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Transcript for 2009 Chat Day

Questions Answered Between Approximately 8 am and 1 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.


User Icon surf101 - Port Chester High School, New York: what has been the worst case of drug use abuse you've seen in your life?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Drug abuse, and particularly when it leads to addiciton, is awful for anyone who experiences it. Drug abuse can cause individuals to damage their brain and body, as well as their relationships with friends and families. It can also lead to arrest and jail--no fun. Keep your brain healthy!

User Icon Zippy do da - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: why do people that smoke think they are so cool?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for your question. People that smoke think it is cool because of messages they have heard from other people - their friends, the media, tobacco companies - about smoking. The reality is that smoking has a significant negative impact on an individual's health and body that are really uncool. I mean who thinks that wrinkles, bad breath, yellow teeth, weezing, and stinky clothes are cool?


Moderator Icon What proportion of individuals who have ever tried smoking become daily smokers?
  1. 1/4
  2. 1/3
  3. 1/2
  4. 1/10
User Icon nvargas94 - Port Chester High School, New York: Is it true that when people are addicted to alcohol, they drink perfume,rubbing alcohol,handsanitizer etc...?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: I've never heard about drinking perfume--that would get to be pretty expensive. But it is true that people addicted to alcohol can develop such strong cravings that they will drink practically anything containing alcohol to try to satisfy them. Some of the things a person in this condition might drink are even more toxic than beer or liquor--for example rubbing alcohol is especially dangerous.

User Icon ihategomez16 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: can marijuana to more damage then cigarrettes

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Depends...both can be damaging, and both can be addictive. We still don't know or understand about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different and might have different vulnerabilities to particular drugs. The longer someone takes drugs, the more likely that he/she will become addicted and suffer long-term, harmful brain changes. So, there is no real straightforward answer regarding which drug would be more damaging.

For general information about drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ or for information on marijuana and tobacco, check out: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/ and http://www.marijuana-info.org/

User Icon :) - Einstein High School, Maryland: if a pregnant lady drink alcohol will the baby be affected?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Einstein, The short answer is yep, indeed it can. 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.

User Icon squale_sam - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: why you get addicted to drugs?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi there in Pennsylvania! Addiction is a complex process that involves our brain (see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction ).
In fact, you may not know that drug addiction is a brain disease. Different types of drugs have their own unique ways of changing how the brain works and possibly causing addiction. Generally, drugs alter the brain and behavior so that a person wants the drug no matter how bad the consequences are. Luckily, we have treatments for addiction to help our brain and body recover. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/ for more info.

User Icon monkeyman1215 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: what will you do if ur friend said ill shoot you if don't get high

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there! If you feel this person is a threat to you and you are in danger, I would suggest getting help from an adult or authority figure immediately. This might even mean calling 911. You might also want to evaluate whether this is really a true friend. It is important that you not put yourself in situations that might be a danger to you or others. For information on how drugs can impair judgment and decision making and other dangers of drug use, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php

Another resource if you or a friend are in crisis is: 1-800-273-TALK.

User Icon AD301 - Rockville High School, Maryland: what are the side affects of pcp or acid

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: PCP is a synthetic drug sold as tablets, capsules, or white or colored powder. It can be snorted, smoked, or eaten. Developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic, PCP was never approved for human use because of problems including intensely negative psychological effects. LSD is a hallucinogen that causes 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. The effect can last several hours, and in some cases persistent flashbacks can occur days and months after taking the drug.

For more information about PCP, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon danielle walsh - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what is pcp

Expert Icon Stephanie Older: PCP (also known as 'angel dust, ozone, wack and rocket fuel) is a synthetic drug sold as tablets, capsules, or white or colored powder. It can be snorted, smoked, or eaten. Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). It can also distort perceptions of sight and sound and produce feelings of detachment.

User Icon Millennium2009 - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: Can being around gas/smoke fumes of a fire or car be as dangerous a drug?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi again Lima Central!
Gases from things like fumes from a car can definitely be dangerous. These are considered inhalants--and more information on inhalants can be found here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/inhalants.html The effects of inhalants are similar to those of alcohol, including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant abusers may also experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions. With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. Chemicals found in different types of inhaled products may produce a variety of additional effects, such as confusion, nausea, or vomiting. By displacing air in the lungs, inhalants deprive the body of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia can damage cells throughout the body, but the cells of the brain are especially sensitive to it-- and people can die from lack of oxygen to the brain. The symptoms of brain hypoxia vary according to which regions of the brain are affected: for example, the hippocampus 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.

Long-term inhalant abuse can also break down myelin, a fatty tissue that surrounds and protects some nerve fibers. Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their messages quickly and efficiently, and when damaged, can lead to muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions such as walking, bending, and talking.


User Icon joshmcfather - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: do drugs and alcohol increase confidence

Expert Icon Mark Greene: Yes, drugs and alcohol can sometimes increase confidence, but that is not the same thing as actually helping you to do something. In fact, alcohol and drugs can decrease mental and physical abilities so you may feel more confident, but perform worse.

User Icon rattcandy - Dixie High School, Utah: Is it bad to drink wine at a young age?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi. Thanks for asking a great question. Some people think that wine or beer is less harmful than 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 Someone - Rockville High School, Maryland: Why do people get addicted to cigarettes?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: When tobacco is smoked, nicotine rapidly reaches peak levels in the bloodstream and enters the brain. There, it targets the brain's reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The over stimulation of this system, which rewards our natural behaviors, produces the euphoric effects sought by people who abuse drugs and teaches them to repeat the behavior such as repeated and compulsive tobacco smoking.

For more facts about cigarettes and nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon jazminsBigdaddy - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: do fat people do drugs to get skinny

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi there in Arizona!. It is true that some people missuse stimulants to lose weight, but they do so at a great risk to their health. There are healthy ways to loose weight. You can find resources from the National Institutes of Health on healthy weight loss at: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/index.htm . Doing drugs to get skinny is not a good choice. Check with your school health providers about maintaining a healthy weight without using drugs. Have a great afternoon and keep your brain and body healthy.

User Icon The dog - Lima Central Catholic High School, Ohio: what should i do if one of my teammates is using drugs....... what should i tell him to convince him to stop

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Lima Central,
If one of your teammates is using drugs, you have twice the motivation to help him quit. The first motivation is that he is your friend and he's lucky to have you in his life. The second motivation is that you if are on the same team, you want your teammate to be focused and on his game. If he is doing drugs, he's not only bringing himself down by harming his health, he's also bringing the team down because drugs can cause you to be unfocused, uncoordinated, and slow! I don't know about you, but when I play sports, I want to win--there's no room for drugs in that! Here's a good place to go to find out how you can help your friend: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. Good luck!

User Icon Treanna21 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Does doing drugs while you have HIV or AIDS speed up the process of dying?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: it will certainly not slow it down!

User Icon bubbler1409 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How do I know if a friend is in trouble with drugs and who can I talk to about it?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Terrific question. There are 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 daltho1 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: why is meth so addictive. what is in meth to make it so addictive.

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Addiction is a complex process that involves our brain (see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction ).
Drug addiction is a brain disease. Every type of drug of abuse has its own individual way of changing how the brain functions and causes addiction. Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/ for more info. Meth ( Methamphetamine) is a stimulant drug that acts in the central nervous system. Repeatedly abusing meth can lead to addiction, which brings with it chemical and molecular changes in the brain (http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/methamphetamine.html). Keep your brain healthy!

User Icon LovelessWedding - Martinsville High School, Virginia: What is the side effects of meth?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Methamphtamine is a potent and highly addictive psychostimulant - and is a very serious problem in the United States. Methamphetamine abuse can lead to devastating medical, psychological, and social consequences. Adverse health effects include memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition, and severe dental problems--meth mouth (yuk). 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.

For free downloads and cool videos about drugs, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads!

User Icon cguhs - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: can a gurl use steroid?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: She sure can, but she definitely shouldn't.
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 stanman - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: Is it true that recent studies show that the psychotropic compound in hallucenogenic mushrooms could potentially be used in the future to combat some mental disorders, such as depression?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Excellent question- it's not likely that Psilocybin, the active component in the hallucinogenic mushrooms, would be used for this purpose, because it is a pwerful hallucinogen that causes profound distortions in the perception of reality, and in some individuals these distortions are extremely disurbing. However, many medications have been developed from natural/plant sources, and research on the the chemical struture of Psilocybin may provide good leads for new chemical and therapeutic drugs that may help people without the adverse effects associated with Psilocybin itself.

Check out the Sara Bellum Blog at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/!

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how long would it take for your life to end if you smoke tobacco? Why?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: It depends on how much you smoke and to some extent how sensitive you might be to the effects of smoking-not everyone reacts the same way. In 1995, the CDC estimated that smokers' lives were shortened by an average of about 14 years (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm)

But ending of life is just the final stage of what can be many years of dealing with bade effects of smoking. Tobacco abuse harms every organ in the body, it is 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, like you probably know, one of the leading 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.

So, even if it may take a while for smoking to end your life, it can make your life pretty miserable before it ends.

User Icon Schaquoria - Martinsville High School, Virginia: If you are seriosly addicted smoking and you take that gum that says it help you stop smoking Does i really help?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for a great question. Yes, the gum can help some people quit smoking. A recent research study looked at lots of medications and over-the-counter products and found that the lozenge with the patch was the most effective way to help people stop smoking. The good news is that there are lots of different treatments for smoking including quitlines for support and resources, behavioral interventions, medications and over-the-counter products. You should see your physician if you are intested in using medication or over-the-counter products to stop smoking. For more information see the National Quitline website at: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Callers to the number are routed 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.

Hope this helps.

User Icon aushaa-mariee(: - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: why cant there just be NO drugs, ?(:

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: A world with NO drugs is not likely to happen. But we can make good choices about drug use. Keep your brain healthy and avoid drug abuse!

User Icon WEEDISNTGOOD95 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: does weed kill brain cells

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi there! There are many bad things that can happen when someone 'does weed.' When someone smokes marijuana, THC (which is in weed), passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC acts on specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of brain reactions that lead to the "high" that people talk about when they smoke marijuana. 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

User Icon johnpreston - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: if you take steroids does your penis shrink

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there! Steroid use can cause a number of health consequences. One major health consequence is that abusing anabolic steroids can lead to prematurely stunted growth through early skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes. This means that teens risk remaining short for the remainder of their lives if they take anabolic steroids before they stop growing. Other effects include jaundice (yellowish coloring of skin, tissues, and body fluids), fluid retention, high blood pressure, increases in LDL (bad cholesterol), decreases in HDL (good cholesterol), severe acne, and trembling. In response to your question, there are some gender specific effects:
  • for guys, steroid use can cause shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk for prostate cancer.
  • for girls, steroid use can cause growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and a permanently deepened voice.
For more information about steroid abuse, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php

User Icon Tom S. - Rockville High School, Maryland: My dad is an alcoholic, should i drink with him to make him feel better?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hello. Thanks for asking a question that I know is very important to you. I'm sure that you want to help your dad in any way that you can. However, drinking with him would not be the answer. 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 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 more about drug and alcohol addiction and find someone to help you deal with such a serious problem. Take good care.

User Icon nota_smoker - Rockville High School, Maryland: If a pregnate lady smokes marijuana while being pregnate will the baby come out addicted to marijuana

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Rockville High,
We don't know a lot about the severity of the withdrawal symptoms babies experience if mom is addicted to marijuana during pregnancy, but we do know that pot can hurt the baby. We've got a couple of scientific studies on marijuana and pregnancy - including one that followed kids from the prenatal/pregnancy stage until they were adults. These studies found that prenatal exposure to marijuana caused subtle developmental effects on paying attention, thinking, and other brain functions. Plus, people who use pot often smoke tobacco too, and tobacco use can also affect the baby's health. For example, some studies show that babies born to mothers who used tobacco while pregnant are more likely to use tobacco themselves and become addicted later on. We recommend pregnant women not use alcohol or drugs, including marijuana and tobacco, and ask their doctor for some help if they are having trouble stopping. For more information on the consequences of prenatal drug exposure, visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

User Icon smurf - Dixie High School, Utah: can chocolate become as addicting as a caffeinated soda?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Chocolate is not really addictive but can be very desirable to consume just like a caffeinated soda. I love it, in fact.

User Icon LovelessWedding - Martinsville High School, Virginia: My friend has done tons and tons of pot does that cause vision problems?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi! Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S. and can have many effects. 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. It is important to know that marijuana use has other harmful health effects as well. Findings so far show that regular use of marijuana or THC may play a role in problems with the respiratory and immune systems. Short-term effects of marijuana use include euphoria, distorted perceptions, memory impairment, and difficulty thinking and solving problems.

For more information about marijuana use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

User Icon rebel - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: whats the worse drug you can take

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: That depends on your genes and other conditions. So, for example, if you have a disease like asthma, marijuana may be particularly harmful, but if you have a heart condition, cocaine or methamphetamine may be particularly dangerous. Inhalants, methamphetamine, and 'ecstasy' are considered especially toxic. Look around our teen website for more interesting info: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon fishin100 - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: stevo off jackass came out and said he was on nitroxide can you be killed by an overdose on nitros

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Yes- if taken in high concentrations, it can result in suffocation (displacement of oxygen in the lungs)--not good! For more information about drugs and ways to help your friend, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon HeartGoldHo-oh - Einstein High School, Maryland: how do u stop a drunk driver?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I would just hide his/her keys.

User Icon JOOLAYY :D<3 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: why does ecstasy make you depressed?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Ecstasy affects the brain by increasing the levels of various brain chemicals. One of these chemicals, serotonin plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, pain, appetite, and other behaviors. The excess release of serotonin by ecstasy likely causes the positive feelings experienced by MDMA users. However, by releasing large amounts of serotonin, ecstasy then causes the brain to become significantly depleted of this important chemical, contributing to the negative feelings like depression that users often experience for several days after taking MDMA.

User Icon coolkidsfriend - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: is it true that when you smoke pot they can find it in your hair? how?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Yes, it's true. As drugs circulate in the blood stream, they enter and nourish hair follicle cells. As cells grow, they trap the drug molecules within the hair cells and are eventually 'sealed' in the keratinized hair shaft. Thus, the amount and time the drug(s) are in the blood stream is proportional to the amount of drug detected in the hair. THC (the active ingredient in pot) stays in your blood for 2-3 days

User Icon mmmmhm - Landmark Academy, Michigan: My twin sister likes to party and she always comes home high, she wont listen to me how do i make her stop?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hey you are a twin! Cool!! I have a niece and nephew who are twins. They are only 3. Is your twin identical to you? Anyway, enough questions of my own. If your twin sister is coming home high all the time, she has a drug problem. For suggestions on how to help her stop, you can go to this site: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
If she is ever in a crisis--a very real danger since she comes home high all the time-- please call 1-800-273-TALK. They can help you get your sister through a tough situation. Good luck. She's lucky to have you as her twin.

User Icon havoc - Rockville High School, Maryland: What brain receptores does LSD mess with?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: LSD causes its effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last several hours, and in some cases long-term persistent flashbacks can occur days and months (or longer) after taking LSD.

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

User Icon taraz7 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: What is the most likely reason for people to start drinking or taking drugs?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Many reasons--availability, peers or siblings that drink or use drugs, risk taking--common among adolescents.

User Icon fgomes2012 - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: what are the long term effects of LSD

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: LSD is a hallucinogen that causes profound distortions in perceptions 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 several hours, and in some cases long-term persistent flashbacks can occur days and months (or longer) after taking LSD.

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 JMB :) - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: What are the damages of ecstasy?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: MDMA, often called ecstasy, is not safe. Over 15 years of research conducted on animals has proven that MDMA damages specific neurons in the brain-those containing serotonin. Because of the difficulties of conducting similar research in humans, conclusive evidence of neurotoxicity in humans has not yet been established. However, a variety of studies have shown that some chronic, heavy users of MDMA have cognitive deficits. MDMA also has potent effects on the cardiovascular system and on the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature. Of great concern is MDMA's adverse effect on the pumping efficiency of the heart - in the presence of MDMA, increased physical activity increases heart rate significantly, but the heart does not respond in its normal manner, which is to increase the efficiency with which it pumps blood. Since MDMA use is often associated with sustained, strenuous activity, such as dancing, MDMA's effects on the heart could increase the risk of heart damage or other cardiovascular complications in susceptible individuals -not good!

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

User Icon bubbles:( - Dixie High School, Utah: what if my bffl was so into drugs that he\she could not stop what i do

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Super question. First understand that you are probably dealing with someone who is dependent or addicted to drugs, so accept that this person probably has a 'changed' brain making it difficult to just 'say no'! Try to convince him/her to consider getting some help.

Check out the following for more information:
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon Four-0 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: Whats worst cigarretes every day or pot every day?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Pot every day since it affects your memory, thinking, and coordination. If you are a student, this is not desirable sicne it could lead you to fail in school. Here's some more questions I've answered about marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

User Icon dynasty - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Why do people think it's alright, even cool, a good time, enjoying actually to get in a group with their friends and just smoke and or drink?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Well Dynasty I'm guessing one reason people think it is 'cool' to party with their friends is because their 'friends' or other teens told them it was cool. But once you've started drinking and smoking-there's nothing cool about the physical impact of taking drugs-including: bad breath, poor complexion, rotting teeth, drooling, slurred speech, etc is cool. Drugs affect memory, judgment, and perception. Drugs can make you mess up in school, in sports or clubs, or your friends. If you're high, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you. None of this sounds cool to me and I'm sure if your friends were presented with the facts that wouldn't think it was cool either. To learn the facts about drugs and their impact on you see: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon FATAL DISTRICTx - Port Chester High School, New York: Which is more adictive.? Crystal meth or a tye of weed like purple haze or white widow.?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Meth is probably one of the most addictive substances. But the effects of different drugs do vary between different people. Marijuana, whatever the variety, can be addictive too, so I would strongly encourage you not to try to find out for yourself.

User Icon andrewisthebest - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: is it true that coffie is more addictive then weed

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: No, there is no scientific evidence for that. Both can be 'addictive.' Look around our teen website to learn more--fun things to do there, too: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php

User Icon Gab - South Middle School, West Virginia: My dad drinks beer every once in a while. Can beer help you if you don't drink too much?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi and thanks for a very important question. Many adults only drink occasionally -- or even not at all. 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. You can get more information on beer 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 funkyfresh - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: what if you have a perant that dose drugs and they pretend they dont but you have caught them and they just deny it what should you do?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Dealing with parental drug abuse is tough and I know this from first hand experience. The reality is that you can't make your parent stop taking drugs or get into treatment. You can encourage them to seek help and express your concern about thier drug use. You can also take care of yourself trying to make sure their drug use doesn't negatively impact you. 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. I also talked with my school guidance counselor and participated in a local Al-Anon program for teens (Alateen) whose parents used drugs. There I found the support I needed to deal with my father's drug use and friends who understood what I was going through. For more information on how to help someone stop using drugs see: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or cal l1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7 and for more informaiton about Alateen:http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen

I hope this information is helpful. Hang in there and know there are people who understand.

User Icon Rod - Skaneateles High School, New York: Why do people get addicted to Vicodin and other pain relieving drugs? How long does it take to get addicted? What does it do to your body? Do people go to rehab for Vicodin how long does it take to get off the drug?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Vicodin is an opiate drug, which means it works in the brain similarly to heroin, morphine and other opiate pain relievers--all highly addictive. There are special proteins in the brain where these drugs bind (called opiate receptors) and they are located in areas associated with addiction--including the reward areas. Everyone is different in terms of how easily or how quickly they can become addicted. This is because of many factors: genes, life circumstances, whether there are other emotional problems (e.g., depression, anxiety), the age at which someone starts using drugs, what other drugs are also being used, how often... and many others. Many people don't realize they are becoming addicted until they are already there--after all, no one wants to grow up to be a drug addict. When people try to stop taking opiate drugs, including vicodin, they often go through withdrawal. The symptoms can vary but typically include muscle pain, nausea, sweating, and others. Treatment for opiates can include medically assisted detoxification--to help the person deal with the withdrawal symptoms, followed by longer term treatment to help them stay off of the drugs. There are a number of resources you can contact for help including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, which doesn't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect a person with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon Setsuna - Martinsville High School, Virginia: which drug is worse, marijana or cocaine?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: It depends on your genes since some people are more sensitive to the adverse effects of marijuana than of cocaine. However overall cocaine is considered to be more addictive than marijuana.

For more information about specific drugs and their effects, see NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon jake - Presque Isle High School, Maine: my cousant has been taking perkasat 5s and i want to know the effecs?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Percocet is a combination of Oxycodone and Acetaminophen which, if taken under a doctor's supervision is an effective pain reliever. Oxycodone is a drug that can also be abused--if misused in this way, this drug can lead to addiction and compulsive drug taking. Opioids can produce drowsiness, constipation and, depending on amount taken, can depress breathing. Central nervous system depressants slow down brain function; if combined with other medications that cause drowsiness or with alcohol, heart rate and respiration can slow down dangerously. Taken repeatedly or in high doses, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, or seizures.

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

User Icon unicorn - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: has anyone's brain fallen out of their heads by doing drugs

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Anyone with a brain doesn't use drugs! Seriously, though, no one's brain has 'fallen out of their heads' by doing drugs, but what does happen is that your brain can get hijacked by the drugs themselves--in other words, you can lose your free will to the drugs you use. Do you want to be a slave to a drug? If you do enough drugs, those drugs physically and structurally change the brain in a way that makes it difficult to make good decisions--like not to use drugs anymore. For more information on facts about drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php

User Icon steve h - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what is pharming and what is the worst drug u can get through pharming

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Pharming is the incredible dumb practice of mixing prescription drugs in a hat or box and then taking a handful out and downing it without knowing what you are taking. This practice is very dangerous and potentially lethal. The real danger of pharming lies in the 'combining' of unknown drugs that are themselves dangerous. Bad, bad idea.


Moderator Icon We're pleased to have Dr. Nancy Pilotte join the Chat. She is a psychologist whose expertise is in the neuroendocrine aspects of drug abuse (how hormones influence the activity of the brain) and how to identify long-term changes that occur in the brain as a result of repeated exposure to cocaine and its withdrawal. When Dr. Pilotte is not at work, she enjoys making homemade ice cream, sailing, and making colorful quilts.

User Icon alexad - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: porque les gusta mariguana?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: a algunas gente les gusta por que los hace sentir mellow.

User Icon drugs ey day - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: whats the worst drug you could do

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi. Good question. Well, it depends on what you mean by worse. If you are asking about which drug causes the most deaths, that would be tobacco. Tobacco use is linked to about 440,000 deaths per year. Yes, I know that's a lot of deaths.

For more information on tobacco and other drugs go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php


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/

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: if i smoke 1 pack a day and crystal meth at the same time can that effect the baby inside you?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Yes most definitively, smoking has very adverse effects on the baby's brain and organs and methamphetamine affects the delivery of blood to the baby. So this is a very bad combination for the unborn baby.

User Icon yordi - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what is extaxis?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello. I'm thinking you're asking about ecstasy. "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.

Like other drugs, MDMA can be addictive for some people. That is, people continue to take the drug despite experiencing unpleasant physical side effects and other social, behavioral, and health consequences. For more information on MDMA go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php

Here are some facts on ecstasy use in youth. According to a 2008 NIDA-funded study, many smart teens are turning their backs on MDMA. Since 2001, the percentage of 8th-graders who have ever tried MDMA has dropped from 5.2 percent in 2001 to 2.4 percent in 2008, though it is a slight increase from 2007 (2.3 percent). The drop for 10th-graders was from 8.0 percent in 2001 to 4.3 percent in 2008, and 12th-graders have had the greatest decrease, from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 6.2 percent in 2008. According to 12th-graders, MDMA also seemed to be less available in 2008, which is good; but fewer 8th-graders saw 'great risk' in occasionally using MDMA - perhaps the reason for the slight increase in use from 2007. It means that 8th-graders may not understand the health risks of using MDMA as well as they should. So that's something we're going to pay attention to in the future.

User Icon babii - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: once i smoked weed around my baby. does that effect him or not... please answer back i need help fast!!!!!!!!

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Benjamin Franklin,
Smoking weed around your baby is defintely NOT good. Weed smoke has chemicals in it that can cause breathing and lung problems, and the smoke also has the addictive chemicals that get into a fragile, developing brain, such as the one in your son's head! I hope you can stop smoking weed altogether, because weed also affects you negatively, too-- you just may not feel it at the time. For more information, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/marijuana.html

User Icon edsole - Einstein High School, Maryland: is it hard to stop smoking????/

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, smoking is one of the most difficult addictions to stop.

For more information on smoking, check out: http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html

User Icon gruberec - Phoenixville Area High School, Pennsylvania: Back in the day..why would they actually put cocaine in the coke a cola products?>

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

User Icon casagrande - Casa Grande Union High School, Arizona: I have a group of friends who come to class higher than a kite most days what should i tell them?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question! Try to convince them to 'come back down to earth'! That is, drug use can lead to chronic drug abuse, and then to addiction with other related problems. For example, marijuana itself presents significant health risks. We know that Marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception. The drug can make you mess up in school, in sports or clubs, or with your friends. If you're high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you. If you use marijuana a lot, you could start to lose interest in how you look and how you're getting along at school or work.

Athletes could find their performance is off; timing, movements, and coordination are all affected by THC. Also, since marijuana can affect judgment and decisionmaking, its use can lead to risky sexual behavior, resulting in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Findings so far show that regular use of marijuana or THC may play a role in some kinds of cancer and in problems with the respiratory and immune systems.
So, it is pretty clear that there are negative short- and long-term consequences to smoking marijuana. Good luck in trying to convince your friends and for caring about them!

For more information, check out: http://www.marijuana-info.org/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon that1kid - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: If my mother drank alcohol while i was in the whom, whould that make me addicted to alcohol?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Good question, Valley Vista High.
Good news, because your Mother used alcohol while you were in utero, 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 gubernube21 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: my boyfriend is very abussive to me, and he takes drugs, do they have some sort of relation

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Dear gubernube21 - Thanks for being willing to ask such a sensitive question. I'm so sorry to hear that you are being abused and that someone you care about has a drug abuse problem. There may be a connection between your boyfriend's abusive behavior and his drug use. Research has demonstrated that drugs impact the brain and behavior. Some people become abusive and violent under the influence of drugs. But regardless of the cause for his abusive behavior toward you it is not ok for him to abuse you. No one has the right to be abusive toward you - either verbally, emotionally, or physically-drugs or no drugs. I encourage you to talk with a trusted adult about this situation - your parents or other family member, a teacher, school guidance counselor, parent of a friend, - and get the support you need to deal with this situation.

You are a young person with tremendous potential and you deserve a boyfriend who treats you with respect.

To help you visit call 1.866.331.9474 or one of the other numbers here: http://www.teensagainstabuse.org/index.php?q=hotlines and visit http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen
For some tips on how to help your boyfriend: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/tag/drug-abuse-treatment/.

Take care.

User Icon BlackRavenWings - Skaneateles High School, New York: Are drugs more common in college or high school?

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

User Icon WEEDISNTGOOD95 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: ummmmmm does weed really help heal your health problems

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Weed contains cannabinoids and some of the cannabinoids can be use to relieve pain or nausea that is why some people with cancer or HIV use them. However you can get medications that have the positive effects of cannabinoids without the negative effects of marijuana.

You can read more about marijuana on NIDA's website http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

User Icon catcher#20 - South Middle School, West Virginia: Can you be addicted to two drugs at the same time.

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi there. That is a great question. Years ago, people only focused on problems with one drug at a time but we now know that many people have problems with two or more different drugs all at the same time. For example, someone who abuses a drug like heroin or cocaine may also be addicted to nicotine or drinking too much alcohol. This may make it harder for a person to get his or her life together and quit using drugs. Did you know that drugs can contribute to lots of health problems, including lung and cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and mental disorders? Check out http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/ for more information about drug abuse and addiction. Thanks again for signing on to the chat today.

User Icon cupcake <3 - Dixie High School, Utah: If i do drugs should i stop or just do them less?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: You should try to stop using drugs if at all possible. While drugs can make you feel good when you start to take them, they are toxic to many parts of your body including your brain. The more you take drugs, the more likely you will find yourself with both physical and mental problems. Drugs can be especially damaging to you during adolescent years because your brain is still developing and drugs can affect this and lead to life long problems.

If you have trouble quitting, think about talking to a trusted adult--maybe you have a coach or teacher, for example, who will be nonjudgmental and helpful. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,1-800-273-TALK (8255): they aren't concerned only about suicide, but can help with a variety of issues. If you decide that substance abuse treatment will help, you can find it at 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: what is crystal meth?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Crystal meth, is methamphetamine that can be smoked. Meth is a very powerful stimulant drug that is very addictive.

For more information visit NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_meth1.php.

User Icon luis - Spring Woods High School, Texas: can you died from steroids when using ones a day??

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there! Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone. "Anabolic" refers to muscle-building, and "androgenic" refers to increased male sexual characteristics. "Steroids" refers to the class of drugs. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency (for example, delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS). Some people, both athletes and non-athletes, abuse AAS in an attempt to enhance performance and/or improve their physical appearance.

Steroid abuse can lead to serious, even irreversible health problems. Some of the most dangerous among these include liver damage; jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids); fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in LDL ("bad" cholesterol); and decreases in HDL ("good" cholesterol). Other reported effects include renal failure, severe acne, and trembling. For adolescents - stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes; risk of not reaching expected height if AAS is taken before the typical adolescent growth spurt. In addition, people who inject AAS run the added risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, which causes serious damage to the liver and in the case of HIV/AIDS can lead to death.

For additional information on AAS, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_ster1.php

User Icon joshua - Spring Woods High School, Texas: my moms smokes ciggarettes for a lot of years, cool's but she takes care of herself and her teeth. i know i still have to help her take certain precautions, but what other risks does she have to worry about long term wise?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Unfortunately, your mom is likely addicted to tobacco and runs the risk for lung cancer and other diseases. Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 440,000 U.S. citizens each year - more than alcohol, illegal drug use, homicide, suicide, car accidents, and AIDS combined! Between 1964 and 2004, more than 12 million Americans died prematurely from smoking, and another 25 million U.S. smokers alive today will most likely die of a smoking-related illness.

Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. It has been conclusively linked to 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. Foremost among the cancers caused by tobacco use is lung cancer - cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women. Smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, and acute myeloid leukemia.

There are behavioral therapies and medications that can help your mom quit which would be the best thing for her health! For more information on how you could help your mom, please visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ and http://www.smokefree.gov/. Good luck.

User Icon BlackRavenWings - Skaneateles High School, New York: Why is it that drugs like roofies make you forget the assault and all the events?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) is a type of benzodiazepine, a class of drugs that depresses the central nervous system. You may have heard of Valium and Xanax. These are also benzodiazepines used as sedatives and antianxiety agents. Rohypnol was developed as a sleeping aid. It is also used in therapy settings to relax patients and to get them talking.

Rohypnol can produce amnesia (memory loss) and muscle relaxation and make people lower their inhibitions. So you feel like you can do anything. When inhibitions are lowered, people feel as if an obstacle has been removed. Therefore, they can talk more freely and feel less shy.

User Icon smurf - Dixie High School, Utah: what is the best way to deal with addictions?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: To treat them as you would treat other medical disorders.

You can also look at some treatment resources at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: Why is marijuana a gateway drug?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Because it facilitates the transition to use of other drugs like cocaine, methamphetmaine and ecstasy.

You can read more about marijuana on NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php.

User Icon sheikhomarasha - Otto Middle School, Michigan: how does alcohol mess your braun up?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question! There is a lot of information regarding the effects of alcohol on the brain. For example, we know that the adolescent brain may be vulnerable to alcohol's effects. Research has shown that adolescent animals are less sensitive to the affects of alcohol intoxification such as sedation, loss of coordination, and hangovers. But at the same time, they are more sensitive to alchohol's impact on social facilitation (in humans this includes social interactions). These studies suggest that adolescents who drink may enjoy positive sensations more than adults. They may also experience fewer of the immediate negative effects, such as sleepiness and hangovers, which often serve as protective factors for older drinkers. Some of these differences are most likely related to the effects that alcohol has on the adolescent brain, particularly limbic areas. Areas of the brain, know as limbic areas that are thought to regulate emotions mature earlier. They are also are associated with a lower sensitivity to risk and an increases in behaviors associated with novelty and sensation seeking. These brain areas mature earlier than other areas of the brain known as the frontal lobes, which are thought to be responsible for self regulation, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, and impulse control. This difference in maturational timing across the brain can result in impulsive decisions or actions, a disregard for consequences, and emotional reactions that can put teenagers at serious risk. This all means that adolescents who drink are are greater risk for problems associated with alcohol abuse.

For more info, check out: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets

User Icon cole farley - Presque Isle High School, Maine: what makes nicotine addictive

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: When tobacco is smoked, nicotine rapidly reaches peak levels in the bloodstream and enters the brain. There it targets the brain's reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The over stimulation of this system, which rewards our natural behaviors, produces the euphoric effects sought by people who abuse drugs and teaches them to repeat the behavior such as tobacco smoking.

For a more complete story about nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/. You can also see the Sara Bellum Blog at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/-- it has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written.

User Icon skyler13 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can drugs deprss you

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes. Sometimes the drugs themselves can make you depressed--alcohol sometimes does this; and sometimes its the aftereffects of using drugs that can make you depressed. This can also happen with alcohol, ecstasy, stimulants (like cocaine) and others. If you are depressed, there are treatments that can help, and it's important to take this seriously and talk to an appropriate medical professional or a trusted adult. Depression often begins in adolescence -- whether it is drug induced, drug related, or something else.


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 coaxie - Dixie High School, Utah: can you lose weight from drugs?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Drugs like cocaine, methampethamine, and to a lesser extent nicotine can lead to weight loss since they suppress hunger. Other drugs like marijuana can increase your weight since they can give you the munchies. However use of drugs is not a good way to keep weight off since you become tolerant to these effects and when you stop most people go back to their prior weight (or even higher).


Moderator Icon Why do people take drugs?
  1. To feel better
  2. To feel good
  3. To do better
  4. Because others are doing it
  5. All of the above

User Icon bwayluvr2 - Port Chester High School, New York: What exactly is in alchohol that makes you lose brain cells?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi. That's a very interesting question. When alcohol is metabolized (or broken down) by the body, it turns into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which is very harmful to the cells in the body and also has been known to cause cancer. Use of alcocol can also lead to other poor health problems that also can harm the brain. Alcohol can also have long-term consequences for your emotional health. You can check a cool website for teens from NIDA's sister agency the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at http://www.thecoolspot.gov/. Thanks for logging on.

User Icon Pimp C - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Why do people use date rape drugs if they cant get sex from their date????

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Two complementary reasons:
1) they probably CAN'T get it from their date
2) they are pathetic weasels

User Icon zgiddings - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: Can using drugs lead to body odor?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hello Ludlow,
I have to admit...this is one of the most unusual questions of the day :-)

Using drugs can definitely lead to body odor. The main reason is because when you are addicted to drugs, you don't take care of yourself like you should. For example, if you smoke, you have bad breath because your breath smells like an ashtry! Who would want to be around that?? Drugs like meth can cause dry mouth, lip cracking, and tooth rot; some drugs cause your body temperature to rise, making you sweat more. The more you sweat, the more you stink. Things to think about, hunh?!

User Icon $$ice man23$$ - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what drug is more dangerous towards your health?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: All of them can be dangerous depending on your genes. However overall ice is consdiered to be one of the most addictive and toxic.

For more information about specific drugs and their effects, see NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon smokvica - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: Does marijuana have any long term effects to the body?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Yes- it can affect the brain leading to addiction. Smoking marijuana can also lead to cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs. Research has shown that smoking marijuana increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck, and that the more marijuana is smoked, the greater the risk.

For more information about drugs, please visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon ilikedrugchtday - Rockville High School, Maryland: what is worse drinking alcohol or doing marijuwana

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: In spite of the fact that only one of them is legal (if you are an adult), young people should avoid their use. No benefit can come to you by smoking pot or drinking alcohol. Sure, you may think it's 'cool' now, but using either at your age dramatically increases your chances of becoming later addicted to these or other drugs, of dropping school, and of never reaching your goals.

User Icon 021996 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: what would you do if your mom was get high

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: I will take her to see a doctor so she could be treated, but I am an adult and if you are a kid it may be harder for you to take your mom to see a doctor. You can speak with an adult who can help you take her to the doctor so they can treat her then.

There are also some treatment resources at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon jwittenstein - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what plant does CRACK come from

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Crack is derived from the coca plant. Cocaine comes from the coca plant and crack is just a crystallized form of cocaine.

User Icon shark - Dixie High School, Utah: how do you know so much about drugs and things related?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: hey shark, thanks for the question. Working at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we are exposed to lots of very exciting research findings each day...so we get to learn new things about drugs all the time!

User Icon jessie - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: How can you help children whose mother was an alchoholic or smoked tobacco while she was pregnant?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: That is a tough question. Effects of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy can range from severe to minimal, depending on how much alcohol or tobacco was used and also when during the course of the pregnancy they were used. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause, at the worst, fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition whose signs and symptoms include particular facial features and mental retardation. The worst effects of tobacco include lowered ability to process sounds and increased risk of personality disorders and becoming a smoker.

There are things that can be done, but first the children have to be evaluated medically and the steps taken need to match the kinds of problems that are found. The link below has some great information about alcohol and pregnancy
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/DrinkingPregnancy_HTML/pregnancy.htm

User Icon Mr.UFC xDD - Spring Woods High School, Texas: I Know People Who Have Been Do Marijuana For Years! Mainly Everyday And They Look normal, So is the effect different for everyone??

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Although the people you know that use MJ look normal, they may not be, especially if they are using it every day. The chronic marijuana smokers you know are probably addicted, and would have withdrawal symptoms should they ever stop using MJ. Withdrawal symptoms include sleep disturbances and irritability, among other adverse effects. Research has also linked marijuana use to reduced capacity for motivation--the ability to maintain confidence and persevere in the pursuit of goals. MJ can also impair memory and the ability to learn new information--they may be having trouble learning in school or not getting the best grades they could.

To learn more about marijuana and its effects, check out http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon rabidsqurrels - Presque Isle High School, Maine: Why is marijuana illegal but they still prescribe it for medicine?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: This remains a controversial area because marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse and no established medical benefits, yet some states have passed laws allowing its use for certain medical conditions. Some of the ingredients in marijuana (e.g. THC) do have approved medical uses--e.g. to increase appetite in people with wasting disorders, or to decrease nausea from cancer chemotherapies. Those ingredients are currently available in pill form, or are being developed as new medicines. But marijuana, because it is a plant, and is usually smoked, is not a good candidate for a medication. Smoking exposes the lungs to a variety of harmful chemicals, and the marijuana plant contains many ingredients with unknown effects. For a drug to have established medical benefits--it has to go through rigourous testing in clinical trials with patients to show that it is both safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes the final decision on whether a medicine meets the high standards for approval for use. Currently the FDA has not approved marijuana for any clinical use.

User Icon student - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: r u hi rite now

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Not from drugs but I am high from life (and science, its awesome).

User Icon philayorkieian2 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: i know drugs are bad but how bad are they if you have them prescribed to you and you take advantage of them?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question. Many drugs that are abused are actually used as medications - for example, morphine, prescription opioids/pain killers, ketamine, benzodiazepines, etc. When used properly, these drugs/medications are extremely useful for many medical reasons. That said, medications can be used for nonmedical purposes, and when used this way, they can be abused and can lead to addiction.

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 philayorkieian2 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: what is in weed that makes it so harmful?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: It has cannabinoids which are addictive. It also has many chemicals in smoke that have carcinogenic effects, meaning they can cause cancer.

You can read more about the effects of marijuana at NIDA's website http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

User Icon foedingerk - Phoenixville Area High School, Pennsylvania: My cousin adopted a baby whose mother was addicted to drugs. He was born with 6 fingers on each hand...did the drugs have an effect on this?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Phoenix Area High!
This is an interesting question! Being born with 6 fingers has a genetic cause. It is a dominant genetic trait--that means that if one of your parents has 6 fingers, the child has a 50/50 chance of being born with 6 fingers--whether the parent uses drugs or not. Having 6 fingers is rare, but not uncommon, and perfectly healthy--it doesn't mean that the child has or will have any other health issues. Most babies born with 6 fingers undergo surgery to remove the extra finger. One of my good friends was born with 6 fingers. He has scars on both hands from the surgery, but they are not very noticeable, so you'd never know.

That said, I'm glad your cousin adopted a baby and will provide him/her with a good home. There may be other consequences from the biological mom being addicted to drugs during pregnancy, such as some learning difficulties. For more information, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html. A nurturing environment will be a good way to help the child and give him/her a good life.

User Icon babycakes123 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: Do people take drugs because of depressions?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Interesting question. We know that people typically take illegal drugs for two main reasons - because it is new and exciting, or because they feel lousy and want to feel better. People trying to cope with depression may take drugs to feel better. But any relief from the saddness is short-lived and abusing drugs won't help treat depression in the long run. The best way to address depression is through treatment from a medical or mental health professional. Medications and behavioral therapies offer the best way to deal with depression. Using drugs is no solution and because of the way they impact the brain, body, and behavior only complicate treatment for depression.
For more information see: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/teen-depression

User Icon IstvanMiss - Otto Middle School, Michigan: What does Alcohol do to your brain?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question! There is a lot of information regarding the effects of alcohol on the brain. For example, we know that the adolescent brain may be vulnerable to alcohol's effects. Research has shown that adolescent animals are less sensitive to the affects of alcohol intoxification such as sedation, loss of coordination, and hangovers. But at the same time, they are more sensitive to alchohol's impact on social facilitation (in humans this includes social interactions). These studies suggest that adolescents who drink may enjoy positive sensations more than adults. They may also experience fewer of the immediate negative effects, such as sleepiness and hangovers, which often serve as protective factors for older drinkers. Some of these differences are most likely related to the effects that alcohol has on the adolescent brain, particularly limbic areas. Areas of the brain, know as limbic areas that are thought to regulate emotions mature earlier. They are also are associated with a lower sensitivity to risk and an increases in behaviors associated with novelty and sensation seeking. These brain areas mature earlier than other areas of the brain known as the frontal lobes, which are thought to be responsible for self regulation, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, and impulse control. This difference in maturational timing across the brain can result in impulsive decisions or actions, a disregard for consequences, and emotional reactions that can put teenagers at serious risk. This all means that adolescents who drink are are greater risk for problems associated with alcohol abuse.

For more info, check out: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets


User Icon BlackRavenWings - Skaneateles High School, New York: Why is it that inhalants are able to kill you in small amounts on your first time?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there. Very important question. First, statistics show that inhalant abuse is most common among younger age groups so it's important that younger adolescents understand the effects of inhalants. Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that users intentionally inhale because of the chemicals' mind-altering effects. The substances inhaled are often common household products that contain volatile solvents, aerosols, or gases. So, your question - why is it that inhalants are able to kill. Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can cause irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure. Sniffing inhalants can also lead to asphyxiation which is caused by high concentrations of inhaled fumes displacing the available oxygen in the lungs. Even when using aerosols or volatile products for their legitimate purposes (i.e., painting, cleaning), it is wise to do so in a well-ventilated room or outdoors. For more information about inhalants go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

User Icon 5618579 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: what happens when you smoke crack.

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: When someone smokes crack they get high because dopamine goes up in the reward centers of their brain. This effect is very short lasting and results in a strong desire for more drug- that's a very potent drug! With repeated use it will result in addiction whereupon the person no longer has control over when to not use the drug and when to stop. The person wants more and more and can not satiate the need for it.
You can read more about crack and similar types of drugs at NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php.

User Icon kalexand - Skaneateles High School, New York: How realistic are the alcohol goggles compared to being drunk in real life?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hey there, that's a really cool question. I assume you are talking about the goggles that make the things you see all mixed up and twisted. These goggles can show you how messed up your senses and perceptions get when you are drunk or intoxicated. It may seem funny to watch someone stumble around if they are drunk -- or seem to be drunk -- but just imagine what it would be like to do something complicated like driving a car, riding a bicycle, or even walking down the stairs. That would be very dangerous for the person or for the people around him or her. Of course when you remove the goggles, your senses come back to normal -- and you won't be hung over, sick, or messed up. 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 suryptitious17 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: Why would people do drugs even if they know that they will harm themselfs?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Some people (particularly very young kids) use drugs simply because they are not aware of the dangers involved. Many young kids sniffing glue probably fall into this category. Now, there are many reasons why people use drugs in spite of knowing of their harmful consequences. Some try drugs because of peer pressure. Some try to alleviate a medical condition, such as depression or other underlying mental disorder (did you know that close to 90% of schizophrenics smoke cigarettes?). Yet others, seek the pleasurable sensations of euphoria that the initial drug exposure is supposed to bring. Many drink alcohol or abuse other sedative drugs to dull the senses or escape from painful circumstances.

User Icon Briana - Martinsville High School, Virginia: What if your friend is doin grugs and dont tell you until you find out what should you do?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: That's a tough spot to be in...First, you should be commended for showing concern for your friend. If your friend has not told you of their drug use, they may be embarrased or afraid to tell you for fear of judgement. You can help your friend by being supportive and encouraging. Try to show your concern without being judgmental, so that your friend does not get defensive. You may let him know that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. There are some resources for him 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/. Because talking with someone about his drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your cousin.

If your friend wants to stop using drugs, supporting his effort to quit is one very important thing you can do. Planning activities with him so that he is not exposed to situations where he would be tempted to use drugs could help.

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 khentze - Junction City High School, Oregon: What is the most abused prescription drug?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: The most abused prescription drugs are prescription painkillers. In 2008, 4.8 million people over the age of 12 took prescritpion painkillers for nonmedical reasons in past month. Among teens, nearly 10 percent of high school seniors used the painkiller Vicodin and nearly 5 percent used OxyContin in the past year.

User Icon shell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: well i know people that smoke tobacco and they have trouble to running why

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Tobacco smoking can result in damage to lungs leading to lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. Even if you don't have these diseases, any damage to your lungs can affect your ability to breath and take in the oxygen you need to run fast. The good news is that quitting and staying away from cigarettes will allow your lungs to repair some of the damage.

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

User Icon :) hey <3 - South Middle School, West Virginia: my aunt has been on morphine due to surgery, is it easy to unintentionally abuse??

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Morphine is commonly prescribed to relieve pain after surgery. When taken as directed by a physician, it can effectively help your aunt recover from her surgery by relieving her pain. Once she begins to heal, she will no longer need a medication as strong as morphine. The key to preventing abuse and addiction is for her to carefully follow her physicians directions.

User Icon will - Dixie High School, Utah: hey i need to know, what is the safest way to quite heroine

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi. Thanks for coming to chat day and asking a great question. There are 2 different medications that help people quit heroin: methadone and buprenorphine (also known as 'bup'). Each is taken once per day to help reduce the cravings for heroin that a person might feel. But getting counseling or therapy is just as important as the medication in beating an addiction to heroin. The combination of meds and therapy will help a person keep clean. For more information about bup, go to archives.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/buprenorphine.html (Archives). 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! Thanks again and be sure to send us more of your questions.

User Icon super hippie<3 - Presque Isle High School, Maine: what happens when i eat pot

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Some of the marijuana will be absorbed through the gastrointestial system and will reach the brain that way. Usually the effects are milder than when you smoke it but it still can have undesired effects.

User Icon babyAND1 - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: can weed help cancer

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: So far there are no studies that suggest this to be the case. One of the main active ingredients in weed--THC--is prescribed in pill form to treat nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. Other ingredients in weed are being studied for their potential therapeutic effects, although marijuana itself is unlikely to become an FDA-approved medication.

User Icon BUZZZ - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: What are the affects of vicatin?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Vicodin is a pain medication that activates opioid receptors in your body and that can make a person feel good but it's also what leads to addiction. Vicodin and other opioid drugs can lead to drowsiness, constipation, and, depending upon the amount taken, slow or even stop your breathing leading to overdose and death.

You can read more about Vicodin and other similar types of drugs at NIDA's website http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/PainMed.html.

User Icon filmon - Einstein High School, Maryland: for instance if we take an overdose of advil we might die. is there any such thing as overdose for drugs like heroin, cocaine, opium and marjiuanna

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Absolutely--heroin/opium can stop your breathing--in fact, there are about 35,000 'unintentional poisonings' each year--most are drug overdoses, and many related to the abuse of prescription opioids. Cocaine can cause convulsions that can also stop your breathing or cause cardiovascular events. Marijuana does not generally produce overdose deaths, but it can make you take risks--like driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol or both-which can have fatal results.

User Icon Ilovemi - Einstein High School, Maryland: Are children of smokers more likely to have diseases or problems?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Thanks for your question Einstein!

Scientific research 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 more likely to become addicted. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with several other adverse outcomes for babies developing during pregnancy, including increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), preterm birth, low birth weight, and respiratory problems. Also be aware that during and following smoking, nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects.

Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition and is associated with behavioral problems in children. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause problems. For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight, premature birth, and a number of other physical health outcomes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory illnesses (asthma, respiratory infections, and bronchitis), ear infections and cavities, and increased medical visits and hospitalizations. Need more information on the consequences of prenatal drug exposure? Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/consequences/prenatal/.

User Icon joshviar - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Can you die from steroids?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: 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 rebel - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: ok do you think drug court is right for teens

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Good question. I see you are from Kentucky which is where I was born and raised too. Overall drug courts have been successful in helping adults get the treatment they need. However, we currently have no research data to indicate how drug courts work for teens. Drug courts may be able to help adolescents and their families get the support and treatment they need to stop using drugs and end their interaction with the criminal justice system. However, adolescents are different than adults and may require a different approach to drug court and supervision and treatment. So, the 'jury' is still out regaridng the effectiveness of teen drug courts. Stay posted and watch the NIDA website for infortmation in the future. www.drugabuse.gov

User Icon dynasty - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: What are effects of drinking while pregnant?

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi. Thanks for your question -- this is an issue that many people think and worry about. 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. 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 http://www.thecoolspot.gov/. And thanks again for your thoughtful question.

User Icon Markeith - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: What will happen if u sell weed outside of school and the school finds out about it

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: It probably depends on your school's policy-but there's a good chance that you will be expelled and you might even face criminal charges. Even in this economy-you can find a legal way to earn some money-my suggestion is that you let trusted adults know you are looking for a job, develop a resume, and find a job that won't land you in jail.

User Icon lol21 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how many times do you have to smoke a cigerette to get addicted to them?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: That's a great question! For most people, research has shown that it takes smoking several cigarettes to become addicted to the active ingredient, nicotine. As the brain adapts and 'expects' nicotine, it 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 effects of drugs.

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

User Icon jwittenstein - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what plant does THC come from

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana. It acts upon specific sites in the brain that ultimately lead to the "high" that users experience when they smoke marijuana. It can also affect memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

User Icon cochina - Port Chester High School, New York: what the best way for someone to quit drinking?

Expert Icon Mark Greene: There is no one best way. Different folks have different ways that work for them. But you already have made the most important first step--wanting to quit. I suggest that you try the link below. It has great information about how you can self-evaluate if you have a problem and also suggests several quitting strategies that you might try out

http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

User Icon 761603 - Einstein High School, Maryland: could mariguana be addictive because i know somebody and he somkes but he feels like he can stop anytime he wants??

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes, about 9% of those who smoke marijuana may become addicted, and about 25-50% of those who use it daily. Some people think they can stop anytime but they don't recognize when things have gotten out of control until its too late. Its different for everyone--it depends on your genes, whether you have other problems (like anxiety or depression), how old you are when you started (the younger you are, the more likely you are to develop drug problems later on), what other drugs you are using, how frequently you are using, among others. Essentially, its a gamble, and you may want to talk to your friend and encourage him to stop or get help if needs it. There are a number of resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, which doesn't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect a person with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon foedingerk - Phoenixville Area High School, Pennsylvania: How can you tell if someone you know is doing drugs?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Different drugs affect people in different ways. Drugs can alter perception, attention, balance, coordination and other abilities. Some drugs can make people appear extraordinarily alert and energetic while others make people seem lethargic. Sometimes people can hide their drug taking. One indication that a person is taking drugs can be that the he or she stops participating in their usual activities. However, it may be hard to know for sure without some kind of biomedical test such as a urinalysis or breathalizer tests.

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/

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.

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/
http://www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon brooksy9 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can you really get high off of huffing spraypaint of rubber glue ?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Yes- these compounds are inhalants, and they can give a 'high' resembling alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemical are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can cause hearing loss, limb spasms, 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 inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

User Icon BlackRavenWings - Skaneateles High School, New York: Is ammonia considered an inhalant?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Very good question. Ammonia and other household products can be considered inhalants. Use of inhalants can be very dangerous. 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. For more information on inhalant use, please go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

User Icon man_of_sceptics - Skaneateles High School, New York: It has been affirmed that Carrel Sagan, one of the most brilliant men ever to live did on a semi regular basis use marijuana, if even just one word from his books was at least a by product of his drug use do you think it was worth it. Or do you think that he should not have done it and possibly not have done some or any of his works

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: My stance, whenever looking at the work of a great individual like Carl Sagan, is to judge the work itself, and not the author or any 'alleged' human failing that may or may have not influenced his work. That would be total speculation. This much we can all agree on: Sagan's impact on our understanding of and relationship with the universe has been monumental.

User Icon wookie73 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: if you're pregnant and you use drugs and you kill the baby, will you be in trouble?

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi there Conestoga,
It is possible to harm the baby if you use drugs when you are pregnant. If you overdose on a drug, not only can you kill the baby, but you can kill yourself. I am not aware of the legal trouble that you could be involved in, but I would imagine that it would be very difficult to deal with emotionally if you think that you or someone that you know has harmed or endangered their baby due to drug use. Help is available, and I hope that anyone who uses drugs gets help. You are important, and your baby is too! If you need treatment help, one place to start is to find treatment where you live. You can visit http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. From there, you might be able to identify a few programs in your neighborhood to share with your friend. Also -please consider talking with an adult you trust about this too, to get some advice and support! Good luck to you!

User Icon Madz - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: What percent of recovered addicts relapse?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Great question. Relapse - return to drug use - can be part of the recovery process for some individuals and relapse rates range from 40-60%. This may seem high, and it is much higher than we would like to see-but actually relapse rates for drug addiction are not different that relapse rates of other chronic diseases including asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. Relapse to drug use, just like the return of high blood pressure or breathening problmes, indicates a need for additional treatment not that addiction can't be treated. Recent research has indicated that with ongoing treatment over 85% of those suffering from drug addiction do recover and stop using drugs.

User Icon Brad - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Can you high off of yur basic garage chemicals?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Yes- inhalants such as gasoline and paint thinner can give a 'high' resembling alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemical are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can cause hearing loss, limb spasms, 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 inhalants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php.

User Icon HeatherLou - Bixby High School, Oklahoma: Is beer bad for people over 17

Expert Icon Harold Perl: hello to OK from Maryland! You ask a very important question. many teenagers try drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages and many adults over 21 use alcohol at least sometimes. Teens tend to drink less frequently than adults but teens often 'binge drink' -- which means they drink a lot of alcohol at one time. Binge drinking and frequent drinking can lead to many problems, such as not getting school work done, poor performance in sports and athletics, and not getting along with family and friends. Alcohol can also have long-term consequences for your physical and emotional health. You can check a cool website for teens from NIDA's sister agency the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at http://www.thecoolspot.gov/.

User Icon Four-0 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: How can i help my cousin if hes taking drugs and drinking ad hes out of school and lives by himself and i am the only one in my family that cares about him?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: First keep the lines of communication with him open and convey to him that you are worried about this drug use and that you would like to help him to stop using drugs. Second seek the help of a grown up who cares for him since they may be able to bring him to treatment and help him stop taking drugs. You can also find some treatment resources at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7. Good luck!

User Icon chiaverinis - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: How can you help an alcoholic?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley:
That's not easy. You might let the person know that you are concerned about his or her health, and wish they would seek help. They may be willing to speak to a trusted indivicual--for example, a teacher (if the person is a student) or minister. They may find help in locating a treatment facility at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where private and confidential help is available 24/7.

Alcoholism is a very difficult problem for people close to alcoholics as well as for alcoholics themselves. If that's your situation, it would be a good idea for you to talk to an adult who can support you as you try to help your friend or relative.


Moderator Icon Steroids, or synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone, ______________.
  1. stimulate muscle growth
  2. cause eyesight to improve
  3. increase intelligence
  4. cause bad breath

User Icon Wind River High - Wind River High School, Wyoming: do all drugs have negative side effects

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Yes. For more information about the effects of specific drugs go to NIDA's website http://www.drugabuse.gov/students-young-adults.

User Icon Tiarra - Martinsville High School, Virginia: does drugs make you slow at anything?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: It really depends on the drug- drugs like marijuana, heroin, or alcohol can slow you down but nicotine and other stimulants have the opposite effect on your system.

User Icon drugsR4squares - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: can you go insane from taking drugs??

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Psychosis (schizophrenia and other dementias) can occur in some people who repeatedly use certain drugs of abuse such as PCP, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

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 lexxie - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: How can i prevent my cousin from doing drugs Dr.Baler?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello. Great question. First I think it is great that you care enough to ask this question and want to help your cousin. If your cousin is currently using drugs, I think it is important to let him or her know that you care and that you are concerned about the harmful effects that drugs can have on a person. Please go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/ to find out about different drugs and their harmful effects. It is also important to encourage your cousin to get help. You could encourage him or her to talk to a teacher, guidance counselor or other professional to find out where to get help. Other resources for help include 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. Or you or he could call 1-800-273-TALK if there's a crisis and need to talk to someone immediately. Good luck with this.

User Icon Grandma Billy - Dixie High School, Utah: I've been told that meth is safer and less addictive than 'hard' drugs like crack and cocaine. Is this true?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Absolutely not! Meth is a very addictive drug. It is a stimulant, similar to cocaine, that increases wakefulness and physical activity but also increases respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. 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 psychotic symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin).

User Icon puppet - Martinsville High School, Virginia: is it leagl to smoke marijana in californa?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: California has medical marijuana laws, which make it legal in california if it is prescribed for you. It is still not legal to use it when not prescribed. In addition, there is a lot of controversy about the medical marijuana laws. States are legalizing a drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration. Currently marijuana is a Schedule I drug which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no established medical benefits. For a drug to have established medical benefits--it has to go through rigourous testing in clinical trials with patients to show that it is both safe and effective. Marijuana has not met those standards, even though some of its ingredients (e.g. THC) do have approved medical uses--e.g. to increase appetite in people with wasting disorders, or to decrease nausea from cancer chemotherapies. Those ingredients are currently available in pill form, or are being developed as new medicines. But marijuana, because it is a plant containing many known and unknown ingredients, and is usually smoked, is not a good candidate for a medication States are going around the established FDA process of medication evaluation, which means that the experts are not making the final decisions about medications approval.

User Icon Phillies0809 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Are single mothers more likely to do drugs than married motheres?

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

User Icon ganstersjg - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: if im pregnant and i take drugs will my baby be affected

Expert Icon Joni Rutter: Hi Upper Dublin,
There are some drugs that, when used during pregnancy, can result in an infant being born addicted and going through a period of withdrawal. Opiate (including heroin, methadone, morphine, and prescription pain killers like vicodin or oxycotin) use during pregnancy, for example can result in this. After the period of withdrawal, these babies are often okay, although it's not very comfortable for them when they are withdrawing. 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 more likely to become addicted if they use it later on in life. The effects of alcohol use during pregnancy are also 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. It's a lot of responsibility to have a baby and it starts when you first find out you are pregnant. Best of luck to you and thanks for participating in chat day!

User Icon Hobbs#59 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: does sex feel good or does it hurt?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for being willing to ask a sensitive quesiton. Sex should not hurt. Though, it may be uncomfortable. If you are sexually active and experiencing physical pain you should see a physician and discuss this issue. If you are inquiring about mental/emotional pain definitely not - sex should not be an emotionally painful experience. If you are feeling coerced into sex in anyway or experiencing emotional distress, you should reach out to a trusted adult for help. Talk to a teacher, parent of a friend, coach, or school counselor for help if you are being pressured in any way to have sex.

User Icon noelleisblack - Einstein High School, Maryland: if you do drugs can u immeadiatley get hooked?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Addiction results from chronic use of drugs of abuse--so while it's possible to become addicted after just one use (everyone is a little different), it's unlikely. Drug use releases the brain chemical dopamine, which can feel good, but repeated drug use results in more dopamine release than 'normal' and over time can alter these brain cells, leading to addiction. Connect and Interact.

Check out free downloads and cool videos about drugs at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads!

User Icon mk - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: my dad is an alcoholic, what do i do?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: You should speak with close relatives or friends who may be in the position your father to go seek treatment for his alcoholism. Many people don't realize that there are good treatments for alcoholism and that they can recover from it. You can also find some treatment resources at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7. Good luck!

User Icon amorton - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: can prescription drugs kill you if you take to many of them

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes, prescription pain killers can be deadly if you don't take as directed by your physician. Taking too many, or too often or mixing with alcohol can be dangerous, even deadly.

User Icon butterteer - Port Chester High School, New York: how dangerous is E?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey thanks for the question...it's a good one! Here's the long answer:

As for ecstasy or MDMA, it primarily affects brain cells (also called neurons) that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin plays an important part in controlling mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. MDMA also affects the release of of two other chemicals in the brain - dopamine and norepinephrine, which can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur right after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking it. Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain - one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused brain damage that lasted at least 6 to 7 years. Although similar damage to the brain has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption. This is currently an area of active research.

MDMA can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which are particularly dangerous for people with circulatory problems or heart disease - and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. In high doses, MDMA can cause hyperthermia, which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.

Hope that helps.

Check out this site for more information on ecstasy: http://www.clubdrugs.gov/.


User Icon will - Dixie High School, Utah: Hey i have a question i would like answered if you are getting someone off of heroine what is the easiest and most effective way.

Expert Icon Harold Perl: Hi. Thanks for asking a great question. there are 2 different medications that help people quit heroin: methadone and buprenorphine (also known as 'bup'). each is taken once per day to help reduce the cravings for heroin that a person might feel. but getting counseling or therapy is just as important as the medication in beating an addiction to heroin. that will help a person keep clean. For more information about bup, go to archives.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/buprenorphine.html. thanks again and keep those questions rolling in.

User Icon yupimbored - Port Chester High School, New York: alright im a crack addict and i want to know how long till i will get the bad side effects

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question! Hard to know when you will see 'bad side effects'. What we know is that all drugs have effects on the brain. It depends on the particular drug and the particular individual the extent of damage to the brain, but we do know that all drugs of affect the brain's dopamine system. This brain system is involved with reward and pleasure. Repeated use of drugs can start to change this system, causing a person to no longer be able to control their drug use. The person becomes 'driven' to take the drug, even when he/she realizes that he/she isn't able to do well in school, isn't able to enjoy the things that used to make him/her happy, and is hurting his/her relationship with friends and family. Bottom line: drugs affect the brain and brain processes (and other systems such as cardiovascular), which in turn, affects behavior. We still don't know or understand 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 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 when you might see some negative effects. We also know that the earlier one starts, the greater the likelihood of addiction and problems.

For general information about drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ or http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php

Hope this helps.

User Icon D.Jones - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what is acid

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Acid is LSD, a hallucinogen that causes 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 several hours, and in some cases, persistent flashbacks can occur days and months (or longer) after taking LSD.

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 shleberity - Skaneateles High School, New York: some of these questions are really gay..can you please answer mine which are good....how can i tell a person to stop smoking because i hate! the smell

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: It depends who that person is but I am certain that if this person likes you, you can be honest and tell him or her that the smell stinks and you would appreciate if he stopped smoking.

Now, you should know that nicotine addiction is one of the toughest addictions to get over. It will take a lot of persistence on your part so the first thing I would advise is to never get discouraged and continue pressing. However, you should not be judgmental in your approach; you should realize that this person is suffering from a chronic disease of the brain and that, when it comes to his/her addiction, this person is not really in control. So you can keep bringing info about cessation treatments, new medications, support groups, etc. You can also try to convey not only what the smoking does to him/her but how it affects your health and well being as well. Keep trying and don't give up.

You can find more information about nicotine addiction in our website:
http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine.html

User Icon JDT24 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: im quiting smoking and my friend is trying to stop smoking but he cant quite what can i do to help him

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Congratulations on your decision and your friend's decision to quit smoking.

Some people find it very difficult to quit. You can tell your friend that fortunately there are treatments available to help people stop. Nicotine replacement medications, including the patch, spray, gum, and lozenges, enable the person to avoid withdrawal and nicotine craving while also avoiding the adverse effects of smoking. They can be bought over the counter. In addition, two prescription medications have been FDA-approved for tobacco addiction: bupropion and varenicline, which also alleviate withdrawal and craving.

Medications are most likely to lead to success when people also attend behavioral treatments, including group and individual therapies, as well as telephone quitlines. 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. Different people respond to different treatments, so if one doesn't work, encourage your friend to keep tyring. Your own example of successful quitting can also encourage your friend.

You've done yourself a great favor by deciding to quit. Have a healthy, long life!

User Icon mean lemon - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Is sniffing glue bad?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Some glue sticks can make you 'high,' resembling alcohol intoxication depending on the chemicals used to make the glue -- 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 cause irreversible hearing loss, limb spasms, 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)!

For more information about inhalants, check out www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov.

User Icon 407012 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: How long did it take u to become a scientist?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: 20 years

User Icon coolkidsfriend - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: if my brother smokes pot but is still in the top of his class and sucssesful in everything he does, should i tell someone to make him stop because its illegal?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Good question. Unfortunately, lots of people think marijuana isn't a dangerous drug but they are dead wrong. Your brother's academic performance may not be impacted by the use of marijuana now but that doesn't mean he will continue to be so lucky. Marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception. The drug can make you mess up in school, in sports or clubs, or with your friends. If you're high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you. If you use marijuana a lot, you could start to lose interest in how you look and how you're getting along at school or work.

You might try talking to your brother about your concerns regarding his marijuana use. Encourage him to seek help to stop smoking pot.
You can find information at: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.
That might be helpful to you as you seek ways to support your brother and be helpful to him.

User Icon larkinsalexis - Otto Middle School, Michigan: drugs were poular in the 60s and the hippie style is realy in so are more people doing drugs now then in the 90s

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Great question! Every year NIDA supported researchers at the University of Michigan ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their use of drugs. They have shown that drug use in 2008 is higher than it was in 1990, but lower than it was when it peaked in the mid-90's. You can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html.

User Icon angelstar - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: they say that secondhand smoking is bad. why do they say this is you are not smoking a cigarette

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Becasue you are breathing the same smoke that someone else is exhaling and this is delivered to your lungs. BTW, this delivers not only nicotine but also many other chemicals that are equally toxic.

User Icon The One - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: is it possible that when you go to a party someone can slip a date drug like a roofie and what are the sideaffects of that drug

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question! Yes, there have been reports of people who have been given drugs, such as rohypnol and GHB. Here are some facts about these types of drugs:

Date drugs like rohypnol or GHB are generally considered club drugs. They are named club drugs because they tend to be abused at nightclubs, bars, raves, or trance scenes. Ketamine, ecstasy, and meth are other examples of club drugs.

Raves and trance events are generally night-long dances, often held in warehouses. Many who attend raves and trances do not use club drugs, but those who do may be attracted to their generally low cost and the intoxicating highs that are said to deepen the rave or trance experience.

Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be ground up and snorted.

GHB and Rohypnol have both been used to facilitate date rape (also known as "drug rape," "acquaintance rape," or "drug-assisted" assault). They can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault.

GHB also has anabolic effects (it stimulates protein synthesis) and has been sought by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building.

GHB acts on at least two sites in the brain: the GABA B receptor and a specific GHB binding site. At high doses, GHB's sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death. Rohypnol, like other benzodiazepines, acts at the GABA A receptor. It can produce anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug.

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Ketamine acts on a type of glutamate receptor (NMDA receptor) to produce its effects, similar to those of the drug PCP. Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.

Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported among patients presenting from an overdose of GHB or related compounds, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.

Like other benzodiazepines, chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance and dependence.

There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, a behavior that is similar to that seen in some cocaine- or amphetamine-dependent individuals. Ketamine users can develop signs of tolerance and cravings for the drug. Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences.

Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and butanediol (BD), have been involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths.

Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants.

Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

Hope this information is useful. Check out our website at:



Moderator Icon Dr. Mark Green is Deputy Director of the Office of Extramural Affairs. Despite the intriguing name of the Office, the work mostly involves evaluation of scientific research proposals. He has a B.S. in Pharmacy from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from New York Medical College. His leisure time includes travel that has involved extended trips to China, Thailand, Viet Nam and Europe and when home, he takes pleasure in tennis, golf and using a computer to work with digital video and photographs.

User Icon jay - Martinsville High School, Virginia: wat r the side affects of crack cocain

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Crack can cause cardiac problems such as infarct, it can also produce infarct of the brain (stroke) that can result in paralysis. Crack can also induce seizures.


Moderator Icon Get ready for more great answers to your questions from Dr. Harold Perl. Dr. Perl works with NIDA to help us understand better ways to treat people suffering from drug abuse problems and to help counselors and therapists learn how to use the latest and best techniques to help people. Harold went to high school in Queens, New York where his favorite subject was History. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Rochester and his Masters/PhD from the University of Maryland. Harold has done a lot of amazing traveling including living in Jerusalem (Israel) and spending 3 months riding 13,000 miles on his motorcycle across the US and Canada. He has a 24 year old stepson and an 18 year old calico cat. When not at work, Harold is an avid bicyclist and a double black diamond downhill skier.

User Icon ny7 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: is caffeine a type of drug?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Yes, caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world (although many of my coworkers at NIDA wouldn't want to think of themselves as drug users!). There are large differences in how individuals respond to caffeine, with some people experiencing enhanced alertness and stimulation, and others much less desirable effects like increased anxiety, reduced fine motor coordination, affected sleep patterns, headaches, nervousness, and dizziness.

User Icon johnathon-blitz - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: are people more likely to do drugs if they have to much stress in their lives?

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


Moderator Icon Please welcome Dr. Cheryl Boyce to the Chat room. She is a child clinical psychologist - that means her specialty is working with kids who want to talk about their problems. At NIDA she works with researchers to develop projects that will help people who get involved with drugs. She's also a leader in child and adolescent research and in projects addressing problems of child abuse and neglect. Cheryl went to an all girls, Catholic high school where her favorite subjects were English and Math. She studied psychology speech communication at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC before leaving home for graduate school at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She traveled even further from home when she went to South Africa as a health expert, visiting court systems and clinics there, learning about interventions and treatment for child abuse and neglect. During her free time Cheryl's hobbies include community service activities in DC, music, and spoiling her two godchildren. She has one cat named Charlie who enjoys loafing around and frequent naps.


Moderator Icon Someone new to challenge with your great questions has just entered the Chat. Dr. Jacqueline Lloyd is a scientists who studies how to help people avoid drug use and abuse, and how to prevent drug-related HIV transmission . Before working at NIDA, Jacqueline worked as a social worker and was involved in many drug prevention trainings. Jacqueline was born in London, England, but came to the U.S. when she was 8 years old, eventually attending high school and college in Massachusetts. Even though her favorite subjects in school were Spanish and math, Jacqueline always had an interest in 'prevention' science and discovering what really works to help people make good choices. One thing she enjoys about work is helping scientists develop their research ideas, and getting young people interested in science. Outside of work, Jacqueline enjoys traveling and learning new cultures, as well as bike riding, dancing (especially salsa!) and just being outdoors, especially during the summertime.


Moderator Icon We're pleased to have Dr. Joni Rutter join the Chat. She manages NIDA's programs related to human genetics research. Dr. Rutter oversees research in human and population genetics, pharmacogenetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, and molecular epidemiology, as they relate to vulnerabilities to drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Rutter has two cats, Winky and Dobby, named after the house elves in 'Harry Potter. ' When she's not at work, she likes to play volleyball, softball and golf. Her favorite class in high school was physics.

User Icon mk - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: when people take drugs do they think or hear the same things?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: No the drug experience varies for different people.

User Icon Madz - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: how long does it take to become addicted to a drug?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: It depends on the drug, your age, and your genes. The younger you are the faster you'll become addicted; some drugs, like ice (meth) are more addictive than others, and some peple have genes that make more vulnerable to becoming addicted.

User Icon Antoniss - Rockville High School, Maryland: What is the differecne between cocaine and crack?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Powder cocaine and crack cocaine are simply two different chemical forms of cocaine. Powder cocaine dissolves in water and, when abused, can be injected or snorted. Crack cocaine is the street name given to a form of cocaine that has been created by dissolving powder cocaine in water, mixing it with baking soda, and heating it to form a hard but smokable mass. The name 'crack' comes from the crackling sound that this form makes when it's smoked.

In spite of these differences, cocaine, in any form, produces the same effects once it reaches the brain. It produces similar physiological and psychological effects, but the onset, intensity and duration of its effects are related directly to the method of use and how rapidly cocaine enters the brain. Smoking crack or injecting cocaine intravenously produce the quickest and highest levels in blood and in the brain, and the effects also wear off the fastest. Repeated cocaine use, no matter how you take it, can produce addiction and other adverse health consequences, especially to the cardiovascular system.

User Icon rhsram2011 - Rockville High School, Maryland: If stimulants increase wakefulness and physical activity, how come they have a bad effect on people when they are driving?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Stimulants do keep people awake in general, but may not be able to help in people with prolonged sleep deprivation. Also, if someone uses it too often, he/she can become tolerant to the drugs' effects on attention. Stimulant use can lead to long-lasting effects, addiction, and can lead to damage to dopamine containing nerve cells-- not good.

For more information about stimulants, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php!

User Icon Liza - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: How sick can you get from second hand smoke?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: It depends on how much environmental tobacco you are exposed to. But second-hand smoke can increase pulmonary diseases as well as the risk of lung cancer

User Icon 9458892 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: can marijana kill you

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Good question. Your ability to drive or operate equipment under the influence of marijuana is comprised and could cause you to have a fatal accident. Unfortunately, people often think marijuana use isn't as risky as other drugs. However the use of any drugs can impact your brain, impact your behavior, and impair your coordination and physical abilities making all of them unsafe. For more information on effects of marijuana go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj2.php#long_term

User Icon giggles - Rockville High School, Maryland: are teens more propense to drug addiction

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: yes, and we think this is because the adolescent brain is still actively growing and developing.

User Icon RAIDERNATION24 - Rockville High School, Maryland: does weed make you feel bettter

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: In some people who use it, weed can make them feel better, but this effect is short-lived. Soon thereafter, once the active ingredients in weed leaves their bodies, they may feel even worse than before.

User Icon frenchy123 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: Some people say doing drugs make u way cooler and better at sports is that true?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for the question. The short and sweet answer is NO, taking drugs doesn't make you cool or better at sports. Taking drugs impacts your body and behavior in ways that are definitely not cool. Just look at the teeth of someone who takes methamphetamine, wrinkles on a chronic smoker, or red nose of an alcoholic. Also, who thinks it's cool to drool down your shirt, have slurred speech, or be unable to walk like a normal person? As for making you better at sports - no way. Drugs impact your coordination and behavior and even steroids over the long term are bad for your body and ultimately negatively affect performance in athletics.

The best way to be cool is to be true to yourself and who you are. Find a passion like music, art, science, school, sports, etc, and surround yourself with people that share that interest. They will think you are cool without the drugs. Also, take care of your body because its the only one you get to take you though this life.

User Icon Wind River High - Wind River High School, Wyoming: Is smokeless tobacco as addictive as smoking tobacco?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Probably not as addictive as smoking.
Smokeless tobacco products belong to a group of products called 'potentially reduced exposure products' (PREPs), which also include snuff and tobacco lozenges. These products have not yet been evaluated sufficiently to determine whether they are indeed associated with reduced risk of disease. Recent studies indicate that the levels of carcinogens in these PREPs range from relatively low to comparable to conventional tobacco products. These studies conclude that medicinal nicotine (found in the nicotine patch and gum) is a safer alternative than these modified tobacco products.

User Icon LALynx - Dixie High School, Utah: If you're pregnant and you smoke only once in the 9 months will it still effect the baby?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Utah - and thanks for your question. In some ways it is hard to know. The research studies on smoking during pregnancy (nicotine or marijuana) try to take into account what we call a 'dose-response' - what is the effect on the baby depending on how much was smoked. Generally with smoking, more exposure is worse. Given the effects of smoking on the developing baby, we recommend not smoking. If a mom smoked one time. we recommend not smoking again and staying away from second hand smoke. If someone is having trouble quitting, they can talk with their doctors to help them to not smoke, which protects both the baby and the mom! Here's some more info on prenatal exposure: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

User Icon Wind river high - Wind River High School, Wyoming: What durg does mager damage to the brain?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question. All drugs have effects on the brain. It depends on the particular drug and the particular individual the extent of damage to the brain, but we do know that all drugs of affect the brain's dopamine system. This brain system is involved with reward and pleasure. Repeated use of drugs can start to change this system, causing a person to no longer be able to control their drug use. The person becomes 'driven' to take the drug, even when he/she realizes that he/she isn't able to do well in school, isn't able to enjoy the things that used to make him/her happy, and is hurting his/her relationship with friends and family. Bottom line: drugs affect the brain and brain processes (and other systems such as cardiovascular), which in turn, affects behavior. We still don't know or understand 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 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 which drugs damage the brain.

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

User Icon babyAND1 - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: susan weiss, if i am addicted to weed wat kind of steps can i take to help me?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: I'm really glad you are asking--there are treatments that can help, and there are programs especially geared for teens. Most involve behavioral or talk therapies that can help you learn what triggers your use and help you develop strategies to avoid it. Most people don't realize it, but regular marijuana use is associated with a withdrawal syndrome, which can make it hard to stop using. For marijuana the withdrawal just makes you feel crappy--anxious, tired, irritable, and it also makes you crave the drug. But these symptoms can be managed with treatment and they will pass with time--usually a couple of weeks. It would be best if you could talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional to help you get started in this process. But there are also some resources that are anonymous if that's your preference - 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 with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. It takes courage to take the steps to get treatment, and it is not always a smooth course--but please don't give up, because you can recover and you can get support to help you get there. Good luck.

User Icon Fishballs22 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: i cut my wrist am i on drugs?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi. I do not know if you are on drugs, but if you are injuring yourself, it is very important for you to talk to someone about it.
It would be great if you could talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional. There are 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.
Here is a website with information about substance abuse treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon lulu123 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: How long do most drugs last?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: If you mean how long drugs last in the body- it depends on the drug, the concentration, and how often it's taken. Drugs of abuse are absorbed into the body and metabolized by enzymes and then excreted. This can taken several hours or several days.

For more information about drugs, visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

User Icon Rocket21 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How does the gum some people chew when they are trying to quit smoking work?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine. Medications like the nicotine gum and the nicotine patch help to relieve withdrawal symptoms when people quit smoking, but they don't produce the pleasurable effects of cigarettes and don't contain the harmful chemicals associated with tobacco smoke.

User Icon C Ronoldo Sucks - Rockville High School, Maryland: does steroids really make ur penis smaller?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: No, but they can make your testicles smaller.

User Icon Seth the beast - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can drugs affect your sperm count

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Yes, there are some drugs we know for sure will reduce your sperm count, like steroids. Guys can experience shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, or development of breasts from steroid use. There also has been some research linking marijuana use to reduced sperm function.

User Icon D.Jones - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: when ur at a party n the say dont leave a drink sitting out. can the put stuff in ur food also

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Hmm, good question. I guess if it's a tasteless powder they could.

User Icon whitings class - Skaneateles High School, New York: How common is it for teens to become addicted to alcohol if using at a young age?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Ten percent of those that use alcohol early on in their lives will become addicted to it.

User Icon manbearpig59 - Rockville High School, Maryland: por que agunos personas gusta drugas?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: por que los hace sentir temporalmente bien. Otras personas las usan para escapar de sus vidas que pueden ser muy aburridas, o por que estan deprimidos y sientes que nadie los quiere.

User Icon grad20012 - Dixie High School, Utah: if one of my friend over doses and i do nothing what could be my consiquences?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: I'm not sure if you are referring to legal consequences or the consequences of living with the fact that you were unable to help a friend in need. Either way the best way to be helpful to a friend who has had an over dose is to get them help. Even if you didn't get help when they overdosed, it's not too late to help your friend. They may need your support and encouragement to stop taking drugs. There are places you can send them to get information about how to stop taking drugs including: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7. So, be a good friend and talk to them about their drug use and your desire for them to quit.

User Icon DrugFighter - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: i take crack and i love it people say its bad but i take it everyday and it make me feel awsome why are people saying its bad

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Because the drug is slowly taking over your brain, even though you may not realize this yet. Right now, the crack you are taking is activating the reward center of the brain, which makes you feel good (that much is true) but eventually, the drug will start making changes in the brain that will eventually cause you enjoy nothing else but the drug. At that point you will start feeling compulsive urges (cravings) to take more drug, which you will have a harder and harder time controlling. At that point you will have 'graduated' to become a full blown victim of addiction. Congratulations!

User Icon shelbyyyyy - Skaneateles High School, New York: what is the common age to start drinking?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health the average age at first alcohol use among recent initiates aged 12 to 49 was 17.0 years old.

User Icon cutiebug123456 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: If my cousin smookes weed, what would be a good way to convince him to stop?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi--
That's tough, seeing your cousin do things that are not good for him. One thing you can do is let him know that you are very concerned about his behavior and how it is affecting or could affect his life. If he is unaware of the health effects of marijuana, you can share information: for example, there is a booklet about marijuana written especially for teens at http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

Try to show your concern without being judgmental, so that your cousin does not get defensive. You may let him know that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. There are some resources for him 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/. Because talking with someone about his drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your cousin.

If your cousin wants to stop smoking marijuana, supporting his effort to quit is one very important thing you can do. Planning activities with him so that he is not exposed to situations where he would be tempted to use marijuanan could help.

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 The word 'anabolic' means:
  1. growing or building
  2. swelling
  3. estrogen
  4. crazy

User Icon jazminjames - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: WHAT IS HYDROCHLORIDE

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Hi Benjamin Tasker Middle!
Thanks for your question! Hydrochloride is a type of salt that is combined with cocaine making a cocaine hydrochloride, the form of cocaine that is snorted. Remember that cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Cocaine use usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users also 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. Overall, cocaine use is a bad idea. For more information on cocaine and its effects on the body and brain, visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/, http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, and http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Cocaine.html. Thanks and keep the great questions coming!

User Icon jbrown3 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: What happens if the mother only drinks one drink while pregnant???

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Georgia - and thanks for joining the chat! We don't know for sure yet whether there is a safe level of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. We do 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. The highest risk of health problems is to babies whose mothers drank heavily while pregnant. For this reason, in 2005 the U.S. Surgeon General urged women who are pregnant or may become pregnant not to drink alcohol (http://www.lhvpn.net/hhspress.html. If a mom drank during pregnancy, the most important thing is that she stop and talk to her doctor about her alcohol use, and get help if she is having problems stopping. 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. And thanks again for your question!

User Icon Jay - Dixie High School, Utah: deos weed affect your athletic ability

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question. Yes, if marijuana is smoked, this could certainly reduce your lung capacity and stamina.

For more information on marijuana, check out: http://www.marijuana-info.org/

User Icon bubbles:( - Dixie High School, Utah: OK MY PARENTS AND BTOHERS AND SISTERS ARE NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT IM GOING THROUGH AND I WANA MOVE IN WIT MY FRIEND AND IDK WHAT TO DO

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Its hard when we feel alone and misunderstood by our families. I'm not sure what you are going through but perhaps someone from the outside could help you talk with your family. Maybe there is someone you know like a teacher, family friend, neighbor who understands your thoughts and feelings and could help mediate a discussion with your family. Also, maybe you and your family could benefit from family counseling. Either way, it sounds like you need someone who can support you and help open the flow of communication in your family again before you make any decisions. If you need someone to talk to you can also call 1-800-662-HELP where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon 78456 - Presque Isle High School, Maine: what is the worst culb drug

Expert Icon Anna Staton: That's difficult to answer. They all have negative effects. You can read more about them at http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Clubdrugs.html and decide for yourself which one sounds the worst.

User Icon WEEDISNTGOOD95 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: can you get high off of sharpies and whiffs of spray paint bottles

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, there are some volatile substances in the Sharpie pens and spray paint cans that some people sniff to get high. Inhalants can be extremely dangerous and can cause very serious damage to brain cells.

For some excellent information on inhalants, check out: http://www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov/

Thanks for the question.

User Icon muffinslice - Port Chester High School, New York: Are weed brownies as bad as smoking weed?

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

For more information, see: http://www.marijuana-info.org/

User Icon Ladybuff_00 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: what are some causes of marijuana usage?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: People take drugs for a number of reasons including to feel better, to do better, to feel good, or because they're curious. For more information on addiction check out our Science of Addiction publication at http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html.

User Icon browe - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can drugs mess your body up so bad that you lose your private parts?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: There are some drugs we know for sure mess up your gear down there, like steroids. Guys can experience shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, development of breasts; girls can experience changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and additional hair growth.

Most drug research focuses on the brain, but to answer your question-physical loss of private parts is not one of the effects of drug abuse (unless you get so messed up that you have an unfortunate accident).

User Icon babycakes123 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: If you're mother smokes weed and do drugs what can you do to try and help her to stop?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: This must be very hard for you personally and also hard for you to watch her doing things are harmful for her. One thing you can do is let her know you are very concerned about her behavior and how it is affecting her life and yours. You can show concern without being judgmental so that she does not get defensive. Also, you can let her know that there are people she can talk with in confidence and that effective treatments are available. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. It is important for you to have someone you can talk to like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to cope with the situation at home. There are resources that are helpful to family members of people addicted to drugs or alcohol that can provide a lot of support and information.

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.

User Icon SClions027 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Avez vous deja trop utilise l'alcol? P.S Aimez vous les patates?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: pas du tout, je n'aime pas l'alcohol et je n'aime pas les patates

User Icon Chantel - Martinsville High School, Virginia: i know a girl who hd smoked n drink while she was pregant well something bad happen to the baby when it get older?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: alcohol use during pregnancy can be very dangerous to the fetus. The actual level of damage to the health of the future baby will depend on how much she drank, how frequently, and what other drugs she took.

User Icon wierd123 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: how can people get off of drugs if they are mentally addicted to it?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Medications and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, can be very helpful for people who want to stop taking drugs. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for long-term success. Sometimes, as with other chronic conditions, episodes of relapse may require a return to treatment.

Medications offer help in suppressing withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. However, medically assisted detoxification is not in itself 'treatment' - it is only the first step in the treatment process. Patients who go through medically assisted withdrawal but do not receive behavioral or other therapy show drug abuse patterns similar to those who were never treated. In behavioral therapy, typically, patients learn strategies to control urges to take drugs and avoid situations that make them want to take drugs.

Medications can be used to help re-establish normal brain function and to prevent relapse and diminish cravings. Currently, we have medications for opioids (heroin, morphine), tobacco (nicotine), and alcohol addiction and are developing others for treating stimulant (cocaine, methamphetamine) and cannabis (marijuana) addiction. Most people with severe addiction problems, however, are polydrug users (users of more than one drug) and will require treatment for all of the substances that they abuse.

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/

Also, 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 Cartman - Presque Isle High School, Maine: is weed stronger today then it was in the past?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Based on the marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it does seem that the marijuana today is stonger than in the past. 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 BUZZZ - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Can smoking affect athletics such as football?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: yes smoking affects pulmonary function which you need in order to have physical endurance

User Icon :) - Martinsville High School, Virginia: My parents have smoked for a long time, and I've told them time after time that it is not good and i would like for them to stop. What are ways I can get them to stop?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: I see that you really care for them. Nicotine addiction is one of the toughest addictions to get over. It will take a lot of persistence on your part so the first thing I would advise is to never get discouraged and continue pressing. However, you should not be judgmental in your approach; you should realize that your parents are suffering from a chronic disease of the brain and that, when it comes to their addiction, they are not really in control. So you can keep bringing info about cessation treatments, new medications, support groups, etc. You can also try to convey to them not only what the smoking does to them but how it affects your health and well being as well. Keep trying and don't give up.

You can find more information about nicotine addiction in our website:
http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine.html

User Icon Alvarado16 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: What is in marijuana that gets you high?

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

User Icon brianna - Martinsville High School, Virginia: how bad is the drug addiction in the united states?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2008, an estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse (meaning they were addicted to a substance) in the past year. That's about 8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older.

User Icon StarlitDreams - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: What's being done to stop teen drug use and why isn't it working?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Great questions. There are lots of things being done to provide information about teen drug use and develop effective prevention and treatment programs. National surveys indicate that while drug use continues, teen drug use continues to decline or remain stable. There are exceptions and prescription drug use is one area where teen use has increased. NIDA monitors teen drug use and makes efforts to have an impact including activities like supporting research to develop effective prevention and treatment programs, chat day, and the Sara Bellum Blog. Check it out at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/.

User Icon SClions007 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: how do the effects of heroin have less of an effect each time it is taken in

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Many drugs when taken repeatedly produce what is called 'tolerance'. That means that you need more drug to produce the same effect it had initially. Tolerance happens because the brain and the body adapt to the presence of the drug--trying to reestablish normal functioning. That is also why when you stop taking a drug, you can experience withdrawal symptoms--because the body adapted and now has to rebalance itself without the drug. People often take higher doses to attempt to achieve the original effect, but that could put them at increased risk of overdose. And some drugs produce both tolerance and 'sensitization'--which means that some drug effects diminish over time (usually the 'high') while others become enhanced (often the toxic effects).

User Icon lbarnes - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: What is the addicting substance in tabacco

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Nicotine

User Icon lmsballer44 (: - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Is there any drugs in red bull? or any energy drinks?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Yes most of them have caffeine, which is a stimulant. There are hundreds of different brands of energy drinks out there, with caffeine content ranging from a 50 mg to a crazy 505 mg per can or bottle! In comparison, a can of coke has around 35mg and a small coffee or espresso about 100mg of caffeine.

User Icon tennesseelover - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: what does a meth users body look like?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Meth abuse is no good for your looks and it has many negative health consequences- including extreme weight loss and severe dental problems (check out this pic of "meth mouth" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/). Pretty darn gross. And it's not just what the body looks like-a student in Arizona discovered in his high school project that scavenging animals like coyotes, bobcats, and wolves that will usually eat dead bodies found in the desert take a pass on the bodies of methamphetamine users! Read more about it at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/meth-dead-dont-get-eaten/.

User Icon SCLions013 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: What should you do if your friend is pregnant and is smoking pot?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi - State College area - and thank you for your question. It can be difficult be in this situation, seeing a friend and not being sure what you can do, especially when they are pregnant. We have a couple of studies that look at the long term effects of exposure to marijuana during pregnancy and there can be effects on the brain. Here's a website that summarizes some of this information. http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

You can let your friend know you are concerned and let them know that there are people they can talk with. They may want to talk with their doctor when they go for prenatal care. Also, there are resources for them that are anonymous - for example the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide but about a lot of issues and can connect him with a person close by). There is also a website to learn about treatment programs where you live http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. From there, you might be able to identify a few programs in your neighborhood to share with your friend. Also -please consider talking with an adult you trust about this too, to get some advice and support! Good luck to you and to your friend.

User Icon yat229 - Randolph Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Where can students go to get help immediately, if the situation one is in is serious?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: There are some resources that are anonymous and can give you advice immediately - 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 people with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. And you can always ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, for help.

User Icon The Batman - Rockville High School, Maryland: what type of drugs make you hallucinate to the point where you see only what you fear

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Good morning Rockville High.
Drugs like LSD and 'Shrooms' (Psilocybin) are hallucinogens that can cause profound delusions and hallucinations. 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 mood swings and can result in sudden and intense fear and anxiety, which can be terrifying to people. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting communication between serotonergic nerve cells in the brain. Furthermore, the effects of halllucinogens use can last several hours and in some cases cause persistent and terrifying flash backs days or even months after taking the drug. Need more information? Visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/ACIDLSD.html, http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/PCP.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/. Keep the questions coming!

User Icon twilight - Einstein High School, Maryland: im high right now and my teacher doesnt know what do i do

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: I'm glad you are willing to admit you are high and ask this question. I think you should seek help from someone you trust - whether that is a teacher, friend, parent, other adult. Drug use is not good for you and you should get the support you need to stop getting high. You can also try calling the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).

User Icon millerjared - Otto Middle School, Michigan: why is alcohol so bad for you that you can't ddrink it?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question. Alcohol in moderation is not bad for you if you are an adult. What is bad is if you drink to a level that you become drunk/inebriated. You can lose your inhibitions and engage in risky behaviors, become impaired and have difficulty in driving, and become addicted to alcohol after chronic use.

For information on alcohol, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Web site at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.

User Icon pleasantlocal - Pleasant High School, Ohio: What is methadone used for and how might it be abused?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: For opiate addicts, methadone can be a life-saving drug. It prevents withdrawal and helps addicts to stop buying and injecting illegal drugs. Methadone is also sometimes used for pain. It is 'abused' when it is taken at higher doses than prescribed or when it is given or diverted to someone who is not supposed to be taking it. Just one or two doses can stop breating in someone who is not on methadone because he or she is an opiate addict.

User Icon Halo - Dixie High School, Utah: are the use of drugs increasing from all the drug smuggleing in Mexico? and are there more deaths now that theres a drug war

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Drug use is increasing for certain age groups whereas in teenagers drug use has gone down. Also drugs like pain killers have gone up whereas drugs like ice have gone down.

Your question is more a question about enforcement. We focus on research about drugs of abuse and addiction.

User Icon brittany - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: what are crack babies

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Kentucky and thanks for being on the chat! That is a good question. The term crack babies was coined in the 1980's during the crack epidemic when there was lots of concern that kids of women who used crack during pregnancy would be born with all sorts of problems. Fortunately a number of studies were started at that time to look at the outcomes of these kids. These studies have followed the kids and their families before birth and through adolescence. The good news is a lot of kids whose moms used crack during pregnancy are doing better than expected. It is important to note that these studies are still finding some more subtle developmental effects in some of the kids in areas such as attention, language, learning skills and behavior. Also, other research has found that a lot of factors can effect development - like the environment the kids are growing up in, their relationships with their family and friends, what their communities are like. All these factors can impact development - we human beings are pretty complex! and resilient! For more information, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/Cocaine.html and http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/cocaine.html. Thanks again for your question.

User Icon d12345 - Port Chester High School, New York: my cousin is into cocaine and extacy and all of those bad drugs. what can i do to make him realize its not good ?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi--
You're in a tough situation, seeing your cousin do things that are not good for him. One thing you can do is let him know that you are very concerned about his behavior and how it is affecting or could affect his life. If your cousin is unaware of the health effects of drugs, you can share information: for example, there is information about ecsasy at www.clubdrugs.gov and about cocaine at http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/cocaine.html.

Try to show your concern without being judgmental, so that your cousin does not get defensive. You may let him know that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. There are some resources for him 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/. Because talking with someone about his drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your cousin.

If your cousin wants to stop taking drugs, supporting his effort to quit is one very important thing you can do. Planning activities with him so that he is not exposed to situations where he would be tempted to take drugs could help.

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 kezzcat 24 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: its not that good for u or your baby

Expert Icon Dave McCann: You've got that right!! That is the best comment that I've seen all morning.

User Icon yordi - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what is cocaine can you help me pleace

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

User Icon ScLions002 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: What are the mecial consequences for using steriods, and are steriods addicting?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Steroids can be used for many legitimate medical purposes when prescribed by a doctor, but when used illegally to bulk up or be better at sports they can have pretty awful irreversible effects. Just for starters here are some ways steroids can affect your body:

  • for guys - shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, increased risk for prostate cancer.
  • for girls - growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and a permanently deepened voice.
Steroids can also lead to changes in mood, such as feelings of depression or irritability. Researchers also report that users may suffer from paranoia, jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

It is possible that some steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued use in spite of physical problems and negative effects on social relationships.

Yikes! If that's not enough, read on at NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php.

User Icon squale_sam - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: which drug is the most addictive ?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: For many people, nicotine can be as addictive as heroin. We can't say that any one drug is the most addictive. Read more about the science of addiction at http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/.

User Icon jose#70 - Rockville High School, Maryland: Can you get addictive after the first try?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: 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.

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.

User Icon britney spears - Martinsville High School, Virginia: are girls or guys more likly to use drugs or smoke

Expert Icon Anna Staton: According to the 2008 Monitoring the Future Survey in the three older populations (12th graders, college students, and young adults), males are more likely to use most illicit drugs, and the differences tend to be largest at the higher frequency levels. For example, 2008 daily marijuana use rates among 12th graders are 7.6% for males versus 3.0% for females; among all young adults (ages 19 to 28) the rates are 7.3% for males versus 3.6% for females; and among college students the rates are 7.3% for males versus 1.7% for females.

User Icon rhsram2011 - Rockville High School, Maryland: statistically, do boys or girls drink/abuse drugs more?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: According to the 2008 Monitoring the Future Survey in the three older populations (12th graders, college students, and young adults), males are more likely to use most illicit drugs, and the differences tend to be largest at the higher frequency levels. For example, 2008 daily marijuana use rates among 12th graders are 7.6% for males versus 3.0% for females; among all young adults (ages 19 to 28) the rates are 7.3% for males versus 3.6% for females; and among college students the rates are 7.3% for males versus 1.7% for females.

User Icon Halo - Dixie High School, Utah: how do you get alcohol poisioning?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Alcohol poisoning comes from drinking much too much alcohol. Avoiding alcohol altogether is best, staying away from high alcohol content (like vodka or whisky) drinks can reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning or alcohol-induced brain alterations. Read more about it: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/binge-drinking-matters%E2%80%94to-your-brain/.

User Icon shleberity - Skaneateles High School, New York: How can you tell when you need to stop a drug? how far

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: You should not need to use drugs in order to enjoy life in the first place. In fact, life is much more fun without drugs, which give you an easy escape but an escape that is of short duration and leaves you feeling worse, once you stopped.

User Icon lololololololol - Einstein High School, Maryland: How many people a year die from drugs?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: More that 400,000 people die each year from tobacco related illnesses; and more than 35,000 die from 'unintentional poisoning'--which are usually drug overdoses, and often caused by abuse of prescription painkillers (opioids).

User Icon rsalazar - Spring Woods High School, Texas: if you use drugs can you give blood?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Well, its probably not a good idea and in some cases you won't be allowed to give blood. For example, if you are an IV drug user you are at high risk for contracting and spreading HIV so blood donation centers would not want you to donate. Regardless of the type of drug you use we know that risk factors for HIV increase under the influence - people don't make smart decsions about sex and other behaviors associated with HIV - so again they wouldn't want you donating blood. Also, certain drugs impact your body and health and may make it unsafe for you to donate blood. Below is a link on the internet that may be helpful.
http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements

User Icon kalie(: - Skaneateles High School, New York: If you smoke weed every day how long does it take to effect you brain, and which effects your brain and or body faster alcohol or weed?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Depends on your age and genetics. the younger you are the more likely that the use of drugs will result in damage to your brain that is long lasting. Weed and alcohol have different effects both of them are bad for your brain. Specifically, weed will impair your ability to learn and memorize so that won't help you pass your exams or get into a good school. Alcohol (just as marijuana) impairs your reflexes so that driving while intoxicated can lead to an accident.

User Icon Victoria - Presque Isle High School, Maine: why do you tend to be more clumsy when you drink?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hi Victoria! Drinking effects brain systems that are important for our motor or physical function, and this can result in clumsiness and lack of balance and coordination.

For information on alcohol, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Web site at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

User Icon shawty - Martinsville High School, Virginia: is powdered meth as addictive as crackribu

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Hi Martinsville,
Both are EXTREMELY and equally addictive and the way in which both are used contributes to its addictive potential. Both are smoked, which is the quickest method of use for drugs to enter the bloodstream and the brain. Use of both types of drugs can lead to addiction and a number of health, emotional, social and family problems. For more information on crack and meth, visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/cocaine.html, http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html, and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon b.c.soccer03aba - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what drug is used the most often for people who are depressed; ?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: I'm not sure we know what drug is most used by 'people' who are depressed. We know that people try drugs for two main reasons: to try something new and exciting or because they feel lousy and want to feel better. Depression can make people feel lousy and in their effort to feel better than may try lots of different drugs. Regardless of which drug an individual may use, drugs are no treatment for depression. Medications and behavioral therapies exist to treat depression. The best way to deal with depression is to see a medical or mental health profession and get help. Thanks for your question.

User Icon jessica - Martinsville High School, Virginia: how do you know when someone is doing drugs

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: That can be difficult--some people are better at concealing it than others. But certainly if you see major changes in a persons attitudes and behaviors, with respect to their relationships, their performance at school or in outside activities, their moods--these are good indicators that you should be concerned and asking questions. They may also be signs of mental illness, which often begins in adolescence. If you suspect a problem, it is always a good idea to encourage the to person to confide and seek advice from a trusted adult. There is also a lot of information you can share with the person about drug abuse, which can be found on NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov). The person may already be aware of the negative consequences drugs are having, and may be prepared to make a change and seek treatment. In that case, you can help him/her find a doctor, therapist, support group or treatment program by visiting the website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov, or calling 1-800-662-HELP. If your friend is not ready yet to get help, don't give up. Keep reaching out, and hopefully some day soon he/she will be ready.

User Icon cg - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: does weed make you stupid

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Some people who use weed were stupid before they started. But...weed does affect brain function and it can definitely affect learning, memory, and coordination. School grades can be affected. Here's some more on the topic: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

User Icon mbottom - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can pot give u cancer

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: It's hard to know for sure since many people who smoke a lot of pot also smoke cigarettes and use other drugs. But it is known that marijuana smoke contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.

But cancer isn't the only health effect to know about-people who smoke marijuana often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette smokers have, such as coughing and wheezing, they tend to have more chest colds than nonusers, and they are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia.

You can read more about pot at NIDA's website http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

User Icon  - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: how many times do u have to smoke to get addicted?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Depends on your genetics and age, the younger you are the greater the risk for addiction. But also genes have a lot to do with it and some teens get addicted very rapidly after a few weeks of smoking whereas others can take much longer. BTW, these comments are true for both tobacco (legal) as well as marijuana (illegal) smoking.

User Icon VAPAband94 - Einstein High School, Maryland: Why do school related sport teams not have drug testing?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Some do. It depends on where you live. 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: Can morphine be as addicting and harmful as other drugs?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: yes it can

User Icon supperstar - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: can u get high off of a sharpy

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, there are some volatile substances in the Sharpie pens that some people sniff to get high. Inhalants can be extremely dangerous and can cause very serious damage to brain cells.

For some excellent information on inhalants, check out: http://www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov/

Thanks for the question.

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what are the ingredients of methamphetamine?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: methamphetamine is made from pseudoephedrine

User Icon Lil Ai3 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: What does weed do to you

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: weed activates the cannabinoid system in your brain, which is a system invovled with many functions including mood, learning, and movement. Thus, while it initially can make you feel good with repeated use it can make you feel anxious and bored and can interfere wth your ability to learn things at school.

User Icon JDT24 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: y is speed called speed

Expert Icon Dave McCann: I believe that speed is called speed because many people become stimulated by it and they feel that their thoughts are racing through their heads. Of course, there are also dangers. Keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. 'Speed' may not be speed. Some pills can contain contaminants that are worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about speed and other stimulants at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon lulu123 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Can people die by using drugs, even if it is your first time?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Yep, for example with inhalants there's a condition called 'sudden sniffing death' which can happen the first time someone abuses inhalants. This happens when the inhalant vapor takes the place of oxygen in the lungs and brain, causing breathing to stop. Deliberately inhaling from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area, for example, greatly increases the chances of suffocation. See http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drnida/drnida_inhale1.php for more information.

User Icon cupcake <3 - Dixie High School, Utah: What are the effects of Ecstasy????????????????????? Please answer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question...it's a good one!

As for ecstasy or MDMA, it primarily affects brain cells (also called neurons) that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin plays an important part in controlling mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. MDMA also affects the release of of two other chemicals in the brain - dopamine and norepinephrine, which can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur right after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking it. Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain - one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused brain damage that lasted at least 6 to 7 years. Although similar damage to the brain has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption. This is currently an area of active research.

MDMA can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which are particularly dangerous for people with circulatory problems or heart disease - and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. In high doses, MDMA can cause hyperthermia, which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.

Hope that helps. Check out this site for more information on ecstasy: http://www.clubdrugs.gov/.


User Icon $J@y-Mon3y$ - Martinsville High School, Virginia: can you get high off of glue? and if so why?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: yes, soemone can get high by sniffing glue. its effect can be somehwat similar to those of intoxication with alcohol. However, it does this at the expense of damaging the material that covers (insulates) nerve fibers in your body such that sniffing glue can result in impaired ability to feel sensations (touch) as well cause significant brain damage.

You can learn more about inhalants by visiting:
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/tg_inha1.php

User Icon grad20012 - Dixie High School, Utah: why doesnt rehab always help people?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: It's hard to say why some people keep going back to treatment. There are lots of different kinds of treatments and some work better than others. And we know that people who finish a program that uses treatments that have been proven to be effective tend to have a much better chance of staying off drugs for good--but that often involves major changes in lifestyle -- changing where you hang out and who you hang out with. If people aren't willing to make those changes, they can easily fall back into using drugs. And even those people who do become abstinent can remain at risk for relapse for a very long time, and may require ongoing support from community groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Addiction can be a chronic disease -- it involves changes in the brain that can persist even after a person stops using drugs. This can make a person vulnerable to relapse, and if that happens it becomes important to get them back into treatment as soon as possible, so that they can eventually recover fully, and regain productive lives.

User Icon lil-steve - Rockville High School, Maryland: If you only smoke during pregnancy, will the baby have a chance of smoking when he or she is older?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi Rockville - thanks for chatting. As a matter of fact, one researcher found that prenatal or in utero exposure to cigarette smoke seemed to increase the baby's vulnerability to smoking, and also to becoming addicted to nicotine when the babies became teenagers. Researchers are trying to understand what is it about early exposure that may increase vulnerability - does it have a direct effect -or- does it effect another process - like a kids ability to deal with stress, that might lead to cigarette use? You asked a really good research question ... perhaps you might consider a career as a scientist! You might also this website interesting: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

User Icon asia - Methacton, Pennsylvania: can some people be ok with using drugs and others cant handle it as well?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Drugs affect different people in different ways, but anyone can get addicted. Some people get addicted to drugs or alcohol more quickly than others, so it is best not to even take the chance at all. All drugs are potentially harmful and may lead to addiction or have other life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects; another person may be particularly vulnerable and develop addiction...others may overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

User Icon Halo - Dixie High School, Utah: Why do famous peolpe do drugs?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: It isn't just famous people who take drugs. People from all walks of life take drugs. And all ages. It just seems like more famous people take drugs because we hear about it in the media. But drugs are an equal opportunity destroyer!

User Icon Michael - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what drugs cause Parkinson's disease

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question. Parkinson's disease is a caused by a degeneration of a certain population of cells in the brain -- dopamine cells. There was a drug, MPTP, that was a bi-product of a rushed synthesis in making MPPP, a synthetic opioid drug with effects similar to those of heroin and morphine, that caused Parkinson's.

Also, we know that all drugs of abuse affect the dopamine system and can actually cause decreases in dopamine function. Also, different people have different levels of dopamine in their brains, so it is possible that if you get the right mix of dopamine system function together with drug-induced reductions in this system, then Parkinson's symptoms might result.

Hope this helps!

User Icon Fireroy900 - Einstein High School, Maryland: can second hand smoke affect you in the long run?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: yes, it can for example affect your pulmonary function. it may also make you more vulnerable to become addicted to nicotine. It may also increase your risk for lung cancer.

User Icon ??INFO?? - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: WHAT CAN SPEED DO TO YOU AND FOR YOU

Expert IconNora Volkow: speed increases dopamine in your brain which will give you a temporary sense of energy and excitement but with repeated use speed will make you increasingly more anxious and paranoid and can make you hallucinate.

User Icon manman - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can u get high from the can of spray that u use to get rid of dust

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: The cans of spray used to clean dust and other household products if used to get high are called inhalants. These products are not intended to be sniffed and there are lots of warnings on those cans, with good reason. Sniffing these toxic chemicals can lead to problems with walking, talking, and thinking.

Regular abuse of inhalants can cause serious harm to vital organs besides the brain, like the heart, kidneys, and liver. 

And if all that isn't enough-inhalants can be addictive.

You can learn more about inhalants including their effects at NIDA's website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php

User Icon Keemy - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: Do you think that everyone should try a drug before they say anything bad about them??

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: No, I don't think someone should try a drug before they can talk about its negative effects. This is because drugs can have deleterious effects event the first time you take them. Also, each one of us has unique genes that can make us sensitive to the adverse effects of some drugs and since we really dont know our genetic background ahead of time, experimenting with a drug is very much like playing russian roulette.

User Icon taraz7 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: Can drugs have a much worse effect on someone who is depressed when they start abusing them than on someone who is depressed but started before they became depressed?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Well this is an excellent and complicated question. This is the famous which came first - the chicken or the egg question. This speaks to the essence of why people use drugs and how drugs complicate treatment of mental health conditions like depression. Regarding why people use drugs; we know that people use drugs for lots of reasons - because they want to experience something new and exciting and/or because they feel terrible and use drugs to feel better. Depression is a mental health condition that can make people feel lousy and sometimes they try drugs to feel better. Also, sometimes after repeated drug use the brain is changed in fundamental ways and not taking the drug can make people feel bad and depressed. Regardless, taking drugs is no cure for depression. The best way to address depression is through treatment from a medical or mental health professional. Medications and behavioral therapies offer the best way to deal with depression. So, using drugs is no solution and because of the way they impact the brain, body, and behavior only complicate treatment for depression.

Hope this is helpful.

User Icon Diana - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: If your dad is smoking and you smell the ciagarettes. Does that mean that your smoking too??

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Breathing in someone else's smoke can be harmful. It is best to avoid breathing smoke when you can. That is called second-hand smoke, which you've probably heard about. But have you heard of 'third-hand' smoke? Check this out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/what-the-heck-is-third-hand-smoke/

User Icon Mayra - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can you get high off glue sticks?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: What's up, Einstein?
Sniffing glue tends to produce a 'high' because of the chemicals that are used to make the glue. While folks often report feeling 'high' after sniffing glue, the problem is that some of these chemical are toxic-they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness in taken in high concentration! How's that happen? By displacing air in the lungs, http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/inhalants.html to learn more about sniffing glue and why it is a terrible idea (I mean, you like your brain, right?).

User Icon cochina - Port Chester High School, New York: about how many people die from drinking?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: About 85,000 people a year.

User Icon Lether 56 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Could the econmey in Michigan have any thing to do with how many people do crack or smoke or something?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Could be. Stress is a known risk factor for drug abuse and a down turn in an economy produces a lot of stress.

User Icon 12holtrubw - Dixie High School, Utah: dose smokeing marijuana Make your sperm count low?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Yes, studies have shown that smoking marihuana decreases seprm count

User Icon roy - Dixie High School, Utah: how do you stop a friend for smoking weed

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: It's hard to be in this situation, seeing someone who is doing things that are not good for them. One thing you can do is let them know you are very concerned about their behavior and how it is affecting or could affect their life. You can show concern without being judgmental so that the person does not get too defensive. Also, you can let them know that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. There are some resources for him 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/. Because talking with someone about his or her drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your friend.

If your friend wants to stop smoking marijuana, supporting you friend's effort to quit is one very important thing you can do. Planning activities with your friend so that he or she is not exposed to situations where they would be tempted to smoke pot could help.

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 abovetheworld07 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: what happens when u do extasy

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question...it's a good one!

As for ecstasy or MDMA, it primarily affects brain cells (also called neurons) that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. Serotonin plays an important part in controlling mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. MDMA also affects the release of of two other chemicals in the brain - dopamine and norepinephrine, which can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur right after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking it. Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain - one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused brain damage that lasted at least 6 to 7 years. Although similar damage to the brain has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption. This is currently an area of active research.

MDMA can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which are particularly dangerous for people with circulatory problems or heart disease - and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. In high doses, MDMA can cause hyperthermia, which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.

Hope that helps. For more information on ecstasy, check out: http://www.clubdrugs.gov/.


User Icon BUZZZ - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: What advice do you have for smoking

Expert Icon Dave McCann: As you may know, smoking increases a person's risk of developing cancer. Some people can quit smoking on their own but many need help. Medictions are available to help people quit. Speaking with a doctor may be a good idea. More advice can be found on this website: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon LovelessWedding - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Why are teens most likely to do drugs besides beiong cool and peer pressures?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: to escape from boredom, depresssion, insecuritites, problems at home, loneliness, anger, frustration

User Icon Tiaa [[: - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: Hhat is the worst drug out there and why is it the worst drug?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: its hard to specifically say one drug is worse than others since one drug aybe really bad for some people but not for others, this would depend to a large extent on genetic factors. However, overall its recognized that methampehtmine is among the most addictive and most toxic. But heroin is also highly addicitve and accounts from more death from overdoses than any of the other illicit substances.

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what does LSD mean.

Expert Icon Anna Staton: LSD is short for 'd-lysergic acid diethylamide' and is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Why are inhalants so harmful?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Arizona. Good question. It's all about the chemicals - and those chemicals can mess things up for you.

Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly induce heart failure and death within minutes of a session of repeated inhalation. 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.

High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation by displacing oxygen in the lungs, causing the user to lose consciousness and stop breathing. Deliberately inhaling from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area greatly increases the chances of suffocation. Even when using aerosols or volatile products for their legitimate purposes (i.e., painting, cleaning), it is wise to do so in a well-ventilated room or outdoors.

The effects of inhalants are similar to those of alcohol, including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant abusers may also experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions. Chemicals found in different types of inhaled products may produce a variety of additional effects, such as confusion, nausea, or vomiting.

By displacing air in the lungs, inhalants deprive the body of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia can damage cells throughout the body, but the cells of the brain are especially sensitive to it. The symptoms of brain hypoxia vary according to which regions of the brain are affected: for example, the hippocampus 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.

Long-term inhalant abuse can also break down myelin, a fatty tissue that surrounds and protects some nerve fibers. Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their messages quickly and efficiently, and when damaged, can lead to muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions such as walking, bending, and talking.

Here are two great resources that can tell you more about inhalants - the harmful effects, how they work, etc. Visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/inhalants.html and
http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/inhalants.html for more info.



Moderator Icon Pot, grass, chronic, and Mary Jane are all slang terms for:
  1. cocaine
  2. marijuana
  3. methods of smoking marijuana
  4. snack foods

User Icon isabel0894 - Einstein High School, Maryland: How come there aren't many rehab or drug helping facilities in the US where the most drug use happens? & if so, how come nobody knows about them?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: i wish i could give you an answer other than because people don't realize how badly we need these facilitites and that funding them should be a national priority.

User Icon sassy-girl - Abington Friends School, Pennsylvania: when you mixed diferent drugs together do it have a bigger affect on you and are the consequences more harmful than any single drug you take by itself?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: There are great risks in using even one drug but, in general, using more than one at a time increases the risks, especially when combined with http://teens.drugabuse.gov/. You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon i luv weenerzzz - Skaneateles High School, New York: what is the worst drug ever?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Methamphetamine is among the most addictive; tobacco the most lethal.

User Icon paNDA BurR 1338 - Dixie High School, Utah: did you ever smoke?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: I smoked cigarettes for about twelve years and it took me three years to quit completely. Definitely one of the most difficult things I've ever done but with the help of a medication called Zyban I was finally able to quit completely.

User Icon joeC - Einstein High School, Maryland: is marijuanna addictive in any way? if so, how addictive is it and how long would it take you to be hooked?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes, about 9% of those who smoke marijuana may become addicted, and about 25-50% of those who use it daily. The how long it takes is a harder question to answer, because its different for everyone. It depends on your genes, whether you have other problems (like anxiety or depression), how old you are when you started (the younger you are, the more likely you are to develop drug problems later on), what other drugs you are using, how frequently you are using, among others. Essentially, its a gamble, and many people don't realize they've gone over the edge until its too late. After all, no one wants to grow up to be a drug addict.

User Icon coolkid - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: What are the affects of lsd?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: lsd is a drug that increases serotonin inside your brain, this results in hallucinations and other changes in perception. thus you can see realtity with brighter colors or sounds but these perceptual changes can also become very frightning and transform into hallucinations.

To learn more about hallucinogens visit:
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/tg_hal1.php

User Icon somebody - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what is a common side affect of drug overdose?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Death is a common direct effect of overdose but, on the positive side, many people begin to seek treatment for drug addiction after an overdose/near-death experience. Other symptoms of overdose depend on the drug. If the drug is heroin or any other kind of opiate, breathing may stop. Stimulants like http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php Lots of stuff going on there.

User Icon babycakes123 - Benjamin Franklin Academics Plus, Pennsylvania: Did you ever smoke or did some type of drug when you were younger? Everyone tryed it at least one

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Actually, yes. I had many friends who smoked cigarettes. I thought that they were pretty cool, so I wanted to try them. I tried smoking cigarettes a couple of times, and really hated them....made me sick. turns out I was lucky....I was on the high school tennis team, I couldn't have played sports (and continue to play today) if I had continued smoking! Smoking causes over 400,000 premature deaths per year.

User Icon jessie - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: If a child, at the age of around nine, was constantly exposed to marijuana what are some of the effects it could have on the child later in life?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Thanks for your question - In general, research has found that marijuana can affect short-term memory and learning, including someone's ability to focus their attention, and coordination. We've got a bunch of studies looking at how weed/marijuana use can affect the brain as it is developing. Did you know your brain develops until age 25?! So - even if someone is exposed to marijuana, there are lots of factors that go into how people develop (individual factors, personality, family, friends, your community, our society) - being exposed to marijuana is just one of them. To find out more about marijuana, go to our teen website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.

User Icon vvhs - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: whats in speed that makes you all crazy?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: speed liberates dopamine inside your brain and the dopamine is the chemical that makes you feel good but also, in large quantitites, it can make you paranoid, meaning that it can lead you to believe that people out there are trying to get you, it can also cause hallucinations

User Icon GEORGE - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Hi guys.. why do teens become involved in smoking

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi! A lot of the movies and TV shows portray smoking as hip or cool and this may be one thing that significantly effects why teens start smoking. Also, many other reasons could influence why teens might start doing something bad for them even after all of the health information they have been exposed to shows that smoking is bad for health. For example, difficult family situations, depression, anxiety, stress, or problems in school could lead to teens making harmful choices.
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 somebody - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: what does MDMA stand for? i know it is ecstasy but what do the letters stand for?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: MDMA stands for 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine. If you want more information on it, you can go to http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php

User Icon YATA - Rockville High School, Maryland: What has taken more lives, marijuana or tobacco?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Well, we know that tobacco leads to about 440,000 deaths annually. Unfortunately we don't know how many deaths each year are associated with marijuana abuse.

User Icon coolkid - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: what do you think drives people to do drugs? is it just the fact of wantnig to be cool and fitting in? i mean who wants to unnatturally lose control all the time? i dont understand what would make you want to do this

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: yes many people take drugs because they want to be cool and have a good time. however many people take drugs to escape feeling bad , this coudl be because they are depressed , anxious bored angry or because no one cares about them and they cannot find anything exciting to live for or look forward to.

User Icon Wind River High - Wind River High School, Wyoming: how many people die from drugs every year?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Most deaths are due to legal drugs, like alcohol and tobacco, because they are so broadly available and much more frequently abused than the illegal ones. Alcohol kills a lot of teenagers and is the number one killer at this age group because of car accidents. Smoking kills about 440,000 persons a year from medical consequences. Heroin and pain killers kill many from overdoses. Cocaine and ice (meth) kill from cardiac complications and seizures.
User Icon frenchy123 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: how many cells do you wreck with one use of drugs???????

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey, thanks for the question. We don't really know how many cells are actually destroyed by a single use of drugs.  There are lots of variables at work with drugs, and there are considerable individual differences with respect to drug effects on brain cells.  

We still don't know or understand 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 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://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon isaiah - Martinsville High School, Virginia: how many people smoke in the US

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2008, about 84 million Americans over the age of 12 (that's about 34% of the US population) reported using a tobacco product in the past year.

User Icon Sydney70 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: What does drugs do to you and your baby when your pregnant?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Arizona and thanks for joining the chat! Drugs, including marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco can affect the baby in all different ways depending on the drug. For example, tobacco has been associated with health problems including increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, slowed fetal growth, decreased birth weight, preterm birth, and respiratory problems. Researchers have also found links between nicotine exposure during pregnancy and cognitive and behavior problems in childhood and adolescence, can have devastating effects...here's some information on fetal syndrome: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/fetal-alcohol-exposure.
Marijuana and cocaine have also been linked to cognitive and behavior problems. Heroin, an opiate in the same family as vicodin and oxycontin has been associated with low birth weight and infant withdrawal - what we call neonatal abstinence syndrome. There are lots of factors associated with these outcomes including the quality of the relationship the mom has with the child, so it's not the case that kids whose moms used drugs in pregnancy are necessarily going to have long term negative effects, but since they can occur, we recommend that moms not use, tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs during pregnancy and ask for help if they are having trouble stopping. Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html for more information.

User Icon sabrinamadia - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: is doing drugs more popular to teen boys or girls?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: In general, more boys than girls take drugs.

User Icon sheshie - Watertown Alternative Learning Center, Wisconsin: I have a question in regards to the response about how to tell if someone is an alcoholic. In my experience, someone with an alcohol problem typically will deny having a problem. Therefore, asking them doesn't seem like the best way to find out. Do you have any other suggestions?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Yes, I have some ideas that might be helpful. First, there are two ways to think about the misuse of 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.

Hope this helps.

User Icon mathlete_14 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: If someone is sick and they are using marjiuana, can it increase their risk of dying?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: We don't really know enough to answer that question. Smoking marijuana can be harmful to the lungs (if the person has a lung condition) and marijuana has mixed effects on the immune system--the body's way of defending itself. So its hard to answer this question with any certainty, but I would strongly encourage the person to discuss this with their doctor.

User Icon ??info?? - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: If someone had to do drugs, what is the safest one they would want to do?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for this excellent question! We still don't know or understand 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 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 which drugs are the safest. It's best to not use any illicit drugs.

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

User Icon sophiabirks - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: What drug is the main cause of death? What should you do if you know someone using it?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: By far, the main cause of death associated to drug use is accidents, from intoxication with alcohol and medical complications from cigarrette smoking.

User Icon DropU2 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: what does speed do to you

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Great question!
Good morning and thank you for your question! Speed is the street name for methamphetamine and it is one of a class of drugs known as stimulants. Methamphetamine use can result in a lot of problems, including a variety of heart problems (including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat), irreversible stroke-producing damage to small blood vessels in the brain, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Methamphetamine can also dangerously increase a person's body temperature, which can be lethal if not treated rapidly. Meth use over time can lead to addiction and 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. Oh, don't forget about 'meth mouth'. Meth use and side effects are serious business! For more information, click on www.abovetheinfluence.com or www.abovetheinfluence.com.

User Icon Justnothing - Einstein High School, Maryland: How do you tell your friends no?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: if the person is really your friend you should be able to say no and he/she will understand and accept you, otherwise he or she may not be a friend worth having, right?

However many times you may be asked to take drugs by kids who you know and you want them to accept you and hence you may feel compelled to say yes just to fit in. Although it may seem hard to say no under this type of pressure you should realize that you can say no and nothing bad will happen and they will either understand that you are an independent person that speaks his/her mind and knows what he/she wants. You have to realize that most kids feel insecure themselves and so seeing that someone has the courage to say no is actually really cool.

Always keep this in mind: others may be intolerant and reject anyone that does not take drugs; but if that's the case why would do you even want to bother with such a group.

User Icon Gary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what is acid?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Acid is a street term for LSD or d-lysergic acid diethylamide. It is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

User Icon blindeey - Dixie High School, Utah: why do some parents let there kids do drugs and drink when they know its doing them harm?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Unfortunately, that may happen. It would be a form of neglect, for sure.

User Icon starburst - Dixie High School, Utah: which drug is the most addictive drug?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question! The answer is not so straightforward. That is, we still don't know or understand 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 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://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon frenchtoooooast - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what drugs are you most likely to die from

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: tobacco and alcohol are the drugs most associated with death--from cancer and heart disease (for tobacco), automobile accidents and liver disease (alcohol). 
User Icon coolkidsfriend - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: do you know all of this from experiance?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: No! Fortunately, we can learn a great deal about drugs by conducting studies in animals and in humans, using all kinds of technologies, like brain scans, to see the effects of drugs on their brains; unfortunately, we also learn a lot by observing the many people who take drugs, who are addicted to drugs, or who are trying to quit.
User Icon nems - Comstock North East Middle School , Michigan: What is Special K?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Special K or ketamine is a type of club drug. It's called a dissociative anesthetic and is mostly used in veterinary practices. By dissociative we mean it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self when abused by humans.

User Icon alexad - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: can you get high off of pural hand sanitizer???

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: I have heard of people drinking hand sanitizer because of the alcohol in it, but clearly, that is not a good idea!  Thanks for the question.

User Icon lil_one22 - Rockville High School, Maryland: how can you prevent your boyfriend from doing drugs?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: You cannot prevent him from not using drugs but you can HELP him not to use drugs. This will require that you are able to discuss with him your concerns about his drug use and why he might be using it. Many times kids use drugs because they are feeling blue and they want to escape their reality. So it is improtant to recognize if your boyfriend has an emotional problem or a difficult situation at home that may be driving his behavior. You should also make him aware that you are concerned about his drug use and that you want to help him stop using them. If you think he is in danger you also should speak to a trusted adult regarding your concerns. In an actual crisis you can always call the SAMHSA hotline at 1800 273 TALK.

User Icon alikat - Martinsville High School, Virginia: why do people do weed?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Virginia - people do weed/smoke marijuana, use alcohol etc. for all different reasons - it feels good, it's something to do, you often feel more calm, people you know or want to hang out with are doing it, the list goes on - I'm sure you can think of some reasons too. One of those reasons can be that you are addicted to it. Who doesn't want to feel good? The problem is that marijuana can have effects on your brain, on learning and memory, on your heart and lungs, and also on mental health. Heavy users report effects on their social lives and careers as well as cognitive abilities, physical and mental health. The other thing about doing weed - if you are doing weed you may not be doing some of the other things that feel good or make you feel calm like hanging out with friends who aren't smoking or doing a sport or climbing or hiking or doing yoga (my fave). So we recommend other ways to feel good, feel calm that don't involve doing weed or other drugs. Please check out this website to make sure you get all the important information about why people use weed:   
http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon charlie - Einstein High School, Maryland: how many people smoke weed

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2008, 26 million Americans 12 or older used marijuana within the past year (that's about 10% of the US population).

User Icon Straight_Edge - Rockville High School, Maryland: Can cough medicine get you high?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: DXM or dextromethorphan is an ingredient in cough medicine, which when taken at very high doses, can produce a 'dissociative state'--a disconnect with yourself and the real world. It can also cause motor impairments, e.g., slurred speech, incoordination, numbness; nausea/vomiting, and sometimes increased heart rate and blood pressure. On rare occasions, brain damage - caused by severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain - can result. This may be due to the combination of DXM with other ingredients (decongestants) also found in cough medicines.

User Icon Lil Ai3 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Do parkinsans dieases have something to do with drugs

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question. Parkinson's disease is a caused by a degeneration of a certain population of cells in the brain -- dopamine cells. We know that all drugs of abuse affect the dopamine system and can actually cause decreases in dopamine function. Also, different people have different levels of dopamine in their brains, so it is possible that if you get the right mix of dopamine system function together with drug-induced reductions in this system, then Parkinson's symptoms might result.

Thanks for such a thoughtful question!

User Icon joshua - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what drug could i take that wouldnt affect my performance in sports?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: That would be 0, nada, none. Drugs can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination all of which factor into your ability to play sports. So pretty much any drug will affect your performance one way or the other, whether it is enhancing it or limiting your performance, but any short term benefit is probably outweighed by the negative longer term effects the drugs could have on your body and brain.

User Icon jeriwhiting - Skaneateles High School, New York: do you get high even if you have never smoked before

Expert Icon Dave McCann: I assume you're talking about marijuana...People have different experiences. Much would depend on the amount smoked. Here's a good link to learn more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.

User Icon mary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: why does drugs make your chemiacl balance off

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Hi Martinsville,
That is an interesting question. Drugs have potent effects on the brain and can alter the manner in which neurons in other brain transmit information and communicate with one another. For example methamphetmine cause the brain chemical dopamine to rapidly pour out of brain cells. This rapid release of dopmaine is associated with the 'rush' or good feeling associated with its use, but over time it can also result in addiction as well as long-lasting emotional and cognitive problems. Need more information? Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse

User Icon TeeZy21 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: are drugs on the street more dangerous today than they were 20 years ago?

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

User Icon ilikedrugchtday - Rockville High School, Maryland: what are some nicknames for pot

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Pot, ganga, weed, grass, mary jane, 420. Check out http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/streetterms/
ByType.asp?intTypeID=1
for a listing of more terms.

User Icon ScLions026 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Why do young teens start using drugs even though they know it's bad?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: they take them because initially it feels good but with repeated use these drugs loose their ability to make you feel good and when you are not on them the person will be feeling much worse than before they started taking. However, when someone (particularly a young person) uses a drug he or she doesn't necessarily think of how they will be feeling (poorly) after the drug leaves their body.

User Icon nessie:] - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: how many times do you have to do drugs to get addicted?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question!! Yes! Anyone can get addicted to drugs. Some people get addicted more quickly than others but anyone can get addicted. All drugs are potentially harmful and may lead to addiction or have other life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects; another person may be particularly vulnerable and develop addiction fairly quickly...others may overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction. You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon Stephanie - Einstein High School, Maryland: i have a friend that is 16 and drinks a lot of alcoholic beverages what can i do to help her without getting her in trouble?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: It's hard to be in this situation, seeing someone who is doing things that are not good for them. One thing you can do is let her know you are very concerned about her behavior and how it is affecting or could affect their life. You can show concern without being judgmental so that she does not get too defensive. Also, you can let her know that there are people she can talk with in confidence. She may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if she feels that her privacy would not be violated. 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/. Because talking about drinking can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your friend.

NIDA is frequently asked where to find information about http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

User Icon taraz7 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: What are the effects of too much caffeine?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: A lotta latte? You may have some of the less desirable effects like increased anxiety, reduced fine motor coordination, affected sleep patterns, headaches, nervousness, and dizziness.

User Icon thang - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what is the worst kind of drugs that a middle school teen can get into, what does the drug do to u

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: all of the drugs can have serious risks and the extent to which you can have a worse outcome with one or another depends on your genes and other factors. For example, some kids have a great vulnerability to become addicted to alcohol whereas others do not. But even if you dont, you can have a car accident while intoxicated. it is also true that some drugs are more addictive than others. Methampethmine (ice) is considered among the most addicitve but other drugs with very high addictive potential are cocaine and heroin. While in the past many thought that drugs like marijuana were not addictive we now know do know that it is and also that it is a drug that affects your learning and memory capacity even if you are not addicted to it.

User Icon shelbyyyy - Skaneateles High School, New York: i am a horrible meth addict and lovvve to drink and still a teen, will this still effect me when im older? if so how do i stop??

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for this question. We do know that the earlier one starts, and the longer one takes drugs, the more difficult it becomes to quit. Early use most likely will affect you when you are older, since the drugs are affecting brain development, so it is best if you work on stopping your drug use as soon as possible. That said, stopping can be very difficult, so the best advice would be to seek help. If possible, get yourself to a treatment program so that you can start your recovery.

For more information on treatment, check out: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. Good luck.

User Icon Karlaa <3 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what do people get out of cutting themselves?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi and thanks for writing into the chat. Cutting, also known as self injury or self mutilation, is a very complex and dangerous behavior. Self-injury is an unhealthy response to cope with overwhelming negative emotions. We have found that individuals who engage this behavior may have been exposed to stressful experiences, and due to feeling sad or depressed, they may attempt to self-medicate with drugs, or decide to cut themselves to distract themselves from painful thoughts or memories. It is really important to get treatment from skilled healthcare professionals, which can help immensely, including specific medications prescribed under the care of a physician.

User Icon nessie:] - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: how many times do you have to smoke to get addicted?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: It depends on the person. The best thing to do is to avoid smoking completely. Read on: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/know-the-scene-four-reasons-not-to-smoke/

User Icon proberts - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: What is a date rape drug?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: You might be thinking of GHB or Rohypnol. Both have both been used in certain types of assaults where the victim was given the drug without their knowledge. These drugs can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/Clubdrugs.html

User Icon swimmer17 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is drug mixing dangerous

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Absolutely. Some combinations can even kill you--for example mixing prescription pain killers (opiates) and alcohol can cause you to stop breathing; same with central nervous system depressants, like xanax or valium with alcohol. Often you don't know what the effects will be, but because drugs usually affect a variety of body and brain systems, their interactions can be unpredictable and very dangerous.

User Icon tiny dancer - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: who is winnig mvp this year in da nba?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: LeBron

User Icon carag - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: A boy named captain crunch at school thinks pot is fine, everytime i tell him he is addicted he says you cannot be addicted but i know he his. how can i get him to listen to me. i know im right.

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This can be a very uncomfortable situation-when people won't listen to you and don't believe what you say.  In general, people sometimes choose drugs and alcohol instead of their friends. The key is to explain what you observe in objective, non-judgmental ways. Also, most important is taking care of yourself and not getting involved. Sometimes people have to figure out for themselves about the problems. 

To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, go to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php

User Icon steve - Dixie High School, Utah: WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM AFFECTS OF EXTASY?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: That is hard to answer because pills sold as 'ectasy' on the street contain many differnt things. Keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than http://teens.drugabuse.gov/stories/story_xtc1.php

User Icon ann - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: If someone tried to kill them selfs when they where taking meds. that the Dr. gave them, is there a chance they might do it again?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Yes. Unfortunately, depression and suicide can reoccur. In addition, drug abuse contributes to suicide risk--that is, drug abusers are more likely to commit suicide than people who don't abuse drugs. But there is help available and people can turn their lives around before it's too late.

User Icon fani^_^ - Spring Woods High School, Texas: One of my friends has been doing weed for a long time and shes trying to quit what can i do to help her???

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Supporting you friend's effort to quit is one very important thing you can do. Planning activities with your friend so that he or she is not exposed to situations where they would be tempted to smoke pot could help. Also, you can let your friend know that there are people they can talk with in confidence. Your friend may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. 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/.

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 tricken7 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: What is the ratio of teens that do drugs?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: The numbers vary for the different drugs, alcohol and cigarrettes are the most frequent drugs used by teen and the 12th graders are the ones that consume the most drugs among highschoolers. Just to give you an idea of some prevalences: past-year alcohol use by 10th-graders declined from 56.3 percent in 2007 to 52.5 percent in 2008.  In 2008, more than 20 percent of 12th-graders smoked cigarettes at least once in the 30 days before the survey. Fewer 10th-graders (12.3 percent) and still fewer 8th-graders (6.8 percent) smoked in the last month. Finally, among the illicit substances marihuana is the most frequent. Among 10th graders, for example, lifetime use decreased from 18.2 to 15.9 percent, past-year use declined from 13.1 to 11.3 percent, and past-month use decreased from 6.9 to 5.3 percent.

User Icon Em&Em=D - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: Is this hard emotionally, answering all of these questions about drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Thanks for asking! It's great to see all the interest in these problems. We're working hard to prevent and treat drug abuse and it's really gratifying to see so many people asking about it. We need to work together to eliminate these problems.

User Icon lumpkin - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: why are shrooms addictive

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: The risks with shrooms are more related to the unpredictability of their effects, and the possibility that you could become anxious, paranoid or generally disturbed.

User Icon diggydawg542 - New Egypt High School, New Jersey: Do ugly people do drugs to make them feel better?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Some people start or continue using drugs as a way of coping with stress. Drugs make people feel good and high sometimes but afterwards they may feel much worse. Also, sometimes when people use a lot of drugs they get really, really depressed and want to die. That's the unpredictable and dangerous part of drug abuse. If you'd like some more info or help check out:
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.

User Icon LovelessWedding - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Does the meth cause schizopherinia?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Methamphetamine use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between methamphetamine and psychosis. Meth intoxication produce a reversible psychosis (paranoia and hallucinations), and it may be a causal agent in development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.

User Icon R U Stoned - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: whats that bad about meth

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Good question Lakeview.
Methamphtamine is a potent and highly addictive psychostimulant - and is a very serious problem in the United States. Methamphetamine abuse can lead to devastating medical, psychological, and social consequences. Adverse health effects include memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, heart damage, malnutrition, and severe dental problems, including '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. So, Lakeview, this is just the tip of the iceburg with what's so bad about meth. Need more information? Log onto http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html, http://teens.drugabuse.gov/, and http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon pillpoper69 - Skaneateles High School, New York: what are the long term effects of Oxycontin?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: long-term use can cause physical dependence and when the drug is stopped, 'opiate withdrawal' (a feeling like the flu only 10 x worse). Here's what one of our NIDA staff wrote about her experience: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=oxycontin

User Icon moser - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: is meth the worst drug that u can do ?????????????

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good and complicatied question. Methamphetamine is a very dangerous drug that causes all sorts of medical, mental and social problems. Figuring out the worst drug depends on many things. The worst drug is the one that causes problems for the user because the outcomes are unpredictable, it's important to focus on individual responses. Someone who has a car crash when high on marijuana is just as bad off as someone who has a stroke from methamphetamine.

User Icon MonsterRules - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can you get high from caffine

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Well I'm certainly buzzed from the 2 cups I have had this morning! But 'high'-nah, not in the commonly used sense. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world and its popularity is probably due to effects, such as enhanced alertness and stimulation. Yet there are large differences in how individuals respond to caffeine, with some people experiencing increased stimulation and others much less desirable effects such as anxiety.

User Icon mk - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: i know people who do ecstasy, atleast over 20 times. what has that done to their brain?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question...it's a good one! We don't know the threshold for effects of drugs, in general, but there are a few things to note. First, the earlier one starts, the greater the risk of addiction. There is a lot that we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, however, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if one chooses to use drugs. Also, the earlier and longer that one uses drugs, the more likely that he/she will become addicted and suffer harmful brain changes that lead to addiction. Also, we know that the brain is developing still during the teen years, so drugs like ecstasy can affect the normal developmental process in the brain. We do know also that ecstasy/MDMA has been shown to actually affect brain cells in animals.

For more information on ecstasy, check out: http://www.clubdrugs.gov/.


User Icon kalie - Skaneateles High School, New York: What kills your brain faster alcohol or weed?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Thanks for your question. It's difficult to know how alcohol or marijuana; will affect a specific person since different people respond differently to each substance. What we do know is that both drugs have various consequences both directly and indirectly. Both can affect judgement and decision making, which can lead to impaired driving, risky sexual behavior. The bottom line is niether is safe and the effects on the brain vary. The best approach is to avoid them.

User Icon Briana - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Is it true that crack makes you skinny and why dont it kill your brain cells?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Hi again Martinsville!
Many stimulant drugs such as http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/cocaine.html. Keep the questions coming!

User Icon xautmnxmoonx - Port Chester High School, New York: why do some people who smoke marijuana are still smart even though they hav smoked a lot?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: They could probably be even smarter if they didn't. But there are a lot of reasons--mostly because people are affected differently by drugs--based on their genes and a whole host of other factors. It also depends on how much or often they use drugs. I have trouble believing that someone who is high every day in school is performing any where close to their potential, and in the long run we know that their chances of educational and professional success are diminished.

User Icon nems - Comstock North East Middle School , Michigan: What is Special K?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Special K or ketamine is a type of club drug. It's called a dissociative anesthetic and is mostly used in veterinary practices. By dissociative we mean it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self when abused by humans.

User Icon ??INFO?? - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: WHAT CAN SPEED DO TO YOU AND FOR YOU

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Speed can give a feeling of being stimulated and 'high' but it can also damage the brain and cause other health problems. Keep in mind that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.


Moderator Icon The main chemical in cigarettes that is addictive is:
  1. tar
  2. carbon monoxide
  3. nicotine
  4. formaldehyde

User Icon jazmine - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: ive been asked to do drugs a lot. how can i make them stop asking me?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi. Good for you for not wanting to go along with this peer pressure. That is a real strength you have. You could tell the people who are asking you that it's not your thing and why you don't want to. If this does not work, ultimately you have to ask yourself why you would hang out with people who want you to do things that are not good for you and that could get you into a lot of trouble.

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 FES7 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: What advice do you have for handling peer pressure to start taking drugs

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hi, what a great question! I would imagine it can be pretty difficult standing up to peer pressure when you are being told that everyone is doing it and it's what you will have to do to be cool. I think arming yourself with real facts about drug use and the effects of drugs on your body is a good place to start-so that when you do have the courage to to say 'no thanks' you know with 100% confidence it's the best decision you can make for yourself. Visit our for website lots of info www.teens.drugabuse.gov.

In the meantime-you are not alone in not using drugs-contrary to popular belief, most teenagers do not use marijuana. Only about 1 in 7 10th graders report they are current marijuana users (which means they used marijuana within the past month). Also, fewer than 1 in 5 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. That means that 88% said no!

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 drake - Martinsville High School, Virginia: why do you think most teen's get on drugs?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: Teens get into drugs for a variety of reasons, including the sense that if their friends are doing it then they should also do it so they can be cool, others take them to escape their own realities or problems, like be feeling lonely, sad, or that you don't belong or that no one cares about you. Others may try drugs simply because they are bored of feel angry.

User Icon RRojas16 - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what happens if you do more then one drug at a time?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: There are great risks in using even one drug but, in general, using more than one at a time increases the risks. Keep in mind that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than http://teens.drugabuse.gov/. You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon SCLions018 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: Do you enjoy eating pizza?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes, my favorite is Mac and Manco's on the Jersey shore

User Icon pen15club - Skaneateles High School, New York: do majjawana afect spellin?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: well--it certainly negatively affects learning, and i won't comment on your spelling.

User Icon Someone - Rockville High School, Maryland: if i smoke and have drugs are my children going to be twins?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: No relation between drug use and multiple births. However, we do know that drug use can hurt your judgement, inhibition, and/or motor functioning, which can lead to sexual abuse. Also, smoking and drug use certainly can affect the health of the baby.

You might check out some information we have on this topic at: http://www.clubdrugs.gov/, http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/, and http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon TheBronski - Rockville High School, Maryland: Is it common for people to die from meth withdraw syndrome?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: It is more common for people to die from meth overdose soon after taking the drug than to die during withdrawl...but it could happen. Best not to use meth at all!! Here's a quiz you might want to try: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/sarasquest/meth1.php

User Icon lbpdd - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: can drugs slow your ageing?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. For the most part, drugs can make memory worse and can contribute to more problems as people age.

For example, nicotine increases blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration (breathing) and regular users of Ecstacy (MDMA) can experience memory loss.

User Icon Briana - Martinsville High School, Virginia: What is all in crystal meth?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Good Morning Martinsville!
Crystal methamphetamine is a colorless, odorless drug that is related to the stimulant amphetamine. Unlike the powder form of meth, crystal meth is heated and smoked and typically resembles small fragments of glass or shiny blue-white 'rocks' of various sizes. Like powdered methamphetamine, however, crystal methamphetamine is abused because of the long-lasting euphoric effects it produces. The euphoric feelings associated with meth use result from the rapid release of the brain chemical dopamine in reward areas of the brain. This rapid release of dopamine is termed a 'rush'. Use of meth is also associated with 'meth mouth' - damage to you teeth, which is thought to be due to highly corrosive ingredients in meth. Need more information on crystal methamphetamine? Visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/methamphetamine.html for more information.

User Icon xvbplayer09x - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: how many calories are in pot, can you become obese if you smoke it regularly?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Depends on if you are smoking it or eating it? Marijuana does increase appetite--'the munchies'--which could get you fat, especially if you are smoking it regularly.

User Icon mr.hollister - Einstein High School, Maryland: why do you get sexually active when you get high or drunk?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: For some taking drugs can cause changes in how they make decisions by impacting their judgment. There are also specific types of drugs that have been associated with increases in sexual activity (like stimulants) perhaps because of their ability to energize. So the combination of the drug impacting judgment and increasing energy can lead a person to engage in activities while their under the influence that they normally might not.

User Icon athompson - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what should i do, if one of my friends are drinking and smoking?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: It's hard to be in this situation, seeing someone who is doing things that are not good for them. One thing you can do is let them know you are very concerned about their behavior and how it is affecting or could affect their life. You can show concern without being judgmental so that the person does not get too defensive. Also, you can let them know that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. There are some resources for him 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/. Because talking with someone about his or her drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your friend.


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

User Icon RRojas16 - Spring Woods High School, Texas: why do teens do drugs?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Wow, great question with a very complex answer. Some of the usual reasons that teens abuse drugs are: boredom, peer pressure, self medication, fixing something missing in one's life, impulsivity, thrill seeking, etc. Generally people take drugs because they like what they do to their brains...that is, drugs cause a release of the brain chemical dopamine, which results in a rush and a feeling of being high. The reasons that one starts taking drugs are many, but people frequently don't think about the long-term brain changes and other negative side-effects from taking drugs. We also know that the earlier one starts, the more likely one is to become addicted, with more problems resulting. When voluntary behavior is no longer voluntary, involuntary drug use results, which is addiction.

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

User Icon jenn. - Einstein High School, Maryland: why do people choose to do drugs?

Expert Icon Nora Volkow: because intially drugs make you fell good and for many its a way of escaping and having a good time. the problem is hta this is just for a short time period and when they come out of the ffects of the drug they feel much worse than before they took the drug.

User Icon crazycatlady666 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: My friend trys to pressur me into doing bad things how can i stop her from pressuring me?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi. Good for you for not wanting to go along with this peer pressure. That is a real strength you have. It is very important to stand up for yourself. You could tell her how it makes you feel when she pressures you and what concerns you about what she is pressuring you to do. If this does not work, ultimately you have to ask yourself what kind of real friend would want you to do bad things.

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 mafiadon51 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: What are the differences, if any, between medical marijuana and street marijuana, and does it have the same addictive properties?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Marijuana is a plant and it varies in terms of the ingredients it contains--no matter where you get it from. THC is one of the active components, but there are a whole lot of others, with known and unknown effects, and they are found in differing amounts in different plants or plant parts. Most marijuana is not completely characterized so you don't know exactly what your getting. And all marijuana can be addictive. Among those who use it, about 9% get addicted, and among those who use it every day, around 25-50%.

User Icon the man 64 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: Por que hace personas tomar drugas en el primero lugar? Por que esta mal administrar cocaina y heroina?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: porque al tomarlas por primera vez producen un intenso placer, pero si se las sigue usando uno corre el riesgo de volverse adicto

User Icon Justnothing - Einstein High School, Maryland: Will drugs affect my physical performance in sports?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Some most definitely will:
Steroids may increase your body mass and strength but at a heavy price in the form of some nasty medical consequences like, hair loss, shrunken testicles, and breast development.
Stimulants (coke, meth) could give you a running edge for example, but put you at risk of cardiovascular accidents.

Marijuana will impair your coordination and focus.


User Icon JMB :) - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: How much trouble can u get in from getting high at school?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Trouble-like getting kicked out of school or trouble like-lifetime issues because you flunk your classes or put yourself at risk for addiction (which can happen if you get high at school or anywhere else. If it's trouble with your school you're wondering about-I would guess that depends on the rules at your school and how they deal with drug use and other illegal behavior on school grounds. Some schools have adopted a random student drug testing policy hoping it will: (1) serve as a deterrent; (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.

If it's trouble in life you are wondering about-since using drugs can affect your memory, judgement, and perception, being high would also affect your performace in school and extracurricular activities. Either way-definitely not the best move to get high in school.


Moderator Icon Ecstasy is usually taken in a:
  1. needle or syringe
  2. patch on the skin
  3. sippy cup
  4. pill or tablet

User Icon Lucero - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what can you do to help someone addicted to drugs

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: It's hard to be in this situation, seeing someone who is hurting themselves by taking drugs. One thing you can do is let them know you are very concerned about their behavior and how it is affecting or could affect their life. You can show concern without being judgmental so that the person does not get too defensive. Also, you can let them know that there are people he can talk with in confidence. He may be more open to talk to a trusted adult or a medical professional if he feels that his privacy would not be violated. There are some resources for him 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/. Because talking with someone about his or her drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your friend.

User Icon SCLions028 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: When do you cross the line between casual drinker and alcoholic? I have a close friend who just entered college and seems to go out drinking all the time. I know it's his own life and I can't control what he does, but he seems to think getting drunk is tons of fun. He's underage, too, so I'm constantly worried he'll get busted.

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Someone who goes out drinking 'all the time' has gone beyond casual drinking but may not have progressed to being an alcoholic. If he reduces (or stops) his drinking now, he will be better off. Getting busted is not the worst that could happen. It can change your brain, too: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/binge-drinking-matters%e2%80%94
to-your-brain/
Please make sure that he does not drink and drive http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/know-the-scene-4-tips
-to-avoid-drinking-drugs-and-driving/
.


Moderator Icon Joining us now is Dr. Redonna Chandler, a psychologist who specializes in drug abuse treatment and services, with a particular interest in incorporating drug treatment into the criminal justice system. She has three children, one cat, and five fish. Her most interesting travel experience was spending a semester living in a remote rural village in El Salvador with no running water or electricity where she slept on the ground and bathed in the river.

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User Icon fani^_^ - Spring Woods High School, Texas: Could somebody commit suicide if they are so addicted to a drug and cant stop????

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Drug abuse contributes to suicide risk--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. But there is help available and people can turn their lives around before it is too late.

User Icon SCLions001 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: My Dad has a T-shirt with 2 people on it, the one person says 'Mind if I smoke?' and the other person says 'Mind if I fart?' LOL!!! What do you think about this T-shirt and do you own any funny anti smoking t-shirts? If you don't do you have any ideas for some funny ones that would get people to stop smoking? I thought of some different ideas, do you think I should start my own anti smoking clothing line? :D

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: I think that is hilarious! I don't own any funny anti smoking t-shirts..... It sounds like you are creative and there could be a market for this!


Moderator Icon These questions are so good we are bringing in a scientist who can answer just about anything about drug abuse - Dr. Nora D. Volkow. Dr. Volkow is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties. Dr. Volkow was born in Mexico, and earned her medical degree from the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where she received an award for best medical student of her generation. She was recently named one of Time Magazine's 'Top 100 People Who Shape our World', and was included as one of the 20 people to watch by Newsweek magazine in its 'Who's Next in 2007' feature. Dr. Volkow is also an artist and avid runner - logging dozens of miles a week.

User Icon puppy - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how do you guys know how it feels to get high?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question! We talk to lots of people who use drugs and have learned alot about it. Of course, people have different responses to drugs and the personal impact (how it feels to get high) varies alot. One thing we've learned is that people keep using even when they don't get high any more.

User Icon jayyelle. - Einstein High School, Maryland: is smoking a pack a day really affect me in the long run ?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Research shows that after people stop smoking, their lungs return to normal. Smoking can cause chest colds and respiratory infections. Smoking for a long time can significantly increase your risk for heart disease or the many cancers that smoking promotes--mouth, esophagus, larynx, blood, lungs, stomach, pancrease, bladder, and cervix. Aside from these health problems it can also affect your endurance in sports. Also, other people who do not smoke might think you smell badly!

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.

Iinformation about smoking and prevention can be found at http://www.smokefree.gov/.

User Icon yayap4 - Einstein High School, Maryland: If you know someone who is addicted to smoking, how do you help them quit?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: That's not easy. You can encourage them, and let them know you are concerned about their health. If they aren't able to quit by themselves, you can encourage them to get treatment. There are a number of treatments to choose from. Nicotine replacement medications, including the patch, spray, gum, and lozenges, enable the person to avoid withdrawal and nicotine craving while also avoiding the adverse effects of smoking. They can be bought over the counter. In addition, two prescription medications have been FDA-approved for tobacco addiction: bupropion and varenicline, which also alleviate withdrawal and craving. Medications are recommended for use in combination with behavioral treatments, including group and individual therapies, as well as telephone quitlines. Different people respond to different treatments, so if one doesn't work, encourage the person to keep trying.

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!

Also, 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 b.c.soccer03aba - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what is salvia; ?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: 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. 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. We don't know yet what the long-term effects of salvia abuse are. Although salvia is not currently a Federally regulated drug, 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.

User Icon Baked Potato - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: What are some of the affects of steroids on a teenager

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Here's everything you need to know about the effects of steroid abuse:
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php#common_effects

User Icon somebody - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: do you believe in the saying-'once an addict, always an addict'?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. When someone has been using drugs for a long time and becomes addicted, they have long term changes and problems. The real issues is that they have memories for their drug use that may last a very long time. They are still at risk for relapse. The good news is that it becomes easier and easier for them to remain clean and sober. Recovery is possible with effective treatments such as behavioral-based therapies in which people learn to change their behavior; and, for addiction to some drugs, such as tobacco, alcohol, heroin,or other opiate drugs, medications can help. Treatment will vary for each person, depending on the type of drug(s) being abused and the individual's specific circumstances. For many people with drug addictions, multiple courses of treatment may be needed to achieve success.

User Icon 9525847 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: how mant types of drug are there?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: There are many types. For information on the most commonly abused ones please visit the NIDA teen website at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.

User Icon 9525847 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: how mant types of drug are there?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: There are many types. For information on the most commonly abused ones please visit the NIDA teen website at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon Em&Em=D - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: How many pills does it take to consider it over dosing?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: It depends on the pill and what is in it. Keep in mind that when you get drugs on the street (or from "friends"), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. In such a case, just one pill could be considered an overdose (more that should be taken).

User Icon superman - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: what are the effects of steroids on teen boys going through puberty?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Here's everything you need to know about the effects of steroid abuse:

http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php#common_effects.

User Icon 1DAman - Skaneateles High School, New York: Can you be addicted to anything

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Anything--well may be not, at least the way we define it--as something you can't stop despite the harms that are occurring to your brain, body, and life. But, there do seem to be alot of things that people get addicted to beyond drugs--videogames, foods. Unfortunately, scientists know less about some of these addictions than others--but we are always looking to learn more.


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

User Icon SCLions008 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: I am doing research on steroids in my health class. I was researching them online and found out they are not legal unless prescribed to you by a Doctor. Also in my research, I found numerous websites selling steroids. How are those sites still running, when they are selling illegal drugs? This probably refers to any site selling illegal drugs that is still up and running...

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I am as puzzled as you are.

User Icon Spring_Woods=D - Spring Woods High School, Texas: Does drinking effect your althletic ability?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Drinking can leave you dehydrated and it can damage your liver and brain. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/binge-drinking-matters%e2%80%94to-your-brain/  The dehydration might affect athletic ability right away. The other effects are more likely to occur over time.

User Icon natashamariah - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: Why do most people think that drugs aren't bad? If you talk to a lot of people they will say that drugs are fine, pot is fine, but I don't really think so. How do you get them to change their minds. What do you say in response?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: What an excellent question. It's hard work I tell ya. But it can be done. Look, for example, at the historic trends in cigarette smoking. We've been working on smoking prevention and getting the message out about tobacco related harm for (literally) decades, and we have made a difference. The rates have come down significantly; although there is still a long way to go.

The problem is that people (and particularly young people) tend to focus on the initial, pleasurable effects of drugs (reinforced by movies, TV, and peer pressure) without giving too much thought about the potential long term consequences. For example, you probably know many kids that smoke pot and they may function pretty well now. But it is much harder to
imagine that a sizable fraction of those kids is very likely to engage in deviant behavior, drop out of school, become addicted to ther substances, end up in jail, etc.
The problem is that we focus on the beginning of the movie and don't bother to stay long enough to see the ending... That's what we need to work on, making sure we are aware of the entire storyline....

User Icon CAS - Einstein High School, Maryland: Do Infants of smokers tend to experience low birth rate and slow growth rate?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Great question - and you are absolutely right - smoking during pregnancy has been related to low birth weights and slower growth rates. And some other problems as well. Because of that it is recommended that women not smoke during pregnancy and try to stay away from second hand smoke. Here's some more information about tobacco effects from our NIDA website, including this: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

Smoking during pregnancy is associated with several adverse outcomes for fetuses, including increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, preterm birth, and respiratory problems. Why? Carbon monoxide and nicotine from tobacco smoke may interfere with fetal oxygen supply - and because nicotine readily crosses the placenta, it can reach concentrations in the fetus that are much higher than maternal levels. Nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects.The adverse effects of smoking during pregnancy can include slowed fetal growth and decreased birth weights, the latter reflecting a dose-dependent relationship - the more a woman smokes during pregnancy, the more infant birth weight is reduced. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition and is associated with behavioral problems. In addition, smoking more than a pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of the child becoming addicted to tobacco if he or she starts smoking. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause problems. For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight and premature birth. Exposure during the postnatal period has been associated with a number of physical health outcomes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory illnesses (asthma, respiratory infections, and bronchitis), ear infections and cavities, and increased medical visits and hospitalizations. Please visit: http://archives.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/09/NR3-04.html for more information. I hope this information is helpful!


User Icon wookiesBiffel10 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Hi there, If you take drugs at a young age what is the percentage that you will still use in your adult years?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hi, great question! You would think this should be a really easy question to answer, but to find the answer (or estimate the percentage of risk) researchers would have to do a study that followed people from a young age, before they start using drugs, through the time when they start to use and then through adulthood to be able to see who is still using. That's a long and complicated study! What we do know is that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or with your family. And we know that different people have different risks for long term use. Better never to start! But if you do-the earlier you stop the more you can avoid addiction.

User Icon ming - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: How do I educate my parents...in their 70's about drug use today? They have been manipulated by my son who uses marijuana and they don't believe that he is using anymore.

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This can be a very painful situation. Family members often don't know much about drug abuse and may not be able to face the problems associated with drug abuse. 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 talk to a school counselor about the situation. This sounds serious.

User Icon MD AZ - Einstein High School, Maryland: what is the main drug teens use now

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Well, among those 12 to 17 that would be alcohol. In 2008, 31% of those 12 to 17 reported using alcohol in the past year (compared to 19% reporting past year use of a tobacco product and 19% reporting past year use of an illicit drug). See http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k8NSDUH/tabs/
Sect2peTabs1to42.htm#Tab2.38B
for more info.

User Icon Alvarado16 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Are some drugs good for a person?

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

User Icon kitty_16 - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can you get addicted to smoking if you've only done it 1 or 3 times?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Hi Einstein, you guys have lots of great question this morning!

Research has shown that, for most people, it takes smoking several cigarettes to become addicted to the active ingredient - tobacco. Whether a person will become addicted to nicotine also depends on your genes (for example, changes in your genes that make you metabolize nicotine more slowly or rapidly), your age (the earlier a person begins smoking, the more likely they are to become a regular smoker), and your environment (do you have friends and family that smoke?). In my opinion, you shouldn't play roulette with your health and future by trying to smoke just enough cigarettes to NOT become addicted. It is really dependent on the individual. Good luck! For more information on tobacco, visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html and http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon baby joker - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: most of my family is in prison or juz gettin out of prison from drugs. am i verry likly to follow in there footstepz? and wat is the chances i will be addicted to drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. The best approach is not to start using drugs at all. Given a strong family history (having a lot of relatives with addiction and drug problems), the risk of addiction is really great. But we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. The only safe way is to avoid drugs completely.

User Icon mayhewcory - Otto Middle School, Michigan: how do drugs afect your brain

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question! It depends on the particular drug and the particular individual, but we do know that all drugs of affect the brain's dopamine system. This brain system is involved with reward and pleasure. Repeated use of drugs can start to change this system, causing a person to no longer be able to control their drug use. The person becomes 'driven' to take the drug, even when he/she realizes that he/she isn't able to do well in school, isn't able to enjoy the things that used to make him/her happy, and is hurting his/her relationship with friends and family. Bottom line: drugs affect the brain and brain processes (and other systems such as cardiovascular), which in turn, affects behavior.

For more information about addiction and drugs, please visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon pothead420 - middlebury union high school, Vermont: What the hell u guys arent answering my questions and there good ones two besides the ones that have to do with asthma and cigerate smoke we all know what happens

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Sorry about that. I have not seen your questions. We've received 3,700 questions already... we are doing our best to get to as many questions as possible.

User Icon manbearpig59 - Rockville High School, Maryland: whats the deadliest drug in america?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In terms of drug-related deaths tobacco is responsible for the highest number of deaths at 440,000 annually.

User Icon nestor - Spring Woods High School, Texas: what is body image

Expert Icon Anna Staton: It's how you see or think about yourself.

User Icon thenry - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: haver you guys ever done drugs before

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Can't speak for anyone but myself. I have had a drink or two from time to time. In general, I don't want drugs to interfere with my job, family life, music, and other hobbies.

For more info on drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

User Icon Brad - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Does a drug that gets shot into you from a needle do more damage (and,or) have more of an afect on your body than a drug that gos into your body by inhailing or snorting?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: When a drug is injected it is entered directly into the blood stream and therefore has a more immediate effect on the body, compared to when a drug is snorted or taken orally.

User Icon fani^_^ - Spring Woods High School, Texas: Would somebody commit suicide if they cant stop taking a drug???

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Drug abuse contributes to suicide risk--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. But there is help available and people can turn their lives around before it is too late.

User Icon NHGRI - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Approximately how many questions do you receive during the course of this chat?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Last year we had 11,000 questions. So far today we have over 3600, so we might get even more this year


Moderator Icon The hippocampus is:
  1. an area of the brain responsible for memory
  2. a summer camp for hippos
  3. an area of the brain responsible for hearing
  4. a part of the liver

User Icon Whack-n-stack - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: is smokeless tobacco healthier then smoking?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Smokeless tobacco can still cause cancer of the mouth. There is no 'healthy' tobacco. Check it out: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon cookid145 - Rockville High School, Maryland: i am curious about trying salvia, would anything happen on first time

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Salvia 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. 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. 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.

User Icon mexican - Martinsville High School, Virginia: wat is the most dangerous drugs and how does it afect u?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: The unknown drug may be the worst. Keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ You'll see lots of neat things to click on.

User Icon Mrs. Y - North Schuylkill, Pennsylvania: How prevalent is drug use amongst 7th graders?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Actually I don't have any statistics on drug abuse by 7th graders but I can tell you that in 2008 about 14% of 8th graders reported abusing an illicit drug in the past year. You can visit http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/vol1_2008.pdf for more info on drug abuse by youth.

User Icon el8 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: If a girl is pregnant and she is very young shuch as 14 or 15, or any lady pregnant and is using drugs how will it effect the baby?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi and thanks for your question. No matter what your age, drugs can have an impact on the growing baby when the mom is pregnant. These drugs include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and also alcohol and tobacco. Different drugs can have different effects. Here's a link with a summary of effects: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

Also - your question about age is a good one. Younger moms can face a bunch of risk factors when bringing up their babies, and adding prenatal exposure just adds to this mix of complications. We recommend that all moms, whatever their ages, not use alhohol or other drugs during pregnancy and talk with someone if they are having trouble stopping.

User Icon lmsballer44 (: - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: How can i get my dad too stop smoking?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Now that is a tough one. I had the same question when I was a kid...we tried unsuccessfully for many years to get my father to stop smoking, but fortunately, he made the decision to stop on his own (it is hard to know how much we influenced the decision). Understand that he is dealing with one of the most difficult addictions. He cannot just easily stop or easily just say no to smoking. His brain is changed and he is driven to smoke. There are lots of places to seek information and help, and there are actually some very good treatments now for smoking. Try to convince him that you love him and care about him, and that is why you would like him to stop.

Here is some information on smoking: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/. Good luck.

User Icon Gary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: How come Keith Richards is still living even though he did tons of drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: That's a good question. The effects of drugs are unpredictable. No one wants to become addicted or have an accident and end up ruining their life. But some people who use drugs will have terrible things happen to them. That's one of the bad things about drugs--the uncertain outcomes. Go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#addicted for more information.

User Icon Gary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Is alchohol a drug?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Yes.Alcohol has many similar effects to other drugs. It is intoxicating and addictive. Of course, each substance has its own effects but alcohol is part of the same group of addictive substances.

User Icon joshua - Spring Woods High School, Texas: how strong is the substance codine compared crystal meth?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Both can cause serious problems. Keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from "friends"), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about cocaine at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_stim3.php You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon pen15club - Skaneateles High School, New York: how much weed does it take to get drunk off?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Depends--on the person, their weight, gender, genes, and other factors. But before you decide to smoke weed--you should know the facts. Getting high can mess with your memory and your ability to do well in school, lead you to do stupid or embarrasing things that you may regret. Also, your brain is still developing (into your 20s) and marijuana may affect that development, keeping you from reaching your full potential. Finally, you may not know this, but some people get addicted to marijuana--meaning they have a hard time stopping even when they know its doing harm to their relationships and their lives.

User Icon 9463832 - Brockbank Jr. High, Utah: How would i know if my friends are doing drugs if they look normal?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hard to know if you don't observe any behavioral effects. You can look for changes in behavior as a first sign. For example, grades can slip, interest in pleasurable things fades, he/she is unable to concentrate, and he/she may be frequently irritable or moody. If you suspect that your friend is taking drugs, you may want to consider talking with them in a nonconfrontational or nonjudgmental way. You could learn more about the effects of marijuana on brain and behavior to share with them. Let them know that you care enough about them to try to convince them to stop because we do know that the earlier someone starts and the longer he/she takes them, the more likely he/she is to become addicted.
Good question.

For more information about helping a friend, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon proberts - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Is it true that pregnant women can drink wine?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there Maryland! You know, women hear a lot of different answers to that question. Here's what we know from the science. We know from research that 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. 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.

User Icon shawty - Martinsville High School, Virginia: i speed as bad as crack? if not a few of my friends should know

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Both are bad but, keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react to a drug. Read more about http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon friedchicken747 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: how much crack do you need to smoke to get high?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Hi Upper Dublin,
Let me start by saying that it is NOT safe to smoke ANY amount of crack. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term 'crack' refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. When a person smokes crack, it reaches the brain VERY rapidly resulting in a very rapid high, which lasts for ~5 to 10 minutes.

In order to sustain the high, a cocaine abuser has to administer the drug again. For this reason, cocaine is sometimes abused in binges - taken repeatedly within a relatively short period of time, at increasingly higher doses. Abusing cocaine can lead to adverse effects on the heart and can lead to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, which may cause sudden death.

Need more info? Visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/cocaine.html


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

User Icon melissa1 - Methacton, Pennsylvania: If you have 1 parent who has a drinking problem and they other parent knows it and won't do anything about it, what would you suggest?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This can be a very painful situation. People sometimes choose drugs and alcohol instead of their families or friends. Letting your parent 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 talk to a school counselor about the situation. This sounds serious.

User Icon Kookiesnia - Einstein High School, Maryland: what if you got a ride home from a teacher and they were drunk?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: The key is to take care of yourself. Riding with a drunk driver is really, really dangerous! Tell your family or another teacher or the principal about the situation.

User Icon Da-Lemma - Spring Woods High School, Texas: What is the likely hood that a die-hard alcoholic will stay sober after less than a year in rehab?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: I can't put a number on that. Continuing to go to treatment sessions (like 'AA') can improve the chances. There are also medications available from a doctor that can help people with http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

User Icon lonelyXdreamer - Port Chester High School, New York: can depression cause death?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. is related to death in many ways--by making medical conditions worse or by making someone suicidal. Drugs and alcohol can make this worse and contribute to suicides.

User Icon suryptitious17 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: 
What is cocane?
 


Expert Icon Kristen Huntley:  
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that is snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack is cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been processed to form a rock crystal that is then usually smoked.
Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/>

User Icon wookie73 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: what if you're bulimic, can drugs affect you?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi -and thanks for your question. Bulimia nervosa is a a very challenging eating disorder that impacts mostly girls and women, but also can affect boys and men. Many people suffer in silence with bulimia, which may result in attempting to self-medicate with drugs, due to feelings for depression and anxiety. Our concern is that if drug abuse, bulimia, and other related eating disorders are left untreated, it can lead to serious and even life threating problems, including severe dental problems, depression, anxiety disorders, heart damage, kidney damage, injury to all parts of the digestive system. Treatment can help immensely, including specific medications prescribed under the care of a physician. Please visit: http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/ken98-0047/default.asp for more information.

User Icon jblodgett11 - Middlebury Union High School, Vermont: How many teens abuse drugs?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2008, 31% of those 12 to 17 reported using alcohol in the past year, 19% reported past year use of a tobacco product, and 19% reported past year use of an illicit drug. See http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k8NSDUH/tabs/
Sect2peTabs1to42.htm#Tab2.38B
for more info.

User Icon Valley Vista - Valley Vista High School, Arizona:
Will smoking for 2 years in high school still have an effect on my overall health?


Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: If you've stopped, congratulations, you've done yourself a huge favor. Research shows that after people stop smoking, their lungs return to normal. You may find that you have fewer chest colds and respiratory infections than you did while smoking. Smoking for two years also isn't likely to significantly increase your risk for heart disease or the many cancers that smoking promotes--mouth, esophagus, larynx, blood, lungs, stomach, pancrease, bladder, and cervix. If you have quit, keep your resolve--starting again can lead to addiction, and bring back all those risks.

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.

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

User Icon whyaskwhyDBT - Clark County Youth House, Washington: will my mom always be a meth addict? will i be one because of her?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there and thanks for writing in. It can be really difficult to see a parent struggling with addiction. There are treatment programs out there that can help your mom manage her addiction. One website that can help is:www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential assistance 24/7. There are also programs for people whose parents abuse drugs that can be really helpful for information and support: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/. Whether a person will be addicted if their parents are addicted is a very complex question - because drug abuse is a complex disease - there's no one factor that predicts whether someone is going to be addicted. With that said, we do know if you don't use drugs you can't get addicted. So not using or stopping drug use if you are and taking really good care of yourself is a great place to start. And talking with other people about your concerns including an adult that you trust is a great way to take care of yourself. A couple more resources for you: if you find yourself in a crisis, you can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk with someone who can help - and for more information, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/meth_0.pdf.
Good luck to you.

User Icon MonsterRules - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what happens if you inject pure caffine through a neddle

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Injecting any drug through a needle could also inject germs of viruses (such as HIV, which causes AIDS). Also, caffeine affects the heart. Too much injected caffeine could change the beating of your heart and could even kill you. 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 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.

User Icon Jackie - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: : I had a one of my relatives die from drug abuse and one of my clost friends is now using drugs what should i do to get them to stop.Before its to late they been using drugs for two months now is there any chance of them getting hurt.

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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 talk to a school counselor about the situation. This sounds serious.

User Icon Barack Obama - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Did George Bush smoke weed

Expert Icon Anna Staton: I don't know about marijuana but I believe he did say he had abused alcohol in the past.

User Icon bratnever - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can you die if you use too much alcohol

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Absolutely. Overdoses and death from alcohol happen pretty often. Especially when people drink large quantities of hard liquor quickly they can overdose and die. I've worked in emergency rooms in the past and we saw a lot of teenagers who were nearly dead from alcohol overdose.

User Icon DragonMan - Rockville High School, Maryland: I've heard that mixing drugs or drugs and alcohol together can increase their effects. What does that mean exactly?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey there DragonMan in Rockville. Mixing drugs can cause drug interactions, and yes, it is possible that effects can be amplified or in some way altered. For example, taking a mild sedative alone could make you feel sleepy, but mixed with alcohol, the same dose of sedative could lower your blood pressure and heart rate to extremely dangerous levels. I can say that mixing can be particularly dangerous, as the interactions can be quite harmful.

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

User Icon Wilson - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Paul McCartney did many drugs in the 60s and is perfectly fine today but he said he knew his limit when doing them so if you don't do too many are drugs okay?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: That's a good question. The effects of drugs are unpredictable. No one wants to become addicted or have an accident and end up ruining their life. But some people who use drugs will have terrible things happen to them. That's one of the bad things about drugs--the uncertain outcomes. Go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#addicted for more information.

User Icon C101809Z - Spring Woods High School, Texas: can you quit gettin high?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Some people can quit on their own but many need help. Speaking to a doctor may be a good idea. Behavioral therapy (like 'talk' therapy) can help someone addicted to drugs. It teaches important skills for avoiding drug use. Medications are also available to help people quit using some drugs of abuse. To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

User Icon raphael - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: what are the effects of the drug cough syrup

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: DXM, dextromethorphan is the active ingredient in cough medicines, which when taken at high doses can produce a 'dissociative state'--a disconnect with yourself and the real world. It can cause motor impairments, e.g., slurred speech, incoordination, numbness; nausea/vomiting, and sometimes increased heart rate and blood pressure. On rare occasions, brain damage - caused by severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain - can result. This may be due to the combination of DXM with other ingredients (decongestants) also found in cough medicines.

User Icon D.Jones - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is marijuana really bad for you or is just spread so that kids wont try it

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: That's a great question- ever seen the movie 'Reefer Madness?' I wouldn't go that far, but we do know that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. For example, marijuana affects brain function so your ability to do complex tasks could be compromised, as well as your pursuit of academic, athletic, or other life goals that require you to be 100 percent focused and alert.

Marijuana also affects memory, judgment, and perception. Under the influence of marijuana, you could fail to remember things you just learned, crash a car, and lead you to behave in ways you might not when you are thinking straight - such as risky sexual behavior, which can result in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; or getting in a car with someone who's been drinking or is high on marijuana. Finally, marijuana use also has been associated with an increased risk for psychiatric conditions such as psychosis and addiction.

For information on marijuana, go to our teen site, http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/, click on the bar that says Facts on Drugs and click on Marijuana.

User Icon Gary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: What is Pharming?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Pharming is the incredibly dumb practice of getting together at 'pharming' parties and combining all the pills that people bring in one place (a hat or a box) and then taking a handful out of it and downing it without knowing what you are taking. This is incredibly dangerous--as mixing drugs can be lethal.

User Icon Da-Lemma - Spring Woods High School, Texas: Do you increase your chances of contracting an STD when you use needles to get a drug inside you?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Yep, HIV/AIDS is considered a sexually transmitted disease can easily be spread by sharing needles with infected individuals. For more information on how drug abuse and HIV/AIDS are linked (by more than just needles) please visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_hiv1.php.

User Icon manman - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: if some is high can u get high from being around them

Expert Icon Dave McCann: No...but you could get into trouble. If you are driving a car and somone in the car with you has drugs, you can get into a lot of trouble, just by being there. It is best to avoid drugs and to avoid people who are using them!!! Go to our website for teens to get more of your questions answered, to read 'real stories' of people's experiences, and to check out our blog. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ Leave a comment!

User Icon ganstersjg - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: (sean and drew moore) how is the brain efftected by marijuana?

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

User Icon eddie747 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Why can the state of california have medical marijuana while it is still concidered a drug?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: There has been a lot of discussion on this issue lately. But there are at least 2 points you raise. One is that there are a number of drugs that have legal uses as medicines, but are illegal in other circumstances--opiates or painkillers are one example of a drug and a medicine, which is safe to use only when prescribed by a physician. The second has to do with States legalizing a drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration. Currently marijuana is a Schedule I drug which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no established medical benefits. For a drug to have established medical benefits--it has to go through rigourous testing in clinical trials with patients to show that it is both safe and effective. Marijuana has not met those standards, even though some of its ingredients (e.g. THC) do have approved medical uses--e.g. to increase appetite in people with wasting disorders, or to decrease nausea from cancer chemotherapies. Those ingredients are currently available in pill form, or are being developed as new medicines. But marijuana, because it is a plant containing many known and unknown ingredients, and is usually smoked, is not a good candidate for a medication States are going around the established FDA process of medication evaluation, which means that the experts are not making the final decisions about medications approval.

User Icon aeiou24 - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: Can doing so many drugs turn you mentally unstanble?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. The relationship of drugs and mental illness are complicated. Many mental illnesses are associated with higher rates of drug abuse and using drugs is associated with the development of mental illness, too.
We aren't completely sure why depressed people are more likely to have a drug abuse problem. But here's my take on it. Everyone has had the so-called 'mood swings.' If someone feels really bad, they may want to 'ease their mind' with drugs. Unfortunately, that can lead to a second disease - addiction to drugs - and then they feel even worse than they did before. That's what's really bad about comorbid diseases: they can make each other worse! If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression.

User Icon NAchosssssssss - Rockville High School, Maryland: i want to try extasy is it safe??

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Good morning!
This is a good question. MDMA, often called Ecstasy, is unfortunately NOT safe to use. Scientists have conducted over 15 years of research on MDMA and have shown MDMA damages specific neurons in the brain and can chronic, heavy use can lead to cognitive (hearing, memory, etc) problems. MDMA interferes with the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature (which can lead to sweating, chills, over-heating and on rare occassions can be lethal) and has potent effects on the cardiovascular system. Of great concern is MDMA's adverse effect on the pumping efficiency of the heart - in the presence of MDMA, increased physical activity increases heart rate significantly, but the heart does not respond in its normal manner, which is to increase the efficiency with which it pumps blood. Since MDMA use is often associated with sustained, strenuous activity, such as dancing, MDMA's effects on the heart could increase the risk of heart damage or other cardiovascular complications in susceptible individuals - not good!

Need more information on ecstacy? Visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/MDMA.html.

User Icon DARK SNIPE101 - Port Chester High School, New York: What is the best method to quit smoking?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Many people need prescription medications to help them quit smoking, combined with behaviorial, or 'talk' therapy. Speaking to a doctor is a good idea, as there are several medications available to help. Check out our smoking site: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/


Moderator Icon Opiates are made from opium which can be found in which type of plant?
  1. snow plant
  2. thimbleweed plant
  3. poppy plant
  4. industrial plant

User Icon CandiiKiddxo - Rockville High School, Maryland: Does ecstacy intensify sex and what are long term effects of ecstacy usage?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Ecstasy (or MDMA) is a mild hallucinogenic. Its effects on the brain and behavior are complex. On one hand, Ecstasy is associated with many serious medical consequences, but, as you probably know, it is reportedly associated in popular culture with positive sexual effects. However, this latter effect is controversial and hard to prove in the lab, perhaps because the drug affects both the serotonin and dopamine systems, so the complex effects are quite variable depending on the person and the circumstances.

But ecstasy can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which present risks of particular concern for people with circulatory problems or heart disease--and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.

In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature. On rare but unpredictable occasions, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.


User Icon tyriahgindraw - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: I SMOCKED 3 BAGS OF ANGLE DUST WILL I DIE?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yikes, I hope not! Don't do that again...can be dangerous!!!

If you don't feel well right now, consider calling 911 or talking to a professional counselor: 1-800-273-talk.

User Icon cristiano ronal - Rockville High School, Maryland: wat kind of drug make michael jacson die??????????

Expert Icon Dave McCann: It was a drug intended to be used as an anesthetic, called Propofol, to put people to sleep before surgery. We posted a blog about the Michael Jackson story at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/michael-jackson-news-we%E2%80%99d-rather-not-have/

User Icon (s)aint - Watertown Alternative Learning Center, Wisconsin: Are drugs some people's form of coping with loss or depression?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. Some people start or continue using drugs as a way of coping with depression or loss. Drugs make people feel good and high sometimes but afterwards they may feel much worse. Also, sometimes when people use a lot of drugs they get really, really depressed and want to die. That's the unpredictable and dangerous part of drug abuse. If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression. Instead, talking to a counselor or doctor can help and medications can help to improve depression. If you'd like some more info or help check out:
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.

User Icon shawty - Martinsville High School, Virginia: a lot of my friends get high. how could i help them??

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question...difficult to answer. You you might consider talking with them in a nonconfrontational or nonjudgmental way. You could learn more about the effects of marijuana on brain and behavior to share with them. Let them know that you care enough about them to try to convince them to stop because we do know that the earlier someone starts and the longer he/she takes them, the more likely he/she is to become addicted.

Here is some information for you, and also check out our website for other information: http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

If you would like a little more information about helping a friend, please visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/. Good luck.

User Icon lswimmer617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: WHAT IS THE main drugs used in the usa

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Well if you include alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs and want to look at the general population in the past year 14.2% of those 12 or older in US reported abusing illicit drugs, 34% reported using a tobacco product in the past year and 66% reported using alcohol in the past year. You can check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Health at http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k8NSDUH/tabs/TOC.htm for more statistics.

User Icon rhsram2011 - Rockville High School, Maryland: My uncle used to drink a lot, and once when he was drunk, he almost threw my (then 2-year-old) brother off the balcony of his apartment. Luckily, my aunt was able to stop him before he could. To this day, I still fear that my uncle may go back to his old ways.

Expert Icon Dave McCann: I understand. I went through something similar with my father. The best thing you can do is learn from it. Don't begin drinking a lot yourself and when you are older and have a family, tell your kids the story about your uncle. Take care...

User Icon jessie - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: Are there people who have tried a drug a few times and they were so repelled that they couldn't get addicted?

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

For more info go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#treatments

User Icon Karlaa <3 - Einstein High School, Maryland: can you go brain dead because of drugs?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: All drugs of abuse affect your brain. One can have major problems in brain function because of drugs...like loss of consciousness, memory loss, anxiety, tremors, depression, anger, lack of sleep, etc. For more information about the effects of drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

Also 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 if you're patient, your questions will get answered.

Hope that helps!

User Icon valley_8 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Can you get high off life?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: I do!!! And...if you get addicted to life, isn't that OK?

User Icon Dreadhead lover - Einstein High School, Maryland: what are the effects of drinking a large amount of cough syrup

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Taking any medication in doses greater than recommended can cause serious health problems. For a cough syrup, the effects would depend on the ingredients. Some cough syrups contain drugs that affect the heart. In the worst case, a person could die from drinking a large amount of cough syrup!!! Check out our NIDA teen website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon ilikedrugchtday - Rockville High School, Maryland: My dad was a garden in the back yard when my friend was over were looking for rabbits and we found a huge stach of pot. What should i do?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This is a very difficult situation. Letting your dad know about it is important. He needs some help to change his behavior. You might talk to another relative about the situation or to a school counselor. People sometimes choose drugs and alcohol instead of their families or friends. Letting your family know about the situation may& help but it's really important that you take care of yourself.

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 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.

User Icon aracely - C.H. Yoe High School, Texas: how i can know if my dad still doing with marijuana?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This can be a very painful situation. People sometimes choose drugs and alcohol instead of their families or friends. It depends on the drug but when someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of marijuana, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. Other negative consequences can be stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems. There are a lot of other symptoms, but sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). Letting your dad know about your concern can help but it's really important that you also take care of yourself.

To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, go to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php

User Icon crazycatlady666 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: Is there a difference between smoking from a bong or a blunt?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Either can cause cancer and harm you!!! Smoking from a bong does not protect you in any way. Here's some good facts on marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

User Icon chente :) - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: can you please answer more questions from Valley Vista High school in surprise Az

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: patience, you should see some of your questions coming soon!

User Icon ny7 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: theres more schoools asking questions other then pennsylvania, maryland, michigan, and virginia right?! why isnt arizona getting questions answered? lets gooooooO!!!!:))))

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: hey Arizona! it must be pretty early out there. I'm assigning your questions to our experts, so look for some answers really soon!

User Icon Mrs. Y - North Schuylkill, Pennsylvania: As a school who has drug testing, do you know how many schools in PA or nationally have drug testing and are there any statistics to support positive outcomes?

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

User Icon jazminjames - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Can weed affect your appearance?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Perhaps not initially, although the 'stoned' look is not particularly attractive. However, the effects of long term or heavy marijuana use can lead to addiction and other medical consequences which can quickly impact how 'cool' you look.

User Icon Atowers14 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is there a difference in the caffeine in drugs and caffeine in everyday iteams?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: No difference...but, it may be easier to overdose on the pills. They should only be taken as directed. 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. Here's s'more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_stim4.php

User Icon washingtonrodri - Otto Middle School, Michigan: can steroids kill you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Steroids are safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

User Icon athompson - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can you get so high that you cant remember what you did?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, you can get so drunk or high that you can lose consciousness or your memory can get totally messed up.

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

User Icon Reeses - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Do you know anybody that has died from drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Yes. I've been treating people with drug addiction for over 20 years and have had patients and family members who died from drug abuse. These are always painful situations and make it more and more important for us to find solutions.

User Icon R U Stoned - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: do drugs affect your testicles?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: As far as I know it is only chronic anabolic steroid abuse that has been reported to shrink your testicles.


Moderator Icon Ecstasy has effects similar to which classes of drug?
  1. hallucinogens and stimulants
  2. inhalants and anabolic steroids
  3. cannabinoids and depressants
  4. depressants

User Icon tidalwave14 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: How does using marajuna lead to other drugs for teens?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This is a good question. We have been studying the links of early drug use to other drugs for many years. It seems that there are two main pathways: one drug may cause the use of another or people are naturally presdisposed for all drug abuse (that is they may have a high risk of using any drugs). There can be both biological and social causes (and these may be related to each other). One drug may cause brain changes that make other drug use more likely. It is also possible that once someone is involved with people who smoke marijuana, they may be exposed to other drugs, too.

User Icon lbuffs_32 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: Can you die from steroids, even if you take in only once every 2 months?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Steroids are only safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. No level of drug abuse is safe, and this is also true for steroid abuse. You should know that steroid abuse can lead to steroid addiction as well as addiction to other drugs. As you can see, even once every two months is a slippery slope. Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/video.php?video=z9Ynf2kPNIc (that's me by the way!)

User Icon The Batman - Rockville High School, Maryland: Do antidotes to certain drugs give you complete immunity to that drug in the future so that if you are exposed again, you will not undergo the same symptoms?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question!! The antidotes that we have right now don't give you complete immunity to drugs taken in the future. Vaccines are being developed for nicotine, cocaine and other drugs of abuse. If they work, they may come close to providing the type of immunity that you mentioned. But that's a ways off yet. Here's a news release for a cocaine vaccine that is making progress: http://archives.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/09/NR10-05.html

User Icon Mira - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Ozzy Osborn has been doing drugs for years how much is his brain messed up?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hard to know. We do know that he seems to have a number of behavioral effects...now how much of his behavior is due to his drug use, and how much to aging, we just don't know. What we do know is that drugs and aging interact to magnify brain and behavioral effects.

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

User Icon BlackRavenWings - Skaneateles High School, New York: How many people actually stay sober each year after going to a rehabilitation center?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: The rates of relapse from drug abuse are similar to relapse from other long-term/chronic diseases. The outcome depends on many factors--how long someone has been addicted, the type of drug, or whether other mental illnesses are present.

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 Amidat - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Is there a such thing as too much exercise?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: It's hard to imagine. I love to exercise myself. However, if an activity becomes so predominant in your life that it starts impacting your desire or ability to perform other equally important activities (such as school, going out with friends, eating the required amount of food) that should give you pause and raise a red flag that things may be getting a bit out of balance and that it may be time to seek advice or help from a trusted adult or a family physician.


Moderator Icon New to the Chat is Dr. Marsha Lopez whose experience runs the gamut from preclinical behavioral pharmacology (giving cocaine to rats) to military medical surveillance, but her current focus is drug epidemiology (the incidence, distribution, or control of a disease within a population) with a specific interest in co-occurring psychiatric conditions as they relate to drug use. She has two kids under the age of three (Marco and Gigi), and a nine-year-old yellow lab (Zachy), although most of her extended family lives in Argentina. When not at work, she enjoys baking and cooking.


Moderator Icon Dr. Kristin Huntley has just stepped in to answer your questions. Dr. Huntley attended Santa Fe High school and later went to study at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. She is a trained clinical psychologist, which has allowed her to work in different places including a medical school, hospitals, and a market research company. Her favorite thing about her current job is that she gets to learn cutting edge research in different areas of science and she gets to work with very interesting and intelligent people. Despite having traveled to places such as Guatemala, Mexico, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Italy, England, France, Germany, and Scotland, Kristin hopes to one day go to Barcelona, Spain and do 'Italy by Vespa'! When she's not busy working or traveling the world, Dr. Huntley enjoys reading, music, dancing, tennis and speed walking. Kristin has a 10 year old son and an 8 year old daughter who keep her active with soccer, basketball, lacrosse, football games, and music recitals.

User Icon Doc - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what is the difference between 'use' and 'abuse'?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Excellent question--and very hard to answer. Technically, taking any illegal drug, or a legal drug if you are underage can be considered abuse. But I think people often use the term abuse to describe the point at which use gets out of control and starts causing problems for the user. That point is very hard to determine, and is different for everyone. Sadly, for many people the realization that use is out of control can come very late, when big problems arise, and stopping use is very difficult.

But drug abuse can be treated. There are a number of resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, which doesn't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect a person with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

User Icon volt25 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what is a carcinogen?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question!! A carcinogen is a chemical that may cause cancer. Avoid smoking to avoid many carcinogens!!!

User Icon chipmunk - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what does angel ccc do to you

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Blue angel ccc apprears to be a carpet cleaning compound. I don't know what the ingredients are, but knowing a little about cleaning agents, I would guess that it may damage your liver and brain. Don't inhale! Read more about that here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drnida/drnida_inhale1.php

User Icon drake - Martinsville High School, Virginia: one of my friend are smoking what should i do?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Hi Martinsville High,
Let me first start my answer by commending you. You are a good friend! People sometimes choose drugs and Web site, http://www.samhsa.gov/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php. Also, encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult, like a parent, school counselor, or coach about their problem. There is help out there! Good luck!

User Icon grinnellaustin - Otto Middle School, Michigan: Do you know that they put alcohol in energy drink?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Yep, I heard that some people mix alcohol and caffeine. Not a very smart idea--you know why? Because the alcohol in the mix will still get you drunk (and mentally impaired) but the caffeine in the mix (which is a stimulant) will give you the misperception that you are just fine and are perfectly able of, for example, driving. Again, bad idea!

User Icon Gary - Martinsville High School, Virginia: What happens if you overdose?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Many people who overdose on drugs die. If the drug is heroin or any other kind of opiate, breathing may stop. Stimulants like cocaine can cause the body's blood vessels to narrow, constricting the flow of blood, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. The heart may work so hard that it temporarily loses its natural rhythm. Read more on our teen website http://teens.drugabuse.gov/index.php Lots of stuff going on there.

User Icon marciasmith12 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what is pcp?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: PCP or phencyclidine is also known as angel dust. It's is a 'dissociative' drug that can distort perceptions of sight and sound and produce feelings of detachment. Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). It was developed in the 1950s as an IV anesthetic and was never approved for human use because of problems during clinical studies, including intensely negative psychological effects.

User Icon Papa Marx - Rockville High School, Maryland: Do you think Stalin used drugs? And if so, is there a drug that would make you go crazy?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Interesting question. I have no idea whether Stalin used drugs, but people from all sorts of backgrounds use drugs. The dangerous thing is that drugs can cause mental symptoms, especially in high doses. For instance, cocaine and methamphetamine are well known for causing hallucinations in high doses. And even marijuana can cause hallucinations and delusion in some people.

User Icon sangrey84 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Can you get addicted to steroids?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The short answer is yes. But, the mechanism of androgenic anabolic steroid (AAS) addiction is different from the mechanisms that cause people to become addicted to other drugs of abuse. That is, the main effects of AAS do not work through the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine as with other drugs.

However, Animal studies have shown that AAS are reinforcing - that is, animals will self-administer AAS when given the opportunity, just as they do with other addictive drugs. This is more difficult to demonstrate in humans, but the potential for AAS abusers to become addicted is consistent with their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drug: this is another indication of addiction. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking AAS - these include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings, all of which may contribute to continued abuse. One of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms is depression - when persistent, it can sometimes lead to suicide attempts. Importantly, research also indicates that some users might turn to other drugs to alleviate some of the negative effects of AAS.

User Icon Kevinmbemba - Einstein High School, Maryland: What are immediate consequences of tobacco?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Hi there Einstein!

So what happens when someone smokes cigarettes? A lot of teens are asking that question today...and the best way to answer it is with scientific facts. Upon entering the bloodstream, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). That is one of the things that gives you a 'rush' or 'buzz' when you smoke. However, epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. Glucose is released into the blood while nicotine suppresses insulin output from the pancreas, which means that smokers have chronically elevated blood sugar levels. Also, like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. For many tobacco users, long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction - a condition of compulsive drug seeking and use, even in the face of negative consequences.

Cigarette smoking accounts for about one-third of all cancers, including 90 percent of lung cancer cases. In addition to cancer, smoking causes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and increases the risk of heart disease, including stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and aneurysm. Smoking has also been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia.1,2 On average, adults who smoke die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers

Take a look at our research report on tobacco for even more information about the dangers of tobacco -- it's online at http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Nicotine/Nicotine.html.


User Icon Squishy Camel - Skaneateles High School, New York: Do people take drugs because it's hereditary and a goat?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: There is a hereditary component to drug-taking. Genes inherited form parents determine how people respond to drugs. Because genes affect how drugs are metabolized in the body, some people who take cocaine (for example) like it very much and go on to develop addiction, while others find it unpleasant. Similarly with alcohol and tobacco: genes that affect how they are metabolized make some people more vulnerable than others to heavy drinking and smoking. Genes aren't the whole story, however. No matter what your genes are, you can avoid getting into trouble with drugs by not taking them to begin with.
Scratching my head about the goat, though.

User Icon morenzettialyss - Otto Middle School, Michigan: what can you do to get someone to stop taking drugs???

Expert Icon Anna Staton: It's hard to be in this situation, seeing a friend or relative going down a dangerous path or suffering, and not being sure what you can do to help. First, let the person know that someone cares about him or her. You can let them know you are concerned without being judgmental, and that there are people they can talk with in confidence. They may be more open to talking to a trusted adult or a medical professional if they feel that their privacy would not be violated. 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 the caller with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. Because talking with someone about his or her drug use can be uncomfortable, you may want to ask an adult you trust, like a teacher or coach, to help you figure out how best to help your friend.

User Icon lulu123 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: Is it easier for a person to get addicted to something if they have an addictive personality?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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. No matter what, the key factor is that drug addiction starts with drug use and so the best approach is to avoid any use of drugs at all.

User Icon thenry - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: where should you go to find out more about drugs

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: We have some great information on 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.

User Icon SCLions003 - State College Area High School, Pennsylvania: I've never thought cigarette is a drug. But I recently learned about 'Tobacco'. Is cigarette the same thing as Tobacco? Is Cigarette really classified as a drug?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Nicotine and many other chemicals are contained in tobacco leaves, which are rolled up in cigarettes.  And yes, nicotine is a very addictive drug!!!  Here's some more on tobacco addiction: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php


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

User Icon washingtonrodri - Otto Middle School, Michigan: when was the first drug made.

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Drugs have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. People have drunk juices from fermented fruit (alcohol) for many years. Some of the drugs that we think of like cocaine and heroin have been created in the lab over a hundred years ago.

Hope this helps.

User Icon Mr.Bigberrys - Einstein High School, Maryland: my friend does crack what should i do to help him?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: You are a great friend! www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where your friend can find private and confidential help 24/7.


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

User Icon CP3 - Rockville High School, Maryland: Which is more addictive? Weed or cocaine?

Expert Icon Eve Reider:
Good question. Here is some information about the addictive nature of marijuana and cocaine.

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; that is, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite its known harmful effects upon social functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities. Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit. These withdrawal symptoms begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2-3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. 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.

It isn't easy to determine which drug is more addictive. That is because there are a number of factors that can cause someone to become addicted. These include family history/genetics, the amount of the drug you take, the way you take the drug (smoking, intravenously, pill form), and so on. For more information go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.


User Icon ms. martino - Einstein High School, Maryland: Thanks for doing this- I know this is a long, hard day for you. It's a great day for our students to get informed, though! We'll be on this all day with you :)

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: thanks Ms Martino! Yes, its going to be a long day, but its fun to see the variety of questions we get!

User Icon Reeses - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Is it easy to get addicted to drugs?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Really depends on the drug and the individual. 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 more information about drugs and addiction, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

User Icon tidalwave14 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: If you are addicted to drugs but then get off of them are you still considered a drug addict

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. When someone has been using drugs for a long time and becomes addicted, they have long term changes and problems. The real issues is that they have memories for their drug use that may last a very long time. They are still are risk for relapse. The good news is that it becomes easier and easier for them to remain clean and sober. Recovery is possible.

User Icon Revolver66 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: if life is short why don't people just let smokers die with there cigarettes so they can die happy?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Interesting question. I don't think that anyone with lung cancer dies happy. They all seem to wish that they never started smoking. Read these teens' stories about tobacco addiction on our website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/category/real-life-stories

User Icon SWEETEST GIRL - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Dr. Joseph, what is alcohol and do you have a drinking problem?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey there! http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/ and http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

User Icon soccerman45 - Nantucket High School, Massachusetts: is it possible to take drugs and not get addicted?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Not everyone who takes drugs becomes addicted. In addition to addiction, people also can have accidents and other harms from drug use. In fact, the unpredictable and subtle nature of drug abuse and drug addiction makes it very complicated.

People often don't recognize when they are becoming addicted. This is one of the main problems related to use of drugs. 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.

User Icon brijbanerji - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: was michael jackson's doctor giving him drugs

Expert Icon Dave McCann: That is not yet clear. Maybe. It should be kept in mind that drugs can be dangerous even if prescribed by a doctor. Here's a blog we posted on it; check it out and leave a comment: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/michael-jackson-news-we%E2%80%99d-rather-not-have/ Add medications should really need to be taken or adminstered with care.


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

User Icon huhh - Einstein High School, Maryland: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SNUFF AND TABACCO?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good Morning Einstein,
Snuff is a form of smokeless tobacco. You should remember that while many people think that using snuff is safer than smoking, that's not true. Just like smokers of tobacco, snuff users can not only become addicted, but are susceptible to cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, and esophagus. Users of chewing tobacco and snuff have an elevated risk for oral cancer. Need more information on tobacco? Visit http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ and http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html. Keep the questions coming!

User Icon proberts - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: What is a date rape drug?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: You might be thinking of GHB or Rohypnol. Both have both been used in certain types of assaults where the victim was given the drug without their knowledge. These drugs can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/Clubdrugs.html.

User Icon Karlaa <3 - Einstein High School, Maryland: My friend died because of drug addiction, and i see another friend of mine with the same problem How can i help?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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 talk to a school counselor about the situation. This sounds serious.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what would you do if a family member is going to die from lung cancer because they smoke?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: That would be a sad situation. It is never too late to quit smoking and I would try to encourage quitting. Medications are available to help and dicussing this with a doctor may be a good idea. To find a wealth of research and facts on addiction and treatment, please go to:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/

You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on smoking on NIDA's Web sites: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon marciasmith12 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what is crystal meth????

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Crystal meth is a form of methampehtamine that can be smoked. Meth is a very addictive stimulant drug that can increase wakefulness and physical activity, but it also produces a rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature. When people use it for a long time, 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). it can lead to mood disturbances, violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and severe dental problems.

User Icon darkchocolate - Rockville High School, Maryland: Is it possible to not become addicted to a drug after only using it once?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hi there in Rockville! Great question. There have been reports of addiction after just one use because the experience was so reinforcing. There is a lot that we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, however, 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 Karlaa <3 - Einstein High School, Maryland: Is there a way to recover from addiction without professional help?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Sure. Many people quit using substances on their own, or with cummunity support (like recovery support groups such as AA) but treatment can help to make this possible. 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

User Icon lacey123 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Can you get high off of markers?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The vapor that comes off a Sharpie belongs to a class of abused drugs we call inhalants. Unfortunately, some kids sniff these to try and get a buzz similar to the one you get after drinking alcohol. But abusing any type of inhalant is extremely dangerous because they are toxic substances that dissolve in fatty tissues and can spread through the entire brain very quickly. Inhalants are one of the few types of drugs that can kill instantly and after a single use!
User Icon mrs_gaye51 - Einstein High School, Maryland: how much beer does it takes to get drunk?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: That depends on your gender, body weight, and history of use. You can check out the National Institute http://www.thecoolspot.gov/.

User Icon imreallytired - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Which drugs were once used for medical reasons but are now considered illegal?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Great question. Actually there are many drugs that have medical uses and are also considered illegal. Opioids (painkillers) are one example--they were legal at one time, became illegal, and are now used medicinally to treat pain. However, they must be prescribed by a doctor and taken as prescribed to be safe. Methamphetamine is also a highly addictive drug that was used at one time for treating obesity and sleep disorders. But when its addictiveness and harms became evident--its legal use diminished hugely. Cocaine is still used for certain eye procedures--because it is also a local anesthetic (stops pain perception in a local area), but is illegal when used outside of these circumstances.

User Icon lexipop14 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: How come steroids can kill you and are any of them safe?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Steroids are safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

User Icon tatertot - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: What causes kids to take drugs and cut them selves and all that kind of stuff and then some end up killing them selves or end up in the hospital through treatment and are living but dont really have enough strength to live, and what could happen to them?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: That's an interesting question. Drugs make people feel good and high sometimes but afterwards they may feel much worse. Aso, sometimes when people use a lot of drugs they get really, really depressed and want to die. That's the unpredictable and dangerous part of drug abuse. If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression. Instead, talking to a counselor or doctor can help and medications can help to improve depression. If you'd like some more info about how to help your friend check out:
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.

User Icon janalewis - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: I had a one of my relatives die from drug abuse and one of my clost friends is now using drugs what should i do to get them to stop.Before its to late they been using drugs for two months now is there any chance of them getting hurt.

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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

User Icon Jasmine - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: hey Dr.joe! what are date drugs and what do they do to you?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hi Jasmine! Thanks for your question. Date drugs like rohypnol or GHB are generally considered club drugs. They are named club drugs because they tend to be abused at nightclubs, bars, raves, or trance scenes. Ketamine, ecstasy, and meth are other examples of club drugs. Here is some detailed information that I pulled up for you on these drugs. Hope this helps!

How are Club Drugs Abused?

Raves and trance events are generally night-long dances, often held in warehouses. Many who attend raves and trances do not use club drugs, but those who do may be attracted to their generally low cost and the intoxicating highs that are said to deepen the rave or trance experience.

  • Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be ground up and snorted.
  • GHB and Rohypnol have both been used to facilitate date rape (also known as "drug rape," "acquaintance rape," or "drug-assisted" assault). They can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault.
  • GHB also has anabolic effects (it stimulates protein synthesis) and has been sought by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building.
  • Ketamine is usually snorted or injected intramuscularly.


How do Club Drugs Affect the Brain?

  • GHB acts on at least two sites in the brain: the GABAB receptor and a specific GHB binding site. At high doses, GHB's sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death. Rohypnol, like other benzodiazepines, acts at the GABAA receptor. It can produce anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug.
  • Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Ketamine acts on a type of glutamate receptor (NMDA receptor) to produce its effects, similar to those of the drug PCP.1 Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.

Addictive Potential

  • Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported among patients presenting from an overdose of GHB or related compounds, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.2
  • Like other benzodiazepines, chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance and dependence.
  • There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, a behavior that is similar to that seen in some 3

What Other Adverse Effects do Club Drugs Have on Health?

Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences.

  • Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and1,4 butanediol (BD), have been involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths.
  • Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants.
  • Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.
User Icon debbie - Crestwood High School, Pennsylvania: How do you know if you have a drug addiction?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Great question. The key feature of drug addiction is the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs. It all starts with use of these substances. Once someone uses, they may find they use more and more often. They may start organizing their lives around their use of substances. They may find that they use even though it causes them problems. They spend more time on substances and have trouble quitting or cutting down on.

User Icon crazykelly. - Einstein High School, Maryland: What is snuff?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Hi Einstein! Kensington rocks!

What is snuff? Snuff is a form of smokeless chewing tobacco. Regular use of smokeless tobacco products may cause such problems as receding gums, tooth decay, mouth sores, precancerous lesions, and cancers of the mouth and throat. Smokeless tobacco users also may be at increased risk of heart disease and smoking cigarettes. Undesirable social consequences include bad breath, tobacco-stained teeth, and the need to spit tobacco juice. Want more info? Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html, http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2K8NSDUH/tabs/Sect7peTabs24to27.pdf and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon kasandra - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: how does chewing tabacco differ from smoking it.?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Chewing tobacco would not expose the people around you to dangerous smoke but, it still might cause cancer of the mouth. Cigarettes and chew tobacco are illegal substances in most U.S. states for those under 18 for good reason. Best to avoid tobacco in all forms.


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 Brianna - Martinsville High School, Virginia: do people die doing drugs? if so how many people do die doing drugs?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Yes they do. In 2006, about 35,000 people died from what were called 'unintentional drug poisonings' and many of these deaths involved prescription pain relievers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). But if you add deaths related to alcohol and tobacco that brings the total to about 560,000. Tobacco is definitely the drug that causes the most deaths (440,000 a year).

User Icon weedhead - Rockville High School, Maryland: can the smoke of marijuana affect a baby?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi - and thanks for your question. yes, weed/marijuana smoke can affect the baby. We've got a couple of studies on this - including one that has followed the kids from the prenatal/in utero/pregnancy stage until they were adults. And guess what - these studies have found subtle developmental effects on the baby's ability to think, pay attention, and other brain functions. Plus, people who use pot often smoke tobacco too, and tobacco use can also negatively affect the baby's health. For example, some studies show that babies born to mothers who used tobacco are more likely to use tobacco themselves and become addicted later on. You might be interested in learning more about long-term effects of marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj2.php#long_term. Of course, we recommend pregnant women not use http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.


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 heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: What is the experience to a middle school student with drugs?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey great question, but hard to answer directly. If you are asking about the effects of drugs on the developing brain, we are very interested in this question here at NIDA and are studying it. We know that the brains of middle schoolers are still going through lots of development--connections are being formed and pathways are being strengthened (like what happens in learning). Drugs can affect this process of brain development in many ways, and we also know that the earlier one starts to dabble in drugs, the more likely one is to become addicted. So, in the middle school years, one can be particularly vulnerable to drugs.

Here are some websites to check out and learn more about drugs:

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

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 lswimmer617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: can u get high off sharpiess

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Some markers may give off chemicals that can damage the brain and liver if inhaled. There's a question about sharpies that a teen asked last year, and we posted it on the sara bellum blog--take a look: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=sharpie

User Icon lololololololol - Einstein High School, Maryland: how many different types of drugs and tobacco are there?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning Einstein High!
That's a good question. There are ~599 ingredients and additives in cigarettes, that when burned, create over 4000 toxic, harmful chemical compounds -- many of which are known carcinogens (cause cancer). Want to know more about tobacco? Visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/nicotine/addictive.html#other and http://drugabuse.gov/. Keep the questions coming!

User Icon suryptitious17 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: What is DXM?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: DXM is the active ingredient found in OTC cough and cold medications. When taken in recommended doses, these medications are safe and effective. In very large quantities, DXM can cause effects similar to those of ketamine and PCP because these drugs affect similar sites in the brain. These effects can include impaired motor function, numbness, nausea/vomiting, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. On rare occasions, hypoxic brain damage - caused by severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain - has occurred due to the combination of DXM with decongestants often found in the medication.

User Icon 09tacome - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Whats the most additive drug?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Tough question. In general, drugs that are smoked, inhaled, or injected tend to be more addictive than those that are swallowed. Smoked or inhaled drugs get into brain much more rapidly and in more potent amounts that if done repeatedly can lead to compulsive drug taking. That's why cigarettes are so addictive: nicotine is taken into lung then the blood stream to the brain where it activates reward centers leading to tobacco addiction. However, this doesn't mean that it's safe to take drugs orally: less addictive can still be very addictive, as the many people currently addicted to Oxycontin can attest.

User Icon THEGODFATHER37 - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what is pharming?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Pharming is a slang term for abuse of prescription medications. These are medications that are taken under a doctor's supervision but can be addictive when abused. They can be very dangerous and deadly at times. To find more information, check out the NIDA website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon jazzyfizzle - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: is it true that people get high off handsanitizer.

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: one of the ingrediants is alcohol, and unfortunately there have been some reports of people drinking it to try to get high. Mostly they seem to get very sick doing that.

User Icon dbutler - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: when people in your family do drugs why does it effect you too

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: This can happen in many ways. Parents may negelect their children in favor of getting high if they are addicted, or they may become unable to provide for their family. If one parent uses drugs and the other doesn't, they may create an atmosphere of tension and conflict that affects everyone. Children who take drugs may make brothers or sisters feel called upon to help but uncertain how to help, or they may develop problems that require so much parental attention that brothers and sisters feel left out. Second-hand smoke from substances such as tobacco, marijuana or crack can have adverse health effects on others who breathe them.

User Icon cmedina0082 - Valley Vista High School, Arizona: if you have done drugs for a long period of time, lets say since i was 10 and im 17 now how long do i have till i die?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: The good news is that drug abuse and addiction can be treated and even people who have used for a long time, can turn their lives around. Some drugs are out of your system really quickly but after someone has been using drugs, they may have cravings or urges to use for a long time. These memories for drugs can be really difficult to control. Right now, we know that treatment is helpful but it's impossible to predict ahead of time who will respond to which treatment. The important point is that even when someone struggles, they should not give up hope. Rather they need to go back to treatment or modify their current treatment. In fact, setbacks are likely. Even people with diabetes may go off their diet or miss an insulin injection, and their symptoms will recur - that's a cue to get back on track, not to view treatment as a failure. So the key is to try different approaches until we figure out which approach works.

User Icon skyler13 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: what is the most common drug that is used

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Well, among those 12 to 17 that would be alcohol. In 2008, 31% of those 12 to 17 reported using alcohol in the past year (compared to 19% reporting past year use of a tobacco product and 19% reporting past year use of an illicit drug). See http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k8NSDUH/tabs/
Sect2peTabs1to42.htm#Tab2.38B
for more info.

User Icon sammygrace - Rockville High School, Maryland: What is the best and most effective way to help a friend who is an addict?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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

User Icon babyAND1 - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: if i am on drugs what can i do to help my addiction?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: How about talking to a school counselor, your parents or a trusted teacher? Here's a hotline number to call: 1-800-273-TALK
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/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php

User Icon Drugs - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: What are some rehabs that you recomend

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php

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 TRIGON - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Does weed cause cancer?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: We don't know the answer to that. Smoking weed does expose the lungs to many of the same poisons as tobacco--tar, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens. And you don't need to smoke as many joints as you do cigarettes to get the equivalent exposure. But studies in patients have not yet made a direct link to cancer. Also, many long time weed users also smoke cigarettes, and in some countries marijuana joints are laced with tobacco, making it even more difficult to figure this out. Nevertheless, marijuana does cause other respiratory problems--coughing, phlegm production, bronchitis, etc.

User Icon tatertot - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: If people have depression and are still taking drugs, how come some people also end up cutting their selves and trying to acually kill their selves?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Drugs make people feel good and high sometimes but afterwards they may feel much worse. also, sometimes when people use a lot of drugs they get really, really depressed and want to die. That's the unpredictable and dangerous part of drug abuse. If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression. Instead, talking to a counselor or doctor can help and medications can help to improve depression. If you'd like some more info about how to help your friend check out:
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.

User Icon Mr.Bigberrys - Einstein High School, Maryland: do you guys love to do your job? and teach kids.

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: I can speak for myself....yes I do love my job, and one of the best things about it is teaching!

User Icon SynapticFire - middlebury union high school, Vermont: What is the maximum amount of caffeine that you could have in a day without being harmed?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The LD50 of caffeine (meaning a dose that would kill about 50% of those taking it) would be about 90 cups of regular coffee taken in a short period of time. In other words: it is about 150 to 200 milligrams per kilogram of body mass. That's a lot of coffee!

User Icon jasmine - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: How do you know when someone is high

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. It depends on the drug but when someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol or marijuana, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. Other negative consequences can be stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse. There are a lot of other symptoms, but sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.

User Icon DLO(: - Presque Isle High School, Maine: Is the addiction to marijuana psychological or physical?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Hola,

What a good question. Addiction, to marijuana or to any other drug, is actually both, psychological AND physical. The behavioral part is definitely driven by changes in the brain (you could call this the psychological part) but then there is the phenomenon of physical dependence (which involves the brain and the rest of the body) that is responsible for the withdrawal symptoms (nausea, headaches, sleeplesness, etc.) that an addicted person may feel when trying to quit cold turkey.

User Icon paris hilton - Martinsville High School, Virginia: my friend does drugs how can he stop

Expert Icon Eve Reider: You are a very caring friend! Your friend may need help in order to stop. Perhaps your friend should talk to the school counselor. Another alternative is this link to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where your friend can find private and confidential help 24/7.

User Icon egiap - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what is the most addicting drug?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question! We still don't know or understand 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 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://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon StudenTTt - Rockville High School, Maryland: What happens if you smoke for the first time what does it do?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning Rockville High!!
So what happens when someone smokes? Upon entering the bloodstream, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. Glucose is released into the blood while nicotine suppresses insulin output from the pancreas, which means that smokers have chronically elevated blood sugar levels. Also, like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. Will you become addicted the first time you smoke cigarettes?? Not likely, but the more often and longer a person smokes, the greater the chances of addiction. In fact, for many tobacco users, long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction - a condition of compulsive drug seeking and use, even in the face of negative consequences.

Want more info on cigarettes? Visit http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html and http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon TheChunkyGuy - Rockville High School, Maryland: How do i know if someone i know is using drugs and is a drug abuser?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. It depends on the drug but when someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol or marijuana, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. Other negative consequences can be stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse. There are a lot of other symptoms, but sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.

User Icon wookie73 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: how can you get someone to quit smoking cigarettes

Expert Icon Dave McCann: First, they need to want to quit. Explaining the risk of developing cancer may help. Once they want to quit, medications are available to help. Seeing a doctor is a good idea. Here are some good reasons on our blog to not smoke: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/know-the-scene-four-reasons-not-to-smoke/ Check it out and leave a comment.

User Icon monkeys17 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: If you get addicted to drugs what will be some of the effects for teens?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: 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. Effects of getting addicted to drugs for teens may be that they can't perform in their daily activities. They may not be able to perform to their potential in academics, participate in other activities, such as sports or a job, and it interferes with their ability to get along with important people in their lives,, such as parents, friends, teachers.

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.



Moderator Icon A slang word for ecstasy is:
  1. Dumbo
  2. Adam
  3. Noodles
  4. Lemon drop

User Icon bubbly123 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what is hookah?????

Expert Icon Dave McCann: A hookah is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco. Cancer is a risk, of course, and there could be additional risks if something other than tobacco is smoked. Although many hookah smokers think it is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, water pipe smoking still delivers the addictive drug http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php for more info.

User Icon Ms.furballs - Einstein High School, Maryland: soooo is this all you do your life??? answering questions

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Well, today it seems like it. But we do so much more. I do a lot of writing about the science addiction, I also speak to a lot of groups about what we've learned from our research. I have one of the best jobs!

User Icon lbuffs_32 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: Is there a type of drug that people can pour in your drink or stick in your food without you tasting, smelling or seeing it?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: You might be thinking of GHB or Rohypnol. Both have both been used in certain types of assaults where the victim was given the drug without their knowledge. These drugs can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/Clubdrugs.html.

User Icon lollipop15 - Einstein High School, Maryland: Will N.I.H. ever ban smoking from everywhere? like, make it illegal?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: NIH conducts scientific research. We are working to understand drug addiction (including smoking) and to develop treatments that will make it easier for people to quit. We don't pass laws though. Smoking bans may be a good idea but they don't come from NIH. But speaking of smoking, 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. Read more on our blog: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/know-the-scene-four-reasons-not-to-smoke/ Leave a comment!

User Icon ck - Martinsville High School, Virginia: what is in weed

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Marijuana, the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC for short.

Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; that is, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite its known harmful effects upon social functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities. Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit.

Want more information on 'weed' and it's effects on your health, family and future?? Log onto http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/marijuana.html

User Icon Phillies0809 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Is it worse for young teens( 13-15) to take drugs then an older teen(16-19)?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: The earlier age at which people start using drugs, the more likely they will be at risk for having a drug problem later in life. 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 the best thing is just not to take drugs.

User Icon jwhiting - Skaneateles High School, New York: Why is marijuana a Schedule I drug?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Schedule I means that a drug has a high potential for abuse and no established medical benefits. Marijuana fits that description even though some of its ingredients (e.g. THC) do have approved medical uses--e.g. to increase appetite in people with wasting disorders, or to decrease nausea from cancer chemotherapies. Those ingredients are currently available in pill form, or are being developed as new medicines. But marijuana, because it is a plant, and is usually smoked, is not a good candidate for a medication. Smoking exposes the lungs to a variety of harmful chemicals, and the marijuana plant contains many ingredients with unknown effects. For a drug to have established medical benefits--it has to go through rigourous testing in clinical trials with patients to show that it is both safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes the final decision on whether a medicine meets the high standards for approval for use. Currently the FDA has not approved marijuana for any clinical use. States are making their own decisions about this, but that is a dangerous precedent to set, since the experts that usually approve medications are not making the decisions.

User Icon tatertot - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: How come people that end up in the hospital from taking drugs and they are put up for treatment, but when they live and get back home they still end up tkeing drugs or cutting them selves?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Great question! It depends on the drug. Some drugs are out of your system really quickly but after someone has been using drugs, they may have cravings or urges to use for a long time. These memories for drugs can be really difficult to control. Withdrawal symptoms may only last a few days or weeks but memories for drugs can last a long time. We're working hard to come up with better treatment for people with addiction. Right now, we know that treatment is helpful but it's impossible to predict ahead of time who will respond to which treatment. The important point is that even when someone relapses, they should not give up hope. Rather they need to go back to treatment or modify their current treatment. In fact, setbacks are likely. Even people with diabetes may go off their diet or miss an insulin injection, and their symptoms will recur - that's a cue to get back on track, not to view treatment as a failure. So the key is to try different approaches until we figure out which approach works.

User Icon lexxie - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Dr.Joseph, have you ever done drugs before. You help all these people out with their questions but have you had your own addiction to drugs anytime in your life?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hi Lexxie,

Thanks for your question! Fortunately, I have not had any struggles with addiction anytime in my life, but that said, I do believe that we are all capable of becoming addicted to drugs or to other things...such as food, internet, gambling, shopping, even work! We all have the brain biology that can allow us to fall victim to addiction.

I am currently addicted to playing the guitar!

Thanks much for your question.

Dr. J

User Icon kp - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: could drugs make a persons mood change

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Absolutely! One of the main effects of drugs is to cause mood changes. People can be unusually giddy, silly, talkative at one time and depressed, slow, irritable at another. These are some of the common effects of drugs.

User Icon davon n kayla - Martinsville High School, Virginia: why is crack bad

Expert Icon Dave McCann: 'Crack' is a smokeable form of http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_stim3.php You'll see other interesting things to click on while you're there.

User Icon johnathon-blitz - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: which is more deadly... drugs or alcohol

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Actually, tobacco, which is also a drug, is responsible for the most deaths (440,000 per year.)

User Icon itstooearly8 - middlebury union high school, Vermont: does smoking pot prevent getting the H1N1 virus?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey up there in Vermont! There is no evidence to suggest that smoking pot will prevent the H1N1 virus--but we do know that drugs of abuse can actually reduce our body's immune function.

For more information about marijuana, check out http://www.marijuana-info.org/!


User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: How can i help a loved one survive from smoking?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: This can be a very painful situation. People sometimes choose tobacco, 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-don't stay in the room when they smoke and don't let them expose you to smoke because it is a poison. To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, ypu can go to 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, a national toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), can help people get the information they need to quit smoking. Callers to the number are routed 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 pimp daddy 101 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: why does tobacco abuse pepoles body system

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning Lakeview!
So what happens when someone smokes? Upon entering the bloodstream, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. Glucose is released into the blood while nicotine suppresses insulin output from the pancreas, which means that smokers have chronically elevated blood sugar levels. Also, like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana,nicotine increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the brain pathways that control reward and pleasure. For many tobacco users, long-term brain changes induced by continued nicotine exposure result in addiction - a condition of compulsive drug seeking and use, even in the face of negative consequences.

Cigarette smoking accounts for about one-third of all cancers, including 90 percent of lung cancer cases. In addition to cancer, smoking causes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and increases the risk of heart disease, including stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and aneurysm. Smoking has also been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia.1,2 On average, adults who smoke die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers

Take a look at our research report on tobacco for even more information about the dangers of tobacco -- it's online at http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Nicotine/Nicotine.html.


User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: How can i help my family get off weed or drugs when i have already tried?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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, three 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

User Icon bloomgirl7 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How do I know if a friend is in trouble with drugs and who can I talk to it about?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi and thanks for asking this question. It's hard to be in this situation, seeing a friend and not being sure what you can do. It can be helpful for your friend to know that someone cares about them. You can let them know you are concerned and let them know that there are people they can talk with. There are some resources for them that are anonymous - for example the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide but about a lot of issues and can connect him with a person close by). There is also a website to learn about treatment programs where you live http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. From there, you might be able to identify a few programs in your neighborhood to share with your friend. Also -please consider talking with an adult you trust about this too, to get some advice and support! Good luck to you.

User Icon jazminjames - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: If you start smoking weed at the age of 13 what can happen?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Smoking marijuana can affect the developing brain and at 13, the brain has a whole lot of development to go through. Since important connections are being laid down and pathways being formed in the developing brain, marijuana doesn't stop the brain from developing, but it does affect how the brain develops. For more information about marijuana, please visit http://www.marijuana-info.org/!

Thanks for this great question!

User Icon tatertot - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: How come some people as well take drugs, but they also cut their selves in the arm legs or acually try to kill their selves?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Drugs make people feel good and high sometimes but afterwards they may feel much worse. also, sometimes when people use a lot of drugs they get really, really depressed and want to die. That's the unpredictable and dangerous part of drug abuse. If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression. Instead, talking to a counselor or doctor can help and medications can help to improve depression. If you'd like some more info about how to help your friend check out:
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.

User Icon meredithnicole - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Why are drugs like heroin and ecstasy so dangerous?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Heroin can be extremely addictive. Also, the purity of heroin can be extremely variable...if it's very pure, it can give the person a very high dose (frequently overdose). We have no way to know what the purity is, so this can be extremely dangerous. For more info on heroin, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Heroin.html.

As for ecstasy or MDMA, it primarily affects brain cells that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other neurons. The serotonin system plays an important part in controlling mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. MDMA also affects the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur right after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking it. Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain - one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused brain damage that lasted at least 6 to 7 years. Although similar neurotoxicity has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption. This is currently an area of active research.

MDMA can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which are particularly dangerous for people with circulatory problems or heart disease - and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. In high doses, MDMA can cause hyperthermia, which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.

Hope that helps.


User Icon suryptitious17 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: When did this website start? It has helped so many people,THANKS!!!

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: we've been doing chat day for three years now! Every year, we get more and more great questions....we are already planning our chat day for next year!

User Icon MrStimulant - Rockville High School, Maryland: I GOING CRAZY RIGHT NOW!! I NEED HELPPPPP....iM A REAL ADDICT

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: How about talking to a school counselor, your parents or a trusted teacher? Here's a hotline number to call:  1-800-273-TALK
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/; or to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php

User Icon DropU2 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: what does speed do to you

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Speed is another term for stimulants. Stimulants (which can include methamphetamine) increase wakefulness and physical activity, produces rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature. For information please visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Doc - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: why is addiction considered a 'disease'?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: That's an astute question. A disease occurs when a part of the body doesn't work normally, causing symptoms. In the case of addiction, the afffected body part is the brain: drugs disrupt the normal functioning of the brain's frontal cortex (the thinking part) and mesolimbic reward system (the motivational part). The main symptom is addiction--a compulsive need to use drugs, even while knowing that the drugs are causing all kinds of problems in one's life. Most people who become addicted require treatment and remain at risk of relapse for the rest of their lives.

User Icon PaNdA oN RoiDs - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is there a difference between crack and cocaine

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Crack is the smoked form of cocaine. Like the powdered form, it is highly addictive.

User Icon tevin - Martinsville High School, Virginia: IF one of you freind are smoking what should you do ?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: I would strongly recommend that they quit smoking. There are many effective treatments out there, the best advice is to encourage them to talk with their doctor, who can help them stop smoking.

User Icon asia1533 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Can anyone get addicted to drugs?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question!! Yes! Anyone can get addicted to drugs. Some people get addicted more quickly than others but anyone can get addicted. All drugs are potentially harmful and may lead to addiction or have other life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects; another person may be particularly vulnerable and develop addiction...others may overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

User Icon lswimmer617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how long does it take to g et off drugs

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Great question! It depends on the drug. Some drugs are out of your system really quickly but after someone has been using drugs, they may have cravings or urges to use for a long time. These memories for drugs can be really difficult to control. Withdrawal symptoms may only last a few days or weeks but memories for drugs can last a long time. If you'd like more info go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#addicted

User Icon kp - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: what causes kids want to do drugs besides peirpreshure ?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: Kids are very interested in this question! People use drugs for a variety of reasons. As you mentioned, some use drugs because someone they know is using them and has offered drugs to them, like friends or a family members. Others may use drugs to improve their mood, help them study, lose weight, improve their sports performance, help them sleep. You may want to check out our web site for teens for more information about why people, specifically teens, might start using drugs. Go to http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon linleywillis - Otto Middle School, Michigan: why do you throw up after drinking alcohol

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Alcohol, like other drugs, is a poison when taken in high doses. Each person has a different response but in general, stomach effects are very common with alcohol.

User Icon garyanna - Presque Isle High School, Maine: what is a dove cigerette?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning, Presque Isle!

Contrary to popular belief, clove cigarettes, also called kreteks, contain tobacco - they are made up of 60-70 percent tobacco and 30-40 percent shredded cloves (a spice). Considering their tobacco content, clove cigarettes are probably as harmful and dangerous as regular cigarettes. As a matter of fact, kreteks may hold even more risk than ordinary smokes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), clove cigarettes produce at least twice as much nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide as regular American cigarettes brands.

Plus, there may be an additional risk due to their clove content. The major active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, which is a topical anesthetic used in dentistry. The short- and long-term health effects of eugenol are not well known, and little inhalation toxicology research has been done on this substance. However, when smoked, eugenol numbs the throat and impairs the gag reflex. Want more information on cigarettes and their impact on your health?

Visit http://www.fda.gov/default.htm and http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html. Keep the questions coming!


User Icon rspena92 - C.H. Yoe High School, Texas: What is the easiest way to quit smoking?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. Many people quit smoking on their own but there are many ways to help people quit. You can encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. A national toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), can help people get the information they need to quit smoking. Callers to the number are routed 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 brijbanerji - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Can you get high off of sharpies

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Yep, in fact we recently wrote a blog entry about this issue. Check out the blog and the comments we've received from teens at inhalants "http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=inhalants. It states 'permanent markers contain chemicals called solvents. When inhaled, these solvents can produce a 'high.' Like alcohol, inhalants (including Sharpies) can cause slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Unfortunately, the chemicals that cause these effects can also make you sick, kill your brain cells, and damage your nerves."

User Icon wongjew - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What are the primary reasons people start taking drugs?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: This is a popular question. Different people use drugs for a variety of reasons: 1)because their friends are using them and they think they need to use them to keep their friends, 2) to get high, 3) for reducing stress, 4) for studying, 5) to lose weight, 6) because they think they will help them feel better about themsleves, 7) relax, 8) performance enhancement in sports, etc. I think people don't think about the possible consequences of drug use when they start using them, otherwise, they may not have started in the first place. 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. Connect and Interact. Free downloads and cool videos about drugs. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads

User Icon beltztyler - Otto Middle School, Michigan: it was a good idea to start this website

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Thanks! We think its important to get the scientific facts out there about drugs. We get so many questions, almost two thousand in the first hour and a half, that we feel badly that we can't answer them all. But keep checking back, you never know, we might get your question answered, or at least a question very similar to the one you asked!

User Icon zamirdoughty - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: how come people know drugs can kill them ,but they use the any ways?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: Perhaps people are just thinking 'in the moment' when they are using drugs, and not thinking about the possible consequences that may occur as a result of using them. For example, a person is not going to die from smoking one cigarette, however, it is very easy to get addicted to them and there are huge health consequences. And once you become dependent or addicted, it isn't so easy to stop. The definition of drug addiction: a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. For more information about addiction, take a look at The Science of Addiction on our web site. Go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/ and click on Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction at the upper right of the home page.

User Icon starcraft93 - Rockville High School, Maryland: What should be people normally do when they find out their friend or relatives uses drug?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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, three 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

User Icon coolaid56 - Rockville High School, Maryland: what affects do shrooms have on you and how long do the affects last and how does it affect your health

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: 'Shrooms' are psilocybin mushrooms. They are hallucinogenic--that is, they cause hallucinations, profound distortions in perceptions 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. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. These effects can last several hours. Health consequences can include accidents and sometimes self-harm that occur while under the influence. Some people who take hallucinogens develop hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), more commonly referred to as 'flashbacks'--visual or other perceptual distortions that don't go away, and can occur years later.

User Icon heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: If your friend is deppressed and cuts themself and they want to cheer up by smoking or drinking or anything drug related what do you do?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: People who become depressed, lonely and isolated sometimes look to drugs and alcohol to feel better. The problem is that drugs and alcohol cause the mood to get worse in the long run. If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression. Instead, talking to a counselor or doctor can help and medications can help to improve depression. If you'd like some more info about how to help your friend check out:

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.

User Icon Ladybuff_00 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: will you tell me an interesting fact about drugs?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Here's an interesting fact - In 2007, nearly 288,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse.


Moderator Icon In infants and children, secondhand smoke is a known cause of:
  1. sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  2. respiratory problems and ear infections
  3. asthma attacks
  4. all of the above

User Icon heylo - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: using alcohol while havin a baby,can that make the baby want more when its born?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi there - good question. You know there are some drugs that when used during pregnancy, can result in an infant being born addicted and going through a period of withdrawal, whic is called: neonatal abstinence sydrome. Opiates are like that (opiates include heroin, methadone, morphine, and prescription pain killers like vicodin or oxycotin). 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. Thanks again for your question.

User Icon jazz - Clark County Youth House, Washington: can you die the first time using any type of drug?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes--although, fortunately its a rare event. But you can die from a drug overdose--in which a drug causes a heart attack, stops your breathing, or causes your body to overheat. Also you can die because drugs affect your judgment and cause you to do something stupid--like driving while drunk or high. The Center for Disease Control reports about 35,000 deaths last year due to unintentional poisonings--which is usually drug overdose, and often related to prescription pain relievers.

User Icon suryptitious17 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: What is angel dust?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Angel dust is another name for PCP or phencyclidine. It's is a 'dissociative' drug, distorting perceptions of sight and sound and producing feelings of detachment. Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). It was developed in the 1950s as an IV anesthetic and was never approved for human use because of problems during clinical studies, including intensely negative psychological effects.

User Icon proberts - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: When people are weening themselves off of marijuana do they have withdrawals

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Yes. Difficulty sleeping is the most common problem seen with withdrawal from marijuana. It may only take a few days to recover though. Here's a whole bunch of marijuana facts for teens: http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

User Icon balljay - Otto Middle School, Michigan: witch drug kills the most

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2006, about 35,000 people died from what were called 'unintentional drug poisonings' and many of these deaths involved prescription pain relievers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). But if you added deaths related to tobacco that brings the total to about 475,000. So tobacco is definitely the drug that causes the most deaths. It causes about 440,000 deaths a year.

User Icon sweet-Girl - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: How do addicts feel when they are trying to stop using drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Thanks for your question. This depends a lot on the type of drug that's being abused. In the long run, addicts feel BETTER when they are off drugs, but for the first few days or weeks, they may feel much worse. Alcohol and painkillers can have a lot of uncomfortable symptoms and may need medical attention when someone quits them. These withdrawal symptoms depend on how long and how heavily someone has been using.

User Icon skyler13 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how can you help people that use drugs

Expert Icon Dave McCann: You can help get them into treatment. Behavioral therapy (like 'talk' therapy) can help someone addicted to drugs. It teaches important skills for avoiding drug use. Medications are also available to help people quit using some drugs of abuse. 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 heyy123 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: What is the Percentage of kids 12 and up who do drugs?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2008 19% of 12 to 17 year olds (or 2.4 million) reported abusing an illicit drug in the past year.

User Icon ballason - Rockville High School, Maryland: Are cigars addictive?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning Rockville High!
Smoking any form of tobacco, including cigars (even if you don't inhale), can cause disease. Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year? Check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco and http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/tobacco.html for more information on tobacco, cigars and smoking!

User Icon JB-J - Clark County Youth House, Washington: I'd like to ask for information on how drug use affects future children the drug user might have. Which drugs alter the future parents' DNA and which only affect the unborn child if the parent is under the influence at conception or during pregnancy?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Good Morning Washington ... Great question! We have many studies looking at how mom's use of drugs during her pregnancy is related to long-term health and development outcomes. These studies include drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and also tobacco and alchohol. Here's a link with some information about this research: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

Also ... your question about drugs altering the DNA is really interesting! We are still trying to understand how drugs of abuse affect genes as well as genetic processes that turn genes on and off - an area of science called epigenetics. Further - we are looking into the role of how genes play a role in enhancing vulnerability among difference groups (see: http://archives.drugabuse.gov/newsroom/09/NR3-04.html). By the way ... have you considered a career in science?


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 mathlete_14 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: Can using drugs cause depression?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Great question. Drug abuse and mental illness are related in complex ways. Drugs can make the mood much worse (especially when they wear off) but also being depressed can lead to people taking drugs to feel better. In general, drugs and depression make each other worse. So people with depression have trouble quitting drugs and people who use drugs frequently get really depressed.

User Icon beltztyler - Otto Middle School, Michigan: what is the worst drug

Expert Icon Dave McCann: The worst drug may be the unknown drug. Some drugs are more dangerous than others, but keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. All drugs are potentially harmful and may have life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects, another person may be particularly vulnerable and overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

User Icon lswimmer617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how could i help a family member get off drugs

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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, three 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

User Icon Squishy Camel - Skaneateles High School, New York: Are drugs always a bad thing? Is medical use the only excuse?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Pretty much.

User Icon vyanez420 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what are the side effects of dxm?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: DXM--an ingredient in cough medicines, when taken at high doses can produce a 'dissociative state'--a disconnect with yourself and the real world. It can cause motor impairments, e.g., slurred speech, incoordination, numbness; nausea/vomiting, and sometimes increased heart rate and blood pressure. On rare occasions, brain damage - caused by severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain - can result. This may be due to the combination of DXM with other ingredients (decongestants) also found in cough medicines.

User Icon sadams - Skaneateles High School, New York: should you stop someone who is doing drugs

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning, again, Skaneateles High. That is another good question. While you cannot 'make' someone stop using drugs, you can express your concern to them about their drug using habits and the problems it may cause. Ultimately, the choice to do drugs is theirs and you can't stop them. But you can be a good friend and encourage them to make better choices for themselves. You can share with them that using drugs afftects their brain and can affect their ability to plan, solve problems, and make decisions. Want more information on teen drug use? Log onto http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon restrict2050 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Why do people feel as if they have to do drugs

Expert Icon Eve Reider: Good question. Different people use drugs for a variety of reasons: 1)because their friends are using them and they think they need to use them to keep their friends, 2) to get high, 3) for reducing stress, 4) for studying, 5) to lose weight, 6) because they think they will help them feel better about themsleves, 7) relax, 8) performance enhancement in sports, etc. I think people don't think about the possible consequences of drug use when they start using them, otherwise, they may not have started in the first place. 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. Connect and Interact. Free downloads and cool videos about drugs. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads

User Icon iNK9 - Port Chester High School, New York: can roid rage be avoided?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Of course, just stay away from anabolic steroiods! Now, if your rage is not related to steroid abuse I suggest you take up yoga.

User Icon jennybellybean - Port Chester High School, New York: what drug would take the longest to recover from, if the user decided to quit?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: All drugs of abuse can cause brain changes that take a long time to go away after the user decides to quit. Brain changes in response to methamphetamine may be the worst. Keep in mind that when drugs are bought on the street (or from "friends"), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. There was NO brain recovery for these people. Read more about it: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/

User Icon maddog558 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: is it possible to get high off a sharpie marker?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The vapor that comes off a Sharpie belongs to a class of abused drugs we call inhalants. Unfortunately, some kids sniff these to try and get a buzz similar to the one you get after drinking alcohol. But abusing any type of inhalant is extremely dangerous because they are toxic substances that dissolve in fatty tissues and can spread through the entire brain very quickly. Inhalants are one of the few types of drugs that can kill instantly and after a single use!

User Icon raelynn-slakes - Benjamin Tasker Middle School, Maryland: Some teens and adults are highly addicted to drugs. Why does some theorpy work, such as rehab, but others don't?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. We're working hard to come up with better treatment for people with addiction. Right now, we know that treatment is helpful but it's impossible to predict ahead of time who will respond to which treatment.
The important point is that even when someone relapses, they should not give up hope. Rather they need to go back to treatment or modify their current treatment. In fact, setbacks are likely. Even people with diabetes may go off their diet or miss an insulin injection, and their symptoms will recur - that's a cue to get back on track, not to view treatment as a failure. So the key is to try different approaches until we figure out which approach works.

User Icon skyler13 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how can you useing a drug affect how you play a sport

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Many drugs can impact a person's coordination and spacial perception, both of which are key to succeeding at many sports. Our website for teens has more information on how specific drugs can impact the body http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon MrStimulant - Rockville High School, Maryland: What are the dangers of legal stimulants?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: There is actual minimal danger of using stimulants that have been prescribed by a doctor to treat a medical condition, PROVIDED they are used under medical supervision and exactly as the doctor ordered. Using stimulants for ANY other reason (for example to get high or to cram for an exam) is a really bad idea. Stimulants are powerful drugs that change the brain chemistry and, if used long enough, can also change the shape and function of some parts of the brain. These changes are what can lead to addiction, a not so happy ending. Check out this video on prescription drugs on our teen site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/video.php?video=khmp3MgAFTM

User Icon irules21 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: If u suspected someone of doing drugs, whats a good way to find out.

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: How about just asking the person in a nonconfrontational or nonjudgmental way? If that does not work for you, you can look for changes in behavior, like slipping grades at school, lack of interest in things that he/she used to enjoy, he/she is unable to concentrate, and he/she is irritable or moody. With more than casual use, we can see things like depression, anger, lack of sleep, jitteriness, loss of memory, etc.

If you would like a little more information about helping a friend, please visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/. Good luck.

User Icon Briana - Martinsville High School, Virginia: Which drug kills more people in atlanta?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: I don't know the situation in Atlanta but around the country, tobacco is the number one cause of death from addiction. Tobacco causes, cancer, heart disease and lung problems. http://www.cdc.gov/


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.

User Icon Kensingtonking - Einstein High School, Maryland: Is there a N.I.H rock band? or will there be one?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: As a matter of fact, our new director, Dr. Francis Collins is a musician, plays the guitar. He and some of the directors of some of the individual institutes that make up NIH have played some gigs!

Which do you prefer, Rock Band or Guitar Hero?

User Icon sadams - Skaneateles High School, New York: Are kid/teens more likey to become addicted to drugs if they try it at an early age?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning skaneateles High!
That's a great question! We know from scientific research that the earlier you start using drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences. The reasons for this are complex--first, drugs affect the brain, and the brain is still developing until early adulthood. So, it's possible for drugs to alter the normal developmental pattern--research is still ongoing to help us figure this out. Second, people who use drugs when they are very young often have other problems that led to their drug use in the first place. For example, they may have difficult family situations or problems with depression or anxiety, etc. and attempt to use drugs to help them cope. Unfortunately, drug abuse just makes things worse in the long run, and doesn't address the problems that led to its use. Third, using drugs can interfere with success in school, in sports, and in relationships with friends and family, further creating problems down the road.

So the bottom line is that early drug use can lead to later drug addiction and other problems, and the best advice is to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it.

For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.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/

User Icon lswimmer617 - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how long does it take to to get off a drug competle

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Great question! It depends on the drug. SOme drugs are out of your system really quickly but after someone has been using drugs, they may have cravings or urges to use for a long time. These memories for drugs can be really difficult to control. Withdrawal symptoms may only last a few days or weeks but memories for drugs can last a long time. If you'd like more info go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain2.php#addicted

User Icon PaNdA oN RoiDs - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is it dangerous to get drunk and then to get high?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes--its especially dangerous if you plan to drive--since both can affect driving ability and together they are even worse. Also both affect your judgment--which means that you could do things that you wouldn't ordinarily do that could either be harmful or embarrassing or both.

User Icon GOD - Skaneateles High School, New York: What is the best way to stop using a drug?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Some people can quit drugs on their own but most people need help. It is safe to confide in your doctor. To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

User Icon dbutler - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: how does drugs get you addicted

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question. Seems that all drugs that people get addicted to affect the brain's dopamine system. This brain system is involved with reward and pleasure. Repeated use of drugs can start to change this system, causing a person to no longer be able to control their drug use. The person becomes 'driven' to take the drug, even when he/she realizes that he/she isn't able to do well in school, isn't able to enjoy the things that used to make him/her happy, and is hurting his/her relationship with friends and family.

For more information about addiction and drugs, please visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/.

User Icon zamirdoughty - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: I SMOKED TWO BLUNTS AND A TOOK OXY COTTON LAST NIGHT CAN I DIE/? EVEN THOUGH IM NOT HIGH ANY MORE?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Overdose and death happen quickly with OxyContin (within a few hours after taking the pills). In people who have serious pain, OxyContin can be helpful but in people who don't take it under medical supervision, it can be very dangerous. Many people have been dying from painkiller overdoses (OD). The U.S. has had an epidemic of death from painkiller overdosing in the past few years. It sounds like you may need to talk to someone about risks of drug abuse--like parents, a school counselor, a doctor, or a trusted teacher. They can help to figure out the situation and work to develop a plan. For more info goto:
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.

User Icon cms516 - Port Chester High School, New York: Why is it mostly teenagers at our age 13 and up, expierment with many types of drugs?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Actually the data show that in terms of age it's those 18-20 that are more often abusing drugs (see http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh/reports.htm#2k8). That said you are right that adolescence is a time where some may experiment with drugs. That's partly because many behaviors that are a normal aspect of a teen's development, such as the desire to do something new or risky, may increase their tendencies to experiment with drugs. Some teens may give in to the urging of drug-abusing friends to share the experience with them. Others may think that taking drugs (such as steroids) will improve their appearance or their athletic performance or that abusing substances such as alcohol or Ecstasy (MDMA) will ease their anxiety in social situations. But you should also know that in general our survey results are showing that drug abuse among those in 8th, 10th, and 12th grades is declining, which is something we are happy to see.

User Icon samohtttam - Skaneateles High School, New York: What causes the body to crave drugs?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Any drug that produces an initial feeling of euphoria will drive some people to try it again in an attempt to repeat that first pleasurable experience. But with chronic or heavy use of a drug the brain starts to change (adapt). At some point the use becomes a habit. Later this habit becomes compulsive use; at that point the user has lost control over the drug and has become addicted to it. As you see, the process of addiction is a long one. It may start with a 'good trip' but it is hard to predict where it will end. That is why avoiding experimentation is the smart thing to do.

User Icon Craig Tress - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Does overdosing on a drug, neccesarily mean that you are going to die?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Not everyone who overdoses on a drug dies. On the other hand, some people can die after taking a 'normal' dose of a drug. For example, because of genetic differences, some people have hearts that are extremely sensitive to the effects of http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

User Icon Mr.Dazzle.com - Skaneateles High School, New York: what is computer duster vapor used for?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: It belongs to a class of abused drugs we call inhalants. Abusing any type of inhalant is extremely dangerous because they are toxic substances that dissolve in fatty tissues and can spread through the entire brain very quickly. Inhalants are one of the few types of drugs that can kill instantly and after a single use!

User Icon waffleeater21 - Floyd Elementary School, Virginia: What kind of cancers can you get from smoking cigerattes?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Smoking cigarettes can cause many different kinds of cancer. Foremost among the cancers caused by tobacco use is lung cancer - cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women. Smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, and acute myeloid leukemia. And 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.

User Icon grinnellaustin - Otto Middle School, Michigan: can alcohol kill you

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes it can. You can overdose by drinking too much and die from acute alcohol poisoning. Chronic use of alcohol can also cause many potentially fatal illness such as liver disease. And don't forget, drinking and driving can also be deadly.

User Icon balllllllllerrr - Rockville High School, Maryland: What drug is worse Alchol or Weed and why

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: That is like comparing apples and oranges--each has its own drawbacks. Alcohol, especially in young people, has known harmful effects on brain development; it also affects judgment--which could mean that you will do dangerous or embarrasing things that you wouldn't do ordinarily. Weed affects memory, perception, appetite, and judgment. Both impair driving, and if combined (weed and alcohol) the effects are worse than either one alone.


Moderator Icon Of smokers who try to quit, what percentage are successful at any one time?
  1. 10%
  2. 5%
  3. 15%
  4. 1%

User Icon anthony - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: would you smoke weed and crack for a 500,000 dollars?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Hmmmmm, I doubt that anyone will offer you a lot of money to use drugs! The negative consequences such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse (addiction) are too great.

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 MokeyKing8 - Skaneateles High School, New York: Can you die from chewing tabacco?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning,
That's a good question. Tobacco use can lead to serious health problems, including quite a few different cancers. In fact, chewing tobacco, in particular, can cause gum disease and has been linked to pancreatic cancer. See http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco for more information. Keep the questions coming!

User Icon tysheagates - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: can smoking drugs lead you to lung cancer.

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning Ludlow!
That's a great question. The short answer to that question is yes. Let's take, for example, cigarettes. Studies show that the younger a person starts smoking, the more likely they are to become heavy smokers and develop smoking-related diseases, including cancer. Remember, though, that smoking anything, including marijuana, meth or any other drug, can damage your lungs. For more information go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana Again, thanks for your question!

User Icon mastachief23 - Rockville High School, Maryland: MY HEALTH CLASS IS ABOUT TO END

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: thanks for participating!

User Icon imreallytired - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What type of drugs was A-Rod and Manny Ramerez taking during their careers and how did it enhance their playing?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: They were taking different types of anabolic steroids, which are drugs that help the muscles bulk up. As you can imagine, this is not allowed in sports because it makes them bigger and probably also able to hit a ball much farther, which is an unfair advantage. Anabolic Steroid use also has a range of negative health consequences which you can read about on our website at: http://www.steroidabuse.gov/. Check out this video on steroid abuse on our teen site (that's me lifting weights--without steroids!:) http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/video.php?video=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

User Icon hrosales - Rockville High School, Maryland: ANSWER MY QUESTIONS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Patience, we are getting lots of good questions, we are answering as quickly as we can

User Icon vergeweitigung - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: why does alcohol affect some people more than others?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Good question. You're right, there are individual differences in how people respond to alcohol and other drugs. Part of the reason is genes. Your genes can affect how you metabolize a drug and how drugs act on your brain and other organs in your body. For example, the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase oxidizes alcohol in the body. Some people have an alternate form of this gene that causes the enzyme to work less well, putting them at risk of alcohol toxicity. Another example: people have different forms of a gene for an enzyme that breaks down nicotine, and depending on which form a person has, he or she will be more or less vulnerable to smoking addiction.

User Icon chancemeister94 - Presque Isle High School, Maine: How are Club drugs made?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Street drugs - such as club drugs - are sometimes made in filthy conditions by people who know very little about chemistry. Keep in mind that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.Some contaminants can be worse than any club drug.In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP) that kills dopamine neurons.People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. You can read more about club drugs here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php

User Icon MLL2 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Can drinking and taking prescription medicine kill you?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes. It depends on the drug of course and the amount, but some prescription drugs are 'depressants' (e.g. xanax, valium) or pain relievers, which can slow or stop your breathing. And particularly when combined with alcohol or other prescription meds, they can be very dangerous. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 35,000 unintentional poisonings in the past year--most of these are thought to be due to overdose with prescription pain killers (opiates).

User Icon swimmer17 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what are some common warning signs of drug use?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hey, thanks for the question. The answer is that it really depends...depends on the drug, length of use, how it is used, etc. Some of the common warning signs are noticeable changes in behavior. Grades can slip, interest in things fades, the user is unable to concentrate, and irritability/moodiness can occur.  With more than casual use, we can see things like depression, anger, lack of sleep, jitteriness, loss of memory, etc.

If you would like more general information on drugs or would like a little help for a friend, please visit http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/. Hope this helps.

User Icon I D 10 T - Skaneateles High School, New York: can you detox yourself without going to a drug clinic?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Some people can stop taking drugs on their own but most people need help. It is safe to confide in your doctor. 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 lacey123 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Is there an age where taking drugs isn't actually harmful?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: absolutely not. Drugs can be harmful to you at any age

User Icon Nachosssss - Rockville High School, Maryland: you dont like rockville high dont u

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Love Rockville High School, I even visited and spoke at your school a year ago.. But I don't like those speed cameras in front of the school!! :)

User Icon 1337pwnerer - Rockville High School, Maryland: What harm can shrooms physically do to your body?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: The active ingredient in 'shrooms,' is psilocybin, which is an hallucinogen, one of a class of drugs that cause profound distortions in perceptions 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. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. These drugs don't have known harmful effects to the body, but people who take them may be injured in accidents because they are not registering reality correctly, and some people have harmed themselves under their influence.

User Icon heylo - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: why do people like weed so much?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: People like it because marijuana can give you a 'high' that affects each person differently. Many teens use it because don't really appreciate the risks. Get more of your marijuana questions answered here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana Good question!

User Icon andisol - Rockville High School, Maryland: can you OD off oxycotton?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Great question! OxyContin is used to treat pain. In people who have serious pain, it can be very helpful but in people who don't take it under medical supervision, it can be very dangerous. Many people have been dying from painkiller overdoses (OD). The U.S. has had an epidemic of death from painkiller overdosing in the past few years.

User Icon jessim98 - Kingswood Middle School, New Hampshire: Is stoned the same thing as high?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Could be, although i think 'stoned' is usually used in reference to marijuana whereas 'high' is more generally applied to drugs, so not just marijuana.

User Icon A.S.K - Rockville High School, Maryland: When a girl uses the same drug as a boy, which sex reacts more to the drug?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Great question. Your questions is about individual differences in response to drugs and sex difference to play a role- a women's menstrual cycle can affect how you experience a drug and women respond to some pain medications differently than men. Your genetic background is also important. Your genes can affect how you metabolize a drug and how they act on your brain and other organs in your body. For example, the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase oxidizes alcohol in your body, and some people have an alternate form of this gene that causes the enzyme to work less well, putting people at risk of alcohol toxicity. Another example: people have different forms of a gene for an enzyme (CYP2A6) that breaks down nicotine, and depending on which form a person has, he or she will be more or less vulnerable to smoking addiction.

User Icon nikki - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: Is smoking a big risk for teens who have asthma?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: consider this....there are many natural things that are dangerous and even deadly....arsenic, strychnine...

User Icon wongjew - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what is the most commonly abused dug?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning Upper Dublin High!
Thanks for the question! The most commonly abused drugs by teens include alcoholtobacco and marijuana. We have a lot of info about drug abuse. For instance, every year researchers at the University of Michigan supported by NIDA ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their attitudes towards - and use of - drugs. This is the Monitoring the Future Survey, and you can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html . You can also check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon Phillies0809 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Why can't athletes take steriods? Has anyone on the Yankees ever done drugs?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: There are two main reasons I can think of why athletes should not take steroids:
1) In the short term, it gives them an unfair advantage over their non-using rivals.
2) In the long term they are setting themselves up for some nasty medical consequences.

I don't know about the Yankees--you see I am from Argentina and only follow soccer, not baseball.

For more information on steroids, check out: www.steroidabuse.gov.

User Icon lacey123 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Why aren't you answering any of CV's questions?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: We're sorry we haven't gotten to your questions yet. We've actually received over 1300 questions so far and are answering them as fast as we can.

User Icon Tyler - Clark County Youth House, Washington: Why do people as young as 10 sniff household products to get high?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Because they are there--readily available. We get questions about people taking all sorts of often disgusting things that they think will make them high--mothballs even. Household products are readily available--but they are also very dangerous. Every year some number of kids die from taking inhalants.


Moderator Icon Cigarette smoking accounts for how many of all cancer deaths:
  1. one-third
  2. one-fourth
  3. one-fifth
  4. one-half

User Icon bloomgirl7 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How should you react when you find out your friend is using drugs?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: Be a good friend. Tell your friend that you are concerned about them doing drugs, whether it is smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or other types of drugs. If you think this person is having problems, tell an adult that you trust, whether it's a parent, teacher, or counselor.
If your friend needs 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.

User Icon friedchicken747 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: hey Dr. Joseph what can you play on the guitar

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hi friedchicken747, thanks for the question. I generally play blues and some jazz, but I have been known to play anything. I love playing...it's my 'drug of choice!'

User Icon wongjew - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: How can i help a friend that may be on drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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, three 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

User Icon raphael - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: What are the effects of the drug angel dust?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: In some people, angel dust (PCP) can cause a 'bad trip' and a feeling that everyone is out to get them. High doses can kill. Keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. Read about the actions of PCP on our teen website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_hal5.php You can try a quiz, too.

User Icon 814858 - Einstein High School, Maryland: what are arguments against the use of medical marijuana?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Great question. 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 kaitlyndufresne - Lakeview Middle School, Michigan: how many schools are doing this today??

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: There are about 100 schools across the country that will be asking us questions. We hope we can get at least some from every school answered.


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 asia1533 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Which drug kills more people in America?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2006, about 35,000 people died from what were called 'unintentional drug poisonings' and many of these deaths involved prescription pain relievers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). But if you added deaths related to tobacco that brings the total to about 475,000. So tobacco is definitely the drug that causes the most deaths. It causes about 440,000 deaths a year.

User Icon naruto - Rockville High School, Maryland: Why do people get addicted to marijuana?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The short answer is that marijuana can change the brain. Here's a longer answer: Any drug that produces an initial feeling of euphoria will drive some people to try it again in an attempt to repeat that first pleasurable experience. But, like with any drug of abuse, with chronic or heavy use of marijuana the brain starts to change (adapt). At some point the use becomes a habit. Later this habit becomes compulsive use; at that point the user has lost control over the drug and has become addicted to it. As you see, the process of addiction is a long one. It may start with a 'good trip' but it is hard to predict where it will end. That is why avoiding experimentation is the smart thing to do.

User Icon MLL2 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is it true that smoking marijuana kills brain cells and you can not get them back?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question, but hard to give a real direct answer. There is not yet any direct evidence in humans of cell loss, but we have evidence that this occurs in animals. We do know, though, that marijuana (THC) affects the function/output of brain cells. For example, THC affects brain cells (or neurons), with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, and the cerebral cortex, have high concentrations of cannabinoid receptors. Since the hippocampus (a part of the brain with a funny name and a big job) plays a critical role in certain types of learning, it makes sense that marijuana interferes with learning and memory (studying, learning new things, and recalling recent events).

Do these effects persist? We don't know for sure, but as adolescents, your brains are still developing. So is it really worth the risk? For more information about marijuana, please visit http://www.marijuana-info.org/.


User Icon d.a.n.k. - Skaneateles High School, New York: i personally love meth. is there anything i can add to it to make it more potent or powerful

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Meth is a really dangerous drug-very addictive and harmful. One reason it can be addictive is because people like using it. They use more and more of it and neglect other parts of their life to get or use the drug. 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.


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

User Icon raphael - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: what are some of the effects of angel dust?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Angel dust is another name for PCP or phencyclidine. It's is a 'dissociative' drug, distorting perceptions of sight and sound and producing feelings of detachment. Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). It was developed in the 1950s as an IV anesthetic and was never approved for human use because of problems during clinical studies, including intensely negative psychological effects.

User Icon I D 10 T - Skaneateles High School, New York: why shouldnt people do drugs

Expert Icon Dave McCann: That's a very basic and good question. In short, drugs can harm or kill you. Some drugs are more dangerous than others but keep in mind that when you get drugs on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP), which kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. Read "teens real stories" with drugs on our teen website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/stories/index.php


Moderator Icon The effects of opioid abuse can include:
  1. addiction
  2. depressed respiration
  3. nausea
  4. all of the above

User Icon b.radiance - Einstein High School, Maryland: Can smoking give you bladder cancer?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Good morning Einstein, welcome to the chat! Hi to all my friends there! We all know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but yes thre is scientific evidence that other types of cancer can be caused by smoking as well.

User Icon ganstersjg - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Should marujuana be legalized?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: There's lots of discussion about that these days--but my opinion is no. We already have enough dangerous substances available that are legal (tobacco and Marijuana causes its own set of problems--it messes with your memory, your coordination, and your perceptions. If you're smoking weed and trying to learn something in school, you're going to have problems, or if you are trying to drive, you could get into an accident. And, while we all know that tobacco is highly addictive--and can cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, most people don't know that marijuana is also addictive. Among people that smoke weed every day, some 25-50% become addicted--that means that they have trouble stopping use even though they recognize that marijuana is negatively affecting their lives.

User Icon Squishy Camel - Skaneateles High School, New York: Are all drugs addictive after excessive use--even 'over the counter's addictive?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Thanks for your question! The list of addictive drugs is long. Even some medications available in pharmacies are abused and can be addictive. The key is that addictive substances are reinforcing (give a 'buzz') and lead to repeated use. 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 they show a lot of information about what drugs are abused. You can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html

User Icon CuriousGeorge - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How much alcohol does it take to cause a fetus to have FAS?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi Pennsylvania and thanks for taking part in the chat! 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. 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. 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.

User Icon sean and drew - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: How many people have died using drugs every year?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2006, about 35,000 people died from what were called 'unintentional drug poisonings' and many of these deaths involved prescription pain relievers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). But if you added deaths related to tobacco that brings the total to about 475,000. So tobacco is definitely the drug that causes the most deaths.

User Icon heylo - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: can you get addicted to a drug just by bein around it a lot even if your not doin it?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Interesting question. Keep in mind that if you are around people who are using drugs, you can get into trouble with the law even if you are not using them yourself. If you are driving a car and somone in the car with you has drugs, you can get into a lot of trouble, just by being there. It is best to avoid drugs and to avoid people who are using them!!! Go to our website for teens to get more of your questions answered, to read 'real stories' of people's experiences, and to check out our blog. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ Leave a comment!

User Icon restrict2050 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is it safe to hang out with people who do drugs if I don't hang around them when they do them or talk about them

Expert Icon Eve Reider: I guess it depends on what you mean by 'safe.' I would think that it would be good if you were hanging out with people who want to do well in school and are involved in interesting activities, like sports, drama, arts. It seems like doing drugs may interfere with doing these types of activities. 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 Schwarzinagger - Rockville High School, Maryland: Is there a drug that causes phsyical changes effecting how u look?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I can think of two right off the bat:
Chronic use of anabolic steroids (AS) will definitely change your looks. Boys who use AS can loose their hair, develop bad acne, grow breasts (ARRGHH) and see their testes actually shrink (not pretty). Girls will take on some male characteristics, like a lower pitch in the voice and rather bad acne. Long term use could make them unable to have children. Another drug that will really affect the way you look is crystal meth. If you just saw what this drug can do to your teeth you will probably want to stay as far away as possible from this one.

User Icon sean and drew - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: How many people have died using drugs in one year?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: In 2006, about 35,000 people died from what were called 'unintentional drug poisonings' and many of these deaths involved prescription pain relievers (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin). But if you added deaths related to tobacco that brings the total to about 475,000. So tobacco is definitely the drug that causes the most deaths.

User Icon csaluti22 - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: How can I continue to be friends with teens that do drugs and alcohol, but not get involved? I love my friends when they're sober, but they won't stop just because of one friend..

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: 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.

User Icon YHgurl - Clark County Youth House, Washington: What are the effects of meth?

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning! Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant that is closely related to amphetamine. Taking methamphamine can cause damage to brain fibers of the brain that transmit dopmine. Also when a person uses meth, it can cause rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature. Long-term use can lead to mood disturbances, violent behavior, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, and severe dental problems. Also, if you inject the drug, you risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Thanks for your question. If you would like to get more information on the effects of meth on health, log onto http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html.

User Icon swimmer17 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: What are the long and short term effects of marijuana?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Good morning!
This is a very good question because, although some people think 'weed' is harmless, marijuana use--particularly long term--can affect many systems in the body. For example, 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 non-users. They are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. Scientific studies also show that marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception. If you are high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you, and affect your performance in school. Speaking about performance, 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. Finally, there is always the risk of becoming addicted to marijuana, which is sure to dramatically alter your life plans, if you know what I mean.

User Icon samohtttam - Skaneateles High School, New York: What could happen to someone who has diabetes and has a bit of a drinking problem?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question! Alcohol is dangerous for people who have diabetes both because it raises blood sugar directly and because people who drink a lot tend to ignore their health in general. It can also make it hard to remember the medications for diabetes.

User Icon dr.davis15 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what does nida mean?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: National Institute on Drug Abuse--we are a part of the government that supports research on drugs of abuse--what they do to your brain and your body, how can we treat people who are addicted to drugs, and how do we prevent people from ever starting to use drugs. Also, we want people to know what we've learned from the research--one reason why we do chat day each year. Its also one of the things we really like to do, since we want to know what's on your minds.

User Icon stevengos5 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what group is more inclined to use drugs?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Hmm, well you can't really boil it down to one specific group. What I can tell you is that in terms of age drug abuse in general is most prevalent among those 18-20 and it generally declines with age. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. For more information on drug abuse among different groups please visit the website for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health at http://oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh/reports.htm#2k8. Here you can find information broken down by drug, age, gender, and ethnicity.

User Icon balllllllllerrr - Rockville High School, Maryland: Why is weed illegal and alcohol is not?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: This is a very good question, but unfortunately there is no easy answer. Other countries have experimented with legalizing marijuana, but the long-term impact of going this route is not yet clear. One of our concerns, as public health officials, is that we don't fully understand the range of possible unintended consequences of making marijuana widely available. We are particularly concerned about the young people that are so much more likley to become addicted to a drug once they start using it.

Now, going back to your comparison to alcohol, do you know the impact of early alcohol (or cigarettes for that matter) use by young people--especially among disadvantaged populations? It is truly devastating! This should give us pause before pushing forward and making another dangerous substance widely available because it tends to disproportionately harm the most vulnerable.

User Icon pftibble - Landmark Academy, Michigan: what drug makes you hallucinate?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: The class of drugs that make you hallucinate are called hallucinogens. These include drugs like LSD, PCP, dextromethorphan, and ketamine. It's important to remember that all drugs have side effects, including hallucinogens. If you would like more information, you might check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Hallucinogens/Hallucinogens.html.

User Icon jemberbrooke - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what are the side affects after surviving an overdose

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Side effects after an overdose depend on the drug that was taken. Some street drugs like methamphetamine can cause permanent changes in the brain. Sometimes, the brain can return to normal if drugs are avoided after an overdose. Read more about it: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/


Moderator Icon Jan Lipkin is deputy communications director at NIDA. She works on national health campaigns and programs, such as the Emmy award-winning ADDICTION project on HBO. She spends most of her non-work hours volunteering at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., splitting her time between reptiles and great apes.


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.

User Icon drugsRbad - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Why is it that the very rich and the very poor communities tend to have more drug usage than those in between?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Interesting and complicated question! There are many factors that influence the use of drugs. Where someone lives plays a role because drugs may only be available in certain regions. All income groups use drugs but the rates vary a lot.

Here's a website that has a lot of information about drug use in different regions of the country and in different groups (like men and women, different ages, different income groups and ethnic groups):
http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html

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 at the link above.

User Icon gabriel - Rockville High School, Maryland: what are somethings you can do to pass a urine test

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Don't do drugs.

User Icon A.S.K - Rockville High School, Maryland: When a woman is pregnant and does drugs, can the drugs casue her to have a miscarriage/stillbirth?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi and thanks for your question! There are drugs that have been linked to miscarriages/stillbirths, preterm birth and low birth weight. It may surprise you to know that one of those drugs is nicotine, the substance in cigarettes that is addictive! We recommend that women not use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs of abuse during pregnancy and make sure to talk with their doctors if they are finding it difficult to stop. You can find more answers to important questions like this anytime on our Teen Web site, http://teens.drugabuse.gov/


Moderator Icon We'd like to introduce Jennifer Elcano to the Chat. Jennifer has been a professional writer for about 20 years, specializing in making highly technical or scientific jargon accessible by general lay audiences. She began her career as a magazine writer, worked several years with a small communications firm, and in 1994 started her own successful business, Elcano Communications. She joined NIDA in 2005 as a science writer, lending her skills to the variety of publications NIDA develops for different audiences. She has 4 kids, ages 11-25, and enjoys playing in a band with her husband and son, and doing triathlons in the summer.


Moderator Icon Stephanie Older, J.D., works in NIDA's Office of Science Policy and Communications. ( 'J.D.' means she has a law degree, which is unusual at a scientific institute. ) Stephanie helps inform the public about the findings of NIDA-funded research and handles requests from the news media. She gets really busy when a celebrity goes into rehab or someone dies of an overdose - reporters get very curious about drug abuse and how it affects the body when it happens to someone famous. She also arranges interviews with scientists about all sorts of subjects - like genetics, smoking or treatment for addiction. Stephanie earned her law degree from the University of Baltimore in 2006 and her undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a native Washingtonian and spent her high school days at Silver Spring's Springbrook High School where she wrote for the school paper and played field hockey. Now, her free time is spent keeping up with her two-year-old mischievous toddler named Owen.

User Icon ihatedrugs - Skaneateles High School, New York: should you bring drugs to school?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: If you have a presciption medication that is given under the care of the physician, you should bring it to the school nurse, so that she can give it to you as prescribed. Many jurisdictions have rules against bringing drugs to school for any other reason, so you need to check with your local school. 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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/.


Moderator Icon Someone new to challenge with your great questions has just entered the Chat - Dr. Wilson Compton. He is a psychiatrist who directs NIDA's Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research, which researches the interactions between individuals and their environments that contribute to drug use. Dr. Compton has managed multiple federally funded grants focusing on the epidemiology of drug abuse, HIV prevention and co-occurring mental and drug use disorders. He loves the beach, and likes to spend nearly every weekend at his house in Bethany Beach, Delaware. He also enjoys playing games such as bridge, scrabble, crosswords, and sudoku.

User Icon 2DIRKOLTIN2 - Skaneateles High School, New York: can chewing hurt your body

Expert Icon Steve Gust: Good morning! If you are referring to chewing tobacco, yes, chewing tobacco can harm your body. Remember, that chewing tobacco contains the addictive drug http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html for more information on tobacco and tobacco products.

User Icon DJM14 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: How often do people using drugs through hypodermic needles obtain blood-born diseases?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question! Sharing needles is a major risk factor for getting AIDS or hepatitis C, both of which can be fatal. In fact, almost everyone who has hepatitis C (which can destroy your liver) got it by using IV drugs and sharing needles. Other drug use is also linked to HIV/AIDS, whether through needles or not. Read about the link: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_hiv1.php

User Icon MagicGrass - Rockville High School, Maryland: does weed make your brain stop developing?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Good question. Evidence that marijuana stops the brain from developing doesn't exist yet, but studies are showing that marijuana can effect the brain. Since important connections are being laid down and pathways being formed in the developing brain, it stands to reason that while marijuana doesn't stop the brain from developing, but it does affect how the brain develops. For more information about marijuana, please visit http://www.marijuana-info.org/!

User Icon undonestery - Rockville High School, Maryland: when people who do drugs are in denial, are they denying that they do drugs because the drugs affect their mind which make them into denial?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Interesting question! Denial takes on different forms. Some people lie about their drug use directly. But others really don't recognize the harms that drugs are causing in their life. This may be because drugs feel good and, especially when someone is addicted, the drug may cause them to minimize the problems.

User Icon dfgrt - Rockville High School, Maryland: how long does it take to withdraw from oxycotton?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: That's a great question and not an easy one to answer. Oxycotin is an opioid analgesic used to treat pain. If someone takes it over a long period of time, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop, such as flu like symptoms that can be very intense and unpleasant. These symptoms can last a day or so. However, the more serious problem, for those who use this drug without prescription, is that they may become addicted. Their brains may adapt so that they need the drug to function normally, and quitting will be very difficult and require treatment.

User Icon caitlyne.n.nick - Shippensburg Senior High School, Pennsylvania: How often do you get doctors that become addicted to prescripton drugs , or anti-depressants

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. It's important to distinguish between tobacco, alcohol and drugs that can be addictive and prescription medications. Antidepressants are not addictive medications. They are not reinforcing (that is, they don't produce a 'buzz'). But other substances like tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, pain killers, sedatives and stimulants are addictive. Some doctors get in trouble with these substances just as other people get in trouble with them. Every state in the US has programs to identify and help addicted physicians. You might check out the 'Physician's Health Program' in your state for details.

User Icon 1337pwnerer - Rockville High School, Maryland: Why is weed illegal when the physical damage is less than tobacco which IS legal?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: The reasons why drugs are legal or illegal in this country are not so simple, and often based on historical considerations. In fact many drugs have been legal at some point in time and illegal at others (for example, tobacco illegal given what we know about the damage it causes? I would. Also weed causes its own set of problems--it messes with your memory, your coordination, and your perceptions. If you're smoking weed and trying to learn something in school, you're going to have big problems, or if you are trying to drive, you could get into an accident. We all know that tobacco is highly addictive--and can cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, but did you know that marijuana is also addictive. Among people that smoke weed every day, some 25-50% become addicted--that means that they have trouble stopping use even though they recognize that marijuana is negatively affecting their lives. So, you pick your poison, but both can cause problems

User Icon Doc - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: After alcohol, what is the drug most commonly abused by teens?

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

User Icon Beandip22 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: If our government is so against drug use, then how come people can still obtain drugs?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question! It is difficult to keep drugs from entering the country and some can be grown or made within the U.S. Education about the risks of drug abuse and addiction is important to helping prevent bad choices, but unfortunately, the opportunity to get drugs is always there. We all need to make the right choices! You might like to read more on our blog for teens about that: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/


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 lumpkin - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: how many teens die a year from weed

Expert Icon Anna Staton: We're not really sure how many deaths among teens are due to marijuana. What we do know is that among certain youth (about 16-19 years old) car accidents are the leading cause of death and in 2008 about 12% of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the 2 weeks prior to the survey. While we're not sure about the exact relationship between these two statistics it's interesting to note and probably warrants more research.

User Icon me73 - Rockville High School, Maryland: how can you learn from others drug mistakes?

Expert Icon Eve Reider: I think there are many lessons to be learned from the drug mistakes of others. It would be great to understand how people ended up in these situations and what could have been done to prevent the situation from occurring. The best thing you can do is learn the facts about drug abuse and addiction. Our teen web site has some stories about teens who have become dependent or addicted to drugs along with videos, quizzes and information about specific drugs of abuse. Go to http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/. 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 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 heylo - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: why do people feel the need to even start smoking?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. We have a lot of research on why people start smoking or using other drugs. For one thing, we know that some people are more predisposed to smoking because it runs in their family (that is, a lot of their relatives smoke). Some people feel very stressed in their lives and look for something to alleviate the stress even if it causes them trouble. Other people become curious about it and then become addicted before they know it. If you'd like more info about the health consequences of tobacco check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_nic1.php.

User Icon jed110540 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Are cigars worse than cigarettes?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Thanks for your question! All tobacco products (cigars, cigarettes, pipes, chew) can be addictive and cause cancer making them unsafe. If you'd like more info
check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_nic1.php


Moderator Icon Which of the following are synthetic (man-made) hallucinogens?
  1. LSD and PCP
  2. mescaline and psilocybin
  3. gasoline and oil
  4. codeine and morphine


Moderator Icon Now online is Dr. Ericka Boone, who works on science policy issues and educational programs for NIDA. While Dr. Boone is an expert at understanding how drugs affect the brain and behavior, a large part of her work involves translating complex scientific research into everyday language that non-scientists, like high school students and members of Congress, can understand. Until recently, Dr. Boone was a research scientist at The University of Illinois at Chicago, where she conducted research on how chemicals in the brain help to shape the way humans bond with their mates and babies. Dr. Boone recently moved to the Washington, DC area with her very bright and extremely funny 10-year old son, Evan.

User Icon hollaaaa! - Rockville High School, Maryland: What drug is probably the best to use? I know none of them are, but what would be the best?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Exercise may be the best 'drug.' It releases dopamine and endorphins in the brain and makes you feel good. And...if you get hooked on exercise, that could be a good thing!

User Icon weedhead - Rockville High School, Maryland: hurry up i dont have time 4 da waitting!!!!!!

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: we are trying....we've already gotten over 600 questions submitted!

User Icon Grumpy - Rockville High School, Maryland: what is worse,weed or ciggarettes?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Well, there are drawbacks to both. Weed messes with your memory, your coordination, and your perceptions. If you're smoking weed and trying to learn something in school, you're going to have big problems, or if you are trying to drive, you could get into an accident. We all know that tobacco is highly addictive--and can cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, but did you know that marijuana is also addictive. Among people that smoke weed every day, some 25-50% become addicted--that means that they have trouble stopping use even though they recognize that marijuana is negatively affecting their lives. So, you pick your poison, but both can cause problems

User Icon meredithnicole - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Is there a difference between cocaine and crack?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: No and yes. Crack is a solid, smokable form of cocaine. Like powder cocaine, it is addictive. However, it is considered more addictive because, being smoked, it gets into the brain very rapidly. In general, the faster a drug gets into the brain, the more intense the high, and the more likely that repeated use will lead to compulsive drug taking and addiction.

User Icon zgiddings - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: Why do teens do drugs if they see what's happening to others.

Expert Icon Eve Reider: I think this is an excellent question. My sense is that sometimes teens do drugs because someone they know is doing drugs, it seems like a great experience, and they don't really see the downside or consequences until further down the road. It could also be that they don't tie together the fact that when someone is doing drugs perhaps they pay a price in some other area of their life, like not performing as well in school, getting a job they wanted, or doing well in sports. And teens may not realize that abusing drugs can lead to addiction. Take a look at our information on the science of addiction by going to the NIDA web site: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ and click on The Science of Addiction link at the top right of our home page.

User Icon Connor - Clark County Youth House, Washington: If methadone is used to help in the treatment for heroine addicts, why isn't a similar procedure used for other drugs?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: NIDA is working with pharmaceutical companies to evaluate potential medicatons to treat addiction to cocaine, marijuana, meth and other drugs of abuse. Some look promising. Unfortunately, it will be several years before FDA approval can be obtained. In the meantime, behavioral (e.g., 'talk' therapy) works as a treatment. Read about our efforts to develop medications for drug abuse and addiction at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/MedicationsDev.html

User Icon CuriousGeorge - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: What does weed do to a fetus?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hey there, good morning! Yes, weed/marijuana can affect the fetus. We've got a couple of studies on this - including one that has followed the kids from the prenatal/in utero/pregnancy stage until they were adults. And guess what, yep, these studies have found subtle developmental effects on things like attention and cognition. Tobacco use can also affect the baby. We recommend pregnant women not use http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html ... thanks again for your question!

User Icon Phillies0809 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What is the most harmful drug?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question...it really depends. For example, it depends on the drug being used, the dose, the purity of the drug, and how often it's taken. So there is no easy answer to that question. It really is an interaction between the user and the drug that cannot be predicted--but all drugs have side effects.

User Icon catwoman22 - Rockville High School, Maryland: is it true that weed is better for you than cigarettes? why?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Well, there are drawbacks to both. Weed messes with your memory, your coordination, and your perceptions. If you're smoking weed and trying to learn something in school, you're going to have big problems, or if you are trying to drive, you could get into an accident. We all know that tobacco is highly addictive--and can cause cancer, cardiovascular diseases, but did you know that marijuana is also addictive. Among people that smoke weed every day, some 25-50% become addicted--that means that they have trouble stopping use even though they recognize that marijuana is negatively affecting their lives. So, you pick your poison, but both can cause problems.

User Icon jcg - Rockville High School, Maryland: will using cigarettes one time effect your body?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Using cigarettes just once, will probably not have much of a long-term effect on your health. But an interesting fact for you, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States causing over 400,000 premature deaths per year.

User Icon imreallytired - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: How many types of illegal drugs are there?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Lots. See NIDA's website for a list of commonly abused drugs but that said there are always new ones that are being brought to our attention (http://www.drugabuse.gov/). See the InfoFacts on Khat and Salvia for two relatively recent additions to the list of drugs we provide information on (http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/index.html).

User Icon DJM14 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: in the worst case scenario, how bad would LSD affect the brain?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Wow, great question. In the worst case scenario, some people who have used LSD have gotten severely depressed and in some cases, people have recurrent flashbacks throughout their waking day, which can be very debilitating.

User Icon 09tacome - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Whats more dangerous street drugs or over the counter drugs?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question. OTC drugs can be very dangerous if not taken as directed - they could kill if too much is taken. One thing to keep in mind is that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything. Some contaminants can be worse than cocaine, meth, or any other drug of abuse. In one case, a contaminant in pills bought on the street that were supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a chemical (MPTP) that kills dopamine neurons. People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease.

See http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/PainMed.html for more info on prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

User Icon frenchtoooooast - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what are the side effects of LSD

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: LSD is a powerful hallucinogen. Thesee are drugs that cause hallucinations - profound distortions in perceptions of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. Some people report flash backs long after taking the drug, which in some cases can be disturbing.

User Icon eddie747 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Does smoking weed have long term effects?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question. Yes, in general marijuana has been shown to have long-term effects. Its use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. What we know is that 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. Hope this helps.

User Icon WAFFLLLLLESSSSS - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Welcome Dr.Dowling, Dr.Reider, Dr.Shurtleff, Dr.Miner, and Anna Staton. Thank you for talking to us and answering our questions :)

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Thanks! We are loving all your questions....though it is taking us a little bit of time to answer all the great questions we are getting. We are happy you are hear though, participating in our third chat day!

User Icon chinoxl - Rockville High School, Maryland: could weed effect a boxer in training?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Absolutely. Besides all the long term health effects of using pot, like memory loss, attention problems and the risk of addiction, smoking marijuana will slow down your reflexes and reaction time--the last thing you'd want once you get inside a ring.

User Icon Phillies0809 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What happens to your body when you take Cocaine?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: Good question. Cocaine acts on many organs in the body such as heart and lung but gets to the brain very quickly when smoked or snorted. With repeated exposure to cocaine, the brain starts to adapt, and the reward pathway becomes less sensitive to natural reinforcers and to the drug itself. Tolerance may develop - this means that higher doses and/or more frequent use of cocaine is needed to register the same level of pleasure experienced during initial use. At the same time, users can also become more sensitive (sensitization) to cocaine's anxiety-producing, convulsant, and other toxic effects.

Users take cocaine in "binges," during which the cocaine is used repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses. This can lead to increased irritability, restlessness, and paranoia and worst yet cardiac arrest! - not good. For more information see
http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/effects.html#long

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug. Thus, it is unlikely that an individual will be able to reliably predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to want or use the drug. And, if addiction takes hold, the risk for relapse is high even following long periods of abstinence. Recent studies have shown that during periods of abstinence, the memory of the cocaine experience or exposure to cues associated with drug use can trigger tremendous craving and relapse to drug use.

User Icon 90cav - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: can you overdose from marijauana

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Probably not. However, you can become addicted to it.

User Icon 1337pwnerer - Rockville High School, Maryland: I used to smoke weed until my mom caught me and now she is taking me to get drug tests. Is it safe to suddenly stop?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Absolutely! It's safe to stop using marijuana. If someone has been using heavily and regularly (like every day), when you first quit using, you may have some withdrawal symptoms. For instance, you may feel groggy and irritable. Your sleep may be interrupted (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep) and you may feel generally achy. These are usually mild and go away in a few days. Also, you may have cravings (or urges) for marijuana. The best approach is to be patient. Most people don't feel bad at all when they quit using and if you do have problems, they will get better in a few days. If you have trouble, you might want to see a counselor or doctor who has worked with adolescents.

User Icon STASHAgal - Clark County Youth House, Washington: What is a Huka made of and what negative affects does it hoave on your body?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: A hookah is a water pipe used to smoke tobacco. Cancer is a risk, of course, and there could be additional risks if something other than tobacco is smoked. Although many hookah smokers think it is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, water pipe smoking still delivers the addictive drug http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php

User Icon TeeZy21 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what are the long-term effects of marijuana?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: teezy21
Hi there, this is a very good question because, although some people think 'weed' is harmless, marijuana use--particularly long term--can affect many systems in the body. For example, 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 non-users. They are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. Scientific studies also show that marijuana affects memory, judgment, and perception. If you are high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you, and affect your performance in school. Speaking about performance, 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. Finally, there is always the risk of becoming addicted to marijuana, which is sure to dramatically alter your life plans, if you know what I mean.

User Icon jcg - Rockville High School, Maryland: what is the safest drug?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Medicines that are prescribed, when taken as prescribed. Also, caffeine appears to be relatively safe for most people, but even caffeine, in high doses, can make you anxious.

User Icon meredithnicole - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: What are signs that my friends are doing drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. It depends on the drug but when someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol or marijuana, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. There are a lot of other symptoms, but sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.


Moderator Icon Dr. Susan Weiss - who heads the NIDA Science policy team - just entered the chat. Dr. Weiss has devoted her career to finding out more about the mysteries of drug use and mental illness and how the two relate to each other. She attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and college at SUNY-Stoneybrook in New York. In high school Susan especially loved biology and astronomy, as well as racquetball and tennis so you could say she's a nerdy jock or jocky nerd! She started her career in a science lab but she now advises NIDA scientists about issues related to drug abuse science and health. She loves to write - she has authored or co-authored more that 140 journal articles and book chapters. To relax, Susan and her husband spend a lot of time in Hawaii, where she enjoys the warm breezes and ocean air. They have 2 cats named Makena and Pepe.

User Icon irules21 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Why do people pay so much for drugs?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: Hmm well drug abuse can change how a person places value on things in their life. So when a person is addicted to a drug the brain is changed in ways that causes the person to compulsively seek out the drug and that can include paying whatever it takes to get the drug or doing things to get the drug that they would not normally do.


Moderator Icon Dr. Denise Pintello enjoys working at NIDA and one of her many fascinating jobs involves overseeing the Blending Initiative, which 'translates research findings' to help make treatment more effective for people struggling with drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd puppy, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and recently experienced sky-diving.

User Icon d.a.n.k. - Skaneateles High School, New York: if i smoke 1 meteric ton of crack will i die?

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: Yes.

User Icon frenchtoooooast - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Why do some people resort to drugs????

Expert Icon Eve Reider: Good question. People use drugs for a variety of reasons. Some use drugs because someone they know is using them and has offered drugs to them, like friends or a family members. Others may use drugs to improve their mood, help them study. You may want to check out our web site for teens for more information about why people, specifically teens, might start using drugs. Go to http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/.

User Icon PaNdA oN RoiDs - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what are the short term effects of marijuana

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Marijuana affects short term memory--can't remember what you just heard or even where you were in a conversation; it affects coordination--so don't try any tricky moves or athletics; and it makes you hungry--a lot of 'munchies' may make you gain weight.

User Icon vergeweitigung - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Why are drugs so addicting?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Drugs release neurochemicals in the brain (endorphins and/or dopamine) that we usually have to work hard for. These neurochemicals are what give you a 'rush' when you win a race or score 100% on an exam. The brain then adapts to the high levels of neurochemicals and it becomes more difficult to feel good without taking more drugs. What can happen eventually is that people may take the drug not to feel good, but to keep from feeling bad--withdrawal. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/ for more info.

User Icon pancakesssss - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: how can i tell is some is an alcoholic?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. When someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. But sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason).  One way to find out is to ask them.

User Icon 90cav - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: is marijuana addictive?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Hello 90CAV!
There is no doubt anymore that marijuana can cause addiction, particularly if the use is heavy, started early in life, or went on for a long time. The signs that you'll notice include many that are similar to those you might see in people addicted to other drugs, like centering your life and interests around getting the drug and feeling intense cravings. Also, even if a person addicted to marijuana tries to quit, he or she may find it difficult to do because of the withdrawal symptoms, which begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2-3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.

It is close to impossible to predict who will become addicted to a drug (like marijuana) once use starts, so the smart move would be never to try it in the first place.

For more information on facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on marijuana, check out: http://www.marijuana-info.org/.

User Icon Beandip22 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What ethinicity is most popular in doing drugs?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Interesting and complicated question. There are many factors that influence the use of drugs. Where someone lives plays a role because drugs may only be available in certain regions. All ethnic groups use drugs but the rates vary a lot.

Here's a website that has a lot of information about drug use in different regions of the country and in different groups (like men and women, different ages, different ethnic groups):
http://www.drugabuse.gov/Drugpages/MTF.html

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 at the link above.


Moderator Icon One of our favorite scientists - Dr. Ruben Baler - has just entered the Chat. Dr. Baler - who is fluent in both English and Spanish---works in NIDA's science policy office. He went to high school in Argentina (he loved biology and math) and went to college in Jerusalem, Israel and got his PhD in Miami! He says Jerusalem is the most exciting and magical place on earth. He recently took his family to a fishing trip in 'Esquina' on the Parana River in Argentina where living fossils still roam the river. They caught several of those monsters, some of which were 4 feet long! Afterwards, they cooked them over slow fire on one of the islands. Dr. Baler has a 15 year old daughter who's a high school freshman and a 25 year old son studying for a PhD in Chicago. He loves to write about science and really enjoys teaching about drug abuse and addiction to different audiences. He says he loves science for reasons that might surprise you - because it taught him to challenge authority, to always be skeptical and critical, and to never accept as truth what cannot be tested experimentally.


Moderator Icon Starting off this morning in the Chat room is Dr. Joseph Frascella, who heads the division of NIDA that deals with clinical neuroscience, human development, and behavioral treatment for drug abuse and addiction. He is also very active in issues related to minorities and other special populations. When not at work, he enjoys playing and studying the guitar, repairing guitars and other musical instruments, as well as drawing, painting, sculpting, and making a difference in the lives of his two young children.


Moderator Icon Can you stump our next scientist entering the Chat? Dr. Dave McCann's job at NIDA is to develop medicines that will ease drug cravings in people and help people who are addicted to drugs stop using them. His favorite thing about his job is that he knows his work will eventually help thousands of people who are addicted to drugs and trying to quit. Dr. McCann went to high school in Clifton Park, New York and attended SUNY Buffalo and Albany College of Pharmacy in New York. One of Dave's most enjoyable traveling experiences was when he went to Florence and Rome, in Italy, and fell in love with the food, museums and walking tours. He and his wife have three sons, two of who are in college and a 10 year old. Dave loves music and is an avid collector (and player) of vinyl records, especially of Neil Young's live version of 'Cortez the Killer.'

User Icon batman - Rockville High School, Maryland: does marijuana affect driving

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Yes. marijuana affects perception, reaction time, and coordination-all of which are necessary for being a safe driver. some people claim they can compensate for its effects, but in an emergency situation, where you have to react quickly, marijuana is not going to serve you well. Also, the combination of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either one alone on driving performance.

User Icon eddie747 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: why is marijuana concidered a drug?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: This is a very good question! MJ is a drug of abuse. Close to one in ten people who try it get addicted to it. The active ingredient in MJ---called THC--- can be used to treat some conditions of nausea from chemotherapy (cancer treatment) in a medical form known as Marinol, which is not smoked. MJ itself has many active ingredients and we don't know all of its effects on the brain or body yet- but NIDA is doing research to learn more about them. For more information on MJ see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/marijuana.html

User Icon Tisa - Rockville High School, Maryland: Can you get addicted to a drog after on try?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Another excellent question. You hear people say that they were addicted after just one use, that the effects of that drug was so powerful, they felt they were immediately hooked. What we find from research is that there are vast individuals differences which is influenced by an individuals genetic makeup. Some people are particularly vulnerable to becoming addicted quickly, others don't seem to be as vulnerable, and may not become addicted right away...but if you keep taking drugs chronically, its highly likely you will eventually become addicted.

User Icon meredithnicole - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How does marijuana affect my driving skills?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: THC, the primary active ingredient in marijuana, affects areas of the brain that control the body's movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment, as well as sensations. And these are brain functions that are necessary when driving. Because these effects are multifaceted, more research is required to understand marijuana's full impact on the ability of drivers to react to complex and unpredictable situations. However, 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 Beandip22 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: If you want to get high is there a healthy way to do it?

Expert Icon Dave McCann: Good question!!! Actually, physical exercise is one of the best ways to 'get high.' Your body releases endorphins, which act like opiates in the brain. Check this out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/activity-guide/destress

User Icon WAFFLLLLLESSSSS - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Hello :) How can i tell if my friends are using drugs or alcohol?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. When someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech.  But sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol.  They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason).  One way to find out is to ask them.

User Icon pftibble - Landmark Academy, Michigan: What is the purpose of this chat?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: We think it is important for teens to have real facts about drugs and their affect on the brain, body and behavior. There are a lot of myths about drugs---often passed on by people trying to sell you drugs. But our scientists have studied drugs for many years and know the facts about how drugs can affect your health. We think kids are smart---and when they have facts they can make good decisions about drugs. For more of these facts, check out www.teens.drugabuse.gov---it's a site designed just for teens.

User Icon bloomgirl7 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Can dogs become addicted to drugs?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: I love that question, I have two dogs myself, but I would never give them drugs. Addiction is defined as the compulsive use of drugs despite their negative consequences. So in many ways addiction is unique to people. But if you give any animal a drug repeatedly, they can become dependent upon them, and some animals will seek to repeatedly take addictive drugs, so it does look an awful lot like the addiction you see in people.

User Icon jemberbrooke - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: how many students have died due to drug overdose in the last year?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: We don't have those numbers for students per se, but we do know that more than 35,000 people have died due to 'unintentional poisonings' which is the term used to describe drug overdoses. A majority of these are related to prescription painkillers, but alcohol overdoses also happen, as well as other drugs.

User Icon dr.davis15 - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What if you have experimented with weed? How do u overcome it?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: Good question. One of the most important ways to start dealing with this issue is to talk to someone about it--like parents, a school counselor or a trusted teacher. They can help to figure out the situation and work to develop a plan. 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/
http://www.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon imreallytired - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: Do drugs ever improve your health?

Expert Icon Wilson Compton: That's a great question. Many substances have both good and dangerous sides to them. For instance, pain killers like morphine and other opiates are really important when you have surgery or a serious injury. But these medications can be abused and also are addictive. The key is to keep the drugs used for medical purposes.


Moderator Icon Dr. Nicolette Borek is now available to answer your questions. Dr. Borek is a psychologist who oversees research on how exposure to drugs of abuse during the prenatal period affects a baby's brain and behavioral development. She also does research on the long term health and development of children and adolescents exposed to or living with HIV. Prior to her job at NIDA, Dr. Borek worked with teenagers and adults with substance use and mental health disorders - including mothers and their young children. When she's not at work, Nicolette can be found on her yoga mat, running, hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

User Icon danielle - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: what are some of the long term affects of weed?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: less is known about the long term vs. short term effects--but if you're smoking weed, especially on a regular basis, your grades are likely to suffer and your ability to do sports, and to drive safely. Marijuana effects parts of the brain involved in memory, coordination, appetite, and others. Also, your brain is still developing--into your mid 20's, so marijuana may have long term effects on that, which keep you from reaching your full potential.

User Icon saltygerbil - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What's the worst drug for your health?

Expert Icon David Shurtleff: This is great challenging question! Many drugs of abuse can cause serious health problems. Smoking tobacco can lead to lung cancer. Taking methamphamine can cause damage to neural fibers of the brain that transmit dopmine. It's important to know that all drugs of abuse can cause some sort of health problem. For more information about the health consquences see http://www.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon trk - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: What is pot?

Expert Icon Anna Staton: It's another name for marijuana. Marijuana - often called pot, grass, reefer, weed, herb, mary jane, or mj - is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant.

User Icon Black/Smith - Upper Dublin High School, Pennsylvania: why do people do drugs?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Great question, people take drugs for many reasons, but in general people take drugs for one of two reasons, some take them because they like the sensations of getting high, and others take drugs because they may be trying to self-medicate, taking the drug to feel better. Either way, they like the effects that drugs are having on their brain. That's why we here at NIDA are so interested in learning more about how drugs work in the brain to cause their effects, and to understand what the long-term effects drugs can have, such as addiction.


Moderator Icon Please welcome to the Chat one of our youngest scientists, Dr. Gaya Dowling. Dr. Dowling is the Deputy Chief for Science Policy at NIDA. Her job is to make sure the public learns about and understands what the science says about drug abuse and addiction. Although Dr. Dowling's favorite subjects in school were math and science, she never expected that studying science would give her a chance to go to the Emmy's, as she did when NIDA's work on the HBO film Addiction won an award. She has two kids - a baby girl and a two-year old boy who loves to play the guitar.


Moderator Icon Dr. Eve Reider has just stepped in to answer your questions. Dr. Reider is a psychologist who joined NIDA in February 2000. Her program areas at NIDA include HIV prevention and interventions for at-risk populations, including children born to drug abusing parents or living in substance abusing environments, children with multiple problem behaviors, child welfare and juvenile justice populations, children with mental health problems who are at risk for drug abuse later in life and street youth. She enjoys doing arts and crafts activities and gardening in her spare time.


Moderator Icon Get ready for more great answers to your questions. Dr. David Shurtleff has just entered the Chat. He directs the NIDA division that supports basic biomedical and behavioral science research as it relates to drug abuse, such as the mechanisms of addiction, drug craving, effects of drugs on behavior and cognition, long-term chronic effects of drugs, and drug metabolism. Prior to coming to NIDA, Dr. Shurtleff was a research psychologist with the Navy, where he conducted behavioral, electrophysiological, cognitive, and field research on a variety of issues related to cognitive performance, environmental stress, and peripheral neuropathy. In his spare time, he loves playing with his two German Shepherd-mix dogs, outdoor gardening, taking vacations to exotic places, snorkeling, swimming and playing golf, and recently shot a 'hole-in-one' while on vacation in Hawaii with his wife.


Moderator Icon Dr. Cindy Miner is the Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy and Communications at NIDA. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Colorado and did research work at the Universities of Minnesota and Pittsburgh before joining NIDA in 1992. Here at NIDA, she coordinates the drug abuse research information that goes out to other scientists, to doctors and nurses, and to the public. Dr. Miner went to George Washington High School (in Denver) where she played on the tennis team, loved history and English, and of course-the gym class. She played summer softball and was metro area all-star as well as playing on a traveling tournament team. As a teenager, she also loved biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, and camping in the Colorado Mountains - in fact, she has climbed most of the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado. Cindy has two dogs - an Airedale and a Portuguese Water Dog, and she continues to enjoy many outdoor activities-including biking, hiking, skiing, kayaking, sailing, softball, and volleyball, and she is also an excellent golfer.


Moderator Icon We welcome Anna Staton, M.P.A. to the Chat. Anna is a public health analyst with the Office of Science Policy and Communications. She is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data relating to NIDA's research programs. She earned her masters in public administration at the George Washington University School of Business and Public Management in 2002 and during her free time enjoys teaching yoga to babies and toddlers.




Moderator Icon Good morning...welcome to Drug Facts Chat Day brought to you by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Our scientists are here anxious to answer your questions.


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