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Transcript for 2010 Chat Day

Questions Answered Between Approximately 1 pm and 6 pm

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

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

If you used a screenname that looked like a real name, it has been removed and replaced with either initials or first name and last initial.

Moderator Icon Whew!!!  you wore us all out with all the great questions that we got today.  Check back in a week or two when we will post the transcript of today's chat and see if we answered a question from your school!  We answered over 1500 questions today.  Thanks to all of you for participating!!!  See you next year!
User Icon grittonjm15 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: If a child is living in a home where the parents are addicted to drugs, how will this affect the child through development (socially, physically, mentally etc.). Also, how often is it that a child will be taken from a drug addicted home, and placed into a Foster Care?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Researchers have examined this question including how maternal drug use is related to child behavior problems and mental health disorders and have found some associations...but an important note, women who abuse drugs may also experience co-occuring mental health or psychiatric disorders such as depression that can affect their parenting. They are also more likely to have traumatic experiences and be diagnosed with PTSD.  Laws on placing children in foster care due to parental drug abuse vary from state to state. The good news is that interventions have been developed and were/are being empirically tested that are specifically designed for families with drug abuse. These interventions are designed to reduce parent drug use, improve parenting, and improve child outcomes. Thanks for the interesting question---maybe you could become a scientist one day.
User Icon shell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: if i smoked pot when i was 12 and i smoked it till i was like 14 how bad has it effected my brain

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: You'd need some fancy brain imaging equipment and testing to know for certain. Researchers are looking exactly at this question - the effects of marijuana use on the developing brain and have found effects on learning, memory, and attention. The key at this point is not to continue to use, take excellent care of yourself (sleep! exercise! have good supportive friends! eat healthy!).  For more info check out http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/Marijteenstxt.html.
User Icon JoeS - Mainland Regional High School, New Jersey: What percent of people relapse from drugs?

Expert Icon Carol Krause: Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/treatment.html
User Icon starprepacademy - STAR Prep Academy, California: Can you get high off of any prescription or over-the-counter drug?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: No you can't get high off of just any prescription or over-the-counter drugs.  For example, people don't get high from antibiotics.  Only drugs that activate specific circuits in the brain will make you high.  If you want to learn more about how drugs work in the brain to produce their euphoric effects check out our website, www.drugabuse.gov 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what should you do if one of your friends does drugs?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do.  If your friend is using drugs, encourage them to talk to a parent or another trusted adult such as a favorite teacher or a school guidance counselor.  If they don't feel comfortable doing that, they can use anonymous resources, such as SAMHSA's crisis line (1-800-273-TALK) -- they help people with lots of different problems.  Or if they're ready to think about treatment, your friend can check SAMHSA's Treatment Facility Locator for programs in your area (http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov -- there are programs out there just for adolescents.  You can also contact these resources yourself and get advice on how to help your friend.

Since you've asked this question, you probably already know that right now it's really important to be a good friend -- that means finding ways to offer advice without being judgmental, showing support by listening, and finding ways to offer help when they're ready to receive it.  Thanks for your question.  I hope this helps.
User Icon cbackus13 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: How does smoking affect your health?

Expert Icon Carol Krause: Check out----http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php
User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: hhheeeyyy david tomas do you like your job

Expert Icon David Thomas: hey, it is me!  Yes, I do, but chat day has worn me out!!!   And this is my last answer!   
User Icon woahhhhhh - New Egypt High, New Jersey: is nicotine addictive?

Expert Icon Carol Krause: Absolutely. Yes. Completely.
User Icon tone7500 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: wat is marijuana

Expert Icon Carol Krause: Check out the marijuana section on www.teens.drugabuse.gov,
User Icon taylor.l - New Egypt High, New Jersey: What is a significant myth about drugs that teens believe are true?

Expert Icon Carol Krause: The biggest myth has to do with prescription drugs. Many teens think they must be safe for everyone if they are prescribed by a doctor. In fact, they are only safe when taken as directed by the doctor. It is not safe to take someone else's prescription drugs. Did you know that in 2006, prescription pain medications, like Vicodin, were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine COMBINED? For more facts about drugs, read NIDA’s new booklet made for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths. You can find it (and even order it for free) at http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/booklet.php.
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Can drugs lead to diseases or death?

Expert Icon David Thomas: absolutely.  Go to www.drugabuse.gov to learn more...
User Icon scooby - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What kind of medical conditions do you have to hava to get a perscription to a drug?

Expert Icon David Thomas: In terms of drugs with abuse potential, prescription opioids tend to be given for pain.   Otherwise, there are a lot of drugs for a lot of medical conditions...

For more information on prescription drugs, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php
User Icon nugget#27300 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: why do people smoke?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: You know, there's a variety of reasons why people start smoking and continue smoking.  Want a great read?  Check out this link to NIDA's website just for teens.  Sara Bellum's blog has a great entry all about smoking and the effects of nicotine.  Hope this helps!

http://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/mom_nic1.php
User Icon sexycani101 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: how much drugs can your body handle?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Hard to say for any individual.   If, for example, you have a heart condition, a small dose of a drug that affects heart function can produce really bad effect.  You just never know for sure.  Its better to stay away from drugs that aren't prescribed for you by your doctor!

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php  
User Icon 201440502@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Why do they make pain killers so strong if they know people can accidentally die from them?

Expert Icon David Thomas:  Lot's of the overdoses of pain killers are from when people crush and snort the pills  This gives them an immediate dose that is much larger that if one swallows the pills.  Plus, some of the larger dose pills are for people that have been taking them for a long time by prescription and are tolerant to the drug effects, thus need bigger doses for pain relief. 

If someone get a hold of one of these high dose pills that is not pain or tolerant to the drug effects, and snorts it, they can get a huge dose that their body cannot handle...  plop, they are dead. 

For more info on pain killers see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: what does drinking do to you?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can affect your brain.  It can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your help, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: is it more common for someone to die off of drugs such as crack/meth or alcohol

Expert Icon Aaron White: All of the drugs you mentioned can potentially kill a person. It's tough to determine which one is most likely to kill a person. It depends on how much they use, how often they use and other factors.
User Icon 20115625@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: does body wieght effect the amount of drugs you need for and overdose like alcohol does?

Expert Icon David Thomas: It is one factor. In general, smaller doses act like larger ones in smaller people... 

for more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon rabinj - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Is it true that alcohol is more destructive to your body than drugs?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It's tough to directly compare the effects of alcohol and other drugs on the brain because they are so different. They each have different effects on the body and brain.  They each affect how people think, feel, and act, but in different ways. Both of them can make it dangerous to drive and both can interfere with your ability to learn. Both also can interfere with how the brain grows and develops when we are teenagers. Neither is healthy for teenagers! 
 

User Icon lwelcome - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: why do people take drugs?

Expert Icon Carol Krause: In general, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons
  • To feel good. Most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial sensation of euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the 'high' is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opiates such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.
  • To feel better. Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and depression begin abusing drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress. Stress can play a major role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or relapse in patients recovering from addiction.
  • To do better. The increasing pressure that some individuals feel to chemically enhance or improve their athletic or cognitive performance can similarly play a role in initial experimentation and continued drug abuse.
  • Curiosity and 'because others are doing it.' In this respect adolescents are particularly vulnerable because of the strong influence of peer pressure; they are more likely, for example, to engage in 'thrilling' and 'daring' behaviors.


A good strategy is to first think of the risks involved before deciding to take drugs. Check out www.teens.drugabuse.gov
User Icon 20143275@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: If you inhale smoke from someone smoking a cigarette or cigar daily, can it affect you as well?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Yes, there is a lot of data showing that second had smoke can cause heath problems and even death in some cases.  Get some fresh air!!!

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php
User Icon 2014270pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Why do some people die from acohol?

Expert Icon Aaron White:  It depends on the person, and there are several ways a person can die after drinking. One is by getting into a car crash. Just two drinks is enough to increase the chances of a car crash. Too much alcohol can also shut off important areas in the brain that help you think and breathe. This happens after more than a few drinks, but the exact amount really depends on the person.

User Icon 20114650@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: why do people scratch alot when they are high on heroin

Expert Icon David Thomas: Actually, I did years of research on this topic.  Heroin activates things call mu receptors in the spinal cord and brain stem. Activation of these receptors causes activation of fibers that transmit itch (aka pruritus) information to the brain.  Thus, the addicts feel itchy!  Great question!

For more information, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: does drinking stunt growth

Expert Icon Aaron White: It's possible. Alcohol could affect growth in several ways. Alcohol alters hormone levels in the body, including levels of testosterone which plays important roles in muscle growth and the physical changes that males go through during puberty. In females, the hormone changes can disrupt the menstrual cycle. Alcohol interferes with sleep (some people think it helps them sleep but it actually doesn't!). Because it interferes with sleep cycles, alcohol reduces the release of something called growth hormone, which plays a very big role in growth and development throughout the body.

Alcohol also interferes with brain growth and development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the part of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

User Icon zandra_baby - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: why do people say drugs make them feel good

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Drugs have a powerful effect on the brain, including the areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure or happiness.  So people use drugs and alcohol for artificial pleasure. These substances can numb pain from life situations, daily stress, or depression. The individual might find that drugs are a quick way to relax. However, over time drug users can develop addiction and no longer be able to feel pleasure at all without drugs and alcohol. So none of these so-called benefits are worth the risks!

NIDA has created a great website just for teens that answers these and other questions -- it will give you real answers and helpful advice.  Check it out at:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon cbackus13 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Whats the legal amount to drink if you are over 21?

Expert Icon Aaron White: While 0.08% is the legal limit, alcohol actually makes it dangerous to drive at much lower levels. In fact, a blood alcohol level of just 0.02% can make it harder to drive safely. The legal limit is only for people 21 or over. All states in the country have a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and driving for people under 21. So a blood alcohol level of just 0.01% is illegal if you are under 21. How much alcohol a person could drink before getting to 0.08% depends on things like whether they are male or female (it takes less for females), whether they ate food before they drank, and other things. However, in general, for a 120 lb male, 3 drinks may put them over the legal limit for adults. For a 120 lb female, 2 drinks might do it.
 
Remember, though, the legal limit for people under 21 is 0.00% in every state!
User Icon 20142375@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: would the use of alcohol affect people with asthma?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It's not clear. Some studies suggest it can trigger an asthma attack but not all studies agree.
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: how does drinking affect a pregnant woman?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.


User Icon 20114650@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: how do all of you people know so much about drugs? do you use them alot

Expert Icon David Thomas: Ha!  We are scientists and study the effects, but not on ourselves... 

For information on drugs see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
Moderator Icon  According to a 2008 study, 39% of 8th graders have tried alcohol.
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: how does drinking affect a pregnant woman

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.



User Icon starprepacademy - STAR Prep Academy, California: can sex become a drug? does it have any negative physical effects in excess?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: I think what you are really asking is whether people can become addicted to sex....clinically there are many people who develop compulsive sexual behaviors that can put them at risk for a number of problems including increased exposure to sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
User Icon 20113975@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: what happens if you od on oxycodone

Expert Icon David Thomas: One of the side effects is respiratory depression - slowing breathing.  In some cases, the respiratory depression can result in death.  You should only take oxycodone if it is prescribed for you by your doctor.

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx2.php#top
User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Why do you have to be over 21 to drink alcohol?

Expert Icon Aaron White: The legal drinking age was raised to 21 because too many young people were being hurt by alcohol. Raising it to 21 resulted in a big reduction in the number of young people being killed in alcohol-related car crashes. The decision to raise the drinking age to 21 was made before researchers started studying the teenage brain and how alcohol effects it. Now we know that the brain keeps growing until after the age of 21 and that alcohol can damage the teenage brain. So, it turns out that a drinking age of 21 makes sense from a brain standpoint, too! For more info on how alcohol affects kids, check out: http://thecoolspot.gov/index.asp

User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Can it be good to drink?

Expert Icon Aaron White:  For adults, one (for females) or up to two (for males) servings of alcohol can help decrease the chances of developing heart disease. However, any more than that increases the risk of developing a host of problems, including liver and pancreas diseases, weakened immune system, and certain kinds of cancers.

There are no known benefits of alcohol for teenagers, only negative effects.


User Icon janedoe!! - Dixie High School, Utah: can drinking run in the family?

Expert Icon Aaron White: There is a genetic component to alcohol addiction.  That means that if either of your parents is an alcoholic, your chances of becoming alcohol dependent are higher than someone whose parents are not alcoholics.  This is true even if you are raised in a home without the alcoholic parent.
User Icon 15955764 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: if someone smokes & drinks at the same time, what are the side affects?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking and smoking can both cause you problems. Drinking too much damages your brain and your liver. Cigarettes damage your lungs. Both of them can increase your risk for getting cancer. And, both of them are really, really, really hard to quit once you become addicted! It's best just to stay away from both of them.

User Icon starprepacademy - STAR Prep Academy, California: is it true that after three tries of LSD you are clinically insane?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: wow, now that's an interesting question!  First why would anyone do that....that's kind of crazy now isn't it?  But if you are serious, then I would encourage that person to seek a professional assessment.  Some people can be very vulnerable to the effects of hallucinogens and may very well develop serious mental health effects.
User Icon desean - Parkdale High School, Maryland: how many kids a year die a year from alcohol poisining

Expert Icon Aaron White: According to the CDC, about 79,000 Americans die each year from alcohol-related causes.  Check it out here at:
http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/
Moderator Icon  When the Chat is over, we will post the transcript (be patient - it will take a week or 2). You will be able to search the transcript for your school's name (or your user name) to see if your questions got answered!
User Icon Luie - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: will doing drugs effect how long it takes for you to hit or go through puberty?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi and thanks for your question. You might want to think about a research career, because that's a question without data! The studies I've seen on puberty and drug use are usually looking at rates of drug use during different times in puberty (more in late puberty than midpuberty) or looking at whether early puberty is related to increased risk for drug use (earlier onset more at risk). So maybe you should become a scientist and study this important question!
User Icon starprepacademy - STAR Prep Academy, California: is drinking isopropynol more dangerous than vodka?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Yes! Isopropyl alcohol is not meant to be consumed. Here is some information regarding poisoning from isopropyl alcohol:

http://www.uptodate.com/
Moderator Icon  Abusing substances does what to your brain?
  1. All of the below
  2. None of the below
  3. Messes with it: did this question mess with your head? That's exactly what drugs do! www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above
User Icon animemario1233 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Why are drugs so highly accessable in our society?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hi Rockville.  It may seem like drugs are widely available or that 'everyone' is using them, but it's actually not the case.  NIDA conducts a survey every year of high school students around the country to find out about their drug use patterns.  In 2009, 37% of 12 graders reported using an illegal drug in the last year -- and that number was lower for 10th graders, and even lower for 8th graders.  So not 'everyone' is using drugs -- not by a long shot!  One reason it may seem that drugs are widely available is that there is a growing problem with people misusing prescription medications.  It's much more common to find pain medication in someone's medicine cabinet than to find heroin there.  So the increase in use of these drugs adds to the perception that this is a widespread problem.  Thanks for your question.
User Icon HUFF - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: If your gf has aids and you dont should u still go out wit her?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there! Very good thoughtful question.
Well, first I suggest that you educate yourself about the ways that HIV is transmitted. This is imporant to do regardless of whom you are going out with because it is difficult to know the HIV status of people you might meet/go out with. Whomever you are dating or going out with, you should know that certain behaviors can protect you and others increase the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The risk-increasing behaviors include sexual risk behaviors, injecting drug use, and substance use. It is really important that you do not put yourself at risk and that you make educated and informed decisions. Please remember that when people use alcohol or drugs, they sometimes make decisions about things without careful thought.
I highly suggest that you talk with a docotor, nurse or a medical or other professional who is well informed about HIV/AIDS and who can provide you with THE FACTS. That will give you the information you need to decide what kind of relationship with your girl friend will be best for you. I think it would be a good idea for both you and your gf to talk with this person, if possilbe.
As you might know, HIV has been a highly stigmatized disease for a long time. I think it is good that some of this is changing, and it's great that you are aking questions and not overreacting to your girlfriend's problem. It is important to know that there are ways for people who are HIV positive to have healthy relationships and live a health life.
Please see the following for some information on HIV:  http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/.
User Icon 20114650@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Can Sharpie Markers actually give you a high sensation, and if so why do so many stores sell sharpies?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Yes, they can. They are part of a class of chemicals called inhalants. This class of drugs is huge, and includes lots of cleaners, glues, gas...  It is really not practicle to get rid of all of them.   Probably best to work being careful when using any of the inhalants....

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php

User Icon mjdr - Liberty High School, California: What would happen if you smoke a blunt with methamphetamine in it?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: It is never, ever good to mix drugs---especially ones like methamphetamine that are dangerous all by themselves. Why would someone do that?
User Icon SmithAJ19 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: Which prescription drugs are among the most abused by teenagers and college students and how do they typically obtain these drugs? Also, what kind of restrictions has our government put on them?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: The most abuse prescription drugs are the opioid painkillers such as vicodin and oxycontin.  According to the Monitoring the Future survey, about one in ten high school seniors report using vicodin for something other than what it was prescribed for.  Where do they get them....most often they report getting them from their friends or family.
User Icon Flamboiantchick - Dixie High School, Utah: I take loratab to help me with my injured knee, but its causing me to get dizzy and pass out. I've been taking it for two months now and it's also making me loose weight. Should I stop taking it?

Expert Icon David Thomas: You should talk to you doctor about it soon, but don't stop until you have talked to him/her.  There are likely other options. 

For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php
Moderator Icon  Abusing substances does what to your brain?
  1. All of the below
  2. None of the below
  3. Messes with it
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: is it true that u can take drugs do to genetic causes of drug addiction.

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question...we are starting to discover the effect that our genetics play in addiction.  We are finding that our genes certainly can have some influence on our drug taking and addiction.  This is a fascinating area of science and we are looking forward to many exciting findings in this area. Basically addiction comes from a mixture of your genes (what you were born with) and your environment (who you hang out with and how your family acts.)
User Icon LaurenH - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: I recently wrote a paper on how alcohol affects a developing baby's brain. I was shocked to learn that in the UK 950,000 babies are born with a learning disability due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. My main question is, If we have resources, and are informing women of their options why are so many babies born with FAS? It seems that no matter how much or little we inform people of options they dont seem to listen to what others have to say, how can professionals work to educate women on FAS?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Wow! Great question! And an excellent topic for a paper. We share your frustration. It's critical that we all work together to continue raising awareness of the risks involved in drinking during pregnancy.

Here is a link to a website from the Centers of Disease Control that discusses ways to help prevent drinking during pregnancy:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/research-preventing.html
User Icon smurf_18 - Dixie High School, Utah: how bad is it to do drugs and alcohol at the same time?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Depends on the drugs, but in general mixing is not a good idea.  For example alcohol combined with some prescription drugs (e.g., antianxiety or pain killers) can be particularly dangerous, leading to coma or death--which is why patients are often warned about not mixing the two..
User Icon 201440502@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Why would they make pain killers so strong if they know someone could accidently kill themselves using them?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Insightful observation.  Lot's of the overdoses of pain killers are from when people crush and snort the pills  This gives them an immediate dose that is much larger that if one swallows the pills.  Plus, some of the larger dose pills are for people that have been taking them for a long time by prescription and are tolerant to the drug effects, thus need bigger doses for pain relief. 

If someone get a hold of one of these high dose pills that is not pain or tolerant to the drug effects, and snorts it, they can get a huge dose that their body cannot handle...  plop, they are dead. 

For more info on pain killers see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php
User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Are some people not affected by drugs?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Some people are more susceptible and others are less susceptible to the effects of drugs. Very few people can use drugs and not be affected. In fact I have never heard of a person who could take drugs and be guaranteed that there would be no heath consequences.
User Icon navi420 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Why is marijuana considered a "gateway drug" but alchohol isn't?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hey Rockville.  Some people think marijuana is a gateway drug, but lots of people think the same thing about alcohol.  The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy, is not yet scientifically settled, and could also be applied to Nicotine. And, while it is true that most people who use other drugs have also used marijuana (and nicotine and/or alcohol), it is not true that most marijuana users go on to use other drugs. It's also important to recognize that even if a person doesn't progress beyond using marijuana or alcohol, these substances alone can present significant health risks, including the risk of addiction.
User Icon elise - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Is it true that every cigarette you smoke takes away seven minutes of your life? I thought that was just a myth adults told us as kids to keep us from smoking...

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: There is no direct evidence to suggest that each cigarette reduces one's life by 7 minutes.  It is true that smoking leads to many medical consequences and problems, cancer being a major one, that in turn can result in death. We do know that on average, it can take several years off of your life.

Bottom line, smoking can affect ones health, and it is best not to start---especally since it is so incredibly difficult to quit.
For more information on smoking and tobacco, check out:
User Icon porkchop - Dixie High School, Utah: I know friends that do drugs because they are depressed, is this something that other people do?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: People sometimes turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, that is, to make themselves feel better or to forget their problems. These substances can numb pain from life situations, daily stress, or mental illness. A person might find that they are a quick way to relax. However, over time they can develop addiction and no longer be able to feel pleasure at all without drugs and alcohol. In fact, some drugs permanently damage the brain chemistry that creates happiness. So using drugs to escape depression can actually end up making things worse in the end. 

NIDA has created a great website just for teens that answers these and other questions -- it will give you real facts and advice, without a bunch of lectures.  Check it out at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon healthclass... - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Do specific types of people do drugs?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: That is a much more complicated than you might think.  Pretty much anyone with an opportunity to use a drug can be a type of person who uses drugs.  There are certain characteristics we call 'risk' and 'protective' factors that might make it more likely someone would use drugs.  For example, if you are born and raised in a crack house you are more likely to use drugs than not.  Even if you are considered to be at higher risk for using drugs, that absolutely does not mean that you will, and everyone has the ability to make good desicions for their future. 
A couple of large national studies look at the rates of use in different subgroups, like gender, race/ethnicity, geography, education, etc. and you can check those out at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k9NSDUH/2k9Results.htm and http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/vol1_2009.pdf (appendix D). 
Moderator Icon  79.9% of 10th graders say they disapprove of regular marijuana smoking.
User Icon fellowhomie - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: Why does marijuana give people cotton mouth and make there eyes red and low?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: It's related to the vasodilator activity in marijuana, which happens minutes after exposure and opens up blood vessels to make, for example, the white of your eyes look red.
User Icon kwin - Dixie High School, Utah: Does occasional drug use permanently effect the brain?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: that's a very interesting question, and one for which we don't have a lot of research to base an answer on.  We do know from animal studies that you can find changes in the brain occurring after as little as one use, and these changes can persist but we don't know for how long.  It also seems to depend on the drug and the pattern of its administration.  For example, when you give certain drugs (like cocaine) once a day or every other day, you can detect a gradual increase in its behavioral effects. This can last for weeks after the last drug exposure. On the other hand, continuous exposure to the same drug can produce tolerance--or a diminshed behavioral response to the drug.  Both scenarios are associated with changes in the brain, although they differ.  We don't have this kind of information in humans, but I would suspect that even occasional drug use would have an effect--but I don't know how permanent it would be.
User Icon jew boy - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Is eating weed brownies worse than smoking weed

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: One is not worse or better.  It is just a matter of how quickly the marijuana's active drug, THC, gets into your brain.  With brownies, the drug gets to the brain relatively more slowly than if you smoke marijuana, where the THC gets into the blood and is carried to the brain very rapidly.

Thanks for this question.
User Icon dncr35 - Rockville HS, Maryland: In places like Amsterdam where drugs a legal, do people use them more responsibly?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Actually drugs are not legal in Amsterdam. There are 'coffee houses' where pot is openly sold and the government there 'looks the other way.' So, pot is 'decriminalized' but not 'legal.' And other driugs, like heroin and cocaine, are absolutely not legal there, and authorities have worked hard to provide treatment for addicts. However, there is a great debate in this country as to what our marijuana laws should be. Perhaps you could go to college and study the pros and cons of all sides.
User Icon 20144250@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: why are drugs addicting? Why do people feel the need to do more after once. What is in the drug to make them this happen?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Good question. The fact is our brain is wired to repeat things that we find pleasurable. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively.

For more information, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Is it true that girls get more drunk easier than boys?

Expert Icon Aaron White: That depends on the guy and the girl. However, in general, girls are affected more by alcohol than guys. Girls can feel the immediate effects of alcohol more quickly and for a longer time than guys.  Thanks to natural differences in body chemistry and metabolism, girls retain more alcohol in their blood than men do, and also break down and get rid of alcohol more slowly than guys do.
User Icon mannnn13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: They now have these cigarrettes that are apparently not bad for you because they don't have tobacco in them. Is it true that they aren't harmful?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: we don't have enouogh research to say oine way or another. In the meantime I would recommend to stay away from any smoking product, particularly if you are young.
thanks for the question. 
User Icon poizon24 - Dixie High School, Utah: what drugs are under the category of "uppers"

Expert Icon David Thomas: 'uppers' is a slang term for stimulants, drugs that usually cause arousal and activity. 

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php
User Icon bluewindmagic - Rockville HS, Maryland: Do date rape drugs have long term effects?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Chronic use of Rohypnol (one of the most common date rape drugs) can produce tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.
User Icon  najafi - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: Whys is salvia legal and what are the effects of it that make it legal compared to other illegal drugs?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Because it takes time to investigate their effects. Also, scientists are worried that scheduling Salvia divinorum as an outright illegal drug could negatively impact important research on the plant. However, even though Salvia is not yet illegal at the federal level, several states like Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and others, have passed their own laws.
thanks for the question. please stay healthy. we care.  
Moderator Icon  Fact: Taking prescription drugs without a prescription is drug abuse. Check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/.
User Icon desean - Parkdale High School, Maryland: why do some medicines have so many dangerous side affects?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Not easy to say exactly.  The human body is very complicated. If you give someone a drug that works one place to help the person, it still goes all over their body, and in some of those places, the drugs can do things that are not that good.  Your doctor can help you determine whether the bad side effects are outweighed by the good ones before you take a medication.

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon JTHSsoccer. - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: how you ever used an illegal drug?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: nope
User Icon starprepacademy - STAR Prep Academy, California: what are the physical side effects of a withdrawal from heroin?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Thanks for a great question:
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ('cold turkey'), and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24 and 48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months. Heroin withdrawal is never fatal to otherwise healthy adults, but it can cause death to the fetus of a pregnant addict.

be healthy
User Icon patrick - Parkdale High School, Maryland: wats wrong with four lokos?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Four Loko contains quite a bit of alcohol. One can of beer is 12 ounces and contains 5% alcohol. One can of Four Loko is almost 24 ounces and contains 12% alcohol. That means that a single can of Four Loko contains between 4-5 servings of alcohol. That's a lot of alcohol and can make it quite dangerous, particularly for people unaware of exactly how much alcohol is in one can of Four Loko. Also, the drink contains a large amount of caffeine. The exact amount is unknown as it is not publicized. The combination of lots of alcohol and lots of caffeine can lead to serious side effects from both of the drugs at the same time. The high alcohol content combined with the caffeine content has many parents and other adults worried about kids getting hurt from drinking it.
User Icon patrick - Parkdale High School, Maryland: can i get super high off hand senitizer?

Expert Icon Aaron White: While some hand sanitizers do contain ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcohol that you drink, they contain lots of other ingredients as well.  These other ingredients could make you really sick if you drink them.
User Icon starprepacademy - STAR Prep Academy, California: why do rockstars glorify drugs if they know they are bad?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: What a great question. I guess they (and many of their fans) think that using drugs is cool. Is a very old question that, so far, does not have a scientific answer.
Thanks for asking though 
User Icon Connor - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: Did there use to be coke in coca cola

Expert Icon David Thomas: yup, there was, and it was green!  Fortunately though, you can drink cola without getting any cocaine.

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php
User Icon XxEmo_ScreamoxX - Dixie High School, Utah: stratera a pill to help me with my adhd is making me feel really tired and i been losing alot of weight is it because the dose is to high or the medication is givign me bad sidafects?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: I would definitely talk to your doctor about that--either scenario that you suggest is possible.  Also, I don't know how long you've been taking the drug--sometimes it takes a little while for the side effects to lessen and the therapeutic effects to kick in, which could be the case here.  But I think this definitely merits a conversation with your physician.
Moderator Icon  Past-year use of hallucinogens fell among 12th graders to 4.7% (from 5.9%). See http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.
User Icon Swaggasaurusrex - Rockville HS, Maryland: is in more likely for sex addiction while on drugs?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I am not aware of any connection between sex addiction and drug use.
great question for research though. Thanks
User Icon N.S.K. - Parkdale High School, Maryland: does orange juice work for a hangover?

Expert Icon Aaron White: There aren't any cures for hangovers, just ways to treat the symptoms. You can take over-the-counter medications like Advil and Tylenol for headaches. You can drink water to get rid of dehydration. Orange juice might help some people because of the water in it. With enough time, the symptoms will go away.  Alcohol acts like a poison in the body and the person will feel sick until the body has fully recovered from the toxic effects of the drug. The only way to prevent hangovers is not to drink.
User Icon nidichat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: if you were not very drunk would you crash

Expert Icon Aaron White: It's very possible! Just one alcohol drink can make it dangerous to drive even if the person doesn't feel drunk at all.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: is it possible to get high off of antiseptics,disinfectics or cleaning prouducts??? abbi m

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Some common household products do contain volatile chemicals that, if inhaled, could give you a high that is similar to the feeling of being drunk on alcohol. These inhalants are extremely danagerous abusable substances that can cause sudden death.
thanks for your question
User Icon 15948713 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What are the chemiclas that alchohol have in it to make it so daeadly?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol itself is the most deadly part of any alcoholic drink. The rest of the ingredients just change the way it looks and tastes.
User Icon PoloBoy - Rockville HS, Maryland: What is the lowest recorded drinking age around the world?

Expert Icon Aaron White: In Peru and Cuba there is no minimum drinking age but to purchase alcohol you have to be 18. Some countries, like the Solomon Islands, have no legal drinking age and no legal purchase age.
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: How can alcohol effect the developement of the brain?

Expert Icon Aaron White: The teenage years are a very important time for development of the brain. The thinking parts, memory parts, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.
Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!
User Icon mr. jiggleworm - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Can you abuse prescription marijuana

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, medical marijuana is the same as the marijuana that is abused. Anything that is prescribed for you by a doctor shoud be used as directed by the doctor. Anything else can put you at risk for problems, especially health problems.
User Icon dan24 - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: if you have ADHD should you try other drugs while on other medicine

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Its not a good idea to mix drugs--since the effects can be unpredictable.  And you certainly don't want to undermine the beneficial effects of your ADHD medicine.  But if you are talking about other prescription drugs, then I would suggest that you talk to your doctor about that to determine if there are drug interactions that could be a concern for you. 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: so if you are addicted to marajwana then will you have a weight problem???

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I am not aware of any study that has looked at this specific question. But it is a very interesting one.
Thanks

 
User Icon porkchop - Dixie High School, Utah: What percentage of teens experiment with drug?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hi porkchop,
According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study, past-month alcohol drinking was reported by 15% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 44% of 12th graders (5% of 8th graders, 16% 10th graders, and 27% of 12th graders reported they had been drunk in the past month).  Past-month use of marijuana was reported by 7% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders, and 21% of 12th graders, and past-month cigarette smoking by 7% of 8th graders, 13% of 10th graders, 20% of 12th graders.  Another study, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that 10% of kids ages 12-17 are current drug users.
Thanks for your question!
Moderator Icon  It's safe to use prescription medications when:
  1. You've checked WebMD and know what you are doing
  2. You've taken them before for another problem
  3. They are prescribed for you by a doctor for a current problem: No matter how well-intentioned friends and family may be, only a physician is qualified to prescribe the right medications in the right dose for you. www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Prescription/
  4. Your mom gave them to you from her prescription
  5. All of the above
User Icon google - Rockville HS, Maryland: If I live in a house with a family that smokes could I get addicted

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hi - good question.  You won't get addicted just by living in a house with smokers, but that doesn't mean it's not problematic.  Nonsmokers are exposed to "secondhand smoke," which comes from both the smoke that a smoker exhales and from the smoke floating from the end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Inhaling secondhand smoke increases a person's risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. In fact, secondhand smoke is estimated to contribute to as many as 40,000 deaths related to heart disease and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke also causes respiratory problems in nonsmokers, like coughing, phlegm, and reduced lung function. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma. And, believe it or not, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire deaths, leading to more than 1,000 such deaths each year.  So you can see that there are risks to your health even if you don't smoke yourself.  Take care and I hope this is helpful information.
User Icon tobiac - Wantagh Middle School, New York: how many people do drugs per year?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, nearly 22 million people in the US ages 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users, representing about 8.7 percent of the population aged 12 or older. To break it down some more, 21% of 18-25 year olds reported drug use and 10% of kids ages 12-17 reported they had used drugs in the past month.
User Icon smurf_18 - Dixie High School, Utah: why do people say they see stuff when they do durgs?

Expert Icon David Thomas: They might be on hallucinogens like LSD.  The hallmark of these drugs is causing hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there). 

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon XxEmo_ScreamoxX - Dixie High School, Utah: whats the most common alcholic beverage that kill teens

Expert Icon Aaron White: No one knows for sure. Some surveys tell us that more teenagers drink liquor than beer or wine, but the numbers vary from state to state. Any form of alcoholic beverages can be quite dangerous for teenagers.

Underage drinking can cause several negative effects, including:

1. Legal trouble
2. Car crashes and other accidents
3. Negative effects on the brain and its development
4. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
5. Starting to drink before age 21 increases the risk of developing alcoholism later on

The brain is changing in very important ways during the teenage years and alcohol can interfere with brain development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

User Icon clinke - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: Why is it bad to be pregnant when you are 12?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi Wyoming -- thanks for your question. Pregnancy when you're a teen or pre-teen can be especially challenging on your body and on the developing baby. Teen pregnancy has been associated with premature birth and low birth weight. Low birth weight has been associated with negative outcomes for the baby. Sometimes teen moms don't get adequate prenatal care or prenatal nutrition. Teen moms can also be more susceptible to postpartum depression. And sometimes teen and pre-teen pregnant girls can feel alone and isolated - there just aren't as many kids their age experiencing the many physical changes and huge responsibility associated with being pregnant. All pregnant girls and women need good prenatal care, a smokefree environment, good prenatal nutrition including prenatal vitamins, exercise, sleep, and support from their family and friends.  
User Icon unknown person - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: How many types of alcohol are harmful for human?

Expert Icon Aaron White:  There are several types of alcohol - and all are harmful, especially for teens. The one that people drink is called ethyl-alcohol, or ethanol. This type of alcohol is a very simple molecule that is so small that it can travel  throughout the body as easily as water - that means it can go pretty much everywhere! The chemical formula for ethyl-alcohol is CH3-CH2-OH.

Alcohol is made when yeast, a single celled organism, eats sugar. Alcohol is produced by the yeast when it digests the sugar. The different types of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, liquor) are different because of the source of sugar fed to the yeast. For instance, wine is made from the sugar in fruit. Liquors are often made from the sugar in vegetables.  

For information on how much alcohol is in different types of drinks, check out:http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

User Icon cbackus13 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What do you think is the worst drug to use?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: This question is complicated and the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness and which drugs are most dangerous. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: genetic (e.g., drug metabolism), environmental (e.g., drug availability) and developmental (e.g., age), all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent (in fact, even whether) abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction.

The fact that it is almost impossible to rank drugs, does not mean that we cannot identify factors that contribute to or influence the addictiveness of a particular drug. We can offer a nice example from the world of stimulants, where different routes of administration (i.e., how you take it) can have a profound impact on the ultimate risk of harm and addiction. Smoking cocaine (crack) delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately, are very intense, but do not last long. The high from smoking cocaine may last from 5 to 10 minutes. The high from snorting cocaine on the other hand comes on slower and can last for 15 to 20 minutes. There is evidence that suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at greater risk of causing harm to themselves-including becoming addicted-than those who snort the substance, because the drug reaches its brain targets so much faster. And route of administration is but one of many factors to consider just in relation to the drug itself--the dosage, combination with other drugs, setting in which a drug is taken, and pattern of drug taking are other variables to consider along with those noted above related to the individual and his/her environment.

Hope this answer helps.
User Icon kingkong - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: what is k2 made of?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Spice is the latest FAD I heard of. It is a herbal mixture that appears to contain some chemicals that are similar to THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and other stuff that look to me like oregano. It is so new that we are still trying to figure out what it is and what it does.
Thanks for the question and stay tuned.

User Icon 20142375@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: what good would come out of allowing marijuana to be legalized in California?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: A number of states have chosen to legalize marijuana for medical uses, including California.  This is problematic since medicines are supposed to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on well conducted studies showing them to be safe and effective.  Marijuana has not met this requirement.  Nevertheless, marijuana does contain ingredients with potential medical uses--especially reducing nausea (from cancer chemotherapy, e.g.), increasing appetite (among those who are suffering from severe malnutrition due to their illness), relieving pain and perhaps other uses as well.  But as a plant that is smoked, marijuana is not a great idea for a medicine.  Smoking itself is bad for the lungs, and the plant contains more than 400 chemicals with unknown health effects that vary from one plant to the other.  Thus, the promise lies isolating ingredients from marijuana that may have beneficial effects, or in synthetic compounds that act similar to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in the brain and the body.  This is a very active research area right now.  
User Icon pHlevel1 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Are weed brownies healthier than smoking weed?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Different risks for each.  Certainly not smoking is better than smoking as far as your lungs go.  But other types of adverse effects can be more likely when you ingest marijuana in foods--including panic, paranoia, or psychotic reactions.  Although we don't really know why that is, we suspect that it may be because its harder to control the dose when you take marijuana in food, so even though the effects come on slower, they may hit you all at once and there's very little you can do about it except wait it out. 
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: Why do people say that the first time they try smoking marijuana they don't feel the effects?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: drug effects vary tremendously from one person to the next. So it is not unheard of that someone may not feel anything when trying a drug. Moreover, some first time users even report an aversive reaction, meaning that the experience is actually unpleasurable. 

thanks for the good question.
User Icon tmoney247 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: if you drink a sip of alcohol will you have a hang over.

Expert Icon Aaron White: Probably not, but it might be possible!
Moderator Icon  It's safe to use prescription medications when:
  1. You've checked WebMD and know what you are doing
  2. You've taken them before for another problem
  3. They are prescribed for you by a doctor for a current problem
  4. Your mom gave them to you from her prescription
  5. All of the above
User Icon marly the great - Dixie High School, Utah: i have drank before and its fun and i didnt think it was bad but is it bad for me to drink what dose it do for my body

Expert Icon Aaron White: It is okay for people 21 or older as long as they are not alcoholics, and can drink within recommended limits.  Drinking before you turn 21 is not legal, and makes it more to become an alcoholic later in life. The brain is still changing when we are teenagers, too, and we still do not understand exactly how much alcohol a teenager has to drink before it begins to impact your brain.

For more information about how drinking can affect kids, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: can drugs make u ugly

Expert Icon David Thomas: oh yeah!!!  One example that immediately comes to mind is methamphetamine.   There are pictures online of people before and after meth abuse. It is unreal!!!  Their teeth get rotten, and the skin gets all blotchy!   UGLY!

For more info on drugs, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon 15949533 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: how is alcohol bad for a 13 year old??????????????

Expert Icon Aaron White: Underage drinking can cause several negative effects, including:

1. Legal trouble
2. Car crashes and other accidents
3. Negative effects on the brain and its development
4. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
5. Starting to drink before age 21 increases the risk of developing alcoholism later on

The brain is changing in very important ways during the teenage years and alcohol can interfere with brain development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: if beer and tabacoo are leaglle why isnt pot i get why coc and acid and stuff but why pot

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Smoking marijuana is potentially addictive, is bad for the lungs, and the plant contains more than 400 chemicals with unknown health effects that vary from one plant to the other.  Thus, the promise lies in isolating ingredients from marijuana that may have beneficial effects, or in synthetic compounds that act similar to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in the brain and the body.  Also, marijuana affects driving skills, especially in combination with alcohol (14% of those in fatal car wrecks test positive for THC--sometimes in combination with other drugs); and it affects your ability to learn--especially important for someone your age. Some states have legalized its use with a prescription for various medical conditions; however, that is not something the Federal government recognizes, since all medicines must get FDA approval based on their safety and efficacy--but marijuana has not met their criteria.
User Icon porkchop - Dixie High School, Utah: Are the effects of hard alcohols different from wine or beer?

Expert Icon Aaron White: They all contain the same drug -- alcohol. Because liquor is so much more concentrated than wine and beer, it is absorbed into the body more quickly and can produce effects much more quickly. However, a single serving of each (for liquor, this is a 1.5 ounce serving of 40% alcohol; for beer, this is a 12 ounce serving of 5% alcohol) has the same amount of alcohol and therefore has the potential to produce the same amount of harm. For more information on standard drink amounts for different types of alcohol, check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Is Marijuana the most common drug to be used my teenagers?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hi fassmanr,
Actually, alcohol is the drug of choice for American kids - followed by marijuana and cigarettes. According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study, past-month alcohol drinking was reported by 15% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 44% of 12th graders (5% of 8th graders, 16% 10th graders, and 27% of 12th graders reported they had been drunk in the past month).  Past-month use of marijuana was reported by 7% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders, and 21% of 12th graders, and past-month cigarette smoking by 7% of 8th graders, 13% of 10th graders, 20% of 12th graders. 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how doyou no so much about drugs wat school did you go to or just by exsperience

Expert Icon David Thomas: Well I do have a cheat sheet and a computer, but I went to school to learn about how drugs act in the brain and body and I have been at NIDA for 15 years - you pick a few things up over that amount of time, no matter how bright you are!    ;)

For more info on drugs, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon dan24 - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: Can drinking affect pregencies

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.

User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: why do soo many basball players take steroids

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Obviously because they think that they are getting a performane advantage that justifies the risk of being caught, fined or even suspended. The records and averages seem to demonstrate that steroids have been enhancing performance over the past few decades. The situation is not helped by their perception (true for a very long time) that they could get away with it. And in that scenario, many players that never intended to abuse steroids feel cheated and decide to use steroids just to level the playing field. It's a sad situation.
Thanks for the great question. 
User Icon 15318058 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what percent of girls drink while they're pregnant

Expert Icon Aaron White: According to a big study about people's drinking habits and related problems called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), about 8.1% of women pregnant in the past year continued to drink, but in reduced quantities.  About 1.5% of women pregnant in the past year continued to drink pretty much the same amount as when they were not pregnant. 
User Icon laxbro24 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What percentage of teens use steriods?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: According to the Monitoring the Future study, 1.5% of US 12th graders reported they had used steroids in the past year, and fewer than 1% of 8th and 10th graders reported they had used steroids in the past year. There's a reason doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles---it's just too dangerous! Read more at NIDA for Teens, http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php.
User Icon love_fletcher - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: how fast can marijuana kill you?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss:  Marijuana is not likely to kill you from smoking it, but if you were to get high and then drive, have unprotected sex, or do something else that could be dangerous, the consequences could be serious...even deadly.  Approximately 14% of fatally injured drivers test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs)
Moderator Icon  Who needs enemies when you have friends who drink? About 43,000 college students under age 21 are injured by someone else who has been drinking too much.
User Icon gothy pills - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: i found a pill that got me hi do i keep takeing it

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: 

Hello - Thanks for e-mailing in today.  It's not a good idea to to this.  Drugs can be bad for you in lots of ways. Even occasional or experimental drug use can be dangerous, since drugs can have unexpected adverse health effects even with one use; and drugs affect your ability to exert good judgment--making it more likely that you might engage in risky behaviors that can have serious consequences, such as driving while intoxicated. Prolonged drug abuse can cause all sorts of medical problems--like lung cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and addiction. When someone is addicted to drugs, they become the most important thing in that person's life, causing them major problems at school, home, and work.  Also, drugs can have lasting impact on developing (teen) brains.  Drugs mess with your brain's wiring and signals. Keep your brain healthy!
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the most dangerous drug?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Nicotine in terms of some of its health effects--cancer, cardiovascular disease; alcohol--for car accidents, liver disease, and prenatal effects; methamphetamine--for what it does to the brain and to the environment.

It really depends on what you're looking at, but most drugs come with their own set of risks. 
User Icon salm - Parkdale High School, Maryland: why is weed good for health to some people

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana contain ingredients with potential medical uses, such as reducing nausea from cancer chemotherapy, increasing appetite among those who are suffering from severe malnutrition due to their illness, and relieving pain.  But smoking marijuana is potentially addictive, is bad for the lungs, and the plant contains more than 400 chemicals with unknown health effects that vary from one plant to the other.  Thus, the promise lies in isolating ingredients from marijuana that may have beneficial effects, or in synthetic compounds that act similar to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in the brain and the body.  This is a very active research area right now.  
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is so bad about vicodin

Expert Icon David Thomas: It has some side effects but is a pretty good pain killer when appropriately used.  However, if you use it when you're not in pain, at high dose, it can have some very serious effects on your heart, lungs, intestines, brain...  Vicodin should only be used when prescribed by your doctor!

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php    
User Icon cbackus13 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What is the most common drug used?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Alcohol is the drug of choice for American kids - followed by marijuana and cigarettes. According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study, past-month alcohol drinking was reported by 15% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 44% of 12th graders (5% of 8th graders, 16% 10th graders, and 27% of 12th graders reported they had been drunk in the past month).  Past-month use of marijuana was reported by 7% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders, and 21% of 12th graders, and past-month cigarette smoking by 7% of 8th graders, 13% of 10th graders, 20% of 12th graders. 
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: is it safe to have high amounts of caffine and do cardvascular exersise?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: it depends on what you call high levels of caffeine: doing exercise after having a cup of joe is probably OK. Now, consuming 200 or 500 mg of caffeine just before aerobic exercise may not be the smartest thing to do.
take care and stay safe.
 
User Icon cbackus13 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: How much teens in Vermont use drugs?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System reported about 25% of 9th-12th graders in Vermont had smoked marijuana, 4% used cocaine, 3% used heroin, 4% used methamphetamine, and 2% had used steroids in the past month.  There is a really cool website where you can look at more health behaviors, including drinking and smoking, for specific states.  Check it out at: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline/App/Default.aspx.
User Icon pinkrulez - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: what is a hallucinogen?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: A hallucinogen is a drug that alters how we perceive the world around us through our senses.  They interfere with our brains to cause 'visions' or other senses of things or sounds that aren't really there. Check out our fact sheet at http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/hallucinogens.html
User Icon 20142200@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: What is k2 ?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Spice is the latest FAD I heard of. It is a herbal mixture that appears to contain some chemicals that are similar to THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and other stuff that look to me like oregano. It is so new that we are still trying to figure out what it is and what it does.
Thanks for the question and stay tuned.

User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: do antiseptics,disinfectics ar cleaning products have drugd in them???

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Not really. Some other household products can be abused as inhalants because they have volatile chemicals that can be sniffed and cause a type of high similar to the feeling of being drunk.
thanks for the question.
User Icon Grandma'sboy111 - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: whats is in meth

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: 'Meth' refers to methamphetamine, a certain large molecule that sticks to certain parts of brain cells to affect how the cell behaves and communicates with others.  Methamphetamine is very similar in shape to amphetamine, and is also a 'stimulant' that can increase energy and attention for a while.  Amphetamine is sometimes prescribed to people for adhd and other disorders.  However meth is very addictive compared to other drugs, and is very dangerous for that reason. Here is a link to our fact sheet on meth: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html
User Icon 20141200@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: What age group do most kids start using drugs?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 21% of 18-25 year olds reported they used drugs in the past month, followed by 10% of 12-17 year olds.  The same study reported about 3 million people aged 12 or older used an illegal drug for the first time in the past year; this averages to about 8,500 initiates per day!  More than half of them were younger than 18 the first time they used drugs, and the average age is about 17.5 yrs old.  There could be many reasons for younger people starting to use drugs but one is that the part of the brain that helps you make good choices - the prefrontal cortex - doesn't mature until you are in your 20s, so get the facts before making quick decisions! For more information about drugs, check out this link: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon qwerty123 - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: hi, what is the worst drug to get addicted to, in ur opinion

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Meth or heroin because they are highly addictive, but they're all big trouble, including alcohol.  Addiction is a serious problem, because once a person loses control over a drug, it is extremely difficult for that person to get off of the drug or resist cravings or urges. For info on specific drugs of abuse, go to our drug pages index at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
User Icon 20120726@pjphs. - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: what do inhalants do?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: they give you a type of high that is similar to the experience of being drunk on alcohol. Inhalants are some of the most dangerous sibstances of abuse because they can cause sudden (sniffinig) death through several different mechanisms, like asphixia or suffocation.
Thanks for your question. 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: someone told me you can get high from sniffing a sharpie is that true????????????????????

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Great question!
Some felt tip markers use fluid that is called a volatile solvent, a liquid that vaporizes at room temperature, which is what someone told you that you can inhale to get high. 
They seem harmless, but they can actually be quite dangerous. The lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body.  The effects are similar to those produced by alcohol and may include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Some inhalant users feel lightheaded and have hallucinations and delusions. The high usually lasts only a few minutes. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis - a disease that also affects myelin.  Inhalants also can damage brain cells by preventing them from receiving enough oxygen, so someone who repeatedly uses inhalants may lose the ability to learn new things or may have a hard time carrying on simple conversations, the ability to solve complex problems, or can cause a person to move slowly or clumsily.  Regular abuse of inhalants can cause serious harm to vital organs besides the brain, like the heart, kidneys, and liver, as well as muscle weakness and permanent damage to peripheral nerves.
User Icon josh-e - Parkdale High School, Maryland: why is weed bad

Expert Icon David Thomas: Thanks for your question - In general marijuana can affect your short-term memory and learning, your ability to focus, attention, and coordination. It also increases heart rate, can harm the lungs, and can cause psychosis in those at risk. We've got a bunch of studies looking at how weed/marijuana use can affect your brain as it is developing. Did you know your brain develops until age 25?! It's important to keep your brain healthy at all times, especially when it is still developing and can be really vulnerable to drugs. To find out more about marijuana, go to our teen website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: is there any drug that can kill you within 30 min.

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, there are plenty that are dangerous enough that if taken in the right doses or mixed with other drugs that can kill you within that time frame.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: if you smoke next to your cat or dog would they get high like and runn around and be crazy and stufff

Expert Icon David Thomas: My dogs and cats do crazy stuff all the time!   

But there are a lot of similarities between animals and people in how they act when on drugs of abuse.  You should see the spiderwebs made by spiders on drugs.  Very messed up...  For more information see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon wonder women - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: how could u get addicted to sex??

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: For some people sex can be so potent a reinforcer that it becomes compulsive, much like when individuals become addicted to drugs.  They lose control over their ability to modulate their behavior and thus it becomes a condition similar to drug addiction.

Hope this helps.
User Icon purpledubs - Dixie High School, Utah: what are the long term affects of LSD

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: LSD can cause psychosis (visions or illusions) or flashbacks (sudden memories) even a while after the drug is taken.  There is less evidence for longer-term effects. Take a look at our fact sheet on hallucinogens at http://drugabuse.gov/infofacts/hallucinogens.html
User Icon 15949217 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What type of drug can you be affected by the most ?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Different drugs have different effects, and any drug taking when you are young increases the risk of problems later on; so this is a time of vulnerability to addiction; and also a time of very active brain development.  Also, depending on how you take the drug (intravenously, smoked, snorted, or orally) the effects will differ--with those routes that get the drug to the brain quickly (e.g., intravenous, smoking) the most addictive. 
User Icon squishy:) - Dixie High School, Utah: how can you keep someone from doing drugs, because you want to help them stop?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hi - great question.  If you know someone who is using drugs and want to help them stop, it's not always easy to know what to do.  You can encourage them to talk to a parent or another trusted adult, like a school guidance counselor.  If your friend doesn't feel comfortable doing that, they can use anonymous resources, such as SAMHSA's crisis line (1-800-273-TALK) -- they help people with lots of different kinds of problems.  Or they can contact the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).  Or you can contact these resources yourself for advice on how to help your friend. 

Because you've asked this question, you probably already know that right now it's really important to be a good friend -- you don't want to make your friend feel like they're being judged, you can show support by listening, and find ways to offer help when they're ready to receive it.  Good luck and I hope this helps.
User Icon Xavier - Parkdale High School, Maryland: can u eat weed?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes, people do eat weed (marijuana) and get high from it.

For more information about marijuana and the dangers of addiction, see http://www.marijuana-info.org/.
User Icon desean - Parkdale High School, Maryland: is k2 illegal

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: in some states.
The federal government is considering a federal ban
thanks for the question
User Icon GeniusGeeko - Dixie High School, Utah: Is it true that drugs kill braincells?

Expert Icon David Thomas: yes, illicit drugs can.   Some drugs more than others.  To preserve your brain cells, it's better to avoid drugs!

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
Moderator Icon  Alcohol can affect the development of the adolescent brain. Ask us how!
User Icon porkchop - Dixie High School, Utah: Do think alcohol should be illegal like other drugs?

Expert Icon Aaron White: The current laws in the United States allow for alcohol to be sold to citizens aged 21 and older. Even though alcohol can be very dangerous, it's safe for some adults to have up to one (females) or two (males) servings per day. However, there is no known safe amount for kids, including teenagers. For this reason, it is not legal for teenagers to drink.


User Icon 15948967 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: can marijuana affect sexual activity

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: not that I know of.
heavy or chronic marijuana could lower a man's sperm count though.
User Icon N.S.K. - Parkdale High School, Maryland: does drug affect sex?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: some drugs can. for example:
anabolic steroids can lower sex drive
marijuana can lower sperm count
ecstasy and poppers are often abused to enhance sexual arousal.

thanks for a great question.
User Icon Flamboiantchick - Dixie High School, Utah: Can you get dependent on Pain killers even though you got them prescribed by a doctor?

Expert Icon David Thomas: I love this question!  Lot's of people get confused about this.   Yes, you can get dependent on prescription pain killers (opioids). However, this is NOT addiction.  Drug dependence is when you have a physiological reaction to stopping taking a drug.  With long-term opioid treatment, dependence is common.

However, addiction is a different story. Addiction is compulsive use despite harm.  That is a lot less common when you get the pain killers from doctors for an actual pain condition.

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php
User Icon 20142750@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: will marijuana kill you if only taken once?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hi! Interesting question...hard to answer exactly because marijuana is generally not toxic in the sense that if you smoke it, it is going to kill you.  But, if you were to get high and then drive, have unprotected sex, or do something else that could be dangerous, the consequences could be really serious...even deadly. 
User Icon salm - Parkdale High School, Maryland: what is weed good for?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Weed is not 'good' for anything. However, there are several chemicals in cannabis which when purified appear to offer important medical benefits. THC and Cannabidiol are two prime examples of medicinally promising ingredients.
 thanks for the question.   
User Icon GeniusGeeko - Dixie High School, Utah: Is it true after you kill braincells that new cells don't replace the old ones?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Great question!  It was thought years ago that brain cells do not regenerate themselves and that once they are lost, they are lost forever.  This is not exactly true, in that there is considerable plasticity (or ability of the brain to change) and ability for new cell generation.  That said, there are some areas of the brain where brain damage can be permanent.  Take for example in Parkinson's disease.  If enough dopamine containing cells are lost in a particular part of the brain, then the result is Parkinson's.  Those cells do not regenerate.

For more facts on how drugs affect the brain, check out: www.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon squishy:) - Dixie High School, Utah: why do parents turn to cigarretts and alcohol due to stress?

Expert Icon Aaron White: That's a great question. Life is challenging at any age and, sometimes people think that alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs offer an easy way to dampen the feelings of stress. The problem is that alcohol and other drugs do not actually help at all in the long run. Dealing with stress in healthy ways requires facing the stress and working through it. Hiding behind alcohol and other drugs only makes problems worse.

If you're looking for ways to help your parents, check out this link:http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp
User Icon bergekr08 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: Why does marijuana make you laugh and the dumbest things?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella:  The active component in marijuana is THC, and it effects our brain in some interesting ways...one is to cause euphoria.  And, for some people, therefore, things seem funny.
Moderator Icon  We are getting thousands of questions from teens all over the country. We are working as fast as we can to answer them, so please be patient! If your questions don't get answered while you are waiting, you will be able to search the transcript for your school's name (or your user name) to see if your questions got answered! The transcript will be posted in about a week.
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: How come adults over 21 years of age can tolerate drugs more easily than teens?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: The truth is that drug tolerance varies depending on many factors.  If one uses these drugs over a long period of time, the body will develop tolerance.  No single factor can predict whether or not a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a person's biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.  But being 21 is not the legal age because of tolerating drugs better--that's a policy decision not a scientific one.
User Icon punky_bruster - Dixie High School, Utah: my mom ustaa be a hippy , so i have caught her doing drugs like weed, but shes had donet it since the 70s or befor that so i dont know how convince her that its bad

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hey Punky!  Thanks for your question.  Dealing with parents who use drugs or alcohol can be difficult and sometimes scary.  It would be great if you want to try and get help for your mom--if she is ready to receive it.  However, the thing you can do right away and have the most control over is protecting yourself.  Maybe talk with your school guidance counselor or another trusted adult to get advice, and also try to keep yourself out of harm's way -- for example, you want to make sure you aren't riding in a car with your mom if she's been using marijuana.  You can also participate in a local Al-Anon program for teens whose parents use drugs (called Alateen).  They'll help you find additional support on how to deal with a parent's drug use from people who are having similar experiences. To find local treatment options, you can get confidential advice at 1-800-662-HELP or http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov, and you can look up Alateen at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen.  Hope this helps.
 
User Icon soccergirl18 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: Why is HGH considered to be a steroid, seeing as it is made in the body?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: thanks for your question.
I don't think that human growth hormone (HGH) is considered a steroid. It's a protein which will affect all sorts of systems in the body, and influence hormonal equilibrium for sure. On the other hand, being made in the body is irrelevant in this context, the body also makes many steroids, which should and are called steroids.
take care 
User Icon 13youngche - Dixie High School, Utah: if you mix marijuana, alcohol,and adderal what could happen?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Anything--its really hard to say what could happen from mixing drugs.  You should also realize that adderal--although it is a prescription drug, can also be dangerous when abused.  So I would strongly suggest that you not consider attempting this mixture.  Adderal and marijuana can each induce psychosis; marijuana and alcohol combined can severely impair driving-- more than either one alone; there are all kinds of possibilities.
User Icon Rakeem - Dixie High School, Utah: what age are people most susceptible to doing drugs?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: What a great question!  According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 21% of 18-25 year olds reported they used drugs in the past month, followed by 10% of 12-17 year olds.  The same study reported about 3 million people aged 12 or older used an illegal drug for the first time in the past year; this averages to about 8,500 initiates per day!  More than half of them were younger than 18 the first time they used drugs, and the average age is about 17.5 yrs old.  There could be many reasons for younger people starting to use drugs but one is that the part of the brain that helps you make good choices - the prefrontal cortex - doesn't mature until you are in your 20s, so get the facts before making quick decisions! For more information about drugs, check out this link: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon I LOVE BOBIES - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: can babys be effected by drugs for long term time

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: It depends, but drug exposure to a baby can cause serious damage.   Prenatal exposure can affect a child and affect his or her brain and behavior development http://www.nida.nih.gov/consequences/prenatal/ .  The medical consequences of drug exposure can range depending on many factors. Negative consequences can be short or long term affects on the brain resulting in problems in memory, attention and behavior.  If someone is pregnant and using drugs, there are treatment programs designed to help them and their baby.  If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Tha
User Icon poizon24 - Dixie High School, Utah: is the perscription drug aderol addictive?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Yes, adderall can be addictive, because it is a stimulant.  Adderall is actually a special version or packaging of amphetamine.  Although amphetamine is frequently prescribed by a doctor for ADHD and other disorders, it DOES have the potential to be 'habit-forming' or addictive, since it has an effect on the brain, and can give a feeling of 'high.' Many medicines used properly -- prescribed by your physician to treat a specific medical need -- can be life-saving.  But abuse them and they can be dangerous.  Check out more details about stimulants at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php and learn more about the consequences of abusing prescription meds at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/
User Icon Caves - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: If you drink every night and get drunk every time how long will it take to get liver cancer?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcoholic liver disease (not liver cancer, that would be something different) develops in 10 - 20% of heavy drinkers, usually after 10 - 15 years of heavy alcohol consumption.
User Icon purpledubs - Dixie High School, Utah: how can you gain back memory loss from MDMA

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Hmmm, interesting question.  The best way to avoid the effects of ectasy on memory and other brain processes is to discontinue its use.  We still don't know whether MDMA causes long-term brain damage in humans, or whether the effects are reversible when someone stops using the drug.  A study of animals showed that exposure to high doses of MDMA for 4 days produced brain damage that could still be seen 6 to 7 years later. The good news is that the study researchers found that some of the nerve fibers grew back in the same places where the toxic reactions had occurred. But, we still don't know if these new neurons work like the old ones.  

If you would like more information on MDMA, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/mdma.html.
Moderator Icon  You have heard about binge drinking - but do you really know what that means? We have experts on the Chat who can answer your questions about it.
User Icon juice - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: I am on adhd drugs. are there any possible complications or side whatevers i should consider?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: You should talk to your doctor about these things so that you feel comfortable taking the medication, and so that you know what problems require you to alert your doctor. The main side effects that people report are decreased appetite and trouble sleeping.  But these medications can be very effective in reducing your ADHD symptoms, and should help you function better especially in school.  There has also been a lot of interest in whether putting someone on ADHD meds increases their risk of later drug abuse--but so far all of the studies that have looked at this do not find it to be true.  There is a small effect on stature (height) that has been shown to result from treatment with ADHD medications. 
User Icon killer101 - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: Can steroids kill you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Death is a rather unlikely (very infrequent) outcome of steroid abuse. However, some suicides have been linked to steroid abuse induced depression, and the aggressive behaviors (roid rage) that a small number of anabolic steroid abusers seem to develop could lead to fatal accidents.
thanks for the question.
 
User Icon Luie - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: Is it stupid to ride your bike while drinking?

Expert Icon David Thomas: I would keep both hands on the wheel!  Alcohol diminishes reaction times and judgment.   Just like it is dangerous to drive a car when drunk, it is dangerous to ride a bike. 

For more info, see http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
User Icon master8675309 - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: can babbys be addicted to crack when born

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hello Wyoming + thanks for your question! Babies exposed to crack in utero usually aren't born addicted, but there can be other aspects of development that are affected. Early on these babies might have lower birth weights or smaller heads, although this difference can disappear over time. Researchers are following groups of kids who were exposed to cocaine and/or crack in utero (in the womb)  and following the same kids through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. They are finding that these kids are more likely to have attention and behavior problems compared to their non-exposed peers, even those from the same neighborhoods and with similar backgrounds. There are other abused drugs that moms take when pregnant that can result in babies being in withdrawal when they are born, namely opiates --heroin, morphine, oxycotin, vicodin and other opiate based pain relievers. Not all, but many of these infants are born with neonatal abstinence sydrome, a set of symptoms that appear to be uncomfortable for the baby, and they go through withdrawal the first days of life. There are treatments for these infants - behavioral and medicine, that can help with the withdrawal. Here's some more information on prenatal drug exposure. http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html
Moderator Icon  What percentage of people who try marijuana will become addicted to it?
  1. 9%
  2. 1 in 6 if use begins as a teen
  3. About 50% of daily users
  4. All of the above: Marijuana is addictive-with the risk increasing among those who start early and those who use daily. www.nida.nih.gov/tib/marijuana.html
User Icon squishy:) - Dixie High School, Utah: how can you tell if someone still is using drugs, if there telling you there not using them but you feel they are?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hey Squishy!  Good question.  It can be tricky to know whether someone is using drugs. Their behavior is one clue, if you think they're just not acting like they normally do--some signs may include withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility, and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends. In addition, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits. However, these signs may also indicate problems other than drug use.  If you have concerns about a friend, you should seek out a trusted adult such as a parent or a school guidance counselor and get their help in talking to your friend.  To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment a good place to start is the Web site of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. www.samhsa.gov. Thanks and I hope this helps.
User Icon 12345 - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: what are the risks of smoking crack

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Several.  In the short term, crack (a form of cocaine) causes increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and could cause a heart attack or stroke.  In addition, being high and driving could cause an accident.  Over the long term, crack cocaine enters the brain very quickly compared to snorting cocaine, and this is more likely to cause a person to become addicted to the drug.  Once you're addicted to cocaine, it is very hard to break the habit! We have more information on stimulants at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php
User Icon 301goonboy - Rockville HS, Maryland: what are different ways doing marijuana that aew not harmful??

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: 

Hello -

For the average person, there are not ways of 'doing marijuana' that are not without risk.  Using marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and, contrary to popular belief, it can be addictive. Chronic or long-term exposure to marijuana smoke, just like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and can also distort perception.  

Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for ensuring the safety of everything from cosmetics to human and animal medications to our nation's food supply has not approved marijuana to treat any medical illness. That is because smoking marijuana has not been shown in rigorously conducted clinical trials to have medical benefits that exceed its risks--the same standard used to approve any medication. However, the FDA has approved certain medications that contain ingredients found in marijuana. These medications are usually prescribed to relieve symptoms in seriously ill patients, such as reducing nausea for cancer patients on chemotherapy or helping AIDS patients to eat more. Also, there is some new and exciting research looking at the biology of cannabinoids, the general class of molecules related to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. This research suggests new ways of treating pain and other illnesses without the dangers of becoming addicted or the health liabilities linked to smoking marijuana. 

See http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more information.

Thanks for e-mailing a question today!  

Kristen
User Icon Treasure - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: If you are pregnant and your do drugs, will your child be mentaly retarded or will the child be perfectly fine?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Drugs during pregnancy can affect a child prenatally  http://www.nida.nih.gov/consequences/prenatal/ .  The medical consequences of drug exposure can range depending on many factors. Negative consequences can be short or long term affects on the brain resulting in problems in memory, attention and behavior.  If someone is pregnant and using drugs, there are treatment programs designed to help them and their baby.  If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
User Icon marly the great - Dixie High School, Utah: why cant people stop doing drugs? what dose drugs do to your brain to where they cant stop?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: People do drugs for many reasons.  The reasons they start include being pressured to by friends, because they are depressed and think it will help, because of boredom.  But while the reasons they start may differ, once someone becomes addicted-they do drugs because they can't stop.  Addiction is a brain disease.  People continue to use drugs because of brain and behavior changes over time due to the brain's response to drugs. Learn more at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/understand.html and check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/.

Can the brain recover after you stop using drugs? Yes, but it depends on many things, like how young somebody is when they start. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or with your family. It is therefore best to never start; however, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it.
User Icon purpledubs - Dixie High School, Utah: do hallucinogens really expand your thinking and differ your thought posses for the better?

Expert Icon David Thomas: They make you see things that are not there.  If you call that expanding, then it does.  However, when people talk about the 'mind expanding' effects of halucinigens like LSD, they usually mean to say you have a clearer view of the Universe and human condition when on them.   I don't think there is any evidence for that. 

For more info on drugs, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon tracyej29 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: Are four loko's going to be made illegal sometime soon?

Expert Icon Aaron White: In fact, this week it was made illegal in Michigan. We'll have to wait and see whether it gets banned in other states.
User Icon 13youngche - Dixie High School, Utah: what does adderal do to you?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Greetings Utah! Adderall is a special mixture of different forms of amphetamine, a stimulant.  Stimulant drugs are 'uppers' that increase energy and concentration for a while.  For people with ADHD, these kinds of medications can actually calm the brain to improve concentration. Check our teen site on stimulants at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php
User Icon bergekr08 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: Is there a specific treatment for marijuana? It is said that is isn't addictive and other sources say it is?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Marijuana is addictive, but of course not everyone who uses it becomes addicted (just like with other drugs).  From research, we estimate that about 9% of people who've ever used marijuana will become addicted, and 25-50% of those who use it everyday. There is also a withdrawal system that's been described, similar to what occurs with nicotine.  People feel irritable, their sleep patterns and appetite are disturbed, and they crave the drug--making it hard to remain abstinent.   There are treatments for marijuana addiction, which are moderately effective--mostly behavioral.  They teach you to cope with triggers of drug use and to develop other strategie to cope with other problems; they also reward abstinence with vouchers for small good or prizes associated with a drug free life.  Scientists are also working on medications to help with the withdrawal phase, and to help people remain abstinent.  Among youth who are in drug treatment facilities, most report marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. Like most addictions, it may take time and repeated episodes of treatment for someone to recover completely. 
User Icon 15952329 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: does maraguanna help cure glacoma ?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Glaucoma is indeed one of the diseases that has the potential to be successfully treated with active ingredients derived from marijuana.
Thanks for your question.
User Icon desean - Parkdale High School, Maryland: Why do people get addicted to cocine?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Cocaine addiction is a serious issue. 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 on the dangers of cocaine see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim2.php and to learn more about cocaine check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants.

How about testing your knowledge of cocaine with a quiz:
Snorting cocaine can cause?
  1. Panic attacks
  2. Drowsiness
  3. Heart attacks and seizures
  4. Both A and C
  5. All of the above


The answer is D:  Cocaine users not only risk panic attacks, heart attacks, and seizures, but also respiratory failure, strokes, and death. www.nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/effects.html#short

Last year, past-year use of cocaine among 12th graders, dropped to 3.4%. Like we said, teens are getting smarter! See http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.
User Icon calvin - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: WHAT IS THE LOWEST DRINKING AGE IN ANY COUNTRY?

Expert Icon Aaron White: In Peru and Cuba there is no drinking age but to purchase alcohol you have to be 18. Some countries, like the Solomon Islands, have no legal drinking age and no legal purchase age.
Moderator Icon  What percentage of people who try marijuana will become addicted to it?
  1. 9%
  2. 1 in 6 if use begins as a teen
  3. About 50% of daily users
  4. All of the above
User Icon napolean_lips - Dixie High School, Utah: i heard marijuana can be a cure for the common flue.. true or false??

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: I'm not aware of any scientific evidence for it. My answer would be false!
User Icon tmoney247 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what happen when you drinking

Expert Icon Aaron White:  Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can affect your brain.  It can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.  In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!

To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
To find ways to help your friend, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

User Icon manman - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: why do people do drugs

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: In some people, to try to 'fit in' socially.  In other people, to get a short, temporary really good feeling (at the expense of potentially really bad feelings later).  Other people, especially after they've been addicted to a drug, to avoid negative mood and thoughts, such as being in drug withdrawal. Check out our book on the science of addiction at http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/
User Icon Grant County - Grant County, Oregon: In our community we recently had a student collapse at a football game. It was later determined he had taken pain relievers and 5, 5hr energy shots (or so we heard). What are the dangers for students who may choose to combine these two drugs.

Expert Icon David Thomas: Sorry to hear that. Mixing drugs can be very dangerous. In the case of pain relievers and energy shots, there is a real problem!  Pain relievers, like vicodin, are opioids - they depress or slow down the heart.  The energy drinks produce the opposite effect.  These effects collide and bad things happen.

It's kind of like trying to run and stop at the same time.  Someone is going to end up on the ground...

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php
User Icon xXneko_gearXx - Central High, Maryland: what is the drinking age in australia

Expert Icon Aaron White: 18
User Icon Luie - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: If you are getting drunk every night of the week, except for one day out of the week would it effect the way your body runs the day your sober?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Yes, for sure! One day is not long enough for the body to get back to normal if a person is drinking most days of the week. That's a very dangerous amount of drinking for any person of any age, but particularly for a young person. The teenage years are a very important time for development of the brain. The thinking parts, memory parts, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts. For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!
User Icon GeniusGeeko - Dixie High School, Utah: How many of emergency room visits are drug related?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimates that 1 million emergency room visits were related to illicit drugs and another 1 million were related to prescription or over-the-counter drugs used nonmedically.  Among the legal drugs, the most common drug categories involved drugs acting on the central nervous system, especially opioid painkillers, and psychotherapeutic drugs, especially sedatives and antidepressants. Opioid painkillers were associated with approximately 306,000 visits and benzodiazepines (a type of sedative) with 272,000 visits.  Among illicit drugs, cocaine was involved in 482,000 visits, and heroin was involved in 201,000 visits. But these numbers are an UNDER estimate of how drugs can lead to injury and death because it does not include accidents, crashes, falls, violence, and infections or diseases one might have acquired while taking drugs or intoxicated.
User Icon bergekr08 - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin: How does the affects of marijuana have on your driving skills apposed to the affects of alcohol, while drinking and driving, opposed to smoking and driving?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: What a great question!!
Because marijuana impairs judgment and motor coordination and slows reaction time, an intoxicated person has an increased chance of being involved in and being responsible for an accident. In controlled studies detrimental effects of THC were more prominent in certain driving tasks than others. Highly automated behaviors, such as road tracking control, were more affected by THC as compared to more complex driving tasks requiring conscious control. In terms of comparing alcohol and marijuana, the degree of performance impairment observed in experimental studies after doses up to 300 microg/kg THC were equivalent to the impairing effect of an alcohol dose producing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) >/=0.05 g/dl. Importantly, in simulation studies in the laboratory the combined use of marijuana and alcohol produced severe impairment of cognitive, psychomotor, and actual driving performance in experimental studies and sharply increased the crash risk in epidemiological analyses. Hope this answers your question, please don't drink/drug and drive
User Icon Monae Nd Menny - Central High, Maryland: why cant we drink in till 21

Expert Icon Aaron White: The legal drinking age was raised to 21 because too many young people were being hurt by alcohol. Raising it to 21 resulted in a big reduction in the number of young people being killed in alcohol-related car crashes. The decision to raise the drinking age to 21 was made before researchers started studying the teenage brain and how alcohol effects it. Now we know that the brain keeps growing until after the age of 21 and that alcohol can damage the teenage brain. So, it turns out that a drinking age of 21 makes sense from a brain standpoint, too! For more info on how alcohol affects kids, check out: http://thecoolspot.gov/index.asp
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why do you get memorie loss or what ever from pot/weed

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana has been shown to have direct effects on memory by affecting the systems in the brain responsible for learning and memory.  

Marijuana binds to specific proteins in the brain, called 'cannabinoid receptors'.  These receptors are found in the hippocampus--crucial for memory formation; the cerebellum--important for coordinating movements; the cortex--involved in thinking and judgment; and reward areas--important for motivation. 
User Icon poizon24 - Dixie High School, Utah: what is the best way to confront someone that is an alcohol addict?

Expert Icon Aaron White: To get started, you can refer that person to a website where they can better understand their drinking patterns and why they might need to seek help.  Check it out here:http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

You can also find special resources for kids to get help, and offer help to others who need it here: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

Good luck!

User Icon punky_bruster - Dixie High School, Utah: my friend is only fifteen and she gets drunk every weekend. how will that efect her life?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can affect your brain.  It can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.  In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!

To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
To find ways to help your friend, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

User Icon gothy pills - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: ok if i found a pill 600mg of musinex and took it but my arms hurt but why?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Mucinex is the store name of a drug molecule called Guaifenesin.  It could be completely coincidental (your arm pain may not have had anything to do with taking mucinex), or it may be because Mucinex has nerve effects-

Here's some info from wikipedia-

'Other uses - Guaifenesin also has other known neurological effects, including an analgesic effect that is related to its action as a skeletal muscle relaxant, '
User Icon rabinj - Wantagh Middle School, New York: can soda be a drug

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Non-caffeine free soda contains caffeine.  And caffeine is a drug that people can become physically dependent on.  But physical dependence is not the same as addiction. It occurs because the body naturally adapts to chronic exposure to a substance (e.g., caffeine or a prescription drug), and when that substance is taken away, symptoms can emerge while the body readjusts to the loss of the substance. Physical dependence can lead to craving for the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.  But, that said, if you find yourself unable to stop drinking lots of soda-it's definitely a good idea to ask a trusted adult for help.
Moderator Icon  According to a recent large-scale study, kids who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence sometime during their life than kids who begin drinking after age 21.
User Icon janedoe!! - Dixie High School, Utah: why is it hard for people to stop drinkin?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Once someone becomes addicted to alcohol (see the definition of addiction below) they feel really uncomfortable if they do not drink alcohol. This makes them keep going back to the alcohol even if drinking is causing lots of problems in their lives.

According to the National Library of Medicine, addiction to alcohol is classified by the following 4 features:
  • Craving - a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun
  • Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking
  • Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high"
Check this out at: http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/

People who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs are often willing to do anything to keep using the substance, even if their lives are falling apart around them. The earlier a person is when they start drinking, the greater the chances of becoming addicted. This is one reason it's so important to wait until 21 or older to drink alcohol, or to avoid alcohol altogether!
User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Why are drugs addictive?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Because they change the brain.  All drugs of abuse work by engaging the reward system (and dopamine), but when you take them repeatedly the brain starts to adapt--drugs become more and more important, while natural rewards are devalued.  Your memory circuits get activated by the people, places, and things associated with drug use, making them triggers of drug craving and use.  Also the circuits involved in control over behavior are weakened--ultimately leading to the behaviors that characterize addiction, which include compulsive drug use despite the devastating circumstances that can result. 
User Icon nats379 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Can sniffing markers make you high?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi natz379,

Yes, markers such as Sharpies contain volatile solvents--and when inhaled these solvents can produce a 'high.' The effects of inhalants can be similar to those of alcohol, and include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalants can be very dangerous, particularly in children, some of whom have been known to die after a single session of inhaling chemical fumes. Long-term inhalant use can result in muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis.  Inhalants also affect other parts of your body, especially when used repeatedly. They can cause serious harm to vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. Certain inhalants can also cause the body to produce fewer blood cells, which may result in a condition known as aplastic anemia (in which the bone marrow is unable to produce blood cells). Frequent long-term use of certain inhalants can cause a permanent change or malfunction of peripheral nerves, called polyneuropathy.  Not good, huh!?

For more information on inhalants, visit: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

Kristen
User Icon Rakeem - Dixie High School, Utah: what does your genetic make-up have to do with how strong the drug effects you

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: One key genetic difference is in drug METABOLISM-- the rate at which the enzymes in your body break down a drug molecule into something harmless or with no effect.  If your body is more efficient and fast at this, you may need more drug to get the same effect compared to the next person.  In addition, drugs are molecules that are of a special shape to connect with other molecules in the brain (think of it like legos).  Some of us may have these molecules that interact more tightly with a drug molecule on the surface of a brain cell (neuron) compared to others.

Becoming addicted to drugs has a genetic cause, since addiction runs in families.  Scientists are working hard to figure out the genes responsible.
User Icon lollypop - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: what happens is your mom is progo with you and she drinks alcohol?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.

User Icon PoloBoy - Rockville HS, Maryland: Do people recieve pleasure from chewing tobacco??? It seems like the MOST pointless drug(They all are pointless). How do you use it? put a gob of it on your gums? I don't understand what chewing tobacco is

Expert Icon David Thomas: They do it mostly for the same reason people smoke tobacco.  Its the nicotine in the leaves that gets them addicted.  No, I do not use it.  It is super gross!!!  The spitting in the cup is not a good look!!!  Chewing tobacco can cause mouth cancer too!

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php  
User Icon janedoe!! - Dixie High School, Utah: what is it so bad for teens to drink?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can affect your brain.  It can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, and how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

User Icon wildcats - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: What are the effects of Ecstasy?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: A powerful feeling of 'euphoria' or extreme happiness.  The problem is, even a limited amount of use of ecstasy could permanently damage the brain cells that use the chemical serotonin, which helps the brain control our mood.  Basically in exchange for feeling really really good for a few minutes, addicted people can be stuck in bad moods for long periods of time, because of what the drug did to the brain.  Not a good or smart trade. More on ecstasy is at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php
Moderator Icon  Remember that this year we have experts on the chat from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. So if you have any questions about different kinds of alcohol, binge drinking, drinking and driving, or more, ask now!
User Icon 20143225@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: How many people die of heroine a year?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, roughly 2000 people die from heroin overdoses per year, But this number is an UNDER estimate of how heroin can lead to death, because it does not include accidents, crashes, falls, violence, and infections or diseases one might have acquired while intoxicated.  Heroin is often taken by injection with a needle, which dramatically increases your risk for infections such as HIV and hepatitis. For information about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, and links to the latest research findings and news updates, go to www.hiv.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What is the drug used most in the world?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello!! Good question.  Based on data from the Monitoring the Future school survey, the most commonly used drug among youth are alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Results of the 2007 survey show that alcohol (44%), tobacco (22%) and marijuana (19%) were the most commonly used drugs by 12th graders in the past 30 days.  Recently, prescription medications are used by a concerning number/percentage of students. These drugs are really dangerous when taken outside of a doctor's supervision. For more information on teens' drug use, go to:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/MTF.html. It is really difficult to comment on the most comment drugs used worldwide because use more likey varies from country to country.  The best thing to do would be to look up drug use survey data for those countries in which you are interested.  
User Icon dncr35 - Rockville HS, Maryland: What if I smoke something like lettuce? Will it have the same damaging effects?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Are you smoking it on a pipe or rolled into cigarettuce?
User Icon KoA - Rockville HS, Maryland: What happens if you eat pure weed?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: You'll probably get sick to your stomach if you just eat the cannibis plant leaves.  Marijuana in more processed or prepared forms IS mixed in food like brownies, though.  Generally, drugs are more effective in causing changes in mood or feeling if they're smoked instead of taken through the stomach and intestines.
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: If a person is prescribed psychotropic medications and they use illicit drugs and / or drink alcohol is this bad?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi -

This is very dangerous thing to do; this increases risk of death from accidental overdose. Also, drug/alcohol interactions could increase impairment and judgement and place someone at higher risk for car crashes or risky sexual behavior (exposure to HIV).

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 zinzi - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: what medicines shouldnt u mix together

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Great and important question!  NO medicines should be mixed without consulting your doctor--the consequences of mixing meds could be deadly.  In particular, mixing alcohol and medicines can be harmful--even lethal. For more information, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/medicine/medicine.htm.
User Icon True Killer - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: Is meth capable of killing you even if you do it few times

Expert Icon David Thomas: Yes, you can overdose the first time.  Methamphetamine has a huge effect on your heart and blood pressure.  Sometimes this effect is fatal.  Its better to stay away from it!  For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php 
User Icon 16312797 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: How easy is it for someone to be addicted to a drug?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: It can depend on the drug and the person's genes.  Most people who try out a drug for a while don't get hooked on it.  About a quarter or more of regular users of meth or heroin get hooked on it.  Other drugs are lower. Cigarettes are very addictive, and this has been linked to what version of a gene a person has.  The problem is, we still don't know what precisely it is about the people who use for a while who go on to get addicted.  This is why it's not a good idea to find out if you're one of those people. We have a great book online (or you can order a hard copy for free) on the science of addiction.  Check it out at http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/
Moderator Icon  How many teens (age 12 to 17) are treated for substance abuse in a year?
  1. 1,000
  2. 28,000
  3. 142,000: If you or someone you know needs help call, 1-800-662-HELP. www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/185/185TypicalDayHTML.pdf
  4. 1.2 million
User Icon Flamboiantchick - Dixie High School, Utah: Why does Alcohol ruin so many lives and families and cause so many Deaths?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol can affect the daily behavior of people who are addicted to it.  According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues:
  • Craving - a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun
  • Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking
  • Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high"
These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.

Check this out at: http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/


User Icon Suppycobby - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Why is it that more people nowadays use drugs?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there! Actually--good news!--fewer young people use drugs now than used to. In fact the latest (2009) Monitoring the Future Survey of high school students nationwide found the lowest rates of cigarette smoking ever in its 45-year history. Also, fewer students used methamphetamine, cocaine, and alcohol than did in 2004.
Students' use of marijuana is also much lower than it was back in the 70s. Prevention scientists are concerned, however, because about 3 years ago the rate stopped falling. They are hoping that it doesn't start to rise again.
Another area of concern is students using prescription drugs that haven't been given them by a doctor, especially pain killers. Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors last year reported nonmedical use of Vicodin; 1 in 20 reported abuse of OxyContin.
For more information on youth trends in drug use go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/HSYouthtrends.html.
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: can you bare a child if your addicted to drugs

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: You can, but the baby can be affected, and for some drugs (like heroin and other opiates like vicodin) the baby can be born addicted, and will be withdrawing the first days of life.
Smoking during pregnancy can have dire consequences - it is associated with infant mortality, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome. Also, some states have laws that babies born with drugs in their systems have to be removed from their moms. If you are addicted to drugs and want to have a baby, get some treatment first! This will help you, as a person and as a parent, and it will help you to have a healthy baby. There are some treatment programs designed specifically for pregnant teens and women that can help you.   If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: why do teenage girls take crystal meth

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: The short answer is to get high.  Stimulants, like crystal meth can produce feelings of tremendous joy, increased wakefulness, and decreased appetite. Users can become more talkative, energetic, or anxious and irritable. Negative short-term effects of stimulants can include increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; dilated pupils; nausea; blurred vision; muscle spasms; and confusion.  More information on crystal meth and other drugs is available at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php
User Icon person1 - Rockville HS, Maryland: How are steroids similar to drugs like cocaine and weed?(if there is a similarity)

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Steroids belong to a different class of abused drugs because they do not impact (directly nor indirectly) the dopamine (pleasure) system in the brain like cocaine, opiates, or marijuana.
Great question!
User Icon marly the great - Dixie High School, Utah: dose drugs affect a relationship?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: Hi Marly - thanks for your question.  Drugs can absolutely affect relationships between people.  Drugs affect how people think and behave, and can seriously impair their judgment, so they make poor decisions.  This can affect everything about relationships, from making smart choices about how you spend your free time, to money management, to the kinds of people you hang out with. NIDA has a great website just for teens that answers these and other questions -- it will give you real facts and helpful advice, without a bunch of lectures.  Check it out at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon L-awesome - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: how will alcohl effect your daily behaivor?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol can affect the daily behavior of people who are addicted to it.  According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues:
  • Craving - a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun
  • Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking
  • Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high"
Check this out at: http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/

User Icon ninjawarrior47 - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: What exactly is a "crack baby" and how do I know whether or not I am one?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: The term 'crack babies' got a lot of attention back in the 80s when they were predicted to be a lost generation--but that is not what happened.  In fact, if there are effects, they are subtle, and may also be linked to other drug use by the mother, less prenatal care etc.  This is not to say that its OK to use cocaine during pregnancy--just to say that we do not yet fully understand what the subtle effects are and how they may be manifest through a person's life.  
User Icon man cody - Wheatland Middle School, Wyoming: can drugs get animals hii

Expert Icon David Thomas: Probably.  They can't say to us, 'Dude, I am really messed up' but there are a lot of similarities between animals and people in how they act when on drugs of abuse.  You should see the spiderwebs made by spiders on drugs.  Very messed up...  For more information see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon kell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: when people have to make a decision either people or drugs which one is usually picked

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: This one is hard to answer in such a general sense, but it's probably safe to say that MOST of the time, if given this choice, someone will pick people over drugs. However, if a person is addicted to drugs, they will often give up the things dearest to them, including family, job, and friends, in order to seek and use drugs above all.  In fact, that is the nature of addiction: the seeking out and using drugs despite potentially devastating consequences. Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

Also, it might seem like 'everyone' is using drugs or trying them, but the data that we have from lots of research suggests that this isn't true.  Most of the time, teens aren't choosing drugs -- that's great news!
User Icon TheMagcCucumber - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: whats the largest amount of meth you can smoke at once

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: There's no way to know, since there are differences from person to person (based on their genes, how physically large they are, and based on how experienced they are with that kind of drug).  These cause big differences between people in how quickly the cells and enzymes of their body breaks down or 'metabolizes' meth.  This is what determines not only how much is needed to get high, but also the severe stuff after taking a LOT of it. Meth is very addictive and toxic.  Read more about it at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/methamphetamine.html
User Icon nidichat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If you were high and you hurt yourself would you feel it at all?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Depends on the drug.  Many drugs of abuse also reduce pain.   Thus, if you were high on opioids like heroin, you would likely not feel as much pain as normal if you injured yourself.  

In the long run, taking drugs like opioids can actually cause pain when you are coming down from them. That makes the abuser want to take more. It is quite a vicious cycle... 

For more info, see our website at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ 
Moderator Icon  How many teens (age 12 to 17) are treated for substance abuse in a year?
  1. 1,000
  2. 28,000
  3. 142,000
  4. 1.2 million
User Icon january baby - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Do alot of people use over the counter drugs when they dont need them

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: I'm guessing you mean drugstore-bought drugs--which would include prescription medications like vicodin and oxycodone as well as over-the-counter things like antihistamines.
The answer, unfortunately, is yes. In 2008, 7.7 percent of youths aged 12-17 reported using prescription drugs that a doctor hadn't directed them to take. Even though that means the vast majority of youths didn't, 1.9 million did. The most commonly misused drugs were pain killers, reported by 6.5 percent of youths, or 1.6 million. In fact, each day an average of 2,000 teenagers age 12 to 17 used a prescription drug without a doctor's guidance for the first time.  For more information general information go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php#how_many.
For information on how prescription drugs affect the body and common effects, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx2.php#top.
User Icon RFer - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: After treatment for a drug, can one still have the urge to do it again, and will it be stronger then when they got off that drug? In addition, will the urges to do so be more severe and would the addiction be harder to break?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Great question,

Yes, cravings can occur after treatment, and a staple of treatment is to keep the person away from situations and enviroments ('triggers') associated with taking the drug.  I would say it's less of an urge over time, but the potential is always there. Take a look at our treatment fact sheet for more information http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/treatmeth.html
User Icon nihao - Rockville HS, Maryland: what's the difference between between cocaine and crack?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Thanks for the question, Rockville High! 

Powder cocaine and crack cocaine are simply two different chemical forms of cocaine. Powder cocaine can be injected or snorted. Crack cocaine is the form of cocaine that can be smoked. 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 how they are used 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.  Want to learn more about the effects of cocaine?  Visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Cocaine.html
User Icon josh-e - Parkdale High School, Maryland: can drugs make u die faster

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: The short answer is yes, they can make you die sooner than you would ordinarily. Overdose is the obvious reason, but drug use can lead to injury or death through accidents, crashes, falls, violence, and infections or diseases one might have acquired while intoxicated.   When you are drunk or high on drugs, you often can't make good decisions. Just ask Kim, who took drugs, hooked up with a boy she hardly knew, and got HIV. Read her story at www.hiv.drugabuse.gov/english/webisodes/theParty.html.
User Icon bricurti2 - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: does drugs affect your hormones

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: some do, this is why anabolic steroids have all the bad effects they are known for. Check my video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc
enjoy!!
Moderator Icon  How many 12th graders reported use of the hallucinogen Salvia in the past year? 5.7%.
User Icon HugsNotDrugs - Rockville HS, Maryland: How does marijuana mixed with Adderal medicine affect you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Mixing drugs is always a bad idea. You should use adderal only if you have a proper diagnosis and doctor's prescription for it. It is impossible to predict what the mixing of THC and a stimulant woul do to your system in the short or long term. It sounds like a silly experiment to conduct on yourself.
Stay healthy.   
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how do u feel when u r high?

Expert Icon David Thomas: you don't mean me, specifically, do you???  'High' is used a lot of ways, and can refer to such things as feeling relaxed, hyper, pleasure,... 
Usually its the 'hook' that grabs a potential addict at first...  Over time, with chronic abuse, the reason for abuse tends to be just to fend off bad feelings.
 
For more information, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon Anibal - Parkdale High School, Maryland: what is the prefered drugs for teens

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Alcohol is the drug of choice for American kids - followed by marijuana and cigarettes. According to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study, past-month alcohol drinking was reported by 15% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 44% of 12th graders (5% of 8th graders, 16% 10th graders, and 27% of 12th graders reported they had been drunk in the past month).  Past-month use of marijuana was reported by 7% of 8th graders, 16% of 10th graders, and 21% of 12th graders, and past-month cigarette smoking by 7% of 8th graders, 13% of 10th graders, 20% of 12th graders. 
User Icon SunShinee - Central High, Maryland: It You Have Been Around A Parent That Smoked Weed All Your Life And They Always Done It Around You Does Their Smoking Effect Your Lungs Or Breathing Even Though You Show No Syptoms And Does It Matter What Kind.?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: We don't have much research to tell us about the impact of second hand marijuana smoke.  You might encourage your parents to stop using marijuana though.  When you feel comfortable, please share information on MJ and treatment for MJ use with your folks. Click here for more information: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php, http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov
User Icon iheartguys - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: is it possible to kill yourself from smoking weed? if so how much? i herd you need to smoek double your body weight

Expert Icon Michelle Leff: I have a complex answer for you here. Using marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and it can even be addictive. Chronic or long-term exposure to marijuana smoke, like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana xan impair short-term meory, verbal skills, and judgment and can also distort perception. Data show that students who smoke marijuana regularly get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school, compared with their non-smoking peers. In addition, marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, and anxiety. We don't know yet whether marijuana can cause mental illness, particularly in healthy people who are not otherwise vulnerable to these disorders. There is good new though, since there is evidence that if you quit using marijuana, even after long-term or heavy use, your cognitive abilities (learning and memory) can recover. BTW, everybody is NOT doing it - Only about 20% of 12th graders say they have smoked pot in the past month.
User Icon 15948967 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: im catholic n i ve been drinking wine since i was 9(communion) n now im 13 has any harm been done to me

Expert Icon Aaron White:  It's very unlikely that such a small amount of alcohol did any major damage to your brain or the rest of your body. But, you should know that exposing the brain to alcohol at a young age can increase the odds of developing a drinking problem down the road.  To be safe, stay away from alcohol for as long as you can! Definitely until 21 or older because your brain will still be developing until then and the odds of developing alcoholism are much lower if you wait until after 21.
User Icon 15957062 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: why do they sale tobaco if it bad?

Expert Icon David Thomas: That is a very good question!   NIDA is about science, and the science shows tobacco is dangerous.  NIDA does not decide what is legal.  

For more information on tobacco and other drugs, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ 
User Icon 15967004 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What makes a drug more dangerous than another?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Good question.  It depends on so many things--the drug, how much you take, your genetic make-up, your biological system.  All drugs can be addictive and can have major health consequences.
User Icon josh-e - Parkdale High School, Maryland: why do people say weed is bad

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Primary reason is probably because marijuana is addictive--about 9% of users; 1 in 6 among those who start young; and 25-50% of daily users. Also, marijuana is an indirect contributor to fatalities--especially car crashes.  Some 14% of people in fatal car wrecks test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs).  And marijuana was involved in more than 370,000 emergency room visits in 2008.  Because its smoked it can also cause lung problems, including bronchitis, cough, phlegm production; however, we don't know yet whether it also causes cancer. 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the best way to convince a family member to quit chewing tabacco?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: You can talk to them about the damage being done and get them good information about the impact of smokeless tobacco on your health.  If you want to really gross them out, refer them to pictures of people who have had their jaw removed due to oral cancers.  We have more information about tobacco at http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html
User Icon BSG - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: is the actually plant where they extract cocaine bad for you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Actually, millions of Bolivians (people born in Bolivia) have been chewing coca leaves for centuries. Bolivians would certainly see nothing wrong or bad about this ancient practice. So defining good or bad is sometimes a cultural, context-dependent judgement call.
Hope this helps, and thanks for a great question. 
User Icon 20113350@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Why do people do drugs so they can forget life's problem, but when they are not on them they only hate what they did even more so they continue with them?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Drugs may cause a person to alter their behavior and do things they would not ordinarily do.  Their brain and reasoning is affected.  Addiction is a vicious disease that can cause a person to continue to use drugs even when they desperately want to stop. For more information on addiction:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/understand.html.  A person using drugs needs help and there are many resources to help them stop using drugs.  If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
User Icon andmorel1 - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: when you overdose how much time do you got to get to the hospital before you die

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: I don't know and would not want to hazard a guess because if you miscalculate you could end up dead.  I think the best way to avoid overdose is to not to take 'em.  In all seriousness, however, there almost 2 million visits to the hospital ER each year that are associated with drugs...how many of those individuals suffered significant harm from their use or an overdose, I'm not sure, but the percentage is probably pretty high.
User Icon ssssssup - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: what happens if you drink while on antibiotics?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It depends on the antibiotic. One risk is that the alcohol could interfere with the antibiotic and keep the antibiotic from doing its job.
Moderator Icon  Caffeine does not prevent you from getting drunk. Ask our alcohol experts about it.
User Icon 15311187 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: is it true that wine is good for your heart?

Expert Icon Aaron White: For adults, one (for females) or up to two (for males) servings of alcohol can help decrease the chances of developing heart disease. However, any more than that increases the risk of developing a host of problems, including liver and pancreas diseases, weakened immune system, and certain kinds of cancers.

For more information on how alcohol can affect your health, check out:
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

There are no known benefits of alcohol for teenagers, only negative effects.


User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If you are doing drugs while pregnant; what could happen to the baby?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi New Hampshire! Thanks for your question. The baby can be affected --it depends on what drug, how much, and what time during pregnancy. There is an amazing amount of development going on from the moment of conception through birth, and scientists are examining exactly how drugs can affect the developing baby.  Some people think that only street or hard drugs can affect the baby, but cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug abuse such as oxycotin and vicodin also has affects. For example, smoking has been related to infant mortality, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome.  And scientists are looking at how smoking might affect gene expression (how genes turn on and off) in the fetus. Pretty amazing stuff. Here's some more info on prenatal exposure: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.
User Icon dfcdsn10 - Rockville HS, Maryland: When you're older(say in your 20's) is drinking every weekend bad for you, like if you go out on friday's and have a few driks or so?

Expert Icon Aaron White: For most adults, drinking in what's called 'moderation', which means 1 drink in a day for a female or up to 2 drinks in a day for a male, can be part of a healthy lifestyle.  Research demonstrates that to keep your risks of developing alcohol-related problems low, men should have no more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, "low-risk" drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day AND no more than seven drinks per week. To stay low-risk, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits.
 
For more information on these guidelines, check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/


Please understand that these guidelines are for adults. Drinking at a younger age increases the chance of becoming an alcohol later in life and could interfere with brain development. For these reasons, it's important to wait until age 21 or older to decide whether to drink.

User Icon Alonso - Rockville HS, Maryland: why with so many campiagns and events ( like this site), teenagers still use drugs?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: You know, that's a great question!  We do a lot of work to help educate teens about the negative effects of drugs, but with every generation there are more teens and more drugs!  This is a sticky problem partly because teens naturally want to experiment with new things, and peer pressure is always around.  But we are seeing some progress.  According to NIDA's Monitoring the Future Study--a national survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders--past-month use of any illicit drug declined by 24% in the three grades combined between 2001 and 2007. This is driven, in large part, by declines in marijuana use. Also notable is the decrease in tobacco use, which is now at the lowest rate in the survey's history for all three grades.  At the same time, though, we're seeing increases in some prescription drug abuse, which is problematic.  We'll keep working on it! You can check out NIDA's Web site at:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/ There you will find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on specific drugs.
Moderator Icon  Hey, there are thousands of teens asking questions - and only 40 of us scientists back here in Bethesda, MD, sitting at computers. We are answering your questions as fast as we can! Enjoy the Chat while you wait! You will be able to search the transcript for your school's name (or your user name) to see if your questions got answered!
User Icon shell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: is marijuana good for people that has cancer if it effects your brain without cancer then hows it diffrent for a person with cancer

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana is a drug that is abused and can cause addiction; however, like many drugs, it has some medicinal properties. Specifically, the active component in marijuana is THC, which helps with nausea that results from cancer chemotherapy. THC also increases appetite (among those who are suffering from severe malnutrition due to their illness) and relieves pain. 

Unfortunately, marijuana also affects driving skills, especially in combination with alcohol (14% of those in fatal car wrecks test positive for THC--sometimes in combination with other drugs). And it impairs learning and memory.  In regular users, marijuana's effects on memory can be detected days or even weeks later.
User Icon 15333124 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: how does alcohol affect the liver

Expert Icon Aaron White: 

Heavy drinking - even for just a few days at a time - can cause fat to build up in the liver. This condition, called steatosis, or fatty liver, is the earliest stage of alcoholic liver disease and the most common alcohol-induced liver disorder. The fat build-up makes it harder for the liver to operate and leaves it open to developing dangerous inflammations, like alcoholic hepatitis.

For some, alcoholic hepatitis does not present obvious symptoms. For others, though, alcoholic hepatitis can cause fever, nausea, appetite loss, abdominal pain, and even mental confusion. As it gets worse, alcoholic hepatitis makes the liver get dangerously big, and causes other problems like jaundice, bleeding, and difficulties getting bleeding to stop (clotting).

Another liver condition associated with heavy drinking is fibrosis, which causes scar tissue to build up in the liver. Alcohol changes the chemicals in the liver needed to break down and remove this scar tissue. As a result, your liver doesn't work very well.

If you continue to drink, this excessive scar tissue builds up and creates a condition called cirrhosis, basically causes the liver to slowly shut down and stop working.

A variety of complications, including jaundice and diabetes, and even liver cancer, can result as cirrhosis weakens liver function.

For more, please see:
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/05.pdf

User Icon Godzilla - Rockville HS, Maryland: seeing as I'm Godzilla, I was on my way to raid a city. I was walking when I stopped to think "what drug is the worst?" Also, shout out to Ruben Baler, his answers are...."smart".

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: At last, somebody that appreciates irony....
Moderator Icon  We have visitors to the Chat today from the National Institute on Mental Health - one of our "sister" Institutes here at the National Institutes of Health. These super-smart scientists can give you some general information about the brain and behavior - about teens and depression and other issues, like ADHD and peer pressure. Ask away!
User Icon 15949533 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: how can i prevent drinking alcohol if i think it is tasty since i do it every once in a while

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make a part of your brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking when you are young also increases your chances of becoming an alcoholic later in life.

For more information on how to avoid drinking alcohol and say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out our website here:http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

User Icon bn cv - Mainland Regional High School, New Jersey: how can large doses of shrooms affect the brain

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: The active chemical in 'shrooms' is psilocybin. This is a hallucinogen obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. The use of psilocybin has also been associated with negative physical and psychological consequences. The physical effects, which appear within 20 minutes of ingestion and last approximately 6 hours, include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness, and lack of coordination. The psychological side effects of psilocybin use include hallucinations and an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality. Panic attacks and psychosis may also occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Also associated with the ingestion of psilocybin is the risk of poisoning if one of the many varieties of poisonous mushrooms is incorrectly identified as a psilocybin mushroom. Sounds scary!!!!!

Please check out this website for additional information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/.
Moderator Icon  Why do celebrities go in and out of drug and alcohol rehab?
  1. They like the publicity
  2. Finding the right treatment and learning to live sober can take practice: Addiction is a complex and chronic disease that requires people to engage in long term treatment and make difficult and sweeping changes to their lives. www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/treatment.html
  3. It helps them get away from the paparazzi
  4. They are secretly getting plastic surgery
User Icon zEFRON - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Can you get addicted to weed?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: yes--9% of users; 1 in 6 if you start young; and 25-50% of daily users become addicted
User Icon lohan362 - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: can the drug K2 kill you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Thanks for your question.
K2, Spice is a fairly new phenomenon. There is no solid indication that this herbal mixture is lethal. But since this mixtures are not regulated nor standardized different batches from different manufacturers could end up containing dangerous contaminants. 
Stay healthy and take care.
User Icon jb ah - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what can painkillers do kids.

Expert Icon David Thomas: Opioids like morphine are powerful pain killers.  When prescribed by doctors and used as directed they are pretty safe.   If abused, say crushed and snorted, one can overdose - this happens alot the first time...
 
For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon PH - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: What is fastest why to get weed out of your system?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Don't know of any 'fast' way to get weed out of your system.  Today I've heard lots of 'techniques', but I'm not sure if any of them work (besides not using it).  THC in marijuana is rapidly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, traces (metabolites) 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 they have stopped using marijuana.  The best way to ensure you don't have weed in your system is to not put it in there in the first place.  More information about marijuana can be found at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php
User Icon ninjawarrior47 - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: Why is cocaine so addictive?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi Ninjawarrrior47,

It is highly addictive...  Cocaine belongs to a class of drugs called 'stimulants,' because they usually make you feel euphoric, energetic, hyperstimulated, and mentally alert. The high from snorting may last 15 to 20 minutes, while smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Cocaine can also make you feel hypersensitive to touch, sights, and sounds. Some cocaine abusers report feelings of restlessness, irritability and anxiety. Some of the immediate effects after using cocaine include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased heart rate and blood pressure. Heavy doses can lead to violent behavior and users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, and paranoia. As a user begins to increase the dose and/or the frequency of drug taking, the duration and intensity of the high may lessen, and once it is over, users can feel very tired and depressed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug, and while it can make you feel high when you first use it, addiction is a very real albeit unpredictable possibility. Naturally, the wisest move is never to start.  The good news is there are many healthy ways to feel energetic and happy - sports, exercise, dancing, spending time with friends, getting enough sleep.  What works for you? 

Kristen

See http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/Cocaine.html for more information.
User Icon jwl2189 - Rockville HS, Maryland: hey ruben baler, what is your problem?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: how do you mean?
User Icon dodo land - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How many people drink and diver get killer by car?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I can give you the statistics for 2008. In that year there were 37,261 car crash fatalities in the US.  Of those, 13,846 or 37% were alcohol related.
Please don't drink and drive.
take care
User Icon 16byrdt - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: say if you were suppose to play in a football game friday night and thursday night you got high off of smoking weed.would it affect the way you played football the next night?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: it could--depends on whether you smoked a lot, whether you smoke regularly, your genes (how fast your body breaks down the drug).  In regular users, persistent effects of marijuana have been shown to last days or even weeks after drug use stops.  Is it really worth risking not being at the top of your game?
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: wat is the worst drug for you and has the most risk

Expert Icon David Thomas: That question is very popular.   It really depends on a lot of things.  Tobacco is the deadliest drug -- 440,000 deaths each year in the United States. Take a look at our web site for more information about the dangers of tobacco. We have more info. about nicotine online on our teen site -- go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php. This site contains a lot of info. about drug abuse and addiction and includes some neat games and interactives, so take a look at the whole site -- teens.drugabuse.gov.  Many drugs that don't kill you, mess up your life in general.   Thus, depending on how you define 'worst' the answer changes...  Bottom line, they all are bad for various reasons...
Dave
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how do you tell a teacher if you know someone doing drugs?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: You could ask the teacher what to do if you think someone may be using drugs. Or you may feel more comfortable talking to another trusted adult who can provide some guidance. It is good that you would like to see a friend stop using drugs.  It will also help to arm yourself with facts about drug abuse and addiction. check out our new book Drugs Shatter the Myths at http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/booklet.php.
User Icon boiling springs - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Does doing drugs while pregnant put the baby at higher risk of doing drugs when its older?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Excellent question? Are you a researcher? Because they are looking at this very question right now. We have some evidence that exposure to smoking in utero (in the womb) can make you more vulnerable to addiction to cigarettes.  As a matter of fact, 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. Ongoing studies are trying to find out whether that is true for other drugs too, like cocaine.
User Icon GBiscool - Rockville HS, Maryland: what would happen to my body if i smoke a ton of marijuana in an hour

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello,

If you smoked a lot of marijuana in an hour you could experience extreme anxiety (a panic attack) or a psychotic reaction (where you lose touch with reality and may become paranoid).  And people can and do injure themselves because of marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. For example, marijuana affects the skills you need to drive (e.g., concentration, reaction time), so people can injure themselves and others if they drive while under the influence. For more information on marijuana, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html.

Kristen
User Icon KoA - Rockville HS, Maryland: Can you speed up your body processing weed?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: We are not aware of any way to 'speed' the body's processing of marijuana.  THC in marijuana is rapidly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, traces (metabolites) 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 they have stopped using marijuana.  The best way to avoid testing positive for marijuana is to not use it.  More information on marijuana can be found at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php
User Icon L-awesome - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: What does cocaine do for you

Expert Icon David Thomas: People take cocaine because it causes dopamine to build up in the reward center of the brain, making them feel pleasure. One of the problems with this is that people give up what usually is fun, and focus on cocaine-induced pleasure. And over time, cocaine produces less and less pleasure.  People's lives become centered around cocaine and they become addicts.  

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What is the most deadliest drug?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: The use of nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products kills more people than any other drug. For more information on smoking and nicotine, check out this link: http://www.smokefree.gov/
User Icon tim - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: what can dipping do to u

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello - Dipping can cause damage to gum tissue and even loss of teeth. It also reduces a person's ability to taste and smell. Most importantly, smokeless tobacco contains cancer causing-chemicals that can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. This can even happen in very young users who chew tobacco or dip. In fact, most people who develop these cancers used to chew tobacco.

Whether someone smokes, chews, dips or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain and increasing their chances of becoming addicted. Once addicted, it is very difficult to quit, in spite of the severe health consequences.

For more information on smoking or tobacco please go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html.
User Icon kurtis121 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what can alcohol do to you?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can affect your brain.  It can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

User Icon burgandy(: - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: what should u do if ur friend is abusing druggs?

Expert Icon Lori Ducharme: It's not always easy to know what to do if you have a friend who is abusing drugs, and it depends on the person.  You can encourage them to talk to a parent or another adult they trust, like a school guidance counselor.  Or if they would rather talk to someone anonymously, they can call SAMHSA's crisis helpline (1-800-273-TALK) or the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).  Or you can use these resources yourself to get other tips on how to help.  Mostly, though, your friend will appreciate it if you just continue to be a good friend to them -- be a good listener, and a trusted.  When they're ready for help, you can give them these suggestions.  Good luck and I hope that helps.
User Icon hoodlife4Steve - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: How many days does it take for marijiuana to get out of your system and whats worse K2 of marijiuana?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: THC in marijuana is rapidly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, traces (metabolites) 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 they have stopped using marijuana.  Now...as for which one is worse, I don't have a straight-forward answer for that.  I'm pretty sure you're familiar with the negative effects of marijauna, and K2 belongs to the same class of drugs, so it has the same effects.  Like marijuana, K2 is unregulated, so you don't really know what you're getting when you buy it.
User Icon jm - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What drug is the most harmful mentally and physically?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi Vermont + thanks for your question. Some people say methamphetamine because it is so difficult to get off of and has so many health consequences. Crack and heroin can also be pretty rough. But it really depends on so many things--the drug, how much you take, your genetic make-up, your biological system. Smoking cigarettes can be a very difficult addiction to break as well.  About 570,000 people die annually due to drug use with about 440,000 of those due to diseases related to tobacco!!! 
User Icon boxy - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: what in pot make you hallucinate

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: could be a dose issue, or a particular vulnerability--either way its a concern.  Pot can cause an acute psychotic response--which can include hallucinations, feelings of anxiety or paranoia.  This usually happens at high doses, or sometimes when its taken orally (e.g., in food), where users can't adjust or control the dose very well.  In general this reaction goes away when the drug is out of a person's system, but pot has also been linked to the subsequent onset of a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia in people who have a vulnerability. So if this has happened to you, you might consider it a warning to avoid any future use.   
User Icon bw@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: what can you say to a friend who is an alcoholic and who repeatedly denies it

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: I applaud you for trying to challenge your friend's beliefs that he or she is not an alcoholic.  Denial is not uncommon for someone addicted to alcohol.  Responsible adults may be able to assist your friend with support and resources to handle alcoholism.  For more information on teens and alcohol go to http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp  Thanks for being a caring friend and recognizing that alcohol is a problem. Don't give up on your friend, and when he/she does finally get help, your friendship will mean a lot as they work to stay sober.
User Icon kell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: is drugs good for anything at all

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The drugs that we use in medications, like opioids in painkillers, can be extremely helpful to patients with chronic pain. Many other drugs, like stimulants and benzodiazepines, that also have the potential to be abused, also offer great benefit to millions of people suffering from mental illness.  
User Icon nidichat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: do drugs make you do poorly in school?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Drugs are chemicals that work in the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. This can mess you up. More info is at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php.  When you are drunk or high on drugs, you often can't make good decisions. Not to mention, 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.  Continued use of drugs changes how your brain functions, impairing your ability to think clearly, to feel OK without drugs, and to control your behaviors. These all contribute to doing poorly in school. 
Moderator Icon  Why do celebrities go in and out of drug and alcohol rehab?
  1. They like the publicity
  2. Finding the right treatment and learning to live sober can take practice
  3. It helps them get away from the paparazzi
  4. They are secretly getting plastic surgery
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: iv heard about the drug acid and how do people do acid?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: 

Acid is LSD --- which is an abbreviation for 'lysergic acid diethylamide.' It is the drug most commonly identified with drugs called  'hallucinogens.'   Hallucinogens cause profound distortions in a person's perceptions of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. The experiences, often referred to as "trips," are long; typically, they end after about 12 hours.The effects can be frightening and cause panic. I am not sure why anyone would want to lose control like that. LSD is sold in tablets, capsules, and, occasionally, liquid form. It is also sold on absorbent paper and so is sometimes called 'blotter.' You can learn more on NIDA's Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/

User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is worst smoking cigars or chewing tobbaco

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello up there in New Hampshire!

Both chewing and smoking tobacco can negatively affect your body. It's hard to say which will affect your body more, because so much has to do with each person's biology and the amount they smoke or chew, but we do know the more someone uses tobacco (in any form) the greater the effects can be on their body. (Either way you could have very bad breath!) 

Overall, chewing tobacco can cause damage to gum tissue and even loss of teeth. It also reduces a person's ability to taste and smell. Most importantly, smokeless tobacco contains cancer causing-chemicals that can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. This can even happen in very young users who chew tobacco. In fact, most people who develop these cancers used to chew tobacco. Inhaling cigarette smoke pulls more than 4,000 chemicals into a person's lungs. The most dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke are tar and carbon monoxide. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems; smokers are at high risk for heart disease.

Whether someone smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain and increasing their chances of becoming addicted. Once addicted, it is very difficult to quit, in spite of the severe health consequences.

For more information on smoking or tobacco, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html
User Icon 15962773 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: if alcohol is bad, why do companys still make them?

Expert Icon Aaron White: The current laws in the United States allow for alcohol to be sold to citizens aged 21 and older. Even though alcohol can be very dangerous, it's safe for adults to have up to one (females) or two (males) servings per day. However, there is no known safe amount for kids, including teenagers. For this reason, it is not legal for teenagers to drink.

User Icon alex - Parkdale High School, Maryland: i smoke marajuana before and nothing happen but people tell me that it kill your brain cells or they tell me it medicine which is true

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: There is really no clear evidence that marijuana actually kills brain cells, but it does impair memory and judgment.  Also, the active drug in marijuana, THC, has been shown to have medicinal properties, and therefore it is being used as a medication for certain indications. But smoking is not a good way to deliver a drug because of the health problems, and some of marijuana's risks, including addiction, are also a concern.    
User Icon 'caitlyn' - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: why do people think that everything will be better if you get high or drunk? when really it don't..only for a while it does, but not for long. why do people seem to think so?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Good comment...    There is some research on your question.   The frontal brain - what we call the prefrontal cortex - is the last part to fully develop, and that's the part that has to do with decision making and other complex thinking tasks. It helps us make sound descisions.  Drug abusers tend to be impulsive - their prefrontal cotex is not yet fully developed.   Thus, they might choose an immediate high, and ignore the long term bad effects it might have on them.  In the end, the long term, though, effects catch up with them...

For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: How should i deal with people who ask me to do drugs?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Be a leader and stand your ground in a respectful way (great practice for much in life IMO)--it also doesn't hurt to add some humor and be your cool, casual self. Find an adult you trust and ask to practice. Many times young people will do things they normally wouldn't do in order to 'fit in' with their friends. But I can already tell--- since you had the courage to ask this question, your friends are going to be dealing with you--and the new positive standard you set! http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/files/teenbrochure_508.pdf
User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: why do people do drugs??

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: People do drugs for many reasons.  The reasons they start include being pressured to by friends, because they are depressed and think it will help, because of boredom.  But while the reasons they start may differ, once someone becomes addicted-they do drugs because they can't stop.  Addiction is a brain disease.  People continue to use drugs because of brain and behavior changes over time due to the brain's response to drugs. Learn more at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/understand.html and check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/.
User Icon calvin - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What is the worst drug and worst alcoholic beverage (or one of them) to take in?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Well, the type of alcohol that we drink is called ethyl alcohol. All ethyl alcohol is the same really, regardless of how it tastes and whether it comes in beer, wine or liquor. Ethyl alcohol isn't the only type of alcohol, though. Another form, call methyl alcohol, or methanol, is extremely poisoning if consumed and can cause blindness and death. Every year there are stories in the news about people who make their own alcohol and inadvertently end up drinking methyl alcohol (also called 'wood alcohol'), which poisons them and often kills them.

To learn more about how much alcohol different kinds of beverages contain, check this out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon KoA - Rockville HS, Maryland: How long does it take weed to leave yur system?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: THC in marijuana is rapidly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, traces (metabolites) 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 they have stopped using marijuana.  Bottom line, trying to time a drug test can get really tricky, so just try not to smoke.
User Icon DIANA121 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: WATTT IA S METHAMPHETAMINE

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant that is closely related to amphetamine. It is long lasting and toxic to dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder taken orally, by snorting or injecting, or a rock 'crystal' that is heated and smoked.  Although most of the methamphetamine used in the United States comes from "superlabs," it is also made in small laboratories using inexpensive over-the-counter and often toxic ingredients (such as drain cleaner, battery acid, and antifreeze). Yuck, who wants to put THAT in their body??  For more information on methamphetamine and other drugs, check out this link: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html
User Icon fellowhomie - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: Does marjiunana weaken your immune system?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: great question,
there is some evidence from animal studies suggesting that indeed animals exposed to marijuana for a long time have a less robust immune system and less capacity to fight off infections and cancers. We do not know yet whether chronic marijuana use has a similar effect in humans.
take care.
  
User Icon manman - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: How can we stop people from using drugs.

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: We can do lots of things to help people like .......
(a) reducing early childhood risks (aggressive behavior) through family, school, and community interventions, (b) increasing how connected kids feel to their parents, schools, communities BUT (c) the best approach (of course) is to never start using drugs in the first place. Take a look at our new booklet 'Shatter the Myths' just for teens: http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/files/teenbrochure_508.pdf
 
User Icon SP1D3R - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: IF I GET HIGH EVERY DAY IS THAT BAD?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: It depends on what you're getting high on.  If it's marijuana, for example, you're not likely to suddenly die (unless you are driving under the influence -- that could lead to a bad accident).  Instead, you just won't be thinking as well as you could, and you may not accomplish as much in life.  Harder drugs are likely to cause damage to your brain cells that control mood and emotion, some of which might never get better naturally.  Finally, recreational drug users who use EVERY DAY are statistically much more likely to become dependent on the drug, and just have to have it, to the point where getting your next dose comes to rule your life.
User Icon 16312797 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Why does overdoseage of, even over the counter medecine harm your body?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi!  

All drugs have potentially dangerous effects--it depends on how much you take, and how you take them. Generally, the amount of over-the-counter drugs you need to take for the intended action (like getting rid of an allergy) is much less than would produce a harmful effect. That is why the FDA allows these drugs to be sold without a prescription. But if you take a larger amount, the drug could very well cause harmful effects and even death, particularly if combined with other drugs or alcohol.

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 Joining us now is Dr. Lori Ducharme, a NIDA sociologist whose expertise is in the management and quality of addiction treatment services, including figuring out ways to get counselors and programs to increase their use of science-based treatment practices. She was born in the north (Massachusetts), spent years working in the south (Georgia), and finds Washington DC to be an interesting cultural middle ground. Lori is an avid photographer, and when she's not at work she probably has a camera in her hand. Her favorite subjects are cities (Paris!), baseball (pitchers!), and zoo animals (pandas!).
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: do drugs affect your school work?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Yes, drugs can impact academic achievement negatively. Check out our teen web site http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ for a ton of information.
User Icon bluewindmagic - Rockville HS, Maryland: What are the long term effects of one to two isolated uses of marijuana?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello bluewindmagic,

Not sure what the long term effects would be due to one or two isolated uses.  But, we do know that using marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and, contrary to popular belief, it can be addictive. Chronic or long-term exposure to marijuana smoke, just like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and can also distort perception. Not surprisingly, students who regularly smoke marijuana get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school, compared with their nonsmoking peers. In addition, marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety although we do not know yet whether marijuana can cause mental illness, particularly in healthy people who are not otherwise vulnerable to these disorders. There is good news, however, since there is evidence that if an individual quits marijuana, even after long-term or heavy use, their cognitive abilities (learning, memory) can recover.  So - the short answer to your question is that there are unlikely to be any long term effects of one to two isolated uses of marijuana!

For more information on marijuana, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html

Kristen
User Icon Dynasty - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: What particular drugs causes the most harm in pregnancy?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Most drugs are unsafe to use during pregnancy, but in terms of the numbers and what we know, alcohol is by far the most clearly associated with harm to the fetus. Although the highest risk is to babies whose mothers drink heavily, it is not clear yet whether there is any completely 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 to abstain from alcohol (http://www.lhvpn.net/hhspress.html). The damage caused by prenatal alcohol includes a range of physical, behavioral, and learning problems in babies.  Babies most severely affected have what is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). These babies may have abnormal facial features and severe learning disabilities. Babies can also be born with mild disabilities without the facial changes typical of FAS.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: does poppie seads have marajuana in them

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Umm....I am not aware of any form of poppy seed that contains marijuana.  If you find out that it does, let us know....
Moderator Icon  According to a 2008 study, 72% of 12th graders have tried alcohol. We have alcohol experts on the chat - ask us anything!
User Icon jb ah - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what is a crack head

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: A 'crack head' is a term used to describe someone who uses crack, which is a smokeable form of cocaine that is processed with ammonia or baking soda and water, and heated to remove the hydrochloride. The name 'crack' comes from the crackling sound it makes when it is smoked.
User Icon sexnotdrugs - Rockville HS, Maryland: are there really different types of marijuanna?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Short answer - yes.  There are many different types of marijuana plants.  Also, marijuana is processed in different ways and this creates different 'types' of marijuana.  They all have one thing in common though - they can negatively impact your body and brain.  Marijuana use can lead to respiratory problems, lung cancer, and addiction.  Repeated use of marijuana can negatively affect your brains ability to learn, concentrate, memorize, focus, and make good decisions.  More information about marijuana can be found at:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php, and http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Marijuana.html
User Icon BowShoushi7 - Rockville HS, Maryland: How long does it take for alcohol (or drugs) to take permanent effect? Like what if you accidentally took it once? If there is time to prevent permanent effect than how sparingly would it be reasonable through-out life?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Hi RHS! The only drug linked to permanent brain effects with only one or two exposures is Ecstasy or MDMA.  Most drugs require many uses over time to start to do real brain damage.  The bigger damage from accidently using once would be MEDICAL- like a heart attack or stroke from a stimulant drug like cocaine, or an overdose on a drug that would turn off your respiration(heart/lungs) like a sedative.  Finally, getting real high and driving might kill you or render you mentally challenged from blunt force trauma in an accident, fall, or fight. For info on drugs and the brain, go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: Other than people putting the ingredients in cigarettes to make you keep smoking, Is it legal for them to do this?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco cigarettes that is addictive, but nicotine is only one of more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are poisonous, found in the smoke from tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco products also contain many toxins, as well as high levels of nicotine. Many of these other ingredients are things we would never consider putting in our bodies, like tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and nitrosamines. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems, which is one reason why smokers are at high risk for heart disease.  Unfortunately, at the moment it is legal for people over the age of 18 to purchase and use in non-restricted areas.  On the upside, in 2009, only 2.7% of eighth graders said they smoked cigarettes daily in the past month - down from 10.4% in 1996. Teens are getting smarter! For more information on smoking and nicotine, check out this link: http://www.smokefree.gov/
User Icon 15437374 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: why do some people want to legalize marijuana?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana contains ingredients with potential medical uses--especially reducing nausea (from cancer chemotherapy, e.g.), increasing appetite (among those who are suffering from severe malnutrition due to their illness), relieving pain and perhaps other uses as well.  But as a plant that is smoked, marijuana is not a great idea for a medicine.  Smoking itself is bad for the lungs, and the plant contains more than 400 chemicals with unknown health effects that vary from one plant to the other.  Thus, the promise lies in isolating ingredients from marijuana that may have beneficial effects, or in synthetic compounds that act similar to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in the brain and the body.  This is a very active research area right now.  
User Icon laxbro24 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Why are there so many types of drugs?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Because human beings keep trying to find different ways to get high.
Moderator Icon  Which chemicals below will enter your lungs when you take a puff of a cigarette?
  1. Arsenic and cyanide
  2. Benzene (also found in gasoline)
  3. Ammonia
  4. Carbon monoxide (from car exhaust)
  5. All of the above: All of these chemicals can be found in cigarettes, along with about 4,000 more. Of these, 250 are known to be harmful, with 50 found to cause cancer. www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Do any places/schools encourage drugs? If there is, can it be stopped?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Encourage the use of illicit drugs like LSD or coke??  Not that I'm aware of.  They may encourage the use of stimulant medications to treat symptoms associated with ADHD (but only in kids who are diagnosed with ADHD), but for the most school encourage kids to live drug free lives and I know that ALL encourage homework.  Thanks for the question!
User Icon gw - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: how is drugs maded

Expert Icon David Thomas: Lot's come from plants, and the drugs are extracted. For example, cocaine is extracted for coca leaves.  In the case of nicotine, people don't even extract it, smokers just smoke the leaves and get the nicotine...  

Chemists also sometimes use fancy chemical processes to make drugs.  Drugs like ecstasy are made  by people.  For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Can you loose hair by smoking?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: The research literature (science discoveries) has no evidence of this.  You might think so, because the longer someone has been smoking, that person is also getting older, and age causes hair loss. check out www.smoking.drugabuse.gov for more information on nicotine and smoking.
User Icon Monae Nd Menny - Central High, Maryland: How Do YOu Persuade A Friend tO sTOP sMOKING wEED, aND eTC?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: It's hard to be in this situation, seeing friends going down a dangerous path and not being sure what you can do to help. If they don't realize the negative health effects drugs have on their body, brain, and life, there is a lot of information on NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov) that you can share. If he or she is already aware of the negative consequences that drugs have on health, school, family, etc., they may be prepared to make a change and seek treatment. You can help him or 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 on them. Keep reaching out, and hopefully some day soon they will be ready. Helping your friend go through the process of starting treatment, keeping in touch with him or her while they're in treatment, and supporting and encouraging them inrecovery are the best things you can do for a friend struggling with addiction.
User Icon Dedeida - Rockville HS, Maryland: How do people get addicted and what part of the brain is affected?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi Dedeida,

Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drugs are needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction.

That said, drug addiction is a treatable disease - with medications (in some cases) and behavioral or psychosocial therapies. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
User Icon fellowhomie - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: Is it true the government made k2 and r3 because they've realized selling marijuana would make them a profit but the k2 and r3 and chemicals that kill you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Not true.
User Icon bignastyking - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: Is Robo Trippen Fun???

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I think that it is far more dangerous than fun. Bad idea.
User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Can you smoke water vapor?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Nope. Have you seen our teen blog?  Go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/
User Icon ross - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: can mary effect your sperm count

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: There have been some studies to show that marijuana can effect fertility. Studies have shown that marijuana can lower sperm count as well as the motility of sperm. Another study has shown that a woman smoking marijuana can make the sperm of her partner less fertile. 

Hope this helps.
User Icon nihao - Rockville HS, Maryland: Drug, why is legal to take drugs? why not just ban all the drugs so all of us can get healthier?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Actually, it is only legal when properly prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate condition or, if its an over the counter medication, when following the manufacturers instructions. 
We can't ban all drugs because many drugs offer great medicinal benefits. Think of pain killers (which contain opioids) or Ritalin and amphetamines, which are stimulant drugs used for the treatment of ADHD.  The challenge is to find the right balance to maximize the beneficial uses of drugs while minimizing their abuse.  

thanks for a great question.
User Icon dfcdsn10 - Rockville HS, Maryland: I've tried weed a few times and alcohol, but I plan on stopping! What are possible effects I could already have?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Stopping is a good thing as you run the risk of addiction with both. You also risk many other effects to your brain and health. For example, Marijuana can cause some lung problems, like bronchitis. Weed can also be a factor in car wrecks--some 14% of people in car crashes test positive for marijuana (possibly in combination with other drugs).  Alcohol is also a big factor in car wrecks. And both marijuana and alcohol can affect a person's ability to learn and remember things--crucial for someone in their teen years especially. Alcohol can also lead to liver problems if abused.  So I hope you decide to choose health!
Moderator Icon  Which chemicals below will enter your lungs when you take a puff of a cigarette?
  1. Arsenic and cyanide
  2. Benzene (also found in gasoline)
  3. Ammonia
  4. Carbon monoxide (from car exhaust)
  5. All of the above
User Icon rabinj - Wantagh Middle School, New York: my sis has asma and my mom smokes, what will happen

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: It is important to care about your family and their health.  Asthma can be well controlled under a doctor's care (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/asthma.html ).   It is definitely not an ideal situation when a family member in the household smokes, especially when someone has asthma.  Your sister could have her asthma triggered and can get more respiratory infections than expected (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/asthma/smoke.cfm) due to smoke.  Quiting though, is very hard. The nicotine in cigarettes is powerfully addictive.  Check out: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/smoking  or encourage your mom to call: 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).  If your mom stops smoking it can help your sister's health and help to save your mom's life too!  You and your family stay healthy!
User Icon 271828 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Is it possible to be allergic to alcohol/marijuana/prescription drugs/any other drugs?

Expert Icon Michelle Leff: Absolutely!  People have different reactions (good and bad) to different drugs.You can check out NIDA's Web site at:
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:

www.smoking.drugabuse.gov
www.marijuana-info.org
www.clubdrugs.gov
www.steroidabuse.gov
Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: can you have a miscarrige if you are on drugs

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: I'm going to answer your question with a question---did you know cigarette smoking alone is associated with risk for infant mortality, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome? Drugs can have a lot of bad effects on babies---if you think you might get pregnant, it is important to get help to stay off drugs.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: can any medicine become a addictive drug to a person if used to much

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Drugs that directly affect the brain and its chemistry and connections, like meds that affect mood and sleep, can be addictive.  Most people who use drugs for a while do not become addicted, but many do, and we still don't understand who will get addicted.  This is why it's important not to take the chance.  Once someone is addicted, it's VERY hard to treat, and be forever rid of cravings altogether. More info on how drugs impact the brain is on our teen site at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php
User Icon jackiechan - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: why is medical marijuana in california legal and how helps you in severe illnesses?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: A number of states have chosen to legalize marijuana for medical uses, including California.  This is problematic since medicines are supposed to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on well conducted studies showing them to be safe and effective.  Marijuana has not met this requirement.  Nevertheless, marijuana does contain ingredients with potential medical uses--especially reducing nausea (from cancer chemotherapy, e.g.), increasing appetite (among those who are suffering from severe malnutrition due to their illness), relieving pain and perhaps other uses as well.  But as a plant that is smoked, marijuana is not a great idea for a medicine.  Smoking itself is bad for the lungs, and the plant contains more than 400 chemicals with unknown health effects that vary from one plant to the other.  Thus, the promise lies isolating ingredients from marijuana that may have beneficial effects, or in synthetic compounds that act similar to THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in the brain and the body.  This is a very active research area right now.  

Unfortunately, in states that have legalized marijuana there is often little regulation of what its being used for--e.g., ADHD, for which there are no data indicating that it works; and many of those involved in getting these laws passed admit freely that this is really the first step in their attempts to legalize the drug outright.  So don't be fooled into thinking that because there may be some beneficial effects associated with marijuana's ingredients, that it doesn't also pose risks, including the risk of addiction. 
User Icon 20115000@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Why do you get instantly as soon as you take drugs? What makes it the most important thing in your life?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello -  Are you asking why you get high or asking why people get addicted?  The time it takes to get high varies with the type of drug and method of administration and it is hard to predict who will get addicted to drugs.  Many different factors may influence who gets addicted such as genetic vulnerability, family environment, mental health. Addiction is characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drugs are needed to achieve it.

That said, drug addiction is a treatable disease - with medications (in some cases) and behavioral or psychosocial therapies.  To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
User Icon jb ah - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what can cocaine do to babys

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: We're finding that prenatal cocaine exposure has subtle effects on kids, mostly in the area of attention and behavior problems. Some studies have found difficulties with language. One thing - sometimes kids that were exposed to cocaine prenatally are also exposed to other stresses, like violence in the neighborhood or family problems, which can also affect development, sometimes even more so than prenatal exposure.
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Is there a type of tobacco that is more dangerous than the rest?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: The use of all tobacco products negatively impacts your health and can lead to the development of diseases including: cancer - lung, mouth, breast; heart disease and storke; gum disease; and addiction.  In addition using tobacco wrinkles your skin, stains your teeth, yellows your nails, and makes you stink.  So, why risk being an ugly, smelly, unhealthy mess - avoid all tobacco use.
Moderator Icon  Wow! We are impressed by these great questions - we are answering them as fast as we can!
Moderator Icon  All states have "zero-tolerance" laws, which make it illegal for anyone under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. That's because grown-ups like you and want you to stay alive!
User Icon nodrugs123 - Rockville HS, Maryland: How long does it take for a drug to clear out the body?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Depends on the drug and depends on your body.  Trying to time a 'pee test' , can get really complicated, but I have a fool proof way to clear drugs out of your body, want to hear it?  Don't use them in the first place.  More information on the effects of drugs can be found at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon navi420 - Rockville HS, Maryland: why is mairjuana still classified as a schedule one drug?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: good question,
The answer is that the agency in charge of making those decisions (the Drug Enforcement Administration) has decided to keep this particular substance illegal. In making this decision the DEA evaluates the potential medical benefits and the addiction potential.     
thanks and take care
User Icon 15442946 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: is it possible to create a drug addiction medication

Expert Icon David Thomas: Sure, in fact that is a lot of what we do at the National Institute of Drug Abuse.   Although we have developed some drugs to help treat addiction, for example opioid addiction, there is still a lot of work to do. 

Addiction is not fun and quitting is difficult.  Look at how many people try to stop smoking.   If we could come up with drugs that allow people to easily quit, most addicts likely would quit.  So we are working on it... 

For more info on drugs see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: What are the chemicals in K-2 and K-3 and what are the health hazards involved in its use ?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Spice, K2 and all these related products are herbal mixtures that appears to contain some chemicals that are similar to THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). But they contain mostly other herbs and stuff that look to me like oregano. It is so new that we are still trying to figure out what it is and what it does.
Thanks for the question and stay tuned.

Moderator Icon Helping us answer questions is Elisabeth Davis, who works on science policy issues for NIDA. A lot of her work involves translating complex science into educational information that is understandable and meaningful to non-scientists. She views drug addiction as a very personal public health issue - one that truly changes the lives of every person that struggles with the disease of addiction. She believes that education and smart policies can make a difference. Elisabeth is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has lived with her husband in Washington, DC for just over a year. Though the apples aren't nearly as good as in Michigan, she loves it in the nation's capital.
User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: what should i say if i foind out my friend starts using drugs

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Tough spot to be in...  First, be supportive and listen to them talk about their drug use.  You can encourage them to stop using drugs and if they are not aware of the negative consequences drug use has on their brain and body you can refer them to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php .  If they are unable to stop using drugs talk to them about treatment.  More information about drug treatment can be found at: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov .   Take care of yourself and remember you can't make your friend stop using drugs - you can only support them.
User Icon 15948713 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what are the chemicals that are in alchohol that make it so deadly?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol itself is toxic to the body and is responsible for the damage it does. So the main ingredient in alcohol that is so deadly is alcohol!
User Icon cam12 - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: hello what does meth do

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Methamphetamine is a very addictive stimulant that is closely related to amphetamine. It is long lasting and toxic to dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system. In the short term it increases wakefulness and physical activity, produces 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. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.  Methamphetamine also reduces the amount of saliva around your teeth - causing what is often called "meth mouth" (google it- totally gross!). For more information on meth and other drugs, check out the Sara Bellum blog at www.teens.drugabuse.gov/blog.
User Icon 15965464 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: How does alcohol affect your liver?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Heavy drinking - even for just a few days at a time - can cause fat to build up in the liver. This condition, called steatosis, or fatty liver, is the earliest stage of alcoholic liver disease and the most common alcohol-induced liver disorder. The fat build-up makes it harder for the liver to operate and leaves it open to developing dangerous inflammations, like alcoholic hepatitis.

For some, alcoholic hepatitis does not present obvious symptoms. For others, though, alcoholic hepatitis can cause fever, nausea, appetite loss, abdominal pain, and even mental confusion. As it gets worse, alcoholic hepatitis makes the liver get dangerously big, and causes other problems like jaundice, bleeding, and difficulties getting bleeding to stop (clotting).

Another liver condition associated with heavy drinking is fibrosis, which causes scar tissue to build up in the liver. Alcohol changes the chemicals in the liver needed to break down and remove this scar tissue. As a result, your liver doesn't work very well.

If you continue to drink, this excessive scar tissue builds up and creates a condition called cirrhosis, basically causes the liver to slowly shut down and stop working.

A variety of complications, including jaundice and diabetes, and even liver cancer, can result as cirrhosis weakens liver function.

For more, please see:
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/05.pdf
User Icon hugsnotdrugs - Rockville HS, Maryland: is marijuana smoke just as bad as tobacco smoke?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The smoke in marijuana has many of the same chemicals present in tobacco smoke. In terms of composition it is comparably dangerous and hazardous to your respiratory health.
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Why do so many people feal its fun to get addicted to drugs or cigarettes? Why do people celebrate with them at parties?

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Good afternoon, Warda.  Thanks for submitting a question.  Some people think its fun to use drugs because of how it makes them feel at the moment, but addiction--no, that's not fun. Drug addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.  At first people may take drugs because they want to feel a certain emotion, but over time the changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self control and ability to make sound decisions, and at the same time send intense impulses to take drugs. Check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/understand.html.  As for cigarettes, sometimes people start smoking thinking it will be fun or make them look cool--but nearly everyone who keeps smoking does so because they get addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. I hope that you can find safe and healthy ways to celebrate and have fun with your friends.

User Icon 15980245 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Where or how did alchol ( the beverage ) get it's name?

Expert Icon Aaron White: That's a great question! Here is the answer given by a website that explains where different words come from:

'This word comes from the Arabic al-kuhl, which originally meant a very fine powder of antimony used as eye makeup. It conveyed the idea of something very fine and subtle, and the Arab alchemists therefore gave the name of al-kuhl to any impalpable powder obtained by sublimation (the direct transformation of a solid into vapor, or the reverse process), and thus to all compounds obtained through the distillation process.'

http://www.westegg.com/etymology/
User Icon dncr35 - Rockville HS, Maryland: If someone continues to drink non stop for 3 days or longer, what are the chances of alcohol poisoning or death?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Well, this depends on how much they drink during each of those days. If they have just one beer per day then the odds are low.
User Icon 20142025@PJPHS - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Can a person be arrested, and jailed for taking illegal drugs , or will they just be sent to rehab?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Hello PA...heard of Lindsey Lohan, right?  She's going back to jail for violating the terms of her probation (one of the terms being staying clean).  The possession and use of some drugs is illegal.  However, if someone wants to stop using drugs there are places to go and get professional help.  Treatment programs addressing addiction are confidential places to go and get help to stop using drugs.  More information about treatment can be found at: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov
User Icon 15948033 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: If alcohol is just so bad, then why is it open for age 21+ to buy and consume? Alcohol contains no addictive drugs and is consumed everyday. Why is it degraded to smoking and chewing when company's wrok for years and years to create them and make them th

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol itself is an addictive drug and the younger a person starts drinking the greater the chances they will become an alcoholic. The current laws in the United States allow for alcohol to be sold to citizens aged 21 and older. Even though alcohol can be very dangerous, it's safe for most adults to have up to one (females) or two (males) servings per day. However, there is no known safe amount for kids, including teenagers.

For more information on the guidelines for drinking in moderation, and for the amount of alcohol different drinks contain, check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon jthschorus - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: Is there a place in the U.S. where teens are more or less likely to do drugs?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there!  Interesting question.  Based on 2005 and 2006 survey data on illicit drug use in the past month among youth 12-17, states with the highest illicit drug use were Alaska, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. States in the next highest group (10.29 to 10.84 percent) were Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and Wyoming. States in the mid group (9.97 to 10.28 percent) were Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia. States in the next lowest group (8.99 to 9.96 percent) were California, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. States in the lowest group (6.76 to 8.98 percent) were Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.  For more information go to: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/states.cfm.
User Icon ASHS - Archbishop Spalding High School, Maryland: Can you get high from snorting pixie sticks?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: nope, just some burning in your nose. I heard some doctors say that maggots could grow there, but I think it's just a rumor.
Moderator Icon  This year we have experts on mental health waiting for your questions about why teens are special - and why they sometimes have special problems.
User Icon $j-money$ - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: if you've only smoked meth once what happens to your health?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Meth is a very addictive stimulant that is long lasting and toxic to dopamine nerve terminals in the central nervous system.  Meth increases wakefulness and physical activity, produces 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.  If you have smoked meth once and you have no noticable health or mood concerns or urge to do it more, chances are you'll be fine if you don't do it any more.  The problem is that there is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure (so one time could do it!). 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 15437374 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: is marijuana grown or made ?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Marijuana is grown, though chemists can synthesize marijuanna like drugs in laboratories...  For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon 16969838 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: does crack hurt other people around u for example ur familly

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Yeah, unfortunately using crack and/or other drugs can affect your family and friends. It can take away your attention, time, focus, and energy away from raising your children, spending time with your brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. A person may spend money on crack that would normally go towards other things like hanging out with your friends, food, clothes, or family items.  It can be rough for the person using and for those close to them. Here's a resource if you have a family member or someone close to you who is using: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org. Also, if you know someone who needs help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
User Icon 15437374 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what are the effects of heroine?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Heroin is a type of drug known as an opioid, which comes from the poppy plant.  It stops pain, but when its not prescribed by a doctor it can have significant effects including addiction.  Some of these effects are diminished breathing, constipation, and changes in heart function.  In fact, with continual use, it can actually cause pain...   

People take heroin mostly because it acts in the reward system in the brain, to cause the release of a chemical called 'dopamine'.  Dopamine causes the high or good feeling that a person experiences when they take heroin or other drugs.  However, overtime the good feelings becomes less and less, and in fact, when the addict is not on drugs, they feel really bad!  Thus, they take more drugs to feel better.  For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php   
User Icon felicial - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: When you smoke marijuana daily does your fertitly rate go down?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: There have been some studies to show that marijuana can effect fertility. Studies have shown that marijuana can lower sperm count as well as the motility of sperm. Another study has shown that a woman smoking marijuana can make the sperm of her partner less fertile. 

Hope this helps.
User Icon manman - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: how can we get the drug out of or courty

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: I'm not sure we'll be able to get drugs out of our country as long as people want to use them.  The best way to eliminate drugs may be to get everyone taking drugs to stop through participation in treatment and prevent those who don't use drugs from ever starting.  We hope events like Chat Day will help. Great question!!!!
User Icon Waka Flocka - Rockville HS, Maryland: are you more likely to become addicted to nicotine at a younger age or as an adult

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Good question - there are some studies that suggest that while nicotine is addictive for both teenagers and adults, teenagers are more susceptible to addiction to nicotine than adults. For more facts about nicotine and other drugs, check out NIDA's new booklet for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths at http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/booklet.php.
Moderator Icon  According to a 2008 study, 85% of college students have tried alcohol. Any kind of drug, including alcohol, can make you dangerous behind the wheel.
User Icon Fugi-Inu - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: How many people OD in a year?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: This is a great question.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 28,000 people OD'd in the US in 2007 (death stats are a few years behind).  But this number is an UNDER estimate of how drugs can lead to death, because it does not include accidents, crashes, falls, violence, and diseases one might have acquired while intoxicated.  
User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: what happens to you when you do drugs

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Drugs affect our brain and behavior.  Depending on the type of drug, abusing drugs can cause feelings of anger, aggression, make you feel sluggish and not able to focus and function, etc.  You can review this chart by NIDA that shows you the bad things that can happen when you abuse certain drugs:  http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/DrugsofAbuse.html  .
User Icon unknow12 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: is smoking weed different from doing it in other coutries

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Absolutely, different countries have very different laws regarding marijuana users.  
User Icon google - Rockville HS, Maryland: does gettinghigh affect your ability to drive?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Let's put it this way...I wouldn't want to be in the car with you or even on the road with you if you were high!  In all seriousness, drugs significantly affect the brain, body, and behavior.  Decision making, judgment, and reaction times are compromised when an individual uses drugs.  These skills are essential for safe driving.  Here's a little fact...did you know that ~14% of fatal automobile accidents involved someone who smoked marijuanahttp://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/stop-distracted-driving-stay-alert-to-stay-safe/
User Icon Alonso - Rockville HS, Maryland: why some people that take drugs act violently

Expert Icon Cheryl Boyce: Hi Alonso. Drugs can affect our brain and therefore, also our behavior. Sometimes when people take drugs it affects those parts of the brain that affect our moods and behavior and can cause a person to act violently.  For exmple, metamphetamine abuse can produce aggression.   Check out www.teens.drugabuse.gov  for more info. 
User Icon firouz - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: what causes addiction?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hi firouz,
When someone uses drugs the reward circuitry is the brain is activated - with dopamine carrying the message. This unnatural flood of neurotransmitters leads to changes in the brain.  Because they sense more than enough dopamine, neurons may begin to reduce the number of dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain, what scientists call "down regulation." Because some drugs are toxic, some neurons also may die. As a result, dopamine's ability to activate circuits to cause pleasure naturally is severely weakened, enough that the person needs drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal just to feel normal. Larger amounts of the drug are needed to create a dopamine flood, or "high" - an effect known as "tolerance."

These brain changes drive a person to seek out and use drugs compulsively, despite negative consequences such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse - this is addiction.  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 how they can affect you, check out these links:

http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon Mercedes - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: can you get high by smoking seasonings?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I doubt it; although there may be some seasoning out there that might do it, I guess. I just don't know.
Let me know if you know of a specific one.
thanks
User Icon kell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: who invented drugs

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Most drugs, and the first drugs, all come from plants, directly or indirectly, whether it be the marijuana plant leaf, alcohol from brewing hops and other grains, or opium poppy flower seeds giving us heroin.  Many drugs have been around for a very, very long time.  Humans have invented other drugs in labs. If you want to read more about specific drugs of abuse, go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
Moderator Icon  Dr. Cathrine Sasek is participating in the Chat. Dr. Sasek does many things at NIDA, but her favorite is working on NIDA's Science Education Program. She has always had a fascination with science, in particular the brain and how it causes changes in how people think and behave, and she enjoys having the opportunity to share this with teachers, parents, and kids. When she is not at work, Dr. Sasek enjoys hiking, taking photographs and entering them in competitions, and playing with her two cats.
User Icon 15962923 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: if u smoke or drink during pregnacy, is there a higher chance your baby will have birth defects?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.

User Icon trios - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: is it okay to wanna try crystal meth ?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Its definitely not OK to try it--the risks of meth are really severe--addiction, dental problems, damage to the nerve cells of the brain, paranoia, psychosis......
But I'm wondering why it is that you want to try it.  If it is an attempt to self medicate some other problem (e.g., depression) then I hope you will get the appropriate help for that and not consider drugs, especially meth, as an option.  If its something your friends are doing, then I would think seriously about why these people are your friends--especially if they are helping to expose you to a drug that can cause you to spiral out of control really fast. 
User Icon wforall16 - Rockville HS, Maryland: how many shot would it take for you to throw up?

Expert Icon Aaron White: That's just so hard to say. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk:

1. How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it
2. Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body
3. How much they weigh
4. Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males

Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous - and makes it more likely for the person to throw up. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.

For more information on safe drinking limits, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/


User Icon quanie - Central High, Maryland: when you get high can you die or pass out

Expert Icon David Thomas: It depends on what you are taking to get high, but many drugs can cause death if you take enough to pass out.  And some drugs can cause death even if you don't take a high dose.  It's better to stay away from all drugs unless they are presribed for you by your doctor.  For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon babels - Wantagh Middle School, New York: what does tabacco do to you

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Wrinkles your skin, gives you bad breath, causes gum disease, contributes to the heart disease, leads to lung cancer - breast cancer - oral cancer - lots of types of cancer, causes your clothes to stink, yellows your nails.  Not enough information about the negative impact of tobacco or want to learn more about quitting?  Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php 
User Icon anniskewl13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: What is the safest alcoholic bevarage to drink?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It really has more to do with the amount of alcohol a person drinks than the specific type. For teenagers, it appears that alcohol is more dangerous than for adults. Drinking during the teenage years increases the chances of becoming an alcoholic and could interfere with important changes taking place in the brain during the teen years. So, for teens, none of the alcohol beverages are particularly safe. 

It's more important that an adult not drink beyond 'moderate' amounts. For adults, moderate drinking means 1 drink in a day for a female or up to 2 drinks in a day for a male, can be part of a healthy lifestyle. However, any more than that increases the odds of developing cancer and developing a problem with alcohol. For more information on safe drinking limits, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/


User Icon 15967004 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What makes a drug more dangerous than another?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: A drug may be dangerous because of its potential for addiction. Addiction is a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persists even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, add drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively---without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction.

Scientists, however, are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness and which drugs are most dangerous. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: genetic (e.g., drug metabolism), environmental (e.g., drug availability) and developmental (e.g., age), all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent (in fact, even whether) abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction.

Hope this answer helps.
User Icon tanta - Rockville HS, Maryland: how can we prevent the using of drugs?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Preventing drug abuse can be done in many ways...these include parents paying closer attention to their kids behavior and activities; making sure that our schools and neighborhoods are drug free can also help. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prevention.html to learn more about prevention programs.
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: Is there a chemical in coffee that is the same in any other drug?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The active ingredient in coffee is called caffeine and it is specific to coffee (and other brewed infusions, like tea and mate) but other drugs of abuse do not have caffeine.
cheers
 
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: This question is a little off topic but do u have a facebook group that has to do with this site?

Expert Icon Cindy Miner: Yes, we do! Here you go - www.facebook.com/nida.drug.facts.week
User Icon 15966022 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: i know alcohol is bad for your body, but what specific areas of your body does it affect?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can affect your brain.  It can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your help, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Can toothpaste be a drug?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Probably not.  Not counting alcohol, something needs to have molecules in it that fit special molecules on brain cells to give a mood effect to be a real drug. So brush every day and be sure to floss!
User Icon 15962773 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: How can i help someone with a drinking addiction.

Expert Icon Aaron White: To get started, you can refer that person to a website where they can better understand their drinking patterns and why they might need to seek help. Check it out here: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

You can also find special resources for kids to get help, and offer help to others who need it here: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

Good luck!

User Icon craigb - Wantagh Middle School, New York: How many people die from 2nd hand smoke a year?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: I'm glad you asked because cigarette smoke poses serious health consequences for the smoker and for those around them.  Secondhand smoke is associated with lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems.  Each year, ~126 million Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and almost 50 thousand nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure. The best thing to do is when people light up, you run for the door! 

Want more information on secondhand smoke?  Click on:http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html 

Want to help someone quit smoking so you don't have to breath it?  Click on:
Moderator Icon  Last year, past-year use of cocaine among 12th graders, dropped to 3.4%. Like we said, teens are getting smarter! See http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/MTF.html.
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: i have 2 short friends, is that because they drink to much coffee?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: You made me laugh!!
It's probably unrelated.
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Can breath mints be a drug?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Probably not.  Not counting alcohol, something needs to have molecules in it that fit special molecules on brain cells to give a mood effect to be a real drug. Have you taken the National IQ Challenge?  Go to http://www.drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/iqchallenge.php
User Icon David - Rockville HS, Maryland: How much damage does a moderate amount of alcohol do to your body?

Expert Icon Aaron White: For adults, drinking in what's called 'moderation', which means 1 drink in a day for a female or up to 2 drinks in a day for a male, can be part of a healthy lifestyle.  Research demonstrates that to keep your risks of developing alcohol-related problems low, men should have no more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, "low-risk" drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day AND no more than seven drinks per week. To stay low-risk, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits.
 
For more information on these guidelines, check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

Please understand that these guidelines are for adults. Drinking at a younger age increases the chance of becoming an alcohol later in life and could interfere with brain development. For these reasons, it's important to wait until age 21 or older to decide whether to drink.
User Icon unknow12 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: how can you tell you on drugs

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: I would hope you know whether or not you are on drugs!  If someone has slipped you something without your knowledge, because drugs affect your brain's wiring and signals, chances are you will feel high/bad/fuzzy/smart/stupid/sick/dizzy and not know why.  Do you know someone who wanted a buzz and ended up in the ER? Alcoholic energy drinks are causing many underage drinkers to overdose on alcohol.  Find out how at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon SVC1 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Is it true that when drinking one gallon of a green tea drink a day before a pee test will your result of weed be negative if you have smoked a week before.

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Depends on the type of drug test.  If you are going to have hair samples taken and you are not bald you may be screwed because drinking green tea won't help.  Marijuana typically stays in the body about one week.  However, there is individual variability.  Don't want to test positive for marijuana use?  There is a simple and fool proof way to accomplish this goal - don't smoke weed.  Bottom line is if you're afraid you might not pass a 'pee test', you have an issue on your hands.... 
User Icon sarah93 - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: Is consuming a lot of alcohol worse then getting high off of marijuana? why or why not?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The short answer is yes. Quick example: you can die in one alcohol binge episode (and unfortunately it happens a lot) but there are no reports of marijuana overdose. Alcohol is directly poisonous to the neurons, whereas marijuana's effects tend to me more subtle and more cumulative.
hope this helps.
take care   
User Icon hiltonn - Wantagh Middle School, New York: WHta happens to your brain if you use drugs?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: It depends on the drug.  Most long-time drug abusers show differences in how their brain accomplishes tasks, like memory.  It's as if they need more of the brain (or brain effort) to get it done.  Our brains are magnificent, and work hard to get it done regardless, but drugs can put a lower cap on how much the brain can work.  Also, alcohol actually shrinks the brain, and replaces the lost brain tissue with fluid.  (our brains literally float in our skulls in a thin cushion of fluid.).  The good news is that for many drugs, it appears that the brain can mostly recover, if people stop using.

Ecstasy in only a few doses, though, has been shown to cause permanent brain damage to cells that help control our mood, at least in studies in non-human animals. Check our teen site for more details about how drugs affect your brain: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php
User Icon alexus329 - Rockville HS, Maryland: is ok to drink once in a while??

Expert Icon Aaron White:  Well, not for kids. Drinking is not legal or safe for anyone under age 21.

For adults, the answer is a little more complicated.  Research demonstrates that to keep your risks of developing alcohol-related problems low, men should have no more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, "low-risk" drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day AND no more than seven drinks per week. To stay low-risk, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits.
 
For more information on these guidelines, check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon manman - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: tell me why drugs are so addicted

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: 

When someone uses drugs the reward circuitry is the brain is activated - with dopamine carrying the message. This unnatural flood of neurotransmitters leads to changes in the brain.  Because they sense more than enough dopamine, neurons may begin to reduce the number of dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain, what scientists call "down regulation." Because some drugs are toxic, some neurons also may die. As a result, dopamine's ability to activate circuits to cause pleasure naturally is severely weakened, enough that the person needs drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal just to feel normal. Larger amounts of the drug are needed to create a dopamine flood, or "high" - an effect known as "tolerance."

These brain changes drive a person to seek out and use drugs compulsively, despite negative consequences such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse - this is addiction.  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 how they can affect you, check out these links:
http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: how do you try to get someone to stop taking drugs if they are the type of people that dont like to listen to people instuctions even if they know it will help them?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Don't you just hate people who won't listen - especially when you have good advice???   A lot of addicts actually say they don't want help because they are afraid to live without drugs. Treatment can show them how.  Here are some things you might consider when trying to help a friend who is addicted to drugs.  First, you can listen to what your friend has to say about why they are using drugs.   You can also encourage them to learn more about how drug use negatively affects their body, brain, and life by visiting NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov).  If they are ready to stop using drugs, encourage them to talk with a doctor, therapist, or teacher to find help.  To find treatment programs (confidentially) go to: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or call 1-800-662-HELP.  Because talking with someone about their drug use can be difficult, you may want to seek the support of a trusted adult - teacher, coach, parent, etc.  Remember, you can't make your friend stop using drugs - you can only provide them with support and let them know you care.
User Icon tmoney247 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what happen if you just use drugs once.

Expert Icon David Thomas: Depends.  For the most part, people do not drop dead.  However, in the case of prescription pain killers, death on initial use is on the rise.  You just never know any drug is safe.  People are different, and so are reactions to drugs.  For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon 15952329 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: how does cocaine effect a persons health /

Expert Icon David Thomas: Cocaine can have a big effect on ones heart and blood pressure.   It is a very powerful stimulant.   In some people, it can cause death from heart attack...  
There are other effects too, especially on the brain where it causes changes that lead to addiction.  It's better to stay away from cocaine.  For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php 
User Icon Caroline - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Can you get spice at a gas station?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I really don't know. But let me know if you find out.
User Icon 15949533 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: if i drink beer and alchohol what are the chances i can die at an earlier age

Expert Icon Aaron White: Estimates of this vary. So much of it depends on the person and the circumstances. In general, it is estimated that chronic alcoholism can reduce life expectancy by about 10-15 years. A good reason to be careful with alcohol!

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to serious, and potentially life-threatening problems with your liver as well as your pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer.  For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm
User Icon 19696002 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what are some bad things that can come from drugs?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Poor relationships (including family problems), Mom and Dad yelling at you, bad grades, wasting time, accomplishing nothing, the death of dreams, harming your body, hanging out with unsightly folks, jail...there are many....Using drugs can negatively impact your brain and body.  Serious medical conditions result from drug use including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and liver problems.  Some people become addicted to the drugs they use and develop serious mental health conditions including depression and anxiety disorders.  Drugs are especially hard on the teen brain and can affect learning, memory, concentration, attention, and decision making.  Try living above the influence!  Click on http://www.abovetheinfluence.com  
User Icon warda - Wantagh Middle School, New York: Why do drugs lead you to bad dicisions?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: With repeated use, drugs change how the brain cells communicate with each other, especially circuits that control how much we want something, and the frontal lobe of our brain, that helps us understand and consider consequences.  Long-time alcoholics or users of other drugs like cocaine use less energy in the front of the brain.

It's sadly ironic that drug abuse most affects the parts of the brain that tell us to say 'when' and stop.
More on drugs and the brain at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: will drugs make you popular?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Nope. But being the fabulous, lively person you already are will likely do the trick:> Check out these sites to learn more:http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/, http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, and http://headsup.scholastic.com/
User Icon Matthew - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: Is it more dngerous to drive while your high or drive while your drunk?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Alcohol is factor in more car wrecks at this point than marijuana, but part of that it is because it is more widely used than marijuana.  But each affect driving skills in different ways--making it dangerous to drive under the influence of either.  And the two together are worse than either one alone. 
User Icon hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: How many pro sports players take steroids?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I don't think that professional athletes would willingly admit to their (illegal) steroid abuse. So, there is really no way of knowing. It would also depend on the sport. I would hypothesize that steroid abuse is much more prevalent in baseball than in golf or chess. But hard numbers would be very difficult to come by.
Hope this helps.

     
User Icon mary:) - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: why do most young people do drugs to run away from their problems when they can just go tlk to some body about it

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: 
You wouldn't want to consider the field of psychology or social work as a career would you? Yes, drugs are used by some people to 'run away' from their problems but dealing with these problems straight on by talking to a supportive adult or professional is a more positive and healthy approach. Take a look at our new teen booklet, pretty neat: http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/files/teenbrochure_508.pdf 
Information on mental health issues can be found on the Web site of the National Institute on Mental Health at www.nimh.nih.gov.
User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: what happens wwhem you quit smoking

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Your lungs recover, and respiratory problems will go away.  However, if you smoked for a long time, you might be touchy or irritable for a while.  Some people gain weight, but that's less harmful than all the cancer-causing stuff in cigarette smoke. Want to see what the lung of a smoker looks like?  Check out our research report section on the medical consequences of smoking at http://www.drugabuse.gov/researchreports/nicotine/consequences.html
User Icon 15416599 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what does marijana do to your body?

Expert Icon David Thomas: 
The main effect is on your brain....

The active ingrediant in marijuanna is THC, which acts on specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors. THC causes cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. This is why some 'weed' smokers experience problems with memory, concentration and coordination. And some marijuana users, about 9%, get addicted. Want more info on marijuana? Click on www.teens.drugabuse.gov
User Icon anniskewl13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: How long does alcohol stay in your bloodstream for?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It takes the average person around 1.5 hours for the body to get rid of the alcohol in one drink. So, it will take 1.5 hours for every drink for the typical person to get back to a level of no alcohol in their bodies. So, if you have about four drinks, it will take at least 6 hours to get rid of all of it from your body,
User Icon unknow12 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: if you do drugs when your young can that effect.you when you get older

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: The short answer is YES, although that could be said for many experiences that are less harmful than drugs.  Drugs affect your brain's wiring and signals, and 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.  Can the brain recover after you stop using drugs? Probably yes, but that depends on many things, like how young somebody is when they start. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or with your family. It is therefore best to never start; however, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information about drugs and how they can affect you, check out these links:
http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: is spice healthier than cocaine?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Interesting question...if you're talking about spices like cinnamon, pepper, cumen or salt (no...not salt...that can cause high blood pressure), then yes, it's healthier.  If you are referring to K2, then I'm going to go out on a limb and say no.  Researchers don't know much about Spice and also, Spice is not a regulated compound, so if you go out and buy it, you don't really know what you are getting.  For me, that's too much of a risk.  I usually just tell teens it's better to just err on the side of caution and not use anything that might impact their brain,   body or life negatively.  
User Icon briannamarie - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: dpesn't steroids make you bigger? how are they so bad

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Oh, in so many ways. there is a long list of bad consequences of abusing steroids. You can watch me on a video telling you all about it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc

enjoy!!!
User Icon mulliganc - Wantagh Middle School, New York: why was this website created???????????

Expert Icon Gaya Dowling: We at NIDA have heard from you that teens have a lot of questions about drug use and want the facts, not opinions and judgments. So, we created this chat day three years ago to do just that, give you drug abuse facts from scientific experts. And this year, we launched National Drug Facts Week so that there can be similar events to this in communities across the country. See our NDFW website (http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/index.php). We also have a blog that discusses drug abuse issues. Check it out and leave a comment. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/
User Icon 15379633 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what are the effects of maryguana

Expert Icon David Thomas: Here is some info:

The active ingrediant in marijuana is THC, which acts on specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors. THC causes cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. This is why some 'weed' smokers experience problems with memory, concentration and coordination. And some marijuana users, about 9%, get addicted. Want more info on marijuana? Click on www.teens.drugabuse.gov
User Icon exilesrugby15 - Rockville HS, Maryland: what are the causes of alcoholism?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Well, in order for someone to develop alcoholism they have to drink alcohol. The more often and more heavily a person drinks, the greater the likelihood they will develop alcoholism. Starting to drink during the teenage years increases the odds, as does having people in your family who have struggled with alcohol.

According to the National Library of Medicine, addiction to alcoholism is classified by the following 4 features:
  • Craving - a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun
  • Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking
  • Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high"
Check this out at: http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/

Moderator Icon  Alcohol is the drug of choice for American kids - more kids drink alcohol than smoke cigarettes or do drugs.
User Icon Briah_Smiley:D - Parkdale High School, Maryland: Does weed make you sleepy?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: yes
User Icon Ivers - Rockville HS, Maryland: Is it true that when you turn 16 you are legally allowed to smoke tobaca and not get in trouble?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The legal age to purchase tobacco products in the US is 18, but it could vary slightly from State to State.
 
User Icon mjd - Liberty High School, California: How bad is ecstasy for you?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Studies in rats have shown that even a single dose of Ecstasy can cause permanent damage to nerve cells that use the chemical serotonin.    Serotonin helps control how good we feel mood-wise.  It's therefore not surprising that ecstasy users report mood problems.  It's that permanence of the damage that scares me so much. Other drugs like marijuana can impair the brain while you're on them, but may not cause as much permanent damage. Take a look at more on ecstasy at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php
User Icon 15318058 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what is the main reason for drug abuse?

Expert Icon David Thomas: People start doing drugs for a number of reasons, including peer pressure, boredom, and depression.  But once someone is addicted, they take drugs to keep from feeling bad.  Life and the fun things about life aren't as fun anymore when you're hooked.  For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon shawnee'shawn - Parkdale High School, Maryland: I WAS SMOKING WEED SCENTS I WAS 9 YEARS OLD ..HOW LONG WILL I LIVE???

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: I have no idea--but smoking weed isn't going to help you live a long life; and in fact it will likely lessen the quality of your life.  I hope you will consider stopping, and maybe getting help to do it, since its not easy, especially in someone who's been using for so long.  There is a withdrawal syndrome--irritability, sleep and appetite problems, and drug craving--which can make it hard to stay abstinent.  If you are interested in finding treatment, please consider calling--1-800-273-talk (for crises); or 1-800-662-help to find drug treatment programs in your area. 
User Icon Paulr - Rockville HS, Maryland: Do I lose more brain cells smoking weed or drinking?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It's tough to directly compare the effects of alcohol and marijuana on the brain because they are so different. For teenagers, both drugs interfere with how the brain develops and grows. The brain is changing in very important ways during the teenage years and alcohol can interfere with brain development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the part of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether.

User Icon shane(: - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: do people do drugs to be cool to fit in or do people make them?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: It's probably a little of both don't you think? Going your 'own way' and saying 'no' are skills that everyone needs to learn, and it becomes easier when you practice it!  Check this out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/these-teens-have-the-right-i-d-e-a/ 
Moderator Icon  Going off to college? When you leave home you will experience a lot of changes in your life. Even though you are moving on to new and exciting things, it can be stressful. It is important to continue to take care of yourself and, if you are receiving treatment now for mental health issues, you will want to find out where and how to continue treatment when you get to college. The college counseling office is a good place to start, or you can check with an advisor. You can call them and arrange to visit them before you start school.
User Icon 15962773 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: is it possible to get high off of other things like sharpies, white out, etc...?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Yes.  There are all kinds of chemicals in these products that could produce some kind of effect.  What's important is that 'huffing' household products or chemicals is more dangerous to the brain than many other 'real drugs' like marijuana.  Even sporadic or single episodes of inhalant abuse can be extremely dangerous. Inhalants can disrupt heart rhythms and cause death from cardiac arrest, or lower oxygen levels enough to cause suffocation.  You need your brain, so better to avoid inhalants.  Check out more facts about inhalants on our teen site at  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php
User Icon jeeves - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: This one's for Ruben...do you like your job?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I love it. why do you ask?
User Icon cowsrcool - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: do black people have a higher rate of doing drugs?

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi there!
No, they don't. In fact, African-American students use most drugs, including legal ones like cigarettes and illegal ones, at substantially lower rates than Whites. Epidemiologists--scientists who study the rates of problems to try to understand what causes them and how to reduce them--report these figures based on an annual Monitoring the Future survey of high school students nationwide: http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/overview2008.pdf.
Another survey, this National Survey of Drug Use and Health, found that smaller percentages of Black adults over age 18 had engaged in alcohol use and binge alcohol use during the past month, compared to the national average (44.3 vs. 55.2 percent and 21.7 vs. 24.5 percent, respectively). The Black adults' rate of use of illegal drugs during the past month was higher than the national average, however (9.5 vs. 7.9 percent).
User Icon fassmanr - Wantagh Middle School, New York: What does methamphetamine do to you

Expert Icon David Thomas: Methamphetamine is a stimulant that wakes a person up and makes them very active.  It can also make someone paranoid and violent. It can also really mess up your teeth. ('meth mouth').  It is seriously gross.  For more info see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php.
User Icon boiling springs - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: Have you smoked pot or slvia before?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: No.
Moderator Icon  Ewwwww - is your mouth stinky and brown? In 2009, the rate of 10th graders "chewing" smokeless tobacco in the past month was 6.5%, up from 2008 and the same as it was in 1999.
User Icon Sarahs - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: what makes drugs and alcohol affetc your body??????????????????????

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Great question! Drugs are chemicals and they work in the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Every type of drug has its own individual mechanism for changing how the brain functions. But regardless of which drug a person is addicted to, many of the effects it has on the brain are similar. They range from changes in the molecules and cells that make up the brain, to mood changes, to changes in memory processes and thinking, and sometimes changes in motor skills such as walking and talking. These changes have a huge influence on all aspects of a person's behavior. A drug can become the single most powerful motivator in a drug abuser's existence and he or she will do almost anything for the drug. This comes about because drug use has changed the individual's brain, their behavior, social skills and other functioning in critical ways. Did you know that methamphetamine reduces the amount of saliva around your teeth, stimulants like cocaine 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.  Taking drugs repeatedly over a period of time causes changes in the body as well as the brain, resulting in physical dependence. To learn more, check out the NIDA for Teens Web site at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php.  For more information on drugs and their effects on the brain, check out this link: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php.
User Icon BarneY - Parkdale High School, Maryland: i smoke weed everyday do u think its effectting my ability to think??

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: most likely.  The effects in a regular user tend to persist for days and sometimes weeks after last use.  So you are probably not functioning at your full potential--do you really want to limit yourself in that way? 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the worse drug for you..?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: If you are asking which drug is most likely to be addictive, this question is complicated and the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness and which drugs are most dangerous. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: genetic (e.g., drug metabolism), environmental (e.g., drug availability) and developmental (e.g., age), all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent (in fact, even whether) abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction.

If you are asking which drug is most likely to kill you, there are a vast number of drugs that have this potential--it would be hard to rank among these.

Hope this answer helps.
User Icon Lil'Nico manee - Central High, Maryland: Why does marijuana make people Hungy,Happy, and sleepy?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana's active ingredient, THC, binds to the same receptors in the brain as a naturally-occurring cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) that we produce ourselves.  These receptors are found in places in the brain that are known to increase appetite. This drug also produces euphoria and affects systems involved in attention. For more information on marijuana, go to http://www.marijuana-info.org/.  
User Icon PoloBoy - Rockville HS, Maryland: Have people tried to ban strong alcohols?(like brandy, vodka, etc) Because they can causer the drinker to be more sexual or commit crimes or do something that they might regret later. I recently saw the movie "for colored girls" and the abusive boyfriends kills his children (while highly drunk) by throwing them out of a 5story apt. When commercials say "drink responsibly" that doesnt mean anything. Also ifyou can go to jail for a DUI shouldnt all alcohol be illegal???? That's been on my mind

Expert Icon Aaron White: Wow, this is a great set of questions and points. There was a time early in the 20th century when alcohol was banned entirely. This era was known as 'Prohibition.' While outlawing alcohol did lead to a small reduction in drinking, it also caused other kinds of problems.  For example, people died after drinking home-made alcohol made incorrectly. Also, it gave rise to an underground crime scene involved in making and selling alcohol illegally. Eventually, prohibition was repealed (meaning the law was taken off the books) and alcohol become legal again.

The best way to keep people safe seems to be to teach them, from a young age, about the risks of alcohol and to help them find fun and satisfaction in life without alcohol or other drugs. We now know that alcohol can damage the brain during the teenage years because the teenage brain is still developing and changing. We also know that drinking at a young age can increase the chances of becoming an alcoholic later on.

Most adults who drink alcohol do so in small amounts and do not become alcoholics or get into big trouble with alcohol, but some do. One or two drinks a day can be part of a healthy lifestyle for adults, so it's okay for them to drink it as long as they do so wisely. However, alcohol is not safe for teenagers and it's important to wait to drink, if you do at all, until you reach the legal drinking age.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If you use drugs can it affect how well you play sports?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Yes - and not in a positive way.  Drugs have a major impact on the body, brain, and behavior and this includes sports performance.  Participating in sports involves the work of the brain, and drugs have a major impact on the brain.  Over time drugs affect your brain's ability to learn new tasks, memory, concentration, and ability to exert good judgment.  Prolonged drug abuse can cause medical problems -- lung cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and addiction.  Drug use can also cause personal problems, poor school performance, and even arrest.  Seehttp://www.drugabuse.gov/consequences/ for more information related to the medical consequences of drug use.
User Icon My Username - Rockville HS, Maryland: What drugs are you most likely to get a person addicted?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: This question is complicated and the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness and which drugs are most dangerous. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: genetic (e.g., drug metabolism), environmental (e.g., drug availability) and developmental (e.g., age), all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent (in fact, even whether) abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction.

The fact that it is almost impossible to rank drugs, does not mean that we cannot identify factors that contribute to or influence the addictiveness of a particular drug. We can offer a nice example from the world of stimulants, where different routes of administration (i.e., how you take it) can have a profound impact on the ultimate risk of harm and addiction. Smoking cocaine (crack) delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately, are very intense, but do not last long. The high from smoking cocaine may last from 5 to 10 minutes. The high from snorting cocaine on the other hand comes on slower and can last for 15 to 20 minutes. There is evidence that suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at greater risk of causing harm to themselves--including becoming addicted--than those who snort the substance, because the drug reaches its brain targets so much faster. And route of administration is but one of many factors to consider just in relation to the drug itself--the dosage, combination with other drugs, setting in which a drug is taken, and pattern of drug taking are other variables to consider along with those noted above related to the individual and his/her environment.
Moderator Icon  Mental illnesses are caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and social factors. Researchers are trying to find out the exact causes.
User Icon 16312723 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Can drugs affect the way you socialize?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Yes and no.
Yes, if someone is doing drugs, it is likely that their relationships with loved ones are suffering. It is also true that their personalities could be altered from drug use and change their social skills or comfort level.
No, if someone thinks that they need to do drugs to party or fit in. IMO, people are the life of the party when they show there true spirit...

See more info here: http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/files/teenbrochure_508.pdf
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: some people... well alot of people have told me because the fact bith sides of my family are chain smokers... then i have a really big chance to smoke and do really bad drug. ?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: What a great question.
Addiction is a 'complex' disease. That means that part of the risk (about 50%) comes from your genes. So,addiction does run in a family. But it is definitely not a 'sentence'. Because the other half is contributed by the environment (family, friends, school, etc) whose combined power can either block or boost whatever hereditary risk might be lurking in your genes. So, even if your parents handed down to you really high risk gene variants there is always hope and the possibility to avert disaster in a nurturing, loving, positive, and drug free environemnt.
good luck   
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If you are doing drugs while pregnant; what could happen to the baby?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Thanks for this question! Lots of drugs can affect the developing baby, even alcohol and tobacco! NIDA has a bunch of studies that have followed babies exposed to drugs in utero (in the womb) through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.  Drugs that have been looked at tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. The researchers have looked at all kinds of outcomes - medical, health, neurological, birthweight, growth, cognition, school achievement, neuropsychological, brain development, sexual behavior, HIV/AIDS risk behaviors and vulnerability to addiction. Here's a fact sheet that summarizes some of these effects. http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html
User Icon 16984560 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what is a narcotic?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: The word 'narcotic' is used to describe illegal addictive substances like cocaineheroin, Vicodin or Oxycontin (to name a few).  Want more information on prescription narcotics and teens?  Click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/ 
User Icon allan - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: what hapens when you toke for 1 straight day and you are stoned then you take pills

Expert Icon David Thomas: Depends. Taking combinations of drugs can have unpredictable and dangerous effects.  If you are just curious, it's better if you don't take any drugs!  If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
Moderator Icon  Which of the following is associated with teenage drinking?
  1. Memory problems
  2. Getting into fights
  3. Teenage pregnancy
  4. A, B, and C: All of these, plus school failure and injuries, are associated with teenage drinking. www.thecoolspot.gov/too_much.asp
  5. None of these
User Icon justcurious - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: Are you in favor of, or in opposition to, the medical use of MJ for AIDS patients? Do you think it really can help? If so, how?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: At this point I'm much more in favor of the use of HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) for AIDS patients--since it actually treats the disease.  Marijuana was used by AIDS patients to help reverse the severe wasting (weight loss) that is part of the disease and contributes to its progression, but it did not actually treat the disease.  Nevertheless, for people who were dying before the discovery of antiretroviral therapies marijuana may have helped them live long enough to actually benefit from the medicines we now have to treat AIDS.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Is it possible to get second hand high from marijuana because of the fumes from when someone else around smoked some??

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: yes it is possible, provided you are close enough and it's not too windy.
User Icon desean - Parkdale High School, Maryland: How dangerous can second hand smoke be on teenagers or infants

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Second-hand smoke can cause problems for people of all ages! For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight and premature birth. Smoke exposure to babies during the period right after birth 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. Some researchers are looking at how exposure to secondhand smoke affects cognitive (learning and understanding)abilities. Believe it or not, there are even studies on third-hand smoke! Researchers are looking at how smoke that has settled on surfaces (e.g., walls, furniture, rugs) can affect health. This is why sometimes people who are especially sensitive to smoke start coughing in a room where there hasn't been smoking for several months! Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.
User Icon DB - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: what is the effect of someone who has prolonged use of ecstasy?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Ecstasy can also cause muscle tension, nausea, blurred vision, teeth clenching, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. When you are coming down from it you can feel sadness, anxiety, and depression and have memory difficulties. Learn more at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php and http://www.clubdrugs.gov/
User Icon Snookiewantsmu - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: Are electric cigarettes better for you?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Thanks for the great question
The jury is still out on this one. Recently, the FDA tested some versions and found diethylene glycol and some specific nitrosamines in addition to nicotine. based on these and other findings, the FDA issued a press release discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes and repeating previously stated concerns that electronic cigarettes may be marketed to young people and lack appropriate health warnings.
Personally, I'd worry that young people would perceive the e-cigarettes a safer alternative to smoking even though there is no evidence to support that claim.

take care.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: my mom told me in some cases itis good to smoke or something like that... i believe her because i think it is about anger issues. and if those people don't smoke then they could go on a rampage? am i right becaue my mom has a different case.

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: There are proper medications to deal with properly diagnosed conditions, be them anger, depression, or whatever. Smoking is clearly not a safe medication because it has many truly devastating medical consequences. Sure, people self-medicate and may use tobacco products to deal with bad situations, like anger, depression, anxiety or whatever. But this is the XXI century and there are better channels to identify and treat such mental disorders without putting other organs and systems in jeopardy. I hope this helps.
Take care
  
User Icon 15442946 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: is rehab a physical related medication or a mental one

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: It depends on the treatment plan for that person, and what he or she was addicted to.  Approved medications are available for heroin addiction, for example, but not meth.  In all cases, there's usually a behavioral (or mental) plan, that centers on avoiding situations that trigger drug cravings, and that tries to teach the addicted person new ways of thinking about things. We have a fact sheet about treatment at http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/treatmeth.html
Moderator Icon  Which of the following is associated with teenage drinking?
  1. Memory problems
  2. Getting into fights
  3. Teenage pregnancy
  4. A, B, and C
  5. None of these
User Icon big****bandit - Rockville HS, Maryland: can animals get high?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Probably.  They can't say to us, 'Dude, I am really messed up' but there are a lot of similarities between animals and people in how they act when on drugs of abuse.  You should see the spiderwebs made by spiders on drugs.  Very messed up...  For more information see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
User Icon Firetailmad - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: How dangerous is 2nd hand smoke?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: It's very dangerous!  Cigarette smoke poses serious health consequences for the smoker and for those around them.  Secondhand smoke is associated with lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems.  Each year, ~126 million Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and almost 50 thousand nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure. The best thing to do is avoid folks that are smoking! 

Want more information on secondhand smoke?  Click on:http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html 

Want to help someone quit smoking so you don't have to breath it?  Click on:
User Icon BoilingSprings - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: have you ever drinked before?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Yes I have! I am an adult and drink safely and in what's called in 'moderation', which means I occassionally have one or two drinks with dinner or while socializing. I never drive after drinking even a sip of alcohol and I never drink enough to lose my balance or make bad decisions. For adults, one (for females) or up to two (for males) drinks can be part of a healthy lifestyle. However, for teenagers, there is no known safe level of alcohol. Drinking during the teenage years can interfere with the changes that happen in the brain during that time in life and can increase the chances of becoming an alcoholic later in life. So, it's important to wait until the legal drinking age of 21 or later to drink alcohol if you decide to do so. 
User Icon tthomp172 - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: What is the most addicting drug? Least?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss: Methamphetamine is among the most addicting, but fortunately, its not used by that many people--except in certain areas.  Cannabis produces addiction in a smaller percentage of people who use it--but since so many people use it, we now have about 4 million people in this country who met clinical criteria for addiction or abuse of marijuana last year.  It also true that addictiveness is affected by how you take the drugs--routes of administration that deliver the drug to the brain quickly, like intravenous injection, and smoking are more addictive than routes that are slower (like oral ingestion). 
User Icon priscillaa.B!:] - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: whats spice ?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Spice is a synthetic form of marijuana.  Scientists do not know much about the effects of spice but are very concerned about its effect on the brain - especially for teens. 
User Icon jew boy - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: If nicotine is a drug why is it legal when it seems to do ore harm than many other drugs

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Great question. Tobacco use has extremely negative health effects but is not associated with the commission of crimes like other drugs such as cocaineheroin, etc.  Laws are often passed that prohibit the possession, sale, and use of drugs that are linked to crimes including property and violent crimes.  Even though it my not be prohibited, tobacco use is not good for your body and brain.  Consequences of tobacco use include: lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders among others. 

Need more information on tobacco and teens, click on:http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php, http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html.
User Icon JM - Surrattsville High School, Maryland: what is drug abuse?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hey, that's a great question that even drug researchers themselves ask!  There is a clinical definition for 'abuse' which is what doctors use in determining if someone has major impairment from using drugs.  That means, in a one year period, a person experiences things like being absent or suspended from school or work because of drug use, putting yourself in hazardous situations like driving while under the influence, legal problems because of use, and interpersonal problems like fighting.  But more often we use the term 'drug abuse' to refer to the illegal or non-medical use of a substance to get high.
Moderator Icon Connect and interact. Find free downloads and cool videos about the medical consequences of using drugs at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/new_media/index.php#downloads.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: How can drugs affect you if you have diabetes?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Drug use, especially stimulants like cocaine or meth, would be an additional risk factor for stroke, besides diabetes.  Bad stuff happens when several different risk factors all add up.  As for whether diabetes itself would effect the 'high' from a drug, there's not much known about that.  However, diabetes does affect the blood flow to the brain.  Statistically, people with diabetes use drugs and alcohol less, maybe because they're more in tune with their bodies.   It is never a good idea to mix drugs without talking to your doctor to be sure you won't be adding to the adverse effects.
User Icon yasminmejia - Rockville HS, Maryland: what are the long term effects of drug abuse

Expert Icon David Thomas: Hey we are in Rockville too!!!

There's a bunch of research on the long term effects of drug use on the body, including the brain. Drugs can affect many systems of the body. Let's take tobacco - it can affect the brain, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. If you do drugs at a young age, by the time you reach 30 you've been doing drugs for a long time - lots of time for damage to accumulate. Also, did you know the brain continues to develop until 25??! So, when you do drugs at a young age your brain is still developing and the drug use has the potential to change the trajectory of brain development! We have studies that are looking specifically at this using high tech tools such as neuroimaging (taking pictures of your brain). Some research indicates that using drugs when you are younger may mean you are more vulnerable to becoming addicted. We don't recommend drug use at any age, but when you're younger, it can really affect you. If you are using, stopping can help your brain recover.  For more information on drugs of abuse see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
User Icon 15949217 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what type of drug is more faster to get addicted to?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: This question is complicated and the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness and which drugs are most dangerous. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: genetic (e.g., drug metabolism), environmental (e.g., drug availability) and developmental (e.g., age), all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent (in fact, even whether) abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction.

The fact that it is almost impossible to rank drugs, does not mean that we cannot identify factors that contribute to or influence the addictiveness of a particular drug. We can offer a nice example from the world of stimulants, where different routes of administration (i.e., how you take it) can have a profound impact on the ultimate risk of harm and addiction. Smoking cocaine (crack) delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately, are very intense, but do not last long. The high from smoking cocaine may last from 5 to 10 minutes. The high from snorting cocaine on the other hand comes on slower and can last for 15 to 20 minutes. There is evidence that suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at greater risk of causing harm to themselves--including becoming addicted--than those who snort the substance, because the drug reaches its brain targets so much faster. And route of administration is but one of many factors to consider just in relation to the drug itself--the dosage, combination with other drugs, setting in which a drug is taken, and pattern of drug taking are other variables to consider along with those noted above related to the individual and his/her environment.

Hope this answer helps.
User Icon laxbro24 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What makes an addict?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello up north in Vermont! 

The definition of addiction is a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drugs are needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction.

That said, drug addiction is a treatable disease - with medications (in some cases) and behavioral or psychosocial therapies. Treatment should focus on a person's individual needs, since many people who are addicted to drugs also have other serious problems, including other mental illnesses. Drug addiction is often chronic (long-term), with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence. But relapse doesn't mean failure, just that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted to ensure long-term recovery.

To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
User Icon chucky - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: is pills bad

Expert Icon David Thomas: Depends on the pills.  If you are talking about illegal drugs, they are dangerous.  For more information see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
User Icon L-awesome - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: why do most people waste there money on drugs?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: It really is a waste, isn't it??  I'd rather spend the money on a great pair of boots, or jeans, or...wait...we're not talking about me, are we??

Seriously though, people - especially teens - may take drugs because it is something new and exciting.  They are often curious and want to know how it 'feels' to be high.  Another reason people use drugs is to make themselves feel better or cope with difficult situations that may be occurring in their lives.  Because drugs negatively affect the body and brain there are much better ways to add excitement to life or deal problems.  For more information regarding the negative impact of drugs see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse.  Here's another tip, for excitement try shopping (for boots!), or participating in a sport, traveling, making new friends, etc. 
User Icon Trevin - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: is marijuana less harmful then alcohol?

Expert Icon Susan Weiss:  That's a tough question.  The answer is yes for now, and maybe in the future.  Right now alcohol is responsible for a much greater proportion of health problems and car accidents than marijuana.  Some of that is due to the differing effects of the drugs, but some of it is because many more people use alcohol and do so for their entire lives, so we know about a lot more about its long term effects than we do for marijuana. If marijuana were to become legal, we risk seeing more of its adverse health effects in more of the population--e.g., addiction, lung infections. 
User Icon 271828 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Can caffeine be addictive? Does it have negative short- or long-term effects? Is there any reason to be concerned for friends who have a lot of it?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Caffeine can cause dependence, as anyone trying to stop drinking his or her two regular morning cups o'joe can tell you. But it is certainly not addictive to the same extent as drugs like cocaine, nicotine, or marijuana. In the amounts that are normally taken the short or long term effects are nothing that I would really worry about.    
Moderator Icon  Some mental illnesses, such as depression or PTSD, can increase the risk for suicide. So it is important to get help and stick with a treatment plan.
User Icon anniskewl13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: what is the safest drug?

Expert Icon David Thomas: No drug that is abused is really safe...  Its like saying 'where is it the most fun to get hit with a hammer!'

Each drug has its dangers, and these vary between individuals.  For example, an opioid like a prescription pain reliever, might be safe for when prescribed by a doctor and taken in the dose prescribed, but if you take it without doctor's exam, you might not know you have a heart condition and that a normally safe does could be dangerous to you.  It's better to avoid taking any drug unless it is prescribed for you by your doctor.  For more info see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse  
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the most dangerous illegal drug?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Probably Methamphetamine, because it is very easy to become addicted even if you don't use very often -- it's a lot higher than for marijuana for example.  Meth is also a stimulant that can case heart and respiration side effects.  Take a look at meth pages at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/methamphetamine.html
User Icon mannnn13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Does marijuana have the same effect on driving as alcohol?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: They are different substances that affect the brain a little differently, but the results are somewhat similar. Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences. Kind of sounds like drunk driving.

Did you know that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24?
User Icon Wiz Khalifa - Rockville HS, Maryland: I smoke bud all day, do you think that is wrong?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello Wiz Khalifa,

Are you talking about bud in the marijuana sense?  We are not here to judge you but to provide information about how drugs can affect your life.

Marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions. So, you are altering your brain chemistry in ways that can have both short term and long term effects.  In the short term--you run the risk of doing something dangerous when you are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having your grades drop, or seeing your athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team. But in the longer term you also risk becoming addicted. Repeated drug use changes the brain (and the body) and could one day lead to addiction and other serious medical consequences. Interestingly, one of our researchers surveyed people that had used marijuana regularly for many years. The marijuana users reported diminished life satisfaction and more physical and mental health problems, which they attributed to the marijuana. They also had poorer academic and job outcomes and lower salaries than a group of adults from comparable backgrounds who did not smoke marijuana.

So keep in mind that some of these changes take time to happen, and some people are more vulnerable to problems associated with drug abuse than others. We don't know all the reasons why, but genetics and a host of other factors--age of first use, other mental health problems, stress, family difficulties, peers that use drugs--all contribute to someone's likelihood of becoming addicted or developing other health problems because of repeated drug use.

If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
User Icon cuz - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: DO PEOPLE DO DRUGS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DIE?OR ARE THEY DRUGS ATTICS?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Wonderful question.  People - especially teens - may take drugs because it is something new and exciting.  They are often curious and want to know how it 'feels' to be high.  Another reason people use drugs is to make themselves feel better.  Those struggling with mental health conditions like depression or anxiety may take drugs to relieve uncomfortable feelings and body sensations associated with these disorders.  Because drugs negatively affect the body and brain there are much better ways to add excitement to life or deal with a mental illness.  For more information regarding the negative impact of drugs see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse.  Here's a tip, for excitement, maybe they can try a sport, travel, making new friends, etc. 

For general information on mental health condition, see www.nimh.nih.gov.
Moderator Icon  Studies showed that a type of psychotherapy called cognitive therapy reduced the rate of repeated suicide attempts by half during a year of follow-up. Therapy helps people consider alternative actions when thoughts of self-harm arise. We have mental health experts on the Chat today who can talk about these issues.
User Icon im a homo - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: why is getting high soo fun?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Taking drugs activates the reward circuitry in your brain, flooding it with neurotransmitters that make you experience unnaturally intense feelings of pleasure.  Basically, drugs affect  your brain's wiring and signals in a way that can affect judgment and decision making, which can lead to bad decisions like unsafe sex, exposing you to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, or getting in a car with someone who is drunk or high.  Doesn't sound like too much fun, does it? To get the facts and make your own decisions, check out this link: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php.
Moderator Icon  Please welcome to the Chat room Dr. Cheryl Boyce, 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 an NIH consultant, 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.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: People say getting high from marajhuna isnt bad, and that but doesnt kill brain cells, but other people say the exact opposite. which is the truth?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: The truth is that marijuana is not a benign drug, but it is not the most dangerous drug that humanity has seen either. You will probably not die of a marijuana overdose, but marijuana can cause addiciton, and seriously diminish your academic achievement and life long potential.
Thanks for the thoughtful question.
 
User Icon 15962923 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: why do people take drugs to satisfy their problems?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Temporarily, drugs change the way someone feels. People say they take drugs for many reasons-- I'm depressed! I need an escape!... But after it is all said and done--the underlying problem that needs fixing is still there. IMO, it's more healthy (not to mention more effective) to get to the root of whatever is really troubling you.  NIDA has developed a number of useful teen sites, including: 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, for scientific information about illegal drugs and their effects at www.abovetheinfluence.com.
User Icon 15965464 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What is K2?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Good question.  K2 (also known as Spice) is a synthetic cannabis which mimics the effects of marijuana.  K2 is unregulated, so you really don't know what you are getting when you purchase it.  
User Icon 15949217 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: WHat makes dugs so bad?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Short answer: drugs use can lead to abuse and then addiction.  Also, drugs all affect the normal function of your brain and body and your behavior, like success in school.  The use of illegal drugs can have severe negative health consequences.

You can check out NIDA's Web site at:
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:

www.smoking.drugabuse.gov
www.marijuana-info.org
www.clubdrugs.gov
www.steroidabuse.gov
Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.
Moderator Icon  The drug, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is also called 'X' because:
  1. It causes Xtra muscle cramping
  2. It causes Xtra sensation
  3. It causes Xtra teeth clenching
  4. It is short for 'Ecstasy': MDMA is called "X" because it is short for "Ecstasy," but the drug also causes A, B, and C. www.nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/MDMA/
  5. All of the above
User Icon 15980245 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: What makes drug so addictiong?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Most drugs can produce a short-term positive effect on your mood moments after you take a drug, and the brain and mind form (or learn) a connection between this high and the behavior and situations that lead to that high.  But in many cases it soon becomes impossible to resist taking the drug.  When someone tries a drug, he or she can never be sure how the drug will affect them.  You can learn more about different drugs and their addictive properties on our teen web site:  www.teens.drugabuse.gov
User Icon Paulr - Rockville HS, Maryland: How does drinking affect your weight?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcoholic drinks can contain a whole lot of calories, so drinking it can cause you to gain weight. The amount of calories contained in an alcoholic drink varies a lot, from less than 100 to  many hundreds. In general, a pound of extra body fat is equal to about 3500 calories. So, if a person drank just one drink per day with 350 calories, they could, theoretically, gain a pound in just 10 days.
User Icon yasminmejia - Rockville HS, Maryland: which is worse, alcohol or cigarrette abuse

Expert Icon Aaron White: Both of them are really bad but for different reasons. Drinking too much damages your brain and your liver. Cigarettes damage your lungs. Both of them can increase your risk for getting cancer. And, both of them are really, really, really hard to quit once you become addicted! It's best just to stay away from both of them.
User Icon bad drugs - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: stop giving me frilly cookie cutter answers and honestly answer me this. weed makes people feel good so stop telling me the b.s. side effects and why does congress have something against americas #1 cash crop? the drug isnt that bad but people just relate the word "drug" with negativity. so please give me someone who isnt scared of getting in trouble with an honest answer and riddle me this. why isnt marijuanna legal? its fun to do and makes you feel good with little side effects

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Your position is very understandable actually. You are looking at the issue from the point of view of a teenager who's just having fun. The truth of the matter is that marijuana may be fun but it is just not a benign drug, no matter how you measure it. This must be our perspective as public health officials, to which you may relate better (perhpas) once you had a young son or daughter in school, performing at 50 or 60 points below their academic potential because of their heavy or regular marijuana use. So, take it easy, it's all a matter of perspective.
and thanks for the great question.
   
User Icon crossroads2 - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: Is it more dangerous for someone to smoke a cigarette or breathe the second hand smoke?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Smoke cigarettes for sure.  Something like 440,000 people in the US die each year from diseases related to smoking.   However, second hand smoke is also dangerous.   You can get more information on cigarettes and their harmful effects at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php.
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: How long has alchohol been in existance?

Expert Icon Aaron White: No one knows for sure, but a long time! We know that people have been drinking alcohol for at least 9,000 years. An ancient wine bottle was discovered in an area of China several years ago. It was around 9,000 years old. People have only been writing for about 5,000 years. So people were drinking alcohol way before anyone could even write about it. Until we find a container older than the one found in China, the current best guess is that people have been drinking alcohol for at least 9,000 years.  
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: How much alcohol does it take to become drunk enough to die?

Expert Icon Aaron White:  It depends on the person, and there are several ways a person can die after drinking. One is by getting into a car crash. Just two drinks is enough to increase the chances of a car crash. Too much alcohol can also shut off important areas in the brain that help you think and breathe. This happens after more than a few drinks, but the exact amount really depends on the person.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: I have a question, if you smoke pot why is everything so funny?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana effects our brain in some interesting ways...one is to cause euphoria.  And, for some people, therefore, things seem funny.
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: Ok, I have a complicated question. Why do alchoholics pee a lot for a long time?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes us excrete - or get rid of - more water than normal.  Urinating is also one way the body gets rid of toxins. Alcohol is toxic to the body. Peeing more is part of how the body clears out the toxins from drinking.

User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: r u born with aides

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello, that's a really important question.
Infected pregnant women can pass HIV (the AIDS virus) to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding--but they can also avoid doing so by taking medications and using other precautions their doctors will recommend. That's why it's vital for pregnant women to find out whether they have HIV, and if they do, work with their doctors throughout their pregnancy.
For more information, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/perinatal/index.htm.
User Icon Fugi-Inu - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What Gender is more vulnerable to drugs?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Guys are more likely to use drugs but the women are catching up, and could also be more vulnerable (than the guys) to its consequences like becoming addicted. NIDA has a research program dedicated to studying these differences so we can learn how to better tailor prevention and treatment interventions for both genders: http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/offices/office-nida-director-od/women-sexgender-differences-research-program
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why are stores aloud to sell beer if beer can hurt people

Expert Icon Aaron White: The current laws in the United States allow for alcohol to be sold to citizens aged 21 and older. Even though alcohol can be very dangerous, it's safe for adults to have up to one (females) or two (males) servings per day. However, there is no known safe amount for kids, including teenagers. For this reason, it is not legal for teenagers to drink.
User Icon Ihavelargepecks - Rockville HS, Maryland: What can one oxycottin do to a person?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Oxytocin is a female hormone involved with reproduction...  I cut and paste a link for more info.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

However, since this is drug facts chat day, I think your are asking about oxycodone. Oxycodone is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics.  There is a growing number of overdose deaths by people taking oxycodone, many of which are people that are taking them for the first time.  You can get more info on oxycodone at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/the-facts/opioids 
User Icon tanta - Rockville HS, Maryland: do you think that using drugs might affect the family of the user ?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: You bet it does!  First, it is painful to watch someone you care about doing something that harms their body.  Second, repeated use of drugs can change the brain and behavior of the user making them cranky, moody, uninterested in the feelings of others, and decrease their desire to spend time with family members.   Sometimes people who use drugs say that their drug use only affects them but if you ask anyone who has a loved one using drugs you'll quickly learn that is not true.  To read stories from real teens about drug use and recovery, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/category/real-life-stories
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how many types of acohale are out there

Expert Icon Aaron White: There are several types of alcohol. The one that people drink is called ethyl-alcohol, or ethanol. This type of alcohol is a very simple molecule that is so small that it can travel  throughout the body as easily as water - that means it can go pretty much everywhere! The chemical formula for ethyl-alcohol is CH3-CH2-OH.

Alcohol is made when yeast, a single celled organism, eats sugar. Alcohol is produced by the yeast when it digests the sugar. The different types of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, liquor) are different because of the source of sugar fed to the yeast. For instance, wine is made from the sugar in fruit. Liquors are often made from the sugar in vegetables.  

For information on how much alcohol is in different types of drinks, check out:http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon KAshHan514 - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: on average, how many people die per year because of an oxycontin overdose?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: That is a great question but one that is really difficult to answer.  Oxycontin is a type of prescription painkiller called an opioid, and when a doctor or someone is determining a cause of death they often can't tell what type of opioid caused the overdose, particularly if the person who died was taking more than one type of drug.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over the past 10 years or so, reported deaths from opioid painkillers in general have increased from about 3000 to 12,000. An overdose of opioids can cause breathing to slow down so much as to cause death. Overdose can occur when people take too high a dose; when they crush a time-release pill or capsule before swallowing, sniffing, or injecting the drug; or when they combine opioids with central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol, or drugs like Valium, or Xanax.
Did you know that in 2006, prescription pain medications, like Oxycontin, were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine COMBINED? For more facts about drugs, read NIDA's new booklet made for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths. You can find it (and even order it for free) at http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/booklet.php.
Moderator Icon  The drug, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is also called 'X' because:
  1. It causes Xtra muscle cramping
  2. It causes Xtra sensation
  3. It causes Xtra teeth clenching
  4. It is short for 'Ecstasy'
  5. All of the above
User Icon Lunanessa22 - Rockville HS, Maryland: is it still bad for your brain if you have only smoked weed for about a year??

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: It could be bad.  Brain studies of kids who use marijuana show that their brain activates differently when the person is trying to solve a mental problem.  They can sometimes get it done, but the brain is probably trying to get it done using circuits and connections in the brain that are not the most efficient.  Teens who use pot typically have problems with remembering things and staying on tasks.  It probably won't kill you (unless you are driving under the influence and then it could), but you're not going to be all that you can be mentally, or with your motivation.  We have lots of MJ info at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/marijuana.html
User Icon LFerguson2012 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: What percentage of people recover from their drug addiction?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Great question.  It's actually difficult to determine 'recovery' rates for any drug.  Part of this is because of the way we do research on drug abuse and recovery.  Scientists tend to study the effectiveness of a particular treatment which tells you how well a certain medicine or behavioral therapy works for addiction to a drug but doesn't provide information regarding recovery from that drug overall.  Also, recovery is very much based on the individual.  What I do know is that recovery from drug addiction - including heroin - happens.  There are medications that work very well in helping people to stop using heroin including methadone, Buprenorphine, and Vivatrol.  In addition, counseling can help people change their drug using behaviors and support them in their recovery journey.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is medic weed?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Medical marijuana...marijuana that is used for medical purposes.
User Icon JewCrew13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Can you get second-hand high from being around someone who is high or someone who is smoking?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Generally, you can't get high hanging around with someone who is high.  You might be able to get high from someone smoking marijuana, if there is enough of the smoke in the area.
User Icon anisha - Boiling Springs High School, Pennsylvania: can smoke affect babies

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Absolutely! A mom smoking while pregnant as well as secondhand smoke in the environment can affect  babies before and after birth. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, preterm birth, and respiratory problems. 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 levels in the mother. Nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects. The more a woman smokes during pregnancy, the more infant birth weight is reduced, and that's not a good thing. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition (learning and understanding) 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 ever 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.
User Icon mary:) - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: why do people think thaqt you need drugs and alcohol to have fun

Expert Icon Aaron White: There are lots of reasons people may feel this way.  Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.'  Others may feel they can escape other problems in their life by drinking.  But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse.  And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.
User Icon Caroline - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: How can I avoid peer presure?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Live on a mountain top with no other humans!  Just kidding, unfortunatley I'm not sure you can avoid peer pressure entirely.  You can however be prepared to handle it.  Here are a few tips: (1) be your own person and don't follow the crowd (no matter how small...because no matter what they say...not EVERYONE is trying it), (2) be assertive about what you want and tell peers trying to influence you to do something like try drugs to back off -- you can give them reasons like 'I don't want to get addicted to drugs', 'using drugs is illegal', 'my parents will find out and kill me', or 'no thanks, I don't want any'. Just remember, your true friends are concerned about your health and your future, and they won't keep pressuring you to do things you don't want to do.  Stay strong and remember it's your body...you get to make all the choice!!  For more information from real teens, see: http://www.abovetheinfluence.com, or www.teens.drugabuse.gov
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how much acohale can you drink before dieing

Expert Icon Aaron White:  It depends on the person, and there are several ways a person can die after drinking. One is by getting into a car crash. Just two drinks is enough to increase the chances of a car crash. Too much alcohol can also shut off important areas in the brain that help you think and breathe. This happens after more than a few drinks, but the exact amount really depends on the person.
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: is it true that some cigarettes are made up of fyberglass?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: never heard that one before. But I bet you did not know that most American cigarettes have radioactive polonium, have you?
Moderator Icon  Gotten carded lately? In 1992, the proportion of 8th graders saying it would be easy to get alcohol stood at its peak level of 76.2%, but by 2009 this statistic had fallen to 61.8%.
User Icon addicted2druggs - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: why is weed soo fun?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I don't know you tell me. I have always preferred to be in full control of my mental faculties.
User Icon 16341892 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: why u pick this jod?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: I am doing this job because I get to study and learn more about the wonders of the brain. Studying the brain and its effects on behavior have always fascinated me.

Thanks for asking.
User Icon zmsman9224 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: How can drugs screw up an athletes ability to run?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I am not aware on any drug that people would take illegaly to enhance their athletic performance that would 'screw up' their ability to run. Heavy steroid abuse has been linked to damage (rupture) to the tendons, but I doubt that many runners abuse anabolic steroids. On the other hand any runner who's caught using enhancing performance drugs could be banned from sports, sometimes for life, that would definitely 'screw up' his or her ability to run (at least competitively).
thanks for the great question.
 
User Icon Loyanna - Parkdale High School, Maryland: how do people start drugs

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello Loyanna,

People might experiment with drugs for many different reasons including peer pressure, depression, anxiety, family situation, or boredom.  But it is important to know that many teens choose not to start or experiment.  How many teens report using any illicit drug during the past year?  Eighth graders: 14.5%, 10th graders: 29.4%, and 12th graders: 36.5%. Even for high school seniors, it is not even close to half!  NIDA's Sara Bellum blog is a great resource for information for teens.  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/.  Thanks for writing in today.  Kristen
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the biggest reason for people to start doing drugs?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: 'Big' is a relative term. What could be a big reason to you (peer pressure) may not be the big reason for someone else (needing an escape). People start drugs for a variety of reasons, but NONE are worth the consequences of substance addiction. Check out these links for more info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/
User Icon hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: if you're underage and you take o couple shots of vodka, is that harmful?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Just a few shots, one time, probably wouldn't do any long lasting damage to your brain or body. But, you should know that exposing the brain to alcohol at a young age can increase the odds of developing a drinking problem down the road.  Also, a few shots of vodka could increase your risk for making bad choices or getting injured. To be safe, stay away from alcohol for as long as you can! Definitely until 21 or older because your brain will still be developing until then and the odds of developing alcoholism are much lower if you wait until after 21.
User Icon elise - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: In your professional opinion, what is the worst dug out there?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Probably meth, with heroin a close second.  This is because both are very addictive, in terms of the odds that a recreational user will find themselves unable to stop, and in terms of how severe the high is, and the crash is, and the massive disruption of life.  Cigarettes are very addictive too, but at least let people live pretty normal lives, until those lives end early from heart disease or cancer (at an annual rate of about 440,000 deaths). Best to stay drug-free.  Look for more info at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon 20116225@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: I have a friend who wants to stop smoking but he always never keeps his word. As a friend, how can I help him stop?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello -  It sounds like you a good person for your friend to have in his life!  It can be very hard for someone to stop smoking - many people go through several quit attempts before they are successful.  Keep in mind that he is probably doing the best that he can and keep offering encouragement and support when you can.  The good news is that treatment and resources are available to help people quit.  Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.
Kristen
Moderator Icon  Sadly, more than 30,000 people die each year by suicide. In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. If you or a friend are ever in crisis, call the suicide prevention number 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress or a bad situation.
User Icon Rachel - Rockville HS, Maryland: can you get mentally addicted to weed?

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hello, You could get addicted physically and mentally to marijuana. This means that someone can't quit even though marijuanais having a detrimental effect on their lives.  There is also a withdrawal syndrome--similar to what happens in Tobacco smokers.  Symptoms include irritability, sleep and appetite problems, and craving--which often prompts relapse.  Also, in a young person especially, its memory impairing effects can interfere with your ability to function --or to be at the top of your game, even if you are not using the drug while you are in school.  Marijuana's effects on learning can persist for days or even weeks after last use. Thus, you may not reach your full potential if you use it, and this is something that long term marijuana users self report looking back on their lives. Also, 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.  For more info. check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Marijuana.html
User Icon maryann - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: how many doses of oxys can yuou take with out overdosing

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: There's no way to know, since there are differences from person to person (based on their genes, and based on how experienced they are with that kind of drug) in how quickly the body breaks down or 'metabolizes' Oxycontin.  This is what determines not only how many pills are needed to stop pain, but also the severe stuff after taking a LOT of pills. As with all prescription painkillers, you should only use them if they were prescribed for you by a doctor for a specific medical situation.  When used properly, they can be very helpful in treating a medical condition.  But they are very dangerous when used for nonmedical reasons.  Check our our RX info for teens at PEERx: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/
User Icon 15980245 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: A lot of data shows that teenagers in middle school and high school are prone to drug addiction. Why is that?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: You've got your facts right:  Studies show that the younger a person is when he or she starts using drugs, the more likely he or she is to quickly start to use more and more and become addicted.
Scientists don't yet know everything about why this is, but part of the answer appears to be that teenagers' brains are still developing--adding new cells and weaving the circuits that connect the brain cells. Drugs and alcohol can disrupt this process, and by doing so affect the way the teen responds to various influences and exposures, including drugs, for the rest of his or her life.
User Icon L-awesome - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: I don't drink or do drugs what can I do to help other people stop ?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Be the positive influence that you are online right now and to everyone you meet:>  Check out http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/ or http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ for information and ideas.
User Icon alexus329 - Rockville HS, Maryland: what are shrooms??

Expert Icon David Thomas: Shrooms is short for mushrooms.  Some species of mushrooms have chemicals in them that can make a person hallucinate. Not the kind you find in a grocery store though.  Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/hallucinogens.html for more information on these and other hallucinogens. 
User Icon genbeloin - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: is drug and alcohol addiction similar to a food addiction?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: very interesting question!
Scientists are finding more and more overlaps between drug addiction and food addiction. Indeed some of the circuits in the brain that appear to be impaired in these diseases of compulsion and the uncontrollable cravings that characterize them are indeed very similar.
Thanks and take care
User Icon 'cmh&lew'((: - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: how can you tell when someone's abusing drugs and/or alcohol?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Drugs affect the body and brain in many ways.  Because drugs profoundly impact the brain, you often see changes in behavior.  These behavioral changes include withdrawal from non-drug using family and friends, poor academic or job performance, poor decision making, and fighting with parents or friends about drug use.  To learn more about specific drugs and read real stories from real teens, see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/category/real-life-stories, http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse.
User Icon 15961589 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Can drugs affect your social life ?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: 
I'm going to anwser this question two ways:
(1) You can party with your friends like a rock star and never do drugs! People who are cool appreciate you for who you are and what you are about....
or (2) doing drugs can affect your relationships with family and friends in negative ways. You can read more about these effects here: www.teens.drugabuse.gov, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.  In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy provides additional information specifically for young people. Go to: www.abovetheinfluence.com, to find an interactive drug prevention site for youth. Symptoms of ADHD (link to new fact sheet) and http://www.youtube.com/nimhgov#p/u/0/IgCL79Jv0lc
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If you're pregnant and your an alcoholic or you take drugs, is it worse for your baby or yourself?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It would be bad for both of you.  Babies whose moms drink face particular risks, though. Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today.


Moderator Icon  51.5% of surveyed 12th graders say they got prescription narcotics for nonmedical use from a friend or relative.
User Icon liltone14@yahoo - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: does weed effct girls or boys differt ways

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Tricky question!  We do know that boys and girls have different rates of drug use, and that has changed over time.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more boys than girls ages 12-17 use marijuana but more girls use psychotherapeutics to get high than boys.  There is a lot we still don't know about how a drug will affect someone when they first use it, 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.  We know that for both boys and girls, smoking marijuana can often lead to 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. Marijuana can affect judgment and decision making. If you smoke it, you might do things you regret later - such as engaging in risky sexual behavior, which can result in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking or is high on marijuana. Get the facts and make your own decisions by checking out this link: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why are you stupid when you are high

Expert Icon David Thomas: Speak for yourself!!!   Just kidding.  Actually, marijuana can interfere with activity in areas of your brain that are involved with attention, memory, and judgement.  Thus, a person that is high might not attend to what you say, remember what the just did, and what even when they do remember what they did, it may have been something that in retrospect, was not that bright.  Thus, they might look a bit stupid...  

e.g.
'Dude, your pants are on fire!!!'
'What, who me? What???'  
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: if you had to pick one drug as the safest one, what would it be?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: This is a tricky question, but luckily, it has a pretty clear-cut answer.  All drugs pose risk to the body and brain.  This is especially true for teens whose bodies and brains are experiencing tremendous growth and change.  Using drugs can significantly impact the brain affecting learning, memory, concentration, attention, decision making, and may lead to addiction.  Repeated drug use also has serious medical consequences including the development of lung cancer, liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and more.  Bottom line, why play Russian roulette with your health and life??  No drug is without risk.

For more information about drugs and teens, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon josh-e - Parkdale High School, Maryland: do drugs make someone spermcells go low

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Yes, and they also cause increased portions of the sperm to be mis-shaped.  Not only that, but it has been shown that alcohol affects molecules that attach to DNA of the sperm that effect how the DNA is 'read' by the body or the developing fetus.  This can cause the resulting babies to have lowered growth or mental capacity even if the mom never did any drugs or alcohol.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If caffine is a drug why is it leagal?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Caffeine is a legal drug that is found in many of our foods and drinks these days.  It happens to be a drug that is not very harmful.  But keep in mind, many drugs are legal, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and antibiotics, and those are medications that we use every day to treat different medical conditions and diseases.
User Icon cbackus13 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Is it true that every ciggarette you smoke takes away 7 minutes of your life?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Something like that.  The way that smoking affects your arteries (risk for heart attack and stroke) and risk for cancer, it will on average reduce a person's life span.  It's not a set 7 minutes per cigarette per person exactly.  Instead, it's the total effect of many years of cigarettes, in the average person.  Some people might only live a couple years less, others will have a heart attack and die at 51 instead of living to 80.  You never know which you might be, so best not to smoke. check out our fact sheet at http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html
User Icon 271828 - Middlebury Union High, Vermont: Is it possible to get high by sniffing glue, white-out, or similar things, and what are the harmful effects of doing so?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: I would not describe the feeling of sniffing these inhalants as a real high (although I've never inhaled myself :) , is probably more like the effect of a heavy dose of alcohol.
If sufficient amounts are inhaled, nearly all solvents and gases produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness. Irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). I would stronglt recommend to stay as far from inhalants as possible.
take care
User Icon shell - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: what if one night you are at a party and your drinking and messed on a drug like pot and that night you end up getting pregnant would that hurt the baby if you found out that you was pregnant and you didnt drink or do drugs no more but just that one time would it hurt the baby

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi Kentucky and thanks for your question - it's hard to know exactly how any one night of drinking and smoking pot would affect the baby, but we do know that those substances can affect development. If someone does conceive under these circumstances, what they can do now is focus on having a healthy mom and baby! Good prenatal care, seeing your doctor, eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, staying away from second hand smoke in the environment, and getting support from family and friends can maximize the health of you and your baby! If you want to hear a story about one girl's mistake that gave her HIV---check out  www.hiv.drugabuse.gov. Staying clear headed while at a party is important!
User Icon L-awesome - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: If you are under preasure to smoke what can you do about it?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Dealing with pressure to smoke from your friends is not easy.  Making decisions for yourself is hard enough, without having the people around you trying to influence how you act. The fact that you're even asking this question tells me what kind of strength you are capable of....Support yourself by finding others like you (not smoking). You can't change people but you can change the people you hang out with.  One thing you can do is ask an adult you trust how to find positive and healthy activities (maybe try an after-school program, church group, etc.).  Check out http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/, http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, and http://headsup.scholastic.com/ for information and ideas.
User Icon 20140850@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: will doing drugs break the relationships you have with everyone around you?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Terrific question.  Using drugs can have a major impact on your relationships.  People who care about someone using drugs will likely find their use upsetting.  Since drug use impacts academic, sport, and work performance individuals using drugs are often in conflict with teachers, coaches, and employeers.  Concerned parents may fight with teens about their drug use.  To read real stories from real teens about drug use, click on: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: is achol a drug?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Yes, if by drug we mean a substance that alters how we think and feel.
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: if u crush up adhd pills is it like cocaine jw

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Possibly.  Most ADHD pills like Ritalin are 'stimulants' like cocaine is, and have the same behavioral effects in laboratory rats, at least when injected straight in to the body.  Crushed pills may not be as effective though.  There's a lot of filler and other byproduct in the pills, because they were designed to be in the stomach. Our new PEERx section on the teen site has some good info on stimulants.  Go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-stimulants
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: What is the substance they put in cigarettes to make a person addicted to that item?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Cigarettes have thousands of chemicals, some of which are quite nasty, like methane and arsenic.  However, one becomes addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes.  
User Icon hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: Why is the drinking age 21 and not younger, like 18?

Expert Icon Aaron White: The legal drinking age was raised to 21 because too many young people were being hurt by alcohol. Raising it to 21 resulted in a big reduction in the number of young people being killed in alcohol-related car crashes. The decision to raise the drinking age to 21 was made before researchers started studying the teenage brain and how alcohol effects it. Now we know that the brain keeps growing until after the age of 21 and that alcohol can damage the teenage brain. So, it turns out that a drinking age of 21 makes sense from a brain standpoint, too! For more info on how alcohol affects kids, check out: http://thecoolspot.gov/index.asp
User Icon pop tart - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: how dangerous is caffene

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Caffeine is a very safe drug in the concentrations in which is usually taken.  More recently, some drinks have appeared in the market which do raise some health concerns. Specifically, energy drinks that pack huge amounts of caffeine or that combine caffeine and alcohol.
thanks for a great question.

   
User Icon TABBYCATRAAAAAA - Rockville HS, Maryland: can you comsume more alcohol if youre a guy, or a girl?

Expert Icon Aaron White: That depends on the guy and the girl. However, in general, girls are affected more by alcohol than guys. Girls can feel the immediate effects of alcohol more quickly and for a longer time than guys.  Thanks to natural differences in body chemistry and metabolism, girls retain more alcohol in their blood than men do, and also break down and get rid of alcohol more slowly than guys do.
User Icon luckysoccer - St. Henry District High School, Kentucky: do you have a fun job

Expert Icon David Thomas: Yeah I do, and I like everyone I work with who can see this answer on a big screen we have here at Chat Day HQ and on the web!!!   Actually, I have a great job.   I love science and discovery. 
User Icon bigseltz - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: can drugs help you with everyday stress? and can they help you perform in sports?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Hi there,
If you have a level of stress that affects your daily life then you may want to talk to your doctor, maybe he can prescribe a medication (or behavioral intervention) to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with your condition. Regarding sports, there are many (ergogenic) substances that are either known or reported to enhance your athletic performance. Anabolic steroids, erythropoietin, Growth hormone, come to mind, but they are all banned substances with adverse effects.
Thanks for the good question and take care  
User Icon 20143275@pjphs - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: if you inhale smoke from someone smoking daily, can anything happen to you aswell?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Yep...Cigarette smoke poses serious health consequences for the smoker and for those around them.  Secondhand smoke is associated with lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems.  Each year, ~126 million Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and almost 50 thousand nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure. The best thing to do is avoid folks that are smoking! 

Want more information on secondhand smoke?  Click on:http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html 
User Icon vitelozi - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: do most people do drugs as an escape or under pressure?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Both. Temporarily, drugs can change the way someone feels. BTW, so can other, healthier behaviors like exercising. You are very perceptive: wouldn't want to become a scientist would you? :) Check out this colorful booklet for more info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/   
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: What is Rufies? or Ruphalin?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Its the nickname for Rohypnol.   It is not approved for medical in the U.S., but it is used in other countries for the short-term treatment of insomnia, as a pre-medication in surgical procedures and for inducing anaesthesia.  In this country, people know it as a club drug (taken at clubs) and as a date rape drug.  It can be added to beverages and ingested unknowingly by an individual because they can't smell or taste it.   The drug works by 'depressing' the brain,  rendering a person unconscious, unable to move or remember large blocks or periods of time. It is for this reason that date rape drugs are referred to as drug-assisted assault drugs. To learn more about the side effects and medical consequences of these drugs, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/RohypnolGHB.html.
User Icon 15958503 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Are you able to overdose on all over the counter drugs?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Tough to say completely.  Generally, most drugs, whether over the counter or not, if taken at high enough doses can result in overdose--some by directly interfering with critical functions, others by affecting the liver which is responsible for the breakdown of the medications.  Technically, any dosing over the intended medical dose is an overdose.
User Icon jflecha - Ludlow Elementary School, Pennsylvania: why do drugs make people attitude change in different ways ?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Hi jflecha,

Great question! Drugs are chemicals and they work in the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Every type of drug has its own individual mechanism for changing how the brain functions. But regardless of which drug a person is addicted to, many of the effects it has on the brain are similar. They range from changes in the molecules and cells that make up the brain, to mood changes, to changes in memory processes and thinking, and sometimes changes in motor skills such as walking and talking. And these changes have a huge influence on all aspects of a person's behavior. A drug can become the single most powerful motivator in a drug abuser's existence. He or she will do almost anything for the drug. This comes about because drug use has changed the individual's brain, their behavior, social skills and other functioning in critical ways. For more information on drugs and their effects on the brain, check out this link: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php.
User Icon manman - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: how many people smoke in the us

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Today, about 20% of adults and 20% of high-school seniors smoke cigarettes. That's a great improvement over the mid 1960's, when half of adult men and nearly one-third of adult women smoked cigarettes, but smoking is still a major problem, responsible for 440,000 deaths per year in the US.
The main reason scientists called epidemiologists collect such data is to try to figure out why fewer people smoke now, and use that information to push the number even lower in the future.
User Icon YOUNGTAURIS7468 - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE TO GO SMOKE ALL THE TIMEWITH THERE FRIENDS?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Unfortunately, many times young people will do things they normally wouldn't in order to fit in with their friends.  But in the end, people will respect you more when you are yourself--so be a leader and not a follower.  Also, check this out: http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/files/teenbrochure_508.pdf
User Icon moonman3223 - Rockville HS, Maryland: What are munchies?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana's active ingredient, THC, binds to the same receptors in the brain as a naturally-occurring cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) that we produce ourselves.  These receptors are found in places in the brain that are known to increase appetite.  For more information on marijuana, go to http://www.marijuana-info.org/.  
User Icon sexual_confused - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: smoking spice is legal why does the man have to come down on the party?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Thanks for your question. 
The 'man' has to be concerned when it comes to public health issues. K2, Spice is a fairly new phenomenon. There is no solid indication that this herbal mixture is lethal. But these mixtures do contain cannabinoid analogues, which are psychoactive and fairly untested substances, plus, they are not regulated nor standardized, so different batches from different manufacturers could end up containing dangerous contaminants. 
Stay healthy and take care.
Moderator Icon  Everyone gets sad now and then for lots of reasons, such as your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you, you thought you would get an A on the exam but got a B, or your favorite person got kicked off American Idol. But a person with depression has serious symptoms and cannot do schoolwork, hold down a job, or enjoy things they used to.
User Icon crossroads2 - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: How common is it to become addicted to pain killers?

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: Pain killers (such as vicodin) contain opiates and can be addictive.  In 2009, nearly 2 million persons aged 12 and older were addicted to pain relievers.  To put this into perspective, about 1 million people were addicted to cocaine and 4 million were addicted to marijuana.  This information comes from a national survey that's conducted every year. You can see the latest one at: http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/nsduhLatest.htm

User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: I have still many questions, but is there such thing as a safe alchohol?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Unfortunately, not for kids.  Not even one drink per day is safe or legal for anyone under age 21.

For adults, the answer is a little more complicated.  Research demonstrates that to keep your risks of developing alcohol-related problems low, men should have no more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, "low-risk" drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day AND no more than seven drinks per week. To stay low-risk, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits.
 
For more information on these guidelines, check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon 20142025@PJPHS - Pope John Paul II, Pennsylvania: Can a person get sick from second hand smoking?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Yes -- not only can you get sick, and suffer from athasma and other respiratory problems, but second hand smoke can kill you.  Of the 444,000 smoking-related deaths each year, 50,000 of these people never smoked a cigarette (i.e., they are the result of exposure to second hand smoke).  More informaiton about smoking can be found at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html
User Icon MD - Parkdale High School, Maryland: What's in a cigarette that can make anyone sick?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: While nicotine might cause some effects, it's mostly all the hundreds of other chemicals in the tobacco leaf and the cigarette that cause problems, especially when ignited into smoke.  Go to www.smoking.drugabuse.gov for more information.
User Icon ab's - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: how much alcohol would it take to make a person who weighs 130 &is 5'6 to pass out?

Expert Icon Aaron White: That's just so hard to say. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk:

1. How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it
2. Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body
3. How much they weigh
4. Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males

Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous - and makes it more likely for the person to pass out. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.

For more information on safe drinking limits, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: when your pregnate what is the most danger drug to have

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: If you are pregnant and use any kind of drug (alcohol, nicotine or other drugs)you should talk to your doctor about making a plan to quit quickly (a doctor can help!) It just isnlt worth the risk to the baby.  There are lots of drugs that can affect the fetus, with alcohol being one of the worst! Here's some info on the effects of alcohol: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/DrinkingPregnancy_HTML/
For more information on prenatal exposure, check out this fact sheet! http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html
Moderator Icon  In 2009, past-year use of marijuana was reported by 12% of 8th graders, 27% of 10th graders, and 33% of 12th graders.
User Icon 16coleb - Randolph-Clay Middle/High School, Georgia: why is it so rare for people to start doing drugs

Expert Icon Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello. Good question. I am happy you realize that most youth and people do NOT use drugs.  I think this to do with the potential harms associated with drug use and the fact that in many cultures and society drug use is not considered a normative/acceptable behavior.  This is a good thing. One cannot become addicted to drugs or suffer the consequences and harm if one does not start using drugs in the first place. 
User Icon bigseltz - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: why do testicles shrink when you take steroids

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: good question:
it is because anabolic steroids affect (in a negative way) any system in the body that is controlled or affected by the sexual hormone testosterone. This includes, sexual organs and hair follicles. 
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the percent of 10 to 13 year olds that use drugs to get high

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: It's very low, so low that epidemiologists--the scientists who gather and analyze such information--find it hard to give an exact figure.
I can give you an number estimate for the age group 12-17.  In 2009, about 10% of persons in this age group reported using illicit drugs in the past month.  This is slightly lower than prior years, such as the 12% rate that we observed in 2002.  So, the good news is that rates of drug use among youth are generally lower than they used to be, but far too many youth use drugs.
User Icon Snookiewantsmu - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: is the eletric cigarette better for you

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Thanks for the great question
The jury is still out on this one. Recently, the FDA tested some versions and found diethylene glycol and some specific nitrosamines in addition to nicotine. based on these and other findings, the FDA issued a press release discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes and repeated previously stated concerns that electronic cigarettes may be marketed to young people and lack appropriate health warnings.
Personally, I'd worry that young people would perceive the e-cigarettes a safer alternative to smoking even though there is no evidence to support that claim.

take care.
User Icon jimmymaz - Parkdale High School, Maryland: what does smoking weed do to you.

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: I'm assuming you mean the bad stuff.  Basically, it doesn't kill you outright, but it reduces your mental functioning like memory.  You're not all you could be mentally, and you might also have reduced motivation to do activities that are useful. And if you drive while under the influence, you increase your risk of being in an accident. Did you know that vehicle crashes 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 ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.  check out our research report at http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html
Moderator Icon  Many Drug abusers are at risk for HIV infection:
  1. Only when they inject drugs
  2. Because drugs can affect the way people make decisions
  3. When they share needles and inject drugs
  4. Both B and C: (correct) Learn the link between drug use and HIV/AIDS www.hiv.drugabuse.gov
User Icon pHlevel1 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Does drinking kill brain cells?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Drinking large amounts of alcohol may kill brain cells.  But more importantly, drinking interferes with how the brain develops and how brain cells communicate with each other - especially in teenagers.
User Icon JoeS - Mainland Regional High School, New Jersey: What mental processes are occuring while under influence of a mentally-addictive drug?

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: Great question JoeS,

Every type of drug of abuse has its own individual mechanism for changing how the brain functions. But regardless of which drug a person is addicted to, many of the effects it has on the brain are similar. They range from changes in the molecules and cells that make up the brain, to mood changes, to changes in memory processes and thinking, and sometimes changes in motor skills such as walking and talking. These changes have a huge influence on all aspects of a person's behavior.  Continued use of addictive drugs changes your brain, at times in dramatic, toxic ways, and others in more subtle ways, but often in ways that result in compulsive and even uncontrollable drug use.  A drug can become the single most powerful motivator in a drug abuser's existence and he or she will do almost anything for the drug. This comes about because drug use has changed the individual's brain, their behavior, social skills and other functioning in critical ways. Taking drugs repeatedly over a period of time causes changes in the body as well as the brain, resulting in physical dependence. To learn more, check out the NIDA for Teens Web site at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_rx1.php and  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php.
User Icon mactruck - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: if u get a girl pregnant while u have drugs in your system will it effect the baby

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: That's a great question - researchers are starting to look at how father's drug use might contribute to the babies development, they are still working on that question! We do know that smoke (cigarette, marijuana, meth) can affect the growing baby - in the womb and after birth, whether it is the mother smoking, or the father, or other people in the house/car/restaurant/environment. Also, once the baby is born, a father's drug use can affect their parenting, which can affect child development. Dads matter!
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the drug with the least risk and not as bad

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: All drugs pose risk to the body and brain.  This is especially true for teens whose bodies and brains are experiencing tremendous growth and change.  Using drugs can significantly impact the brain affecting learning, memory, concentration, attention, decision making, and may lead to addiction.  Repeated drug use also has serious medical consequences including the development of lung cancer, liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and more.  Bottom line, why gamble with trying to figure out which drug is worse??  No drug is without risk.

For more information about drugs and teens, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php
User Icon 15379633 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: can maryguana make canser on you

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana smokers show poorly regulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer; however, a recent study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unproven at this time. We do know marijuana smoking can cause other problems in your lungs, especially if you smoke it regularly.You can find a lot of information on marijuana at http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/marijuana.html
User Icon TaiBenz187 - Central High, Maryland: how does marjuana get you high specifically

Expert Icon David Thomas: I like this question.   Here is some of what we know, but the exact nature of what 'high' is still 'up in the air.'

The active ingrediant in marijuanna is THC, which acts on specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors. THC causes cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the high that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. This is why some 'weed' smokers experience problems with memory, concentration and coordination. And some marijuana users, about 9%, get addicted. Want more info on marijuana? Click on www.teens.drugabuse.gov.

User Icon LS - Parkdale High School, Maryland: What are some key observable symptoms I can look for in a person that is using drugs before, during or after school? (ie behaviors, attitudes, appearance, etc.).

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: The physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. For example, someone who abuses marijuana may have a chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic symptoms. Sometimes you can see signs of withdrawal, depression, fatigue, carelessness with grooming, hostility, and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends. In addition, changes in academic performance, increased absenteeism or truancy, lost interest in sports or other favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits could be related to drug use. However, these signs may also indicate problems other than use of drugs. See: http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/ for more.
User Icon L-awesome - Faison Intermediste, Pennsylvania: what if some one close to me but they don't do drugs but they smoke how will that effect me?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Second-hand smoke drifting from your friend's cigarette, or his or her blown-out smoke has plenty of carcinogens in it.  Not as bad as inhaling a cig directly, but still very much there.  I'd be somewhere else while they light up if I could.  Better yet, see if they could quit. Did you know that nearly 50,000 deaths are attributed to second-hand smoke each year?  Get more info at http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/
User Icon 15948967 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: why do drug companies want to make people use drugs? dont they know what that stuff does to people?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Well--they do want to make money of course--but don't forget that medications are also life saving or life-improving.  Nevertheless, virtually all medicines presents some risk of undesirable side-effects, sometimes even serious ones. One of the constant challenges that doctors face is weighing the potential benefits and risks of any medical treatment they prescribe to their patients. For example, OxyContin is a powerful and long-acting pain reliever, prescribed to help patients with certain types of pain, usually chronic pain or pain caused by cancer. Unfortunately, some people get addicted to OxyContin. Before prescribing this medication, doctors should know a patient's complete medical history, including what other health problems they currently have, what other medications they take, and whether they have a history of problems with addiction or other mental illnesses.
User Icon My Username - Rockville HS, Maryland: Can a person be addicted to fast food? how about video games?

Expert Icon David Thomas: Looks like it.  Addiction is compulsive use despite negative consquences.  That fits the bill for compusive eating and gaming.  In fact there are clinics for internet addictions.  There are some real horror stories of people playing games almost every waking moment, and they stay up most of the time.  I mean, I like games but every waking moment....sounds like addiction to me.    
Moderator Icon  Many Drug abusers are at risk for HIV infection:
  1. Only when they inject drugs
  2. Because drugs can affect the way people make decisions
  3. When they share needles and inject drugs
  4. Both B and C
User Icon 16994369 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Does a little amount of alcholo affect a kid and their growth?

Expert Icon Aaron White: It's very unlikely that a small sip of alcohol can do any lasting damage to your body or affect your growth. But, you should know that exposing the brain to alcohol at a young age can increase the odds of developing a drinking problem down the road.  To be safe, stay away from alcohol for as long as you can! Definitely until 21 or older because your brain will still be developing until then and the odds of developing alcoholism are much lower if you wait until after 21.
User Icon 15311187 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: if tabacco gives you cancer why is it legal

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Great question, Key Middle!  Tobacco use has extremely negative health effects but is not associated with the commission of crimes like other drugs such as cocaineheroin, etc.  Laws are often passed that prohibit the possession, sale, and use of drugs that are linked to crimes including property and violent crimes.  Even though it my not be prohibited, tobacco use is not good for your body and brain.  Consequences of tobacco use include: lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders among others. 

Need more information on tobacco and teens, click on: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_nicotine1.php, http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html.
User Icon Ivers - Rockville HS, Maryland: Is it possible to help your lungs if you smoke? A dedicated runner.

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi!  Certainly by running you are helping your overall health - kudos to you!  You could help your lungs by quitting.  Think of how much additional endurance you would have!  People who quit smoking can have immediate health benefits. Believe it or not, within 24 hours of quitting, a person's blood pressure decreases and they have less of a chance of having a heart attack. Over the long haul, quitting means less chance of stroke, lung and other cancers, and coronary heart disease, and more chance for a long and healthy life. 

Kristen

P.S.  You will also find facts, trends, statistics, graphics and reports on specific drugs on NIDA's Web site: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html
Info. about smoking and prevention can be found at: www.smoking.drugabuse.gov.
User Icon love_fletcher - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: does every teen take drugs

Expert Icon Kevin Conway: You might think so from watching some television and movies, but you would be wrong. Most teens do NOT take drugs. In 2009, about 37% of 12th graders reported using an illegal drug in the past year; fewer 10th graders; and many fewer 8th.  Marijuana is the most commonly used drug, with about one third of 12th graders reporting using it in the past year.
It's a good question you ask, because many teens tend to want to do what other teens do, and if they think everyone else is using, that might influence them to use. That would be making two mistakes.

Moderator Icon  Treatment for mental illnesses includes different kinds of psychotherapy and medications. It usually takes weeks or months for treatments to work, so it is important to stick with it.
User Icon im a homo - Arthur L Johnson High School, New Jersey: why are dugs the best things ever?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Don't know, you tell me.
I always thought that using drugs would prevent you from leading a full productive life, but that's just me.  
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: do they make drug flavored gum

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Well - I have no idea... but whatever you do don't chew it!!!
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: How long does it take for an average liter of alchohol to leave your system?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Wow - a liter of alcohol is a lot! If you mean a single bottle of beer (or a single glass of wine or a single shot of liquor), it takes anywhere from 1-2 hours for a typical person to get rid of that much alcohol. To learn more about how much alcohol is in different drinks, check this out:http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
User Icon nidichat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: do people commit suicide when they are drunk or on drugs?

Expert Icon Redonna Chandler: Drugs impact the brain and behavior disrupting decision making and leading people to do things they would not normally do.  Unfortunately, this includes committing suicide.   Also, sometimes when people have drug problems, they feel hopeless, which could lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Want more information on drugs and information on getting help for someone considering suicide, go to:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
User Icon 15957062 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: what if u have sex at 12 what will happend?

Expert Icon Nicolette Borek: Hi and thanks for your question! Unprotected sex at any age can put you at risk for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) including HIV/AIDS. And unprotected sex can result in pregnancy whether you are 12 or older. If you are using alcohol or drugs and having sex it can be extra risky.  When you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you often do not make good decisions about your life.  Check out www.hiv.drugabuse.gov, for information about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates.
User Icon bn cv - Mainland Regional High School, New Jersey: is it true 99% of people who use pcp die ?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: no, it's not true
User Icon 957532 - Rockville HS, Maryland: both are bad but which is worse, smoking weed or making weed brownies?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: smoking weed is worse than making weed brownies
(unless you eat the brownies too)
Moderator Icon  Risk factors for attempted suicide by youth include depression, alcohol or other drug use disorder, physical or sexual abuse, and disruptive behavior.
User Icon PoloBoy - Rockville HS, Maryland: Can weed cause death?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes..but probably in a car wreck or some other accident.  It also has effects on the heart, and has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and bad outcomes from heart attacks--although this is probably most relevant to someone who is older or anyone with a heart condition.
User Icon I AM MIKE - Jefferson Township High School, New Jersey: Are cigarettes or pot healthier

Expert Icon Kristen Huntley: Hi--good question!  The answer is that neither is healthy. Many studies have shown that marijuana smoke contains carcinogens and is an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke.  Marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections.
User Icon 15980245 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: How can presription drugs be fatal to us?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Pretty much by how they can affect how blood flows in our body (like blood vessels getting narrower), or how the brain tells the heart to beat and the lungs to expand and contract.  Several medications are 'depressants,' and together with some drinks of alcohol, can tell all that breathing machinery to shut down.  This is why these kinds of drugs have warning labels. The key is to only use prescription medications under the care and direction of your docor.  They can be life-saving that way.  The problem arises when you abuse them or take someone else's prescription.  We have a great site for teens that is all about prescription drug abuse.  Go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/
User Icon Hackettstown - Hackettstown High, New Jersey: What is this new drug called Spice?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Spice is the latest FAD I heard of. It is a herbal mixture that appears to contain some chemicals that are similar to THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) and other stuff that look to me like oregano. It is so new that we are still trying to figure out what it is and what it does.
Thanks for the question and stay tuned.

User Icon 2xwkingsized - Rockville HS, Maryland: i experimented one day with beer, my actions under the influence were unpredictable and unbelieveable, why do you become a very different person?

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol affects our behavior by messing up the part of the brain called the frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are located right behind your forehead. The frontal lobes help us make decisions and keep us from saying and doing things we otherwise would not, or that we know could be bad for us. Alcohol makes it harder for the frontal lobes to prevent us from making bad decisions and acting differently.
Moderator Icon We are impressed by these fantastic questions - we are answering them as fast as we can!
User Icon emilyg - New Egypt High, New Jersey: if your father did drugs, can you be more easily addicted?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: what a great question
 Addiction is a 'complex' disease. That means that part of the risk (about 50%) comes from your genes. So,addiction does run in a family. But it is definitely not a 'sentence'. Because the other half is contributed by the environment (family, friends, school, etc) whose combined power can either block or boost whatever hereditary risk might be lurking in your genes. So, even if your parents handed down to you really high risk gene variants there is always hope and the possibility to avert disaster in a nurturing, loving, positive, and drug free environemnt.
good luck   
User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: wat is pcp

Expert Icon Marsha Lopez: PCP is Phencyclidine, a type of drug that was formerly used as an anesthetic but has been used illegally to get high.   It interferes with the functioning of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is found in neurons throughout the brain. Like many other drugs, it also causes dopamine to be released from neurons into the synapse. At low to moderate doses, PCP causes altered perception of body image, but rarely produces visual hallucinations. PCP can also cause effects that mimic the primary symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions and mental turmoil. People who use PCP for long periods of time have memory loss and speech difficulties. For more facts on PCP and other halluciogens, check out this link:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/hallucinogens.html
User Icon mannnn13 - Rockville HS, Maryland: Does marijuana affect driving?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Yes--it affects the skills you need to drive safely--reaction time, motor coordination, and attention; and has been shown in driving simulator and road tests to impair performance.  Further, when combined with even a small amount of alcohol, the effects are worse than either drug alone.  Approximately 14% of fatally injured drivers in car crashes test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs). 
User Icon Genifore - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: I hear of a tropical fruit that makes an alchohol which has enough to kill someone. What would the name be?

Expert Icon Aaron White: We are not sure. Alcohol can be made from any fruit by mashing it up and adding yeast to it. The yeast eats the sugar in the fruit and gives off alcohol. This process, known as fermentation, can make alcoholic beverages as high as 14-15% alcohol, the amount in many wines. There is no reason to think that any particular fruit could be used to make an alcoholic beverage with a higher concentration through natural fermentation.
User Icon fellowhomie - Douglass Alternative School, Virginia: By smoking crack cocaine could it affect your brain(life long term) after one time.

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Unlikely, but each 'high' that someone experiences when using crack or any other drug affects the brain and increases the potential for addiction. Use of addictive drugs when you are young (about your age) increases the likelihood of permanent changes in the brain. It is also possible to overdose the first time that someone uses crack, as you can't be positive what dose you are getting or you may be an individual who is particularly sensitive to the drug, so it's best not to use crack even once.
User Icon ozmann12 - Rockville HS, Maryland: can using k2 kill you ?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: Thanks for your question.
K2, Spice is a fairly new phenomenon. There is no solid indication that this herbal mixture is lethal. But since this mixtures are not regulated nor standardized different batches from different manufacturers could end up containing dangerous contaminants. 
Stay healthy and take care.
 
User Icon 15965464 - Francis Scott Key Middle School, Maryland: Can marijana be used to help some people?

Expert Icon Joe Frascella: Marijuana is not an FDA approved medication at this time--meaning that it has not met the safety and efficacy requirements that all medicines must meet.  That said, ingredients in marijuana clearly have an anti-nausea effect; an appetite stimulating effect; and some anti-pain effects.  In fact, scientists are very excited and invested in developing medications that work through the same system (the endocannabinoid system) that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, works on.  But the hope is to develop medications with less of the side effects associated with marijuana--and one that is not smoked, as this is obviously an unhealthy delivery sysstem. 
User Icon sexyyy mammas;) - New Egypt High, New Jersey: if you take to much medicene do you get high?

Expert Icon Ruben Baler: it depends on what medicine we are talking about. you are not gonna get a high using regular tylenol. But pain killers that contain opiate analgesics, like vicodin or oxycontin can be abused by people seeking a high.  in fact, it is possible to overdose and die on such pain killers.
so watch out and use them only as prescribed by your doctor.
take care   
User Icon TABBYCATRAAAAAA - Rockville HS, Maryland: why do you pee a lot while drunk

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes us excrete - or get rid of - more water than normal.  Urinating is also one way the body gets rid of toxins. Alcohol is toxic to the body. Peeing more is part of how the body clears out the toxins from drinking.

User Icon mary:) - McCreary Academy, Kentucky: if your family is on drugs and they have kids and an abuseive husbend what do you do ?

Expert Icon Jim Bjork: Thank you for contacting NIDA about this!  Not sure if you're talking about a hypothetical case here or if it is about someone you know, but this is very serious and someone in this situation needs to ask for help.  Since there is no way to make things better by yourself, here is a suggestion.  Find a trusted adult to talk to -- a teacher, a doctor, an aunt or uncle.  There are programs available to help treat drug addiction.  You can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
User Icon micky mouse - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: y does alcohol make u go crazy

Expert Icon Aaron White: Alcohol affects our behavior by messing up the part of the brain called the frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are located right behind your forehead. The frontal lobes help us make decisions and keep us from saying and doing things we otherwise would not, or that we know could be bad for us. Alcohol makes it harder for the frontal lobes to prevent us from making bad decisions and acting differently than we normally do.

User Icon nidachat - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: y do people do drugs

Expert Icon David Thomas: People start doing drugs for a number of reasons, including peer pressure, bordom, and depression.  But for people who develop problems, eventually, they take drugs to stop feeling so bad.  Life and the fun things about life tend to not be so fun anymore when you're hooked. Just drugs. Learn more at http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/
User Icon PJCrap - Episcopal High School, Texas: i have a good friend who is always hated on in school and just isnt cool. how do i get him to start taking drugs and being cool?

Expert Icon Bethany Deeds: Don't be a hater:<  It may seem that a lot of teens your age are using drugs, but the reality is just the opposite. In the last Monitoring the Future survey of teenage substance abuse, cigarette smoking and alcohol use declined to the lowest levels in decades! The percent of students reporting past-month substance use for any illicit drug was only 15%. That means close to 85% said 'NO' in that month alone--sounds like that group were the cool ones to me:> 

Bottom line, you can't change people but you can change the people you hang out with.  One thing you can do is ask an adult you trust how to find positive and healthy people (maybe try an after-school program, church group, etc.).  Check out http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/, http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/, and http://headsup.scholastic.com/ for information and ideas. 

User Icon bricurti2 - Crossroads Academy, Georgia: what are the worst affects that alchol can casue

Expert Icon Aaron White: Research tells us that drinking lots of