants of smoking mothers. Smoking during pregnancy caused an estimated 910 infant deaths annually from 1997 through 2001, and neonatal care costs related to smoking are estimated to be more than $350 million per year.  The adverse effects of smoking during pregnancy can include fetal growth retardation and decreased birthweight. The decreased birth weights seen in infants of mothers who smoke reflect a dose-dependent relationship - the more the woman smokes during pregnancy, the greater the reduction of infant birthweight. These newborns also display signs of stress and drug withdrawal consistent with what has been reported in infants exposed to other drugs. In some cases, smoking during pregnancy may be associated with spontaneous abortions and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as learning and behavioral problems and an increased risk of obesity in children. In addition, smoking more than one pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk that the affected child will become addicted to tobacco if that child starts smoking.

User Icon casa grande mb - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: is it possible for someone to get in trouble if they just want to have fun?????????????

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Dude...it depends on the type of fun you want to have.  Be safe!

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how is chocolate considered a drug?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Como estas Casa Grande!
Some people say they are addicted to chocolate as a way of affirming that they like it very much.  But they are probably exaggerating a bit!  The definition of drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.  Now some of those consequences may be weight gain, or dental issues, but those are usually not thought of in the same way as negative consequences that occur through use of addictive drugs.  That said, chocolate is a plant product that has a very complex makeup, and it has some of compounds in it like theobromine that are similar to caffeine.

User Icon lilman - Spring Woods High School, Texas: do i have a risk of getting addicted to alcohol if my dad has drinking problems?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon I do not belong - Junction City High School, Oregon: can you not get addicted to marijuana and meth if u only do it one timeand what are the side affects on a persion that is only 5' 1" tall and weighs about 99 pounds?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: If you only take a drug one time and one time only, then you will not be addicted.   The problem is that 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 it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. 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.

However, just because you don't get addicted doesn't mean you won't have bad side effects, especially for someone your size and weight.

User Icon SCLions085 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Quick Question Here: Why do people try drugs when they know they are bad for you?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: That's a really great question!  Knowing that drugs are harmful doesn't prevent people from using drugs.  Prevention is more complicated than simply providing people with 'just the facts'.  How many people do you know that, for example, smoke cigarettes even though they know how harmful they are?  There are lots of reasons that someone might use drugs even though they know they are bad for you.  For example, adolescents may use drugs in response to peer pressure. 

Thanks for the question!

User Icon whereswaldo - Dixie High School, Utah: what in ciggarettes causes cancer?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Thanks for the question!
Cigarettes are very complex products and cancers are very complex diseases.  It is not possible to zero in all the carcinogens in cigarettes and to explain how each them interacts with the body to cause cancer.  You might check the website of the National Cancer Institute at http://www.nci.nih.gov/;  they have an extensive website and lots of information.  Good luck!

User Icon elshydelcj - Spring Woods High School, Texas: If you mix cocaine with wine and weed at the same time could that kill you?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Spring Wood,
Whether you die or not depends on how much of the drugs you used.  Using multiple drugs at once (called polydrug use) can be quite dangerous.  I would suggest that you not play roulette with your health or life.  For more information on how to live above the influence of drugs and alcohol, visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: i have a friend when she is mad she says she wants to kill herself or run away i know she is not on drugs or drinking because i am with hr 24/7 what can i do t ostop her from saying that because it concerns me that she might do it one day

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: 

If your friend talks about suicide the best to do is encourage her to talk to a school counselor, trusted adult, or parent. You can also try asking her to call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.


User Icon striker37 - Junction City High School, Oregon: please answer hurry if you have adhd can you still get a high from riddlin

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: That's a great question. As you know ADHD is often treated with stimulant medications like Ritalin. If they're taken as prescribed, they are safe and effective and won't get you high. But they can be abused if taken in ways other than how they are prescribed. Some people have also been concerned that giving stimulant medications to kids or teens may make them more vulnerable to substance abuse down the road. Currently, the research suggests that stimulant medications do not increase the risk of substance abuse in children with ADHD, and may even be protective.

User Icon jugelett-hottie - Dixie High School, Utah: HELLO!!!!!! HI I HAVE A QUESTION AND THAT WOULD BE WHAT CAN I DO TO SHOW MY FRIEND THAT DRUGS WILL HURT HER

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: Have your friend visit this website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/consequences/.

Good luck!

User Icon casa grandema - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Is it really dangerous for a pregnant woman to be around someone who is drinking or smoking?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington:  Yes.  Pregnant women who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20% higher odds of giving birth to a low-birth weight baby than women who are not exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy.  Therefore, pregnant women should carefully avoid being around people who are smoking.  Also, if a pregnant woman smoked before pregnancy and is having trouble stopping, she needs to seek help in quitting and avoid being around smokers as they can be triggers for her to smoke.

And, of course,  pregnant women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy because of the many well-known effects it can have on her baby including fetal alcohol syndrome---a condition that really hurts normal childhood development.  So, if a women had a problem with drinking before pregnancy and is having trouble giving it up, she needs to seek treatment for her alcohol problem and avoid being around people to do drink as they may serve as a trigger for her to drink. The baby's safety needs to come first.  Check out Smokefree.gov

User Icon 215451 - Cashmere High School, Washington: can u get addicted to meth the first time?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Yes, some people take a drug and realize right away that they will not be able to stop using it.  The problem is that 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 it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. 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.

User Icon Wisa :) - Cashmere High School, Washington: i have a friend named S. and she is addicted to Heroin. its really bad to where she has her whole name writen on her with the needle points.. she is in alot of trouble and has gone to jail a couple times. What should i do????????????? she is one of me really close friends.

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: S. is lucky to have a friend who cares about her like you do.  There are several ways that you can help.  You can let her know that you care that she is hurting herself.  And you can tell her that I told you that there is treatment for heroin addiction, and that it works!  Let her know about the SAMHSA hotline:  1-800-273-TALK, and you can let her know where to find treatment programs through the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov 

It's very hard to be friends with someone who is addicted to heroin (with all of the things that go with that), but believe it or not you are not alone in being friends with someone with such a drug problem.  Here is a website for support from other teens who care for someone with an addiction problem: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.

I wish you and your friend the best of luck!

User Icon shawla - Cashmere High School, Washington: how can you tell that someone is using marijuana?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: The most accurate way is a urine test. With marijuana if the person is smoking heavily the urine can stay positive for a month. Behavioral ways are the appearance of the 'Demotivational Syndrome' where the person loses interest in activities, spends much time sleeping, poor grooming, and poor grades.

User Icon conley1 - Cashmere High School, Washington: What does PCP do to the body? is it true that it can make you 20x times stronger?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: PCP has a number of effects on the brain, but the main psychological effects is to produce a 'dissociative' state.  That means that your subjective experience seems separate from your body.  So if you get hit or injured, you don't feel it.  Because you don't feel the pain or are even aware of what is happening to your body, you can persist in fighting or struggling under conditions when you would normally stop.  Bottom line, PCP doesn't make you stronger, but it does make you less aware of how much your are getting hurt.

User Icon Baby Angel - Cashmere High School, Washington: my brother does Marijuana and I think Meth, how can i help him?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: Having a brother on drugs is HARD!  I'm sorry for you and for your family and for your brother.  Let him know that you care about him, and that you care what he is doing to himself.  There are good treatments for both marijuana and methamphetamine, and you can let him know that he can find treatment programs through the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.   Also, you can tell him about the SAMHSA hotline:  1-800-273-TALK and he can talk with someone privately about what's going on.   

It must be hard to see your brother hurting himself like this, but you should know that you aren't alone in caring about someone with a drug use problem.  Visit this website for support from other teens going through what you are: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.
 
Lastly-remember how great your brother is when he's not on drugs and keep working with him and your parents to get him back to the person you know he is.

User Icon keren - Spring Woods High School, Texas: how many brain cells did you kill when you smoke

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Well, Spring Woods,
It may sound kind of square, but I have honestly never tried smoking marijuana, cigarettes or anything else that you could try to smoke.  Most drugs of abuse affect the way your brain functions, but only amphetamines (including meth, crystal meth, etc) have been shown to produce measurable brain damage when smoked.  The largest risk of smoking is to your lungs, because there are so many other chemicals in the leaf of the tobacco (or marijuana) in addition to what the maufacturers put into the product.  Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year? And guess what?! - Tobacco smoke causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, blood, lungs, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix.

Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.

User Icon kathryn+hailey - Wilson Central High School, Tennessee: If steroids are bad for you then why do doctors give them to patients?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Like all drugs, steroids have both beneficial and harmful effects.  Steroids can be very useful for treating diseases.  For example, I once got a very bad case of poison ivy, so bad that my eyes were swollen shut.  My doctor prescribed steroids for me, which greatly reduced the swelling and itching.  Because I was taking steroids under a doctors supervision, the doctor knew how much was safe to take and how long I should take the steroids.  When people take steroids illicitly they can easily take too much and end up in worse health than before they started.

User Icon bjbrewer.z2010 - Skaneateles High School, New York: how does crack damage your heart ?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Regardless of the route or frequency of use, cocaine abusers can experience heart attacks or strokes, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizure followed by respiratory arrest.

User Icon 215451 - Cashmere High School, Washington: my friend J. smokes and i dont know how to help her!!

Expert Icon Richard Denisco:  You can't make her do anything she doesn't want to, but what you can do is try to get her help. First learn a little about it yourself on our website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php .From there you can also get some help from a trusted adult, family or friends. Somehow if she could talk to a counselor it might start the process, but it is not easy and she may need formal treatment. Depending on how involved she is with drugs it can be a life or death problem and you need some help to deal with her. You can also try www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what can steroids do to a male or female?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: When anabolic steroids are used for non-medical purposes such as to increase athletic performance,  they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the body, and can lead to a long list of alterations, such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in men. In the female body, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. Examples of other effects are increased risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible.

User Icon S.A.WhiteTiger - Cashmere High School, Washington: My sister and brother smoke, whats a good way to get them to quit?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: That's nice that your trying to help them. There are medications and behavioral approaches that can help, including some excellent websites with information on how to quit smoking and toll-free quit lines.  Among the medications approved for treating tobacco addiction are nicotine replacement therapies, bupropion, an antidepressant that also help smokers quit, and varenicline, the most recently FDA approved medication for smoking cessation.  You should know that it can be tough--and most people relapse, but they shouldn't give up trying, since they ultimately can get there.  For more information, check out: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669),a national toll free number, that routes callers to their state's smoking cessation quitline or, in states that have not established quitlines, to one maintained by the National Cancer Institute. In addition, a new Web site (www.smokefree.gov) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers online advice and downloadable information to make cessation easier.

User Icon 215451 - Cashmere High School, Washington: my brother does marijuana.. what should i do?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco:  You can't make him do anything he doesn't want to, but what you can do is try to get him help. First learn a little about it yourself on our website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php .From there you can also get some help from a trusted adult, family or friends. Somehow if he could talk to a counselor it might start the process, but it is not easy and he may need formal treatment. Depending on how involved he is with drugs it can be a life or death problem and you need some help to deal with him. You can also try www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon dfielder91 - Junction City High School, Oregon: whats the negative effect of shrooms?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte:  JC...what's up?!
Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used - mostly during religious rituals - for centuries. While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.

Psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine) is obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. The active compounds in psilocybin-containing "magic" mushrooms have LSD-like properties which can produce hallucinations, an altered perception of time, and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Long-term effects such as flashbacks, risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory, and tolerance have been described in case reports.  Want more information on hallucinogens?  Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/ACIDLSD.html and http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/PCP.html

User Icon cyoung - Junction City High School, Oregon: Why do we start drinking alcohol at 21 when are brain isn't fully developed until age 25?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: Good question.  While we scientists may think that what we find out through our research should influence policy and law-but that's not always the case.  Bottom line: what is legal vs what is not legal isn't necessarily based upon science.

User Icon tjones1 - Junction City High School, Oregon: if your dating someone that does marijuana does that increase your chance of doing it?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Research shows that individuals who have friends who use drugs are more likely to use drugs themselves.  But, we don't really know why this is the case.  It could be that, by hanging out with drug users, you have more opportunities to try drugs.  Certainly, you can choose not to try drugs if offered -- but this can be a challenge.  An alternative approach would be to see if your friend will stop using marijuana -- for your benefit and his/hers. 

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon cuevas - Cashmere High School, Washington: im a pcpaddicted and i want to stop. i want to get help right away.

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: If you want help, then you are doing the best thing by asking for help. The most effective treatment is behavioral and group therapy with others who are also trying to quit.
One source of help is SAMHSA www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon cuevas - Cashmere High School, Washington: Is LSD a highly used drug?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Nope. According to a National survey, only about one-tenth of one percent of people over the age of 12 used LSD in the month prior to the survey.

User Icon SPANISH FLYY - Cashmere High School, Washington: i love weed. help me

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: If you want help, then you are doing the best thing by asking for help. The most effective treatment is behavioral and group therapy with others who are also trying to quit.
One source of help is SAMHSA www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon Wisa :) - Cashmere High School, Washington: what if i go to a therapist but they dont do anything to help???

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: You've basically have two options-stick with the therapist you've got and try and make it work by helping them to help you OR find a new therapist.  But either way-don't give up on therapy-it helps lots and lots of people live better lives.  It's good to know that therapists do differ in terms of their education, training, and skills, so it is possible that the therapist you've got isn't the right one for you.   It is also possible that if let your therapist know he or she isn't helping, they can get a better idea of how to help.  It may take several sessions to know if they can help you or not, but if you are really trying and you don't feel like you've made any progress, then it may be time to move on to a therapist who WILL and CAN help. And, since you are already in therapy I'm guessing your folks know-so it may help to talk with them about the situation.

The point is, you deserve to speak with someone who can help you, and you shouldn't be shy about getting the help that you need. Please don't give up!

User Icon kmichelle - Junction City High School, Oregon: why is Marijuana a gateway drug

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi JC,
That is a really interesting question.  If a drug acts as a 'gateway,' then its use would lead to the use of another, different drug--and for some, that seems to be what happens.  But for a lot of people, it does not.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse is supporting research that addresses this question, but we have no clear answer yet.  So, is marijuana a gateway drug? The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy, is not yet scientifically settled, and could also be applied to nicotine or alcohol. And, while it is true that most people who use other drugs have also used marijuana (and nicotine, alcohol), it is not true that most marijuana users go on to use other drugs. Moreover, it is important to recognize that marijuana itself presents significant health risks, including the risk of addiction. 

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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/.

User Icon bear - Dixie High School, Utah: do steroids really make your wiener smaller?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Not your weiner, but steroids can shrink your testicles.  That is because steroids alter your body's hormonal balance including hormones related to sexual organs.  You can find out more by clicking here on steroids.

User Icon Mighty Mouse - Spring Woods High School, Texas: que pasa si tenemos relaciones sexuales con una persona que consume drogas; tendria peligro la criatura cuando nasca??? caules serian los riesgos??? por favor contestenme...

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Los riesgos para una criatura que nace de una madre que usa drogas durante el embarazo, dependeran de la droga. Sin embargo, estos estudios (establecer una relacion causal) son muy dificles de realizar porque es muy raro que una persona use una droga en forma exclusiva. Asi, los efectos del cigarrillo muchas veces estan contaminados con los efectos del alcohol o la marijuana. Los efectos prenatales del alcohol son tal vez los que estan mejor caracterizados en lo que se denomina el sindrome de alcohol fetal. Los efectos de otras drogas como la marijuana o el crack tienden a ser bastante sutiles y a manifestarse preponderantemente en un riesgo mayor de deficiencias conductuales durante la ninez. Pero no se ha podido demostrar aun que estos efectos, de existir, sean irreversibles.   
puedes encontrar mas informacion sobre los efectos de exposicion prenatal a varias drogas en nuestro sitio web:

http://www.nida.nih.gov/nidaespanol.html

User Icon dixie smurf123 - Dixie High School, Utah: why do drugs make you do odd things?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: The short answer is people do odd things after taking drugs because different drugs alter your judgement in different ways.  Some drugs make you overconfident, and some drugs decrease your ability to pay attention to the things going on all around you, even when those events are critical to your health (like ignoringn a red light while driving). Other drugs, like LSD, can change your perceptions so much that you can't recognize dangerous things around you (such as an on-coming car, or a roof ledge).

User Icon conley1 - Cashmere High School, Washington: What's the best way to quit smoking? i have aa friend who is addicted and has cancer and NEEDS to quit, what should i do?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: There are many good treatments to quit smoking. Medications, gum-lozenges, counseling, and Quit Lines (1 800 Quit Now) Many of these treatments can be obtained from your primary care doctor and would be the best place to start for someone who already has cancer. Many people think if they have cancer there is no reason to stop smoking, but this isn't true, since the cancer treatments have improved greatly and it is important to quit smoking to get the most effect of the cancer treatment.

User Icon hbishop - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can a baby die from drugs while there in ur tummy and ur using them?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Your question is very important. It is known that drugs of abuse can cross the placenta and reach the fetus. So, drugs used by the mother definitely can affect the baby's health and can even produce long-term harm many years later. That is why doctors recommend that pregnant mothers should not smoke or use alcohol or other illicit drugs.

User Icon SCLions081 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: What does sniffing cocaine do to your nose?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Cocaine is a local anesthetic and also causes blood vessels to constrict.  When the cocaine wears off, the vessels dilate again.  With repeated use, snorters of cocaine experience weakened capillaries in your nose (the small blood vessels), which can lead to nose bleeds and experience a decrease in their ability to smell.  It is not a pretty picture.

Connect and Interact. Free downloads and cool videos about drugs. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads

User Icon Mr.Vlah... - Port Chester High School, New York: Which can do more of damage shrooms or marijuana? And are their damages simliar?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Both can do damage--there are too many variables to say which one causes more damage.  The active chemical in 'shrooms' is psilocybin. The use of psilocybin has been associated with nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness, and lack of coordination. The psychological side effects of psilocybin use include hallucinations and an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. Panic attacks and psychosis may also occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Also associated with the ingestion of psilocybin is the risk of poisoning if one of the many varieties of poisonous mushrooms is incorrectly identified as a psilocybin mushroom. 

Short term effects of marijuana include distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.

User Icon shawla - Cashmere High School, Washington: does weed cure cancer???

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: No, there are no data that indicate that marijuana can cure cancer.

User Icon Larry - Dixie High School, Utah: I have a friend who drinks, smoke, and does a few other drugs he wants to quit but he needs help what should I do to help him quit.

Expert Icon Kevin Conway:  I'm glad to hear that you are willing to help your friend!  When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

Good luck!


User Icon Carrie - Skaneateles High School, New York: Which drug is most commonly used by teens? And by adults?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: The drug most frequently used by teens and adults is nicotine... followed by alcohol. After that, the most frequently used drugs are marijuana and illicit use of prescription medications.

User Icon PD_frog - Junction City High School, Oregon: What part of the brain is ADD/ADHD in?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: What's up, JC?!
What's ADHD? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).

While we don't know if there is one particular area of the brain that is affected by ADD/ADHD, treatment of ADHD with stimulants, often in conjunction with psychotherapy, helps to improve the symptoms of ADHD, as well as the self-esteem, cognition, and social and family interactions of the patient. The most commonly prescribed medications include amphetamines (e.g., Adderall®, a mix of amphetamine salts) and methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin and Concerta - a formulation that releases medication in the body over a period of time). These medications are safe and effective when taken as prescribed and have the effect of calming and "focusing" effect on individuals with ADHD.  

Need more information?  Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/ADHD.html

User Icon Sinthia - Bixby High School, Oklahoma: if i want to be in the cool crowd... should i party?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: There is no problem with partying, per se. The problem comes when alcohol and drugs are readily available and peer pressure comes into play to use drugs as a way of fitting in.  Find friends who don't need drugs to party. Check out who'll be at a party, and what the plans are before you commit to something that may turn out to be an awkward situation for you.  Know the facts about drugs, and stop to think before you do something rash that you may end up regretting.  The cool crowd are the people who appreciate you for who you are, not for what you do or don't do.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what is in the drugs that make our brains not function well?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: The most common way in which the cells in our brain communicate with one another is by releasing a chemical (called a neurotransmitter), which then causes a response in one or many other cells.  Drugs are chemicals and they act in the brain by tapping into the brain's communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. This similarity in structure 'fools' receptors and allows the drugs to lock onto and activate the nerve cells. Although these drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don't activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network. Other drugs, like amphetamine or cocaine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals. This disruption produces a greatly amplified message, ultimately disrupting communication channels.  For more information on how drugs affect the brain, and a lot more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/addiction.html

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: thanks for helping me a lot nidachat you really helped me a lot.

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: You are welcome....good luck with your friend.

User Icon soccerman - Cashmere High School, Washington: what happens if a two year old is drinking alchol

Expert Icon Richard Denisco:  If someone you know is giving a 2 year old alcohol or other drugs then this is child abuse! Get help! Go to the police, school counsilor or other trusted adult if you are afraid of harm. Try calling  1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7 for more information or help.
User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: is weed used for cancer treatments?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is available for nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and certain other conditions.

User Icon Holli2010 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: WHICH GENDER IS MORE LIKELY TO DO DRUGS????????

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: In general males are more likely to use drugs. Unfortunately, females are catching up, and may be more vulnerable than males to some of the consequences of drug use--including becoming addicted.

User Icon justin beiber - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: what is the range of ages that people do drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: People of all ages use drugs. However, most people start using drugs when they are teenagers and then their use decreases as they get older. Unfortunately, some teenagers (and it's not known which ones) continue to use drugs, and may become addicted.  In fact most people who develop an addiction began in adolescence or even childhood.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: i have a friend she is 15 and she is pregnant she smokes and drinks when she has the baby she is going to kill it and no one knows but me and a counselor she trusted me to not tell anyone but i knew i had to. Was it the right thing to do?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Talking to a trusted adult is the best thing...  you're friend sounds like she needs help, talking with a counselor can help you get your friend the help she desparately needs.

User Icon Potatoe Theif(: - Dixie High School, Utah: what are some of the effects of tobacco?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: 
There are so many!   Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year? To see the myriad of effects of tobacco, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco  and http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.  Happy Hunting!

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Is it true that using to many drugs can damage your brain cells?????

Expert Icon Steve Grant: We now know that drugs change the way that brain cells function, and that those changes can persist for quite some time even after drug taking stopped. Amazingly, some of a drug's effects changes can even affect gene function!!!.  Depending on the drug, some of these changes can start after taking the drug just once.  Some of these changes may revert back to normal in a day or so, but some can last for months, maybe even longer.  We don't know as much as we should about these long-term effects of drugs or how long it takes for the changes to return to normal. So, even though not all drugs 'kill' brain cells, they do change the way the brain works for a long time. This should be a good enough reason to stay away from drugs.

User Icon stephyyttt - Junction City High School, Oregon: i have a friend. she whores around for meth, the otherday she asked my meth selling boyfriend for a f*** for meth what shoud i do?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: You need to protect yourself and stay away from them. You will go down with your boy friend and they will put it on you also. Your friend will turn if she gets caught, so down you go again. If you are still not doing meth get away. When you are safe, you can THEN try to get them help. If you find yourself in a difficult situation and need more advice please call
1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: i have a friend who is on everything know and i did something like telling her or hm that i wont talk to her until he or she stops it i just found out i made it worse he or she brings it to school making it look like he or she is drinking water what can i do to make her stop so then she can thank me?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: It sounds like your friend may be addicted and can't quit.  Since not taking to her didn't work, you could break the silent treatment and let her know that you are concerned about what she's doing to herself.  And that it seems like she's not able to quit, but that you've spoken with an expert at NIDA who told you that treatment for addiction can help her stop using.  Remember what your friend was like before she started using, and try to keep that image in mind and keep trying to help-she may not thank you but if she gets the help she needs she will likely be a much better friend to you-and that may be all the thanks you need.

If she wants to speak privately to someone, she can call the SAMHSA hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.  And she can find treatment programs through the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

BTW-it's tough having a friend with addiction issues and if you need some support visit: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.

User Icon mickey143v2.0 - Port Chester High School, New York: is crystal meth addictive on the first try >??????????? >>>>?????? >>>>?????

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Port Chester!
Great question!!! There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure.  Generally people do not get addicted after using a drug once, but it really depends on the drug and the individual taking the drug. It is a bit like playing Russian roulette with some drugs as there have been reports of people taking a drug for a single time that lead to a lifetime of addiction. Its better to not try any drug even once!

User Icon Emmanuel Rivera - Einstein High School, Maryland: how hard is it to quit smoking?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Quitting smoking can be very hard.  Many people quit for a week or two and then relapse.  But others can quit on their own.  There are a number of treatments out there that can help people quit, the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, and there are some medications that doctors can prescribe that can be very effective.  Talking with your doctor is a good first step!

User Icon nbradley - Junction City High School, Oregon: im a migget at my school and i use meth to fit in but now i feel i need it i just started shooting up with my dad and mom and they think it is important for my developement what should i do

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well... it sounds like you are in a very serious situation and could be getting addicted to meth.  Importantly, even though you may have initially experienced positive effects of the drug, you are now recognizing its potential to have a very negative impact.  And this may be especially the case for a young person whose brain is still developing.   So, the sooner you stop using the better. But this is not something you should do alone--if there is an adult you trust, or a teacher or coach, you may want to consider asking them for assistance.  There are also some resources that are anonymous - for example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They don't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect you with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon Wisa :) - Cashmere High School, Washington: im an addict and i needhelp desperatly!! please help i dont know what to do??

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Asking for help is the best thing you can do, you can get help. The first thing to do is consider who can assist you; is a parent available to help, is there a school counselor who can help? Also, you can go to the SAMHSA website  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.
Asking for help is the first step!

User Icon dawson! - Cashmere High School, Washington: How does PCP affect human actions?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Cashmere!!
Thank you for asking your question! PCP is phencyclidine which was originally developed as an anesthetics for surgery. PCP is a hallucinogen that can distort your perceptions of sight and sound and produce feelings of detachment and invincibility. PCP also affects our perception of pain. Many PCP users are brought to emergency rooms because of injuries that they have sustained while on 'trips'. One more thing, people on PCP can become violent or suicidal. Please consider all of these factors. PCP use is dangerous, and no one can predict how a person will respond to it. You could be one of those people that ends up in the hospital. For more information on PCP or other drugs, please click on www.teens.drugabuse.gov

User Icon dixie smurf123 - Dixie High School, Utah: can a baby get high if it sees the person getting high and smells it?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: This is a really good question and a really tough one to answer - primarily because we don't yet have enough information about environmental exposures to many drugs.  If the person getting high is getting high on a drug that's being smoked, and is therefore in the air around the baby, then it probably is possible that the baby could get high.   We know most about second-hand tobacco smoke exposure.  Approximately 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke and children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: can the drugs cause a person to become mentally ill

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: 

Great question!  Drug abuse and mental illness commonly co-occur (this is referred to as comorbidity).  High rates of comorbidity between drug use disorders and other mental illnesses does not mean that one caused the other, even if it appeared first. In fact, establishing this is difficult for several reasons. Some symptoms of a mental disorder may not be recognized until the illness has substantially progressed, and imperfect recollections of when drug use/abuse started can also present timing issues. Still, three scenarios deserve consideration:

  1. Drugs of abuse can cause abusers to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. The increased risk of psychosis in some marijuana abusers has been offered as evidence for this possibility.
  2. Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse. Individuals with overt, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia is believed to lessen the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition ('Smoking and Schizophrenia: Self-Medication or Shared Brain Circuitry?').
  3. Both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or trauma.

 All three scenarios probably contribute, in varying degrees, to how and whether specific comorbidities manifest themselves.

Thanks for the question!


User Icon logan - Junction City High School, Oregon: my friend named george snorts vicodin daily...he even smokes it out of a light bulb...well one day he took extacy and vicodin and larazapram and drank alchohal...could this mix be fatal?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: This is an extremely dangerous combination and yes it could be fatal.  All of these drugs cause respiratory depression and can cause breathing to stop and death and or brain damage.
If you need help, go to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon thegirl - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is our technology advanced enough to determine whether ot not a person had done drugs in their whole lifetime?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Valley Vista, Wow...you guys have been really active today!

It would be really hard to do that with our current technology.  We can test for drugs that are in your system right now by using blood or urine tests, but when the drug metabolized (broken down by your body), so is the evidence of its use.  We can look longer term by testing hair samples for drug use because these chemicals are incorporated into hair.  But when you get a haircut, some of the data is thrown away with the hair clippings!  The usefulness of hair testing is limited by the time of last use--and if you continue to trim your hair.

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 help them; and (3) identify adolescents who already have drug problems, so they can be referred for treatment for much needed help. It is not intended to be punitive, but rather to prevent drug use or promote early intervention.

Keep the questions coming!

User Icon stephyyttt - Junction City High School, Oregon: my friend feeds his daughter prescription drugs daily, but im scared if i try to say something he will beat me so bad i die.

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: If the prescription drugs are given as prescribed by a doctor, then there should not be a problem. But if he is giving them to keep her high, then this is child abuse. And you need to get out of the situation NOW if you feel your life is in danger. Get help! Go to the police, if you are afraid of harm, you should listen to yourself. Try calling  1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7 for more information or help.

User Icon Holt_01 - Cashmere High School, Washington: What is one physical sign that someone is using marijuana?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: If someone is high on marijuana, he or she might seem silly and giggly for no reason; have very red, bloodshot eyes; and have a hard time remembering things that just happened.

User Icon asian lady - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: why dopeople call marijiana the gateway drug?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Hey there Nantucket....are you all still in school?  Wow!
 The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy, is not yet scientifically settled, and could also be applied to nicotine or alcohol. And, while it is true that most people who use other drugs have also used marijuana (and nicotine, alcohol), it is not true that most marijuana users go on to use other drugs. Moreover, it is important to recognize that marijuana itself presents significant health risks, including the risk of addiction.

User Icon serena - Junction City High School, Oregon: what happens when you overdose on pain killers?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Hi Serena,
That unfortunately happens to about 30,000 people each year. Pain killers are narcotic opioids and cause respiration to slow and then stop. When there is no breathing the body does not get the needed oxygen and the heart and brain stop working. Even if the person is resusitated, if the brain goes without oxygen for 3 minutes it becomes perminently damaged, even if the body lives.

User Icon stephyyttt - Junction City High School, Oregon: this girl at my school stole my fat sac of marijuana, should i tell the principle or just beat her up?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: You really should talk with the principle.  If you are bringing drugs into school, and bullying fellow classmates, it sounds like a cry for help to me.  The first step to getting help could be talking with your principle, a guidance counselor, or trusted teacher.
User Icon lilmiach - Camp Fire USA, Ohio: Are there any drugs that can kill you?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: 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.

User Icon Michael - Junction City High School, Oregon: what do mushrooms do to your body

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: The psychological consequences of psilocybin/mushroom use include hallucinations, an altered perception of time, and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Long-term effects such as flashbacks, risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory, and tolerance have been described in case reports.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how do you help a friend that ask you to help but just drinks and smokes more?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: This is a question many people face when people they care about start drinking or drugging. I would try to get him help, start with our web page www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or
1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

But if he will not help himself, then try to be supportive and not judgmental. You can help him, but not make him do anything. Because this is a disease, just because he does not stop, does not mean that he does not value your friendship. Friendship alone can not treat alcohol disease just like it can not treat heart disease. But it's great to have a friend go through the process with you. So good luck.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: if the guy is on steroids can the girl still get prenant?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: Yep, but the chances of pregnancy could be reduced because steroids can lead to reduced sperm production.  But, having said that, anabolic steroids should not be viewed as a contraceptive!  You should also be aware they they can also cause shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in guys.  In general, people who use anabolic steroids are at increased risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle.  And with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible.

And girls should know that in girls, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means they may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Females may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head.

User Icon girarkay13 - Presque Isle High School, Maine: Does being under the influence of drugs have an affect on your ability to concieve?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Wow! That is an interesting question. 

Some drugs, like marijuana, may lower sperm counts in males, but this too depends on how much and how often it is used.  All drugs, for males, can influence your ability to 'follow-through' (if you know what I mean).  In females, abuse of stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine may make you cycle irregularly, affecting your ability to become pregnant.  So it is not an easy answer--your chances depend on your behavior.

User Icon spt0617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Will you please answer my question!! My friend has been cutting her self. And I am VERY scared and concernd! She has also been having a lot of mood swings....what does it mean??

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: People who become depressed, lonely and isolated sometimes look to dangerous behaviors to 'feel better'. Try talking to a counselor, trusted adult or doctor that can help.   If you'd like some more info about how to help your friend try calling 1-800-662-HELP or 1-800-273-TALK, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon DEJESUS KID - Cashmere High School, Washington: have you ever drank???? did you ever get addicted to it???

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes, I do have a drink now and then.  But I know because several people in my family including both my parents had problems with drinking, that I am probably at high risk for alcoholism.  So I am very careful...I saw what alcoholism did to several people in my family, it isn't worth it.  I can have just as much fun drinking a diet coke!

User Icon Wisa :) - Cashmere High School, Washington: is it impossible for someone to stop drinking if they are addicted to alcohol or drugs? is there medicine or some kind of help they can get???????

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: No, it isn't impossible. Drug addiction is treatable. There are medications for addiction to some drugs, like alcohol, heroin and nicotine. For these as well as other types of drug addiction, there are also 'talk therapies' that can help people stop using and also help to solve other problems that tend to go along with drug abuse. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, let them know you are concerned without being judgmental, and that there are people he can talk with in confidence. There are some resources that are anonymous - for example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They don't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect your friend with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can you get high off of sharpies?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: Thanks for asking.  Yes, you can.  Many markers have volatile substances whose chemical vapors can be inhaled to produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects.  Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others stay for a long time and get absorbed by fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers (neurons). Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their messages to and from the brain. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis - a disease that also affects myelin.  Inhalants also can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen. The effects of this condition, also known as brain hypoxia, depend on the area of the brain affected. The hippocampus, for example, helps control memory, so someone who repeatedly uses inhalants may lose the ability to learn new things or may have a hard time carrying on simple conversations. If the cerebral cortex is affected, the ability to solve complex problems and plan ahead will be compromised. And, if the cerebellum is affected, it can cause a person to move slowly or clumsily. We have more information on inhalants on our teen website at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php

User Icon BBower - Junction City High School, Oregon: If tar builds in your lungs, then how much would you have to smoke before you suffocate of blocked lungs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: It is not a simple question.  We know that the more a person smokes the more likely they are to suffer respiratory problems. And we also know that there are also individual differences in vulnerability, so that someone with a predisposing respiratory problem may need to smoke only a small amount to suffer serious respiratory problems.

User Icon sharie - Junction City High School, Oregon: what happens when you experiment with hallucinogens?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi there, thanks for the questi
Hallucinogens, such as LSD, can cause unpredictable psychological effects including delusions and visual hallucinations. Physical effects can include dangerously increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. People taking acid can also experience sleeplessness, and rapid, intense emotional swings. This experience, as you can expect, can be extremely confusing and frightening to the person taking acid. For more information on acid and other hallucinogens, please click on www.abovetheinfluence.com and www.abovetheinfluence.com

User Icon heart<3 - Port Chester High School, New York: Is alcohol or marijuana harder to quit?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genetic makeup, the genes that make each of us who we are, and the environment each play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its potentially devastating consequences. Abusing marijuana or alcohol can lead to many health consequences and will effect any specific person differently. In the end, if addiction occurs it is extremely painful and difficult to quit regardless of what drug you take.

User Icon hroolds - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: I got caught drinking and smoking on my school bus and now I dont know how to make my teachers respect me...

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: When you do something you're not supposed to do and you get caught, it sometimes feels like nothing will ever be right.  But the truth is that if you change for the better, and if you continue to act in an admirable way, others usually notice it, and you can earn back their respect.  It takes time and it can take a lot of effort.  But you can get there. 

But there's another issue here: the fact that you were drinking and smoking on the bus.  That makes me wonder if you've got alcohol and nicotine addiction, and if so, it may be hard to break the addiction on your own.  If you are having trouble stopping, you can speak with an adult that you trust, like your mother or father, or a teacher, and see if they can help you get treatment for the addiction.   Or, if you prefer, you can have a confidential  conversation with a caring person on the SAMHSA hotline:  1-800-273-TALK, and you can find treatment programs at this website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov


Of course I hope that you aren't addicted, and that this is simply a matter of changing your behavior on the bus.   But if you do have an addiction problem, please don't despair.  Please know that help is within your reach, as well as the respect that you want to earn back!

User Icon Samantha - Parkdale High School, Maryland: If a person has been smoking over the course of many years, if they decide to quit, will the damage done to their lungs ever heal?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Good question!
The answer to that question depends on how often you've smoked during those 20 years, and what you smoked.  The longer and more frequent the use, the more likely that there is damage.  You physician or treatment provider may be able to assess how well your lungs work and can make suggestions to help you stop smoking.  The good news is that quitting (or cutting down significantly) can allow your lungs to recover (although maybe not fully).  And when you recover, you can breathe better, things will smell better to you, your breath will smell better, and food will be tastier. You will also reduce your risk of getting lung cancer, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008.

For more information about smoking, check out  http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Butterfly - Rockville High School, Maryland: which drug has the worst long term affects?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Rockville High!
The long-term effects depend on how long you take a drug and how much you take.  Long-term nicotine use can lead to poor pulmonary function, and in some, lung cancer.  Ethanol use and ethanol-related disease accounts for almost 25% of hospitalizations.  Amphetamines can cause frank brain damage.  I guess you have a wide choice of adverse effects.  Choose wisely.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Are some drugs more addicting/harmful than others? If so, which ones are worst? Which ones are least addictive

Expert Icon Steve Grant: 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.

User Icon hhentze - Junction City High School, Oregon: What drug is the hardest to quit using?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genetic makeup, the genes that make each of us who we are, and the environment each play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its potentially devastating consequences. Also opioids (like heroin, prescription opioids), cocaine esp. crack, and methamphetamine have physical properties that make it very difficult to quit. So it really depends on the drug you are exposed to and your genetics. In the end, if addiciton occurs it is extremely painful and difficult to quit.

User Icon val - Junction City High School, Oregon: What is the brain's response to taking a depressant and a stimulant at the same time (such as energy drinks mixed with alcohol)?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: They affect different brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, and different brain systems. Energy drinks appear to increase the noradrenaline levels in the brain.   Alcohol enhances the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and weakens the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, making a person sluggish.  The danger is that someone can be intoxicated on alcohol, but awake--which could allow them to keep drinking or to try to drive when they are  impaired.

User Icon hhentze - Junction City High School, Oregon: What drug is most often used by teens in the USA?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: 

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the most commonly abused substance among teens is alcohol, followed by tobacco. The most commonly abused illegal drug is marijuana. In 2006, 16.6% of 12 to 17 year olds had abused alcohol, 10.4% had abused cigarettes, and 6.8% had abused marijuana in the month prior to the survey.

You can learn more about drug abuse trends and statistics at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Stats.html


User Icon billy - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: Are steroids considered an illegal drug?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: 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 www.drugabuse.gov.

User Icon potatoes - Dixie High School, Utah: What is so amazing about the pill popping parties? They are 100% harmful to the body plus nobody knows what they put in the bowl. Therefore why are more and more people showing up to the parties?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: This is a great question and shows how crazy drug addiction is. Taking a handful of pills is just CRAZY, but you are right people do it. Some people get a good feeling once and continue 'chasing the high'. The problem with drug addiction is that it's a brain disease and not logical. So use your logic and not your 'drug brain' to make these decisions.

User Icon joints - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: how many people in america do drugs

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  More people smoke cigarettes, which contain the drug nicotine, than use any other drug.  But an estimated 20.4 million people in the United States used some kind of illicit drug in the past 30 days, according to the latest government statistics. About 8.3 percent of all persons age 12 and over are involved in use of illegal drugs or the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a yearly interview of 67,500 persons sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides the most accurate estimates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the general U.S. population.

According to the 2006 NSDUH findings, illicit drug use rates have remained stable since 2002 and the use of some drugs has declined, but the survey has shown an alarming increase in the abuse of prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs.

Most Popular Drugs of Abuse

According to the survey, these are the most commonly abused drugs:
  • Marijuana, by 14.8 million people, or 6 percent.
  • Cocaine, 2.4 million users.
  • Hallucinogens, including Ecstasy, 1 million users.
  • Methamphetamine, about 731,000 users.
  • Prescription drugs, 7 million nonmedical users.

For more information see:  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK)


User Icon white fox - Dixie High School, Utah: my mom smokes before, during, and after i was born and now im 16 and my mom is still smoking so how bad did that damage my health?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: Thanks for your question.  As you probably know, smoking can cause a lot of serious health problems.  Since you did not mention that you have any health problems, that is good news, but we do encouage you to ask your mom to seek help for her smoking addiction as soon as possible.  Although neither you nor your mom may be experiencing the effects of her smoking right now, we know that you both cold be affected later on in life. And---if she is smoking in your home you are being exposed to second hand smoke, which is not healthy for you.   The sooner she stops smoking the sooner she can reduce the health risks both for you and her. It is hard to quit--she will need your non judgmental support.   Here is a website where your mom can get help:  Smokefree.gov

User Icon Holt_01 - Cashmere High School, Washington: have any of your close friends been addicted to marijuana?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes, and its a very difficult thing to see happening to a friend.  If this is happening to you, encourage your friend to stop, if they can't stop they need to seek help, keep encourageing them to get help from their parents or a trusted adult.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: my dad is an alcoholic and every time he gets home he argues, how do i get him to stop drinking?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco:  Thanks for your question. Dealing with parental drug abuse is tough and I know this from first hand experience.  When I was living with a father who had a drinking problem I needed friends I could talk to that I could trust.  You can talk to a friend or school counsler that can provide you with support by listening and by helping to make sure you aren't impacted negatively by your dad's drinking.  For example, when my father would drink I would make sure I didn't ride with him in the car and arranged for friends or their parents to take me places.  Also, I talked with my school guidance counselor and participated in a local Al-Anon program for teens (Alateen) whose parents used drugs.  There I found additional support on how to deal with my father's drug use from people having the same experience.  You can access more information including: information on how to help someone stop using drugs see:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7, and for more information about Alateen see:http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What is the most commonly used drug in Arizona (a specific drug please)?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  More people smoke cigarettes, which contain the drug nicotine, than use any other drug. As in other states, marijuana remains the most commonly used illicit drug in Arizona.  Arizona, like other states, also has a significant problem with misuse of prescription drugs.  Some research suggests that Arizona leads the nation in sales of opiate analgesics (like hydrocodone).  

For more information see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php

User Icon Jiacalone_01 - Cashmere High School, Washington: what percent of 9th graders smoke marijuana?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: The main survey we use to collect information on teen drug use looks at 8th and 10th graders, not 9th graders, but it will give you an idea. In 2008, almost 6 percent of 8th graders and 14 percent of 10th graders used marijuana in the month leading up to the survey. So, if you hear that everybody's doing it, that's just not true.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: if your cousin does drugs and his mom and dad dont know how do i tell him to stop without his parents finding out

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: You can't make him do anything he doesn't want to, but what you can do is try to get him help. First learn a little about it yourself on our website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php 
From there you can also get some help from a trusted adult, family or friends. Somehow if he could talk to a counselor it might start the process, but it is not easy and he may need formal treatment. Depending on how involved he is with drugs it can be a life or death problem and you need some help to deal with him. You can also try www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon chive - Cashmere High School, Washington: What R Major Effects From Inhalents

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: If sufficient amounts are inhaled, nearly all inhalents produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness. Irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs).

User Icon stephyyttt - Junction City High School, Oregon: everytime i hide my stash, somehow my dog still manages to find it. its costing me alot of money what shoud i do?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: You should thank your dog, sounds like he or she is looking out for your best interest.  Good dog!

User Icon mers - Junction City High School, Oregon: how bad is a monster energy drink for you?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Energy drinks generally contain the same amount of caffeine as a strong cup of coffee (or expresso coffee).  Very high amounts of caffeine can produce anxiety and even heart problems.  So think of an energy drink as just a different form of coffee.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what happens if you take sreriods and viagra

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Nothing good.  Steroids are very powerful drugs and have widespread effects on many parts of your brain and body. Taking steroids without a doctor's prescription and supervision can lead to problems in many organs in your body, including your skin, heart, and lungs. Viagra mainly affects your cardiovascular system. Taking steroids and viagra could very well lead to heart problems, and even a heart attack.  So, bad idea all around.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how can i get my best friend to atop smokeing weed/

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. You can encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).Also, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: My Cousin is really bad with drug do you think there is anyway of him stopping? Or do you think every time he gets around them he will start again?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: When you say he is 'really bad with drug' it makes me think that he has a serious addiction problem.   The bad news is that when people are really addicted, they usually have trouble not using if there are drugs around.  But the good news is that even when people are really addicted, if they get treatment the treatment can really help.  You can let your Cousin know that treatment can help him, and you can encourage him to talk to his parents or another trusted adult to help him get the treatment he needs.  You can also let him know that he can talk to someone confidentially at 1-800-273-TALK, and he can find treatment the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

Also, there are lots of people who care about a friend or a relative with a drug use problem.  There's even a website where you can get support from other people your age who are going through something similar: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen

User Icon peches1 - Camp Fire USA, Ohio: what myths are there about drugs

Expert Icon Steve Grant: There a numerous myths about drugs, but the most critical myth is that drugs don't have bad effects. Most drugs, whether legal or illegal, have both good effects and bad effects (side effects). The larger amount of drugs and the longer you take a drug, the more likely it is that you will suffer these negative effects. This means that you should only take a drug after consulting with a doctor and receving a legal prescription. That way the doctor can monitor your health and adjust the dose so that you minimize the risk of experiencing these adverse effects

you may find additional useful info here:
http://archives.drugabuse.gov/Published_Articles/Myths.html (Archives)

User Icon hhentze - Junction City High School, Oregon: What drug is most often used in the USA?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  More people smoke cigarettes, which contain the drug nicotine, than use any other drug.  But an estimated 20.4 million people in the United States used some kind of illicit drug in the past 30 days, according to the latest government statistics. About 8.3 percent of all persons age 12 and over are involved in use of illegal drugs or the nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a yearly interview of 67,500 persons sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provides the most accurate estimates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the general U.S. population.

According to the 2006 NSDUH findings, illicit drug use rates have remained stable since 2002 and the use of some drugs has declined, but the survey has shown an alarming increase in the abuse of prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs.

Most Popular Drugs of Abuse

According to the survey, these are the most commonly abused drugs:

  • Marijuana, by 14.8 million people, or 6 percent.
  • Cocaine, 2.4 million users.
  • Hallucinogens, including Ecstasy, 1 million users.
  • Methamphetamine, about 731,000 users.
  • Prescription drugs, 7 million nonmedical users.

For more information see:  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK)



User Icon isela_11 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: is the goverment growing mary jane to perscribe to certain ill people ? to cure them?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Since its inception in 1974, NIDA has been the sole administrator of a contract to grow marijuana for research purposes, and the only legal source of it in the United States. Scientific studies require a source of material that has consistent and predictable potency, is free of contamination, and is available in amounts to support research needs.

NIDA also supplies cannabis to seven patients under single patient so-called 'compassionate use' Investigational New Drug Applications (IND). In 1978, as part of a lawsuit settlement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), NIDA began supplying cannabis to patients whose physicians applied for and received such approval from the FDA. In 1992, the Secretary of HHS terminated this practice, but decided that NIDA should continue to supply those patients who were receiving cannabis at the time. The drugs were not being administered to cure any illness, and several of the patients have died since then.


User Icon S.A.WhiteTiger - Cashmere High School, Washington: Does ecstasy have any medical use?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: There are studies that are exploring this with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and for end-of-life patients.  All of these studies administer the drugs under controlled situations with medical supervision.  The results of these studies are not yet out.

User Icon Queen1221 - Cashmere High School, Washington: what does meth do to you?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: This is a very important question, thanks for asking.  As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.  Methamphetamine abuse can lead to very serious medical, psychological, and social consequences. The negative health effects include memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition, and severe dental problems ('meth mouth'). Methamphetamine abuse also contributes to increased transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, and can infuse whole communities with new waves of crime, unemployment, child neglect or abuse, and other social ills.  If you want to know more, go to our meth page at http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html

User Icon zeroskater601 - Junction City High School, Oregon: why is it when you have nicotine in your system your brain craves it

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a really great question and it gets to the issue of how nicotine actually works. Nicotine itself if a plant derivative, a chemical in its own right.  It easily gets into the brain when you smoke it, when you use a nicotine replacement product, or use smokeless tobacco products.  Normally, your own brain produces a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, and this transmitter attaches to special proteins in the brain called receptors that can also bind nicotine.  Now nicotine does something very interesting and very much unlike what most other drugs do in the brain, when those receptors are bound, they signal the cell membrane to produce even more nicotinic receptors.  Nicotinic receptors do not like being empty, and so they somehow signal the brain that they need more nicotine...and you smoke another cigarette...and one leads to another, and an addiction is born.

For more information about nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon SCLions050 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: what does LSD do

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi there!  Congrats on gettingyour question through!
LSD use can result in unpredictable effects such as delusions and visual hallucinations. It can also increase body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. LSD is also known to cause sleeplessness and loss of appetite. LSD can result in psychotic-like episodes that can occur long after a person has taken the drug, such as dramatic mood swings from mania to profound depression, and hallucinations. Interested in more information?  You can find out more at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/ACIDLSD.html

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: why do you think people make drugs (such as companies) if they know that they are bad. And how come the goverment has not done anything to stop them?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Great question. The drugs that are produced by companies,  or prescription drugs, are not bad.  It's when people abuse them that they cause negative consequences. The FDA (Food Drug Administration) does regulate medications, but because medications are useful and reduce suffering they are needed, again it is when they are abused that the problems start. Like many things striking a proper balance is the most desiresable and difficult thing to do.

User Icon casa grande mb - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: is it possible from someone to stop drinking if the are addicted to alcohol or drugs? is their medicine or some kind of help that someone can get??????????

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: It is very possible to stop drinking or using drugs, and there are medications that can help.  We currently have medications to treat alcohol, nicotine, and opiate addiction.  For alcohol the medications used include: Antabuse, Depot Naltrexone, and Acamprosate.  For smoking medications include: Zyban, Nicotine Replacement Therapies (gum, spray, patch), and Vareniciline.  For opiate addiction medications include: Methadone and Buprenorphine.  NIDA is currently trying to develop medications to treat marijuana, cocaine, and methamaphetamine addiction. Hope this helps.

User Icon conley1 - Cashmere High School, Washington: Do you think the use of drugs in teens will go down in the following years?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Good question.  Drug use in teens has been going down since the mid 1990's...but the rate that use is dropping is slowing, so we need to keep a close eye on the trend.

User Icon casa grandesab - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: is there any type of drugs that are actually considered good for your health?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Prescriptions drugs can be good for your health if they are taken as indicated and when prescribed by a physician.  Although even prescribed medications have the potential for side effects, the benefits usually outweigh the risks. Using illicit drugs or prescription medications to get high, is dangerous and can lead to many physical and mental problems.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Can cocain make you get brain lost?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: 

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that increases levels of dopamine, a brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) associated with pleasure and movement, in the brain's reward circuit.  With repeated use, cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain's reward system and in other brain systems as well, which may eventually lead to addiction. Also, with repeated use, tolerance to the cocaine high often develops. Many cocaine abusers say that they try but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first use. Some users will increase their dose in an attempt to intensify and prolong the euphoria, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.


User Icon Batman - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what would the world be like without drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: I'm sure there would be less crime, fewer family problems, less crime, no ER visits for drug overdoses, and no need to spend money in drug addiction treatments.  What a wonderful world it would be.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: i have a friend name joey and hes a crack head he even brings crack to school he is more then addicted what should i do to help him i dont want anything bad to happen to him i really care about him?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: Joey is lucky to have a friend who cares about him, and you can let Joey know that you care about what he is doing to himself.  It might help if you let him know that help is available, and that treatment can really help (even for someone who is 'more than addicted').  You can tell Joey about the SAMHSA hotline:  1-800-273-TALK, and you can let him know where to find treatment programs through the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov 

It must be very hard to watch Joey experiencing such extreme crack addiction.  It might help you to talk with other teens in a similar situation as yourself,
visit: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.  Good luck!

User Icon TatumMackenzie - Wilson Central High School, Tennessee: what percent of teenagers use drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya:  Well, each year, NIDA sponsors a large survey called Monitoring the Future.  Latest results indicate, for one thing, that marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, which has shown a consistent decline since the mid-1990s, appears to have leveled off, with 10.9 percent of eighth graders, 23.9 percent of tenth graders, and 32.4 percent of twelfth graders reporting past-year use.  You can look up more findings and percentages here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html

User Icon kmichelle - Junction City High School, Oregon: what are the negative affects of diet pills ad supplements?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Junction City, you guys have been quite successful in getting your questions through!

That is indeed an interesting question.  As you may already know, there are several kinds of diet pills.  Some, like Alli, block the absorption of fat.  Others, like Meridia and phentermine, are amphetamines that are stimulant-based and act to curb your appetite.  The difference between these diet aids and illicit amphetamine is the dose.  All amphetamines are anorectic agents, meaning they reduce your appetite.

While diet pills and supplements can be used safely, there are hidden dangers in use of diet pills and supplements.  One of the problems with diet pills available over the internet is the possibility of side effects. Some of them can be quite dangerous. Medical testing has shown that the most common side-effects are: nervousness, higher blood pressure, headaches, dry mouth, insomnia and restlessness.  In extreme cases, problems such as renal failure, heart attack and stroke can occur and in the worse case scenario: death.  Diet pills, especially the stimulant-based ones, have the potential to be highly addictive.

Did you know that 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? It's the Monitoring the Future Survey, and you can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html

User Icon casa grandema - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: How would you tell if your friend is having a drug problem

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Terrific question.  Some of the physical signs of someone having a drug problem can be stealing, losing friends, family problems, and physical and mental problems. 
There are also questions you can ask your friend or information you may have from interacting with your friend to assess whether or not a they have a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:
  1. Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
  2. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
  3. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
  4. Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
  5. Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
  6. Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?

Supporting someone with a drug abuse problem can be difficult and I would encourage you to talk to someone.  Find a trusted adult like a parent, other family member, teacher, guidance counselor, parent of another friend and get support.  For more information go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP 
Hope this helps!


User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: If you want to join a sport does Alcohol afect you?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: The short answer is Yes, alcohol can definitely affect you if want to join a sport; and not in a good way. Alcohol impairs your judgement and your motor skills, and your teamates certainly would not want you to be playing at anything other than your best level during a game. Nobody performs optimally when intoxicated or while sufferiing the effects of a hung over.  Even outside of playing a sport, drinking alcohol can lead to trouble with your friends, school work, or even the law.  So if you want to play your best, don't drink.

User Icon aubraygreen - Theodore Roosevelt High School, Ohio: What is the most addictive drug?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: TR, what's up?
This is a great question, but a little complicated to answer. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs by their addictiveness because there are a number of factors that have to be considered. These include the genes you inherit, the conditions during your prenatal development, the experiences of your early childhood, the parenting style at home, the nurturing quality of your school and neighborhood, the level of stress you are exposed to and any vulnerability to or co-occurence of mental disorders you may have. These can have an impact on whether or not you will become addicted to a drug. So it isn't easy to predict who will become addicted and which drug is riskier. We have a great publication that will give you lots of info on the science of addiction. Check it out online at http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/

A question that we can answer is what is the most frequently used drug.  Among the general population age 12 and older, the most frequently used 'drug' is alcohol and the most frequently abused illegal drug is marijuana. More info can be found at www.oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh.  Thanks for the question!!

User Icon BRWhite - Einstein High School, Maryland: I've heard that MJ is a "Gateway" drug, what are the most common drugs that MJ leads to using

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: You are right. There is a theory that marijuana is considered a 'gateway' drug becuase it may precede the use of other drugs like cocaine, meth, or heroin. The gateway concept causes a lot of controversy, is not really settled yet, and could also be applied to nicotine or alcohol. And while it is true that most people who use other drugs have also used marijuana (and nicotine, alcohol), it is not true that most marijuana users go on to use other drugs. Moreover, it is important to recognize that marijuana itself presents significant health risks, including the risk of addiction. Check this out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

User Icon BLAH - Junction City High School, Oregon: can smoking pot affect my baby

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: Yes, it can. Research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display responses to visual stimuli that differed from that of babies that weren't exposed, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. During the preschool years, marijuana-exposed children have been observed to perform tasks involving sustained attention and memory more poorly than nonexposed children do. In the school years, these children are more likely to exhibit deficits in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to pay attention.

User Icon abcd - Junction City High School, Oregon: how much do you have to drink to be addicted

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Alcohol use has different levels, there is problem drinking, abuse and addiction. When the body is physically addicted the withdrawl is very painful and brings on 'DTs' seizures and even death. When a person is getting into a level of problem drinking, it is time to take a look at things before physical addiction occurs. 

There are some things you may notice with regard to the person you know that may indicate they drink too much.  For instance if the person drinks on a regular basis and this impacts their health, safety (drinks and drives), performance at school, work, interaction with family and/or friends they may have a problem with their drinking.  The National Institute Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a website that might be helpful at:  http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/QuestionsAnswers/default.asp.  For adults, they define low risk drinking as less than 4 'standard' drinks per day and less than 14 per week and adult women less than 3 'standard' drinks per day and 7 per week.

User Icon Thomas - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: is marijuana addictive

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: While there is individual variability (meaning that it can vary from person to person), the short answer is Yes! About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana become addicted. When they stop, they experience a 'withdrawal syndrome'--they are irritable, can't sleep, lose weight, and are anxious, often prompting them to start using again. Whats more--long term marijuana users themselves report not only poorer educational and job outcomes, but less life satisfaction and worse mental and physical health compared to those who don't use marijuana. Check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana for more info. Thanks for joining in on Chat day!

For free downloads and cool videos about drugs and marijuana, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads and http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Marijuana.html.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what are the effect of a drug addiction

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: All drugs of abuse - nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, and others - affect the brain's "reward" circuit.
These brain changes drive a person to seek out and use drugs compulsively, despite negative consequences such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse - this is addiction.  So a person may start out taking drugs voluntarily, but as time passes and drug use continues, something happens that makes a person go from being a voluntary drug user to a compulsive drug user. It impairs your ability to think clearly, to feel OK without drugs, and to control your behaviors.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Is "light" cigarettes that supposedly have less tar better than regular cigars?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya:No, I don't think so. They are equally bad. Check out our blog post: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/nida-news-who-gets-fooled-by-flavors/

User Icon hhentze - Junction City High School, Oregon: Why do some people get silly when they are drunk but some people get mean and abusive when they are drunk?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Many drugs, not just alcohol, lead to an effect technically refered to as 'disinhibition'.  What this means is that you may normally think about doing something, but you don't actually do it because you know that if you do it, then there will be bad consequences.  For example, if you punch someone, then they could well punch you back even harder than you punch them.  When you don't do an action you are thinking about, it is called 'inhibition'.  Some drugs impair your ability to exert inhibition and self-control, so you migh do something you wouldn't otherwise do.  So people who get mean and abuse when they are drunk or take drugs may just be 'allowing' themselves to do things that they always wanted to do, but knew better than to actually do it.

User Icon PunkyBruster :] - Dixie High School, Utah: what damage can it do to your baby if you smoke weed and drink when your about a month pregnant?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: 

Thanks for the question - it's a very important one! Many rigorous scientific studies have shown that exposure to various drugs before birth can have effects on the developing baby. The substance that has probably been studied most is alcohol. Health authorities caution that any amount of drinking during pregnancy may harm a baby. The more a mother drinks, the greater are the chances that her baby will be adversely affected by alcohol exposure. At the extreme, babies develop fetal alcohol syndrome, a pattern of birth defects that include significant changes in the brain that can result in mental retardation, behavioral problems and neurological problems.

Some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. Exposure to marijuana before birth has been shown to have a negative effect on problem-solving when the children become older as well as having effects on their ability to maintain attention.

For a full research report on marijuana, see: http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html.


User Icon philayorkieian2 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: when you take drugs while you are pregnant how does it affect the baby when its born?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: That is an excellent question and one that is hard to answer with a simple answer.  We have lots of researchers who are investigating that question.  Their research is telling us that there is no safe level of drug use in pregnancy.  But, whether there will be harmful effects on the baby is hard to say because it depends upon so many factors such as these:   when in pregnancy did the women (girl) begin taking taking drugs?  did she use them throughout pregnancy?  which drugs did she use?  how often and how much did she use?  Also, research tells us that while there many not be any obvious negative effects on the baby, there may be some effects down the road as the child develops and goes to school, such as behavioral problems, including those that may pose problems for doing well in school, such as the ability to pay attention and concentrate. 

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what is in marijuana that gets people high?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: 

Marijuana contains a chemical called THC. THC triggers brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good - that's the 'high.' But that's just one effectMarijuana can also make you uncoordinated which can make sports difficult; it can affect memory making it hard to remember things you just learned; and it can affect judgment and decision making, causing you to do things you might not do when you are thinking straight - such as getting in a car with someone who's been drinking or is high on marijuana. And marijuana is addictive! It's definitely not worth the risk.


User Icon silly goose - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: smoking weed help you concentrate?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Weed messes with your ability to remember what you just learned.  So even if it did help with concentration (which it doesn't), you'ld likely forget whatever it is that just required your concentration.

User Icon biggie boopin B - Junction City High School, Oregon: what do mushrooms attack in your brain to cause side effects ?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi JC, good question!
The compounds in mushrooms, mostly psylocibin and its relatives, upsets the balance in the serotonergic neurotransmitter system in your brain.  Serotonin in particular does a lot in your brain, including helping to build your brain when you are young.  Neurotransmitters like serotonin are very carefully regulated in your brain; excesses and deficits can have very profound effects;  a lack of serotonin can lead to depression whereas an excess can lead to aggressive behaviors.  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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/

User Icon black hawk - Dixie High School, Utah: ive been addicted to cigarettes for 4 years please can you give me advice to quit?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: You may want to try some of the quitlines available on the web. Here's a good place to start, http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/: scroll down to "Trying to Quit?"

User Icon 3jordan - Junction City High School, Oregon: How many teenagers died in 2006, from drunk driving accidents?

Expert Icon Brian Marquis: Hi.  I checked the CDC website (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and found stats for 2007 -- more than 4,200 teens in the United States aged 1519 were killed and almost 400,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.  Take a look at the fact sheet at http://www.cdc.gov/MotorVehicleSafety/Teen_Drivers
/teendrivers_factsheet.html


User Icon MonsterRules - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: is pot legal in amsterdam?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Although our insitute studies the science of drug abuse and addiction--we don't focus on legal or policy issues--from a quick search of sources, it appears that marijuana is NOT legal in Amsterdam but tolerated by law enforcement there.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: I have a friend that wants me to help her stop how would I help her when she not really trying? She is getting worse she drinking and smoking more.

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: Sometimes people really DO want to stop drinking and smoking, but they can't stop because they're addicted, and they need treatment.  You can let her know that you care about her, and that if she's having a hard time stopping on her own, she needs to get some help.  If she can talk to her parents, maybe they can help her get drug addiction treatment.  If she can't talk to her parents, it might help to speak with another trusted adult.  But also, she can call the SAMSHA hotline at 1-800-272-TALK, and she can find treatment programs by going to the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.  Remember, she wouldn't be your friend if you didn't care about her and know that she is a good person-so try to remember who she is when she's not on drugs and keep trying to help her through this difficult time in her life. 

I hope your friend gets the help she needs.

User Icon Redward2 - Junction City High School, Oregon: How does Meth change the brain?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Junction City...you guys have been active on the chat today!

Meth, or methamphetamine, is a stimulant drug that has long-acting effects. It has direct effects on your brain because it can cause the release of dopamine and serotonin, two of the neurotransmitters that are needed to make your brain function correctly.  It also has direct effects on your heart, making it race.  It can lead to hyperthermia, or the excess production of heat that can be very bad for your body.  Hyperthermia can even lead to death.  Finally, it has been shown to lead to real brain damage (loss of brain cells) in animals that are given the drug, and the brain damage is usually considered permanent.  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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/.

User Icon BoysLikeGirls - Wilson Central High School, Tennessee: what is the worst drug? What is the worst drug to be addicted too?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well.. the worst drug to be addicted is the drug that a person is addicted to. Not to sound confusing, but in general, any drug of abuse--whether alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin, etc.--can produce devastating consequences both for that person and for anyone who cares about him or her. The use of any drug by adolescents can produce long-term brain changes that can affect behavior.  Better not to start and then you don't risk become addicted.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What kind of of brain damge can you get from cocain?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: We now know that all drugs, not just cocaine, can change the way that brain cells function, and that those changes can persist for quite some time even after stopping taking the drug. Amazingly, some of a drug's effects changes can even change gene function!!!.  Some of these changes may revert back to normal in a day or so, but some can last for months, maybe even longer.  We don't know as much as we should about these long-term effects of drugs or how long it takes for the changes to return to normal. So, even though not all drugs 'kill' brain cells, they do change the way the brain works for a long time. This should be a good enough reason to stay away from drugs.

User Icon mcr12 - Dixie High School, Utah: Is there anything that can help me stop smoking pot

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: The short answer is-Yes.  Given that you're asking me this question, it sounds like you've had trouble stopping on your own, but with help from a trained professional you can absolutely stop.  In fact, it is very common for people to need help quitting drugs. 

Don't wait another day. Don't wait until you have days or years that have passed you by while in a drugged-out haze.  Now that you are ready to stop, the next step is to get help. If you don't feel ready to talk with a trusted adult like your parents or a teacher, call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to someone who can help you or you can find treatment programs by looking at the SAMHSA website at  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.  You should be proud of yourself for asking this question and having the courage to do what it takes to stop!

User Icon BLAH - Junction City High School, Oregon: why do people do drugs when they are upset

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Good question and accurate observation.  When someone is upset they don't like how they feel and want to change the feeling. Drugs are one way to change how we feel , although only temporarily. The problem is the reason you are upset is still there and drugs just prolong dealing with it, and usually make it worse when we finally get to dealing with it.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: someone i know has the chrones disease. He had to take steroids to make him gain weight. he was under the age of 12. Is taking steroids when you are told by the doctor ok?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Lakeview,
Chrone's Disease is a serious autoimmune disease that makes it difficult to absorb needed nutrients from your intestines.  Most people who have it do not feel like eating because it makes them very uncomfortable.  So it becomes more important to make your food work more efficiently.  A doctor may prescribe a steroid to reduce the inflammation, and small dose of an anabolic steroid to promote weight gain.  Steroids do, in fact, have medical uses and can be safe and effective if used according to doctor's orders - they become trouble when they are abused.  Want more information on steroids?  Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Steroids.html.  Good luck to your friend.  I hope that he feels better!

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: If drugs come from plants what makes them so bad???

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Think tobacco--not only is it bad because people smoke it, exposing their lungs to all kinds of toxins and carcinogens, but it also contains an addictive substance--nicotine.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what are opioids?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Opiates are made from opium, a white liquid in the poppy plant. They're also referred to as narcotics. Maybe you've heard of drugs called heroin, morphine or codeine. These are examples of opiates. Opiates can produce a quick, intense feeling of pleasure followed by a sense of well-being and a calm drowsiness. But they can also become an addiction. If someone uses opiates again and again, his or her brain is likely to become dependent on them.

User Icon Emmanuel - Einstein High School, Maryland: What chemicals is inside tobacco

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: There are many - actually about 4000. Nicotine is the main addictive chemical in tobacco but there are many other chemicals like tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and nitrosamines. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems, which is one reason why smokers are at high risk for heart disease. Why would anyone want to put that stuff in their bodies?

User Icon DoyleCassie - Otto Middle School, Michigan: would you stop me from doing drugs if you seen me doing it?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well, there is no point in using physical force to stop someone from using drugs. It is likely that the person may react and want to use more. If someone is using drugs, I would talk about the harm they're doing to themselves and give them some scientific facts that might make them reconsider their choice. However, in the end, it's up to the person to stop or not.  Hopefully, the healthy decision will win out. Take a look at our teen website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon 23jordan - Junction City High School, Oregon: how many pain pills can you take before you overdose?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: There is no one number, it depends on the pill. But the prescribed dose, usually one or two pills is not all that far from an overdose. That is why more people die of drug overdoses than car accidents in 6 states in the US. Also, if you take more than prescribed the side effects become very bothersome, such as nausea, sedation, and that always popular drooling.

The bottom line is that although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genetic makeup, the genes that make each of us who we are, and the environment each play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its potentially devastating consequences.

User Icon casa grande BS - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: This 1 time i was smoking pot and my boobs felt firmer. was it the drugs??

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Hi there--we don't have any research to address this.  Sorry!

User Icon tborland2 - Junction City High School, Oregon: what do steroids do to the body

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Hi Junction City, Your body produces very small amounts of a lot of steroids, including cholesterol, vitamin D, estrogens, androgens, and corticosteroids.  I am guessing you are most interested in the androgens, which are anabolic, which affect muscle growth and muscle strength.  If you are male, taking steroids in the amounts required to enhance performance also turn off your own production of testosterone.  Androgens can reduce body fat, but they can also increase aggressive behavior, hair growth in odd places, and can have adverse effects on your cardiovascular system and kidneys. 

What are some other negative side effects?  If you are female, steroids can cause you to stop growing by stimulating closure of the epiphysial cartlige on your long bones, and can deepen your voice permanently. If you are male taking steroids, you run the risk of your testicles shrinking in size, increased breast development, and infertility and maybe develop an increased urge to go shopping (just kidding on that one).  Would you like more info on steroids and their effects on the body?  Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Steroids.html

You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on steroids on NIDA's Web site:  www.steroidabuse.gov

User Icon fedex - Dixie High School, Utah: Should you punish a person that does drug or just talk to them respectively?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: This is a good question. People often think that they can cause people to change their behavior by trying to punish them. But addiction is a disease and it is like punishing someone for having diabetes. But both the addict and the diabetic are responsible for their behavior and they may face consequences for this behavior, but punishing just doesn't work. Talk to them respectfully and let them know you want to help them. You can start by asking them to go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon emo-sun - Dixie High School, Utah: is it possible that because my dad was a big time partyer that drank and did drugs, that that's why im so messed up now?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon potatoes - Dixie High School, Utah: Is the use of LSD increasing or decreasing in the past three years?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: It may be increasing--the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported a significant increase in past year use between 2007 and 2008--from 620,000 to 802,000 among persons 12 or older.  Also, Monitoring the Future, NIDA's survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders reported a softening of attitudes (decreased perception of harm) towards LSD use in recent years--often a predictor of increased use.  So, although the rates are still down substantially from peak years, this is an area of concern that we are watching closely.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Are any drugs okay in moderation

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Some drugs that can lead to addiction are OK to take under a doctor's supervision.  For example, opioids like Oxycontin or Vicodin are powerful pain relievers, and are highly beneficial for people who are in severe pain, such as after an injury or surgery.  But it is critical that a person follows the doctor's instructions when taking the drug to avoid the risk of drug abuse and addiction. In 2008, nearly one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin, and one in 20 abused OxyContin. Abuse of these drugs can be associated with overdose and death, especially when they are taken at high doses, in non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), or in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

User Icon browe - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what happens to your brain when you smoke pot?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Short-term effects of marijuana use include euphoria, distorted perceptions, memory impairment, and difficulty thinking and solving problems.  For more on how marijuana impacts your brain, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Marijuana.html.

User Icon casa grande wjn - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: i've had some family members who have done drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, meth and others. is there any way this can happen to me?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon headonfire99 - Spring Woods High School, Texas: is getting high once in a while bad

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well... people should stay away from using any illicit substance. The problem is that it's not possible to predict when a person who is using 'once in a while' might begin to use more often or in larger amounts, or get physicially addicted. So it's kind of slippery slope, as they say.  Better not to do it at all...

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: If I Have Two Alcoholic Parents I only live with one Does that mean I am more likely to do it when Im older? If So How Can I stop myself from doing so?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon whiteninja - Dixie High School, Utah: what is the chance of getting addicted to drugs because of you of your parents previous life style

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: If Both of my parents are alcoholics, Does That Make me more suseptable to doing it as a get older?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon m-baller - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: if your family is around drugs what are the odds you will get into this situation

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon casa grandesab - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: I live with both of my parents and both are alcoholics and drug addicts. They sometimes brib me to drink and get "high" with them. What should I do?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Wow... That is tough... Of course, the best thing to do is to try hard to stay away from drugs and alcohol, which is hard since both of your parents are addicts.  That increases your risk, but it doesn't mean you will end up being addicted.  It's important that you find things in life that you enjoy like sports, music, books, etc., which can help you to stay away from drugs. You probably know of many famous (or even non-famous) people who grew up in environments surrounded by drugs and alcohol, and yet they never became addicts. You can look at them as role models and see what you can learn from their lives, which could apply to you.

User Icon Gab - South Middle School, West Virginia: Why do famous sport players and actors do drugs?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: For the same reasons others do drugs--to feel good, to feel better, to perform better and because of curiosity or a perception that drugs are "cool."

User Icon Bubbles - South Middle School, West Virginia: What would happen if a pregnant mother overdosed on drugs?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: If a pregnant women overdoses on drugs, it is important for her to receive medical attention immediately to prevent the overdose from having a negative effect on her pregnancy.  Whether or not the overdose hurts her or her baby depends upon a lot of factors...including what drugs or drug combinations she was using, how long she was using them and the drug dosages. A woman who is pregnant should not be using any drugs at all. It is not safe for the baby.

User Icon stefanie - Junction City High School, Oregon: do you smoke and when yes, why?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: No, I don't smoke.  I did at one time, but I quit

User Icon joints - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: what if my friend is pregnat and oes drugs and drinks what  will that do for the kid

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: Thanks for the question - it's a very important one! Many rigorous scientific studies have shown that exposure to various drugs before birth can lead to very serious problems. The substance that has probably been studied most is alcohol. Health authorities caution that any amount of drinking during pregnancy may harm a baby. The more a mother drinks, the greater are the chances that her baby will be adversely affected by alcohol exposure. At the extreme, babies develop fetal alcohol syndrome, a pattern of birth defects that include significant changes in the brain that can result in mental retardation, behavioral problems and neurological problems.

Babies born to mothers that use opiates can go through withdrawal at birth, as well as having low birth weight and possibly developmental delays. Very recent research has shown that babies born to mothers that smoke are more irritable than babies born to mothers that don't smoke. In short, exposures to many drugs can have serious effects on a baby.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: because of drugs is the percentage a greater risk of being alone when your older

Expert Icon Steve Grant: 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.

User Icon =) - Dixie High School, Utah: What are some physical signs of drug addiction?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: It depends on the drug that the person is addicted to. For example, weight loss, muscle tension, nausea, blurred vision. Others are slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Also, other negative consequences can be stealing, losing friends, family problems, and other problems.


Moderator Icon  Propofol

With the death of Michael Jackson, you may have heard the drug Propofol mentioned in the news. Propofol is a common type of anesthetic - a drug that doctors use to 'put people to sleep' for surgery. It is given to patients through an 'intravenous drip,' (called an 'IV' for short) that goes through a special needle into a patient's arm, allowing the medicine to go directly into the patient's bloodstream.

Doctors who give patients propofol are generally known as 'anesthesiologists' and have special training. These experts set up the IV, make sure the patient is 'sleeping' comfortably, and then carefully watch the patient's vital signs (like heart rate, breathing, etc.) while the surgeon operates on the patient. Doctors like using propofol because it leaves the body very quickly, which allows the patient to wake up after surgery more rapidly, without bad side effects. So propofol can be a useful drug when it's given by people who are properly trained, but like many prescription drugs, it can be very harmful if used inappropriately.

User Icon Amidat - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: What is the major chemical in drugs that causes addiction?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Great question. Different drugs are made up of different chemicals. But all drugs of abuse affect the brain and either directly or indirectly, they increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it.

To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.



Moderator Icon  Salvia

Salvia (salvia divinorum) is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America. It is used in traditional spiritual practices of native people in those parts of the world to produce 'mystical' experiences. Traditionally, salvia has been ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. But the dried leaves of Salvia can also be smoked as a joint, consumed in water pipes or vaporized and inhaled.

The main active ingredient in salvia, acts at what are known as kappa opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors differ from those activated by the more commonly known opioids, such as heroin and morphine. Although salvia currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several states and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use. The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed salvia as a drug of concern and is considering classifying it as a Schedule I drug - meaning it has a high potential for abuse, and no established therapeutic benefits.

People who abuse salvia generally experience hallucinations including psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, feelings of detachment, and importantly, a highly modified perception of external reality and the self. The long-term effects of salvia abuse have not been studied.


Moderator Icon  Brain recovery: Can the brain recover after you stop using drugs? Probably, yes, but that depends on many things, like how young somebody is when they start. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or 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.


Moderator Icon  Risk of addiction: 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 it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. 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.

User Icon spt0617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: My friend has been cutting her self. And I am very scared. She has also been having mood swings...what does it mean??

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: It is understandable that you would be afraid for your friend.  It is great that you care enough to write to me, and you should know that many people work through (successfully) the kinds of problems that your friend is experiencing.  Your friend sounds like she needs immediate help, and needs to speak with a mental health professional.  To start, she can call the SAMHSA hot line at 1-800-272-TALK to speak with a caring individual.   Best wishes to you and your friend!

User Icon Batty - Dixie High School, Utah: if one of your freinds is smoking and you really wanna help them wut should you do to help them without looseing ther freindship?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: I know it's hard but you may want to try to tell them that using drugs is not 'cool' anymore. For example, cigarette smoking was 'fashionable' in the 60's and 70's but right now most people don't want be near someone who is smoking. So,as science continues to reveal more about how drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc., can cause many medical and psychological problems, you may want to share that info with your friend--hey, it's worth the risk to try and help them, right?. You can find information about the effects of different drugs on our teen website at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: If both your parents do drugs, what is the possibility of you following in their footsteps?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Kids with alcoholic or drug-abusing parents are much more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction.  This occurs for several interrelated reasons.  First, children of alcoholics/addicts have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs.  Second, children of alcoholics/addicts are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs.  Third, children of alcoholics/alcoholics may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their alcoholic/addicted parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction.  Of course, most children of alcoholics/addicts do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. 

So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol.  And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again.  

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.


User Icon Batty - Dixie High School, Utah: what drug has killed the most amount of people within this past year?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Tobacco!  More than 400,000 deaths per year can be attributed to smoking.


Moderator Icon  Drug Testing in 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.

User Icon Wind River High - Wind River High School, Wyoming: Many People say that marijuanna use is not addicting or habit forming. Is there statistics out there that show that it is?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes--in one national survey from about 15 years ago, it was found that 9.1% of those who've tried marijuana become addicted.  The numbers go way up among daily smokers -- 25-50%, and there are other factors as well that determine whether someone becomes addicted--e.g. how old was the person when they started to use; are there any other emotional/mental health problems (depression, anxiety) that the person is suffering from, and is there a family history of addiction.  Also, we now know that there is a withdrawal syndrome associated with stopping marijuana use among heavy users.  They feel irritable, anxious, have trouble sleeping and experience strong cravings.  This can last for a few weeks--making it very difficult to quit without help.

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: If you did drugs earlier in life, can it effect your children?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: 
That is an excellent question, and one for which there has been very little research.  Currently, we do not have evidence that if a girl does drugs earlier in life, it can affect children she may have later in life.   However, another question you may consider is whether her drug use has a long-term effect on her general health such that it may have implications for her having a healthy pregnancy.  These are important things for girls to think about when they consider using drugs.

When it comes to boys using drugs and whether it may affect children he may father later in life,  again we do not have research on this question except for some preliminary animal data showing that  paternal drug use can have a negative impact, both on physical growth and learning.  So, this is something for boys to think about who hope to someday become a father.

User Icon rock12 - Rockville High School, Maryland: If a teenager was taking drugs, can it affect him/her educationally?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Yes and the type of the effect is going to depend on the type of drug. For example, it is known that marijuana can affect memory, concentration and perception, which makes it very difficult for someone to study and learn. Also, long-term use of certain drugs is clearly associated with low school performance and often with early dropout. Visit our teen website for lots more info and some fun stuff to click on: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What does cocain do to you when you use it for a while?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Long-term use of cocaine has a range of effects, most of them bad for your health. One of the worst effects is on the cardiovascular system. Cocaine raises your blood pressure and can increase the risk of a heart attack. This is not to dismiss the effects on the brain. In addition to the brain changes that underlie addiction, long-term cocaine use can increase the risk of seizures. As an old blues song goes "Cocaine will kill you, but they don't say when"


Moderator Icon  Gateway: Is marijuana a gateway drug? The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy, is not yet scientifically settled, and could also be applied to nicotine or alcohol. And, while it is true that most people who use other drugs have also used marijuana (and nicotine, alcohol), it is not true that most marijuana users go on to use other drugs. Moreover, it is important to recognize that marijuana itself presents significant health risks, including the risk of addiction.


Moderator Icon  Needle Exchange: Scientific data show that syringe/needle exchange programs (SEPs/NEPs), as part of comprehensive HIV prevention, can be effective in reducing the spread of infectious diseases and getting hard-to-reach populations into drug treatment.
  • Note: Needle exchange programs are often thought to be part of a harm-reduction approach, but the term harm-reduction in itself has different meanings depending on context of use. NIDA does not view harm-reduction as a scientific term for any particular approach to addressing addiction.


Moderator Icon  Needle Exchange: Scientific data show that syringe/needle exchange programs (SEPs/NEPs), as part of comprehensive HIV prevention, can be effective in reducing the spread of infectious diseases and getting hard-to-reach populations into drug treatment.
  • Note: Needle exchange programs are often thought to be part of a harm-reduction approach, but the term harm-reduction in itself has different meanings depending on context of use. NIDA does not view harm-reduction as a scientific term for any particular approach to addressing addiction.

User Icon Loveme! - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is it good to detach yourself from somone that has a real serious problem, because its hard to care so much about someone you love that is hurting themselfs that at times its just better to say you dont care?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: There are several reasons why people start doing drugs including as a way of coping with depression or loss.  Drugs make people feel good and high sometimes but afterward they may feel much worse.  That's the unpredictable and dangerous part of drug abuse. If someone you care about is using drugs then you can try to be supportive by listening to them and not being judgmental. There is a site you can go to that can also help: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or you or they can call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

It's important for you to know that a person may start out taking drugs voluntarily, but as time passes and drug use continues, something happens that makes a person go from being a voluntary drug user to a compulsive drug user. Why? Because the continued use of drugs changes how your brain functions. It impairs your ability to think clearly, to feel OK without drugs, and to control your behaviors. These all contribute to the compulsive drug seeking and use that is addiction.  So while the initial decision to take drugs is a choice for some, a physical need replaces that choice.


Moderator Icon  Marijuana and mental illness: Marijuana use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis. Marijuana intoxication can, though rarely, produce a reversible psychosis, and it may be a causal agent in development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. Data on causality are weak, although many studies have found an association present in certain groups: young users, frequent users, those with cannabis dependence, etc. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or sub-clinical illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Whats the difference between medical marijuana and street marijuana?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Actually, in principle, there is no chemical difference because they both contain THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). However, it is easier to control the potency, or strength of medical marijuana, and also the possible contaminents. Still, marijuana for medical use is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating any medical illness. Scientists are working to develop new medications that take advantage of the potential benefits of THC for a variety of symptoms and diseases, including pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Why do sports require players to take drug tests?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Some drugs can increase muscle mass or increase endurance, so athletes who take those drugs would have an unfair advantage over atheletes who played fair and got stronger by working out and practicing for a long time. So, drug tests are necessary to make sure that athletes play by the rules and don't get an unfair advantage by taking drugs.


Moderator Icon  ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). It is often treated with stimulant medications, which have been shown to be safe and effective when taken as prescribed. Currently, the evidence suggests that stimulant medications do not increase the risk of substance abuse in children with ADHD, and may even be protective.

User Icon Gary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Can marijuana be used for medical uses?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately, although it is not currently approved by the FDA for treating any medical illness. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases , including pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: if you grow your own weed is it as bad as smoking weed that you bought from some guy

Expert Icon Steve Grant: The short answer is yes.  The active chemicals in marijuana are called cannabinoids (such as THC, tetrahydrocannabinol). Different marijuana plants contain different proportions of THC and other cannabinoids, but they all contain these chemicals. The only difference is that you never know what other 'green stuff' this 'guy' may have added or whether he (or whoever grew the marijuana) used pesticides, fertilizers, toxins, or any other poisons which could still be on the plant material that you just bought.

User Icon karen - Parkdale High School, Maryland: How can I help a teenager quit smoking marajuana?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway:  Researchers are testing different ways to help marijuana users quit. Currently, no medications exist for treating marijuana addiction. Treatment programs focus on behavioral therapies. A number of programs are designed specifically to help teenagers who are abusers.

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using marijuana, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) .

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

Best of luck!


User Icon qwerty - middlebury union high school, Vermont: Is marijuana smoke as bad for your lungs as tobacco smoke?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older:  Hi there--good question.  This is a tough one!  On one hand, it is true that marijuana tar contains about 50% higher concentration of chemicals linked to lung cancer, compared with tobacco tar, and that smoking marijuana deposits four times more tar in the lungs than smoking an equivalent amount of tobacco. This is because marijuana smokers hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers do, allowing more time for extra fine particles to be deposited in the lungs. As a result, the lungs of marijuana smokers show some of the same pre-cancerous changes as the lungs of tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers suffer some of the same respiratory problems as cigarette smokers--i.e., chronic cough, bronchitis, etc.  Despite this, the verdict is still out on whether smoking marijuana increases the risk of developing lung cancer later in life.

I can tell you however, that both the nicotine in tobacco and the THC in cannabis are addictive and that the smoke you inhale from both is bad for your lungs. The smoke in cigarettes, made from either tobacco or marijuana, contains literally thousands of compounds, many of which are toxic.

For more information about smoking, go to: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/ For more information about marijuana, go to http://www.marijuana-info.org/


User Icon BabyGurl - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: How can cocain kill you

Expert Icon Brian Marquis: Thanks for your question. Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. You can find more info about cocaine on our web pages.  Go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/, click on the Drugs of Abuse drop down menu and select cocaine.


Moderator Icon  To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:

http://www.backtoschool.drugabuse.gov/, providing a source of free information about the latest science-based drug abuse facts, publications, and teaching materials for parents, teachers and students; http://www.hiv.drugabuse.gov/, with information for young people, parents and teachers about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates, and http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy provides additional information specifically for young people. Go to: http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, for scientific information about illegal drugs and their effects, and http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, to find an interactive drug prevention site for youth.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Isn't it sometimes better to not take prescribed medicines?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: This is really a question to discuss with your doctor.  If you were prescribed a medication, then presumably you needed it for something, and there could be consequences to not taking it.  On the other hand, all medicines have risks and benefits and it could be that after you talk to your physician, you will jointly decide that the risks outweigh the benefits for you.  But I would caution you strongly not to make this decision on your own.  Questioning authority is good--ignoring it may be at your peril.

User Icon Batty - Dixie High School, Utah: what type of drug is salvia?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Salvia (salvia divinorum) is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America. It is used in traditional spiritual practices of native people in those parts of the world to produce 'mystical' experiences. Traditionally, salvia has been ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. But the dried leaves of Salvia can also be smoked as a joint, consumed in water pipes or vaporized and inhaled.

The main active ingredient in salvia, acts at what are known as kappa opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors differ from those activated by the more commonly known opioids, such as heroin and morphine. Although salvia currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several states and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use. The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed salvia as a drug of concern and is considering classifying it as a Schedule I drug - meaning it has a high potential for abuse, and no established therapeutic benefits.

People who abuse salvia generally experience hallucinations including psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, feelings of detachment, and importantly, a highly modified perception of external reality and the self. The long-term effects of salvia abuse have not been studied.


Moderator Icon  NIDA is frequently asked whether alcohol is a drug, and where to find information about alcohol abuse. There is another government agency that studies alcohol's effects. For information on alcohol, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Web site at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

Similarly, information about smoking and prevention can be found at http://www.smokefree.gov/.

User Icon Lenora - Parkdale High School, Maryland: Is there any connection between paranoid schizophrenia or other mental illness and marijuana or other drug use? If so, what are some signs/symptoms?

Expert Icon Brian Marquis:  Hello and thanks for your question.  Many people who regularly abuse drugs are also diagnosed with mental disorders and vice versa.  

When two or more disorders or illnesses occur in the same person, they are called comorbid. The interactions between the illnesses can affect both. We have a fact sheet about co-morbidity that will give you more answers.  Go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/Comorbidity.html.  Our longer report about co-morbidity is at http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/comorbidity/



Moderator Icon  To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, three good places to begin include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; NIDA InfoFacts, containing results of the annual 'Monitoring the Future' survey on youth trends in drug use; and the Drug Abuse Warning Network, with statistics on drug-related hospital emergency department visits and deaths at http://dawninfo.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: my dad has diabeties and he drinks alot to take stress off him but how can i get him to stop drinking so that he can live longer and would be able to make it to my wedding?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: You can let your dad know of your concerns, and you can tell him that you spoke with an expert at the National Institute on Drug Abuse who told you that there is help available, and that treatment can really work.  You can also let him know where to find help, by looking at the SAMHSA website at  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.  Your dad is lucky to have such a caring kid!  

Also, you are not alone-there are many people who love someone who has a drug or alcohol abuse problem.  Visit http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen to get support from teens like you.

User Icon Anders - Dixie High School, Utah: I recently stopped my cousin from drinking alcohol and smoking pot by informing her parents. she did not find out that i told her parents and im the person she trusts most in the world and she has told me that she still intends on returning to pot and alcohol when she can. should i inform her parents of her intentions or let her choose her own fate??? the last time i let someone close to me choose their own fate they fell off a cliff and died because he was smoking pot.

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Don't give up!  If you really think that your friend has an alcohol or drug problem, then you should do what you can to help her.  Try talking directly to her about her problem, and then see if you and your friend can discuss this with somebody you can trust (parent, teacher) to provide your friend with the help he/she needs.  I think you should trust your instincts that you should reach out to help your friend, and I applaud you for that! 

For more information see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: I am a sophomore in high school and my dad is very concerned about me when i go to partys thanks to the date rape pill how can i assure him i am making good decisions and being safe?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Your dad is right to be concerned, and you are wise to ask the question.  Below, I provide some information about date-rape drugs, and some ways to protect yourself.  By arming yourself with this knowledge, hopefully you (and your dad) might feel much safer. 

Date-rape drugs are drugs that are sometimes used to assist a sexual assault. Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to. It can include touching that is not okay; putting something into the vagina; sexual intercourse; rape; and attempted rape. These drugs are powerful and dangerous. They can be slipped into your drink when you are not looking. The drugs often have no color, smell, or taste, so you can't tell if you are being drugged. The drugs can make you become weak and confused - or even pass out - so that you are unable to refuse sex or defend yourself. If you are drugged, you might not remember what happened while you were drugged. Date rape drugs are used on both females and males.

How can I protect myself from being a victim?

  • Don't accept drinks from other people.
  • Open containers yourself.
  • Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom.
  • Don't share drinks.
  • Don't drink from punch bowls or other common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
  • If someone offers to get you a drink from a bar or at a party, go with the person to order your drink. Watch the drink being poured and carry it yourself.
  • Don't drink anything that tastes or smells strange. Sometimes, GHB tastes salty.
  • Have a nondrinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens.
  • If you realize you left your drink unattended, pour it out.
  • If you feel drunk and haven't drunk any alcohol - or, if you feel like the effects of drinking alcohol are stronger than usual - get help right away.

For more information see:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/clubdrugs.html



Moderator Icon  To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, three good places to begin include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; NIDA InfoFacts, containing results of the annual 'Monitoring the Future' survey on youth trends in drug use; and the Drug Abuse Warning Network, with statistics on drug-related hospital emergency department visits and deaths at http://dawninfo.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how do drugs effect someones motorskills

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Good question, but the answer depends on the specific drugs.  Some drugs (alcohol, sedatives, marijuana) slow down your motor responses, while other drugs (coke, meth, ecstasy)increase your reaction speed. Most drugs decrease motor agility.  Perhaps the most relevant effect of drugs on a motor skill has to do with their impact on driving performance. While some drugs will increase alertness, even those drugs will impair some aspects of driving ability. Even drugs that can be legally prescribed by a doctor often have a warning on the label that cautions against taking it and driving or operating heavy machinery.

User Icon spt0617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: What does it mean if your friend is cutting themselfs? Does it mean they are on drugs or drinking or does it mean they just want attention or what??

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: It likely means your friend is in emotional pain and it definitely means they need help.  They may or may not be on drugs or drinking, but cutting is rarely a way just to get more attention.  It would be great if your friend could speak to a mental health professional.   If your friend could speak to his or her parents, they might help their child get professional help.  If not, your friend could try talking to another adult who they trust, like a teacher.  Or, they could contact a mental health hotline at: 1-800-273-TALK.

User Icon dixie smurf123 - Dixie High School, Utah: do u think old people do drugs?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: You know that is something we are watching out for.  The baby boomer generation had a history of drug use when they were young, and has lived in a 'quick fix' world of taking medications for whatever ails you (as have younger generations).  So we are interested in whether they will return to using illicit drugs, or become abusers of prescription drugs as they age and retire from their jobs and responsibilities.  This could be highly problematic--especially if they have other health conditions and/or are taking medications that can interact with drugs or alcohol.  At NIDA we continue to focus most of our efforts on young people--trying to prevent problems before they take hold, but older people are on our radar too, and they may need specific treatment and prevention interventions geared towards their motivations for drug use and its consequences.


Moderator Icon  Frequently Asked Questions about Drug Abuse and Prevention: To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: are flavored cigars as bad as regular cigars?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Yes. They are equally bad. Check out our blog post: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/nida-news-who-gets-fooled-by-flavors/


Moderator Icon  To find a wealth of research and facts on the science of addiction and treatment, please go to:

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
301-443-1124
http://www.drugabuse.gov/

By clicking on the link 'Students and Young Adults' from NIDA's home page you will be able to access resources tailored for students and young adults , whether you are in middle school and doing research on the effects of marijuana use, or high school student looking to find out about drug use and HIV.

If you need help, you will also find a link there to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on specific drugs on NIDA's Web sites: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/
http://www.marijuana-info.org/
http://www.clubdrugs.gov/
http://www.steroidabuse.gov/
inhalants
http://www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov

User Icon joints - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: my friend had an overdose and almost died. He still does drugs. What can i do to help him stop?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco:  These brain changes drive a person to seek out and use drugs compulsively, despite negative consequences such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse - this is addiction.  Unfortunately, even almost dying does not stop someone from using drugs. If addiction were a logical thing and not a brain disease this would not be the case. It's difficult and frustrating at times when you're trying to help them. Remember it is a disease and not just a question of free will or making a decision. To find help try going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon Jay Jmnz - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Why does marijuana make me hungry?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a great question!  As you probably know, the brain interprets the effects of marijuana.  Marijuana interactions with specific proteins called receptors and can affect the parts of the brain that have those receptors.  The reason that marijuana makes you hungry is that those receptors are located on neurons (nerve cells in the brain) that make up the feeding centers in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.  Thus, when the receptors are occupied by deltaTHC, it activates those centers and makes you feel hungry. 

By the way, contrary to popular belief, most teenagers do not use marijuana. Among students surveyed in a yearly national survey, only about one in seven 10th graders report they are current marijuana users (which means they used marijuana within the past month) and fewer than one in five high school seniors is a current marijuana user.  Would you like more information on how to live above the influence of marijuana?  Visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ and http://www.abovetheinfluence.com.  Also, if you would like to begin steps to stop smoking marijuana and you find that you are having trouble, visit http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.  You can find information on treatment centers in your area.


Moderator Icon  Not all drinks are the same. 12 oz. of beer with 5% alcohol is the same as 5 oz. of wine with 12% alcohol or 1.5 oz. of hard liquor with 40% alcohol. (see the web site http://www.thecoolspot.gov/)

User Icon PunkyBruster :] - Dixie High School, Utah: this guy in my class said that weed has never killed anyone before, and people say all the time that it's not that bad.. then why is it illegal? is it really harmful?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: It is probably true that no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose (at least compared to drugs like cocaine, methamphetatmine or opioids like heroin or Oxycontin). But that does is not the same as saying that Marijuana has never killed anyone: Using marijuana can lead to people getting hurt and even die, for example if they drive recklessly or engage in other risky behaviors that they would not do if they were not intoxicated (like having unprotected sex with a stranger). You see, marijuana alters your perceptions and judgement. Although some people like the effects of using marijuana, marijuana makes other users feel anxious and agitated. In addition, marijuana can impair your memory, which can hurt your academic performance.  At the present time because marijuana can impair your life and there is no approved medical use for marijuana, the risks are considered to outweigh any potential benefits, so marijuana has been illegal in the United States for nearly 100 years.

You can find out more about marijuana at:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/


Moderator Icon  Drug and alcohol abuse can harm your judgment. Teens who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for getting HIV. To Learn the Link between drug abuse and HIV check out http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: why is it hard for people to stay off drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: It is hard for people who were once addicted to drugs, because they can see things in the environment that remind them of their drug use, or experience stress, which can trigger cravings, even if it's been a long while since the person has used. It is much easier not to start.  Still, I understand the power of peer pressure.  So the key is to learn to stay away from people who use drugs, to be your own person and not cave in to peer pressure. Check out this link to download cools ways to express yourself: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads Try this one, too, for strategies: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads


Moderator Icon  Did you know you can send us questions about drugs anytime of the day on our Teen Web site? http://teens.drugabuse.gov/. It might take a few days, because our scientists are pretty busy - but real questions will get real answers!

User Icon Squishy Camel - Skaneateles High School, New York: If your parents have done drugs before you were born does that mean that they're in your system too?

Expert Icon Cora Lee Wetherington: If a women uses drugs while she is pregnant, that does not necessarily mean that the baby will be born with the drugs in its system.  It depends upon how recently the mom used the drug before the baby was born and what the drug was.  Some drugs, especially opiates, can lead to a withdrawal reaction in the baby, reactions that can be medically treated. 
Of course, use of drugs during pregnancy is always a bad idea because they could have an impact on the baby depending upon the drug and how much drug the mom has used during pregnancy.  But, the good news is that the sooner a women stops using drugs after she learns she is pregnancy, the less likely there will be harm to the baby.


Moderator Icon  Connect and Interact. Free downloads and cool videos about drugs. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads


Moderator Icon  Did you know that 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? It's the Monitoring the Future Survey, and you can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html


Moderator Icon  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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/


Moderator Icon  Did you know that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24? Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Is it unhealthy to take medications prescribed to you?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: In general no. All medications have the potential for side effects, but the benefits usually out weigh the risks. With illicit drugs or when using prescription medications to get high, then you get the risks and side effects but no benefits. If you take the medications as prescribed and let your doctor know any problems you may be having then medications are safe.


Moderator Icon  Did you know that Inhalants can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen?

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What does steroids do to you?

Expert Icon Brian Marquis: Anabolic-androgenic steroids are usually synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. They do have legitimate medical uses. Sometimes doctors prescribe them to help people with certain kinds of anemia and men who don't produce enough testosterone on their own. But doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles. Without a prescription from a doctor, anabolic steroids are illegal.
Major effects of steroid abuse can include liver damage; jaundice; fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in 'bad' cholesterol. Also, males risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility. Females risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice. Teens risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.  If you go to our teen web site, you can find out more about steroids -- http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/.


Moderator Icon  Some people think 'weed' is harmless, but scientific studies show that marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception. If you're high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you, and affect your performance in school.

User Icon SCLions089 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Someone I know may have an addiction to alcohol. She has suffered the consequences three times, but it seems to have no effect on her. What can I do to help the situation? 

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: You can let her know that you care that she is hurting herself.  And you can let her know  (you can tell her that I told you) that there is help available, and that treatment can work!  Let her know about the SAMHSA hotline:  1-800-273-TALK, and you can let her know where to find treatment programs through the SAMHSA website:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov 

It's very hard to be friends with someone when they are making poor choices, but you are not alone in caring for someone with a drug use problem.  Visit this website for support from other teens going through what you are: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen


Moderator Icon  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2007 nearly 13,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.


Moderator Icon  People who smoke marijuana often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette smokers have: coughing and wheezing. They tend to have more chest colds than nonusers. They are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia.


Moderator Icon  Guess what - Tobacco smoke causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, blood, lungs, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix.

User Icon purple - Dixie High School, Utah: how dangerous is salvia?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: People who abuse salvia experience hallucinations including psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, feelings of detachment, and importantly, a highly modified perception of external reality and the self. The long-term effects of salvia abuse have not been studied.


Moderator Icon  Did you know that drugs can contribute to lots of health problems, including lung and cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and mental disorders?


Moderator Icon  Drugs are chemicals. They work in the brain by tapping into the brain's communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information.


Moderator Icon  In 2007, nearly 288,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

User Icon Wildcat924 - Presque Isle High School, Maine: What are the affects of being around people doing inhalents? Could you breathe in enough to get high too from just being around them?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Hi--this is a great question, and unfortunately I don't know of any research on the effects of 'second-hand' inhalant use.  However, I can tell you that if sufficient amounts of inhalants are inhaled, it can cause a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness.  Irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs).  To be clear--we know inhalants can have these effects on primary users--there isn't research on whether the same effects can occur from being around people who do inhalants.  However, it's probably not a good idea!

User Icon xpillowpantsx - Dixie High School, Utah: If I do drugs am I a horrible person? I'll answer for you... yes.

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: I disagree with you.  Doing drugs doesn't mean you are a horrible person.  Under the influence of drugs good people make very bad choices.  The fact that you say this makes me think that you do drugs, that you feel badly about yourself, and that you need someone to help you with this.  Please call this number:  1-800-273-TALK.  It is the SAMHSA hot line and it is confidential, and I am sure someone can help you.  You deserve to be helped.  Good luck.

User Icon casa grande mb - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: can ecstasy be provided in such amount that can cause the body to collapsed??

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Oh yeah... ecstasy overdose is a serious medical emergency. People who overdose with ecstasy can not only collapse but also can die from it. It is known that the overdose is associated with increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), rapid heartbeat, hypertension, heart attacks, brain toxicity, etc.  So, that is why the treatment of ecstasy overdose is usually in the emergency room.


Moderator Icon  Nearly all drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine, a brain chemical that makes us feel good.


Moderator Icon  Did you know that risk of drug abuse increases during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce?

User Icon D.Jones - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is weed really as bad as people say it is

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Well, it depends on what they are saying--it impairs learning, which is bad if you are a student; it affects judgment, which can make you do risky things like driving under the influence of weed or alcohol or the two combined; and it can be addictive.  About 9% of people who use marijuana may become addicted and about 25-50% of daily users become addicted.  Also, as a teen your brain is still developing (until the mid 20s) and marijuana may affect this keeping you from reaching your full potential.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Doing drugs can harm your future but can it harm your loved ones to?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: They can harm you and your future, and everyone that uses drugs affects about 10 people in a very harmful way. The loved ones suffer the most, the person using drugs is high and does not feel the suffering it causes, but the loved ones go through the pain stone cold sober, and they feel all the pain.

User Icon gretchennail - Junction City High School, Oregon: If you drink to the point of passing out or puking once a week are you an alcoholic?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well... at the very least, that person is likely to become an alcoholic. If someone is drinking to the point of getting sick, that means that is abuse or binge drinking--and it's really harmful for your brain...see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/binge-drinking-matters%e2%80%94to-your-brain/.  That person should try to get help for his or her alcohol problem because you never know when the binge drinking could lead to loss of consciousness, with devastating consequences.


Moderator Icon  The definition of drug addiction: a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

User Icon dixie smurf123 - Dixie High School, Utah: what does cocaine do to you? other than kill u????

Expert Icon Brian Marquis: Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. You can find more info about cocaine on our web pages.  Go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/, click on the Drugs of Abuse drop down menu and select cocaine.


Moderator Icon  Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year?


Moderator Icon  Scientists have studied how long THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) - an active chemical in marijuana - stays in the body. When marijuana is smoked, the THC is rapidly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, small amounts of THC can be detected by standard urine testing methods several days after a smoking session. In heavy users, however, traces can sometimes be detected for weeks after the last use of marijuana.

User Icon 11797229 - Rockville High School, Maryland: hi- if you've smoked for about 20 years is your lung dark and black?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: The answer to that question depends on how often you've smoked during those 20 years, and what you smoked.  The longer and more frequent the use, the more likely that there is damage.  You physician or treatment provider may be able to assess how well your lungs work and can make suggestions to help you stop smoking.  The good news is that quitting (or cutting down significantly) can allow your lungs to recover.  And when you recover, you can breathe better, things will smell better to you, your breath will smell better, and food will be tastier. You will also reduce your risk of getting lung cancer, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008.

For more information about smoking, check out  http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.


Moderator Icon  Did you know that the part of the brain that helps you make good decisions is the last to develop? The prefrontal cortex - the front of the brain - doesn't fully mature until you are in your 20's. Drugs affect parts of the brain that are still developing - so treat your brain well, and reach your full potential.

User Icon kevin - Einstein High School, Maryland: i think drugs are stupid but what's so great about being high that turns people into addicts?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Good for you !  Being straight-edged is the best.  There are many reasons why people take drugs.  Some take drugs to stop feeling bad about themselves, to lessen the effects of stress, or to not feel scared, to be more socialable. Others take drugs because they simply want to experience new or different feelings, or because they think taking drugs is necessary to be part of a group.

That being said, 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 it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. 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. Risk of addiction: There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: my brother died from using meth and i cant get over it so i have started it and i cant stop but i dont want to die. what can i do?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: It is so sad to hear about your brother and that in addition to your grief, you now have the same problem that contributed to his death. 
It' s not too late for you to get the help you need. 

You have taken a very important first step by writing to me, and I'm glad that you did because there is treatment available to help you cope with your loss and to help you stop using.  Please call the SAMSHA crisis line at 1-800-272-TALK, and to find a treatment program near you: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

Call them today. I am rooting for you!


Moderator Icon  Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008.

User Icon tobiaswankanobi - Junction City High School, Oregon: if you get high in a room and there is a cat in there ho would it act and how much pot would it take to make it "high"

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: My guess is that cats don't like smoke, and therefore will hiss at you blow smoke in its face. They might prefer catnip, which is a perennial herb that is a distant cousin to marijuana.


Moderator Icon  Contrary to popular belief, most teenagers do not use marijuana. Among students surveyed in a yearly national survey, only about one in seven 10th graders report they are current marijuana users (which means they used marijuana within the past month). Fewer than one in five high school seniors is a current marijuana user. NIDA research indicates that in 2008, 12 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, attention, balance, coordination and other abilities needed for safe driving.


Moderator Icon  NIDA research indicates that in 2006, more than 10 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination and other faculties needed for safe driving.


Moderator Icon  In 2008, nearly one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin, and one in 20 abused OxyContin. Abuse of these drugs can be associated with overdose and death, especially when they are taken at high doses, in non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), or in combination with alcohol or other drugs.


Moderator Icon  Teens are taking better care of themselves: illicit drug use declined by 24% from 2001 to 2008.

User Icon banger92 - Port Chester High School, New York: Has anyone died smoking marijuana?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes, although its rare.  One study found that smoking marijuana increases the risk of a heart attack almost 5 times within the first hour after smoking--which can be lethal if you are vulnerable.  But its more likely to be lethal through its role in automobile accidents.  Marijuana on its own impairs driving ability, and makes driving under the influence of alcohol even worse.  So it can be a causal or contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents.

User Icon Anzar - Dixie High School, Utah: if you're using drugs and you talk to a school couselor, does the law require them to report you?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: This is a good but difficult question since each area in the country is different. In GENERAL, they can get you help without notifying legal authorities. If you want to talk to someone, and you know/respect your counselor then I would ask them in general what the law is and then talk with them. Don't let this stand in the way of talking to someone! You can also try going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.


Moderator Icon  Dr. Cora Lee Wetherington is now available to answer your questions. Dr. Wetherington serves as NIDA's coordinator for research aimed at promoting the study of women and sex and gender differences into all areas of drug abuse. Dr. Wetherington also oversees a program of extramural research focusing on a variety of animal and human laboratory areas, including vulnerability to drug abuse, the behavioral effects of exposure to drugs during lifespan development, and sex and gender differences and issues unique to females. She has two children (both in college), two black & white cats, and a boxer, and particularly enjoys gardening, reading, and trying new restaurants.

User Icon xprixprix - Einstein High School, Maryland: what does carcinogen mean?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: A carcinogen is a chemical that can cause cancer.  One of the reasons that cigarettes are so dangerous is that they are made up of a lot of different chemicals that come not only from the tobacco leaf, but also from manufactured additives designed to make them more appealing to the smoker. Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008.

For more information about smoking, check out  http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Evvette - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: what is the youngest age you can get addicted to drugs at?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Benjamin Tasker,
Research shows that drug use often starts in the teen years. You might have heard this, but here's something you may not have heard.  Scientific research shows that the younger you are when you start using drugs, the more likely you are to get addicted to drugs and suffer more health related problems. Doing drugs can also cause problems with friends, in sports, and in school.

Let's face it - when someone tells us not to do something, that sometimes makes it seem more exciting. But drugs can really do some not-so-exciting things to your body. NIDA researchers discovered that drugs can literally change the way your brain works. And since your own brain won't finish growing until you're 25, you probably don't want to mess with that process by doing drugs.  Keep the questions coming!!


User Icon Amidat - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Why are illegal drugs used for testing, medications etc. if they have so many negative side effects?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: The purpose of those studies is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of medications designed to treat people who are addicted to illegal drugs.  This testing occurs under medical supervision with controlled amounts of the drug. Scientists are trying to learn how particular medications work in people who use drugs, so they can help them quit their drug use. These studies are only done in those who already use drugs. They could never be conducted in people who don't or haven't used drugs. That would be unethical.

User Icon casagrande girl - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: I have a friend, well she does drugs, and drinks at times! How do I tell her parents? Even if I do tell them, they may not Believe me? How will they handle it? Im Scared if i do tell anyone i would lose that friend. I wouldnt want to hang around someone trying to kill them self, just so they can have a "High". If it were an other friend i would break it off, but thats not the case. I really need to help her. Who should i talk to first? can you Answer my question?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: If you think that your friend has an alcohol or drug problem, then you should do what you can to help him.  Try talking directly to your friend about his problem, and then see if you and your friend can discuss this with somebody you can trust (parent, teacher) to provide your friend with the help he/she needs.  I think you should trust your instincts that you should reach out to help your friend, and I applaud you for that!

For more information see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon EL guruuu..!!! - Spring Woods High School, Texas: spring wood high school....Houston Tx..::how can i tell my family that im consuming drugs???

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Do you want to tell them to get help? If so then tell them perhaps with the help of your family doctor, a councilor from school, or the parent of a friend who has gone through it with their kids. That might make it easier, but if you have a good relationship they will just want to help you. They really just want the best for you. If you need some more advice try going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or calling 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon kevin - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can addictiveness to tobacco become hereditary? For example can a pregnant woman addicted to tobacco pass it on to her child?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Einstein,
Good question.  We do know that tobacco addiction has a genetic cause-- in fact, any form of drug abuse has a strong heriditary component (meaning it 'runs in families'). Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.  Scientists have even identified variations in particular certain genes that are linked to an individual having a higher risk of developing drug addiction. 

But that doesn't mean that your child is doomed to a life of bad breath, a smoker's cough and yellow nails and teeth!  Even if an individual has these 'risk genes', addiction can be entirely avoided if drugs are not used. The other 50 percent of the risk is due to the environment--for example, if you smoke while you are pregnant, the chemicals in the smoke may have non-genetic effects that can increase the risk of the child to become addicted to drugs, or even worse health conseqeunces.  But, once the child is born, other environmental factors, like if your child grows up and takes good care of themselves, go to school, hang out with friends who don't drink or use drugs, and are active (like playing sports) can increase their chances of having a good, healthy and long, life--drug free.  

For additional information on cigarettes, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html.  You can also check out NIDA's Website for teens.  It contains information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov  


Moderator Icon  Anadrol, oxandrin, dianabol, winstrol, decadurabolin, and equipoise are types of:
  1. anabolic steroids
  2. club drugs
  3. inhalants
  4. amphetamines

User Icon kid - Junction City High School, Oregon: is heroine worse than meth???

Expert Icon Steve Grant: That is a very important question.  Both Heroin and methamphetamine are highly addictive and very harmful to the point that taking to much can kill you, so I would hesitate to say that one is worse than the other. Best to stay away from them both.

To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:

www.backtoschool.drugabuse.gov, providing a source of free information about the latest science-based drug abuse facts, publications, and teaching materials for parents, teachers and students; www.hiv.drugabuse.gov, with information for young people, parents and teachers about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates, and www.teens.drugabuse.gov, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy provides additional information specifically for young people. Go to: www.abovetheinfluence.com, for scientific information about illegal drugs and their effects, and www.abovetheinfluence.com, to find an interactive drug prevention site for youth.

User Icon BALLERINA BABEE - Rockville High School, Maryland: How are alcohol and drugs different?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a really great question!  NIDA is frequently asked whether alcohol is a drug, and where to find information about alcohol abuse. There is another government agency that studies alcohol's effects. For information on alcohol, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Web site at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

We know that all drugs of abuse and alcohol have the same effect:  they all release the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, and this chemical is thought by many to be responsible for the positive feelings you get after you take a drug.  But there are many differences.  The most important one may be that all drugs of abuse except for alcohol bind to specific targets in the brain.  That means that cocaine binds to a different protein target than heroin does.  But they ultimately all interact, directly or indirectly, with dopamine. 

Another important similarity is that both drug and alcohol abuse can harm your judgment. Teens who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for getting HIV. To Learn the Link between drug abuse and HIV check out http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/


Moderator Icon  Valium (also known as diazepam) and Xanax (also known as alprazolam) are types of:
  1. benzodiazepines
  2. central nervous system depressants
  3. prescriptions drugs
  4. all of the above

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: whats the best way to stay off drugs?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: There are some key things that you can do to stay off drugs.  Three of the big ones are:  1) avoid situations in which drug use is possible and instead do activities that are enjoyable and drug-free; 2) hangout with people that don't use drugs; and 3) say 'no thanks' when offered drugs.

If you are in recovery you know all too well that drugs cause many more problems than they solve and keeping yourself clean can be a day to day or minute to minute fight.  But it is a fight you can win.  Just because someone has the urge to use drugs, it is important for that person to know that having an urge doesn't mean needing to use, and that urges do pass.  But if someone is having a hard time staying off drugs, it is very important that they get help.  Remember-Treatment works! 
Treatment can be found through this website: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon 23jordan - Junction City High School, Oregon: what happens to your brain if you use marijuana every few days?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Great question.  The chemicals in marijuana that gets you high are called cannabinoids, the best known of which is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).  Cannabinoids are very soluble in fat (lipds), and as a result when you use marijuana a certain amount of cannabinoids ends up being stored in fat cells.  The more you use marijuana, the more cannabinoids build up in your body.  So even if you stop using marijuana, cannabinoids can stay in your body for a long time afterwards and slowly get released into your blood.  There may not be enough for you to feel 'high', but that doesn't mean that the cannabinoids are not affecting your body and brain.  In particular, if you have to get a drug test, you may test positive for marijuana even several days after last using it.

You can find out more about marijuana at:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/


Moderator Icon  Concerta (also known as methylphenidate) is:
  1. an opioid
  2. safe to use without a prescription
  3. a prescription stimulant
  4. an antidepressant

User Icon kevin - Einstein High School, Maryland: what is emphysema?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Good question, it's a lung disease that most often occurs because of smoking. It takes many years to develop and results in the destruction of lung tissue. The person is usually thin and pink in complexion despite not having enough oxygen. At the end, the person can't get rid of the carbon dioxide that the body makes and it feels like you can't get enough air. Emphysema can also occur because of genetic diseases that destroy the lung tissue, but this is much less frequent than tobacco. Emphysema is also a type of COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and you might hear that term also.

User Icon Redward2 - Junction City High School, Oregon: My father smokes and sometimes in the house. how long would it take for second hand smoke to begin harming me?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: That a great question and unfortunately we don't know the answer. However, we know from brain imaging studies that small doses of nicotine (like the one inhaled during secondhand smoking) can rev up the brain receptors associated with nicotine effects. Therefore, it appears that even small doses of nicotine can have some effects.


Moderator Icon  Prescription pain relievers such as Vicodin and OxyContin are considered:
  1. stimulants
  2. opioids
  3. tranquilizers
  4. hallucinogens

User Icon iluvmyblankie - Watertown Alternative Learning Center, Wisconsin: why can useing drugs lead to prostution?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  People who are addicted to drugs will do just about anything to obtain and use drugs.  Prostitution is one way for some people to earn money to buy drugs, or to exchange sex for drugs.  And research shows that, among prostitutes, drug abuse is very common.   

For more information see:  http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/


Moderator Icon  A drug user develops 'tolerance' for a specific drug, which means he or she:
  1. needs more of the drug to get the same effect
  2. needs less of the drug to get the same effect
  3. never experiences a 'high' again
  4. feels 'high' all of the time

User Icon jared,chase,jt - Dixie High School, Utah: i think my friend jared is on steroids. how can i help him

Expert Icon Richard Denisco:  This is a question many people face when people they care about start doing drugs. I would try to get him help, bu going to:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

You can also provide support bu listening to him. You can help him, but not make him do anything. And just because he does not stop, does not mean that he does not value your friendship. Friendship alone can not treat drug abuse just like it can not treat heart disease. But it's great to have a friend go through the process with you. So good luck. Try checking out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php#what_are_they for more info on steroid abuse.

User Icon SCLions071 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Is it common for people to get high of glue? Because I know you can, but I don't know if it even happens that much

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: People do get high on different types of inhalants--mostly young people because they are readily available.  In fact the rates of inhalant use are typically highest in 8th graders compared to 10th and 12th graders.  NIDA's Monitoring the Future Study found that 8.9% of 8th graders, 5.9% of 10th graders, and 3.8% of 12th graders had abused inhalants at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. For more information on this topic, please see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php

User Icon joints - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: how do i stop my friends from doing drugs everyday

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: I know it's hard but you may want to try to tell them that using drugs is not 'cool' anymore. For example, cigarette smoking was 'fashionable' in the 60's and 70's but right now most people don't want be near someone who is smoking. So,as science continues to reveal more about how drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc., can cause many medical and psychological problems, you may want to share that info with your friend--hey, it's worth the risk to try and help them, right?. You can find information about the effects of different drugs on our teen website at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Kookiesnia - Einstein High School, Maryland: will there be any birth effects if you were on crack and you didn't know you were pregnat?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Einstein,
First, using drugs is a bad idea.  If you're using drugs and you're pregnant, that is an even worse idea!  Drug use during pregnancy can cause harm to the developing baby's brain and organs.  The best thing to do is stop using drugs once you find out you are pregnant and get help.  There is still a VERY GOOD chance you will have a normal, healthy baby.  For more information on the effects of cocaine and crack during pregnancy, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

I'm not sure of what type of drug you are taking, but we do know that babies born to mothers who use cocaine during pregnancy can be smaller at birth, are more likely to be premature (born early) and may go through withdrawal from cocaine following birth. These factors that can put them at risk of cognitive (example, learning and memory) disadvantages later in life.  With proper treatment, however they can recover significantly.  What we don't know, however, is if children born to mothers that used cocaine during pregnancy are at greater risk of becoming addicted to cocaine as they grow older.  If you're interestied in getting more information on cocaine and also the consequences of prenatal drug use, please see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/cocaine/treatment.html.

User Icon adam fo shizzle - Rockville High School, Maryland: ohhh hey there what happens if you eat cocain

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a tough one to answer because it seems that very few people eat cocaine.  It is usually snorted, inhaled (as in crack), or injected.  That would lead one to think that cocaine taken orally has little effect, but it probably depends on how much you take.  We know that body packers (who transport relatively large volumes of illegal substances in their bodies) get very sick or die if the bag containing the drug breaks.  If the drug is cocaine, it can make your heart stop. 

For more information about different drugs, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Halo - Dixie High School, Utah: What kills your brain cells more drugs or playing video games?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Hi there.  Good question.  Currently, there isn't enough research to answer this.  Because video games are so popular and there are so many questions about what their impact is, it's an area ripe for research.


Moderator Icon  Steroid abusers may become aggressive because the drug:
  1. causes acne
  2. clogs arteries
  3. affects the brain's limbic system
  4. makes users thirsty


User Icon joshmcfather - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: how can drugs effect physical activity in sports?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  It depends on the type of drug used.  But, for many commonly abused drugs, research shows that regular drug use can interfere with sports by decreasing concentration, increasing fatigue, decreasing or increasing appetite, and reducing reaction time.  Plus, the use of drugs can result in other complications (poor school performance, trouble with police, family strain) that can interfere with your ability engage in sports.  It's better to avoid using any drugs!

For more information see:

http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/


Moderator Icon  The human brain weighs about:
  1. 2 ounces
  2. 1 pound
  3. 3 pounds
  4. 10 pounds


Moderator Icon  Although the harmful health effects can last a lifetime, the 'high' caused by inhalants lasts just:
  1. an hour
  2. a day
  3. a week
  4. a few minutes

User Icon misscurious - Rockville High School, Maryland: Can your body ever get used to drugs? Meaning will they stop affecting you.

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a really good question.  As you probably know, medicines are only effective for a certain length of time, and then you have to take another dose.  Part of that has to do with the kinetics of the drug in your body, or how long it will last before it is excreted.  But another side to this is that many drugs lose their effectiveness if you keep taking them, a condition we call 'tolerance.'  A person is becoming tolerant to drugs when they take the same dose of the same drug more frequently to get the same effect as they got at first.  For example, if you take a decongestant for a cold over several days, the effective time becomes shorter and shorter.  Similarly, if you take opiate medications to control pain, you may need to take more to achieve the same level of pain control.  In 2008, nearly one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin, and one in 20 abused OxyContin. Abuse of these drugs can be associated with overdose and death, especially when they are taken at high doses, in non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), or in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

For more information about drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.


Moderator Icon  Which of these drugs is a synthetic stimulant?
  1. cocaine
  2. marijuana
  3. hashish
  4. methamphetamine

User Icon vvhs girl - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Well how do you help someone that wants to kill them self?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: This is a hard situation to be in--to see a friend going down a dangerous path or suffering, and not being sure what you can do to help. First, let your friend know that someone cares about him or her.  Let him/her know you are concerned (without being judgmental) and that there are people to talk with in confidence. Your friend may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he/she understands it's in private.   And, here's a resource you or your friend can call that IS anonymous--the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.  Best of luck to you.

User Icon =) - Dixie High School, Utah: Is weed addictive?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: Thanks for the question! The answer is yes. Long-term marijuana use leads to addiction in some people. That is, they cannot control their urges to seek out and use marijuana, even though it negatively affects their family relationships, school performance, and recreational activities. In addition, some frequent, heavy marijuana users develop "tolerance" to its effects. This means they need larger and larger amounts of marijuana to get the same desired effects as they used to get from smaller amounts.

For information on marijuana written especially for teens, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/teens_brochure_2013.pdf.


Moderator Icon  How many chemicals does cigarette smoke contain?
  1. 100
  2. 400
  3. 1,000
  4. 4,000

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Is it better to smoke "light" ciggarettes or regular ciggarettes?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: The so-called 'light' cigarettes have less nicotine than the regular cigarettes, but contain the same amount of other toxic substances present in a regular cigarette. If fact, it has been reported that 'light' cigarette smokers tend to smoke more and take deeper puffs to make up for the lower nicotine. Therefore, they may end up inhaling more toxins. Flavored cigarettes aren't any better...check it out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=nicotine.

User Icon noiseless - Watertown Alternative Learning Center, Wisconsin: Are prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin, Vyvanse, Adderol, or others the same as those sold on the street? If not, what's the difference?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: 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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/prescription.html


Moderator Icon  Caffeine, cocaine, and amphetamines are all:
  1. stimulants
  2. sedatives
  3. analgesics
  4. hallucinogens

User Icon Kathryn - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: If you drink as a teenager, what are the chances of you becoming an alcolholic when you are older, as an adult?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Research on the risk factors for alcoholism shows that early use of alcohol increases the risk of alcoholism.  So, drinking as a teenager increases the risk of alcoholism.  But for alcoholism to develop, the person must persistently use alcohol. The majority of alcohol users do not drink persistently and do not become alcoholic.

For more information see:
http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: How do you say no

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: Learning to say 'no' is a skill, and like any other skill it becomes easier when you practice it.  Whether you practice with a friend or family member or just in front of the mirror it makes it easier when you are in the actual situation to say 'no thanks.' Friends or peers that continue to pressure you, even after you've said no-well, you may need to reconsider whether or not you really want to hangout with people that don't listen to you or respect your choices.

To learn more about all the reasons why saying no is the right move visit: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/


Moderator Icon  Ecstasy is normally:
  1. inhaled
  2. injected
  3. swallowed
  4. smoked

User Icon P.I.L - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: which is more addicting to teens, meth or marijuana?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: That is a very important question.  Neither drug is harmless, and so I would hesitate to say that one is more addicting than the other.  Best to stay away from them both.To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:

http://www.backtoschool.drugabuse.gov/, providing a source of free information about the latest science-based drug abuse facts, publications, and teaching materials for parents, teachers and students; http://www.hiv.drugabuse.gov/, with information for young people, parents and teachers about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates, and http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy provides additional information specifically for young people. Go to: http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, for scientific information about illegal drugs and their effects, and http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, to find an interactive drug prevention site for youth.

User Icon billy - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: What do you do if you see a drug dealer?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well, you should report it to an adult as soon as possible. Drug dealers are the 'carriers' of the drug use epidemic, like the mosquitos that carry malaria. Drug dealers care about money, not about the harm that drugs cause to everyone. So reporting them is a good thing.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: My mom is in rehab my dad is dead my bros are in jail and my sis is a prostetute. What do I do?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Sounds like life has dealt you some difficult blows and for that I'm truly sorry.  There are several ways to get support for all the challenges you face.  You might try confiding in a trusted adult like a school guidance counselor or parent of a friend.  There is a hotline that provides support on lots of issues.  You can call 1-900-273-TALK and find someone 24-7 available to talk with you and offer support.  The NIDA website offers information about drug use and treatment and you can access it at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#deal .
I hope this information has been helpful.  Even though it can be difficult continue trying to find help and support.  Remember you are a young person with a unique contribution to make in this world.  We need your energy, intelligence, creativity, and gifts.


Moderator Icon  The street names 'crank' and 'speed' refer to:
  1. methamphetamine
  2. cocaine
  3. steroids
  4. ecstasy

User Icon Cowboys pride!! - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how do drugs kill brain cells?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Great question, but there is no simple answer.  Alcohol has been shown to kill cells, and ecstasy has been shown to destroy a specific type of neurons in monkeys. But, many drugs don't actually kill brain cells, they don't need to, because they can still alter the way brain cells works.  These effects can persist even after the drug is gone from the body.  But some drugs do interfere with the basic functions of cells so that the cell eventually dies.  For example, methamphetamine is thought to kill brain cells by producing a chemically reactive form of oxygen called oxygen radicals. These oxygen radicals act at the cellular level to literally burn up the cell from the inside. Ouch!

User Icon sydney - Cashmere High School, Washington: what are some major effects that meth has on the body

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Meth, or methamphetamine, is a stimulant drug that has long-acting effects. It has direct effects on your brain because it can cause the release of dopamine and serotonin, two of the neurotransmitters that are needed to make your brain function correctly.  It also has direct effects on your heart, making it race.  It can lead to hyperthermia, or the excess production of heat that can be very bad for your body.  Hyperthermia can even lead to death.  Finally, it has been shown to lead to real brain damage (loss of brain cells) in animals that are given the drug, and the brain damage is usually considered permanent.  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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/.


Moderator Icon  Do bidis, hand-rolled cigarettes from India, contain more or less nicotine than regular cigarettes?
  1. less
  2. more
  3. the same
  4. bidis don't contain nicotine

User Icon carter12 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: if all my family smoked , would i be affected?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Great question, Randolph Clay!
It's possible that you could be affected.  You could be at a higher risk of smoking later in your life.  Drug abuse and alcoholism have strong heriditary components (meaning it 'runs in families').  Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.  Scientists have even identified variations in particular certain genes that are linked to an individual having a higher risk of developing drug addiction. 

BUT WAIT!!!  This doesn't mean that you are doomed to a life of chain smoking, yellow fingernails and teeth!  Even if an individual has these 'risk genes', addiction can be entirely avoided if drugs are not used. Plus, the other 50 percent of the risk is due to the environment--like if you hang around friends who use drugs, or your home environment is difficult.  So, an individual can also decrease their risk by taking care of themselves, going to school, hanging out with friends who don't drink or use drugs, and being active (like playing sports).  

Congratulations, you have total control over whether or not you become addicted!  If you've already started to smoke, I hope you choose to kick the butts!  Check out NIDA's Website for teens.  It contains information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov


Moderator Icon  Girls who abuse steroids may:
  1. grow excessive body hair
  2. lose weight
  3. develop enlarged breasts
  4. grow taller

User Icon SCLions088 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: I know a guy me and him are very close but lately he's been drinking and its messing up are friendship what should i do?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: This is a question many people face when people they care about start drinking or drugging. I would try to get him help, start with our web page www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

But if he will not help himself, then you can not go down with him. You can help him, but not make him do anything. Because this is a disease, just because he does not stop, does not mean that he does not value your friendship. Friendship alone can not treat alcohol disease just like it can not treat heart disease. But it's great to have a friend go through the process with you. So good luck.

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: will a baby be addicted to alcohol if the mother drinks alot

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Benjamin Franklin, what's up?!

We know from research that alcohol (including both beer and liquor) can seriously harm the baby of a mother who drinks during pregnancy, causing a variety of health problems including a disorder called fetal alcohol syndrome. For more details about all the birth defects associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, check out this link: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa50.htm

The highest risk of health problems is to babies whose mothers drank HEAVILY while pregnant, but it is not clear yet whether there is ANY safe level of alcohol during pregnancy! For this reason, the U.S. Surgeon General released advisories in 1981 and again in 2005 urging women who are pregnant or may become pregnant NOT TO DRINK alcohol (http://www.lhvpn.net/hhspress.html). If a mom is drinking while pregnant, the most important thing is that she quit - because it can have serious effects on her baby if she does keep drinking. She should talk to her doctor about her alcohol use, and get help if she is having problems stopping.  Feel free to pass along this information and keep sending your questions!


User Icon mechaela - Parkdale High School, Maryland: wht is second hand smoke more harmful than just smoking yourself?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: Second-hand smoke can produce the same effects on your lungs and cardiovascular systems as if you actually used the cigarette. A lot of jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, have made the decision to limit exposure to second-hand smoke by prohibiting smoking in public places, including shopping centers, theaters, bars, and restaurants. Without these bans, it would be very hard to control the amount of second-hand smoke that you inhaled. Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008.

For more information about smoking cigarettes, check out  http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.


Moderator Icon  Snorting cocaine can cause:
  1. loss of the sense of smell
  2. nosebleeds
  3. heart attacks and seizures
  4. all of the above

User Icon Jellybean - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Do over the counter drugs or things like cough medicine effect a pregnancy?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: This is a difficult question because the answer depends on what over-the-counter drug is being used and exactly what the ingredients are in the specific cough medicine. Because a developing fetus can be affected by many different medications a women who is pregnant should always ask her doctor's advice before taking any drug.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: why do drugs make you act stupid?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: When you are high on drugs your perceptions and ability to make good decisions may be altered, so is your ability to judge the long term consequences of your behavior.  Drugs can also make you feel overconfident, which could be equally dangerous. These effects act together so you end up doing things you would not do otherwise. Get the picture?


Moderator Icon  Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances similar to what hormone?
  1. testosterone
  2. estrogen
  3. progesterone
  4. estradiol

User Icon tjones1 - Junction City High School, Oregon: if people in your family do or have done drugs how much higher is your risk

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hey there, Junction City,

Excellent question!  Do you all want to be scientists??  I hope so...we need more inquisitive people such as yourself! If drug abuse runs in your family, you may be at higher risk than most.  Drug abuse and alcoholism have strong heriditary components (meaning it 'runs in families').  Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.  Scientists have even identified variations in particular certain genes that are linked to an individual having a higher risk of developing drug addiction.  But that doesn't mean that you are doomed to a life of drug dens!  Even if an individual has these 'risk genes', addiction can be entirely avoided if drugs are not used. Plus, the other 50 percent of the risk is due to the environment--like if you hang around friends who use drugs, or your home environment is difficult.  So, an individual can also decrease their risk by taking care of themselves, going to school, hanging out with friends who don't drink or use drugs, and being active (like playing sports).  

Congratulations, you have total control over whether or not you become addicted! Check out NIDA's Website for teens.  It contains information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov

User Icon Liz Persuhn - Theodore Roosevelt High School, Ohio: I have a friend, who is going smoke pot for the first time, with a whole bunch of jerks, and I am very disapointed in her. How is a good way to help her not smoke, and/or if she does smoke, scare her out of it, so she does not get addicted? I dont want to screw up out friendship, because it seems like I care more about her health than she does.

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: You are a good friend. It's very nice that you are trying to help her and I understand your concern about it being awkward for your friendship. So, you need to find the right time to talk with her. You may not want to confront her directly but somehow you want to make her aware of the risk she is taking by trying drugs. You could read some scientific info about the effects of marijuana and get some facts together that you can share with her. Here's a good place to start:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php  Good luck--and good for you for being a caring friend.

User Icon tjones1 - Junction City High School, Oregon: how does smoking pot afect your brain

Expert Icon Brian Marquis:  Some people think smoking pot is harmless, but scientific studies show that marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception. If you're high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you, and affect your performance in school.  For more information about how pot affects your brain, check the Facts on Drugs bar on our teen site:  http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/.


Moderator Icon  Drugs work in the brain because their size and shape are similar to natural brain chemicals called:
  1. neurons
  2. axons
  3. neurotransmitters
  4. dendrites

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What is a gateway drug?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question.  A gateway drug is a drug (alcohol or illicit substance) that causes someone to use another drug.  Some people refer to marijuana as a 'gateway drug' because they think that its use causes escalation to other illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin.  The research on gateway drugs is highly controversial.  Central to this controversy is whether use of one drug causes another drug to be abused, or whether a different factor altogether causes someone to use drugs in the first place.  The real take-home message is that using drugs is dangerous, period, whether or not one drug 'causes' the use of another drug. 

For more information see:  http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon diazpazchristia - Otto Middle School, Michigan: my cousin does crack should i stop him before he dies! yes or no

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Hi, thanks for the very straight forward question. Crack is one of the most dangerous and addicting drugs around. But you can not make him do anything, what you can do is try to get him help. First learn a little about it yourself on our website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php it is real and not BS. From there you can also get some help from parents, family or friends. Somehow if he could talk to a counselor it might start the process, but it is not easy and he may need formal treatment. You are right this is a life and death problem and you need some help to deal with him. You can also try www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon mn cashmere - Cashmere High School, Washington: does nicotine have any medical uses?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a great question.  As you probably know, nicotine is the ingredient in tobacco that makes it so addictive.  Some therapeutic drugs make use of low doses of nicotine to help people who are trying to quit smoking.  So nicotine is in Nicorette gum and in the nicotine replacement patches that so many smokers wear.  These products are designed to wean people off of cigarettes and other tobacco products that have a lot of other toxic products in them. Some of the health risks associated with these other tobacco products range from oral cancers (from chewing tobacco) to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008.

For more information about nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.


Moderator Icon  Repeated use of inhalants can cause serious damage to the:
  1. heart
  2. liver
  3. brain
  4. all of the above

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: my best friend is starting to get out of contol with crystal meth and he abuses me what do i do?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: I'm sorry to hear that you are being abused and that your friend has developed a drug problem.  No one has the right, whether they are on drugs or not, to abuse you. You care about your friend, and you want his or her behavior to change.  If you didn't think they had it in them to be a decent person, you probably wouldn't be hanging out with them, but please don't continue to put yourself in a position where any abuse can happen.

If there is an adult who can help you with this situation (like a parent, a teacher, or an aunt), I suggest that you speak to that person. 
For help from other teens who have a loved one with drug abuse visit the Alateen website at:  http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen  
For help with an abusive relationship call: 866-331-9474.
And to help your friend find a treatment center go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: why and how do drugs become illegal

Expert Icon Steve Grant: There is a law called the Controlled Substance Act that gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) the authority to determine the legal status of all drugs, including those that people may take to get high. Many drugs that don't get you high are illegal to possess unless you have a prescription from a doctor. Some drugs, like LSD or heroin, are considered so dangerous to a person's health or society in general, that no one is allowed to make or posses the drug without specific permission from the FDA and DEA. In determining the legal status of a drug the FDA and DEA consider a number of factors, including the medical benifits of the drug and the likelihood that a person will abuse the drug or become addicted to it.

User Icon rachel - Presque Isle High School, Maine: Isn't amphetamine used in allergy medicines and pain relievers?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: I think you are thinking of pseudoephedrine--a mild stimulant which does not get into the brain very well.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how is crack/cocain addiction passed on through birth?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Que tal, Casa Grande!

This is a very thoughtful question!  Any form of drug abuse including crack/cocaine has a strong heriditary component (meaning it 'runs in families').  Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.  Scientists have even identified variations in particular certain genes that are linked to an individual having a higher risk of developing drug addiction.  But that doesn't mean that you are doomed to a life of drug dens!  Even if an individual has these 'risk genes', addiction can be entirely avoided if drugs are not used. Plus, the other 50 percent of the risk is due to the environment--like if you hang around friends who use drugs, or your home environment is difficult.  So, an individual can also decrease their risk by taking care of themselves, going to school, hanging out with friends who don't drink or use drugs, and being active (like playing sports).  

Congratulations, you have total control over whether or not you become addicted! Check out NIDA's Website for teens.  It contains information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov


Moderator Icon  Using cocaine can cause these immediate effects:
  1. anxiety or paranoia
  2. increased heart rate
  3. elevated blood pressure
  4. all of the above


Moderator Icon  Ecstasy is a 'synthetic' drug, which means it is:
  1. derived from a plant
  2. not derived from a naturally occurring source
  3. not very harmful
  4. cancer-causing

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: when someone is taking perscription drugs for depression and also has bipolar disorder so they are taking many different medications perscribed by their doctor is it strange for them to get a dry mouth all of the time?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Good question, unfortunately medications have side effects and dry mouth is common for anti-depressants. They should mention it to their doctor and perhaps a medication adjustment can help. But sometimes the side effect must be tolerated to get the benefit of the medicine. Dry mouth can cause dental disease so it is something to try and fix if possible.

User Icon catsw - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: When do you know that a friend overdosed and needs to be in the hospital?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  An overdose is when someone takes more than the normal or recommended amount of something, usually a drug. An overdose may result in serious, harmful symptoms or death.  If someone takes too much of something on purpose, it is called an intentional or deliberate overdose.  If the overdose happens by mistake, it is called an accidental overdose. For example, a young child may accidentally take an adult's heart medication.

If it is an emergency, you should always call 911 immediately. 

If it is not an emergency or if you would like information, the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. It is a free and confidential service. You should call if you have any questions about an overdose, poisoning, or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For more information see:  http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

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Moderator Icon  Breathable chemical vapors that cause mind-altering effects are called:
  1. sedatives
  2. amphetamines
  3. inhalants
  4. depressants

User Icon july730 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: i am so not interested in doing drugs...why are others

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Good for you Randolph Clay! 
I'm glad to hear that you aren't interested in doing drugs!  I'm not either. People will often say they take drugs for a lot of reasons, including because they are depressed or anxious, and they think the drugs will take away those bad feelings. Other people say that they take drugs as an excuse to do things that they wouldn't otherwise do.  And some just want to experience different or new feelings.  There are plenty of other things you can do to get new and different experiences without the use of drugs.  Want more information on how to live above the influence of drugs and alcohol?  Visit  http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

Keep doing your thing - drug-free, of couse - Randolph Clay!

User Icon annarules - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: why do celebirty's use drugs? i mean u see them useing drugs an awful lot and i would like to know why that is?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: That's a great question. I can only give you my thoughts, each celebrity uses for their own reasons, but in general they have more access, which includes having a lot of money and knowing many people who want to get them anything they want.  Also, people may tell them how great they are - which is another way of saying big ego. If everyone is doing something and you think you can get away with it you might try it. Sometimes wealth and fame at an early age is hard to handle, but in the end every celebrity has their own reasons.

User Icon casa grande T&M - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: My best friend smakes cigars and says ther're not harmful, but I disagree. Am I wrong???

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: You are right. Cigars contain nicotine and when they are smoked, the smoke that enters the lungs can cause harm. Although some people say that they don't inhale it, the fact is that free smoke from the lighted cigar is very likely to be inhaled by those who are nearby, including the smoker of course.

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User Icon JUJU - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: WHAT ARE THIZZLES AND WHAT ARE THE HARMS DOES IT PUT YOUR BODY THROUGH?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Thizzles is a street name for ecstasy.  Adverse health effects can include nausea, chills, sweating, teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature; on rare occasions, this can be lethal.


Moderator Icon  The reward structures are part of a larger brain system known as the:
  1. artistic center
  2. nervous center
  3. limbic system
  4. logic system

User Icon PD_frog - Junction City High School, Oregon: If someone who is pregnant had sex with a guy who was high at the time they had sex how would that effect her?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: People who take drugs tend to be more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis, and HIV--especially if they inject the drugs. For this reason, it's a good idea for a woman who has had sex with someone who is high to get tested to make sure she hasn't become infected or to receive treatment if she has. Some of these diseases can negatively affect her fetus.

User Icon blue - Presque Isle High School, Maine: why is red wine good for your heart

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: It has been reported that drinking red wine in moderation may have some benefitial effects for health. However, the beneficial dose of wine is really not known and therefore someone  who might be vulnerable to alcohol abuse may drink red wine in large amounts and become an alcoholic. Check out these FAQs about alcohol on another NIH website: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

User Icon sclions019 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Can Ecstasy really kill you the first time you try it.?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes--although its a rare event.  This can happen for various reasons: 1) MDMA is often associated with vigorous physical activity for extended periods, which can lead to a marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia), that can in turn it lead to muscle breakdown and kidney failure. In addition, dehydration, high blood pressure, and heart failure may occur in susceptible individuals;  2) MDMA is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, but once in the body, MDMA metabolites interfere with the body's ability break down the drug. As a result, if someone takes additional doses when the effects start to wear off, they can achieve unexpectedly high blood levels, which could worsen the cardiovascular and other toxic effects of this drug;  3) you don't really know what you're getting when you take an ecstasy pill--it can contain other ingredients that are toxic and life threatening; and finally 4) people often mix drugs--which can have unpredictable and sometimes deadly outcomes.


Moderator Icon  Marijuana comes from which plant:
  1. cannabis sativa
  2. fern
  3. ivy
  4. cocoa bean


Moderator Icon  Which of the following is the part of the brain that controls feelings of pleasure?
  1. hippocampus
  2. dendrites
  3. cerebellum
  4. nucleus accumbens

User Icon emdawg - Presque Isle High School, Maine: What are examples of an implanted drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Implanted medications are used by physicians for long-term treatment of certain diseases. Usually, they require a special preparation and a small surgery to implant them under the skin. After the implantation, these medications slowly release their active ingredients and provide the treatment for which they are prescribed.


Moderator Icon  Cocaine can damage the heart by causing:
  1. heartburn
  2. fibrillation, or when the heart beats so fast it loses its natural rhythm
  3. a slower heart rate
  4. more oxygen to get to the heart

User Icon Casa Grande* - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Dr. Lisa Onken Is you job easy? I wato become a psychologist

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: I wouldn't call it 'easy.'  (I hope that's not the ONLY reason you want to become a psychologist!).  But I would say that the job is very fulfilling in many ways.  It is rewarding to help in the development of treatments for people with addictive and psychiatric problems because it is great to know that people can have these problems, recover from these problems, and go on to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.  People can really change for the better, and that makes all the hard work worth it!

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: is meth really that dangerous??

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Yes, meth is really that dangerous. Apart from the bad effects that meth has on the brain, people who take meth end up not sleeping, eating, or even taking the most basic care of themselves. Meth also can increase your blood pressure and damage your heart. So, long-term meth use ends up ruining your general health. Long time meth users often look much, much older than they really are. You can find out more about the effects of meth at the NIDA web site: 
http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/methamphetamine.html


Moderator Icon  There are many kinds of stimulants. Which of the following is NOT a stimulant?
  1. caffeine
  2. heroin
  3. methamphetamine
  4. cocaine

User Icon sclionsteach - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: How can teens support a friend who has gone through drug/alcohol rehabilitation?

Expert Icon Lisa Onken: There are lots of ways that you can support your friend.  The fact that you're asking this question shows me that you are a caring friend, and that is probably the most important way you can support him/her.  Another way is to help your friend avoid situations where there's a possibility that the friend could relapse and go back to using-like going with your friend to places that are as drug- and alcohol- free rather than to parties where drugs will likely be.  Good luck to you and your friend.

User Icon kiara - Parkdale High School, Maryland: what do you think cause people to become addicted to drugs

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a really hard question to answer because everyone does not respond to all drugs in exactly the same way. In general, though, addiction occurs because drugs of abuse enter the brain and can cause long-term changes in its reward systems. Whether this happens to someone depends on what drug, how young someone is when they take it, and how often they use these drugs--but this is also somewhat dependent on the person's genetic makeup or susceptibility. In other words, some people are more likely to be vulnerable to the effects of drugs than others.  Also, if the people you spend your time with use drugs, you are more likely to do so too because the opportunity is often there.  Some people try drugs once, like smoking tobacco, and learn that they don't like it and so they don't do it again.  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 it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. 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.

For free downloads and cool videos about drugs, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads.


Moderator Icon  Which of the following is an opiate drug that doctors prescribe for the treatment of pain?
  1. amphetamine
  2. cookies & milk
  3. morphine
  4. mu receptor

User Icon El Salvadoreno - Spring Woods High School, Texas: Can you think your mom is hot when you are high?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Well now, there's a good reason not to do drugs and get high. Plus, I'm sure your Mom wouldn't appreciate it!

User Icon Bubbles - South Middle School, West Virginia: If you let your kids take achohol in moderation, would they become addicted?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  This is a really tricky question, and it has no simple answer.  The danger with kids using alcohol, even in moderation, is that their brains may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol (or drugs) because they are still developing.  The younger that kids use alcohol (or drugs), the more likely they are to develop alcohol or drug problems.  And while we really can't predict which kids will (or will not) develop drug or alcohol problems, it is a risk for kids to use drugs or alcohol at all.

For more information see:  http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Can I get pregnant if I abuse drugs?

Expert Icon Brian Marquis:  Did you know that the part of the brain that helps you make good decisions is the last to develop? The prefrontal cortex - the front of the brain - doesn't fully mature until you are in your 20's. Drugs affect parts of the brain that are still developing - so treat your brain well, and reach your full potential. Teens who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for an unwanted pregnancy or getting sexually transmitted diseases, even HIV.  For more information about how abusing drugs can affect your helath and behavior, check out our teen web site:  http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon SCLions073 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: dr.richard if you took drugs before skiing would u die from wrecking? if i took X and went scuba diving in a fish tank with a without a O2 tank would i drown? will a painkiller remove the feeling from my face allowing me to cook it in a frying pan?

Expert Icon Richard Denisco: Hi SCLions 073. That's exactly the problem. If you get messed up and try to do things that require coordination you could wreck BAD! When the pain reliever wears off you will feel all the pain and then some. When I go skiing I want to feel all the sensations and not have them dulled. That way I can enjoy the experience. For me going skiing and not remembering is not much fun. Why would you want to put your face on a frying pan? Not a good move to improve your looks, but on drugs it might just SEEM like a good idea.


Moderator Icon  Long term smoking can lead to which of the following?
  1. white teeth
  2. smooth skin
  3. stroke
  4. loss of teeth

User Icon Bubbles - South Middle School, West Virginia: Es Chocolate una drug?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Hi there,

Chocolate is not considered a drug; although--like anything--it should be consumed in moderation (sadly for me b/c it's my favorite food)!

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What happens if you take muscle relaxers??

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Muscle relaxants are drugs that are administered to relax muscles. This means that they are given to relieve the discomfort of muscle spasms or involuntary muscle contractures.  But because muscle spasms or involuntary muscle contractures can be painful, doctors can prescribe pain relivers as well.  Pain relievers can be addictive -- so it is really important that any prescribed drugs be taken exactly as the doctor indicates. 

For more information see:  http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon VVHS_MKW - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: how do i help my mom quit smoking when she as been smoking since a year age and she is now 42 so what do i do?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: This is a great question and it's very nice that you are trying to help your mom. I suggest that you talk with her and tell her about the medical problems caused by smoking, like lung problems, heart problems and cancer. You can show her this website: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/, which contains lots of resources and info.  Also, you may want to tell her that if she smokes and other people inhale the smoke of her cigarettes they may also suffer the consequences of smoking. This is called 'second hand smoking.' So, she may decide that she wants to quit when she realizes that smoking is bad for her and for those who are near hear. Good luck!

User Icon BLUE055 - Dixie High School, Utah: how do counslors and teachers get there numbers for people who smoke and drink how do they fully now that it may be 7% or 10%? they never fully know that a kid could do drugs or drink.

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: We get information on how many people take different drugs from National surveys. There is one - the Monitoring the Future Survey - that collects information on how many students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades abuse different drugs. It's true that some kids may not be honest in these surveys (even though they are anonymous), but since the various surveys come out with consistent results, we're pretty confident in the numbers we get.

User Icon waldo - Port Chester High School, New York: do you advice teenagers to use drugs to help out in school or in street problems. ily

Expert Icon Steve Grant: I would never advise anyone, teenager or adults, to use drugs on their own to solve problems they are having.  However, some teenagers have problems such as depression, anxiety or attention deficit disorder.  A person with those types of problems should see a doctor, who can prescribe specific medications to help them and closely monitor their use to make sure that the person doesn't use too much or suffer adverse effects.

User Icon herreragloria - Otto Middle School, Michigan: my dad drinks when he plays pool snd then he drives he and then he comes home and asks really stuped so i get scared so how do i make him stop drinking

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for your question. Dealing with parental drug abuse is tough and I know this from first hand experience.  When I was living with a father who had a drinking problem I needed friends I could talk to that I could trust.  You can talk to a friend or school counselor that can provide you with support by listening and by helping to make sure you aren't impacted negatively by your dad's drug use.  For example, when my father would drink I would make sure I didn't ride with him in the car and arranged for friends or their parents to take me places.  Also, I talked with my school guidance counselor and participated in a local Al-Anon program for teens (Alateen) whose parents used drugs.  There I found additional support on how to deal with my father's drug use from people having the same experience.  You can access more information including: information on how to help someone stop using drugs see:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7, and for more information about Alateen see:
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen


Moderator Icon  Which of the following is part of a neuron?
  1. axon
  2. crystal
  3. bone marrow
  4. positron emission tomography

User Icon SCLions077 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Do "light" cigarettes contain less toxins than regular ones?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: The so called 'light' cigarettes have less nicotine than the regular cigarettes but contain the same amount of other toxic substances present in a regular cigarette. If fact, it has been reported that 'light' cigarette smokers tend to smoke more and have deeper puffs to make up for the lower nicotine. Therefore, they may end up inhaling more toxins. Flavored cigarettes aren't any better...check it out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=nicotine.

User Icon herreragloria - Otto Middle School, Michigan: how many questins do u get in a day

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: So far, we have had over 12 thousand questions!

User Icon Patsfan77 - Presque Isle High School, Maine: Marijuana is mentally addcitive, but why not physically addicitve?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Although many people think that marijuana is not physically addictive, long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction in some people. That is, they cannot control their urges to seek out and use marijuana, even though it negatively affects their family relationships, school performance, and recreational activities. Some frequent, heavy marijuana users develop "tolerance" to its effects. This means they need larger and larger amounts of marijuana to get the same desired effects as they used to get from smaller amounts.  Because tolerance is a physical process that involves cellular change, we know that marijuana is in fact physically addictive.

For more information see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php and http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

User Icon Ambaa22 - Skaneateles High School, New York: If you use drugs when you have cancer how much does it increase your risk of not surviving?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: That depends on the drug--most drugs have many different effects in the body, which can potentially interact badly with many diseases, including cancer.  Some drugs may even compromise the immune system--the body's natural defense system to fight illness--which could also worsen the course of an illness.  It's very important for patients to be honest with their physicians and let them know about all the drugs they are taking in order to get the best healthcare possible.

User Icon noname-potmasta - South Middle School, West Virginia: I wanna kill myself, can drugs help me out? What drugs would kill my the fastest? hypothetically?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Dear Noname-Postmast,
First, if you are thinking about hurting yourself in any way please seek help!  You can talk to a trusted adult - parent, teacher, school guidance counselor, parent of a friend - or call SAMHSA crisis line at 1-800-273-TALK where there is someone available to talk 24/7.  Next, remember that suicide is a permanent solution to situations, feelings, and thoughts that regardless of how awful they are right now can be addressed and won't last forever.  Please reach out for help and get yourself the support you need to confront whatever is causing you so much pain.  You are a young person with a unique contribution to make in this world.  We need your gifts, talents, energy, and creativity - remember that, hang in there, and get help.

User Icon banger92 - Port Chester High School, New York: What is lexapro used for?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Lexapro is the brand name of a medication called escitalopram. It is prescribed by doctors to treat depression and anxiety. Check out the National Institute of Mental Health's website listing of drugs used for these conditions: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/mental-health-medications/alphabetical-list-of-medications.shtml

User Icon Poptart. - Dixie High School, Utah: What happens during a with drawl?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: It really depends on the drug. When you withdraw from opioid drugs like oxycontin, Vicodin, or heroin, you can get physically sick, like a bad case of the flu. Withdrawal from sedative drugs like alcohol or diazepam (Valium) can lead to agitation and even siezures.  Marijuana withdrawal often leads to inability to sleep, and stimulant withdrawal can cause you to oversleep (crash) and feel depressed.

User Icon karim09bait - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can you get an overdose when taking ecstasy?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Yes- ecstasy (also known as MDMA) is often taken during periods of physical activity. This can lead to a marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia). Treatment of hyperthermia requires prompt medical attention, as it can rapidly lead to muscle breakdown, which can in turn result in kidney failure. In addition, dehydration, hypertension, and heart failure may occur in susceptible individuals. MDMA can also reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart, which is of particular concern during periods of increased physical activity.

For more information about ecstacy, check out http://www.clubdrugs.gov/.

User Icon Keck - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Is there a drug that will help you perform better in competitions such as band, sports etc...?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Some drugs keep you awake (stimulants like amphetamine, cocaine, or Ritalin) or build muscle (steroids).  Although those effects may or may not increase your performance in the short run, over time the effects of the drugs will end up decreasing your performance.  In other words, you pay a steep price for any gains you may get when you take drugs for performance enhancement. And then there is the ethical and legal issues. By taking these drugs to enhance your performance you are seeking to gain an unfair advantage over your rivals (using steroids to excel in sports) or your classmates (taking rital to cram before exams)

User Icon toothfairy - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: for some reason, i like the smell of gasoline, is this harmful. I dont sniff it straight out of a can, but it stand close to the pump.

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: The chemicals that make up gasoline belong to a class of drugs called 'inhalants.'  They are all organic compounds.  Like gasoline, many of the inhalants have a sweetish smell that is somewhat pleasant.  But don't be fooled!  These chemicals, when inhaled deeply, stick around in your body fat for a long time and can be released from the fat stores for several hours.  Because these are all fat-soluble, they can interfere with the functions of many of the lipid membranes in your body.  They can lead to liver and brain damage and these deficits are usually permanent.  Did you know that inhalants can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen too?

For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!


User Icon dwood - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: why do people use animals to test drugs?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Lakeview's in the house!!
Some would argue that virtually every medical achievement has relied on the use of animals in some way -- sometimes computers are unable to model interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and the environment, which makes animal research necessary in many areas, including understanding how drugs affect humans.  For example, to study certain traits that are passed on through genes in your DNA, scientists turn to animal models (such as flies, worms, rodents, and others) because you can breed them faster and control who the moms and dads are.  You can't do that with people so easily. Also, some effects of drugs on humans may not be known, so they are tested on animals first so we can understand how the drug works on the body and how the body breaks down the drug.  

Using animals in any research setting is under strict control.  For example, there is the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which ensures that alternatives, including non-animal alternatives, have been considered, that the experiments are not unnecessarily duplicative, and that pain relief is given unless it would interfere with the study. IACUCs and the animal researchers take their work very seriously regardless of the species involved.  Thanks for your great question!  Keep 'em coming!

User Icon MerrillLyndsey - Otto Middle School, Michigan: my brother likes to smoke, What do i do to tell him it is bad?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Merryll Lyndsey, It's true smoking has negative consequences for your brother's health and everyone around him who breathes the smoke. 

Tobacco abuse harms every organ in the body. It has been conclusively linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia, and accounts for about one-third of all cancer deaths. The overall rates of death from cancer are twice as high among smokers as nonsmokers, with heavy smokers having rates that are four times greater than those of nonsmokers. And, you guessed it - foremost among the cancers caused by tobacco use is lung cancer. In fact, cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, the number-one cancer killer of both men and women. Tobacco abuse is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, ureter, and bladder.

Smokers also lose some of their sense of smell and taste, don't have the same stamina for exercise and sports they once did, and may smell of smoke. After smoking for a long time, smokers find that their skin ages faster and their teeth discolor or turn brown.

It's not just the smokers who are affected. Nonsmokers are exposed to "secondhand smoke," which comes from both the smoke that a smoker exhales and from the smoke floating from the end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke increases a person's risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. In fact, secondhand smoke is estimated to contribute to as many as 40,000 deaths related to heart disease and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke also causes respiratory problems in nonsmokers, like coughing, phlegm, and reduced lung function. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. And, believe it or not, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, leading to more than 1,000 such deaths each year.

Each year, almost half a million Americans die from tobacco use. One of every six deaths in the United States is a result of tobacco use, making tobacco more lethal than all other addictive drugs combined. So, you can't make your brother quit smoking but you can certainly tell him you are concerned.  And if he comes to his senses and decides to quit smoking you can refer him to the National Quitline at:      

Hope this helps and good luck.


User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Why is marijuana a "Gateway" Drug

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a really interesting question.  If a drug acts as a 'gateway,' then its use would lead to the use of another, different drug--and for some, that seems to be what happens.  But for a lot of people, it does not. The scientific research is also not clear about whether marijuana (or other drugs) are gateways.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse is supporting research that addresses this question, but we have no clear answer yet.  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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/.

User Icon dnm1345 - Dixie High School, Utah: my father has been drinking daily for a few months he doesn't get wasted, but he does always have a drink in his hand and it is starting to affect his personality. why is that?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hello.  Thanks for asking a question that I know is very important to you. Many people wonder why drinking alcohol has such profound effects on thought, mood, and behavior. Scientists are addressing these questions through neuroscience - the study of the brain. To function normally, the brain must maintain a careful balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters - small molecules involved in the brain's communication system that control the body's function and behavior. Just as a heavy weight can tip a scale, alcohol use can alter the delicate balance among different types of neurotransmitter chemicals. You sound very concerned about the changes that you are seeing in your father and I'm sure that you want to help him in any way that you can.   You could try talking to him about your concerns about his drinking and ask him to try to get some professional help or to attend a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is important that you be able to talk about your own worries with other members of your family or trusted adults such as a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  A group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.   Here is a website for teens that will give you information about alcohol abuse:  http://www.thecoolspot.gov/. Whatever you do, try to learn as much as you can about drug and alcohol addiction and find someone to help you deal with this problem.  Take good care, and good luck to you, your father, and your family.

User Icon poptart - Spring Woods High School, Texas: can people grow tired of a drug after using it for years?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Yes. Some people who use drugs for a long time can get tired of them and stop using them. They probaly realize that drugs cause so many medical and psychological problems that it's not worth it anymore.  But many negative effects can occur in the meantime--better not to start!  Check out our teen website for lots more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how long does it take to get your brain cells back when you smoke

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: It depends on what you smoke and how long or how frequently you smoked it. There is no evidence that smoking cigarettes or marijuana kills brain cells, but marijuana definitely has other negative effects on the brain and cigarette smoking is linked to a variety of cancers. Importantly, both cigarettes and nicotine change the brain to make it more susceptible to addiction. We know that some drugs of abuse have very persistent changes in the brain, but we don't have enough research yet to tell us how long those changes last. Can the brain recover after you stop using drugs? Probably, yes, but that depends on many things, like how young somebody is when they start. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or 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.

For more information about drugs, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Valley Vista - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Does weed affect athletes?

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: This is an important, interesting and complex question. In the short term, of course, the marijuana is likely to impair an athlete's coordination, leading to subpar performance.  In the longer term, continued use of marijuana can cause impaired respiratory function, again leading to a decrease in performance. For more information on the possible consequences or marijuana use, please see http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon Britney Spears - Dixie High School, Utah: if you have someone that is close to you that is doing drugs, what is the most respectful way to tell them to stop

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler:  This can be a very painful situation.  People sometimes choose drugs and alcohol instead of their families or friends.  Letting your friends know about your concern can help but it's really important that you take care of yourself.  To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, two good places to begin include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php  Also, you might choose to talk to a school counselor or other trusted adult about the situation.

User Icon PaolaRocks! - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: What are the effects of Meth?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  Methamphetamine is a dangerous and highly addictive drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine. Due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug which means that it is only available through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in many of the same physical effects of other stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines, including increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia.  Long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative health consequences, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems ("meth mouth"), anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin). 

For more information see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_meth1.php

User Icon sierrapervall - Theodore Roosevelt High School, Ohio: What drink has the highest percentage of alcohol?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi.  Thanks for a very interesting question.  Different types of drinks have different percentages of alcohol, ranging from beer to wine to fortified wine to distilled spirits ('hard liquor').  Of course the amount that a person drinks will determine the amount of alcohol (chemically known as 'ethanol') that he or she ingests.  For different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor, the alcohol content can vary greatly. Some differences are smaller than you might expect, however. Many light beers, for example, have almost as much alcohol as regular beer - about 85% as much, or 4.2% versus 5.0% alcohol by volume, on average. If you want to know the alcohol content of a canned or bottled beverage, start by checking the label. You can get more information on alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: www.niaaa.nih.gov. They also have a special site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov  Thanks again and keep your questions coming in!

User Icon ZayJ34 - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: does sniffing scented erasers for an extended period of time cause a loss of brain cells?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That depends on what they are scented with.  Potpourri usually does not cause loss of brain cells but chemicals like toluene could.

For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

User Icon jed110540 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is it true that you become addicted to heroine afte one dosage?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: That's a tricky question. First of all, everyone is different--and some people are more vulnerable to the addictive effects of a substance than others.  Second, most people don't use heroin as their first drug--so we are not talking about a 'drug-naive' brain being exposed to the drug. And since most drugs have common effects on certain brain systems, the risks would be increased based on the person's history of other drug use.  Third, the route of administration is important--injecting or smoking a drug gets it to the brain most quickly, also increasing its potential addictiveness.  So the bottom line is that this is a very dangerous behavior to engage in. 

Also, coincidentally, I talked with someone yesterday who's son did exactly that--became addicted to heroin after his first use, although he had previous experience with other drugs.  Sadly, his story ended in a fatal overdose. So I would strongly suggest this not be a risk you take.

User Icon casagrannde - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: If you take an anti-depressant like zoloft is it more dangerous to do drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Zoloft is a medication that does not produce addiction and is safe when it is prescribed by a doctor in the correct dose and for the right medical reasons. However, like any other medication, if someone uses it in a different way than prescribed, or uses someone else's prescription, then there can be medical consequences. Read a blog entry one of our NIDA staff wrote about her experience: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/life-is-complicated-enough-why-add-prescription-drugs-to-the-mix/

User Icon ZayJ34 - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: does sniffing scented erasers for an extended period of time cause a loss of brain cells?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That depends on what they are scented with.  Potpourri usually does not cause loss of brain cells but chemicals like toluene could.

For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: could you die if you are mixing red bull and alcohol?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: That is an important question.   Alcohol is a sedative, and people who drink too much risk passing out.  People drink Red bull because it contains caffeine, which is a stimulant and keeps you awake.  As a result, you can keep drinking alcohol and not pass out.  But when the stimulant effects of Red Bull wear off, you can still have a lot of alcohol in your body, so there is a risk of alcohol poisoning.  People die from too much alcohol because they pass out and hurt themselves, stop breathing, or vomit and choke on their vomit. Mixing drugs is always dangerous, and often can lead to worse effects than just taking one drug by itself.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Both of My Parents are alcoholics, does that make it more likely that I will drink when i'm older.

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Good news, because your parents used alcohol, that doesn't mean that you will automatically become addicted, although drug abuse and alcoholism have strong heriditary components (meaning it 'runs in families').  Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.Many other factors, such as stress levels and family environment also contribute heavily. We even have identified particular gene variants that are linked to higher risk of alcoholism, but even if you have the high risk form of these genes,alcoholism can be entirely avoided if alcohol is not used. Here's NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov 

Here's more good news!  Doing things like going to school, hanging out with friends who don't drink, and being active (like playing sports) can help protect you from alcoholism and other drugs--even if you have other risk factors.  You have total control over whether or not you become addicted to alcohol.  I hope you stay sober!!

User Icon sarcasm - Dixie High School, Utah: i enjoy drawing with makers but my head feels funny after a wile because of the fumes am i hurting my brain?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: 

Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used. The high would be caused by the release of dopamine in the reward areas of the brain, and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good! Make sure you use non-toxic markers to be safe!

For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

User Icon greencowz22 - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: if you have a really big imagination does that mean your on something?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Congrats Middlebury High! Your question is getting answered!
Well, if an individual has a really big, vivid imagination, it doesn't mean they are ON something...that may just mean that they are on TO something!  Creativity is a good thing!  Most scientists are quite creative and have big imaginations, and they aren't on drugs...they just like to think outside the box.  If you, or someone you know has a 'big imagination', encourage them to go into science--especially genetics--it takes a lot of imagination to study something as small as a molecule of DNA!!

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Why is there a big debate on what is worse between alcohol and drugs?? Why cant we just all agree that both are bad no matter the consequences??

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Casa Grande, I like the way you think. Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, other drugs, they all can have very serious consequences, I hope that we all can agree on that.

User Icon darknessr1sing - Cashmere High School, Washington: Dude my EX girlfriend was on drugs and i still care for her how can i help her?????

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If your girlfriend is using drugs, encourage her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. If she doesn't feel comfortable doing that then she can also use anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP). It's important to not make her feel judged and show her support by listening. I hope this helps.

User Icon thegirl - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Are the effects of steroids always true?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: 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:
 
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster2.php

User Icon aolinger - Junction City High School, Oregon: does marijuana effect your driving abilities?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: What a great question!  That is one of the aspects of using marijuana that has been studied a lot, and we can say definitively that the answer is 'YES.'  NIDA research indicates that in 2006, more than 10 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination and other faculties needed for safe driving. Did you know that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24? Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.

For more information about marijuana, check out http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon lie961 - Port Chester High School, New York: y do people smoke

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Great question!  People smoke for lots of different reasons.  Smoking (cigarettes) can have a stimulating effect, but it is also very dangerous and addictive.  So, whereas most people start smoking because they are curious about the effects of nicotine or because of peer pressure, once they become addicted, they can't stop.

For more information see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ and http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html

User Icon holly marie - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: what if your boyfriend is doing drugs and you mant them to stop, how do you get them to stop?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If your boyfriend is using drugs, encourage him to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. If he doesn't feel comfortable doing that then he can also use anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP). It's important to not make him feel judged and show him support by listening. I hope this helps.

User Icon mitchhedburg - Rockville High School, Maryland: What is salvia and why is it considered less dangerous to be legalized in certain areas?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older:  Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America.  It can be ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices; or the dried leaves can be smoked, consumed in water pipes, or vaporized and inhaled.  People who abuse Salvia experience hallucinations or delusional episodes that mimic psychosis--this is concerning; particularly when it comes to driving under the influence of salvia.  Although salvia currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several states and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use. The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed salvia as a drug of concern and is considering classifying it as a Schedule I drug - meaning it has a high potential for abuse, and no established therapeutic benefits.


Moderator Icon  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2007 nearly 13,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.


Moderator Icon  A person who has smoked marijuana may have difficulty keeping his or her balance because of marijuana's effect on what brain area?
  1. the cerebral cortex
  2. the limbic system
  3. the hippocampus
  4. the cerebellum

User Icon jumpman23 - Dixie High School, Utah: are people that once were adicted to one drug be more likely to start using another to cope with the withdrals from the other?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: 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.

User Icon mn cashmere - Cashmere High School, Washington: what is nicotine used for in the medical field

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Nicotine is used in the medical field as part of treatments to help people quit smoking. One such treatment is nicotine replacement therapy. By providing nicotine in gum, patches, lozenges, etc., it helps smokers lower their craving and so they can more easily quit smoking. Check out this link for lots of good info: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/M

User Icon mejiaelexis - Otto Middle School, Michigan: are u a real person or this computer answering r qestion

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

User Icon aracely - C.H. Yoe High School, Texas: can you please explain me how the mariguana can be good or bad to the health.

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Smoking marijuana is not good for your health--it exposes the lungs to many of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco.  It also effects your brain--it can be addictive, it disrupts memory, coordination, and it increases appetite.  However, some of the ingredients in the marijuana plant appear to have health benefits--which is why scientists are working tirelessly to identify and isolate these components to develop new medicines.  THC, one of the main ingredients in marijuana is already available in pill form--it is useful for treating nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy, and as an appetite stimulant for people with wasting syndromes --such as AIDS.

User Icon valley vista - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Why do you have a loss of memory after doing drugs?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Good question.  Some drugs interfere with the way the brain forms memories.  Drugs like Alcohol, marijuana, and anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium (diazepam), alprazolam, or Ambien are well known to impair memory.

User Icon kiara - Parkdale High School, Maryland: why do drugs make you do bad things and forget what happened the next day? Also What Causes You To Not Remember What Happened The Pervious Night?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: One thing that some drugs are known to do is alter the way the brain works when you have to make a decision. For example, you may not consider the long term consequences of your actions or think that bad things won't happen to you.  Drugs like alcohol or sedatives/anti-anxiety drugs like Valium (diazepam) and similar drugs (Ativan, alprazolam) as well as cannabis (marijuana) have direct effects on the way that the brain forms memories, and using those drugs may lead you to not remember what you did soon after taking them.

User Icon 22kickz - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: should peoplewith asthma smoke any knids of drugs?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Because asthma lowers the oxygen that goes into the lungs--and cigarette smoke enters the lungs, too--people with asthma should not smoke at all. It has been demostrated that smoking can worsen asthma. In fact, smoking worsens health in general.  Keep your body healthy--don't start!  Thanks for your question.

User Icon Radke - Cashmere High School, Washington: What kinds of medicines are used to cure addiction?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Terrific question and one that is very important to NIDA.  We currently have medications to treat alcohol, nicotine, and opiate addiction.  For alcohol the medications used include: Antabuse, Depot Naltrexone, and Acamprosate.  For smoking medications include: Zyban, Niccotine Replacement Therapies (gum, spray, patch), and Vareniciline.  For opiate addiction medications include: Methadone and Buprenorphine.  NIDA is currently trying to develop medications to treat marijuana, cocaine, and methamaphetamine addiction. Hope this helps.

User Icon Morgan Mancini - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: My friend smokes pot is there anwyay to convince him to stop?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: I suggest that you encourage your friend to talk to a school counselor or aother trusted adult.  There are a lot of resources available for people who want to stop using drugs. One thing to point out to your friend is that there is evidence that many people who used marijuana for long periods of time will eventually come to regret their use and realize that they did not achieve much in their life. That might be a good place to start.

To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, three good starting points would be the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; NIDA InfoFacts, containing results of the annual 'Monitoring the Future' survey on youth trends in drug use; and the Drug Abuse Warning Network, with statistics on drug-related hospital emergency department visits and deaths at http://dawninfo.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon casagrannde - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: How do drug tests know if you have been high or not?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Drug tests can tell if a person has or hasn't used a certain amount of a drug, but they can't tell if a person has been high or not.

User Icon kathryn+hailey - Wilson Central High School, Tennessee: How do you know so much about drugs and alcohol?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Well, I am a scientist who studies drug abuse.  Part of my job requires that I read scientific papers about drug abuse, and so I learn from reading those papers.  The science of drug abuse is a really fascinating field and it includes learning about how the brain functions, which is fascinating.  Because drug abuse affects nearly everybody in one way or another, becoming a drug abuse researcher is a highly rewarding profession.  Maybe you will consider it! 

User Icon starfish - Dixie High School, Utah: is it possible to not get addicted to drugs if you use them more than once?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Yes, there are some drugs that can be highly addictiveso that just using them a few time can produce an addiction. For example, heroin is highly addictive. 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 it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. 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.  Check out our teen website for more info: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon saynotodrugs - Rockville High School, Maryland: If you were once addicted to drugs, but have stopped, does your body still the permanent effects?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Excellent question.  Current research has shown that drugs can cause changes in brain cells that can last long after the drug leaves the body.  Some of the functions affected can go back to normal after a short time, but some can last for days or months after the last time you take the drug.  We don't know if there are permanent changes, but the fact that drugs can produce long-lasting effects is one of the best reasons for not starting drug use at all.

User Icon mynameiswha - Port Chester High School, New York: What happens to your body when you smoke mariquana and drink alcohol?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Marijuana: Within minutes of inhaling, a user can begin to feel "high," or filled with pleasant sensations. THC triggers brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine creates good feelings - for a short time. But that's just one effect Marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions.  In the longer term, you can become addicted to marijuana. 

Alcohol: Alcohol affects every organ in the drinker's body and can damage a developing fetus. Intoxication can impair brain function and motor skills; heavy use can increase risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver disease.

These are just some of the effects of both.  For more information check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php and http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Alcohol.html.  Also, here's a short video on marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/video.php?video=Bb2_JjdAZ3M.

User Icon IlVl NOT U - Willow Canyon High School, Arizona: my dad smokes and drinks how bad is that?? please respond.

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for your question. Dealing with parental drug abuse is tough and I know this from first hand experience.  When I was living with a father who had a drinking problem I needed friends I could talk to that I could trust.  You can talk to a friend or school counsler that can provide you with support by listening and by helping to make sure you aren't impacted negatively by your dad's drug use.  For example, when my father would drink I would make sure I didn't ride with him in the car and arranged for friends or their parents to take me places.  Also, I talked with my school guidance counselor and participated in a local Al-Anon program for teens (Alateen) whose parents used drugs.  There I found additional support on how to deal with my father's drug use from people having the same experience.  You can access more information including: information on how to help someone stop using drugs see:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7, and for more information about Alateen see:http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen

User Icon S.H. - Rockville High School, Maryland: ...IS IT TRUE THAT TODAY'S MARIJUANA IS "STRONGER" THAN THE MARIJUANA USED IN THE PAST DECADES ???

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: 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.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: why does your body want more of the drug after u try it the first time

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: This can happen for a couple of reasons.  First, drugs can cause craving - an intense need to use the drug.  This happens because drugs stimulate 'pleasure centers' in the brain. When pleasure center are stimulated people want to use drugs over and over again to cause the same pleasure.  Second, people who use drugs can develop tolerance to the drug.  Tolerance is a change in the brain that causes a greater amount of a drug is needed to achieve the drug's effect.  Both of these are indicators of addiction. 

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what does shrooms do??

Expert Icon David Shurtleff:  'Shrooms' are Psilocybin mushrooms that cause hallucinations - profound distortions in the perception of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings and result in fear and anxiety, which can be terrifying to people. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug. 

For more information about drugs and LSD, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon zeroskater601 - Junction City High School, Oregon: why are some medications and/or drugs easier to get addicted to compared to others

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Good question.  In general, medications are safe when taken as prescribed to treat a specific medical condition and under the supervision of a doctor. The risk of becoming addicted to medications rises when these medications are misused. For example, when you take a higher dose of opiate analgesics than what the doctor gave you after extracting a molar, or when you sell the ritalin (that you use for your ADHD) to a friend that wants to cram for an exam. The reason that these and other medications can become agents of addiction when misused in these ways is that many drugs that act in the brain can cause long lasting changes in the brain cells or neurons if not used for a specific medical purpose. When you stop taking the drug, the brain cells are still changed and that can lead you to feel sick both physically or psychologicaly.  Taking the drug makes you feel better again, but once you stop you get even more sick.  So you end up in this downward spiral.

User Icon volleyball girl - Dixie High School, Utah: Can anti depressents become addictive?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: No. Antidepressants do not appear to produce addiction.  Learn more about the science of addiction at http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/

User Icon Ray - Parkdale High School, Maryland: how does alcohol affect the liver?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi and thanks for asking a great question. The liver is one of the largest and most complex organs in the body. It stores vital energy and nutrients, manufactures proteins and enzymes necessary for good health, protects the body from disease, and breaks down (or metabolizes) and helps remove harmful toxins, like alcohol, from the body. Because the liver is the chief organ responsible for metabolizing alcohol, it is especially vulnerable to alcoholrelated injury. Even as few as three drinks at one time may harm the liver when combined with certain overthecounter medications, such as those containing acetaminophen (like Tylenol).  You can get more information on alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: www.niaaa.nih.gov. They also have a special site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov

User Icon lilwayne - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Is God real? Because when I snort herione i see him.

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Upper Dublin, What's Up!?
This question is a first!!  I've not heard that one of the side effects of heroin is seeing God (what's He look like anyway?), but I have heard that the short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. Heroin depresses breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal--at this point, you may actually meet God! Users who inject the drug risk contracting infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.  If you find that you want to stop using drugs, or ever get scared because you use them, consider talking to someone at this phone number:  1-800-273-TALK.  They can help, and you deserve a life free of drugs.  Also, if you want to seek treatment, the following website can help you locate a treatment facility in your area: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.  Good luck!

User Icon KaitlynnZ - Einstein High School, Maryland: My aunt has been somking and drinking for decades. The family and i always try to tell her that she has a problem but she is in great denial. She drinks packs of beers everyday. What can we do to help her before she kills her self.

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hello.  Thanks for asking a question that I know is very important to you.  You sound pretty worried and I'm sure that you want to help your aunt in any way that you can.   You and your family may already have tried talking to her about your concerns. Have you asked her to get some professional help or to attend a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous?  It is just as important that you be able to talk about your own worries with other members of your family or trusted adults such as a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  A group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.   Here is a website for teens that will give you information about alcohol abuse:  http://www.thecoolspot.gov/. Whatever you do, try to learn as much as you can about drug and alcohol addiction and find someone to help you deal with such a serious problem.  Take good care, and good luck to you, your aunt, and your family.

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: cAN yOU hAVE fLASHBACKS fROM sMOKING wEED?

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: There are a lot of things that happen because of using marijuana and many of them are related to short-term memory loss or making poor decisions.  However, marijuana has not been reported to cause flashbacks.  You can find out more about marijuana at http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon mstrpain(betty) - Dixie High School, Utah: what can huffing be done with?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Huffing involves using an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth - the inhaled chemicals are rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and quickly distributed to the brain and other organs. Within seconds of inhalation, the user experiences intoxication similar to alcohol intoxication. Sumptoms may include slurred speech, uncoordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Users may also experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions.
 
But this is extremely dangerous! Huffing can cause irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes of a session of prolonged sniffing. This syndrome, known as 'sudden sniffing death,' can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. Sudden sniffing death is particularly associated with the abuse of butane, propane, and chemicals in aerosols. Inhalant abuse also can cause death by asphyxiation - from repeated inhalations, which lead to high concentrations of inhaled fumes displacing the available oxygen in the lungs. It can also lead to suffocation - by blocking air from entering the lungs when inhaling fumes from a plastic bag placed over the head. It can also cause convulsions or seizures due to disruptions in the brain, coma, and choking (from inhalation of vomit after inhalant use).

For more information about inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

User Icon music - Dixie High School, Utah: How do you convince someone you love not to smoke without hurting their feelings?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: Well, it requires good communication and finding the right time when the person can be more open to suggestions. It's good not to be judgemental and to use scientific facts to show the person of the dangers of smoking. You can find good information about the health consequences of smoking at http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon brit - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: is coffee addictive

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: 

Not in the sense of producing harm to your brain or body; although high doses can you make you anxious and irritable, and there are some health conditions that are irritated by caffeine. But people do become tolerant to caffeine's effects--that means that their body adapts to caffeine and they need more of it to get the same alerting effect.  It also means that when a regular user stops they can experience withdrawal symptoms--usually mild headaches.  These are typically short lived--1 or 2 days.  Some people don't get tolerant--they actually get more sensitive to caffeine's effects with repeated use.  Many of these people don't drink caffeine because it makes them too jittery and nervous.


User Icon freeman-jones - Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, Maryland: How can taking ritalin affect you if you have not been prescribed ritalin?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Dear Freeman-Jones,
Yes, Ritalin affects the brain and behavior and should only be taken while under the care of a physician.  Ritalin is a stimulant prescribed for people with ADHD. As seen with amphetamines, including Adderall, numerous studies have shown its effectiveness when used as prescribed. When it is abused, however, methylphenidate can lead to many of the same problems seen with other stimulants. More information about prescription drug abuse can be found at http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/prescription.html.  More information about the consequences of stimulant abuse can be found at:http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php .
Hope this helps and thanks for your question.

User Icon MUHSTIGERS - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: In what country is marijuana use most prevalent among teens?

Expert Icon Ivan Montoya: It has been reported that marijuana use is very frequently used in countries in the Caribbean. Contrary to popular belief, most teenagers in the U.S. do not use marijuana. Among students surveyed in a yearly national survey, only about one in seven 10th graders report they are current marijuana users (which means they used marijuana within the past month). Fewer than one in five high school seniors is a current marijuana user. NIDA research indicates that in 2008, 12 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, attention, balance, coordination and other abilities needed for safe driving.

User Icon rose - Carmichaels Area, Pennsylvania: can an alcoholic actually recover?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi.  Thanks for your question -- this is something that many people wonder about.  Many people believe that someone addicted to alcohol cannot ever recover.  However, many people with alcohol problems, including alcoholism, can stop drinking, or reduce their drinking to less harmful levels.   You can get more information on alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.   They also have a special site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov and another site with tips and strategies for stopping at http://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/.  Thanks again for your great question and keep 'em coming!

User Icon Drugs are bad - Dixie High School, Utah: What drug in Utah is the most used?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Dixie High,

What do you think? 
1) Alcohol
2) Cigarettes
3) Meth

The correct answer is alcohol, which is one of the most commonly used and abused drugs in the US!


Moderator Icon  Inhaled butane, found in cigarette lighters and refills, makes the heart extra-sensitive to:
  1. myelin
  2. noradrenaline
  3. the hippocampus
  4. romance

User Icon kitty_16 - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can someone who has only smoked 1 or 3 times become addicted in the future?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Anybody can become addicted if they use drugs on a regular basis.  And, if drug use starts early (like during childhood or adolescence) then the risk of addiction increases later in life.  So, it is best not to use drugs at all.

User Icon aolinger - Junction City High School, Oregon: what drugs are considered hallucinogens?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: LSD is one of the main drugs that people are referring to when they talk about hallucinogens. Mushrooms, that contain psilocybin, are another. As you can tell by the name, hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations -  people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. For more information on hallucinations go to http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Hallucinogens/halluc2.html

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: what is in drugs that cause pregnant womens children to have birth defects?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hola Casa Grande!
In general, commonly abused drugs are not teratogens (chemicals that cause birth defects).  That doesn't mean the baby won't be harmed by drugs, though.  There are many effects that drugs can have on fetuses.  There are some drugs that when used during pregnancy can result in an infant being born addicted and going through a period of withdrawal. Opiates (including heroin, methadone, morphine, and prescription pain killers like vicodin or oxycotin) are an example. After the period of withdrawal, these babies are often okay, although it's not very comfortable for them when they are withdrawing.

Researchers are trying to figure out whether exposure to drugs including alcohol during pregnancy might make you more vulnerable to getting addicted when you are older. One researcher has found that if a mom smokes while she is pregnant, her child may be more likely to use tobacco when they become teenagers, and to become addicted if they use it.  Of course, there are other effects of alcohol use during pregnancy that are very alarming. We know from research that alcohol (including both beer and liquor) can seriously harm the baby of a mother who drinks during pregnancy, causing a variety of health problems including a disorder called fetal alcohol syndrome. For more details about all the birth defects associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, check out this link: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa50.htm. Because of this we recommend moms not use alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, or other drugs during pregnancy and ask for help from a health care professional if they are having trouble stopping.

User Icon W@ckyW!z@rd97 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: How long does it take for you to get off of your addiction once you get addicted?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Wow great question and I wish we knew the answer.  Truth is that the amount of treatment needed to address addiction varies from person-to-person.  It depends on a number of factors including the length of time they have been using drugs, amount of drugs they use, age when they began using drugs, and consequences drug use has had on their life, relationships, academic and work life, family, etc.  Research indicates that most people need a minimum of 90 days of treatment but some may need more and others perhaps less.  Regardless of length of treatment seeking help is an important step.  More informaiton on seeking treatment can be found at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#deal

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Why is it that a pregnate woman can only drink red wine?? why not all or nothing??

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Welcome Arizona to the NIDA chat day!  You bring up an interesting and important question.  Some people may think that drinking red wine is OK for a pregnant woman.  However, a glass of wine, a can of beer, and a mixed drink all have about the same amount of alcohol.  When a woman is pregnant, her baby grows inside her, so everything she eats and drinks affects her baby. Drinking alcohol can hurt the baby's growth and may cause physical and behavioral problems that can last for the rest of the baby's life. Children born with the most serious problems caused by alcohol have fetal alcohol syndrome.  Most importantly, a pregnant woman should discuss the issue of drinking during pregnancy with her doctor or health care provider.  Check out the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). They focus on the problems caused by drinking alcohol and have a great site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov.  And thanks again for your thoughtful question.

User Icon HockeyGirl#99 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: Do smelly markers effect your brain

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Some can make you "high" depending on the chemical used. The high would be caused by the release of dopamine in the reward areas of the brain, and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!

For more information about drugs, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon myhuele - Einstein High School, Maryland: whats PCP?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Einstein, you guys are on the ball!
PCP is phencyclidine.  PCP is a 'dissociative' drug, that can cause hallucinogenic 'out of body' feelings of detachment and distort perceptions of sight and sound. Users PCP can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). Scary stuff!  For more information, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/pcp.html and http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrhalluc.pdf

User Icon STARS COUNSELOR - Wilson Central High School, Tennessee: How do drugs increase the likelihood that a person may commit suicide?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Dear Stars Counselor, Yes, drug abuse increases the likelihood that an individual will commit suicide.  That is, drug abusers are more likely to commit suicide than people who don't abuse drugs.  For example, marijuana use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts.  Drugs also affect memory, judgment, and perception and can lead people to do things they wouldn't do if they weren't under the influence of drugs - including attempt suicide.  For information on suicide see: (1-800-273-TALK), a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide.  For addiction treatment see: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

User Icon beastly dude - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: IF SOMBUDY CLOSE TO ME IS DOING DRUGS UNDERAGE AND ELAGL WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PARANTS DONT KNOW AND HE DEPENDS ON ME TO KEEP THE SECRET AND I WANT THAT WHATE TO GO AWAY

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: If you think that your friend has a drug problem, then you should do what you can to help him.  Try talking directly to your friend about his problem, and then see if you and your friend can discuss this with somebody you can trust (parent, teacher) to provide your friend with the help he needs.

For more information see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon chachabunny - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: do drug kill your brain cells?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Good questions.  Some drugs, like alcohol, can have a toxic effect on brain cells. Also, ecstasy has been shown to kill a specific subset of neurons when given over long periods to monkeys. Most drugs, though, produce changes in the way that brain cells function, and those changes can last a long time after the drug effects wear off and the drug is no longer in your body.  However, even though the brain cells have not died, the drug has caused a change in the way the cells function, and the more times you do the drug, the longer those changes can last.

User Icon mooky - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: if you use drugs about 3 times a week does that nessarily means your addicted to it

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Using drugs several times per week doesn't necessarily mean that you are addicted, but you are placing yourself at risk for addiction.  The more drugs you use (and especially if you use them frequently), the more risk you are for getting addicted.  And if you have a hard time quitting, then you should certainly seek help. 
 
In addition to cancer, smoking causes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and it has been found to exacerbate asthma symptoms in adults and children. About 90 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking. It has also been well documented that smoking substantially increases the risk of heart disease, including stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and aneurysm. Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States: cigarette smokers are 24 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.

User Icon WEEDISNTGOOD95 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: my uncle done drugs before and dealed before does that mean im gonna do drugs when i grow up cause i spend alot of time w/him

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: That is a really great question, but it does not have an easy answer.  You are partly shaped by the people you hang with and your environment, but whether you use drugs when you grow up or not probably depends on your own personality and will ultimately be a choice. Many people who spend time with relatives who use drugs do not grow up to use them--think about kids who grow up with parents who smoke, but they themselves never do. You may be more or less prone to addiction because of your genetics, so it would be safest to never use drugs of abuse or misuse drugs to being with. The best way to keep from falling into the drug use trap is to keep busy with things that interest you--then you don't have the time or the inclination to use drugs.

If you would like more information about drugs or helping people who use drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon synthia_craig - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: can u get high off a marker

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used--and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!

For more information about drugs, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon David - Presque Isle High School, Maine: why is it that when your high everythings so funny

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Presque Isle...what's up?!
Let's see...I laugh all the time, but I don't get high.  I'm a geneticist and I love what I do, so I'm just happy in general.  Seriously though, drug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States - including health and crime-related costs and losses in productivity - exceed half a trillion dollars annually. This includes approximately $181 billion for illicit drugs, $168 billion for tobacco, and $185 billion for alcohol.  That's a LOT of donuts, baby! And as staggering as these numbers are, however, they in now way can reflect the depth of the deleterious effects on public health and safety drug use incurs, including its effects on family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, child abuse, and other crimes.

User Icon i<3marchingband - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what is tetrahydrocannabinol?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short is the main active chemical in marijuana that is responsible for its effects on mood, perception, appetite, etc.

User Icon MUHSTIGERS - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: How does being high on heroin differ from being high on weed or coke?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Heroin: Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. Heroin depresses breathing, thus, an overdose can be fatal. Users who inject the drug risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

Marijuana: For some people, smoking marijuana makes them feel good. Within minutes of inhaling, a user begins to feel "high," or filled with pleasant sensations. THC triggers brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine creates good feelings - for a short time. But that's just one effect (there are adverse effects too).

Cocaine: Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards.

User Icon Josh - Theodore Roosevelt High School, Ohio: Is it true you do better on tests when your high?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: That is a very important question.  The short answer is that you may think you did better (i.e., you feel more confident), but you may not have actually performed any better.  In fact, chances are that you may havwell de actuallt done significantly worse because you rushed and spent less time checking your answers.

User Icon smithpn - Phoenixville Area High School, Pennsylvania: what is the most commonly used drug in the US?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello. The most commonly used drug among youth 12-17 is alcohol.  Among 12-17 year olds, in the past year 31% used alcohol, 19% used tobacco, and 19% used illicit drugs. 

For more information on drug use in general go to http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh/reports.htm

User Icon samuel672 - Phoenixville Area High School, Pennsylvania: on average how many people smoke pot in the U.S.?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello there. Good questions. In the U.S. about 26 million people smoked marijuana among those 12 years or older. This is about 10% of the population.

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: who smokes the most teenagers or adults?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi! Good question. Young adults are more likely to use tobacco. In 2008, 19% of youth 12-17 reported tobacco use in the past year and 52% of young adults 18-25 reported past year use. For more information on drug use among youth and adults go to http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k8NSDUH/tabs/TOC.htm

User Icon Jdoggcrash - South Middle School, West Virginia: i keep making my friend's dogs smoke pot should i countinue doing that

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: No, you should stop.

User Icon BigBoy94 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what could happen if a minor got caught with alcohol ay a party where everyone else could drink legally

Expert Icon Larry Stanford: Although a minor may be at party where drinking is legally taking place, it is not legal for the minor to drink. So the consequences could be whatever the law would dictate in that locality. There might also be legal consequences for the person who allowed the underage person to drink.

User Icon jmq17 - Rockville High School, Maryland: what drug do you think a student with very aggressive behavior does?

Expert Icon Steve Grant: Hi.  Good question.  A number of drugs can lead to aggressive behavior including alcohol, stimulants (amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine), PCP (angel dust) and steroids.  In fact some people exhibit aggression after sedative drugs such as anti-anxiety drugs such diazepam (Valium) and related drugs (Ativan) so it would be hard to tell which drug a person has taken just because they became aggressive.

User Icon bsb10 - Rockville High School, Maryland: My sisters use perscription drugs to get high how can I help them stop using perscription drugs?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: I am so sorry to hear that your sisters have a problem with prescription drugs.  They can call  1800 273 TALK to get help with use of prescription drugs. Some teens, especially girls, may take prescription drugs to feel 'high', have better attention, or to relieve pain. Even this type of use is considered "abuse" and is illegal since the drug was not prescribed for that person. Not only is it illegal but it might end up affecting your health. Even if you follow the directions on the label, those instructions were written for someone else. For example, different body weights require different dosages for many medicines.  I hope that your sisters get help.  Here's what one of our staff wrote about her experience with prescription drugs: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/life-is-complicated-enough-why-add-prescription-drugs-to-the-mix/

User Icon aubslesgucci - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: how bad will your brain be affected if you smoke marajunia over a period of 2 years consistantly

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Everyone is different--so its hard to say for sure. You risk becoming addicted, and we don't yet understand all the effects marijuana has on the developing brain (which is ongoing til your early 20s).  The research suggests possible changes in vulnerability to other drug addiction, emotional or mental problems, and learning and memory deficits that may keep you from reaching your full potential.  But--as I said--we don't know for sure and everyone is different--so its not too late to change this pattern and get help.  You may not think you need it, but many people who are regular marijuana smokers go through withdrawal when they try to stop--feeling tired, anxious, irritable and having strong cravings for the drug.  This can make it hard to stop.  There is treatment available, and some places that specialize in adolescents. 

By clicking on the link 'Students and Young Adults' from NIDA's home page http://www.drugabuse.gov/ you will be able to access resources tailored for students and young adults , and if you need help, you will also find a link there to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.


Moderator Icon  Please welcome Dr. Kevin Conway. Dr. Conway is the deputy director of NIDA's Division of Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research, and studies the epidemiology and genetics of drug abuse. His scientific interests include the causes of drug addiction, as well as psychopathology and violence. When he is not chasing his two little kids, he likes to play basketball, tennis, and ultimate Frisbee.


Moderator Icon  Dr. Larry Stanford is now participating in the Chat. He is the deputy director of NIDA's Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research, which supports studies of the development of the human brain and behavior. Prior to coming to NIDA, Dr. Stanford ran a research program in visual neurobiology at the University of Wisconsin. His hobbies are motorcycling and working on motorcycles and cars.


Moderator Icon  Dr. Steven Grant will now join in. Dr. Grant is a neuroscientist with a background in biology, chemistry, and physics. Although his favorite subjects in high school were English and History, he developed a liking and aptitude for science in college and went on to do post-doctoral work in brain systems and drug withdrawal. The study he is most proud of is a brain imaging study of cocaine craving which demonstrated that substance abuse involved more than the brain areas traditionally thought to be part of drug use, and opened the door to investigating the contribution of other cognitive processes in addiction. In his spare time, he likes to read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books and is interested in the performing arts. He has two daughters - one just starting college and one who graduated last year.

User Icon billy - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: what percentage of teenagers partake in underage drinking?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: This information is taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings

In 2008, rates of current alcohol use were 3.4 percent among persons aged 12 or 13, 13.1 percent of persons aged 14 or 15, 26.2 percent of 16 or 17 year olds, 48.7 percent of those aged 18 to 20, and 69.5 percent of 21 to 25 year olds (Figure 3.1). These estimates showed significant declines from 2007 for the 14 or 15 year olds (from 14.7 to 13.1 percent) and for the 16 or 17 year olds (from 29.0 to 26.2 percent).

User Icon lilmisspunkster - Landmark Academy, Michigan: why do people think doing drugs is cool?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Landmark,
I definitely don't think that doing drugs is cool and I don't why anyone else would think drug use is cool...Drug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States - including health and crime-related costs and losses in productivity - exceed half a trillion dollars annually. This includes approximately $181 billion for illicit drugs, $168 billion for tobacco, and $185 billion for alcohol.  That's a LOT of Benjamins, dough, papers!  Whatever you call it, that's a lot of money!  And as staggering as these numbers are, however, they in now way can reflect the depth of the deleterious effects on public health and safety drug use incurs, including its effects on family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, child abuse, and other crimes.

User Icon ooga booga - Willow Canyon High School, Arizona: my mom is a complete alcoholic and she went to rehab for it a few weeks ago, she seems fine but could she go back to drinking?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: There is a risk for anyone who has been in rehab to go back to drinking. It is so important that those closest, family and friends, provide support. They may also need support themselves. A good source of infomation for people in families where another family member has a drinking problem is:

http://www.al-anon.org/

User Icon hubby0615 - Willow Canyon High School, Arizona: what is angel dust

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Angel dust is a slang name for phencyclidine, PCP, which was developed in the 1950's as an intravenous surgical anesthetic.  This drug is classified as dissociative anesthetic that can cause hallucinogenic 'out of body' feelings of detachment.

For more information on this and other related drugs, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrhalluc.pdf

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: how do you help someone from going into relapse

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for a good question.  Statistically speaking about 40-60% of people who go through treatment relapse.  You can support someone who has completed treatment by listening to them when they need an ear, letting them express their feelings when they need a shoulder, offering to spend time with them in activities that don't involve the use of drugs or people who use drugs, and recommending they seek help when they crave drugs.  For more information on relapse and treatment see:http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#deal
Hope this is helpful.

User Icon rcmhs014 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Do wine have the same afect on you as drinking beer

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hello to Georgia! You ask a very good question -- it is one that many people wonder about.  Some people think that wine is less harmful than beer or other so-called 'hard' liquor.  But the truth is that all alcoholic beverages contain the same chemical called 'ethanol.'   The only difference between the different drinks is the percentage of ethanol that each contains.  So, the answer to your question is that drinking any kind of alcohol -- including wine -- is harmful at a young age.  Teen brains are still developing -- in fact, our brains keep developing until at least the mid-20's. Alcohol can harm the brain even more during this developmental period.  And research shows that persons who start drinking early in life are much more likely to develop alcohol use problems later in life, including alcohol addiction, or alcoholism.   Please check out the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). They focus on the problems caused by drinking alcohol and have a great site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov.  Thanks for asking and keep those great questions coming in!

User Icon moorece - Phoenixville Area High School, Pennsylvania: what is the most common drug used in the U.S?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello. The most commonly used drug among youth 12-17 is alcohol.  Among 12-17 year olds, in the past year 31% used alcohol, 19% used tobacco, and 19% used illicit drugs. 

For more information on drug use in general go to http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh/reports.htm

User Icon areay - Cashmere High School, Washington: What is GHB??

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: GHB is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant--that means that it can slow down activity in the brain. GHB is known as a date rape drug because it can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim and can incapacitate them and prevent them from resisting sexual assault.

User Icon Sterndrewguy - South Middle School, West Virginia: My friend always comes to my house and makes my dog smoke pot. What do I do?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: He doesn't seem like a very good friend to me.  If someone was doing that to my dogs, I wouldn't invite him over ever again.

User Icon quackoinkmoo - Dixie High School, Utah: I know someone who has been drinking for a while and when they drink they become aggressive and depressed. Why do they do that? Most people seem to laugh a lot but this person just becomes angry and cries a lot.

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi.  You ask a very interesting question.    You sound kind of worried and I'm sure that you want to help your friend in any way that you can.   Alcohol can affect people in different ways, so it is hard to know why some people who drink get silly while others get unhappy.  You could try talking to your friend about your concerns about his drinking and ask him to get some professional help or to attend a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is important that you be able to talk about your worries with your mom or dad, or another trusted adult such as an aunt or uncle, a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  A group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.   Here is a website for teens that will give you information about alcohol abuse:  www.thecoolspot.gov. Thanks for logging in to the chat day and good luck to you, and your friend.

User Icon spongebob - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what has been the worst case of drug use abuse you've seen in your life?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi there in Texas.  Drug abuse, particularly when it leads to addiction, is awful for anyone who experiences it. Drug abuse can cause harmful and long-term changes to people's brains and bodies, as well as damage their relationships with friends and families.  It can also lead to arrest and jail--no fun. Keep your brain healthy!

User Icon mj45 - South Middle School, West Virginia: The government has talked about making cigarettes in some places of West Virginia illegal, but they havent yet and I think they should, Do you think they ever will?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: I think its very likely.  Smoking is being banned in more and more communities across the country.  As a result, smoking rates among young people are at the lowest rates ever!

User Icon Morgan Mancini - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: What percentage of my friends truely smokes marijuana?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older:  Contrary to popular belief, most teenagers do not use marijuana. Among students surveyed in a yearly national survey, only about one in seven 10th graders report they are current marijuana users (which means they used marijuana within the past month). Fewer than one in five high school seniors is a current marijuana user. NIDA research indicates that in 2008, 12 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, attention, balance, coordination and other abilities needed for safe driving.

User Icon babycakes123 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: i have tried weed before but i have not experienced the bad things people always tell me about why is that?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Problems can results with continued use, which it can result in addictive compulsive use, and withdrawal symptoms that include sleep disturbances and irritability. Research has linked chronic marijuana use to reduced capacity for motivation--the ability maintain confidence and persevere in the pursuit of goals. Marijuana can also impair memory and the ability to learn new information. You may not have experienced some of these symptoms if you have only used marijuana once or just a few times. 

For more information about marijuana, check out http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon Wind River High - Wind River High School, Wyoming: do drugs affect day to day activities

Expert Icon Mark Greene: Certainly taking drugs every day will result in effects on day to day activities. The kinds of effects that you might see depend on the kind of drugs taken, but can include both how well you think, how you interact with people, how irritated you get over small things, coordination and reaction time and other physical effects. And that's just to start:  someone who has taken enough of a drug to become addicted, seeking and taking drugs may replace his or her previous day-to-day activities. Some drugs can give false feelings that everything is going well even while they are reducing the ability to deal with day to day activities.

User Icon jesse - Parkdale High School, Maryland: if a woman is pregnant is it good to drink

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi there....well, researchers have shown that alcohol can affect the pregnant woman and the fetus.  Drinking alcohol is not recommended for pregnant women because prenatal alcohol damages specific areas of the brain. Using a technology called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists have been able to view the brains of children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  They found that parts of the brain that regulate movement and cognitive processes related to attention, perception, thinking, and memory are particularly sensitive to prenatal alcohol exposure while other areas are not affected (see http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/).

User Icon pk483303 - Rockville High School, Maryland: after being in rehab, and being clean, what are the chances that i will go back to doing it again?:/

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: 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.

User Icon boytoy - Port Chester High School, New York: Is there a drug that gets you high and isn't dangerous for you?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Nope.

User Icon Gff123 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: My boyfriend used to thiz, or in other words take ecstacy, he doesnt take it anymore, but can it still have an effect on him today?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Ecstasy unfortunately is not safe. Research conducted on animals has proven that MDMA damages specific neurons in the brain. This may be reversed when you stop using, but it's not clear- so it's best to not use this drug in the first place given its toxic effects on the brain.

For more information on drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon obedcruz - Martinsville High School, Virginia: how many grams of cocaine do you need to OD?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi there in Virginia!  Cocaine is a very dangerous drug.  Drugs can affect each individual differently, so it is impossible to say a specific amount, but it could be very small.  Cocaine can constrict blood vessels, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter, usually because of disrupted heart rhythms. 'Zero' grams of cocaine is the best choice.  No one knows when an overdose can happen and then it can be too late.  There are treatment options for cocaine and other drugs.  To learn more see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants.

User Icon ajohnson - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: ive been told that wine is good for you if you drink it once in a while... why is that?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi and thanks for a very important question.  Some research has suggested that moderate alcohol use can have some beneficial health effects, although we are not sure how that helps.  Even so, it is NOT recommended that a person start to drink just to get some possible health benefits -- there are too many other possible harmful effects that may occur.  And any type of alcohol can be especially harmful to teens and even young adults.  You can get more information on wine and other types of alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.   They also have a special site for teens at http://www.thecoolspot.gov/. Thanks again and keep your questions rolling in.

User Icon hotfatmonkeyman - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: do drugs affect the form of ur baby while ur pregnant

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: What's up, Lakeview?!
If you mean will your baby be deformed when he/she is born, it's not likely.  However, if you are asking if drugs can affect how your baby develops during pregnancy, then absolutely--and not in a good way!  In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol and opioids (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) are particularly harmful and might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction. For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

User Icon manbearpig - Port Chester High School, New York: what are the side effects of salvia?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: People who abuse Salvia generally experience hallucinations or delusional episodes that mimic psychosis--this is concerning; particularly when it comes to driving under the influence of salvia.

User Icon Thisissparta - Landmark Academy, Michigan: How do you perform a formal intervention in a persons life that is close to you but may get firearms and explosives involved if you say anything?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi.  Thanks for asking such an important question.  I know you must  be very concerned about this person.  Of course you want to help and also make sure that everyone is safe.  Be sure not to do anything that could jeopardize your own safety.  It is important that you talk about this situation with your parents, or with a trusted adult such as an aunt or uncle, a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  I'm not clear on whether the person you write about has a problem with alcohol or with another specific drug.  For alcohol issues:  A group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.  You can get more information about alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.   They also have a special site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov. Our own web site for teens has information about other drugs of abuse at http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/.  If you need immediate help, there is a hot line you can call -- 1-800-273-TALK.  The hotline staff can find local help for you.  Whatever you do, try to learn more about drug and alcohol addiction and find someone to help you deal with such a serious problem.  Take good care and good luck.

User Icon SaldanaHope - Otto Middle School, Michigan: Can you get high off of sharpies?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used--and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!

For more information about drugs, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon unicorn - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: is there any drug that can make you smarter

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Stimulants such as Ritalin and Modafinil come to mind.  However, these drugs can also have adverse affects and be addictive.  Thus, prescription drugs should only be taken under the direction and supervision of a doctor.  For more information on stimulants, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php.

User Icon jrobbins1460 - Willow Canyon High School, Arizona: I live in a house full of smokers. Am I in danger of getting lung cancer any faster than other people? Please respond, I am really worried :(

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes, second hand smoke exposure has been shown to have serious medical consequences.  Not only are the smokers damaging their own health, they are putting the health of those they live with at risk as well.

User Icon aracely - C.H. Yoe High School, Texas: when you take drugs if you are young, then you quit and you want to have family, the kid can born sick?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Yo' C.H. Yoe!
If you have used drugs in the past and have quit, you are doing great!  You are not only going to give your baby a great chance at being born healthy, you are also giving yourself a chance to have a long, happy, and healthy life.  For more information on living a drug-free life, visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.  Keep the questions coming!

User Icon 11797229 - Rockville High School, Maryland: Hi! Do all drugs affect harmfully to the body because i hard that some doctors prescribe cocaine or such to patients for their diesease??

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey Rockville High, great question!  Many drugs that are abused are actually used very effectively and safely as medications - for example, morphine, prescription opioids/pain killers, ketamine, benzodiazepines, etc.  When used properly, these drugs/medications pose very little danger and are quite useful for many medical reasons.  That said, medications, such as prescription medications, can be used for nonmedical purposes, and when used this way, they can be abused and can lead to addiction.  Cocaine is still used as a local anesthetic.

Check out this site for further discussion of the science of addiction, and thanks for your question: http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/addiction.html

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: is it true that you can have flask backs of lsd years after you take it?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Yes- drugs like LSD are hallucinogens that cause profound distortions in perception of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings and result in fear and anxiety, which can be terrifying to people. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug. 

For more information about drugs and LSD, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon amorton - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: if you have a close friend that smokes and they pressure you to smoke what should you do?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Good question. It is hard when you have a close friend who is doing something self-destructive and then wants you to do it as well.  It is great that you are thinking about the most healthy choice for you.  Your friend may not know how damaging it is to smoke tobacco or marijuana. Bad effects can happen both in the short and long term.  You can learn more about the effects of smoking marijuana here:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana and smoking tobacco here at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drnida/drnida_nic1.php.  It is important to make your own healthy choices about smoking, despite what your close friend says. Be your own person.

User Icon agalenkamp - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: How can you get someone help for an addiction if they are not willing to undergo treatment?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Agalenkamp, Great question.  The reality is that you can't make anyone go to treatment.  You can express your concern about their drug use and let them know the impact it has on you and how you see it negatively impacting them.  You can also provide them with information about where to find help if they change their mind and decide to seek treatment.  For more information on where to find treatment see:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov .  Finally, make sure you take care of yourself.  Supporting someone who needs but is unwilling to enter drug treatment is difficult.  Talk to a trusted adult - parent, teacher, coach, guidance counselor, parent of a friend - about the situation and get the emotional support you need while going through this process. Hope this helps. 

User Icon SUPER G - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: WHAT EFFECTS DOES SPEED HAVE ON THE BODY

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: 

Hi there! Speed is a street term for methamphetamine, which is a type of stimulant.  Stimulants elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness.  Examples of stimulants include cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, nicotine, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), better known as "Ecstasy."  

As with many other drugs of abuse, repeated stimulant abuse can cause addiction. That means that someone repeatedly seeks out and uses the drug despite its harmful effects. Repeated drug use changes the brain in ways that contribute to the drug craving and continued drug seeking and use that characterizes addiction. Other effects of long-term stimulant abuse can include paranoia, aggressiveness, extreme anorexia, thinking problems, visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and severe dental problems.

Like most drugs, stimulants can be lethal (lead to death) when taken in large doses or mixed with other substances. Stimulant overdoses can lead to heart problems, strokes, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), and convulsions, which if not treated immediately can result in death. 

For more information on speed and other stimulants go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php

User Icon cc - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: if ur mother is pregnant and she smokin crack, can her baby get high

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Benjamin Franklin's in the house!
That's a good question.  We do know that a baby born to a mother who takes cocaine during pregnancy can be smaller at birth, is more likely to be premature (born early) and may go through withdrawal from cocaine following birth. These factors that can put them at risk of cognitive (example, learning and memory) disadvantages later in life.  With proper treatment, however they can recover significantly.  What we don't know, however, is children born to mothers that used cocaine during pregnancy are at greater risk of becoming addicted to cocaine as they grow older.  If you're interestied in getting more information on cocaine and also the consequences of prenatal drug use, please see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/cocaine/treatment.html and http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

User Icon daughtry - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is cigrettes a drug?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff:  Yes- the drug of abuse in cigarettes is nicotine.  As you smoke cigarettes, the brain adapts and 'expects' nicotine, which can lead to regular smoking and addiction to tobacco. How rapidly you become addicted also depends on your genes- if for example you have genes that lead to rapid metabolism of nicotine, you may be more susceptible to the addictive affects of drugs.

For more information about smoking and nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon cavs23 - South Middle School, West Virginia: is there a drug that can kill your brain cells

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey, thanks much for the question.  We know that drugs do affect specific brain cells and that also depends on the particular drugs.  We don't really know how many cells are actually destroyed by drugs, and we are researching that question.  There are lots of variables at work with drugs, and there are considerable individual differences with respect to drug effects on brain cells.  Each person brain is different, so it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if someone chooses to use drugs. The longer someone takes drugs, the more likely that he/she will become addicted and suffer long-term, harmful brain changes.

For general information about drugs, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon soda - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: why is it bad for teens to do drugs

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Thanks for your question.  Teens need to stay healthy and do their best.  Drugs prevent that from happening.  The effects of drugs on your brain can happen immediately and last a long while.   Doing drugs can affect your school work and your relationships with your friends and family.  You can find out more about the effects of drugs on teens here:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php.  Have a great afternoon and keep your brain healthy!

User Icon Ms.Bubbles - South Middle School, West Virginia: My friends dad gets drunk a lot and she's afraid to tell anyone other than me. Should i get help for her

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Fill in. Thanks for your question. Dealing with parental drug abuse is tough and I know this from first hand experience.  When I was living with a father who had a drinking problem I needed friends I could talk to that would maintain my confidence.  You can provide support to your friend by listening and helping make sure she isn't impacted negatively by her parent's drug use.  For example, when my father would drink I would make sure I didn't ride with him in the car and arranged for friends or their parents to take me places. That is a very tangible way you can help your friend.  Also, I talked with my school guidance counselor and participated in a local Al-Anon program for teens (Alateen) whose parents used drugs.  There I found additional support on how to deal with my father's drug use from people having the same experience.  You might provide your friend with access to more information including: information on how to help someone stop using drugs see:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7, and for more information about Alateen see:http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen


Moderator Icon  In 2007, nearly 288,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.

User Icon Ms.P - Junction City High School, Oregon: Considering the lethargy that accompanies the use of marijuana is there concern that the productivity of this generation will decline in comparison to generations prior?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The prevalence of marijuana use among young people has been fairly high for many decades. I don't expect that the slight differences in rate of use over past decades will translate into significant fluctuations in productivity when comparing different generations   

User Icon tjohnson1234 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: why is weed considered a drug

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Marijuana comes from a plant that contains THC, which is 'psychoactive' (it affects mood and behavior) and can be addictive. For more information on mariijuana see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana and http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

User Icon Spring_Woods=D - Spring Woods High School, Texas: I heard marijuana isnt really addicting, Is that true?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Marijuana can be addictive. When you smoke a joint, marijuana smoke goes into the lungs, and then the blood, and then the brain. Once marijuana is in the brain, its active ingredient--THC molecules--attach to brain cells. They attach by docking on proteins called 'receptors' whose normal function is to dock natural chemicals called cannabinoids. In effect, the THC molecules mimic the cannabinoid molecules. They have the same effects as the internal (endogenous) cannabinoid molecules, but with one big difference--there are many more THC molecules than internal cannabinoid molecules, so their effects are much more extreme.  THC then causes the neurotransmitter dopamine to be relased in reward centers of the brain--the large amounts of dopamine that are released contribute to the 'high.' Repeated use and chronic dopamine release can result in addiction. If someone is addicted to marijuana, they can experience withdrawal symptoms like sleep disturbance, irritability, and depression when they stop using. Another sign that the user is addicted is if he/she is driven to continue using it even if it is causing all kinds of problems in their lives, such as poor grades and problems with friends and family.

For more information about marijuana, check out http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon dkenney - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: How could you best help a friend who is living in a home with someone having an addiction problem?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for your question. Dealing with parental drug abuse is tough and I know this from first hand experience.  When I was living with a father who had a drinking problem I needed friends I could talk to that would maintain my confidence.  You can provide support to your friend by listening and helping make sure she isn't impacted negatively by her parent's drug use.  For example, when my father would drink I would make sure I didn't ride with him in the car and arranged for friends or their parents to take me places. That is a very tangible way you can help your friend.  Also, I talked with my school guidance counselor and participated in a local Al-Anon program for teens (Alateen) whose parents used drugs.  There I found additional support on how to deal with my father's drug use from people having the same experience.  You might provide your friend with access to more information including: information on how to help someone stop using drugs see:  www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7, and for more information about Alateen see:http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen

User Icon Taylor - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is it true that herbal cigarettes are just as addictive and bad for your health?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: There are several types of herbal cigarettes, some of which contain tobacco even though they are called 'herbal'. Even herbal cigarettes that do not have tobacco or nicotine, while possibly not addictive, can be harmful. They often contain ingredients that, when burned, produce combustion products that can be harmful, such as tar and carbon monoxide.

User Icon The dog - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: does weed affect athletes?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Weed can affect anyone who takes it.  It is a drug and even those who may be healthy because they are athletes can suffer from its effects--like losing their coordination (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana ).  Some people feel nothing at all when they smoke marijuana. Others may feel relaxed or high. Sometimes marijuana makes users feel thirsty and suddenly hungry.  Some users can get bad effects from marijuana. They may have sudden feelings of anxiety and paranoid thoughts.  It does not matter whether you are an athlete or not, weed can affect your brain and behavior.  So keep your brain healthy!

User Icon amy - Theodore Roosevelt High School, Ohio: If you are dating a person that is an alcoholic, and then you make them quit drinking because they are verbally abusing you, will it make them stop abusing you?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi.   Thanks for asking a very brave question that I know is very important to you. First of all, no one deserves any kind of abuse, whether it is physical or verbal.  I'm not sure from your question whether this is happening to you or to a friend, but this is a very serious issue.  This person may verbally abuse you more when they've been drinking, but stopping drinking will not necessarily stop them from abusing you.  Please try to get some help to deal with the verbal abuse because this abuse can be very harmful to you.  Try to talk about your worries with your parents or other trusted adults such as an aunt or uncle, a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  Also, you might try calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services. If you are frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800799SAFE (7233) or TTY 18007873224.  Also, a group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.   Here is a website for teens that will give you information about alcohol abuse:  www.thecoolspot.gov. Whatever you do, try to find someone to help you deal with such a serious problem.  Take good care of yourself and good luck.

User Icon Bhelferty - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Would drinking or smoking(weed) occasionaly.. drasticly affect your grades/how smart you are?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions-- so yes, even occasional use can cause someone not to study and/or have their grades drop.  The same holds true for alcohol.

User Icon Steelers Rock!! - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: What happens if a parent gives their baby marijuana? Please answer :)

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Marijuana can have bad effects on the mother and baby during pregnancy. THC (which is in weed), passes from the lungs into the bloodstream.  The blood carries that chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. Smoking weed can affect your memory, thinking and problem solving skills, as well as coordination.  These bad affects can last for days.  Keep your brain healthy! Weed is not healthy for your brain cells. Click here to find out more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana. Mothers need to stay healthy for themselves and their babies.  We've got a bunch of studies that look at the long-term effects of exposure to drugs during pregnancy. The good news is that a lot of these kids are ok, but sometimes there are effects on behavior, attention, and thinking that can affect kids over the long term. It is important for mothers to keep their brains and the brains of their children healthy!

User Icon BMO - Presque Isle High School, Maine: why does alchol make your body slow done

Expert Icon Mark Greene: The 'slowing down' effect you refer to can happen quickly due to alcohol's effects on the brain. A brain affected by alcohol cannot respond to things quickly, which means the body, which is under the control of the brain, will respond more slowly. Heavy drinking over many years can lead to permanent 'slowing down' through cumulative toxic actions on the brain and other body organs.

User Icon kobe27 - Spring Woods High School, Texas: could you get lung cancer from second-hand smoke

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Yes. Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among nonsmokers.

User Icon Mr.Dazzle.com - Skaneateles High School, New York: How does weed help in medicane?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately, although it is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating any medical illness. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients--and the body systems they affect--to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases.  These include pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.


Moderator Icon  Inhalants, like hair spray, gasoline and spray paint, can often be identified by their:
  1. strong smell
  2. myelin
  3. extra oxygen
  4. their usefulness

User Icon R.Christian - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: i heard on manswers that u can get high on nutmeg is this true

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Actually, probably yes. Nutmeg is a spice that contains volatile oils comprised of alkyl benzene derivatives (myristicin, elemicin, safrole, etc.), terpenes and myristic acid. Nutmeg has a long history of abuse, several poisoning cases, at least one which proved fatal.

User Icon YANKEES24 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: How can you tell if someone is high?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: For some people, smoking marijuana makes them feel good. Within minutes of inhaling, a user begins to feel "high," or filled with pleasant sensations. The main chemical in marijuana--called THC--triggers brain cells to release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine creates good feelings, but only for a short time. After the initial high from the dopamine, marijuana can affect your memory, judgment, perception, and coordination. Under the influence of marijuana, you could fail to remember things you just learned, watch your grade point average drop, or crash a car. When your judgement is impaired from being high, you might make bad choices. Check this out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

User Icon kandy - Einstein High School, Maryland: 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?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: 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: http://www.drugabuse.gov/pubs/teaching/Teaching6/Teaching8.html or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#deal
Hope this helps.

User Icon brianna wilson - Martinsville High School, Virginia: how do drugs affect teenagers?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: This is a great question Martinsville!
Teenagers are highly susceptible to the affects of drugs because as humans, our brains are still developing up to the age of 25 or so!  When you are a teenager, your brain is changing a lot, and if you take drugs, they can interfere with how your brain functions and develops.  It can slow your learning and ability to think and make decisions--that's never good!  For the best answer and most up to date information, you should check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/. It's a great website and highly interactive.  It will give you information about teens and drug abuse.  There's also a pretty cool video about one of the most highly abused drugs--prescription drugs, like painkillers.  See http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/video.php

User Icon pettwaytyrell - Otto Middle School, Michigan: how do drugs affect your brain

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Drugs can cause serious damage to your brain (see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php ).  Why?  Because they are chemicals that can affect your brain and how it sends signals.  Each drug affects your brain differently, and the effects can last long after the drug has been taken. Drugs of abuse affect the 'reward' circuit in the brain, which gives you pleasure. But the pleasurable feeling comes at a high price. Keep your brain healthy!

User Icon W@ckyW!z@rd97 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: is it true that when you smoke that your hair can fall out?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: That's a head-scratcher. I don't know of any reports that baldness is a side effect of smoking.

User Icon CasaGrande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: What exactly is the legal drug called salvia? how does it effect you

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America.  It can be ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices; or the dried leaves can be smoked, consumed in water pipes, or vaporized and inhaled.  People who abuse Salvia generally experience hallucinations or delusional episodes that mimic psychosis--this is concerning; particularly when it comes to driving under the influence of salvia.

User Icon grad20012 - Dixie High School, Utah: how does cocaine affect pregnancy? will that baby be addicted ?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Cocaine can have bad effects on the mother and baby during pregnancy.  Researchers have found that cocaine may affect the baby while it is in the womb.
http://archives.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_Notes/NNVol14N3/Prenatal.html. Prenatal cocaine exposure during preganancy can have both short and long-term effects on the baby's mental health and brain functioning.  NIDA recommends that pregnant women not use alcohol or drugs, including tobacco, and ask their doctor for some help if they are having trouble stopping. Mothers need to stay healthy for themselves and their babies. 

Babies of mothers who use drugs can be born early (prematurely) or at low birth weight. Exposure to some drugs, like opiates (heroin, oxycontin, vicodin, morphine) can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome, which means babies can be born addicted, and then experience withdrawal from the drugs. We've got a bunch of studies that look at the long term effects of exposure to drugs during pregnancy. The good news is that a lot of these kids are ok, but sometimes there are effects on behavior, attention, and thinking that can affect kids over the long term. It is important for mothers to keep their brains and the brains of their children healthy!

User Icon LetMeBeMe - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: 

My uncle might be smoking weed what are signs to show evidence of weed -He needs to stop-


Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Here are some things to look for regarding evidence of marijuana use:

If someone is high on marijuana, he or she might:
  • seem dizzy and have trouble walking;
  • seem silly and giggly for no reason;
  • have very red, bloodshot eyes; and
  • have a hard time remembering things that just happened.

When the early effects fade, the user can become very sleepy.

You might see overall changes in his behavior. You might also look for withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility, and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends. In addition, changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. However, these signs may also indicate problems other than use of drugs.

In addition, you might find:

  • signs of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers;
  • odor on clothes and in the bedroom;
  • use of incense and other deodorizers;
  • use of eye drops; and
  • clothing, posters, jewelry, etc., promoting drug use.

Hope this helps.  For more information on marijuana, check out:  http://www.marijuana-info.org/


User Icon lilwayne - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Is it ok to drink for religious purposes?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: Drinking alcohol has been part of religious practices, in many different religions, for hundreds thousands of years. For peole who can drink legally, are not pregnant, do not have a medical condition such as diabetes that alcohol will exacerbate, and can drink in moderation, alcohol usually is all right whether or not religion is involved.

User Icon myhuele - Einstein High School, Maryland: my dad smokes for so long now, nothings wrong with him, so can the risks of smoking not be for everyone.

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Great questions Einstein --are you a budding scientist?  You should be! 
We know that the consequences of smoking are affected by genetics and environments--everybody is different in how they respond to years of smoking.  Your dad could be very lucky and have other genetic factors that are protecting him from some of the bad consequences of smoking.  We don't really know a whole lot about that though, so I wouldn't count on it.  The effects of smoking for a long time may not be felt or seen for a many years.  Your dad isn't very old, and he will likely experience some bad effects from all of his years of smoking at some point.  My dad smoked for a long time until they found a growth in his lung.  Luckily he had it removed and he's ok--that was enought to make him think twice about continuinig to smoke.  He got help, and now he doesn't smoke at all!  He's still going strong, but I'd hate to think of what could have happened to him had he not quit back then.

User Icon kagf~ - Dixie High School, Utah: i know a little boy who lives with his grandparents and they smoke. Every time he comes to my house he smells bad! what are the chances of the government of taking that kid away from his grandparents?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for your question.  I doubt that this child will be removed from the home of his grandparents because they smoke.  However, second hand smoke does have negative health consequences.  You might express your concern about the grandparents' smoking and make them aware that it negatively impacts their grandchild.  For more information on the impact of smoking see:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php  For information about how to quit smoking call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669.
Hope this helps.

User Icon 12holtrubw - Dixie High School, Utah: whats the chances of dieing from extacy

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there!  "Ecstasy" is a slang term for MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a really long name I know. It has effects similar to those of other stimulants, and it often makes the user feel like everyone is his or her friend, even when that's not the case.  Because MDMA is man-made, makers of MDMA can add anything they want to the drug, so its purity is always in question.  In research shows that abuse of any drug, including MDMA, can cause serious health problems and, in some instances, even death. Many drug abusers take combinations of drugs, including alcohol, which may further increase their risk.

MDMA users can also become dehydrated through vigorous activity in a hot environment. It may not seem like a big deal, but when MDMA interferes with the body's ability to regulate its temperature, it can cause dangerous overheating, called hyperthermia. This, in turn, can lead to serious heart and kidney problems - or, rarely, death. MDMA can be extremely dangerous in high doses or when multiple small doses are taken within a short time period to maintain the high. High levels of the drug in the blood stream can increase the risk of hyperthermia, seizures, and the ability of the heart to maintain its normal rhythms.

 For more information on MDMA go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php


User Icon jim - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what happens if an employer finds out you are doing drugs?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: That may depend on where you work.  It's possible that you could loose your job for using drugs or being under the influence of drugs at work.  In some cases, employers refer employees with drug problems to treatment.  It's probably best for people to seek help on their own and get into treatment before an employer finds out.  For more information about treatment resources call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

User Icon m.nino - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can you get high off of pixie sticks if you snort it?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: no

User Icon ScLions032 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: What are the affects of being around people doing inhalents? Could you breathe in enough to get high too from just being around them?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Some household and other everyday products can be used as inhalants and use of inhalants can be very dangerous.  This is a very good question because it is important for young people to know the harmful effects of inhalants and not take lightly even one-time experimentation. Just a single session of repeated inhalations has caused permanent organ damage or death. Organs at risk from inhalant abuse include the lungs, brain, liver, heart, and kidneys. Some abusers experience restlessness, nausea, sweating, anxiety, and other symptoms of withdrawal when they stop taking the drug. Like any other drug when abused, inhalants can also lead to accidents and injuries.

In response to your question, it is important to consider that products that are abused as inhalants can be very strong and toxic. Therefore, there is the possibility of breathing in these products and getting high if a person is in a confined area where inhalants are being abused.  Because of the many dangers of using drugs and the impact that drugs can have on the judgment of users, I think it is very important to know that being in an environment where drugs are being used could potentially be dangerous and harmful. 

For more information on inhalant use, please go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

User Icon kagf~ - Dixie High School, Utah: is alcohol the same as the alcohol you use to put on a place where you got hurt?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: No it is not. Although they are both called alcohol in common speech, they are different chemicals. The alcohol used in beverages ethanol. The alcohol that's put on wounds is methanol: it is good for killing germs, but extremely harmful if swallowed.

User Icon idalisgonzalez - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: Can using drug while pregant effect your baby???

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Ludlow,
Absolutely--and not in a good way!  In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol is particularly harmful and opioid drugs (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction. For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

User Icon pothead365 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what happens when women takes steroids

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: In addition to the well known and major effects of steroid abuse (like liver damage; jaundice; fluid retention; high blood pressure; and increases in 'bad' cholesterol) females risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice. Teens in general risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

User Icon casa grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Are household products really in Meth?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: 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.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: My dad drinks every day, could he die?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hello.  Thanks for asking a question that I know is very important to you.  You sound pretty worried and I'm sure that you want to help your dad in any way that you can.   You could try talking to him about your concerns about his drinking and ask him to try to get some professional help or to attend a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is important that you be able to talk about your own worries with other members of your family or trusted adults such as a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  A group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.   Here is a website for teens that will give you information about alcohol abuse:  http://www.thecoolspot.gov/. Whatever you do, try to learn as much as you can about drug and alcohol addiction and find someone to help you deal with such a serious problem.  Take good care, and good luck to you, your dad, and your family.

User Icon Pothead24/7 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Why do steriods shrink the testicles?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: It's a 'hormone' thing. Anabolic steroids are chemically similar to testosterone and also provide feedback through organs in the brain to tell the testicles to stop making their own testosterone. Thus, with the use of anabolic steroids, the testicles shut down, atrophy (shrink), and can be permanently altered to cause infertility.

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: do drugs have the worst effect on teens or adults

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Drug use can have bad effects on anyone no matter how old they are.  But, we do know that the brain is still developing when you are a teenager.  Drug use while you are developing can affect how you learn and feel and whether you reach your potential in life.  We want people of all ages to keep their brain healthy. Check this out--and leave us a comment: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/tag/brain-development/

User Icon that1kid - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what makes crystal meth so addicting?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: How it acts on your brain makes meth addictive--as meth enters the brain, it causes a user to feel euphoric, or 'high,' by acting on the brain's reward system. It does this by causing dopamine to pour out of brain cells in reward areas of the brain--these are areas of the brain that respond to things that are normally rewarding such as food and drink. Repeated use of drugs and chronic dopamine releases can lead to long-term changes in these brain regions that lead to the desire or craving for more meth--resulting in addiction.

To find a wealth of research and facts on the science of addiction and treatment, please go to:

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
301-443-1124
http://www.drugabuse.gov/

By clicking on the link 'Students and Young Adults' from NIDA's home page you will be able to access resources tailored for students and young adults , whether you are in middle school and doing research on the effects of marijuana use, or high school student looking to find out about drug use and HIV.

If you need help, you will also find a link there to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on specific drugs on NIDA's Web sites: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/
http://www.marijuana-info.org/
http://www.clubdrugs.gov/
http://www.steroidabuse.gov/
inhalants.drugabuse.gov' target='_blank'>www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov

User Icon babii_luv777 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: how do you know when your addicted to something ? and how long you been addicted to it

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question!!!  The following criteria can help you know whether you are addicted to drugs:

* Taking the drug more often or in larger amounts than intended.

* Unsuccessful attempts to quit; persistent desire, craving.

* Excessive time spent in drug seeking.

* Feeling intoxicated at inappropriate times, or feeling withdrawal symptoms from a drug at such times.

* Giving up other things for it.

* Continued use, despite knowledge of harm to oneself and others.

* Marked tolerance in which the amount needed to satisfy increases at first before leveling off.

* Characteristic withdrawal symptoms for particular drugs.

* Taking the drug to relieve or avoid withdrawal.

If yes can be answered several of these, then chances are someone is addicted.  We don't really know or understand who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if someone chooses to use drugs. The longer someone takes drugs, the more likely that he/she will become addicted and suffer long-term, harmful brain changes.  So to be honest, there is no real straightforward answer regarding how long it takes to become addicted.  It's best to not use any illicit drugs.

For general information about drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.


User Icon MUHSTIGERS - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: What are your opinions on medical marijuana?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately.  Even though it is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating any medical illness, there are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana.  Scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients--and the systems they affect in the body--to develop new medications for various symptoms and diseases.  These include pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.  Keep your brain healthy!

User Icon gio51392 - Port Chester High School, New York: can you die from a steriod overdose?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Not likely, although given a high enough dose of anything you can reach a lethal dose. 
Short of overdose, we do have case reports of individuals who may have comitted suicide as a result of chronic steroid abuse induced depression. We can also hypotesize that some fatal car accidents may have been caused by drivers suffering from 'roid rage'. However reasonable these connections may sound, we don't have hard scientific data that would confirm the mostly anecdotal evidence that suggests that steroid abuse can be the cause of some deaths.

User Icon celtic champ - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: what if a pregnant lady did drugs would the baby come out deformed

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Randolph Clay,
In general abused drugs are not teratogens (chemicals that cause birth defects).  That doesn't mean the baby won't be harmed by drugs, though.  There are many effects that drugs can have on fetuses.  There are some drugs that when used during pregnancy can result in an infant being born addicted and going through a period of withdrawal. Opiates (including heroin, methadone, morphine, and prescription pain killers like vicodin or oxycotin) are an example. After the period of withdrawal, these babies are often okay, although it's not very comfortable for them when they are withdrawing.

Researchers are trying to figure out whether exposure to drugs including alcohol during pregnancy might make you more vulnerable to getting addicted when you are older. One researcher has found that if a mom smokes while she is pregnant, her child may be more likely to use tobacco when they become teenagers, and to become addicted if they use it.  Of course, there are other effects of alcohol use during pregnancy that are very alarming. We know from research that alcohol (including both beer and liquor) can seriously harm the baby of a mother who drinks during pregnancy, causing a variety of health problems including a disorder called fetal alcohol syndrome. For more details about all the birth defects associated with fetal alcohol syndrome, check out this link: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa50.htm. Because of this we recommend moms not use alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, or other drugs during pregnancy and ask for help from a health care professional if they are having trouble stopping.

User Icon kenzie&skyler<3 - Willow Canyon High School, Arizona: hello im kenzie and i have had a bad day! what is vicodin

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: sorry you're having a bad day.... things will get better

several people have asked what is vicodin today.  Vicodin is a medication that is prescribed to relieve severe pain.  When taken asked prescribed it can be very effective in relieveing pain and helping people recover from medical procedures for example.  But it can be very dangerous if used to party, or get high...it can be deadly.

User Icon lacey123 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Do you see alcohol ever becoming illegal in the future?

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: Alcohol can have many adverse affects, however I do not know the answer to this. I can tell you that since raising the drinking age from 18 to 21, many thousands of lives have been saved through decreases in automobile accidents. In fact, one report showed that by 2002 over 20,000 lives had been saved. (See http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809860.PDF.) Also, we know that the earlier you start using drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes, the more likely you are to develop drug problems when you get older. So, there are good reasons for NOT drinking.  Whether it will ever become illegal is anyone's guess.

User Icon jwittenstein - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: if my friend is an alchoholic, how do i stop him before it's too late?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Wow, thats a very important question and one we've been getting a lot today.  I know you must  be very concerned about your friend.    You could try talking to him about your concerns and worries about his drinking and ask him to try to get some professional help or to attend a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is important that you be able to talk about your own worries with members of your family or trusted adults such as a teacher, a school counselor, or a minister or rabbi.  A group called Alateen helps families and friends of alcoholics recover from the effects of living with a relative or friend who abuses alcohol.  Their website is: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.  You can get more information on alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.   They also have a special site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov. Whatever you do, try to learn more about drug and alcohol addiction and find someone to help you deal with such a serious problem.  Take good care.

User Icon knighthawk(: - Dixie High School, Utah: there are rumors that obama is legalizing marijuana in utah but is also making the consqequences higher if you get caught high/drunk under age. do you think that this is the right thing to do

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Rumors about legalizing marijuana in the Obama administration are untrue.  I don't know about policies in Utah related to under age drinking.  I do know that there are risks associated with marijuana and alcohol use.  Use of both these drugs affects memory, judgment, and perception. They can make you mess up in school, in sports or clubs, or with your friends. If you're high on marijuana or alcohol, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you.  So regardless of politics, the use of alcohol or marijuana can have serious consequences for everyone.

User Icon [B]ri - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: drugs make me feel good like cocaine but when i come down from it im pissed. im angry and irratable. and grumpy! why is that?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question!  Drugs can have different effects when you are taking them compared to when you are coming off of them.  That is there is the pleasurable or reinforcing phase that can be followed by a period of negative consequences, as you have described.  These effects are due in part by how cocaine effects the brain.  Initially there is a surge of brain chemicals, such as, dopamine causing the rush/high, and thereafter, the brain is depleted of these chemicals that leads to the negative consequences.

Hope this helps.

For more information on cocaine, check out: http://drugabuse.gov/drugpages/cocaine.html

User Icon adamsalexis - Otto Middle School, Michigan: IS caffeine a drug.

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Caffeine is a stimulant and can be addictive.  Many people use caffeine everyday to stay alert and help their mood.  Eating or drinking a large amount of caffeine can make you feel jittery, nervous, or energetic. That is because caffeine - like any stimulant - changes the way your brain works.  But caffeine is just a mild example of a stimulant. Many other stimulant drugs are much stronger, and some are illegal and very dangerous like cocaine, crack, and meth.   Bottom line, yes, caffeine is a stimulant drug, so don't overdo it.  Keep your brain healthy! And look around our teen website to learn more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon Princess17 - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: Is caffine a drug?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Not only is caffeine a drug, but it is also the most prevalent drug used in the world.


Moderator Icon  Drug and alcohol abuse can harm your judgment. Teens who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for getting HIV. To Learn the Link between drug abuse and HIV check out http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon Nick_McMullen - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: How do you guys no so much about doing drugs?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Learning about drugs and their effects is important area of research, since it helps us learn how to prevent people from using drugs in the first place, or again.  We study biology and behavior and neuroscience to learn about how drugs affect your brain and your body. Whenever you want to learn more about drug use and the ways to prevent it, you should try NIDA for Teens at:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php  and tell your friends, too. Look around. We already know how doing drugs can affect your brain and life--and we want help teens like you avoid drug use.

User Icon Casa Grande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: Why is Marijuana illegal when there has been no case of anyone ever overdosing on it? When there are things such as Beer, liquor and alchohol that aren't illegal.

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Because (among other effects) marijuana impairs memory, learning, attention, and is addictive. Just because of these effects alone, we should be seriously concerned that if marijuana (which is already very prevalent among youth) is made broadly available and accessible to young people the negative impact in academic achievement, long term mental health, and job and life satisfaction would be unacceptably high.

User Icon shark - Dixie High School, Utah: How do drugs affect your thinking process?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question.  On the short-term, drugs can cloud cognitive or thinking processes; however, chronic use of some drugs are associated with problems in memory, learning, and executive funcitioning.

For more information on addiction, check out the site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon whatitcalled - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: does the use of drugs cause A.I.D.S. or H.I.V.?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling:  Using drugs can put you at risk for getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. One reason is that drug and alcohol abuse can harm your judgment. People who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for getting HIV. Also, people who inject drugs can transmit the virus through shared needles or other injection equipment. To Learn the Link between drug abuse and HIV check out http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon crazy218 - Port Chester High School, New York: what might happen to you when you mix more than 1 drug???

Expert Icon Nancy Pilotte: The answer to that question depends on what drugs you might be mixing. Each drug by itself has its own effects. Mixing them might decrease certain effects or make them more powerful.  But regardless of what they are, mixing them may result in unexpected interactions that are dangerous. Additionally, drugs can contribute to lots of health problems, including lung and cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and mental disorders, in addition to drug addiction.

For more information, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

User Icon jwittenstein - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what plant does alchohol come from?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: Alcohol can come from many kinds of plants that contain starch or sugar. For example, you probably know that wine comes from grapes--the alcohol in wine started out as sugar in the grapes. Grains, such as barley and even rice can also be used to produce alcohol.

User Icon Jojo - Dixie High School, Utah: I have an Uncle who almost commit suicide when he was 21, because of looking at pornography, what is the effect of looking at pornography? Is it really considered a drug and how does it effect the brain?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question!  Pornography is not considered a drug, but just like drugs of abuse, it can causes changes in the brain similar to the changes resulting from drug use.  Much like cocaine, pornography results in the release of the brain chemical dopamine.  This repeated release is associated with pleasure, which in turn, can result in repeated consumption.  People have become 'addicted' to pornography, just as they have drugs of abuse.

Go on to the 8 am to 1 pm transcript