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Transcript for 2013 Chat Day

Good Morning from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Welcome to our 2013 Drug Facts Chat Day!
Today we have more than one hundred high schools registered to ask our scientists questions about drug abuse. Please be patient---we are not able to answer all questions but we will try to answer some questions from each school.
blapolla - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why do people take drugs when it against the law ?

Susan Weiss: People don't always think about the risks of what they are doing when the do it--some people drive over the speed limit; some take drugs.  Whether or not you will be the one to get caught or to have a bad reaction to a drug, for example, is hard to predict--but it is a risk.  
Dr. Susan R.B. Weiss currently serves as the Associate Director for Scientific Affairs for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In this role she serves as a senior advisor to the NIDA Director, and provides scientific guidance and oversight to staff of NIDA who are responsible for such key areas as communications, program development, science planning and policy analysis, and government relations. In her spare time, she does Yoga and trains her cat to play video games.
carly m - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What should you do if your friend wants to try drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Carly, good morning.  My first question of the day!   It's good you are concerned as a friend. I think talking to your friend, as a friend, would be a good start.
 
Here is a link with some drug facts.  You and your friend might find it useful for your discussions. 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.
gtremblay - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: How many diferent types of drugs are there?

Joni Rutter: 
There are hundreds of illegal drugs out there and that number is growing.  Wikipedia defines illegal drugs as drugs which have controls on them by a government and are illegal in certain situations (a person is not allowed to have them).
 
A drug is any chemical designed to affect the human body. A psychoactive drug is a drug that affects the brain. Some controlled drugs are allowed if you have permission (called a 'prescription') from a doctor. Other drugs are illegal - meaning you are never allowed to have them. 
 

Alcohol, caffeine (coffee), nicotine, tobacco), aspirin and acetaminophen/paracetamol (Tylenol) are all drugs, too.

 
For more specific information about certain drugs, check out our website:  NIDA drug facts
 
How many types could you find searching the site?
Taking prescription drugs in an inappropriate way IS drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse includes taking a controlled medication (like pain pills or ADHD drugs) without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed, or to get 'high.'
Shuly Babitz is now joining the chat as an expert in alcohol---so get your questions about alcohol ready! She works for our sister Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA.) Ms. Babitz can sum up her life with 2 words: sunshine and writing. She attended Miami Beach Senior High School in Miami Beach, FL where she divided her time between the beach (clearly, sunshine) and the school paper (writing). She then attended Swarthmore College where she met her husband (yes, that counts as sunshine), and wrote many, many essays and papers (more writing). Today, she divides her time between raising her 4 adorable kids (they are all sunshine!), and writing for the NIAAA (lots more writing).
Dr. Kris Bough is one of the first scientists to join the chat today. He is a neuroscientist -- which means he studies the brain. He currently works with scientists and small businesses around the country to develop new and safe medications for people addicted to drugs like tobacco or cocaine. One of the things he enjoys most about his job is that he can help put the pieces of the neurological ‘puzzle' together to help people quit drugs who want to quit. Dr. Bough grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia. His favorite subject was… biology! Now that he is grown up, he has a 3-year old son, and a 7-year old dog named Brice. This past spring he took his family to the Arizona desert where they did a lot of hiking and some fishing. He is an active Toastmaster and a Master Mason. He enjoys growing hot peppers and tomatoes in his garden every summer, and recently cooked up a big batch of very hot sauce! Eeow! He also enjoys volunteer teaching and is a rabid fan of the Washington Capitals ice hockey team. Let's go Caps!!
joystick411 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Can you get high off life?

Joni Rutter: 
You bet!  
 
 
carly m - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What criteria does a material have to meet for it to be considered a drug of any group?

Kris Bough: 
Good morning Carly! Great question ... a drug is a substance which may have medicinal, intoxicating, performance enhancing or other effects when taken or put into a human body or the body of another animal and is not considered a food or exclusively a food.
 
In terms of drugs of abuse, all drugs of abuse can have long-lasting effects on the body and brain. The damage done to the body or brain depends on the drug of abuse and how long and/or frequently a person may have taken that drug. You might want to know that drugs can affect brain signaling and change the way the brain receives messages. A person that is dependent on cocaine for example can have abnormal brain function for several months before the brain can slowly recover. You may want to check out our Science of Addiction pub (http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/sciofaddiction.pdf). Also - for cocaine, there is evidence that long-term use/abuse can result in impaired heart function (http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2008/03/long-term-cocaine-abuse-linked-impaired-heart-function). I hope this helps answer your question!
MorganG - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: 
What is a hookah?

Dave Thomas: Hi Morgan. It's a name for a water pipe. The water cools the smoke so that it doesn't burn the smoker's throat as much. They are commonly used in the middle east, often to smoke flavored tobacco. However, they are also used to smoke various drugs of abuse.
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why is marijuana legal in some states?

Susan Weiss: Right now there is a national debate going on about marijuana, and 2 states passed laws legalizing it--although not for youth.  And at a federal level (which trumps states) it remains illegal. As scientists, based on what we know, we are concerned that people will think its safe if its legal, and without risk.  But think cigarettes, which are also legal--yet have devastating health effects. As a young person, with a rapidly developing brain (which you do until your early 20's), exposure to marijuana on a regular basis can lower your IQ, get you addicted, and lead to depression or even schizophrenia, in some people.  
Pitan - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why do some people get addicted to drugs and others don't?

Ruben Baler: 
Hello Pitan,
this is a great question. It helps to think about this as you'd think about any other disease really. For example, why do some people get the flu on any given season and some don't? The answer is that your chances of getting the flu depend on the coming together (confluence) of many different factors.
For the flu it would first be getting exposed to the virus but then it is important to know what virus and how much (dose) did you get. Then you need to consider the state of your immune system, which will influence whether that viral exposure will make you sick or not. and these are just a few of the contributing factors .
A similar thing goes on in addiction: if you are exposed to drugs we'll want to know, what drug? how much? with what frequency? at what age did you start? did you find the experience pleasurable or you hated it? how quickly does your body destroy the drug once it's in your system, etc, etc, etc.
hope this helps.  
Anna G - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I learned that drug effects can change from person to person. What are the chances that it will kill me or something? What is the worst reaction I can expect?

Joni Rutter: 
Using drugs of abuse can definitely kill you.  Drugs have other bad effects, too.  Have you ever seen the mouth of someone who has taken methamphetamine
 
People who smoke cigarettes can get anything from yellow teeth and bad breath, to heart disease and lung cancer.  That's bad stuff.  Best thing to do is know the facts and make smart decisions so you never have to worry about it. 
Mouth of someone who's used meth
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Billy D - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: do you think the electronic cigarette help fight addiction effectivly?

Cindy Miner:  Electronic cigarettes are so new to the scene that we don't have a lot of scientific data on their effects yet and we don't even know that much about what's in all of them. The ones that have been tested contain varying amounts of nicotine (in fact some e-cigs say they have nicotine but don't). The nicotine is dissolved in another chemical so that it can be heated usually by a small battery in the e-cig. There have been a few reports of e-cigarettes exploding when people use them causing some serious injuries to their hands and faces. The bottom line....you don't know what you are getting in these products...so don't believe the hype, hype usually means they want your money. Personally, I want to keep my money to spend on fun things, like treats for my dogs...or going to a University of Maryland basketball game!
Tswizzle - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Where do teenagers get drugs?

Dave Thomas: All sorts of places.  Dealers, friends, family... It really varies.
paintballs - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is it true that if you use acid more than 3 times you are legally insane?

Nancy Pilotte: 
That would not be true.  Acid, or LSD, is a very powerful drug with profound effects on your perceptions, but it does not make you 'insane.'  It's not very smart to use it.  In fact, mental health is a complex condition, with diseases and syndromes that are quite varied. We have learned a lot about mental health disorders, especially in the realm of treatment.  
 
Check http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/lsd-acid for more information about LSD.  
 
For information about mental health and the teen brain, go to:
 

Also check out 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.
 
MorganG - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What are some long-term effects of smoking weed on your body?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for your question! Our research has found that marijuana (weed) can contribute to memory problems, decreased reaction time, altered perceptions, lack of motivation, sleep problems, and more. You also might be interested in knowing that studies have shown that chronic use can result in the an overall lack of career success as well as an addiction to marijuana. 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.
 
There also have been some studies to show that marijuana can effect fertility.  Studies have shown that marijuana can lower sperm count as well as motility of sperm.  Another study has shown that a woman smoking marijuana can make the sperm of her partner less fertile. 
We have lots of useful information on our website; for more info, please visit: www.marijuana-info.org.
Ruben Baler is a native of Argentina, fan of soccer and more specifically of Boca Juniors; he did his undergraduate studies in the Middle East, more specifically in Israel; and he derives great pleasure from studying the neurobiology of pleasure. He has two kids between the ages of 18 and 27, so when he lectures about the neuroscience of risky behaviors, he talks from personal experience. Please welcome your CHAT DAY moderator---Dr. Gaya Dowling. Dr. Dowling heads up the Science Policy office at NIDA. Her job is to make sure the public learns about and understands what the science says about drug abuse and addiction. Although Dr. Dowling's favorite subjects in school were math and science, she never expected that studying science would give her a chance to go to the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, as she did when NIDA's work on the HBO film Addiction won an award. In her free time, she loves to do Tae Kwon Do with her two kids—a five year old girl and a seven-year old boy. Dr. Jack Stein is one of our moderators today…watching all of the incoming questions you are sending. He is the head of our office of Science Policy and Communications, and is an expert in how communities come together to solve health problems like addiction. Before NIDA, he worked on drug abuse issues in the Executive Office of the President where he met President Obama as well as the first dog, Bo! He lives in Washington, DC and has performed in many local theatre productions.

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Think Teachers Do A Good Job Of Explaining The Dangers Of Drugs

Yes 45 percent, no 38 percent, and maybe 17 percent.

Hey---this year we are asking teens to tell the truth about drug issues. Throughout the chat today, you will see our Truth Poll questions. Tell us the truth and we will post the combined percentages from all poll takers. In other words, it will be anonymous and you will see how many people answered the way you did!
blapolla - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: When you are having a baby why do some people take drug when having a baby?

Eric Wargo: It's a really bad idea to take drugs when pregnant -- besides the effects on the mother, drugs can also affect the baby, and lead to long-term problems. An expecting mother might take drugs if she doesn't know about these risks. Even if she does know the risks, she might not be able to stop taking drugs because of an addiction. But it's possible to be treated for an addiction even when pregnant. 
sb97 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: If marijuana is suposedly so dangerous, why has it been legalized in Colorado and Washington State?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Marijuana has been legalized through a political process, and reflects the votes of the people of those states, but the political process does not consider the potential health consequences.  Other legal drugs, like nicotine in cigarettes, and alchohol, also have significant health risks, and these contribute significantly to our national health bill.  It seems that people would be far smarter to avoid drugs like these that are known to make people sick. 
 
For information about marijuana, check out this page from our teen site: 
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
jmillz - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is marijuana more dangerous if it is grown hydroponically or naturally?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi jmillz
I doubt it: the dangers of marijuana are in direct proportion to the amount of the addictive ingredient (THC) that is present in the plant, we call this its THC content. Now, there are things that growers can do to increase the THC content of the marijuana plant. These manipulations usually involve stressing the plant a little bit. But growing a plant hydroponically or naturally doesn't necessarily tell you how much stress the plants are enduring.
hope this makes sense. this was a good question  
ruben
 
sb97 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Should you report someone who is using/selling drugs, even if it's none of your business?

Joe Frascella: Thanks for your question.  Of course, using and selling are both illegal, not to mention drug using can be harmful to health.  You might want to talk to a counselor for advice. Please see www.drugabuse.gov for further information about drug abuse and addiction.
Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit can have withdrawal symptoms including: irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, making it even harder to quit.
Questions about alcohol? Erin Bryant is here from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism with some straight answers on drinking. Ms. Bryant is a science writer whose interests include health and medicine, distilling things into 140 characters or less, and autotuned PBS celebrities. She holds a master's in journalism and has written for NIH about everything from autism to alcoholism. Her undergraduate degree in studio art was recently validated when her marshmellowy masterpiece was recognized in the Washington Post's annual “Peep Show” contest. Science runs in her family and in the age-old debate of Neil deGrasse Tyson versus Bill Nye, she's decidedly on Team Nye.
betterthanyou - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: where do drugs usually come from?

David Shurtleff: 

Good question!! And the short answer is that it depends. Some drugs are made from plants. For example, marijuana is a plant, cocaine comes from the coca plant and heroin (which is processed from morphine) is extracted from the poppy plant. Other drugs were initially made (or synthesized) in the laboratory (initially for medical purposes). A couple of examples of these ‘synthesized’ drugs are MDMA (ecstasy), LSD and PCP.  Get more information on the origins and effects of different drugs by clicking on:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/term/31/Fact%20Sheets and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.  Keep the questions coming!!!

We have more than forty scientists and science writers waiting to answer your questions. While you are waiting for an answer, check out the Truth Poll on the right hand column of the Chat.
jmillz - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What type of Opiods are there?

Kris Bough: 
Great question! In general, opioids are psychoactive chemical that works by binding to opioid receptors in the body. These receptors are are found principally in the central and peripheral nervous system as well as the gastrointestinal tract and can produce both the good and bad effects of opioid use. 
 
There are several types of opioids. There are: 
  • Natural opiates: alkaloids contained in the resin of the opium poppy -  primarily morphine, codeine, and thebaine.
  • Semi-synthetic opioids: created from either the natural opiates such as hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, 
  • Fully synthetic opioids: such as fentanyl, pethidine, levorphanol, methadone, tramadol and dextropropoxyphene;
  • And, there are endogenous opioid peptides - or peptides that are produced naturally in the body - such as endorphins, enkephalins, dynorphins, and endomorphins. Morphine, and some other opioids, which are produced in small amounts in the body, are included in this category. 
I hope this info is helpful.
joystick411 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is sex addictive

Dave Thomas: hey Joystick..  Good question.  The definition of 'addiction' is  doing something compulsively even though  it causes you  harm.  Clearly illegal drugs can produce addiction. In some cases, sex can fit this definition.   
Heisenburg - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What is the most lethal drug out there today?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Heisenburg! Very interesting question.  All drugs can be lethal, but the most deaths are caused by tobacco.  In fact, the CDC reports that more deaths are caused each year by tobacco than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined! For more information see: 
QuestionAn opioid is a mind-altering chemical that can come from a plant (the opium poppy) or be man-made. Which of these drugs is NOT an opioid?
  1. Vicodin
  2. Morphine
  3. Heroin
  4. Cocaine
D. Cocaine Vicodin, morphine and heroin are opioids, which can slow down most bodily functions, including your breathing and heartbeat. While some opioids---like Vicodin and morphine---are powerful prescription painkillers, they are sometimes abused and not taken as prescribed by a doctor. Cocaine, however, is a central nervous system stimulant - a class of drugs that can produce feelings of energy, power and intense concentration. Both stimulants and opioids can produce a "high" but can also be dangerous, addictive, and in cases of overdose, result in death. (Research Reports: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction )
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why are certain states are legalizing marijuanna, when we know that is has bad consequences. Also do you feel that all states will eventually legalize it?

Susan Weiss: 
Thanks for your question--and I'm so glad that you are aware that marijuana has bad consequences.  Unfortunately not everyone is, and that's part of why it has become legal in some states.  Also, there are organizations (that are well financed) and making a big push for legalization.  At the same time, there are others, like the scientists at NIDA, who try to counter these messages with what we know from our research.  I hope that all states will not eventually legalize marijuana--especially for young people, it can be particularly harmful, affecting your ability to do well in school, to drive safely, and it may even lead to mental health problems.  Please help us spread the word--friends can be much more persuasive than adult authority figures.  
 
Here are some facts for you to use: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Dr. Nancy Pilotte is now joining the chat. She is a neuroscientist whose expertise is in the neuroendocrine aspects of drug abuse (how hormones influence the activity of the brain) and how to identify long-term changes that occur in the brain as a result of exposure to repeated cocaine and its withdrawal. When she is not at work, she enjoys making homemade ice cream, sailing, and making colorful quilts and jewelry.
Now online is Dr. Ericka Boone, who works on science policy issues and educational programs for NIDA. While Dr. Boone is an expert at understanding how drugs affect the brain and behavior, a large part of her work involves translating complex scientific research into everyday language that non-scientists, like high school students and members of Congress, can understand. Dr. Boone was a research scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she conducted research on how chemicals in the brain help to shape the way humans bond with their mates and babies. Dr. Boone recently moved to the Washington, DC area with her very smart, very funny and very handsome old son, Evan.
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what do cuban cigars do?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Cuban cigars are a type of tobacco product and, like cigarettes, contain the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream when a cigar is smoked.  In addition to cancer, smoking causes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and increases the risk of heart disease, including stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and aneurysm. Smoking has also been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia. On average, adults who smoke die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.  Bottom line: steer clear!  Here are more facts about the dangers of tobacco products: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products.
Dr. Joseph Frascella is joining the Chat. He heads up the division of NIDA that deals with a clinical program in neuroscience, human development, and behavioral treatment for drug abuse and addiction. He is a neuroscientist interested in how the brain works, and especially in how the brain is changed by addiction. When he is not thinking about brains, he works on his own addiction to studying and playing the guitar.
Anna G - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I know alot of kids who smoke weed and they are fine, why are people so scared of it? does everybody go through those haesh side affects?

Ruben Baler: 
Hello Anna,
Because some things in life can do a subtle kind of damage that takes years to show up. You may be right that the kids you see using seem 'fine' today, but our research shows that a drug like marijuana perturbs the carefully orchestrated processes in the brain that ensure things like healthy development and your ability to remember and learn things. These effects are subtle and you may 'seem fine', but if you are an adolescent using marijuana you can be sure that you are performing at a suboptimal level, precisely at a stage in your life when you should strive to be in your best possible shape. Would you pay to get 20 points 'LESS' on the SAT?
 
Hope this makes sense to you, because understanding this can really change your life.
good luck to you ande keep asking question 
ruben
 
Dr. Jacqueline Lloyd is a scientist who studies how to help people avoid drug use and abuse, and how to prevent drug-related HIV transmission. Before working at NIDA, Jacqueline worked and taught at a university, did drug prevention trainings, and worked as a social worker. Even though her favorite subjects in school were Spanish and math, Jacqueline always had an interest in “prevention” and discovering what really works to help people. One thing she enjoys about work is helping scientists develop their research ideas, and getting young people interested in science. Outside of work, Jacqueline enjoys traveling and learning new cultures, as well as bike riding, dancing (especially salsa!) and just being outdoors, especially during the summertime.
Heisenburg - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How much cocaine is smuggled into the U.S every year?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi Heisenburg,
 
Great question. This is what we do know: It is estimated that the four major drugs that are smuggled into the United States from Mexico ( i.e. methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana,) generate as much as $22 billion per year for the sources of supply. If you want to know more information about this, please visit the DEA website at: http://www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml.
Pitan - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is it more dangerous to sniff, inject, or smoke a drug?

Dave Thomas: 
No matter how a person takes a drug, he runs the risk of addiction, social, legal, and mental problems. Beyond that, injecting drugs carries the risk of infection, including by hepatitis and HIV (the AIDS virus); smoking drugs such as tobacco and marijuana can cause cancer;  snorting drugs can destroy one's nasal cavity.   
 
Here is some more specific information below.  Hope you find it useful:

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.

www.hiv.drugabuse.gov, with information for young people, parents and teachers about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates.

In addition, the Office of National Drug Control Policy provides additional information specifically for young people. Go to: www.abovetheinfluence.com, for scientific information about illegal drugs and their effects, and 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
MorganG - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why do some people get addicted to drugs more easily than others?

Joni Rutter: Hey MorganG:  Excellent question!  This is a tough one.  Many scientists dedicate their careers to trying to understand this.  What we know now is that it depends on the drug and the person.  Addiction has many sides to it that can make a person vulnerable, such as genetics (e.g., genes that break down drugs can be different across people), environmental (e.g., drug availability; parents using drugs/tobacco/alcohol) and developmental (e.g., age--the younger you are when you try a drug, the more likely you are to abuse it), all of which play important and changing roles in determining how a person becomes addicted.

We know this, though: Once you try drugs, you are at a much higher risk of becoming addicted.  For more information, please check out NIDAs Science of Addiction website.
 
Keep up the good work in school! 
gtremblay - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If people didn't put all of the bad substances in marijuana, could it possibly be used as medicine?

Susan Weiss: That's a very good question--and you are correct that there are some ingredients in marijuana that can be medicinal.  Scientists are working very hard to isolate those chemicals or make other versions of them that will become medicines. What makes them different from marijuana is that mj is a plant--and it contains thousands of chemicals, many of which we know nothing about.  And, of course, smoking anything is bad for your lungs.     
blapolla - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: When you take a drug can it affect your whole body like in seconds?

Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question.  Depending on the drug and the way the drug is taken will determine how quickly it is distributed throughout the body.  The main reason people take drugs is for the effect they have on the brain.  How quickly a drug gets to the brain will determine how quickly the psychological effects are felt...and to do this, a drug gets into the blood and then is carried to the brain. The faster the drug gets into the blood and brain, the more quickly the effect on both the brain and body. For more information about drug abuse and addiction please go to www.drugabuse.gov
Anna G - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I thought Marijuana wasnt aditciting

David Shurtleff: Good morning!! Contrary to popular belief...MJ can be addicting--about 9% of users, 1 in 6 of those who start young, and 25-50% of daily users become addicted. Research also shows that MJ use creates a withdrawal syndrome similar to that of nicotine withdrawal, which can make it hard to quit. People trying to quit report irritability, sleeping difficulties, craving, and anxiety...effects that can last several weeks but will eventually get better. For more information check out this link: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Marijuana.html and our updated teen booklet on marijuana: http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.
The minimum legal drinking age in all states in the U.S. is 21.
760426 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why are you interested in drug abuse?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Walter Johnson High School!  I am a geneticist, and I'm interested in understanding how genes impact how easy it is for someone to become addicted to drugs, and how we as scientists can us that knowledge to help make better treatments for people who have become addicted and need help.  
 
Did you know that drug abuse is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental?  That means that when we study drug abuse, we have to consider both nature and nurture.  And, what I think is most interesting about genetics of drug abuse is that even if you have 'bad genes' the environments you are in can override the genetics, cool!  To learn more about why drug abuse is fun to study, check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Do you think you would be interested in studying drug abuse someday?   
MMI student - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasywhat effect does ectasy have on people? What makes it fun for people to use?

Eric Wargo: Thanks for your question.  Ecstasy (also called MDMA) is a type of drug that has effects similar to both stimulants (like cocaine or meth) and hallucinogens (like LSD). It causes an increase in energy and also causes pleasant sociable feelings--a combination that makes it a popular drug at dance parties. To learn more, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy.
Anna G - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I think that because weed is illgal, kids want to try it more, for the danger. lice the prohibition in the 1920's. and if it becomes legal, people will not be as tempted. what do you think?

Ruben Baler: 
Hola Anna,
 
Deep question here. You have correctly identified one element of the equation. I have to agree with you that making things illegal (in general) will increase their appeal, particularly for young people. On the other hand, we know that increasing the availability of any drug will lead to more use (at least in the short run). So you see these decisions (which are as scientific as political) are not so easy make.
 
good luck to you and keep using your brain.
ruben 
joystick411 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how would you get treatment for useing drugs

Kris Bough: 
Joystick411 - you are asking interesting questions this AM.  The answer is: it depends. It depends on the type of drug and how long it has been used or abused. It's not always easy to know what to do and how you might get help depends on the person/drug used. One way is to begin is to encourage the person abusing drugs to talk to their parents 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, there are tremendous people out there willing to help with available counseling clinics or medications that can be of help (for example, nicotine patch for smoking).
locotaco10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is caffine a harmful drug?

Susan Weiss: It depends on how much you drink. If you drink a lot of it--and some of the energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine, it can make your heart race, can make you anxious or panicky, and can mess up your natural sleep patterns.  In moderation--its probably not harmful.
MorganG - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What's alcohol poisoning and can it kill you?

Shuly Babitz: 
Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much and yes, you can potentially die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol builds up in your bloodstream and can slow down important body processes like breathing and the gag reflex, which prevents you from choking. Even if you have stopped drinking or pass out, alcohol in the stomach and intestine can continue to enter your blood stream and circulate throughout your body. 
Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include:
Mental confusion
Stupor
Coma
Vomiting
Seizures
Slow or irregular breathing
Hypothermia, or low temperature
Bluish skin color
Paleness

If you think someone you know may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, make sure to get help immediately. You can call 911.

ALIAK_0TNEM ! - Croatan High School, North Carolina: WHATS THE WORST POSSIABLE DRUG YOU CAN USE ?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Good Morning. It is important to know that ALL drugs are harmful, except when taken as prescribed by a doctor.  Drugs have negative effects on brain functioning, on one's ability to make good decisions, and on one's health in general.  Below is some information on the effects of specific drugs.  It is important that you and your friends have the FACTS on the negative effects of drugs.  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction
Man Slaughter - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Ever been on www.highdieas.com its a pretty funny stoner blog check it out.

Joni Rutter: 
I'm working from my government computer and I can't access the site.  Have you written a blog?  If so, you might point out some of the facts on marijuana from our drug facts website.  
 
Did you know that marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions?  It alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short-term and long-term effects.  
 
In the short term, marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team.
 
But in the longer term marijuana is addictive. 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 don't believe just what you see on the outside--some of these changes take time to happen, and some people are more likely to have 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. You can read more about marijuana at www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ or http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Have Tried To Help A Friend Stop Using Drugs

Yes 51 percent, no 11 percent, and maybe 38 percent.

932112 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why are drugs so advertised everywhere?

Kris Bough: Good morning ... I am guessing that you are referring to prescription drugs, which are advertised in magazines, billboards, on TV, etc. These medicines are advertised by the pharmaceutical companies in an effort to try to inform the public (and doctors!) about available treatment options for illnesses or diseases.  
smoothie - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Is a huka bad to use?

Marsha Lopez: 
Good morning, smoothie, welcome to chat day!  There is a common misconception that smoking hookah isn't bad for you but it is really just another way of smoking tobacco and we all know that is bad for you.  Research suggests that smoking hookah is associated with all sorts of the same health problems associated with smoking cigarettes such as cancers,  respiratory illnesses, and addiction.  In fact, early results of current research being conducted is revealing that one session of hookah smoking is like smoking multiple cigarettes!  So yes, it is absolutely bad to use.
 
Cocaine users can experience acute blood or brain emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, which can cause sudden death. Joining us now is Dr. Lori Ducharme, a NIDA sociologist, whose expertise is in the organization and management of addiction treatment services, including figuring out ways to get counselors and programs to increase their use of science-supported 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. She can't wait for baseball season to get here.
Hi Lool!!! - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Drugs are mostly found in Afghanistan and how did the drugs spread everywhere around the world???

David Shurtleff: Hi there...just to clarify, poppy plants (which is where heroin comes from) are found moreso in places like Afghanistan, but most drugs do not originate there.  Just as we get all kinds of other products, like cars, food, coffee beans, and more from all over the world, drug distribution is kind of similar.  The biggest difference is that illegal drug trafficking is clandestine, and involves networks from the growers to distributors to the user.  Because it's illegal, the networks operate outside the law and in some cases competing networks may resort to violence to maintain control of the market. Also, because drug trafficking is illegal, there is no 'quality control' like with food, etc, so you never know what you're getting when you use drugs.  Click here for more info and worldwide maps on illegal drug trafficking - http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/index.html.
jcates - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why aren't ALL drugs that aren't for medical reasons illegal?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Well, drugs are anything that you put into your body to make yourself feel better, from aspirin to heart medications. When properly prescribed or used as medications, drugs can be very helpful in improving your health.  Illegal drugs don't work any differently, but there is often no medical reason to use them.  Even drugs that are considered illegal, like cocaine and morphine, have legitimate medical uses as a local anesthetic or for use in the control of pain when used in prescribed dosages.  The thing that makes a drug abused is its inappropriate use (for no medical reason).
Go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction for information about drug abuse and addiction.  For drug-specific information, check our teen site: www.teens.drugabuse.gov
thebobster15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: My best friend of 7 years has smoked cigarettes, smoked marijuana, and has tried other drugs since she was 11. She has dealt with social services, law enforcements, and was sent to a foster home for 3 months. She has been back home for a month and says she's going to change. I love her and don't want her to go back down the same road again but she doesn't want to hear it when I talk to her about drugs. How can I help her?

Lori Ducharme: Hi there, and thanks for your question.  This is a tough one for young people to deal with, but it's great that you're concerned about trying to help your friend. And that's the very first thing you can do -- be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause (see our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov). Next, encourage your friend to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek professional help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk confidentially to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
Some teens think 'over the counter' cough medicine (which can be bought at a drug store without a prescription) are safer to abuse than illegal drugs. But to get high, they need to take high doses, which can be dangerous.
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Is it true that your mental health can be permanently affected from the use of illegal drugs. Also what is the most common metal health issue from drugs?

Ruben Baler: 
hello rbartlett
 
'permanently' is a looong time. So we try to stay away from that term and say instead that the effects of a drug can be long lasting. Now, the effect that most concerns me, aside from addiction, is the cognitive impairment that makes you do things that you would otherwise never do. This impaired decision making can really screw up your life, and in a split second.
 
so be careful, and stay smart.
ruben
 
jcates - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why did CokaCola keep the nickname "Coke"

Dave Thomas: Hey Jcates. Hm, interesting question. Over 100 years ago, Coca-Cola contained coca leaves as an ingredient. It was less of a soda, and more of a 'tonic.'  The coca leaves were removed long ago, but the name remained the same.  Possibly, the company kept the name to hold on to the customers who were used to buying the product under that name.
nathanb1998 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What is the safest drug?

Kris Bough: 
Really, there is never really a 'safe' drug. Drugs - whether prescription or illegal - always produce effects in the body and/or central nervous system that are good and can also be bad. A 'good' medicine, for example, has really been evaluated carefully by the Food & Drug Administration to show that all the 'good' effects of a medicine effectively treat a disease or illness while the 'bad' effects of the drug/medicine are few. This is what makes a safe drug.
 
In terms of drug abuse, there is no 'safe' drug. All drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine (from cigarettes, cigars), marijuana, have the potential for abuse and can produce unsafe consequences throughout the body and brain - and disease over time.  
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how can you get liver failure from alchohol?

Shuly Babitz: 
Drinking is really hard on the liver. 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, which 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.
Pitan II - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How does this chat work? 

Jack Stein: NIDA scientists are gathered together today fielding questions coming in to a central computer. Scientists are assigned the question most suited to their expertise. Their response is posted and off it goes!
thebobster15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: I have smoked marijuana before with my friend, but I haven't for 3 months. I kind of enjoyed how it made me feel but I don't want it to lead me down the wrong road. Is there other ways I can feel that way? Like a natural high?

Susan Weiss: Great question, and glad you've stopped.  Lots of things can give you a natural high, but it's very individual--for some people its listening to music, going dancing, playing sports, going to movies, hanging out with friends...  The trick is to find out what's your passion--and to have fun figuring that out.
To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
Dr. Marsha Lopez's experience runs the gamut from preclinical behavioral pharmacology (giving cocaine to rats) to military medical surveillance, but her current focus is drug epidemiology (the incidence, distribution, or control of a disease within a population) with an interest in polysubstance use and co-occurring psychiatric conditions. While most of Marsha's extended family lives in Argentina, she lives here with Marco (age 8), Gigi (age 5), and their two axolotls Mad Eye and Hermione http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians/axolotl/.
QuestionWhat percentage of people who smoke marijuana every day become addicted?
  1. 5-10%
  2. 80-90%
  3. 25-50%
  4. 60-75%
C. 25-50% It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens) and to 25-50 percent among daily users. (Research Reports: Marijuana Abuse)
taylor12 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Is wheat bad for you?

Ruben Baler: 
 
 
Unfortunately yes. you have to realize that some things in life can do a subtle kind of damage that takes years to show up. Our research shows that a drug like marijuana perturbs the carefully orchestrated processes in the brain that ensure things like healthy development and your ability to remember and learn things. These effects are subtle and you may 'seem fine', but if you are an adolescent using marijuana you can be sure that you are performing at a suboptimal level, precisely at a stage in your life when you should strive to be in your best possible shape. Would you pay to get 20 points 'LESS' on the SAT?
Hope this makes sense to you, because understanding this can really change your life.
good luck to you ande keep asking question
ruben
invisible1245 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Why do teenagers get addicted to drugs faster than adults?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Invisible 1245: This is the best question I've ever gotten on Chat Day, and I've been doing it every year!  You get a gold star :)
 
People who begin using drugs as young teens are at greater risk of becoming addicted compared to those who begin drug use as an adult due because the teenage brain is still growing, like the rest of you! The part of the brain that controls impulses is not fully formed in teenagers. Scientists have shown that the human brain continues to develop until the age of about 25--no other organ in the human body is like this.  Check out one of our NIH scientist's work on this:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/giedd.html
 
Keep asking good questions!
Dr. Denise Pintello is online now. Known as “Denny,” she enjoys working at NIDA and one of her many fascinating jobs in the Office of the Director involves overseeing special initiatives that help make treatment more effective for people struggling with drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd dog, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and traveling to locations to enjoy warm beaches.
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Have are the side effects of Speed balls.

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for the question.  As you probably know, Speedball is a term used for the intravenous use of cocaine with heroin or morphine in the same syringe.  This cocktail of drugs can cause a strong physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine acts as a stimulant, whereas heroin/morphine acts as a depressant. Coadministration is meant to provide an intense rush with a high that is supposed to combine the effects of both drugs, while hoping to reduce the negative effects, such as anxiety, hypertension, palpitations and other common side effects of stimulants and sedation/drowsiness from the depressant. So this combination is kind of a 'push-pull'of stimulant and depressant drugs in the same drug.
 
Taking stimulants with depressants can cause other negative side effects typically associated with the abuse of either one individually, such as a state of general confusion, incoherence, blurred vision, stupor, drowsiness, paranoia, and sleep-deprivation-associated psychosis. The combination can also result in uncontrolled and uncoordinated motor skills, with the risk of excessive arousal and death from stroke, heart-attack, aneurysm, or respiratory failure.

Particularly as the effects of cocaine wear off far more quickly than heroin or morphine, fatal respiratory depression can occur when the cocaine wears off and the full effects of heroin or morphine are felt in isolation.

As you might guess, this combination is dangerous and can be deadly. Please see www.drugabuse.gov for more information.
 
Inhalants prevent the necessary oxygen from reaching the brain, which can damage brain cells.
noah11598 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: does weed make your penis smaller?

Ruben Baler: 
i know of no evidence for this effect of marijuana. However, there is research showing negative effects of chronic or heavy marijuana use on fertility. so I would stay away if I were you.
stay safe and smart.
ruben
 
Dr. Michele Rankin has always been interested in how cells detect what is going on around them and focused her research on special proteins that do just that—G protein coupled receptors. Now Michele works in the Science Policy office where she communicates how NIDA research is tackling the problems associated with drug abuse and finding better ways to prevent them. She is originally from Louisiana and loves cooking healthy Cajun cuisine (gumbo, crawfish etouffee), snow skiing, and traveling.
Get your questions ready for Dr. David Shurtleff ---who serves as NIDA's Acting Deputy Director and provides leadership in the development, implementation, and management of NIDA's research portfolio. Dr. Shurtleff works closely with NIDA's Director, Dr. Nora Volkow, to support and conduct research to improve prevention and treatment of drug use, abuse and addiction. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Shurtleff directed the NIDA division that supports basic biomedical and behavioral science that supports research exploring mechanisms of addiction, drug craving, effects of drugs on behavior and cognition, long-term chronic effects of drugs. In his spare time, he loves playing with his two German Shepherd-mix dogs, outdoor gardening, taking vacations to exotic places, hiking, snorkeling, swimming and playing golf.
thdfert - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: which country uses the most drugs?

Marsha Lopez: Good morning, thdfert!  Drug users across the world have different preferences, often due to availability, and so certain specific drugs are more common in some countries than others.  A European Drug Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction recently put out a report looking at youth drug use across a number of countries (http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/) and unfortunately the US is among the highest on most of those drug indicators except for cigarette and alcohol use.
Eric Wargo is a writer who specializes in making complicated scientific research understandable and enjoyable for non-scientists. He grew up in Colorado, and after graduating from the University of Colorado he moved to Atlanta (where he got a PhD in Cultural Anthropology) and then lived in various places in Europe—including Prague, Warsaw, and Glasgow—before settling in Washington, DC. He lives with two highly intelligent black cats, Cindy and Pete, and in his spare time he enjoys camping, martial arts, and watching old science fiction movies.
blapolla - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why and when did they start drug and why did they start drug? i think it wrong to do.

Eric Wargo: 
People most often start to take drugs when they are in their late teens, but some people start earlier, some later. It depends on a lot of things like whether their friends are taking drugs. The earlier a person starts, the more likely they will be to develop an addiction--you're right, it is a bad idea!
 
The 'why' question has a lot of answers. Some people take drugs to feel better, some to just have a new experience--but many take drugs just to fit in, because others are doing it.  
nathanb1998 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Does weed reduce your sex drive?

Eric Wargo: Interesting question. Lots of studies have been done to answer this question, but the results are conflicting--some studies found that cannabis lowers sex drive, others found that doesn't, or even boosts it. The answer is probably that it just affects every person differently.
IHBP - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Where do people buy powerful drug?

Marsha Lopez: At the drug store...with a doctor's prescription :)
daniandkayla - Croatan High School, North Carolina: If weed kills brain cells why do they give it to Cancer patients that have tumors in their brains?

Susan Weiss: Sadly--you can't target brain tumors with marijuana (plus it doesn't actually kill brain cells--but it alters how they work). 
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can you ever recover form a cocaine addiction?

Lori Ducharme: 

Hi and thanks for your question.  The short answer is yes, but of course it's more complicated than that.  Cocaine is a tough one, but NIDA is working with scientists all over the country to develop effective treatments.  Right now, several behavioral therapies are effective in treating addiction to stimulants, the class of drugs that includes cocaine. These approaches are designed to help the person think differently, change their expectations and behaviors, and increase their skills in coping with various stresses in life. One strategy that is showing positive results in people addicted to either cocaine or methamphetamine is called contingency management, or motivational incentives (MI). These programs reward patients who refrain from using drugs by offering small rewards. MI may be particularly useful for helping patients to initially stop taking the drug and for helping them to stay in treatment.

Currently, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat people who are addicted to stimulants, although that is an active area of research for NIDA.

For more information on cocaine addiction and NIDA's research, visit our teen-friendly website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
Heisenburg - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Can you give an approximation of the number of people who don't get caught dealing with drugs?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi Heisenburg, you're all over this chat!  Nope, I can't give you that approximation, not even sure how I would know such a number.  But I could go ahead and guess that most people who deal drugs eventually get caught. Thanks for asking though, keep 'em coming!
Studies estimate that tobacco and alcohol use together are responsible for 80% of throat and mouth cancer in men, 65% of throat and mouth cancer in women, and 25-30% of all liver cancers.
betterthanyou - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: would it be possible to stop using drugs if you have used it for like 15 years?

David Shurtleff: Good morning! It's ALWAYS possible to quit. Personally, I have a family member that used drugs and alcohol for many, many years, and sought treatment 5 years ago and has been clean since then (thankfullyl!)! But...back to your question, yes, it's definitely possible, but if someone has been using that long, chances are that they are addicted, so it may be hard for them to quit on their own or go 'cold turkey'. That's because drugs change the brain in a way that makes a person crave and want to seek drugs...once they stop using, even for a short time, they can have withdrawal symptoms that can be mild or quite severe and this may make people use again (or relapse). If someone you know is trying to quit using drugs, they should talk to their doctor. They can help them by providing help with how to quit drugs, including giving advice, and in some cases, medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms (for example, Chantix for smoking). Most importantly, their doctor can also help them find treatment facilities near them. In treatment, people can learn how to recognize triggers that may make them want to use, manage stress in their lives and teach them how to quit for good! For more information about treatment facilities click on - http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/, or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for advice and more!
Dr. Dave Thomas has joined the chat. He is an expert on pain and analgesia, where he promotes the development of new pain treatments that have little potential to produce addiction. This is especially important for teens, since sometimes they take prescription pain killers without a doctor’s prescription. He also loves “cool science.” For example, he has promoted the use of virtual reality as a treatment and research tool. Outside of work, Dave is a pastel painter, and has shown his work at galleries in the Washington-Baltimore area. Dave loves to play Frisbee Golf at his cabin in the woods of Pennsylvania. His dogs, Rex and Zoe, love to tag along with Dave in the woods.
laiwaqa - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how much marijuana must be smoked in order to overdose?n

Susan Weiss: 
the good news is you probably can't overdose on it; the bad news is that it can harm you by putting you in risky situations--driving while high about doubles your risk of being in an accident, and if combined with even a little bit of alcohol--the risk is even greater.
 
for more info on mj, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how do you get hallucinations from drugs?

Joe Frascella: 
There is a certain class of drugs called hallucinogens. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug. This interaction with the serotonin system in the brain results in hallucinations.
 
More specifically, hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used—mostly during religious rituals—for centuries. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters (e.g., acetylcholine-, serotonin-, or catecholamine-like). While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.
 
locotaco10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why do rappers talk about smoking weed all the time and arent arrested?

Ruben Baler: 
because of the first amendment, which guarantees their fundamental right to free speech.
but you can strike back and exercise your fundamental right to not listen!
 
stay safe  
Pitan II - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why did people think smoking was good for you in the early 20th century?

Nancy Pilotte: Great question!  Smoking was really popular early in the 20th century, with nearly 50% of the population using tobacco products. People thought they looked 'cool,' that smoking made them mentally sharper, and helped them control their weight.  Interestingly, nicotine interacts with certain cholinergic receptor proteins in your brain and this interaction is thought to improve cognitive abilities;  certain drugs that are prescribed for early Alzheimer's Disease are nicotine-like.  But that is not enough of an advantage to put your health at risk for other diseases like lung cancer. Today, only about 23% of the population smokes, and this is because smoking has become unattractive, a very expensive habit, and the potential bad effects on your health are widely known.  I hope that you are in the majority of people who do not smoke! Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.
gieguy10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why do people start smoking weed in High School and Middle School if everyone is always telling them not to do it?

Joe Frascella: Great question...but I am thinking that you might be better able to answer that question better than I can!  Why do kids do things that are dangerous, even when they know the consequences could be negative?  One thing we know from research is that middle school and high school students are really good at minimizing consequences. For more information please see www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
flamersdude918 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what is heroin

Eric Wargo: 
Heroin is very addictive drug that is made from a kind of poppy seed. It produces powerful relaxation but can cause a person to stop breathing, which is why it is so dangerous. It is usually injected, snorted, or smoked. 
 
To learn more, see our DrugFacts on heroin.
Today we have scientists from our sister Institute---the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA.) So if you have questions about the effects of alcohol---now is the time to ask!
REW90 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What are a few types of inhalants and what do they do?

Eric Wargo: 
Lots of cleaners, glues, markers, and other chemicals found in the home can affect your brain if you inhale them. Examples are spray aerosols, lighter fluid, and rubber cement. Most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication but lasts only a very brief time--a few seconds or minutes. If sufficient amounts are inhaled, nearly all solvents and gases produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness, and can have even worse effects. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). 
We'd like to introduce Jennifer Katt to the Chat. Jennifer has been a professional writer for about 20 years, specializing in making highly technical or scientific jargon accessible by general lay audiences. She began her career as a magazine writer, worked several years with a small communications firm, and in 1994 started her own successful communications business. She joined NIDA in 2005 as a science writer, lending her skills to the variety of publications NIDA develops for different audiences. She has 4 kids, ages 17–31, and enjoys playing guitar, watching her son perform with his drumline, and doing triathlons in the summer.
Laura Thomas went to Wellesley High School in Wellesley, MA. She then went to Vassar College where she majored in psychology. She almost became a professional flutist, but decided to go study the brain instead. After living in New York City for two years she went to Duke University for graduate school in cognitive neuroscience. There she discovered her love of college bball, go Blue Devils! She has a sweet rescue dog named Chewy who she calls a distinguished gentleman, since he's around 15 years old and has an adorable gray face.
daniandkayla - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what is the most dangerous type of drugs

Kris Bough: 
Hi daniandkayla: There is really no safe drug. All drugs - even those prescribed by your doctor! - can be dangerous if not taken properly (e.g., prescription opiates). In terms of drugs of abuse, which is also known as substance abuse, is a repeated use of a drug in which the user consumes the drug in amounts or with methods neither approved nor supervised by a medical doctor. Substance abuse/drug abuse is not limited to mood-altering or psycho-active drugs. If an activity is performed using the objects against the rules and policies of the matter (as in steroids for performance enhancement in sports), it is also called substance abuse. Therefore, mood-altering and psychoactive substances are not the only types of drugs abused. Using illicit drugs – narcotics, stimulants, depressants (sedatives), hallucinogens, cannabis, even glues and paints, are also considered to be classified as drug/substance abuse. Substance abuse often includes problems with impulse control and impulsive behavior. One way to visualize this is a figure from Wikipedia (below), which provides the following scale to show harm of drugs of abuse. Hope this info is helpful.
 
File:Rational scale to assess the harm of drugs (mean physical harm and mean dependence).svg 
love - Croatan High School, North Carolina: why do peole think drugs are bad? they are a get away kids say?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Love,
Good question.
 
People have plenty of good reasons to say drugs are bad. Drugs impair health and the ability to perform in school, on the job, and in society. For fuller information, check out 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.
 
People abuse drugs for many reasons, and escape from problems or boredom is one of them. However, the escape is only temporary:  when the drug wears off, the person is right back where they started, or in a worse situation.  The world is a really rich place:  there are millions of more interesting things than getting high, and millions of ways to really solve problems, rather then making them worse with drugs.
 
Dave 

Max - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Can we die when we smoke marijuana ?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Lots of great questions from Walter Johnson High School this morning.  I am hoping that dying from marijuana is not your goal!  As far as I know, no one has actually died from smoking marijuana directly. But this drug can slow your reaction times a lot, and people who drive after or while smoking this are more likely to get into accidents, and some auto accidents have been known to be fatal.  Operating heavy machinery under the influence of marijuana is also very risky.  Here is more info about marijuana from our teen site:
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
hello127 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: How do you get high off of weed brownies?

Joe Frascella: 
You can get high the same way as smoking marijuana.  That is, because there is marijuana (and the active drug, THC) in the brownie, it is absorbed into the blood from your digestive system (instead of from your lungs when it is smoked).  When the THC is taken to the brain by the blood, it causes the 'psychoactive' effects leading to the high.
 
Experimentation with cocaine can be deadly- literally. Sudden death can occur on or after the first use of cocaine. It doesn't happen often---but it does happen.
noah11598 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how much money is made by an average drug dealer a year

Ruben Baler: 
I really wouldn't know, but it is reasonable to assume that you can make quite a lot of dough (for a while), at least judging from shows like 'braking bad' or 'the wire'. But if you saw those shows you will also understand, fairly quickly, that all that income comes at a very hefty price to you and your community. It is just not worthy.
 
ruben 
bigkissses101 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: is rehab fun

Lori Ducharme: Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of 'fun.'  Rehab (a word commonly used to refer to any kind of substance abuse treatment) can involve many different things, and while it's not punishment, it's definitely hard work.  How much and what kind of treatment a person needs depends on the drugs they've been using, how often, and how it has affected their brain and their ability to function.  And that's the really not-fun part: drugs can do significant damage to a person's brain, and that takes lots of time to recover. A variety of science-based treatment approaches (many of them developed through NIDA-funded research) are available to help people recover from drug addiction. These include a number of FDA-approved medications, as well as behavioral therapies (counseling) that address both the addiction and its physical and social consequences. Most of these treatments are available in treatment programs in communities throughout America (http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/) but also from primary care doctors. To learn more about the best available treatments for drug abuse, you can check out our publication, 'Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment,' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html. I hope this helps!
blapolla - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why do people make drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey blapolla,
Well, drug companies make drugs as medicines to help people (and make some money, of course).  People who make illegal drugs of abuse are pretty much motivated by making money, even if the drugs hurt the people who use them.
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Can you tell me what speed balls are and why they are so dangerous

Nancy Pilotte: 
Hello New Hampshire!  Speedball is a combination of heroin and cocaine and this is a combination that can kill you.  Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and in the body), especially those involved in the perception of pain and in reward. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem—important for automatic processes critical for life, such as breathing (respiration), blood pressure, and arousal. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of respiration.  Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that not only affects your brain, but also speeds up your heart, increases your blood pressure, and heats up your brain.  The combination can have fatal consequences.
This link will take you to more information about the impact of drugs on the brain and body:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
 
love - Croatan High School, North Carolina: why do you think that children go to drugs as an outlet?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 

Hello there. Thanks for your great question. There are a number of reasons why people use drugs. Some reasons might include to feel good or feel better, curiosity, peer pressure, being in places where drugs are easy to access, and using drugs as an outlet for frustrations. Drug use doesn't solve any of the problems that drive children to use them in the first place. Knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful is important. For more information on youth and drug use, see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

ROCKET - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what is the most addictive drug?

Nancy Pilotte: Cigarettes.  They are used by a lot of people (23% of the population), and are notoriously difficult to quit.
It takes teens fewer drinks than adults to feel the same effects. Kids who drink alcohol are not only breaking the law, but they also risking dangerous and sudden consequences, such as alcohol poisoning.
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how do you get high off of marijuana,tobacco,crack,etc.

David Shurtleff: 
Thanks for the question Kingswood!  Smoking, injecting or snorting a drug gets it to the brain within seconds (really quick!), making it very potent and more addictive.This causes a really quick and large increase in the brain chemical dopamine (which is associated with pleasure and addiction). This is also what is associated with the 'rush' and 'high' associated with using drugs in this way. Getting this quick 'high feeling' can also increase the likelihood that a person will use the drug again...which of course increases the likelihood of addiction. For more information on how drugs affect the brain, click on  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
Drugs and the Brain
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
tarbuck - Croatan High School, North Carolina: can tobacco effect someones personality?

Cindy Miner: Sure can!  Tobacco contains the chemical nicotine, which is very addicting.  It's one of the reasons people keep smoking even though most don't want to.  And have you ever met someone who is trying to quit?  They can be very moody, agitated...not like themselves at all.  That is what experts call withdrawal!
SLENDERMAN - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What does bath salts do to your brain?

Ruben Baler: 
 Thanks for the question Slenderman,  
Bath salts often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals. Mephedrone among them is of particular concern because it presents a high risk for overdose. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes called cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high abuse and addiction liability. Bath salts have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also confer a high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of 'bath salts' are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous.
 
In short, its like pouring water on an electronic board, sparks and short circuits everywhere. Your brain stops working as it is supposed.
 
stay away from this stuff and stay safe
good luck
ruben
 
Today is the 4th day of National Drug Facts Week. Schools and other groups from all fifty states are holding events. After the Chat, check out http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/ to learn about all of the events---and see if there are any near you!
40008428 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what happens when marijuana enters the body?

Joe Frascella: 

When marijuana is smoked, THC (the active drug in marijuana) rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.

However if it is ingested, THC acts upon specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC called endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. These are naturally occurring in the body and are part of a neural communication network (the endocannabinoid system) that plays an important role in normal brain development and function.

The highest density of cannabinoid receptors is found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana overactivates the endocannabinoid system, causing the high and other effects that users experience. These include distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory. Please see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana for more information.

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Have Friends Who Try To Talk Me Into Smoking Marijuana

Yes 28 percent, no 50 percent, and maybe 22 percent.

daniandkayla - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Whats the worst type of drug?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Good Morning. It is important to know that ALL drugs are harmful, except when taken as prescribed by a doctor. Drugs have negative effects on brain functioning, on one's ability to make good decisions, and on one's health in general. Here is a link to some information on the effects of specific drugs. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts It is important that you and your friends have the FACTS on the negative effects of drugs. 
ciara123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: whats the worst alchohol you could drink?

Shuly Babitz: 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/
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: isnt cocaine good for you, cause it helps you lose weight?

Jen Katt: No, cocaine is a dangerous and illegal stimulant that carries many risks, including strokes, heart attacks, even death.  There are much healthier ways to lose weight--like eating healthy and exercise. Check out:

www.teens.drugabuse.gov, NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

carly m - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Who/what are the effects of drugs tested on?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Carly!  Great question!  When scientists do research on effects of drugs, they examine those effects all sorts of ways.  Some scientists test cells in a small dish called a petri dish.  They put different drugs of abuse on cells to see what happens to them.  Other scientists use animals, such as fruit flies, worms, rats and mice--even spiders!  Using animals helps scientists do tests that can't be done in humans, because the the scientists can control all aspects of the study.
 
Check out this cool work from scientists who study drug affects on spiders making webs!  
 
If drugs have these dramatic effects on how spiders make web, imagine what those drugs can do to your brain-- YIKES!
 
Scientists also do studies in humans, though, called epidemiological studies.  They ask people who have taken drugs to volunteer and help the scientists understand the consequences of drug abuse.  To learn more about the science of drug addiction, check out this site:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
 
Keep asking great questions Carly! 
spider web on speed
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Shashank - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Does caffine stunt growth?

Ruben Baler: 
There is no evidence that caffeine affects growth.
but keep caffeine intake at reasonable levels; we are only beginning to investigate what might be the effects of regularly drinking the large doses of caffeine one can find now in some energy drinks.
 
stay safe and good luck
ruben 
Dr. Nicolette Borek is a clinical psychologist at the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where she works on the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. The PATH Study will include adults and 17,000 youth (12-17) from all over the U.S. It will examine many topics related to tobacco use and health including why people start using tobacco, what tobacco products people use, and how people quit. Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Borek worked at NIDA with research on the long-term development of children and teens exposed to drugs of abuse (including nicotine) during their mom's pregnancy. Dr. Borek also worked with youth and adults with substance use and mental health disorders. When not working, Nicolette likes to run, do yoga, take pictures, hang out with friends and family and travel.
*DN* - Croatan High School, North Carolina: What makes tobacco so hard to quit, long-term?

Cindy Miner: You are right it is very hard to quit smoking. That is because smoking is not just a bad habit, it is an addiction.  Tobacco contains one of the most addicting substances....nicotine.  Good news, even though its hard, people can quit.  Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
Pitan II - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why do lots of athletes take/get addicted to drugs?

Susan Weiss: Athletes sometimes take drugs because they think it will improve their performance (steroids, for example).  And in fact they can improve some types of performance -- in the short run, but at a big cost.  Not only is it cheating--as I'm sure you've heard a lot about lately, especially since Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancers throughout his cycling career, but there are also serious health risks associated with taking these drugs.  With steroids, they have to be taken at very high doses, which can put people at risk for heart disease, cancer and other health problems.  Also, because steroids are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone they can wreak havoc on your body's sexual characteristics. In females--steroids can lower their voice, cause hair growth in places you wouldn't want it, and produce severe acne.  In males, they can actually be feminizing; and in all youth it can't stunt your growth.  And that's just the short list. 
sarah_ravens39 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: about what percentage of people do drugs

Lis Robertson: 
It depends on age.  There are 2 major substance abuse studies that track the percentage of people who use drugs.  The Monitoring the Future study tracks drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the US.  The National Household Study of Drug Use and Health tracks drug use among youth beginning at age 12 and continues into old age.  Both of these studies produce yearly reports by age on a wide variety of drugs of abuse.  here are the links to those 2 studies:
mahaar - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I have a friend who used to be a sweet, shy, innocent girl. She now acts like a stupid blonde who only wants to have sex. I talked to her for a while and she eventually completely opened up. I found out that she was forced into a gang, raped, forced into drug use and forced to become a drug dealer. I think that she is addicted to the drug, she is afraid to leave the gang, dump her abusive "boyfriends" or let down her intimidating clients for fear that they may hurt her. How can I help help her?

Lori Ducharme: Wow, your friend has got a lot of issues going on here. It's great that you're being a concerned friend and trying to help her. And that's the very first thing you can do -- be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause (see our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov). Next, encourage your friend to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend.  There are some complicated legal issues here as well, so trust is a really important factor.  If she doesn't feel comfortable doing that but is ready to seek help, then you can check out treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk confidentially to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, start by be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
*DN* - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Dear Dr. Marsha Lopez, I love your axolotls' names!! Huge HP fan... :) and on a more serious note, what is polysubstance use?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey *DN* I will let my kids know you like their choice of pet name :)! You ask a fantastic question and one that we struggle with to define ourselves. Generally polysubstance use means using more than one drug (including alcohol), but whether it means co-ingestion (taking at the same time) or being a user of multiple types of drugs across one evening or other period of use or using different types of drugs at different times - all of that depends on how the researcher is defining it.
What is important to know is that polysubstance use is pretty dangerous because some drugs interact with each other in ways you might not expect and these users are more likely to end up in emergency rooms with overdose and other adverse events.
Many people think that abusing prescription drugs is safer that abusing illicit drugs. This is not necessarily true. For example, opioid painkillers act on the same sites in the brain as heroin!
Dr. Cindy Miner is one of your CHAT DAY scientists this year. She is the Associate Director of the Office of Science at the Center for Tobacco Products. The Center for Tobacco Products is almost 4 years old and is therefore the newest Center at the Food and Drug Administration. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Colorado and joined the Center in 2011. At CTP, she helps to communicate tobacco research information that goes out to other scientists, to doctors and nurses, and to the public. Dr. Miner went to George Washington High School (in Denver) where she played on the tennis team, loved history and English, and of course--the gym class. She played summer softball and was metro area all-star as well as playing on a traveling tournament team. (In fact she still plays softball!) As a teenager, she also loved biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, and camping in the Colorado Mountains—in fact, she has climbed most of the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado. Cindy has two dogs—Portuguese Water Dogs, and she continues to enjoy many outdoor activities--including biking, hiking, skiing, kayaking, sailing, softball, and volleyball, and she is also an excellent golfer.
1212 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how long does it take to die from drugs

Jen Katt: Well, although people do overdose on drugs and so die instantly in some cases, it's really not possible to suggest a timeframe for dying from drugs.  Sometimes, as with some cigarette smokers, people develop long-lasting illnesses, such as lung cancer, which they can eventually die from.   Check out:

www.teens.drugabuse.gov, NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: In New Hampshire you can not involuntarily commit someone to drug rehab if they do not want to go even if you call the police. How would you suggest you get someone to go to rehab if they do not want to go and they are starting to affect their family's lives?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for your question.
 
I would encourage them to stop using drugs by having them become 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.

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://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.

More information about drug treatment can be found at: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ . Take care of yourself and remember you can't make your friend stop using drugs - you can only support them.


For more information on treatment, check out:hhttp://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.
smoothie - Croatan High School, North Carolina: how would you know if you have ADD or ADHD?

Kris Bough: Smoothie - good morning. The answer to your question is that you would generally need to be diagnosed by a health care professional. They would go work with you to go through a checklist of symptoms that typically are affiliated with ADHD such as impulsiveness, hyperactivity, ability to get easily distracted, etc. (a list of these symptoms can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition - e.g., http://behavenet.com/diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-mental-disorders-fourth-edition-text-revision). Hope this helps ...
sarajo1313 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Why do people do drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Good morning.  This is a really good and important question.  A common related question is 'Why do people try or use drugs when they know it is bad for them?' Well, there are a number of reasons why people might try drugs. Some reasons include because they think it will make them feel good, perform better or simply because there is an opportunity, they are curious, or are pressured by their peers.  Drug use does not solve these problems.  Unfortunately, just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs. For more information and resources on youth drug use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
932112 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how effective are they to effect someones mobilty

David Shurtleff: Hi WJ! If by mobility you mean motor function a lot of drugs can impair how you coordinate your movements, from walking, to talking, to driving, and more!  That's because drugs affect areas of your brain, like the cerebellum, that control the coordination of motor function.  So, you probably won't see a professional baseball player out at bat and drunk out of their minds...not only would they probably not be able to hit the ball, but they wouldn't be able to get out of the way of a wild pitch in enough time not to get wacked in the head!  Their reaction time, motor coordination and timing are all out of whack!  Same goes for driving, drugs affect how you drive because of their effects on your ability to be able to coordinate your movements, judge distance and more.  Be careful out there!   
noah11598 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: were can you find substance treatment

Lori Ducharme: Hi there.  There are thousands of drug abuse treatment programs available in communities across the country -- some of them just for adolescents.  You can look them up online at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/, or you can call 1-800-662-HELP.  
Airhead167 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why were drugs actually created, didn't the inventors know what it could do to you?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question,
 
Lots of drugs of abuse were not actually invented. Cocaine comes from the coca leaf, cigarettes come from the tobacco plant, marijuana come from the marijuana plant.
 
When people started using these drugs, they may not have known they were harmful, or may not have known as much about the harm as we know now. For example, people have smoked tobacco for centuries, but it was only in the 1950s that epidemiologists established that they cause cancer. Similarly, we are much more aware of cocaine's addictive and negative health effects than people were 100 years ago.
 
Other drugs are created by drug companies in laboratory for medical purposes, but people abuse them (e.g. pain killers).  Other 'designer' drugs are created in laboratories for the purpose of selling to people for abuse purposes. In these cases, the motivation no doubt is to make money.
932112 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why are drugs easily sold to people in stores?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Do you mean medications you can purchase in DRUGSTORES?  Drugs are agents that you take to make yourself feel better (to improve your health), and they range from aspirin to heart medicine.  Some are sold over-the-counter (acetominophen, ibuprofen, cough medicine, nicotine gum for smoking cessation) and others require prescriptions (diabetes medications, antibiotics, prescription medications for arthritis, and others).  The important thing to remember here is that when they are sold in drugstores/pharmacies, they are regulated and formulated to help and protect the user when taken at the recommended doses.  The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does a good job in regulating these to keep you healthy.  
Also remember that you should not share medications prescribed to you by your doctor and you should always use them as the doctor directed.  Check out PEERx, our campaign about prescription drug abuse:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/our-projects/peerx.
noah11598 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: if you are in car and high are you driving under the influence?

Joe Frascella: Yes, if you are high and driving, you are definitely considered to be under the influence. See www.teens.drugabuse.gov for more information.
123456789 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how long does weed stay in your system?

Susan Weiss: Depends--if you smoke it a lot, then it can be detected in your urine even weeks after you last used it.  Most of the mind-altering effects disappear within a few hours, but even the day after using it, you still will not be at your best--especially if you have to do something challenging like taking a test or competing in an athletic event.  The main active ingredient in marijuana--called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) gets taken up by fat cells and is released slowly over time, which is why it (or its breakdown products) can be detected for a long time after use.  There are also a lot of differences between people in how marijuana is broken down by the body.
locotaco10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is epinefiren (synthetic adrenaline) addictive or harmful?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi loctaco10 (i like your name)
 
Epinephrine is a life-saving medication in the treatment of anaphylaxis. I wouldn't recommend abusing epinephrine. the reported cases of accidental epinephrine injection suggest awful consequences, including death and finger amputation, mainly due to the vasoconstriction caused by adrenaline.
 
not something you want to mess around with.
 
stay safe and smart
ruben 
noah11598 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is the safest drug?

Kris Bough: 
Really, there is never a 'safe' drug. Drugs - whether prescription or illegal - always produce effects in the body and/or central nervous system that are good and can also be bad. A 'good' medicine, for example, has really been evaluated carefully by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to show that all the 'good' effects of a medicine effectively treat a disease or illness while the 'bad' effects of the drug/medicine are few. This is what makes a safe drug.
 
Regarding other drugs of abuse, there is no 'safe' drug. All drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine (from cigarettes, cigars), marijuana, have the potential for abuse and can produce unsafe consequences throughout the body and brain - and disease over time. So - the bottom line is to avoid drugs so that you don't have to worry about it!
troll man - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how long does it take to drop a addiction

Lori Ducharme: Unfortunately the answer to this question is 'it depends.'  It depends on the drugs they've been using, how often, how long, how it has affected their brain and functioning, and how soon they seek treatment. A variety of science-backed treatment approaches (many of them developed through NIDA-funded research) are available to help people recover from drug addiction. These include a number of FDA-approved medications, as well as behavioral (counseling) therapies that address both the addiction and its physical and social consequences. Most of these treatments are available in treatment programs in communities throughout America (www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov) but also from your doctor. To learn more about the best available treatments for drug abuse, you can check out our publication, Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment, at http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html. I hope this helps!
If you know someone who has recently quit smoking or is trying to quit, you can share these facts with them: http://smokefree.gov/ . Above all, be sure to let them know you're proud of their decision to become smoke-free.
ROCKET - Croatan High School, North Carolina: At what age does your matabalism start to slow down?

Kris Bough: This is a great question, ROCKET! Really, it would depend on a lot of factors. In terms of metabolic rate, once you reach adulthood, it would potentially depend on several diverse factors such as your gender, diet and - most importantly - the level of regular physical activity. A person's resting metabolic rate generally is responsible for accounts for ∼60–75% of daily energy expenditure. Keep up your exercise! 
jmillz - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How long do highs last?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Not long.  The thing about a high is that it is fleeting, and is related to how quickly the drug you took gets to your brain and then how quickly it is metabolized, or broken down by your body.  Many drugs of abuse have a very short action, minutes or less.  Is it worth the risk?
 
Our teen blog has some interesting posts about a healthy brain and body:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/category/healthy-minds-and-bodies 
Wow! We are impressed by these great questions---we are answering them as fast as we can!
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What are the emerging drugs?

Marsha Lopez: 
Good morning, rbartlett, thanks for your question.  The list of emerging drugs is quite dynamic and we often see drugs cycle in and out of favor.  The internet isn't always the best source of accurate information on emerging drugs, but NIDA has a Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) which is a network composed of researchers from major US cities and some foreign countries.  They meet twice a year to discuss what is going on in their communities and describe the nature and patterns of drug abuse, emerging trends, and consequences.  You can check out their reports on NIDA's website to see what's going on at any given time at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/workgroups-interest-groups-consortia/community-epidemiology-work-group-cewg
Brack1017 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people still smoke when they know their lungs are nearly destroyed?

Cindy Miner: That's a good question - doesn't seem to make any sense, does it? The thing is, smoking is a more than just a habit - it's an addiction. Tobacco contains one of the most addicting substances - nicotine. The good news is, even though its hard, people can quit.  Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
laxlover21 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: why is it illegal to use steroids?

Ruben Baler: 
hello laxlover21 
 
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are usually synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone. They do have legitimate medical uses. Sometimes doctors prescribe them to help people with certain kinds of anemia and men who don't produce enough testosterone on their own. But doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles. Without a prescription from a doctor, anabolic steroids are illegal because they can cause serious health problems. for example:
 
  • For guys—shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and increased risk for prostate cancer
  • For girls—growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and a permanently deepened voice
  • Steroid abuse can also have an effect on behavior. Many users report feeling good about themselves while on anabolic steroids, but researchers report that extreme mood swings also can occur, including manic-like symptoms leading to violence. This is because anabolic steroids act in a part of the brain called the limbic system, which influences mood.

Steroids can also lead to other changes in mood, such as feelings of depression or irritability. Depression, which can be life threatening, often is seen when the drugs are stopped and may contribute to the continued use of anabolic steroids. Researchers also report that users may suffer from paranoia, jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

Also, in the context of sports competitions, the use of banned performance enhancing drugs raises serious ethical issues of fairness.  
 
good luck
 
be safe and be smart
 
ruben 

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Have Had Someone Offer Me a Prescription Painkiller When I Had No Pain

Yes 65 percent, no 32 percent, and maybe 3 percent.

blapolla - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why do people drink but they know how bad it is for them ?

Shuly Babitz: There are lots of reasons people drink.  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.
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What are bath salts?

Lis Robertson: 
 
 Hi rbartlett
Bath salts are synthetic chemicals (called synthetic cathinones) that were legal to purchase until just last year but are very dangerous. They contain various amphetamine-like chemicals that can cause high stimulation and agitation, and even hallucinations. Many people are also ending up in poison control centers after overdosing on these chemicals. Synthetic cathinones act in the brain like stimulant drugs (indeed they are sometimes called cocaine substitutes); thus they present a high risk for abuse and addiction. Bath salts have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users, and clinical reports from other countries appear to corroborate their addictiveness. They can also put a person at high risk for other medical adverse effects. Some of these may be linked to the fact that, beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the contents of 'bath salts' are largely unknown, which makes the practice of abusing them, by any route, that much more dangerous.
Liz
REW90 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Can you die if you smoke marijuana once?

Ruben Baler: 
not directly, but you could become decision impaired and drive your car into a tree or become infected with HIV. Think about it.
 
be safe and be smart
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why do people do illegal drugs?

David Shurtleff: 

Wow...so many questions from Kingswood...great!  The short answer to your question is Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good!  For more information on how drugs affect the brain, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

Drugs and the Brain
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
madiscantabs444 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Why do people sell, buy, and snort bath salts

Jen Katt: People sell bath salts to make money.  Sadly, they don't care about the dangerous effects and risks they pose to people who buy them to get high.  Bath salts are growing public health and safety issue. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts.
bath salts
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
dy - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what does steroids do

Joe Frascella: Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone. “Anabolic” refers to muscle-building, and “androgenic” refers to increased male sexual characteristics. “Steroids” refers to the class of drugs. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS.

Some people, both athletes and non-athletes, abuse AAS in an attempt to enhance performance and/or improve physical appearance. AAS are taken orally or injected, typically in cycles rather than continuously. “Cycling” refers to a pattern of use in which steroids are taken for periods of weeks or months, after which use is stopped for a period of time and then restarted. In addition, users often combine several different types of steroids in an attempt to maximize their effectiveness, a practice referred to as “stacking.”

The immediate effects of AAS in the brain are mediated by their binding to androgen (male sex hormone) and estrogen (female sex hormone) receptors on the surface of a cell. This AAS–receptor complex can then shuttle into the cell nucleus to influence patterns of gene expression. Because of this, the acute effects of AAS in the brain are substantially different from those of other drugs of abuse. The most important difference is that AAS are not euphorigenic, meaning they do not trigger rapid increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for the “high” that often drives substance abuse behaviors. However, long-term use of AAS can eventually have an impact on some of the same brain pathways and chemicals—such as dopamine, serotonin, and opioid systems—that are affected by other drugs of abuse. Considering the combined effect of their complex direct and indirect actions, it is not surprising that AAS can affect mood and behavior in significant ways.

Hope this is helpful. For a good description of steroids, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php.
JKLOLROFL - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What percent of teenagers do drugs in the U.S?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi JKLOLROFL, thanks for your question!  According to the University of Michigan's 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey about 13% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 40% of 12th graders say they have used a drug at least once in the past year.  You can look at all sorts of information on youth drug use at their website, and even look at breakdowns of individual drug types- check it out!
 
REW90 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What do Bathsalts do?

Jen Katt: The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria, but some users also experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
bath salts
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SLENDERMAN - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Can someone die from smoking once?

Cindy Miner: Probably not, if you just try it once.  I know I tried a cigarette once...hated it, and I'm still around.  But some people can't stop at just one...that's where you get into trouble.  If you continue to use, you are exposing yourself to all the chemicals in smoke that can lead to cancer, pulmonary problems and lead to a lifetime of addiction.
Shashank - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How do you know if your an addict?

Lori Ducharme: 

There are questions people can ask to assess whether or not a person has a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:

  1. Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
  2. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
  3. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
  4. Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
  5. Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
  6. Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
To learn more about drug addiction, visit our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
Regular heroin users develop a tolerance to the drug. This means their 'high' gets less strong, and more heroin is needed to achieve the same effect. But---taking more heroin increases the risk of addiction and overdose.
Pitan 3 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How is alcohol classified as a drug?

Shuly Babitz: Drugs are substances that alter how we think and feel and alcohol does just that. Something does not need to be illegal to be considered a drug. Alcohol can be a very dangerous drug, particularly for teenagers. Any amount of drinking can be dangerous for teenagers and drinking for anyone under age 21 is illegal.
Anna G - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is the most common age of drug users?

Marsha Lopez: 
Good morning, Anna.  The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health tells us that young adults roughly between the ages of 18-20 report the most drug use (see picture below).  You can look at other results from this fascinating survey at http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm
Figure 2.4 
noah11598 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: if weed is legalized could it possibly raise the economy becouse of how much come across the border a year

Susan Weiss: That's an interesting question--and its an argument that people make in favor of legalization.  But the truth is we don't really know, because you have to take into account the costs of making it legal--for example, we may see increases in car wrecks, since mj about doubles the risk of accidents; also more people needing treatment for addiction; decreased productivity in the workplace and lots more.  Alcohol and tobacco are highly taxed items, but the costs associated with the health problems they create far outnumber the money that is brought in through taxes.  
peter.c12 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: when you grow marijuana hydroponically does it become more potent than grown naturally

Nancy Pilotte: 
'Potency' refers how much of an effect you get from the drug per unit dose (when doses of the same weight are compared), and this is related to the components of the plant itself.  This means that some plants naturally have more of certain compounds than other plants, even though they are both marijuana.  The potency, or strength, is determined genetically, not by growing conditions.  And this refers to both the 'desired' effect of the drug as well as its bad or adverse effects.   
We have more information on marijuana on our teen site at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
 
goredspj19 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Which drug has the worst effect on the body?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Gore,
 
Smoking kills the most people. Alcohol and opiates also cause many deaths. Here's a link to a poster that depicts some of the other ways drugs harm the body:
 
lalaa72 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Im addicted to cocaine what do i do

Lori Ducharme: 
Hello lalaa72, recovering from cocaine addiction requires professional help.  You can find a treatment program near you by calling 1-800-662-HELP, or you can look up programs in an online database at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.  Some programs are available just for adolescents.  Take care of yourself!
JY - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how can you stop using drugs?

Kris Bough: 
Hi there - people can stop using drugs via a variety of different means. You or the person that you are concerned about can work with friends and other programs to get support for quitting. One way is to begin is to encourage the person abusing drugs to talk to their parents 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). This will help connect them to a medical treatment program that can offer targeted behavioral support and counselling that can help them quit.
I hope this information is helpful.  
 
 
Now available to answer your questions is Elisabeth Davis, who works on science education for NIDA. A lot of her work involves translating complex science into educational information that is understandable and meaningful to non-scientists. She helps to put drug information into Scholastic publications, which are seen in thousands of classrooms around the country. She also helps to educate doctors about the importance of helping patients with their drug behaviors. Elisabeth views drug addiction as a very personal public health issue—and she believes that education and smart policies can make a difference. Elisabeth is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has lives with her husband and two little sons in Washington, DC and though the apples aren't nearly as good as in Michigan, she loves it in the nation’s capital.
A 2012 survey showed that about 28% of 10th graders drank alcohol in the past month. That means about 3 in 4 teens chose NOT to do so.
Snowflake - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what are the telltale signs of cocaine?

Jen Katt: Hi Snowflake, you mean how do you tell if someone is using cocaine?  Well, some signs might be that a person appears agitated or nervous, jumpy.  Check out this link for more information about this dangerous stimulant: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine.
123456789 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is it dangerous if one was drinking and the same night they took pain pills?

Susan Weiss: very dangerous--both alcohol and pain pills can depress respiration (breathing) so the risk of overdose is much higher.  
kirwan12 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how long does it ussualy take for the negitive affects of drugs to kick in?

Nancy Pilotte: 
It varies.  One negative effect, death, can occur quickly with stimulants like cocaine, narcotics like morphine, and inhalants, like those found in aerosol cans or solvents.  Other negative effects can take a longer time to kick in, like the growth-stunting effects of anabolic steroids that some teens take in the mistaken idea that they will improve their athletic performance.  Virtually all drugs that are abused reduce your ability to think straight and make good decisions, and this happens first while you are taking them, and can be long-lasting with continued use.  These drugs really do change your brain and the way it works--usually not for the better. 
This link will take you to more information about how drugs affect the brain and the body:
Nataliedancer12 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How long does it usually take for someone to get truly addicted to drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
That varies depending on the drug, how it is taken, the person's genes and other characteristics, and other factors.  It is very hard to predict. Bottom line: people are taking their chances when the experiment with drugs of abuse.
 
Here is some more information about various drugs of abuse:
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how effective is steroid testing and how do so many professional atheletes get away with it today? and why is it more comon in sports like cycling and baseball and not so much in basketball or tennis or sports like that?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Zach,
 
Steroid testing is effective but the problem is that new designer drugs, for which no tests are still available, appear all the time . so, it's very much like a cat and mouse game. I am not sure why we hear so much about PEDS (performance enhancing drugs) in baseball and cycling, but perhaps it's only because PEDS (steroids and EPO, respectively) can really make an objective impact in athletic performance, but perhaps it's just that we notice it more in those in those sports that we pay so much more attention to.
 thanks for the question and good luck
stay safe, be smart. 
 
ruben 
gtremblay - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Do all drugs have the same affect? do they all make you high?

David Shurtleff: 

Good morning! The effects of the drug depend on the drug being used. For example, drugs like alcohol are central nervous system depressants and tend to make you sleepy, etc. Others like cocaine, ecstasy (and others) tend to make a person feel 'wired'. But there are at least a few things that all drugs do have in common...drugs do make you feel 'high' because of its effects on the brain chemical dopamine.  They also 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.  Check out this graphic on the effects of drugs on your brain and click on this link for more info on how drugs affect the brain, body and more!  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

Drugs and the Brain
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: if you take weed like through pot brownies, is it better for you than if you smoke it?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Zack,  Good question.  Neither is really good for you.  Smoke in one's lungs is dangerous, and over years, can cause lung cancer and other respiratory issues. But whether smoked or swallowed, marijuana is addictive and causes health problems.  Here is a link you might find useful: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.
Y2J - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : If you smoke 4 to 6 cigarettes per day is it safe or bad for you???

Cindy Miner: So, the short answer is - it's bad for you. You are still being exposed to toxic chemicals and to nicotine which is the chemical which makes smoking addictive. There's also no guarantee that you won't bump up cigarette use, given how addictive nicotine is. Besides, you could take the money you spend on cigarettes and spend it on something else - I'd pick a road trip to somewhere warm!
rbartlett - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: I know that you can get sexually transmitted diseases from IV drugs but what exactly is hepatitis and which ones are you more likely to get from IV drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello there. Very good question. Hepatitis means 'inflammation of the liver' and is caused by hepatitis viruses. The most common types are Hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and unfortunately many people don't even know they are infected. Injection drug users who inject drugs directly in their veins (IV) are at risk for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infection by sharing needles and other drug injection equipment which exposes people to infected blood. Drug use in general places drug users at further risk because drugs effect decision making and can cause people to make bad choices about sex and other risky behaviors, which can increase risk for infectious diseases. To learn more about hepatitis: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/  and other problems associated with specific drug use: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
daniandkayla - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Are some drugs more addicting/harmful than others? If so, which ones are worst? Which ones are least addictive?

Jen Katt: It's really not helpful to rank drugs in terms of addictive-ness--it really depends on the person and what their particularly vulnerabilities are.  Stimulants (e.g. cocaine, meth, ADHD drugs like Adderall when you abuse them) are generally thought to be especially addictive, but for some people, alcohol, nicotine or even marijuana can hook them more easily.  Best not to take the risk of trying to find out! See

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.

tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how many drugs are there?

David Shurtleff: 
A lot!! The physicians’ desk reference -- a book used by doctors to help them learn about medicines and how to prescribe them -- lists over 1,100 commonly prescribed drugs, but this number keeps growing every day!  A lot of smart chemists are making all kinds of compounds that may someday be a medicines or could become a drug abuse (not good)- there are many chemicals in plants that can be made into drug - so the number of potential drugs can be infinite- the bad news though is many are likely to be toxic or dangerous if not taken as prescribed by a doctor...
benjitheman51 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What part of the cigarette is the most addicting?

Cindy Miner: Good question....congratulations...you actually know that cigarettes are addictive.  Many people don't know that.  Tobacco contains the chemical nicotine.  Interestingly, its in tobacco to protect the plant from insects.  Unfortunately for people, it is also a very addictive chemical, and the reason that people continue to smoke even though most don't want to.  Cigarettes are actually very highly engineered products designed to deliver that nicotine in tobacco to smokers in just the right amounts to maximize their addictiveness and keep people smoking!
drugsarebad - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Hi, I'm 13 years old and I know someone who drinks alchohol, what should I do? They are underage and its worrying me...

Shuly Babitz: 
You're right to be concerned about your friend. The best thing to do is find an adult that you trust and talk with them about it. Drinking at such a young age is dangerous for lots of reasons. One is that people are more likely to get hurt if they drink alcohol. Another is that the brain is still growing and changing at that age, and alcohol could affect this person's brain in a negative way.
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.
locotaco10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: if you were born a crack addict does it hurt your growth?

Joe Frascella: 
I am not sure that anyone is born a 'crack addict'. No drugs are good for the pregnant mother and child. Drug exposure to a baby can cause serious damage. Prenatal exposure can affect a child and affect his or her brain and behavior development. The 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. The effects to the baby 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 and http://www.nida.nih.gov/consequences/prenatal/
 
With respect to cocaine specifically, some may recall that 'crack babies' or babies born to mothers who abused crack cocaine while pregnant, were at one time written off as a lost generation. They were predicted to suffer from severe, irreversible damage, including reduced intelligence and social skills. It was later found that this was a gross exaggeration. However, the fact that most of these children appear normal should not be over interpreted to indicate that there is no cause for concern. Using sophisticated technologies, scientists are now finding that exposure to cocaine during fetal development may lead to subtle, yet significant, later deficits in some children, including deficits in some aspects of cognitive performance, information processing, and attention to tasks—abilities that are important for the realization of a child's full potential.
 
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.
BBS431./m/7 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How many ways can you smoke weed?

Lori Ducharme: 
Hey there. Marijuana is used in many ways. The most common method is smoking loose marijuana rolled into a cigarette called a “joint” or “nail.” Sometimes marijuana is smoked through a water pipe called a “bong.” Others smoke “blunts”—cigars hollowed out and filled with the drug. And some users brew it as tea or mix it into food.  
 
To learn more about marijuana and other drugs, and the research NIDA is doing to develop effective prevention and treatment programs, visit our teen website at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
sarajo1313 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Are bath salts bought at Bath Body works???

Jack Stein: The synthetic products marketed as “bath salts” to evade detection by authorities should not be confused with products such as Epsom salts that are sold to improve the experience of bathing. The latter have no psychoactive (drug-like) properties.
Nataliedancer12 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What is marijuana?

Dave Thomas: 
A plant, also known as cannabis sativa. Marijuana contains a lot of chemicals in its leaves, including THC and cannabinol, which are 'cannabinoids.'  Cannabinoids have effects on the brain that include producing the high that marijuana smokers seek.  Here is some more information about marijuana:
 
Baseball77 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What's the newest drug out that is very dangerous?

Susan Weiss: Sadly, its hard to keep up--there are some very ambitious chemists out there trying to make a buck by skirting the law, and not worrying about what happens to the people who use the drugs they make.  Bath salts are one example that you may have read about--they contain a kind of, or combination of, stimulant chemicals (like cocaine or methamphetamine). People taking them are winding up in emergency rooms because they are psychotic (seeing, hearing things that aren't there), violent, and generally just out of control.  
SOS_Lucky - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is the most effective way to get rid of addiction?

Kris Bough: 
Hello SOS-Lucky ... the answer is: it depends. It depends on the type of drug and how long it has been used or abused. It's not always easy to know what to do and how you might get help depends on the person and /or the drug used. You might find this NIDA publication: the Science of Addiction to be helpful:  
 
If you know someone who cannot quit using substances, one way is to begin is to encourage them to talk to their parents 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, there are tremendous people out there willing to help with available counseling clinics or medications that can be of help (for example, nicotine patch for smoking).  Best of luck to you ...
 
JKLOLROFL - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How long does it take until nicotine effects your body?

Cindy Miner: 
That depends on how you are using tobacco.  If you are smoking, the nicotine enters your lungs and it is estimated that it can reach the brain in seconds.  It is nicotine's effects on the brain that can lead to addiction.
 
If you are using smokeless tobacco, nicotine is absorbed quickly in the lining of mouth and again can reach the brain very quickly.
 
So no matter how you are using tobacco, that nicotine is getting to your brain and acting very quickly! 
bobbype - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why do some state want to make using marijuana legal

Nancy Pilotte: 
Legalization of a psychoactive drug like marijuana is a political question, and decided by voters, not by health care professionals.  It does not seem like a smart move as marijuana is usually smoked, landing deep in your lungs, in the same way as cigarettes.  The economic and social costs related to tobacco are at least $96 Billion (with a B) each year in terms of health care, and another $97 Billion (also with a B) in lost productivity in the US alone.  Does this seem like a good thing to you?   
You may want to check our marijuana page on our main site:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana
lalaa72 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Have you ever tried marijuana? if so it is hypocritical of you to tell us not to, if not then you have no authorization giving us advice about something you have never experienced.

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Lalaa.
 
Calm down now, that's just a snarky comment that doesn't hold any water. you know it.
I haven't tried marijuana but I also haven't tried anthrax because I am smart enough to know that it's just a bad idea. Would you try anthrax? what if someone promised you it would give you the best high you've ever experienced?
think about it. It might do you good.
 
stay safe, be smart
and good luck
 
ruben 
pnut - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what are some ways to combat addictions?

Lori Ducharme: Hi there.  Good question.  At NIDA, we're working with researchers across the country to develop effective prevention and treatment programs. Once someone has developed an addiction, they need some kind of formal drug treatment program, which can involve either inpatient (overnight, many nights, under medical supervision) or outpatient (counseling, a couple hours at a time, one or several days a week). The intensity of the treatment varies depending on the person, the drug(s) involved, and how big the problem is. But in all cases, treatment provides people with a variety of supports to get their lives back together -- these can involve one or more medications to ease withdrawal symptoms or help prevent relapse to drug use; behavioral (counseling) therapy that teaches new skills such as how to deal with 'triggers' that may tempt someone to use again; and even support services to help people get the rest of their lives stable -- like getting legal assistance if they need it, finding job training, etc. The best programs consider how drug abuse affects all of these aspects of a person's life and tries to get them back on track. Thanks for your question, and I hope that helps.  
Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increases the lungs' exposure to chemicals in the smoke, resulting in irritated lungs.
QuestionFor several years now, there have been more deaths from prescription pain reliever overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined. The deaths usually result from:
  1. Damage to the brain, causing a stroke
  2. Heart valve collapse
  3. Respiratory failure (breathing stops)
  4. Choking
C. Respiratory failure (breathing stops) Taken as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain safely and effectively. However, when abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. (Research Reports: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction)
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how accurate are steroid tests, if pro atheletes like Lance Armstrong and A-Rod can get away with using them?

Ruben Baler: 
they are not 100% perfect but they are extremely accurate. Unfortunately, you can't be testing all the time, for every possible drug, every possible athlete, so the system relies heavily on random testing. It's just a feasibility limitation.
 
hope this answers your question. 
 
stay smart.
ruben
 
gtremblay - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why are people saying that drug users are cool on the truth poll?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi Gtremblay!  The poll reflects what teens using the website believe.  And I am shocked that people think drug users are cool, as drug users have many physical and psychological effects from using drugs that are definitely NOT cool!  For the real facts, check out NIDA's website for teens and drug facts for info on individual drugs.   
 
All drugs cause changes in your brain that make people do uncool and dangerous things.  We have some great research to answer this. Drugs affect both the brain and body. Even occasional or experimental drug use can be dangerous, since drugs can have unexpected negative health effects even with just one use! 
 
Drugs also affect your ability to use 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, drugs become the most important thing in that person's life, causing them major problems at school, home, and work. Not to mention the sometimes fatal consequences that drugs can have.
 
Do you think that's cool?  You be the judge!
 
 
Nirvana67 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is the most addicting drug in the world?

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. For more information see www.drugabuse.gov.
In 2011, about 9.7 million young people ages 12 to 20 reported they drank alcohol in the past month.
For the first time, we have scientists here from the Food and Drug Administration. Why? They have a new office that regulates cigarettes---called the Center for Tobacco Products. They are the folks who will now be putting warnings on cigarettes packs to make people aware of the health risks. So if you want to know anything about smoking or other tobacco products this is a good time to ask!
Fieldhockey227 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What does dope do to your body?

Jen Katt: Dope, like marijuana?  NIDA-funded research published in 2012 shows that long-term marijuana is associated with impaired intellectual functioning and IQ decline especially if usage starts during the teen years. Marijuana use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Marijuana may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above.  Check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens.
ck1216 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: At what age is it easiest to get addicted to drugs?

Kris Bough: Hello there Walter Johnson HS! There is evidence that adolescents may be especially prone to developing substance use disorders and addiction. For example, adolescents may be more sensitive to the reinforcing effects of nicotine in combination with other chemicals found in cigarettes, thus increasing susceptibility to tobacco addiction. There is some evidence that another chemical found in cigarettes called 'acetaldehyde' also increases nicotine’s addictive properties in adolescents, but not adults. A recent study also suggests that specific genes may increase risk for addiction among people who begin smoking during adolescence. You might find this website interesting: www.teens.drugabuse.gov.  
SOS_Lucky - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is the most unexpected or the most dangerous thing to get from drugs ?

Jen Katt: The most?  Overdose.  Death.
troll man - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what are the effects of crystal meth?

Kris Bough: Troll man: Methamphetamine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine and acts to stimulate the brain and body. Different people react differently to drugs depending on their genetics and how the drug is put into the body (such as taken as a pill, snorted or injected directly into the blood stream). For more info on meth and to see what other teens are thinking and blogging about meth, please check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php.
Galaticx - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what do steroids do to a person?

Dave Thomas: 
Lot's of bad stuff...  
 
NIDA has a lot of information on steroids.  Here is a link.  It is pretty good information.
Dave
 
olakaka - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Can certain illegal drugs ( i.e. cocaine, marijuana, heroin) be used for medicinal purposes?

Susan Weiss: Some can--for example cocaine, in addition to be a stimulant drug is a local anesthetic.  That means that it prevents the nerves it comes in contact with from carrying pain messages to the brain.  For that reason it is sometimes used in eye surgery--applied locally.  Marijuana contains ingredients that have medicinal uses as well--for example THC is the main chemical that makes you high, and is also available in a pill form to help people with nausea from cancer chemotherapy, or extreme weight loss associated with AIDs.  But that doesn't mean that these drugs are safe to use in other forms (snorted or smoked) or under non-medically supervised circumstances.  I'm sure you know there are lots of problems that can result from their abuse.
-19997 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is the most popular drug?

Dave Thomas: 
Alcohol and cigarettes.   But they are legal which makes them more accessible.
Marijuana is next in line, following  by prescription pain killers... The abuse of most other drugs of abuse is declining in our county.  
1212 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what are the effects of heroin

Jen Katt: Heroin Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. Heroin depresses breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal. Users who inject the drug risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin for more.
The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. Dr. Susan R.B. Weiss currently serves as the Associate Director for Scientific Affairs for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In this role she serves as a senior advisor to the NIDA Director, and provides scientific guidance and oversight to staff of NIDA who are responsible for such key areas as communications, program development, science planning and policy analysis, and government relations. In her spare time, she does Yoga and trains her cat to play video games.
ROCKET - Croatan High School, North Carolina: I smoke marijuana pretty much everyday, or even multiple times in one day, what can i do to possibly slow down and end up quitting all together?

Lori Ducharme: Hey there, Rocket.  Thanks for your question.  You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.  Hope this helps.
bob77 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: is caffeine considered a drug

Ruben Baler: 
it sure is bob77
But that doesn't mean much really because there are many different classes of drugs. Caffeine is not like heroine or cocaine or even marijuana in terms of its addictiveness and its negative effects on health. Caffeine, for one, does not cause euphoria, although it can cause dependence and the high doses present in modern energy drinks it could cause new kinds of problems in some people that we are only beginning to investigate.
good luck to you 
be smart and stay safe 
ruben
 
JY - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: when we are sick we take drug medicines how can taking too much of it affcet anyone?????

Kris Bough: 
JY: Good morning! All medicines - whether prescription or illegal - always produce effects in the body and/or central nervous system can be good but also can also be bad. A 'good' medicine, for example, has been evaluated carefully by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to show that all the 'good' effects of a medicine effectively treats a disease or illness, while the 'bad' effects of the drug/medicine are few. Lots of doctors at the FDA evaluate a lot of data to determine what, when, how, and by whom a specific medicine should be taken. This sort of information goes into the label (instructions) on a medicine bottle. When a medicine is NOT taken following those instructions, it can create bad effects in the body and/or brain (e.g., nausea) or even, an overdose and death! 
 
Regarding drugs of abuse, there is no 'safe' drug. All drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine (from cigarettes, snus, cigars), marijuana, all have the potential for abuse and can produce unsafe consequences throughout the body and brain - and disease over time.
 
So, the bottom line is to carefully take medicines as prescribed by your doctor and avoid drugs that have the potential to be abused and you don't have to worry about it! :-)
Awesomeone1327 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How can you detect if someone is on steroids?

Joni Rutter: 

Hey Awesomeone1327! Great question!  It may not be all the easy to detect just by looking at someone if he/she is using steroids.  

Drug testing for steroids mainly test urine to detect if someone has used steroids. But there are physical effects of steroid abuse that include liver damage; jaundice; fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in 'bad' cholesterol.
 
Males risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility!  YIKES!
 
Females risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice!  I don't know any females that want that!  
 
Teens risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
 
Check out this video by one of our scientists on steroid abuse.
 
Thanks for your question!
Football397 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How does alcohol make people drunk?

Shuly Babitz: 
Hold on tight -- here comes the science-y answer. 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.
Alcohol is a small molecule and gets into the brain very easily. Neurons, or brain cells, talk to each other using chemicals called 'neurotransmitters.' Alcohol interferes with the ability of neurons to talk to each other using neurotransmitters. Alcohol affects every part of the brain. When it affects neurons in brain areas involved in thinking and making good choices, the person has trouble thinking clearly and making good choices. When it affects memory areas in the brain, the person has trouble making memories. It can also affect the part of the brain that controls our movement, making it more difficult to walk and focus.
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what's the worst drug?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi Tbuttermark!  You ask a tough but excellent question...  Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs on a scale of 'worse-ness.'  The drug that an individual abuses is the worst for that person--so it's a case-by-case basis.  However, statistics show that tobacco is one of the worst and post widely-used drugs in the whole world-- with horrible health consequences, including death!  People who smoke can have breathing problems, tooth decay, emphysema, mouth cancer, and lung and heart disease.  Definitely things no one wants to deal with!
 
Nicotine is the addictive component of cigarettes and it is very effective in getting people hooked.  For more information on this, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/tobacco-addiction-nicotine
 
People are different, and addiction has many sides to it that make a person more or less likely to become addicted to a drug, such as genetics (e.g., genes that metabolize drugs can be different across people), environment (e.g., drug availability; parents using drugs/tobacco/alcohol) and development (e.g., age--the younger you are when you try a drug, the more likely you are to abuse it), all of which play important and changing roles in determining how a person becomes addicted.

No matter what, all drugs of abuse are bad for your body! For more information on specific drugs and their actions on your body, see: www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/health.html.
 
Keep up the good work and 'Just Say Know!'
Smoking through trachea
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Wrestler1237 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Can sharpie fumes get you high and how long does it usually take to get high off it?

Joe Frascella: 
Yes, Sharpies have a volatile chemical that if inhaled can cause a brain effect and high. The inhalants represent a very dangerous class of drugs.  Specifically, inhalants are chemical vapors that people inhale on purpose to get “high.” The vapors produce mind-altering, and sometimes disastrous, effects. These vapors are in a variety of products common in almost any home or workplace. Examples are some paints, glues, gasoline, and cleaning fluids. Many people do not think of these products as drugs because they were never meant to be used to achieve an intoxicating effect. But when they are intentionally inhaled to produce a “high,” they can cause serious harm.
Although inhalants differ in their effects, they generally fall into the following categories:
Volatile Solvents, liquids that vaporize at room temperature, present in:
• Certain industrial or household products, such as paint thinner, nail polish remover, degreaser, dry-cleaning fluid, gasoline, and contact cement
• Some art or office supplies, such as correction fluid, felt-tip marker fluid, and electronic contact cleaner
Aerosols, sprays that contain propellants and solvents, include:
• Spray paint, hair spray, deodorant spray, vegetable oil sprays, and fabric protector spray
Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others stay for a long time and get absorbed by fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system.
One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers. Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their messages to and from the brain. Damage to myelin can slow down communication between nerve fibers.
Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis—a disease that also affects myelin.
Hope this helps and for more information on inhalants, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Inhalants.html.
ck1216 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why do most people do drugs?

Aria Crump: 
Hi,
    It does seem like most people do drugs, but the good news is that, actually, most don't.  For 2012, it is estimated that about 17% of 10th graders smoked Marijuana in the last 30 days.  That means that 83% of 10th graders did not.  And this holds true for all drugs, including alcohol--most teens aren't using.  Doing drugs is definitely taking a risk and this is something that many kids know.  However, people like to try new things and its easy to think that trying something once is OK.  You're smart to question why because even trying certain drugs even just once can have very serious consequences.  Another reason some kids start is because they think other kids are doing it and they will be uncool or left out if they don't.   There may be other reasons as well--but I can't think of any good reasons to use drugs unless under the direction of a medical professional.  Keep asking questions! 
CuriousYoemen - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: I have someone at my workplace pressuring me to smoke pot with him. I keep telling him that I won't because that would be compromising my personal beliefs, but he won't leave me alone. What should I do to get him to stop? I would never smoke pot, but it gets annoying.

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Curious Yoeman
 
That is a tricky situation. Most people back off if you refuse a drug offer, so i'm curious why this person won't take no for an answer.  
 
Although you shouldn't really have to justify your point of view, it happens, so you might try convincing this person that using drugs is a stumbling block to achieving your full potential. For example we know that the brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties, and the areas of the brain that are most affected can have long-term effects on academic and career achievement.       
 
My last piece of advice is to talk to an adult you trust to give personal advice -- parent, teachers, coach, guidance counselor etc. They know you better than i do, obviously, and can offer suggestions and help more appropriate to your personality. Good Luck! 
 
Liz 
 
Here are some additional resources that may help you:
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
301-443-1124
http://www.drugabuse.gov/

By clicking on the link 'Students and Young Adults' from NIDA's home page you will be able to access resources tailored for students and young adults, whether you are in middle school and doing research on the effects of marijuana use, or high school student looking to find out about drug use.
Man Slaughter - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: If you were forced to take a drug what would you take.

Joni Rutter: 
Interesting question.  In a way, sometimes I do feel like I'm forced to take a drug--especially when I'm sick.  I recently had a sinus infection and I had to take antibiotics--drugs prescribed by my doctor--to feel better.  Worked like a charm!  
 
 
Tigers10147 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people take other people's prescription drugs when they know that isn't prescribed to them?

Jen Katt: People may take other peoples Rx drugs for many different reasons: pain, to get high, to stay alert, to experiment...whatever the reason, taking meds that weren't prescribed for you is prescription drug ABUSE.  And can be as dangerous as using illicit 'street' drugs.  A lot of young people don't realize that.  Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/curricula-and-lesson-plans/mind-over-matter/prescription-drug-abuse
*DN* - Croatan High School, North Carolina: if someone has been using a drug for 40+ years, what are the odds they will be able to successfully "kick the habit?"

Lori Ducharme: Hey *DN*. That's a good question, although the absolute amount of time someone has been using drugs is not as important as the drugs they've been using, how often, and how it has affected their brain and their functioning. But 40 years is a long time, and suggests they have a lot of changes to make -- and that calls for treatment. A variety of science-based treatment approaches (many of them developed through NIDA-funded research) are available to help people recover from drug addiction. These include a number of FDA-approved medications, as well as behavioral (counseling) therapies that address both the addiction and its physical and social consequences. Most of these treatments are available in treatment programs in communities throughout America (www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov), or they can talk to a primary care doctor. To learn more about the best available treatments for drug abuse, you can check out our publication, Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment, at http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html. I hope this helps!

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Know Someone Who Started Smoking And Wishes He Could Quit

Yes 38 percent, no 36 percent, and maybe 26 percent.

olakaka - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What does a cigarette contain besides tobacco?

Cindy Miner: Great question.  A cigarette is a very highly engineered product, its not just some tobacco rolled in paper and a filter attached.  Tobacco manufacturers blend various types of tobaccos which then are processed under very careful conditions which include adding complex mixtures of chemical additives including flavorants (chocolate or menthol for example).  The cigarette paper is also highly engineered with precise numbers of perforations and added chemicals to control burn rates and how much smoke people can actually inhale when they are smoking.
932112 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how do drugs effect someones mental health

David Shurtleff: 

Great question!! Mental illnesses are caused by a combination of biological, environmental, and social factors. Researchers are trying to find out the exact causes. While scientists such as myself don't know the exact link between drug use and mental health disorders, we do know that there is a link. For example, we do know there is an association between use of drugs like MJ and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, etc in youth. We also know that drugs can make a person’s mental health problems worse...much worse. If someone you know is using drugs and is also experiencing mental health problems, they should seek help by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

MorganG - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why are some drugs more addictive than others?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Drugs act in different parts of the brain because they interact with various proteins (called receptors) that they bind to. For example, opiate drugs like OxyContin bind to several different receptors, some in the back of the brain, and some in the front. Stimulants like cocaine bind to transporter proteins located within a particular set of neurons called the dopamine neurons. Neurons are arranged in circuits in the brain and they talk to each other. Ultimately all drugs that are abused interact with dopamine neurons and enhance the activity/release of this transmitter. And this action is thought to produce the rewarding effects of any drug.  As  you take the drug (no matter what it is) more frequently, it is harder to stop because the interactions with receptors set in motion some changes in your brain that make your brain work a bit differently. It makes it harder for you to make good decisions, and instead makes taking a drug a habit, and habits are notoriously hard to break.
Want to learn more about the science of addiction? Check out our booklet Drugs, Brains and Behavior- The Science of Addiction at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/index.html.
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: isnt there less nicotine and harmfull drugs in cigars than in cigarettes?

Cindy Miner: The short answer is that there isn't that much difference between cigarettes and those little cigars you see in the stores.  Its still tobacco with a different wrapping.  The little cigars often have a variety of flavors added which many think make them especially attractive to younger people.  Don't be fooled by them, there are no safe tobacco products
IMS120cp - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How long would it take for someone to normally get off of drugs if they did them their whole life?

Lori Ducharme: Hey there and thanks for your question.  Unfortunately the answer to this question is 'it depends.' It depends on the drugs they've been using, how often, how long, how it has affected their brain and functioning, and how soon they seek treatment. A variety of science-backed treatment approaches (many of them developed through NIDA-funded research) are available to help people recover from drug addiction. These include a number of FDA-approved medications, as well as behavioral (counseling) therapies that address both the addiction and its physical and social consequences. Most of these treatments are available in treatment programs in communities throughout America (www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov). To learn more about the best available treatments for drug abuse, you can check out our publication, Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment, at http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html. I hope this helps!
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what can happen to you if you smoke crack

Lis Robertson: 
Thanks for the question, Zach.
 
Smoking, injecting or snorting crack gets the drug (cocaine) to the brain within seconds (really quick!), making it very potent and more addictive.This causes a really quick and large increase in the brain chemical dopamine (which is associated with pleasure and addiction). This is also what is associated with the 'rush' and 'high' associated with using drugs in this way. Getting this quick 'high feeling' can also increase the likelihood that a person will use the drug again...which of course increases the likelihood of addiction. For more information on how drugs affect the brain, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
 
Liz 
LackLL227 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people even make illegal drugs?

Aria Crump: People have made and used mind altering substances for a very long time.  Many are 'illegal' to use because they have no benefits for us and may pose health risks.  Even drugs that are legal to use for medical purposes can be unsafe if used by someone who does not have a specific medical need.  So--why are they made even if they hurt people?  It comes down to the money that can be made,  both in producing and selling drugs.  As long as people buy drugs because they either don't understand the health and legal risks of using drugs, or they are already addicted, other people will try to make money off of them. 
22123 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How do can you make new pain killers that have little probability of producing addictions?

Susan Weiss: That's a great and million dollar question!  Scientists are working very hard on that exact problem, and the past few years have brought new discoveries that may eventually lead to pain killers with less chance of producing addiction.  For example, by studying the 'cannabinoid' system (which is where marijuana acts in the brain and the body), scientists have found that there may be medications that can reduce pain, but that don't actually get into the brain.  That would be ideal--since we know that addiction is a brain disease.  There are other leads as well that scientists are following, so stay tuned.
chicken - Clinton High School, Iowa: what is meth

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Chicken
 
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug that is similar in chemical structure to amphetamine and acts to stimulate the brain and body. Different people react differently to drugs depending on their genetics and how the drug is put into the body (such as taken as a pill, snorted or injected directly into the bloodstream).
 
For more info on meth and to see what othe teens are thinking and blogging about meth, please check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php
 
Liz 
benjitheman51 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What are some ways to break smoking habits?

Cindy Miner: Great question - it can be hard to do, but it can be done. I know a bunch of people who have done it.  Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
KatzForLyfe - Clinton High School, Iowa: What is the most deadly drug?

Joe Frascella: Good question, but hard to answer specifically. 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, 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---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.  Everyone's response and vulnerabilities to the negative consequences of drugs is different.

Hope this answer helps.
laxlover21 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what would happen if you over dosed on methadone?

Kris Bough: 
Interesting question - and the answer is that an overdose is something that no one would like to experience. Methadone (also known as Symoron, Dolophine, etc.) is a synthetic opioid. It is used medically as an analgesic and a maintenance anti-addictive for use by patients with opioid dependency. Opiate overdose symptoms and signs include: decreased level of consciousness and pinpoint pupils. Heart rate and breathing slow down, sometimes to a stop. A person starts to show blue lips and nails because their heart is slowing down and is resulting in insufficient blood circulation and inadequate oxygen supply to the body. Other symptoms include seizures and muscle spasms. A person experiencing an opiate overdose usually will not wake up even if their name is called - even if they are shaken vigorously. Unfortunately, although not primarily due to methadone by itself, deaths from methadone-related overdose are on the rise. So - please don't even take the risk.
gdasfsd - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is the damage done to your vocal chords from smoking weed able to be repaired over time. If so how long.

Ruben Baler: 
Hi there
smoke inhalation, any smoke, can cause burning of the throat and inflammation of the vocal chords. i am not aware of any specific effects that would be different in marijuana smokers, but it is reasonable to assume that it would be similar to what we see in tobacco smokers. If you smoke to the point of impacting the vocal chords in this way, the sooner you quit the sooner the inflammation will start receding. 
 
be smart and stay away from drugs
Ruben 
 
daniandkayla - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what arethe long term effects of poping pills?

Jen Katt: Taking prescription drugs that weren't prescribed for you or taking your own prescription meds in ways or amounts not intended can cause lots of unpleasant health effects over the long term, including addiction.  It depends what kind of drug you're taking--if you're taking pain killers, especially with alcohol, you can overdose immediately. Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/curricula-and-lesson-plans/mind-over-matter/prescription-drug-abuse.
lollipops - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What is the most addictive drug in the U.S.A.?

Joe Frascella: This question calls for a rather complicated answer -- most scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness. There are just too many moving parts (variables) in the equation 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.

But we can identify factors that contribute to or influence the addictiveness of a particular drug. For example -- with stimulants, where different routes of administration (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.

Take a look at a publication we have online called The Science of Addiction. You can find it at http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
gieguy10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is it true that you will not get high the first few times you smoke marijuana?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi Gieguy10!  Thanks for your question!  It's an important one because most people don't know that even one use can have dire consequences mainly because it may lead to another use....and another use....and another use...and before you know it, you become addicted!  And, did you know that teens are most vulnerable to getting hooked faster? Check out this website:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
 
Like most other drugs, marijuana affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions. It alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short-term and long-term effects.
In the short term--marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team. But in the longer term marijuana is addictive!
 
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 don't believe just what you see on the outside--some of these changes take time to happen, and some people are more likely to have 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. You can read more about marijuana at www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ or http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
 
Thanks for the great question, and make good choices for your body and brain!
 
110jl - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: can alcohol kill you?

Shuly Babitz: 
Drinking too much alcohol can absolutely be fatal. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as 'alcohol poisoning.'
 
It is also important to point out than having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes. 
lalaa72 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why do they tell us weed kills brain cells if it really doesnt

Ruben Baler: 
we never say that. weed does not kill cells, but it does impair their ability to communicate and process information, these are critically important functions, particularly when you are young.
 
be smart and stay away from drugs.
ruben 
big pete - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: my friend smokes all the time and i try to tell him to stop but i just dont know what to do can you help me

Cindy Miner: Thanks for your question - I've had the same experience and it can be hard to know what to do. I've found it helpful to remember that smoking is an addiction - your friend is addicted to the nicotine in tobacco. It can be hard to quit, but it can be done.  Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
blue44 - Oglesby ISD, Texas: how can i get someone to stop

Lori Ducharme: This is unfortunately a common question today -- it's one that too many teenagers have to deal with. On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about trying to help your friend. And that's the very first thing you can do -- be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause (see our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov). Next, encourage your friend to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
Heisenburg - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: If one smoked a pack of cigarettes every week, how sooner will they die?

David Shurtleff: 
Hi WJ!!  Not clear how much sooner you would die but here's another way to think about it: For daily smokers (> 20 cig/day), the risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher in men and about 13 times higher in women than nonsmokers. so risks for all kind f life threatening diseases (cardiovascular disease, oral and lung cancer etc) goes up.  But, you're not out of the woods if you don't smoke that much.  For every cigarette a person smokes, it deposits about 1 liter of cigarette smoke into their lungs... and that smoke contains tar and hundreds of other known carcinogens.  So any way you look at it, smoking is not good for health and longevity.  Remember, over 440,000 Americans (and 5 million folks worldwide) die every year from tobacco-related diseases...I'm sure at least some of them smoked less than a pack a week...don't gamble with your health!
 
For more on cigarettes, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco.
c.consuegra - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How is medical marijuana different from the actual illegal drug?

Jen Katt: 
Scientists are making use of their knowledge about the potentially healthful properties of some of marijuana's ingredients (and the body systems that they effect) in order to develop new medications (generally in pill form) for a variety of symptoms and diseases, including pain, obesity, and addiction. 
 
It's not likely that smoked marijuana will be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine for more.
lollipops - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How does marijuana get you high?

Joe Frascella: 
Marijuana has components (basically the active ingredient) that make you high, and this is THC.  THC gets to the brain via the blood and it interacts with specific brain cells that then result in the effects.
 
More specifically, when marijuana is smoked, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. It is absorbed more slowly when ingested in food or drink.
However if it is ingested, THC acts upon specific molecular targets on brain cells, called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are ordinarily activated by chemicals similar to THC called endocannabinoids, such as anandamide. These are naturally occurring in the body and are part of a neural communication network (the endocannabinoid system) that plays an important role in normal brain development and function.
 
Have you heard the name Len Bias? He was considered one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. But in 1986--- two days after being drafted to the Boston Celtics---he died from a cocaine overdose. His family continues to speak out against drug abuse.
carly m - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How bad can secondhand smoke be from marajuana?

Nancy Pilotte: 
How bad can secondhand smoke be from cigarettes?  Both of these drugs are taken in the same way. Both are plant products with lots of components that have lots of effects we may not even know about yet.  And they both make you smell bad.  
Learn about the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke here:
aosrqwerty - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : I read a pamphlet on Marijuana awhile ago, it said that Weed is way worse than cigarettes. Even though cigarettes have far more harmful chemicals and is far more addictive. How IS Weed worse than cigarettes?

Ruben Baler: 
smoking cigarettes is bad for its own reasons and smoking weed is bad for a different (overlapping) set of reasons. There is really no point in ranking drugs in terms of 'worseness'
 
In the case of marijuana its effects may be initially subtle and you may 'seem fine', but if you are an adolescent using marijuana you can be sure that you are performing at a suboptimal level, precisely at a stage in your life when you should strive to be in your best possible shape. Would you pay to get 20 points 'LESS' on the SAT?
 
Hope this makes sense to you, because understanding this can really change your life.
good luck to you ande keep asking question
ruben
drake - Clinton High School, Iowa: how long does it takes for meth to kill you

Jen Katt: It can kill you instantly in some cases.  Dangerous drug.  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine 
locotaco10 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: if pcp allows people to withstand bullets then how come the army hasnt used it in combat?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Locotaco10! Sorry to burst your bubble, but PCP super powers aren't real! And drug abuse can result in serious, adverse consequences -- especially in teens! Get the facts here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php.
 
PCP doesn't allow people to withstand bullets, it just might make them not able to feel the pain immediately, but the bullet would still rip through the body having injurious and potentially deadly consequences. The reason that someone on PCP might not feel pain is because PCP is a 'dissociative' drug, meaning it distorts perceptions of sight, sound, and physical sensations, producing feelings of detachment (or not being 'in' their body). Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects from PCP, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety).
 
Now that you know more about PCP, if you ever needed to withstand bullets (let's hope you never do!), which would you rather have?  PCP or a bullet proof vest? 
QuestionPeople who take drugs can develop tolerance over time. This means:
  1. They become nicer, calmer people.
  2. They easily get sick to their stomach.
  3. They need to take more of a drug to get the same effect.
  4. They get physically stronger.
C. They need to take more of a drug to get the same effect. When some drugs of abuse are taken, they can release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do. The brain adjusts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less of it, so a drug abuser must keep taking drugs just to bring the dopamine function back up to normal. And they must take larger amounts of the drug than they first did to create the dopamine high - an effect known as tolerance. (Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)
abcdefg - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what should you do if your sister is insane

Amy Goldstein: Hi abcdefg.  Thanks for the question...and for looking out for your sister.  Sorry to hear that she is having difficulties, but supportive family members are an important part of recovery from mental illness.  If you think your sister is struggling with mental illness the best thing you can do is connect her with professional help - try calling 1-800-662-HELP or http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/ to find resources in your area.
thdfert - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: has anyone died from weed?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi thdfert
not directly, but you could become decision impaired and drive your car into a tree or become infected with HIV. Think about it. 
cheers
ruben 
drunken monkey - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: whene your addicted to drugs how long does it take to get of the drugs

Kris Bough: Drunken monkey: this is an interesting question! The answer is: this depends on a lot of factors including the genetic makeup of a person, a person's gender, what type of drug is being used, how long a person may have been using it. For example, nicotine which is generally considered to be the most addictive substance found in cigarettes, is very tough to quit. Nearly 80% of nicotine dependent smokers WANT to quit and have to try several times before they are able to finally shake the habit. Depending on the factors described above - e.g., gender, genetics, how long a person has been smoking - a person may be able to quit 'cold turkey' (without treatments) or with medicines, other treatments over a period of weeks, months of even years!!!  You might find this pub helpful: http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/sciofaddiction.pdf.
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: if alcohol is so bad for you, then why is it legal?

Shuly Babitz: 
That's an interesting question. In the early 20th century, alcohol was banned all together. While that strategy (called 'Prohibition') did save some lives, it wasn't considered a success in general and alcohol was made legal again. In addition, many people use alcohol responsibly and enjoy it for a wide range of purposes, including celebrations and religious ceremonies.
 
The government can regulate - but not prevent - people from using alcohol in those ways. The exception is the legal drinking age of 21. Making it illegal for people under 21 to drink alcohol has proven to be important for reducing alcohol-related deaths, including from traffic crashes, in young people.
AOSRSmscoord - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : Why does meth make such changes to your facial features?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey there in Italy...thanks for participating in Chat Day! Long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative health consequences, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects crawling under the skin).
 
To answer your question specifically, people who are addicted to methamphetamine tend to neglect their health and nutrition, and in addition to the direct effects meth have, say on one's teeth ('meth mouth'), the tough life lived contributes to premature aging that is often seen in meth addicts.

For more info on methamphetamine, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine.
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is your job fun?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Zach:  I love my job!  Chat Day is one of my most favorite things about my job.  It's fun talking to students all across the country and answering their clever questions about drugs.  Thanks for asking!  
 
At my regular job, I am a geneticist, and I'm interested in understanding how genes impact how easy it is for someone to become addicted to drugs, and how we as scientists can us that knowledge to help make better treatments for people who have become addicted and need help.  
 
Did you know that drug abuse is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental?  That means that when we study drug abuse, we have to consider both nature and nurture.  And, what I think is most interesting about genetics of drug abuse is that even if you have 'bad genes' the environments you are in can override the genetics- cool!  To learn more about why drug abuse is fun to study, check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Do you think you would be interested in studying drug abuse someday?   

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Have Been To Parties Where Parents Serve Alcohol To Kids

Yes 15 percent, no 75 percent, and maybe 10 percent.

KatzForLyfe - Clinton High School, Iowa: What is the most deadly drug?

Jen Katt: It's really not helpful to rank drugs in terms of deadliness--it really depends on the person and what their particularly vulnerabilities are.  Stimulants like cocaine and meth are thought to be particularly dangerous, but any drug, like prescription painkillers, mixed with alcohol increases the potential for overdose and death. See 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.
Jatin - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What are some ways to stop the addiction of marijuana?

Lori Ducharme: Hey Jatin. Thanks for your question. The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder is to seek help from a trained counselor.  You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Hope this helps.
Did you know that more than 10,000 kids like you are also asking us questions today---and we only have 40 scientists here to answer them? We try to answer as many as we can---but while you wait please enjoy the factoids and quizzes we are putting on the screen. Who knows, you might accidently learn something about drugs!
Y2J - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : what is the side affects of steroids

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Y2J
 
here are a few:
 
A major health consequence from abusing anabolic steroids can include prematurely stunted growth through early skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes. This means that teens risk remaining short for the remainder of their lives if they take anabolic steroids before they stop growing. Some of the most dangerous consequences of steroid abuse include kidney impairment or failure; damage to the liver; cardiovascular problems including enlargement of the heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol leading to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack (even in young people).

In addition, there are some gender-specific side effects:

  • For guys—shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts, and increased risk for prostate cancer
  • For girls—growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and a permanently deepened voice
  • Steroid abuse can also have an effect on behavior. Many users report feeling good about themselves while on anabolic steroids, but researchers report that extreme mood swings also can occur, including manic-like symptoms leading to violence. This is because anabolic steroids act in a part of the brain called the limbic system, which influences mood.

Steroids can also lead to other changes in mood, such as feelings of depression or irritability. Depression, which can be life threatening, often is seen when the drugs are stopped and may contribute to the continued use of anabolic steroids. Researchers also report that users may suffer from paranoia, jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

 stay safe, be smart, and stay away from drugs
 
 
 good luck
ruben 
chillsophia - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What is the strongest type of drug?

Susan Weiss: That's actually a trick question--it depends on lots of things like how you take it, how much of it you take, and how often.  Methamphetamine, for example, is a powerful stimulant that people sometimes smoke.  Smoking gets it to the brain very quickly, and helps make it very addictive.  Bath salts are another type of stimulant drug that are getting lots of public attention.  They are made by chemists who are skirting the law and using various ingredients that are causing people to wind up in emergency rooms--because they are psychotic (seeing and hearing things that aren't there), violent and generally out of control. 
daniandkayla - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Why does weed kill brain cells?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for your question! Our research has found that marijuana (weed) can contribute to memory problems, decreased reaction time, altered perceptions, lack of motivation, sleep problems, and more. You also might be interested in knowing that studies have shown that chronic use can result in the an overall lack of career success as well as an addiction to marijuana.  These effects are due to marijuana's direct and indirect effects of the drug on brain cells and systems.
 
At this point, we don't have conclusive evidence that marijuana/weed kills brain cells, but we do know that chronic use certainly has many negative effects. 
 
For more specific information, please visit: www.marijuana-info.org
Monkey1238 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How many times does it take for you to get addicted to drugs?

Jen Katt: It can actually happen after one use, depending on the drug and the person.  For most people, though, repeated drug use is what leads to addiction.   Check out: 
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
.

EliF1237 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What are the affects of Kristal Meth?

Dave Thomas: 
Crystal meth is a seriously bad drug.  I have known some drug addicts who were not that particular about the drugs they took, but would not touch the stuff, cause it's so nasty.  
 
Ultimate Taco - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: Why do some types of drugs have different levels of THC?

Ruben Baler: 
hi Ultimate Taco (now you made me hungry)
 
THC is a molecule that the cannabis plant uses to better deal with stressful environments. Marijuana growers take advantage of this fact of evolution and have learned to manipulate the levels of THC by subjecting their plants to increasing levels of stress.
 
thanks for the question and good luck.
 
ruben
 
 
jkjhzdjkhxcjkhv - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Where do teenagers get heroin?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello there. Thanks for your question. If you don't know, I don't want to tell you! :)
 
To answer your question teenagers can get drugs from a number of sources including from friends, family members, peers, or others.  I think it is important to know the facts about how drugs can harm your physical and mental health as well as damage your relationships with others. It is also important for teenagers to be prepared with knowledge, skills and options to protect themselves when they are confronted with circumstances where they may feel pressured to use drugs.  For more information about the dangers of heroin use go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin.
SamJo - Clinton High School, Iowa: Is it okay to double up on a dose of over the counter medication if it's not working?

Jen Katt: No, never. You could really hurt yourself--there's a reason medications come with dosage instructions.  More doesn't necessarily mean better.  Indeed, it could be mean much worse.
gtremblay - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: If doing drugs is such a risk, why do kids do them in school, and in public?

David Shurtleff: Hi Kingswood!  The short answer to this question is that when people use drugs, they like to feel the 'rush' or 'high' associated with using them.  BUT what they don't really think about is there are negative consequences to their health and consequences for them socially, academically and more.  Drugs like inhalants (e.g., gasoline, paint, etc) can cause a loss of sensation, muscle coordination, consciousness, heart failure, suffocation or even death.  Using drugs can also have a real negative effect on academics (like struggling or even failing in school) and personal relationships because the person becomes more focused on drugs and less on maintaining good things in their life (like their grades, relationships, goals, etc)... For more info on what teens think about drugs, click on   http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog.
tiger817 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How fast do drugs change your life after you start them?

Kris Bough: 
Good question! The rate a person can become addicted to drugs and change your life can depend on a lot of factors such as when you start them (e.g., adolescents may be more prone to addiction), a person's gender, genetic makeup, what type of drug is taken, and how the drug is taken. Different drugs of different potential for addiction. Cocaine, for example, is a very addictive drug.  However, most drugs of abuse can eventually lead to addiction. You should also consider that just because your chances of becoming addicted on the first try are low, your chances for other bad side effects are still there! 
anna - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is there any drug which can be used as a medicine? why is the using of drug increasing in the past few years? what is the worst effect of the drugs in your body? how can children who still in school get does drugs? if you start using any drug is there a chance to become completely free? is the type of the drugs increase,did you find any new drugs which wasnt exist in the past years? does drugs decrease the years of living in life? selling of drug is forbidden but if you sell itt do you go to jai

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, Anna, you are really getting the most out of your 'one' question opportunity here! Let me do my best to answer these...
Drugs and other controlled substances are divided into 5 schedules under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use in US treatment, their relative abuse potential, and likelihood of causing dependence when abused. You can see examples at http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html.
Drug use actually has not been increasing in the past few years. According to the University of Michigan's 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey about 13% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 40% of 12th graders say they have used a drug at least once in the past year, which is at the same level it was 5 years ago. Marijuana use has shown increases among 10th and 12th graders over the past 5 years, while drugs other than marijuana are at lowest levels in the past 20 years. You can look at all sorts of information on youth drug use at their website, and even look at breakdowns of individual drug types - check it out at http://monitoringthefuture.org/
Yes, if you start using a drug every day there is a new opportunity to stop and have a healthy drug-free life. There are many effective drug treatments out there - to find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
New drugs of abuse are always emerging, makes my job interesting for sure! NIDA has a Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) which is a network composed of researchers from major US cities and some foreign countries. They meet twice a year to discuss what is going on in their communities and describe the nature and patterns of drug abuse, emerging trends, and consequences. You can check out their reports on NIDA's website to see what's going on at any given time at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/workgroups-interest-groups-consortia/community-epidemiology-work-group-cewg
Yes, drug use can decrease your life expectancy in many ways, by increasing your risk of death through overdose, accidents, violence, and disease all associated with drug using behavior.
Yes, selling drugs is against the law, and you may go to jail. Check out this link to get an idea of jail sentences for people who sell drugs: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Mandatory_Minimum_Sentencing.
wchamber - Devereux, Texas: What is the most common medications to treat Bipolar Disorder?

Amy Goldstein: Hi wchamber.  There are several different medications that are used to treat Bipolar Disorder.  Not everyone responds to medications in the same way, and different medications may need to be tried before the best treatment is found.  That is why a decision to use medication should be made along with with a mental health professional.  Common groups of medication used to treat Bipolar Disorder include mood stabilizers, some types of antipsychotic medications, and anti-depressants.  See http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/how-is-bipolar-disorder-treated.shtml for more information.  
puf puff pass - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: ruben why are your responses based on exagerated assumptions that probaly wont happen ever

Ruben Baler: 
From your side my responses may seem exaggerated assumptions; from my side, your reaction seems like wishful thinking at best, and refractory ignorance at worst. think about it.
 
ruben 
thebobster15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: My dad has smoked for 45 years. Our house smells so strongly of smoke that I have to stay in my room and frequently spray air freshner. I want him to quit but everytime I ask him to put one out, he gets annoyed and tells me he knows what he's doing. How can I save his lungs?

Cindy Miner: Thanks for your question - that can be a challenging situation. You care about your Dad, and you also want to breath clean air. One thing that I find can be helpful to keep in mind - tobacco is addictive - it contains the chemical nicotine which is highly addictive. Your Dad is 45 years into an addiction - it's got to be hard to even think about quitting when your brain is wants the next hit of nicotine. With that said, people do quit, even long term smokers.  Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit. Good luck to both of you! 
snowy1998 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: On a scale of one to ten, how potentially dangerous is cocaine?

Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question. The answer to your question is not straightforward -- most scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of their addictiveness. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered. Because all individuals are different in terms of several factors, such as 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 and whether it is dangerous in its negative consequences.

But we can identify factors that contribute to or influence the addictiveness of a particular drug. For example -- with stimulants, where different routes of administration (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.

Take a look at a publication we have online called The Science of Addiction. You can find it at http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
chlata - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What is heroin made of?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello there.  Good question.  It is good to know what drugs are made of to understand their physical and psychological effects. Heroin is an opiate drug that is made from morphine, a substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.” Learn more about the dangers of using heroin here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin.
Nataliedancer12 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Who made the first cigarette?

Cindy Miner: I love history questions....before I went into science, I was actually a history major.  Tobacco has actually been around for centuries.  Tobacco was actually one of the first crops grown and sold by the early settlers in America.  In the mid 1800's around the time of the civil war, most tobacco was chewed, but people did occassionally roll it in paper and use it...so you could consider those the first cigarettes.  Around 1880, the first cigarette rolling machine was invented allowing for 'mass' production of cigarettes.  Shortly after that, the first tobacco company was established, American Tobacco Company, by James Duke and his father.  Within five years of starting, they were producing a billion cigarettes per year!
50cent - Clinton High School, Iowa: What are the long term affercts of a prescription drug addicton?

Jen Katt: Getting addicted to prescription drugs like painkillers has similar effects in the brain as does heroin.  In fact, some people transition to heroin following prescription painkiller abuse.
opiate effects
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John Ju - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How do drugs such as cocaine that are snorted reach the brain?

Joe Frascella: 
When cocaine or other drugs are snorted, the drug is typically absorbed through the nasal mucosa and also through the lining of the lungs.  The drug gets absorbed into the blood and is carried to the brain.  It is in the brain where the 'psychoactive' effects take place, such as the rush/high. For more information check out:
nathanb1998 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: do hookahs cause cancer?

Cindy Miner: So you know when you are using a hookah, you are actually smoking tobacco right?  They might add some fancy flavors and tell you that the water is filtering out the bad stuff.  Don't believe them....you are still inhaling tobacco smoke and exposing yourself and your lungs to nasty stuff. There are no safe tobacco products...don't believe the hype out there.
Dr. Amy Goldstein has joined us. She is with our sister Institute---the National Institute on Mental Health. She is a child clinical psychologist, trained to work with kids of all ages to manage problems such as anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Dr. Goldstein likes to say upfront that 'psychologists are not psychics – we can't read minds, and only know what you tell us.' Amy grew up in New York, but has treated children and their families in Cleveland, Baltimore and Philadelphia in all sorts of settings (hospitals, schools, homes). Her primary job now involves working with researchers across the country to develop and test programs to prevent mental health disorders before they start. When not in the office, Amy can be found chasing her toddlers around town, watching too much reality TV, and catching up on sleep.
Today we have specialists from our sister Institute ---the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH.) They can answer questions about depression and other mental health issues than sometimes are interconnected with drug abuse.
SuperSlayer4509 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What makes white-out addictive?

Nancy Pilotte: There is a solvent in white-out that, when sniffed in large amounts, alters the way your brain (and liver) works.  Some people like the feeling they get when they 'turn down' parts of their brain, and they do it repeatedly.  Unfortunately, the areas that get 'turned down' are among those that should stay on so that you make good decisions.  And sniffing any inhalant comes with very real dangers from heart problems to death.  Read about the common effects of inhalants on our teen site under facts on drugs: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.
hannahloveless - Beacon Academy, Indiana: How does crack effect the development of a 13 year old?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Hannahloveless,
Smoking cocaine (crack) delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. Smoking, injecting or snorting crack gets the drug (cocaine) to the brain within seconds (really quick!), making it very potent and highly addictive.This causes a really quick and large increase in the brain chemical dopamine (which is associated with pleasure and addiction). This is also what is associated with the 'rush' and 'high' associated with using drugs in this way. Getting this quick 'high feeling' can also increase the likelihood that a person will use the drug again...which of course increases the likelihood of addiction.
 
The earlier a person begins using drugs, the more likely addiction becomes. Also, since the brain is still developing through adolescence, a person who takes a drug like crack at that age risks harming their brain's maturation. We don't know what all the effects of this could be. 
 
 
Liz 
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why can marijuana help with some heart conditians and cancers?

David Shurtleff: 
Hi WJ, I'm not aware that there are any studies that show that MJ improves heart conditions or slows cancer progression.  I do know that there are some ingredients in marijuana that can have medical benefits.  Scientists are working hard to study those to come up with new medicines with less side effects. For example, there is an approved medication called Marinol that contains THC--the active ingredient in marijuana, but in a pill form. Marinol is approved for treating nausea and vomiting from cancer chemotherapy and severe weight loss associated with AIDS. Sounds like you've heard a lot of myths concerning marijuana.  Click on this link to learn more about the facts - http://www.scholastic.com/smp/pdfs/nida/NIDA10-INS1_Stu%20Mag.pdf  

WomensClub19997 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people do drugs when they know they will eventually have to quit? 

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello there. This is a really good and important question. A common related question is 'Why do people try or use drugs when they know it is bad for them?' Well, there are a number of reasons why people might try or use drugs. Some reasons include because they think it will make them feel good, perform better or simply because there is an opportunity, they are curious, or are pressured by their peers. Drug use does not solve these problems. And, stopping drug use once you start or become addicted is really difficult so it is best not to start.  Unfortunately, just knowing the facts  and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs. For more information and resources on youth drug use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
coolcat69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: why do people feel the need to do drugs?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Coolcat69
This is a really good and important question. Some reasons include because they think it will make them feel good, perform better or simply because there is an opportunity, they are curious, or are pressured by their peers. Drug use does not solve these problems. Unfortunately, just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs. For more information and resources on youth drug use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
Liz 
elephant1149 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Whats the best rehab center in America?

Lori Ducharme: Hey there -- that's a tough question.  There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 13,000 alcohol and drug treatment programs in America.  Many of them provide state-of-the-art treatment, much of it developed by scientists working in conjunction with us at NIDA.  There is no one 'best' program -- the best one for any given person might be one that's convenient for them to get to, specializes in the drug they need help with, has counselors they develop a bond with, is affordable... etc.  There are lots of variables.  Overall, though, the hallmark of the 'best' rehab centers is that they deliver evidence-based treatment.  NIDA has developed a document called Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment that provides an overview of effective components of treatment.  That's a hard question, but I hope this helps!
etrejo5 - Oglesby ISD, Texas: what are 3 good ways to get off of addictions?

Lori Ducharme: Let's see... three ways.  One way is to find a professional treatment program in your area.  You can do that by looking online at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov -- some are available just for teens.  Another option is to call 1-800-662-HELP, where private and confidential assistance is available 24/7.  And a third way is to consult your physician - they are there to help you get healthy.  Of course, it's easier to never start using drugs than it is to get off of them, so that's the best option!
baileyr - Croatan High School, North Carolina: When people talk about using bath salts, are they talking about the ones you would buy at a bath store?

Jen Katt: No, not at all.  They are talking about an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.

R The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances.

Legal bath salts have no mind-altering properties. See: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
bath salts
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Zebraboy_zac - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How can you tell when someone does drugs?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Zebraboy
 
Signs of drug use vary by the type of drug. Some make a person relaxed and sleepy, others make them jumpy and nervous. If you are interested you can go into the website below and explore the different drugs to see the physiological and psychological effects of particular drugs.
 
 
Liz 
This is Setareh Kamali's first Chat. She is here to answer questions about mental health issues, like depression or ADHD. She handles media relations and social media at the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) communications office. Setareh recently graduated from The George Washington University where she received her Master's degree in strategic public relations. She is also a University of Maryland alumna. Go Terps! In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and watching too much reality television. 
IMS116dm - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: how do drugs effect your driving?

Susan Weiss: Depends on the drug.  Alcohol is the most common drug associated with accidents (some 5000 teens under 21 die in alcohol related accidents each year)--it makes it hard for people to pay attention, can make them reckless, and sleepy.  Marijuana also affects driving--by slowing people's reflexes, and also affecting their ability to pay attention.  Together, these drugs are worse than either one alone (even when only small amounts are taken).  
Galaticx - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: why do people get addicted to drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question!
It's a complicated issue for sure.  However, in general, it works like this:
People first try drugs for various reasons (for example, curiosity, peer pressure).
The drug feels good because it stimulates the 'reward' area of the brain, the area activated by fun things like eating ice cream or winning a contest.
The person likes the feeling and takes the drug again.
The person becomes more and more focused on taking the drug as other things that used to feel good--remember ice cream and winning?--lose their appeal.
The person become tolerant to the drug, and so must take more and more to get the good feeling back.  It's an awful road tso go down, for sure.
bubbly pig - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How long will it take to get killed from LSD.

Nancy Pilotte: It depends on how soon after taking it that someone does something stupid, like trying to fly off the roof of a building or stand in the way of moving traffic.  This is a drug that deludes you into thinking you are invincible or very strong, but the truth is, you are not.  Here is a link to a fact sheet on LSD and other hallucinogens: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment. If you or a friend is ever in crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
KatzForLyfe - Clinton High School, Iowa: On average, how many teens die a year from drug or alcohol related problems?

Bethany Deeds: Hi KatzForLyfe. According to the CDC the number of drug overdose deaths in 2010 among teens and young adults, ages 15-24, was about 5,000. Most of these deaths were due to accidental overdose, but this number also includes deaths due to suicide and undetermined intent.  As for alcohol, about 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die every year due to underage drinking. 
Da - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: How is dopamine related to ADHD and depression, and what be the best medication to solve the problem?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Da 
 
The levels of dopamine in specific areas of the brain (mesolimbic) are known to play a role in motivational and attentional processes, this is why dysfunctions that affect mesolimbic dopamine transmission can contribute to disorders like depression and ADHD, respectively. Since both ADHD and depression are partly manifestations of neurotransmitter imbalances, like Dopamine but also serotonin in the case of depression, the medications that we typically use in these disorders are designed to reestablish a normal level of dopamine (ritalin) or serotonin (SSRIs like Zoloft).
 
Thanks for the question and good luck to you.
 
Ruben 
SilverDolphin13 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Do people take steriods to be stronger or faster?

Nancy Pilotte: Anabolic steroids, like testosterone, are used by people who want to get stronger or appear bigger or to lose weight. Although your own body produces steroids, people who abuse them are usually taken in far greater doses than those that are prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions. But there is a down side when steroids are used for such non-medical purposes, because they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the body, and can lead to a long list of alterations, such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in men. In the female body, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. Examples of other effects are increased risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible. Our teen site has more information on steroids: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php

Other steroids like estrogens, progesterones, and cortisol are not anabolic and have other uses, ranging from contraception to immune suppression (such as asthma inhalers). These do not build muscle (like the anabolic steroids) and in fact, break muscle down. Your body produces all these steroids in very small amounts at times when they are needed, and they help maintain a healthy body.
We are all shocked when we learn someone has killed themselves. Have you ever wondered why it happens? We have mental health experts here today who can answer your questions.
SOS_Lucky - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what would happen if drugs were legalized because of drug smugling and what is the most dangerous drug?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, SOS_Lucky, thanks for your questions.  It's hard to say what would happen if drugs were legalized, but it's safe to say it wouldn't solve our drug abuse problems.  For example prescription drugs are legal and yet these powerful medications are just behind marijuana in drugs reportedly being abused. 
 
Each day in the United States, more than 3,600 young people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 900 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers, yet the adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More than 1,200 people die each day in the United States because of cigarette use – that is 1 person every 71 seconds (http://go.usa.gov/4264), and has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, the number-one cancer killer of both men and women. Sounds pretty dangerous to me...
QuestionSharing your ADHD medications with a friend is:
  1. Okay because a doctor prescribes these medications.
  2. Prescription drug abuse.
  3. Only abuse if the friend uses them to get high.
  4. Legal.
B. Prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction. (Research Reports: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction)
Now on the Chat is Dr. Antonello 'Anto' Bonci, a neuroscientist who heads up NIDA's labs. Dr. Bonci got his medical degree in Rome, Italy, and later moved to America to work at the University of California at San Francisco. He moved all the way across the country to become the Director of NIDA's Research Program in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Bonci's research explores how drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, affect the connections between neurons in the brain.
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: i think my friend is insane. what should i do?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi 123456789
 
your best choice here would be to talk to a trusted adult, like the school nurse, a teacher you trust, your parents, or your doctor.
 
good luck and kudos for worrying about your friend.
do the right thing.
 
Ruben 
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: This is urgent please tell me how to reverse the effects of an overdose

Dave Thomas: Call 911 now.  
Zomified - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Someone I know is addicted to prescription drugs. How do I talk to her about it? Because I know it's wrong to do.

Lori Ducharme: Hey there, Zomified, and thanks for your question. Prescription drug abuse is unfortunately an increasing problem among teens these days.  On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about trying to help your friend. And that's the very first thing you can do -- be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause. Start at our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov -- it includes a whole section on prescription drug abuse. Next, encourage your friend to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: How do you know if someone is insane/crazy?

Amy Goldstein: Good morning 123456789.  That is a good question.  While it may be hard to tell if someone is struggling with a mental illness, there are certain things you can look for that may clue you in.  For example, a friend who no longer wants to get together and do things that used to be fun for them, is less interested in hygiene/their appearance or is suddenly more irritable and less engaged than usual may be experiencing a depression.  A friend who is suddenly very energetic, getting by with no sleep and having extreme moods (e.g., way happier than usual) could be showing signs of a manic episode, which is a symptom of bipolar disorder.  The most important thing is that if you are at all concerned about a friend, schoolmate, or yourself, don't keep it to yourself.  Tell a parent, teacher, school counselor or other trusted adult.  Help is available; there are qualified mental health professionals who can help individuals who are struggling with mental illness.  For access to treatment resources, go to  http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/.
Dr. Elizabeth Robertson is an expert in human and family development with particular interest in how to help prevention experts use science-based interventions developed for specific age groups of children, their families, schools and communities. She is from the City of Presidents, Quincy , MA., but has lived in IL, VA, AL and NC, DC and MD for extended periods of time. She jokes that she is making a circle back up to MA. She lives in a quaint Victorian town in MD with 224 other homes and her cat Bella Luna Dark Shadow Robertson. Luna helps her with all of her favorite pastimes of gardening, needlepoint, and various other crafts.
Tiger3237 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is in tobacco?

Cindy Miner: Now that's a tough question.  I've seen estimates that there are around 7000 chemicals in tobacco when its analyzed.  We know that there are a number of harmful, or potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco and the smoke from burning it.  These include chemicals like arsenic and formaldehyde which you probably have heard of. There are also chemicals that cause cancer.  And of course tobacco contains nicotine which is the chemical that produces addiction and keeps people smoking.  If you want to learn more about whats in tobacco, keep an eye on our website at the Center for Tobacco Products....
1Dlover - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Why do people who know the dangerous effects of drugs take them?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello there.  Very good question!  Well, I think people take drugs because they think drugs will make them feel good, feel better or perform better.  The reality is that drugs have many harmful physical and psychological effects, and they do not solve the problems that drive people to take them in the first place.  Unfortunately, just knowing that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs. For more information about drugs and the dangers of addiction go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
Redneck lover<3 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: I know a lot of people who think cocaine is cool, and after reading these, I can disagree. The people who have and is still doing this dangerous drug, are in a terrible position. I don't understand why people choose to do this?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Redneck lover,
 
There are a lot of reasons why teens start using drugs. Some include because they think it will make them feel good, perform better or simply because there is an opportunity and they are curious, or are pressured by their peers. You are right though, drug use does not solve these problems and in fact it often makes life problems worse. Unfortunately, just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs. For more information and resources on youth drug use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
Liz
jcates - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how do babies get birth defects

David Shurtleff: Good morning!! Thanks for the question.  There are a lot of reasons, unfortunately.  Smoking while pregnant has been linked with infant mortality, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome. Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, including 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. A mother's drug taking can also result in Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which is a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb. Check out this site for more info on taking drugs during pregnancy -- http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/alcohol_illicitdrug.html

50cent - Clinton High School, Iowa: How affective is rehab?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for this question.  The good news is that drug and alcohol treatment can really work. Quitting using alcohol and other drugs can be very difficult, but treatment is quite effective.  There are many different types of effective treatment approaches.
 
Medication and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, are important elements of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for maintaining its effects. And sometimes, as with other chronic conditions, episodes of relapse may require a return to prior treatment components. A continuum of care that includes a customized treatment regimen—addressing all aspects of an individual's life, including medical and mental health services—and follow–up options (e.g., community – or family-based recovery support systems) can be crucial to a person's success in achieving and maintaining a drug–free lifestyle.
 
If you know someone that has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If your friend is using drugs, encourage him or her 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 might 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.
superstar7 - Clinton High School, Iowa: what are steroids made of?

Nancy Pilotte: Here's the wonky answer:  These are chemicals with a steroidal structure, built on a phenanthrene ring with different reactive groups attached to it.  They are primarily lipid (fat)-soluble and come from the gonads and adrenal glands and can be stored in fat.  For more information on steroids, check out our teen site at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
IMS116dm - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What are the effects of Steroids?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hi IMS116dm. Steroid abuse may lead to serious, even irreversible, health problems -- such as kidney impairment or failure; damage to the liver; and cardiovascular problems including enlargement of the heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol leading to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack (even in young people).
 
Abuse of anabolic steroids may also lead to aggression and other psychiatric problems. Although many users report feeling good about themselves while on steroids, extreme mood swings can also occur, including manic-like symptoms and anger (“roid rage”) that may lead to violence. Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.
 
Even though anabolic steroids do not cause the same high as other drugs, steroids are reinforcing and can lead to addiction. 
killerchef - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how long dose it take to get high?

Marilyn Huestis: Good question!  It depends on which way you take the drug. If a drug is smoked or taken directly into the blood (intravenously), the drug is delivered very rapidly to the brain. If a pill is taken, it takes much longer to feel its effects. 
johnson - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What has more alcohol content, a bottle of beer or a shot of vodka?

Shuly Babitz: A 12-ounce bottle of regular beer has about the same amount of alcohol as a 1.5 ounce shot of hard liquor (e.g., vodka, whiskey, rum, and other distilled spirits). Both count as a single standard drink. For more information about the alcohol content of different beverages, visit RethinkingDrinking.com.
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why do you give rats cocaine? aren't they a lot smaller than people?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Zach:  Good question about drug research! The Rattus norvegicus.  Scientists use rats in studies of many types of drugs of abuse, like cocaine, as you mentioned.  
 
When it comes to conducting tests related to intelligence, learning, and drug abuse, rats are a popular choice due to their high intelligence (believe it or not), cleverness, and adaptability. Their psychology, in many ways, seems to be similar to humans.
 
The great thing about rats and other animal models is that rats don't have social pressures, they don't care about being popular, or how they look (ever seen a rat with a Justin Beiber hairdo?).  Rodents don't know what addiction is.  This means that when scientists observe addictive behaviors in rats, they know that those effects are likely to have similar effects in humans.  
 
And, the rat brain has many of the same 'parts' as the human brain, just on a smaller scale.  Believe it or not, they've been used in biology and psychiatry research since the late 1800's! Since then, rats have been used in many experiments, which have added to our understanding of genetics, diseases, the effects of drugs of abuse.  A 2007 study found rats to possess metacognition (knowing about knowing), a mental ability previously only documented in humans and some primates.

Rats you might have for a pet differs from wild rats in many ways. They are calmer and less likely to bite (WHEW!); they can tolerate greater crowding; they breed earlier and produce more offspring--that means scientists can make sure they use a lot of rats in their studies to have the statistical ability to show an effect.

Check out the attached image to see similarities between the rat and human brain.
 
Thanks for the great question! 
rat vs human brain
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
PRAvenger - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Does marijuana promote weight loss or cause you gain weight?

Nancy Pilotte: Marijuana often prompts people to eat.  One of the side effects of smoking marijuana is craving for food, or getting the 'munchies.'  Some people have advocated the use of marijuana for people who have tissue-wasting diseases like HIV/AIDS that take away their appetites so that they eat more.  Some pharmaceutical companies have been developing drugs to reduce eating by blocking THC, the active compound in marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) that normally promotes eating. 
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: if you go crazy, what should you do

Amy Goldstein: Hi again 123456789.  If you go crazy, you should get yourself help.  Mental health treatments are available.  If you are struggling, it is important to tell someone (friend, parent, trusted adult) and seek professional treatment.  The sooner you ask for help, the better! If you are in crisis and would like to speak to someone 24/7,  call 1-800-273-TALK.
Fiery-Dragon8 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What are the reasons people take drugs besides to make them feel cool?

Aria Crump: Good question--why would people take drugs when there are so many reasons it doesn't make sense!  Some people may start using drugs to make them feel cool or be part of a group, because someone suggested it to them, or because they are curious about what it is like.  Some people try drugs because they feel depressed or have other serious problems and think that it might help them feel better.  People continue using drugs for other reasons--because they can't stop (addicted), they no longer think people will want to be around them if they aren't using, or because they don't know how to ask for help.  Whatever the reasons, drugs use usually creates more problems than it solves.
760426 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What should people do if they're addicted to more than 1 drug?

Joe Frascella: 
Quick answer is to seek help as soon as possible.  Being addicted to drugs can lead to many serious and negative consequences, especially early in one's life.  We know that treatment helps people break the cycle of addiction. 
 
I would encourage them to stop using drugs by having them become aware of the negative consequences drug use has on their brain and body. You can refer them to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. If you know someone addicted, you might talk to them about treatment.
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.
More information about drug treatment can be found at: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
For more information on treatment, check out: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.
HydroHu - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What do people experience under drugs?

Aria Crump: Depends on the drug and the person.  Some drugs may lead to a relaxed or tired feeling while others my make you feel hyper.  Some drugs make you feel out of control and some drugs change your perceptions. Some drugs impact your ability to think clearly and your coordination. The same drug can make one person feel one way another person feel another way.  It's important to remember that drugs affect how the body works and a lot depends on how much of the drug is used.  So someone may abuse prescription pain killers to feel high, but these drugs depress your respiration (slow breathing) which can lead to death. One problem with using drugs is that you may not be aware of when a dose is actually lethal for you.  It's also important to keep in mind that just because your friend isn't having a bad reaction to the drug, doesn't mean that you won't or vice-versa.
El Diablo - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: According to a recent report, A-rod was found guilty of using another banned substance by the MLB. Why do athletes feel a need to use performance enhancers?

Lis Robertson: 
Dear El Diablo (great name)
 
Athletes sometimes take drugs because they think it will improve their performance (steroids, for example). And in fact they can improve some types of performance -- in the short run, but at a big cost. Not only is it cheating--as I'm sure you've heard a lot about lately, especially since Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancers throughout his cycling career--but there are also serious health risks associated with taking these drugs. With steroids, they have to be taken at very high doses, which can put people at risk for heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. Also, because steroids are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone, they can wreak havoc on your body's sexual characteristics. In females, steroids can lower their voice, cause hair growth in places you wouldn't want it, and produce severe acne. In males, they can actually be feminizing; and in all youth it can't stunt your growth. And that's just the short list.  
 
Liz
 
 
madiscantabs444 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how much tobacco is used to make cigarettes each year?

Cindy Miner: 
A lot!  Good news is that tobacco production in the U.S. has been going down, because smoking is decreasing.  I've seen estimates that a billion pounds of tobacco are grown every year in the U.S.  Not all of that goes into cigarettes of course, but most of it does.  The Centers for Disease Control has a really good fact sheet that can give you all sorts of information on how many cigarettes are produced and sold every year.  Check out http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/.
Jatin - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do you think meth is good for the human body?

Jen Katt: No, very bad in fact.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine For some pretty gross pictures of the effects on the human body, see the Sara Bellum Blog http://teens.drugabuse.gov/search/node/methamorphosis.
Pitan II - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why did you scientists decide to study drugs?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Pitan II!  I am a geneticist, and I am interested in understanding how genes impact how easy it is for someone to become addicted to drugs, and how we as scientists can use that knowledge to help make better treatments for people who have become addicted and need help.  
 
Did you know that drug abuse is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental?  That means that when we study drug abuse, we have to consider both nature and nurture.  And, what I think is most interesting about genetics of drug abuse is that even if you have 'bad genes' the environments you are in can override the genetics- cool!  To learn more about why drug abuse is fun to study, check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Do you think you would be interested in studying drug abuse someday?   
Nonsense123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: How do steriods make a guys penis smaller?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Nonsense
 
Actually steroids don't shrink your penis but your testicles. This happens because of the hormonal imbalances caused by the ridiculously exaggerated levels of androgenic steroids, which, paradoxically, stimulate the production of the female hormones estrogen (OUCH). This is why steroid abuse can also give you big breasts (yes you heard me right).
 
In addition to shrinked testicles, and development of breasts, guys cal also suffer from reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, and increased risk for prostate cancer. 
 
better to stay away, methinks.
 
good luck and stay smart
ruben
SuperReader1012 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is LSD?

Bethany Deeds: Hi SuperReader1012. LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) is a hallucinogen and one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. For information about LSD and similar drugs, go to www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp. Thanks for your question!
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How can you admit someone into a drug rehab facility

Lori Ducharme: Hey there, TheChosenOne.  You can find a treatment program in your area by checking an online locator at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov, or by calling 1-800-662-HELP.  You'll need to talk to someone at the treatment program who can help you.  Just remember, though, you can't force someone to get better -- you can only support them and be the friend they need.  Good luck and thanks for your question.
123456789 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Have any of you scientists ever smoked?

Joni Rutter: Yes. I know scientists who smoke cigarettes. Drugs of abuse are not discerning on who gets addicted.  I hope you don't.  Stay smart!
Pitan II - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What's the point of taking steriods for professional athletes when there are multitudes of tests for testing for them?

Lis Robertson: 
Hey Pitan II
 
Athletes sometimes take drugs because they think it will improve their performance (steroids, for example). And in fact they can improve some types of performance -- in the short run, but at a big cost. Not only is it cheating--as I'm sure you've heard a lot about lately, especially since Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancers throughout his cycling career, but there are also serious health risks associated with taking these drugs. With steroids, they have to be taken at very high doses, which can put people at risk for heart disease, cancer and other health problems. Also, because steroids are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone they can wreak havoc on your body's sexual characteristics. In females, steroids can lower their voice, cause hair growth in places you wouldn't want it, and produce severe acne. In males, they can actually be feminizing. And in all youth it can't stunt your growth. And that's just the short list.  
 
Liz
 
Tigers4128 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Where do drugs come from?

Aria Crump: Drugs are produced all over the world.  You may be aware that marijuana, the most frequently used illicit drug, is produced from the cannabis plant.  Heroin is made from the opium poppy, found largely in Asia.  Cocaine is produced from the coca plant, native to South America.  Many drugs, particularly prescription drugs such as sedatives are synthesized from chemicals in a laboratory.  Sometimes drugs come from illegal laboratories.  For example, methamphetamine is sometimes produced in in-home laboratories in the US where toxic chemical reactions endanger those in the home.
joshm69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what does Viagra do?

Nancy Pilotte: Viagra is a prescription medicine that is given to males to help them get and keep an erection.  Because it targets a single enzyme that is mostly restricted to the heart, it was originally developed to help keep blood vessels in the heart open.  But its effects on the testis were an unanticipated side effect, which became the reason that it is now available for men with erectile dysfunction. 
Zebraboy_zac - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Hey, why do people do drugs? Do the think it will help solve anything?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi again Zebra Boy
 
Good QUESTION!
 
There are a lot of reasons why teens start using drugs. Some include because they think it will make them feel good or perform better or simply because there is an opportunity and they are curious, or are pressured by their peers. You are right though, drug use does not solve these problems and in fact it often makes life problems worse. Unfortunately, just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs. For more information and resources on youth drug use go to:http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
 
Liz
 
22123 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How do drugs affect people's daily life?

Marilyn Huestis: Drugs affect people in many ways. It may affect their health, even take their life if an overdose occurs with drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and many others. Drugs can affect your heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, reproductive function- almost all important organs and tissues in the body. Drugs may affect someone's ability to learn and advance academically- we call this affecting someone's life trajectory. This means they may have taken a very different path if they had not been on drugs. Drugs can also affect your ability to get and keep a good job. Individuals who use drugs may have to take drug tests that would detect their drug use, and frequently have work-related accidents that harm themselves or others. Drugs also affect personal relationships as well, especially if drug use becomes the most important part of someone's life and drug use continues even if the person had problems in this area of their life. And there are serious consequences to using drugs when a woman is pregnant--consequences that can affect the entire life of that child. 
Zomified - Croatan High School, North Carolina: When I was sick I had to take steriods. Did that affect anything ?

Nancy Pilotte: Hopefully, the steroids that you took helped to make you better.  It is very likely that the steroid you took was related to cortisol, a steroid used as an anti-inflammatory.  Anabolic steroids, like testosterone, are used by people who want to get stronger or appear bigger or to lose weight. Although your own body produces steroids, people who abuse them are usually taken in far greater doses than those that are prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions.  Other steroids like estrogens, progesterones, and cortisol are not anabolic and have other uses, ranging from contraception to immune suppression (such as asthma inhalers). These do not build muscle (like the anabolic steroids) and in fact, break muscle down. Your body produces all these steroids in very small amounts at times when they are needed, and they help maintain a healthy body.
IMS120cp - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What are some effects of LSD?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hi IMS120cp. LSD is a hallucinogen (similar to 'shrooms' and PCP) -- because they cause hallucinations or profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Reported effects of LSD include: feeling several different emotions at once or swinging rapidly from one emotion to another; delusions; visual hallucinations; an altered sense of time and self; or “cross over” of different senses (for example, feeling colors or seeing sounds). These changes can be frightening and can cause panic. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death while using LSD. LSD users can also experience flashbacks, or recurrences of certain aspects of the drug experience. These can occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. 
 
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: casn your sexual oreintation be changed by using any drugs, legal or illegal?

Cindy Miner: LOL!  Did someone tell you that?  HA!  No way....just think how many people smoke and drink, did it change their orientation?  Nope.
Dante - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : what if you know a friend has marijiuana and others want you to go with them to get some?

David Shurtleff: Good Day, Italy!  Thanks for the question.  If you feel comfortable, you should talk to your friend...tell them you are concerned about them.  Also, they might not know risks of using MJ- sure it gets you high, which can make you feel good at the moment - BUT keep in mind that marijuana has been shown to have direct effects on memory (and grades), which is not so good for learning in school.  Using marijuana (and other drugs too) can negatively impact relationships with friends and parents, not to mention, if they get caught with it...there could be problems with their school, parents, and legal problems too!  If you don't feel comfortable talking to them, seek the help of a trusted adult.  Thank you for taking the time to be concerned about your friend.  If you'd like more information on what teens think about marijuana and other drugs, click here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teenshttp://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog.

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollIf I Thought I Needed Drug Treatment, I Would Know Who To Contact

Yes 41 percent, no 47 percent, and maybe 12 percent.

Banana&Burger8 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How much time do you have to smoke to get addicted?

Cindy Miner: There is no easy answer to this one.  It really varies among people.  Some people can start smoking and seemingly become addicted very quickly....for others it might take longer.  And occasionally there is that person who seems to be able to smoke now and then and not get addicted.  Even though they aren't addicted though, they are still exposing themselves to all those cancer causing chemicals in smoke if they continue to use.  
ariannagrande - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: can all drugs affect eyesight?

Nancy Pilotte: Some drugs like LSD can produce hallucinations and others can make you very sleepy so that you close your eyes!  But no drug directly targets the visual system.
nugggetz - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: what is withdrawl?

Joe Frascella: 
Withdrawal is the group of symptoms that occur when there is the abrupt discontinuation or decrease in intake of medications or recreational drugs.  In order to experience the symptoms of withdrawal, one must have first developed a physical or psychological dependence (often referred to as chemical dependency). This happens after consuming one or more substances for a certain period of time, which is both dose dependent and varies based upon the drug consumed. For example, prolonged use of an anti-depressant is most likely to cause a much different reaction when discontinued than the repeated use of an opioid, such as heroin. For more information check out: www.drugabuse.gov.
 
Hope this helps. 
 
For more info on drugs 
Bulls23 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: You guys are really great for doing this thanks a lot

Jack Stein: thanks...and you guys are awesome for participating!
Pitan II - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: If drug education is this widespread, why do people still take drugs?

Susan Weiss: Great question.  People generally take drugs to feel good, to experiment, or to feel better (help them cope with problems), and they usually start in their teens, when peers start to overtake parents and other adults as influencers over teens' behavior.  Its also a time of testing the limits--which is a normal part of growing up. Education is important in making sure that kids know what they may be getting themselves into, but its not the only thing that's going to stop drug use.  Teens need other activities that excite them and fuel their passions--music, movies, sports, art, friends..... and that don't go with drug-taking.  Finally, many of the harmful effects of drugs don't show up right away (unless you're unlucky enough to get into a car with a drunk driver, for example), so by the time someone is aware that they have a problem, it can be very difficult to stop.  This is a question that we could spend days discussing--there's so much to it, but these are just a few of my thoughts --and I'd really love to know yours.
clarismai - Clinton High School, Iowa: how long does drugs stay in your system?

Nancy Pilotte: It depends.  Some drugs like cocaine have what is called a 'half-life' of 20 minutes or so.  In other words, half of the cocaine you took is gone in 20 minutes.  Others, like the delta-hydrocannabinol in marijuana, can last for days because it gets concentrated in the fat in your body and is released from that fat store very slowly. This link will take you to more info on drugs and addiction: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction.
Smoking causes disease in every organ system of the body. A third of all cancer deaths in the United States are linked to tobacco. Do you have a question about smoking?
joshm69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Can you get HIV/AIDS from sharing needles?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello there. Very good and important question.  Sharing needles and risky sex are the two main ways that HIV is spread because these actions expose you to bodily fluids that may be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  HIV shuts down your immune system and causes the disease called autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) if you do not get and maintain treatment.  To learn more about how drug abuse puts you at risk for getting HIV, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/hiv-aids-and-drug-abuse
ilovefood7 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people like to take drugs?

Joni Rutter: 
Thanks for your excellent question ilovefood7!
People say they use drugs because they think it will be 'fun.' Some say they use them to relieve stress. Either way, drugs have a very clever way of hijacking your brain to make you think they are pleasurable: they cause the brain to release a substance called dopamine. But these feelings are short-lived. Dopamine--a chemical in the brain called a neurotransmitter--is closely involved in important aspects of brain function, which makes it a key player in drug abuse and addiction.
 
Dopamine is present in certain regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, thought, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. So, all over! In fact, when you have a nice meal or listen to your favorite music, dopamine signals your brain that something important has happened that needs to be remembered--prompting you to repeat the behavior.
 
Drugs can cause a much more powerful release of dopamine so that such natural pleasures are no longer as pleasurable, because they cannot produce the same 'high' that drug abusers remember and want to experience again. Eventually, people become focused on obtaining and using drugs at every opportunity--although recreating the initial high becomes nearly impossible. Dopamine is also involved in other brain disorders that have nothing to do with drug abuse: the tremors and other symptoms that characterize Parkinson's disease, for example, are the direct result of the loss of neurons that make dopamine.

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 really 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 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, which means they feel physically bad when it is not in their system (and go through withdrawal when they don't have it), 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 and deadly consequences is the essence of addiction.

Do you know where you can find out everything you wanted to know about drug abuse?  Click here for some drug facts!
 
Thx for the great question!
webmd3 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How many different drugs are there?

Aria Crump: 
There are a lot of different types of drugs!  About 23 commonly abused drugs--take a look at this chart: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-drugs-chart.  But then there are other drugs that are very dangerous and only used by a few.
yayforferrets - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what are the signs of adhd in teens?

Amy Goldstein: Hi yayforferrets.  ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder usually has 2 key features.  The first is inattention - so someone who gets bored with things easily, forgets to do homework assignments, loses track of small details, has difficulty focusing...someone who teachers think is daydreaming a lot during class.  The other sign is hyperactivity - this would be someone who fidgets in their seat, is always 'on the go,' or talks a lot.  ADHD in kids also involves some impulsivity - someone who is impatient, has difficulty waiting their turn, interrupts other.  Most kids/teens have all of these (inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity) to some degree.  It may be ADHD when these things are getting in the way of doing what you need to do - like schoolwork.  If you think that you or someone you know has ADHD it's important to see a qualified mental health professional who can make the appropriate diagnosis.  For more information about ADHD see  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/what-are-the-symptoms-of-adhd-in-children.shtml
We are now introducing Dr. Aria Crump---whose work for NIDA is all about prevention. She also is an expert on preventing substance use in diverse communities and curbing the spread of prescription drug abuse. Dr. Crump has previously worked in schools and communities to increase knowledge and action about avoiding drugs and HIV and staying healthy. She believes that families can help kids make good health choices in their lives. She enjoys spending time with family, including her husband and twelve year-old daughter. Jan Lipkin is a volunteer after retiring from NIDA where she served as deputy communications director for 15 years. She worked on many national health campaigns such as PEERx, the prescription drug abuse education project on NIDA's teen web site. (Check out NIDA for Teens at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.) Ms. Lipkin plans to spend most of her time volunteering at the National Zoo, working with reptiles and great apes.
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Does alcohol really make you throw up

Shuly Babitz: Yup - not very appealing, right? Alcohol seems to trigger vomiting in two different ways. One is by irritating the stomach. There's also an area of the brain that monitors the contents of the blood for toxins. If the level of alcohol in the blood reaches a high enough level, the area triggers vomiting. Vomiting is your body's way of showing it feels threatened by the high level of alcohol in the system and is trying desperately to get rid of the alcohol to protect itself. Blech. 
McTubs - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What are some long term affects of using drugs?

Joe Frascella: 
Great question, but the answer is not straightforward, as it depends on the drug, the person taking the drug, other conditions.  Let me explain a bit.  The general long-term effects of taking drugs is addiction.  
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, change the brain.  And, as a result, drugs can 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. For more information go to:  www.drugabuse.gov.

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/.
IMS105qd - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What percent of poeple use drugs every day?

Bethany Deeds: Great question! In 2011, almost 9% (22.5 million) of people, age 12 or older, used an illicit drug in the past month. In the same year about 10% of teens, age 12-17, used drugs in the past month. 
Spiderwomen&JB - Croatan High School, North Carolina: My family has a long history of alcholics and addicts to over the counter and percription drugs does that mean that i have a higher chance to become an addict? 

Anto Bonci: Great question. Yes. There is evidence that some people with a family history of addiction have a higher chance of becoming addicted themselves. Knowing your family history can help you stay away from those drugs and avoid the risk. More information about the influence of genes on addiction can be found on our website.
EricG - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What are the costs of drug abuse to society?

Lori Ducharme: Hi Eric.  This is a really important question but a very difficult one to answer.  When you calculate the costs of drug abuse to society, you need to consider a whole bunch of costs.  These include the costs to the healthcare system for delivering emergency treatment and rehab; the costs of providing healthcare for all of the problems that drug abuse causes (accidents, injuries); the costs associated with supporting people who cannot work or provide for themselves because of their addictions; the costs to victims of drug-related crimes for their losses of life and property; the costs to the criminal justice system to prosecute and incarcerate drug offenders; the costs of lower productivity in the workplace due to workers who abuse drugs; etc.  You see why this is a complicated number to come up with!!  I can't give you an exact number, but know that it's big!  Thanks for your question.
2chainz - Clinton High School, Iowa: how can you know if your friend is addicted to drugs?

Ruben Baler: 

Hi 2chainz

It is commendable that you are worried about a friend using drugs. You probably know by now that drug abusers often try to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problem. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, look for the following warning signs:

Physical warning signs of drug abuse

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.

Behavioral signs of drug abuse

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school.
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities).

Psychological warning signs of drug abuse

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness.
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason.

If you are worried that your friend is already addicted Your friend may already be compulsively seeking and using a drug despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, physical problems brought on by drug abuse, or family problems, then he or she probably is addicted.

The physical signs of abuse or addiction can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. Each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects. And while some of these effects can be seen, others can not. It is therefore important that if you suspect a loved one is addicted, you suggest they seek professional help to determine if this is the case and, if so, the appropriate treatment.

For referrals to treatment programs, call 1-800-662-HELP, or visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration online at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

good luck to you and your friend.
 
Ruben 
tbuttermark - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why are people on the polls saying yes to drugs being cool when they are clearly not?

Marsha Lopez: Thanks for your question, tbuttermark.  Actually, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study nearly 80% of high school seniors disapprove of regular marijuana smoking and that disapproval is even higher for most other drugs they survey (http://monitoringthefuture.org/).  So maybe not as many people as you think are saying drugs are cool.  Marijuana use is often thought to be harmless, but drugs are chemicals that invade the brain and interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Research has shown that drugs affect learning and memory, which can affect your schoolwork; coordination and judgment, which affects your ability to drive and play sports; and can be addictive. Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help. Check out this link for more facts on drugs www.teens.drugabuse.gov
beamsword - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it true that LSD and marijuana make worms grow out of your brains? I heard this from my teacher

Joni Rutter: 
Hey beamsword:  I have never heard of that!  Here's what you can do:  Read these websites and write a 1 page report for your teacher, as it sounds like they need to learn a thing or two about drugs!
 
Here is some information on our website about marijuana and LSD
 
Hope you can teach your teacher the facts about these drugs!
nugggetz - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: what drugs can make you depressed?

Joe Frascella: 
Many drugs with continued use have been shown to cause depression...for example, cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, ecstasy, etc.
  
For more information on drugs, check out: www.drugabuse.gov.
1212 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what are the effects of marajauna

Ruben Baler: 
hi 1212
they are too many to list here, but I would invite you to click in this link and learn more about this important question:
 
stay safe and be smart about drugs
cheers
ruben 
BobTheBuilder - Clinton High School, Iowa: How do prescription drugs stimulate the mind?

Jen Katt: Prescription 'stimulants' like Adderall and Ritalin act in the brain similarly to a family of key brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and dopamine. Stimulants enhance the effects of these chemicals in the brain. The associated increase in dopamine can induce a feeling of euphoria when stimulants are taken nonmedically--so I suppose that's like 'stimulating' the brain, but not the mind. People who take prescription stimulants not prescribed for them risk increasing their blood pressure and heart rate, and can even become addicted.  Not helpful to the mind or body.
Person1237 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is the most addicting drug in the world?

Marilyn Huestis: 1 in 3 people who try smoking cigarettes develop problematic drug use.  1 in 9 people who smoke marijuana develop dependence. Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine are also very addictive. The new 'designer' synthetic drugs (i.e. spice, K2 and 'bath salts') are really addicting as well--these are up to 100 times stronger than the natural plant products they are designed to replicate. 
Epicproject6 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people even do drugs?

Anto Bonci: Good question! There are many different reasons. For example, some people do it because of peer pressure, some people because of a belief that the drug will make you feel better or be more accepted by your circle of friends, and some people because of ignorance, and not understanding how harmful they are. For scientific facts on drugs, check out the NIDA teen site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
joseph - Sullivan High School, Missouri: Is Marijuana really bad for you?

Susan Weiss: It can be--especially for a young person.  Research tells us that regular use of marijuana in someone who starts young can have long lasting effects on the brain (which is actively developing into the early 20's).  It may decrease your IQ; you can get addicted to it (about 1 in 6 who start using in their teens get addicted at some point); it messes with your coordination--which affects driving and athletic performance.   And of course smoking anything is not good for your lungs. 
Halle_Ravens52 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How many types of drugs are there ...?

Jen Katt: Oh, endless varieties.  Check out  
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.
nugggetz - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: what are some physical signs of drug abuse?

Lori Ducharme: 

 

Physical symptoms will depend on the drug, so they can vary.  More generally, though, there are questions people can ask to assess whether or not a person has a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:
  • Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
  • Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
  • Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
  • Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
  • Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
 
To learn more about drug addiction, visit our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
blue44 - Oglesby ISD, Texas: can drugs influence your boby

Marilyn Huestis: Absolutely. Your body tries to protect your baby from anything that is taken, but many drugs are able to pass to the baby and can affect the baby's growth, brain development, and especially issues like ability to learn easily, get along well with other children in school, and might (we don't know for sure yet) make them more vulnerable to drug use themselves when they grow up. Also, mothers may not take care of their babies well if they are addicted to drugs.
SOS_Lucky - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can you get high off caffeine?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey SOS_Lucky:  You sure can get high off of caffeine!  Even though it is legal, caffeine is addictive, and withdrawal symptoms include headache, dizziness, and shaking.  Some people feel the effects of caffeine faster than others.  If your body doesn't break down caffeine fast, too much of it can cause heart palpitations, and people with heart trouble should steer clear of caffeine.
 
 
You probably know that some sodas have caffeine, others have sugar, and many have both. A component of addiction is that the person affected has irresistible urges that make it difficult for them to moderate intake of common substances, like food and soda.
 
What do you think? 
lalaa72 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is a molly

Marsha Lopez: Hi lalaa72, molly is a name sometimes used for MDMA, or ecstasy.  The crazy thing about ecstasy is that makers can add anything they want to the drug so people who use it don't know what they are really taking. Scary. We do know that MDMA interferes with the body's temperature regulation, which leads to dangerous overheating, called hypothermia. This can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or even death. For more information on MDMA, please check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/mdma-ecstasy
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: whats to stop people from buying marijuana in colorado or washington and selling them in other states where its legal?

Nancy Pilotte: There are laws in states other than Colorado or Washington that deal with trafficking of illegal substances.  Since we focus on the science behind drug abuse, you should take a look at the medical consequences of marijuana use.  Go to our marijuana page on the teen site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
111kl - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Are bath salts bad?

Jen Katt: Not the legal kind you put in your bathtub.  But the illegal ones, yes, very bad.   The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can cause paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium in some people; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
caden - VISTA, Oklahoma: my friend ashley is on crack and how does she stop?

Lori Ducharme: Recovering from crack/cocaine addiction requires professional help.   You can find a treatment program near you in an online database at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Some programs are available just for adolescents. If your friend is in crisis, she (or you) can call 1-800-662-HELP for private and confidential assistance 24/7.   Giving her your support as a friend can also help. I hope this helps, good luck!
weinershnitchel - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How does sexual intercourse give you AIDS?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 

Hello.  Very good question.  Sexual intercourse exposes you to bodily fluids that may be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). So, if infected bodily fluids get into your body, you can become infected.  HIV shuts down your immune system and causes the disease called acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) if you do not get and maintain treatment. To learn more about how drug use and risky sexual behavior puts you at risk for getting HIV, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/hiv-aids-and-drug-abuse

nugggetz - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: what is the most harmful drug?

Anto Bonci: 
They are all harmful. Any drug taken at high doses can be fatal. And any drug taken repeatedly can produce irreversible damage to your brain and body. There are, for example, cases of people that died from a single exposure to cocaine or amphetamines. Get the facts on the NIDA for Teens site.
*DN* - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what is vasoconstriction?

Nancy Pilotte: Vasoconstriction occurs when the diameter of a blood vessel decreases, often in response to a drug like cocaine (or other local anesthetics).  'Vaso' refers to blood vessel, and 'constriction' I hope is obvious.
*DN* - Croatan High School, North Carolina: are energy drinks bad for you?

Ruben Baler: 
hi DN,
 
We are still investigating this question. It appears, so far that, in moderation, the dangers might be modest, but we are nevertheless concerned about the high caffeine content in some drinks that could cause serious damage to some people that may be at higher risk for dangerous health effects, particularly if they have, for example, some cardiovascular vulnerability. Another problem of energy drinks is that the manufacturers don't even have to list all the ingredients in the drinks.
 
hope this helps
thanks for the question.
 
ruben 
DKendall5587 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: what does the proof on alcohol mean?

Shuly Babitz: Alcohol proof is a measure of alcohol content in a drink. In the U.S., the proof is twice the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the beverage. For example, an 80 proof shot of hard liquor contains 40% alcohol. Pure grain alcohol (100% ABV) is 200 proof. 
joshm69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what are some Rx drugs are most abused

Jen Katt: The most abused are prescription painkillers, stimulants, and drugs prescribed for anxiety.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/what-are-some-commonly-abused-prescription-drugs.
BobTheBuilder - Clinton High School, Iowa: How does heroin work?

Nancy Pilotte: Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and in the body), especially those involved in the perception of pain and in reward. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem—important for automatic processes critical for life, such as breathing (respiration), blood pressure, and arousal. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of respiration.

After an intravenous injection of heroin, users report feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin, heaviness of the extremities, and clouded mental functioning. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Users who do not inject the drug may not experience the initial rush, but other effects are the same.

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops, in which the user’s physiological (and psychological) response to the drug decreases, and more heroin is needed to achieve the same intensity of effect. Heroin users are at high risk for addiction—it is estimated that about 23 percent of individuals who use heroin become dependent on it.  
Bubbler doodz - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: can you drive while high?

Lori Ducharme: Getting high can seriously impact your ability to drive. Drugs and alcohol affect the part of your brain that controls your motor coordination, your ability to make fast and precise movements, and your vision - all necessary for you to drive safely. In addition, alcohol and drugs can impair your judgement, and makes you more likely to take risks like driving through a yellow or red light and driving faster than the posted speed limit. Some drugs, including alcohol, can also make you sleepy and increase the chances of falling asleep while driving. So, the short answer is that you just can't drive safely while high.  Please don't try!
IMS122wr - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What are the most commonly abused prescription drugs ?

Jen Katt: The most abused are prescription painkillers, stimulants, and drugs prescribed for anxiety.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/what-are-some-commonly-abused-prescription-drugs.
benjitheman51 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Why are teenagers addicted to drugs easier than adults?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question! You are right that the earlier in life a person starts using an addictive drug, the more likely he or she is to become addicted.
 
The reason likely has to do with the fact that a teen's brain is still developing. Possibly, teens are more vulnerable because  the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex lags behind other areas that mature more rapidly. The prefrontal cortex is an area that gives us self-control and enables us to make good decisions to choose long-term goals over short-term kicks.
 
Anatomy16 - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: Is it not healthy to smoke cigarettes when your pregnant? and if it is what are the effects that could harm the baby?

Cindy Miner: 
Correct! It is not healthy to smoke cigarettes when you are pregnant - for the mom and for the baby. The mom is exposed to all sorts of harmful chemicals, some that cause cancer, and to nicotine which is highly addictive. Some effects on the growing baby are very severe - increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Other adverse effects include preterm birth, respiratory problems, slowed fetal growth and low birth weight - an important risk factor for later developmental delay. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition and is associated with behavioral problems as children grow up. In addition, smoking more than a pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of the child becoming addicted to tobacco if he or she starts smoking. Here's a link to some more information about smoking during pregnancy http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/prenatal-exposure-to-drugs-abuse.  
 
If you know someone who is pregnant and smoking connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
Archie - Clinton High School, Iowa: Are certain drugs okay or good for you in moderation?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Archie,
There are some reports that a glass of red wine on an occasional basis may have some health benefits.  I have not seen any similar data for crack, heroin, marijuana or any other drugs of abuse.   Further, moderate use of drugs of abuse can hurts one's health and lead to heavy drug use.
 
Here are some drug facts if you want some more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse.
Dave
Quiefqueen848 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What does marijuana do to your basketball game if you use it every day?

Ruben Baler: 
hi Quiefqueen848
 
probably not so smart of an idea, since one of the main effects of marijuana is to impair your motor coordination and decision making, both of which you probably what to keep in tip top shape to play this sport.
 
hope you agree.
 
stay smart
ruben
 
c.consuegra - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Can cigarettes be as fatal as other drugs?

Cindy Miner: Sure can....did you know that over 400,000 people in the U.S. die each year from the effects of tobacco?  Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of disease and death in the United States.  This is why we are working so hard at the Center of Tobacco Products to ensure healthier lives!
mickey15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: is there anyway to solve depression without taking medicine?

Amy Goldstein: Hi mickey.  Research has taught us that the best way to treat depression is usually a combination of medication and psychosocial, or 'talk' therapies.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used as an effective talk therapy to treat depression in both teens and adults.  It is important to make decisions about treatment of depression along with a qualified mental health professional.  Talking to a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed social worker is important as they can answer any questions you might have about the different ways to treat depression.  If you'd like to turn to complementary health products and practices for depression, visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): http://nccam.nih.gov/health/depression.htm. For more information about depression and its treatment see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml.  If you would like to get connected to treatment providers, call 1-800-662-TALK or 1800-273-TALK.
Delirious Daja - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How often do people overdose from drugs?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, DD, thanks for your question.  About 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 24 die from drug overdoses. But that doesn't even count the number of people who take drugs and drive, killing themselves and other people. Plus--- it doesn't count people who get into fights while high and kill someone with a gun, a knife or with their fists etc. Those are harder statistics to get.  The group that dies the most from overdoses is people from age 25-54---with the highest rate being from 45-54. Many of these are people who started drug use when they were younger, became addicted, led a difficult life of addiction, and eventually their luck ran out. Others are people who started abusing prescription drugs ---mostly painkillers---and became addicted. Some are people who had tried to quit drugs, and when they relapsed, took such a high dose it killed them.  
gtremblay - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what can be considered the worst drug out there?

Nancy Pilotte: There are so many to pick!  Nicotine is one.  About 443,000 die from tobacco usage in the US each year and about 10% of these deaths are due to second-hand smoke.  On average, a heavy smoker decreases his/her lifespan by 13 years.  Another is alcohol--about 80,000 people die from the effects of alcohol every year.  The numbers of deaths from drugs like cocaine or heroin are much lower because many fewer people use them, but they can have devastating effects on your brain, ranging from changing your reaction times (affecting your driving) to impairing your ability to think, remember, or make good decisions. This is truly a case of 'naming your poison.'
El Diablo - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Is educating teens on drug abuse a good way to prevent them from doing drugs?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi again El Diablo
 
The evidence from prevention research indicates that education alone is not enough. The most effective approaches to prevention include helping kids to develop skills in a number of areas. For example, social skills that help youth to negotiate and feel competent in social situations with adults and especially peers. This would include refusal skills -- that is knowing how to say NO when a drug offer is made in a way that gets the intensity of the message across but maintains the friendship. Family involvement is also important. Another important area for skill development is academic -- when you are successful, you are less likely to want to escape into using drugs. Some really effective prevention programs involve training parents to provide appropriate warmth and support to their children while being consistent in disciple and setting limits. At the same time they train young teens to talk openly with parents in expressing their views and problem solving. One import aspect of these programs is that they are interactive and involve practicing skills so that they feel natural and are accessible when needed. Information about drugs is an important piece of prevention but certainly not enough.
 
  
Liz 

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Think Marijuana Is Good For You Because It's A Natural Herb From A Plant

Yes 19 percent, no 71 percent, and maybe 10 percent.

swimma - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How many people on average die from a drug overdose every year?

Bethany Deeds: Hey swimma, thanks for your question! According to the CDC almost 37,500 people died in 2009 due to drug overdose. 
Sunny & Lauren - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I have been wondering, how it is you know so much about drugs if you haven't tried them? Where is your information coming from? If you have no first hand experience how can you conduct an acurate response? The internet isn't always right so how are you so well educated in this topic? So how can you preach this? Do you have "guinea pigs"?

Joni Rutter: 
Sunny&Lauren:  Sometimes I drink a glass of beer or wine with dinner, so I have tried alcohol!  One of the things we do as scientists is ask for people who use all sorts of drugs to volunteer in our studies so that we can ask them questions about their experiences, and we sample their blood to learn about the biological changes that the drugs cause over time.  You'd be surprised at how much we learn!  We call people who participate in these studies volunteers, not 'guinea pigs' :)  
 
And, you are right--the internet is not always right!  I'm glad you realize that!  It is important to get accurate information about drugs. A good place to go for accurate and up-to-date information on drugs is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
We don't think of educating people about drug abuse as preaching, but we do want people to know the facts -- or at least know where to get trusted facts.
 
I don't have guinea pigs, but I have a cat and a fish tank :)
eat - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: do you think any of these questions are stupid?

Joni Rutter: Not stupid, but some are funnier than others :)
blue44 - Oglesby ISD, Texas: is drugs good for you sometimes

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Blue,
By drugs, I assume you mean drugs of abuse, like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana.  Most of these really have little or no positive health effects. Some states have legalized marijuana for the treatment of medical conditions, like pain. However, marijuana has not been approved by the FDA, the agency that examines the evidence and determines scientifically when a drug is safe.
Dave
Incredibles138 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How is it that people are addicted to huffing, does it have any addicting chemicals in it?

Ruben Baler:
HiIncredibles138.
Great question,
in some cases it has been shown that some psychoactive ingredients (toluene, for example) can cause a boost in dopamine, which is responsible for the high. In most cases however, the huffing works more like alcohol, causing sedation and only indirectly stimulating dopamine release.
More information on inhalants, if you care to know more about, can be found here http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/inhalants.
 
cheers
and good luck
 
ruben 
chicken - Clinton High School, Iowa: what is lsd

Dave Thomas: 
Its a drug that makes people hallucinate, start seeing strange things, like chickens typing on computers!!!
 
 Here is a link to the whole story: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/lsd-acid.
cotakid - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Can people function while being high?

Lori Ducharme: 
Hi cotakid.
Well, 'function' is a relative term.  You can perform some tasks, but many of your behaviors are likely to be significantly impacted.  For example, drugs can affect the part of your brain that controls your motor coordination, your ability to make fast and precise movements, your vision, and your judgement.  So your physical abilities and your mental abilities will be impaired.  This is not a good combination if your goal is to be a safely-functioning individual!
bigkissses101 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how many different kind of drugs are there in the u.s.

Marsha Lopez: Bigkisses right back at you!  You ask a question that is really hard to answer.  There are just so many drugs, and new ones emerging every day.  You can look at the DEA website of controlled substances to get some idea of what's out there...http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html.
Daisy - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Do you consider the use of cigarettes as drug abuse?

David Shurtleff: The short answer is yep.  The longer 'scientific answer' is people who use tobacco regularly are likely addicted to nicotine, the major psychoactive and addictive chemical in tobacco. Addiction, including nicotine addiction,  is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and abuse, even in the face of negative health consequences.  In the US, almost 35 million people smoke cigarettes every day (and a lot of these people are youth and young adults).  Many of these people want to quit, but unfortunately, often fail.  In fact, more than 85 percent of those who try to quit on their own relapse, most within a week. Fortunately there are effective medications and therapies that work to help people quit.  For more information on smoking, click here - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco.
tsimmons - Oglesby ISD, Texas: hello jen how can you help some one on marijuana?

Jen Katt: You can be a good friend and help them understand the risks of smoking marijuana--involve them in drug-free activities that you find fun, invite them to join you.  You might tell them to read this interesting booklet http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/teens_brochure_2013.pdf so they know the risks.  If you think they're addicted, they may be able to find treatment help by calling 1-800-662-HELP or going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.  Good luck. 
Rainbowfiredra8 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Is heroin worse than cocaine?

Dave Thomas: 
Thanks for the question.  I would say they are about the same.  They are both very addictive, and both can kill you.  They work different in the brain, but in terms of heath, neither is safe...
Dave 
drugsarebad - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I think there are drug dealers in my school... how can I tell?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello there.  Interesting question.  The fact that you don't know who they are is a good thing. :)
 
OK, to answer the question: If you suspect that there might be drug dealers in your school, I suggest that you tell a teacher, guidance counselor or the Principal.  It is important for the school to be aware of this.  I think the important thing is for you to know the harmful effects that drugs have on your brain and body and learn how to protect yourself. Here are some resources you can use to learn more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/.
penguins!!!! - Croatan High School, North Carolina: why do teenagers get addicted faster than adults?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey penguins!!!!  That's a wicked good question! (I lived in Boston for many years and haven't outgrown using 'wicked' :) )
 
People who begin using drugs as young teens are at greater risk of becoming addicted compared to those who begin drug use as an adult due because the teenage brain is still growing, like the rest of you! The part of the brain that controls impulses is not fully formed in teenagers. Scientists have shown that the human brain continues to develop until the age of about 25--no other organ in the human body is like this! Wowza!  Check out one of our NIH scientist's work on this:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/giedd.html
 
Keep asking good questions!
People ages 12 to 20 drink about 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. That's why companies that sell alcohol make ads that appeal to young people.
IMS126tt - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: why do people harm prescription drugs

Jen Katt: People may take other peoples Rx drugs for many different reasons: pain, to get high, to stay alert, to experiment...whatever the reason, taking meds that weren't prescribed for you--or taking your own meds in ways or amounts not intended--is prescription drug ABUSE.  And can be as dangerous as using illicit 'street' drugs.  A lot of young people don't realize that.  Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/curricula-and-lesson-plans/mind-over-matter/prescription-drug-abuse.
killerchef - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: can drugs hurt your teeth

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Killerchef
 
the drug most famous for causing bad teeth is meth: see more about this topic here:
 
 
good luck and be smart about drugs
ruben 
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Are there still things about drugs that scientists still don't understand?

David Shurtleff: Hi there, of course!  While we scientists like to think we know a lot about a lot, there is still so much to learn about drugs and how they work and how to help prevent people from using them or how to quit if they are using.  Thanks for the question!
oliveishartsy - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How many people die of drug overdoses a year?

Bethany Deeds: Hello, oliveishartsy! In 2009 almost 37,500 people died due to drug overdose. If you'd like more information check out the CDC website.
troll man - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: do drugs cause major brain damage

Anto Bonci: Yes, they can, and in many different ways. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
edi973 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What made marijuana become an illegal drug in so many states?

Susan Weiss: 
Marijuana has been under legal control since 1937 (the Marijuana Tax act), which was replaced by the Controlled Substance Act in 1970, which set in place the current 'scheduling' procedures we use for all drugs and medicines.  Marijuana is considered Schedule 1--which means it has a high potential for abuse and no proven therapeutic benefits.  So on a federal level, it remains an illegal drug, although some states have recently legalized it or passed medical marijuana laws.  This remains a very hot and contentious topic--although making it available to youth remains against the law even in states that have legalized it.  Scientists and others are concerned because we know that marijuana can have harmful effects, and we don't want  people to think that if it is becomes legal, it is also without risk.   
 
Mrsbieber946 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What ingredients are in cocaine?

Nancy Pilotte: Cocaine is cocaine is cocaine.  It is an 'ingredient' all by itself.  It comes from the leaves of the Coca plant.  Here's a link with more info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine.
VIKES_1086 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What makes drugs addictive?

Anto Bonci: 
That's a great question, and one that scientists have been working on for the past 40 years. Drugs are addictive because they change brain function by influencing brain cells. Specifically, when drugs are taken, they change the levels of brain chemicals such as dopamine, glutamate, GABA and many others. These brain chemicals are involved in addictive behaviors. Importantly, drugs of abuse can also produce an unconscious memory of their presence in your brain, and scientists believe that  this memory plays an important role in addiction and substance abuse.  Check out research that NIDA scientists are doing in this area: http://irp.drugabuse.gov/cnrb.php.
beammeupscotty - Croatan High School, North Carolina: How do you tell if someone is depressed/suicidal?

Amy Goldstein: Good morning beammeupscotty.  Great question!  One thing to look for are changes in someone's behavior...a friend who doesn't want to hang out as much anymore, doesn't seem as interested in doing things that used to be fun for them is one sign that they could be depression and/or feeling suicidal.  Other signs of depression are irritability, caring less about hygiene and appearance, difficulty sleeping, and feelings of hopelessness (see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/what-are-the-signs-and-symptoms-of-depression.shtml for others).  Depression does put someone at risk for attempting suicide, as does using substances, but it can be hard to predict who might attempt suicide.  That is why it is so important to tell someone (parent, teacher, trusted adult) if you are concerned about yourself or someone else.  Help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. 
superstar7 - Clinton High School, Iowa: Are electronic cigarrettes harmful?

Cindy Miner: Electronic cigarettes are so new to the scene that we don't have a lot of scientific data on their effects yet and we don't even know that much about what's in all of them.  The ones that have been tested contain varying amounts of nicotine (in fact some e-cigs say they have nicotine but don't).  The nicotine is dissolved in another chemical so that it can be heated usually by a small battery in the e-cig.  There have been a few reports of e-cigarettes exploding when people use them causing some serious injuries to their hands and faces.  The bottom line....you don't know what you are getting in these products...so don't believe the hype, hype usually means they want your money.  Personally, I want to keep my money to spend on fun things, like treats for my dogs...or going to a University of Maryland basketball game!
Pvt.donut1176 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Can cocaine make you mentally disable for a while or your whole life?

Anto Bonci: Yes, it can. Cocaine can produce brain ischemia (lessened blood flow to the brain) and irreversibly damage parts of your brain.
THC is a key ingredient in marijuana. Standard urine tests can detect traces of THC several days after use. In heavy users, THC can sometimes even be detected for weeks after use stops.
thdfert - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: do pills affect your lungs?

Susan Weiss: not unless you smoke them.  some pills (painkillers, tranquilizers) can suppress breathing.
IMS101rb - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How can you tell the difference between crack and cocaine?

Dave Thomas: 
Well they are both cocaine. Cocaine is a white powder; it becomes crack when it is cooked into a clear crystal form. In powder form, cocaine is snorted; in crack form, it is smoked.
Dave 
If you don't get an answer to your question before your class ends, we will upload the transcript in a week or two and you can search for your question using your username or your school name. We are sorry we can't answer all of your questions---not enough time! But when you see the transcript, you can also search for a topic like 'marijuana' or 'alcohol' and you can find other answers that interest you.
PRAvenger - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Does taking steroids truly alter one's genitalia?

Nancy Pilotte: Yes.  They are responsible for you going from a child to an adult.  But it is not all rosy if you take more than your body normally produces!  They can give you more than you bargained for because they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the body, and can lead to a long list of alterations, such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in men. In the female body, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. And they may make you stop growing tall before your time as they hasten the closure of the long bones in your legs. They may also increase the risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible. Are those enough reasons to keep away from abusing steroids? See more at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
1212 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: name everything in a cigarette

Cindy Miner: How much time do you have?  There have been about 7000 chemicals identified in tobacco.  Nicotine (the chemical that makes smoking addictive), formaldehyde, arsenic, acetaldehyde, acetone, acrolein, acrylamide, acrylonitrile, aflatoxin ammonia, anabasine, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, carbon monoxide, chromium, cobalt, ethylbenzene, lead, mercury naphthalene,....want me to keep going?  Check out the CTP website to find out more about what is in cigarettes that can cause cancer and other harmful effects!
Jesus the Red - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how many people die from weed a year

Marsha Lopez: 
Good question, Jesus, but kind of a hard one to answer.  While it is harder to overdose on marijuana than many other drugs of abuse, the use of drugs can be associated with dying in various ways. While most people who smoke weed do not go on to use other drugs, long-term studies of high school students show that few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. So a person who uses marijuana is more likely to be exposed to and and put in contact with people who use and sell other drugs which have a greater likelihood of shortening your life span.   Deaths related to drugs can be due to overdose, suicide, homicide, accidents, and infection or other chronic illness. 
scouttheplayer - Clinton High School, Iowa: can weed make you more hormones?..........!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ruben Baler: 
Hi scouttheplayer
 
actually, this is a very good question:
Endocannabinoids (which are the molecules in our bodies that can be hijacked by the active ingredient in marijuana) act as a major neuromodulatory system in a variety of physiological and behavioral functions. Three major lines of evidence suggest that the endocannabinoid system interacts with gonadal hormones. First, the endocannabinoid system is implicated in behaviors and physiological functions that are known to be regulated in part by gonadal hormones. Second, receptors and metabolic enzymes of the endocannabinoid system are localized extensively on structures in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Third, changes in levels of gonadal hormones alter endocannabinoid signaling. 
 
So, THC can in theory perturb a number of hormonal systems and in fact there is evidence that chronic or heavy use of marijuana can negatively affect fertility.
 
be smart and stay safe,
 
ruben 
Zaqmer8 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why are some drugs more addictive than others?

Jen Katt: How addictive a drug is really depends on the person, their genetic vulnerability, their exposure to drugs and at what age, etc.  For some general info on addiction, check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction 
science of addiction
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
laneam - Legacy, Texas: How many people in the US use tobacco?

Bethany Deeds: In 2011, over 68 million people, age 12 or older, used tobacco products in the past month. This includes cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars. 
123456789 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Can weed change your sexual orientation?

Joni Rutter: 
123456789 where did you hear this?  There is no evidence showing that marijuana can change anyone's sexual orientation.  Here's what weed can do:  Like most other drugs, marijuana affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions. So while experiencing the effects of marijuana or other drugs you might make decisions you wouldn't if you were sober, including decisions about sex that you might not make if you were not high. This does not mean your sexual orientation is 'changed', just that your decision-making was altered while under the influence of marijuana.
 
Marijuana alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short term and long term effects. In the short term--marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team.
 
But in the longer term marijuana is addictive. 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 don't believe just what you see on the outside--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.
 
mickey15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: is weed illegal in all 50 states?

Susan Weiss: Trick question--from the federal government's perspective--its illegal in all 50 states.  However 2 states--Colorado and Washington just passed laws to legalize marijuana.  Federal law trumps State laws, but how all this will play out in the legal system remains an open question, which we will be watching in the coming years.
kittykaterina - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: If a person who's life is going down the gutter gets hooked on marijuna, the bad kind, how can they turn there life around. I mean, if smokeing weed and doing drugs causes perminent damage to your brain, lungs, heart, arms, legs, kidneys,liver, etc then why stop? There is no way to undo what you have done, so is it worth to quit, I think not. But maybe there is a reason. And if there is a reason to quit drugs, then how would someone with with a broken up damaged life seek that help. I need anser

Lori Ducharme: Hi there, and thanks for your question.  Drug addiction is a really serious disease, and can lead to lots of negative physical and social consequences as you've listed in your question.  That doesn't mean it's impossible for someone to recover and get their life back together, but it does take work and commitment.  At NIDA, we're working with scientists around the world to develop treatments that address the consequences of addiction and give people the best chance at recovery.  There are a variety of FDA-approved medications available to address dependence on alcohol, opiates, and nicotine.  And there are a variety of behavioral (counseling) strategies available to help people improve their cognitive skills, learn refusal skills to avoid future drug use, and encourage them to stay engaged in treatment long enough to see positive benefits.  It really isn't hopeless.  Treatment works.  
David Anderson edits NIDA's research newsletter, NIDA Notes. He thinks it's a good gig to follow the progress of science and spread the news about new findings that help people. Right now he's enjoying all the new ways to communicate that putting the newsletter online make possible. He likes to play tennis, read, travel, walk around, and get together with friends. Some favorite places: Arezzo (Italy); National Bison Refuge (Montana); Dinosaur National Monument (Utah); Mile-Around Woods (Vermont); the corner of Hoyt Street and Montrose Parkway (Maryland).
wjhs - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What drugs will damage your brain or mental development and in what way would they damage it?

Anto Bonci: Great question. EVERY drug of abuse can damage your brain and impair mental development. They damage brain cells in many different ways; for example, through chemicals that will kill brain cells or by inducing stroke (lack of blood flow) in parts of your brain. To find more on how drugs can affect your health, including effects on the brain, check out our website.
klamspa - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Was wondering what drug is the most common that is smuggle across the boards into US thanks

David Shurtleff: Why...are you trying to figure out new smuggling routes??  Just kidding. Many drugs come form outside the United states though illegal drug trafficking networks.  For example, while some 'meth' is made here in the US, lots is made in countries like Mexico and smuggled in.  There's also a lot of heroin smuggled in from Asian countries.  Find out more about illegal drug trafficking by clicking here - http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/index.html.  
Drug trafficking maps
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A reminder that we have scientists here today from our sister Institute---the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA.) So if you have any questions about the effects of alcohol or alcoholism---now is the time to ask!
chicken - Clinton High School, Iowa: whats the safest drug

Susan Weiss: caffeine--in moderate doses.  (high doses can cause your heart to race or make you anxious and panicky)
mickey15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: can where you live and who you are around everyday affect weither or not you smoke and/or take drugs and drink

Lis Robertson: 
Hi mickey
 
Absolutely.  Most drug abusers have a combination of risk factors.  Some are internal to the person, like genetic predisposition or a brain injury.  Others are contextual:
  • such as family conflict or lack of parental monitoring of children's behavior
  • classroom with children who are exhibiting out of control aggressive behaviors
  • peers who are using drugs 
  • schools and communities that do not have or enforce rules and regulations regarding drug possession and use 
These factors are called risk factors and we know that individuals who have multiple risk factors in multiple areas are more likely to abuse drugs.  Protective factors are also important.  Intelligence is an important personal factor, others include a supportive family, good classroom management by teachers, communities with lots of recreation resources for kids and so forth.  
Protective factors can balance out the  effects of risk factors, so it is the balance between them that is important.  
 
I hope that helps.
 
Liz 
blue44 - Oglesby ISD, Texas: hi what are some things that drugs can to you?

Dave Thomas: 
Depends on the drugs and the way they are taken.  The list of bad effects is huge, including brain damage, heart attack, cancer, stopping breathing...   Here is a good site with most drugs of abuse discussed, in terms of how they work and what they do to your health.
 
Dave
 
 
And here's where you can order a poster that shows what some of the health effects look like: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-your-body-it-isnt-pretty-teaching-guide-poster.
Take the Truth Poll on the right hand column of the Chat!
country girl<3 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: why does marijuana mess your brain up?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Country girl!  I'm from Kansas and am a country girl, too :)  Thanks for your question!
 
Did you know that marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions?  It alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short-term and long-term effects.  
 
In the short term, marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team.
 
But in the longer term marijuana is addictive. 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 don't believe just what you see on the outside--some of these changes take time to happen, and some people are more likely to have 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.
 
Make sure you get the facts so you can make healthy decisions for your body and brain!
 
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: do drugs help you become insane?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi 123456789
 
Yes they can, there is actually a very strong link between drug use and mental illness, in both directions.
Sometimes, people with mental illness use drugs in an attempt to self medicate  (e.g., anxiety or depression), in other cases, drugs can trigger or exacerbate a mental illness.
 
your question make sme think that you might find the following document on comorbidity intersting
 
 
good luck to you
 
Ruben 
Joining us now is Dr. Marilyn Huestis---one of NIDA's top chemists! She also serves on the World Anti-doping Agency's Prohibited Drug List Committee that determines the drugs that are not permitted in sports, and the Transportation Research Board and National Safety Council that work to reduce drunk and drugged driving. Her research focuses on cannabis or marijuana, MDMA or Ecstasy and in utero drug exposure (drugs taken by pregnant women.) She monitors brain activities, cognitive performance and the physiological effects in people who use drugs. She has many years of experience as a forensic toxicologist performing post mortem and emergency toxicology (think CSI!). Dr. Huestis works to develop the science of toxicology in many countries around the world and loves to travel. She also loves skiing, tennis and teaching toxicology to University of Maryland graduate students.
Halle_Ravens52 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Is it true that every kid in their life will smoke marijuna

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey Halle_Ravens52, this is so not true!  The University of Michigan's 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey showed that more than half of high school seniors and two thirds of 10th graders reported they had NOT used marijuana in their lifetime.  Check out more drug stats at http://monitoringthefuture.org/ 
And by the way, this is not the opinion of NIDA/NIH, but I say GO RAVENS!!! :)
sethc - Oglesby ISD, Texas: what do meth user's teeth look like

Dave Thomas: 
Taking meth burns the enamel off of teeth. Google 'meth mouth'. You will see the pictures.  No need for lectures about the dangers of drugs here.  Just check out the pictures. And it does not take to long to get meth mouth.   
 
Meth really is bad stuff.  I have talked to drug addicts who would not touch that stuff...
Dave 
IMS124cs - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Is it true that steriods make guys look big?

Nancy Pilotte: Truth alert:  Steroids taken to increase muscle mass do not work without exercise!  And exercise with no steroids is the better way to get fit.  Some people to use anabolic steroids, like testosterone, in the hopes that they will get stronger or appear bigger or to lose weight. Although your own body produces steroids, people who abuse them are usually taken in far greater doses than those that are prescribed by doctors to treat medical conditions.There is a down side when steroids are used for such non-medical purposes, because they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the bod and can lead to a long list of alterations such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-payttern baldness and breast development in men. In women, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. Examples of other effects are increased risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible. Our teen site has more information on steroids: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids

Other steroids like estrogens, progesterones, and cortisol are not anabolic and have other uses, ranging from contraception to immune suppression (such as asthma inhalers). These do not build muscle (like the anabolic steroids) and in fact, break muscle down. Your body produces all these steroids in very small amounts at times when they are needed, and they help maintain a healthy body.
XxBlack TearxX - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how can you help a person that is trying to quit drugs?

Lori Ducharme: Hey there.  Thanks for your question.  This is unfortunately a common question today -- one that a lot of teens are dealing with or curious about. On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about trying to help your friend. And that's the very first thing you can do -- be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause. Start at our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov -- it includes some helpful information. Next, encourage your friend to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
jcates - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: can people get deseases from drugs

Anto Bonci: 
Yes, they can. For example, people can get hepatitis or HIV/AIDS by sharing syringes (using the same needle to inject drugs). To learn the link between HIV and drug abuse, go to: http://hiv.drugabuse.gov.
 
Drugs also can irreversibly damage your brain, lungs, liver, and other body organs. Here's more information: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
ashley - VISTA, Oklahoma: What drugs can cause depression?

Joe Frascella: 
Many drugs with continued use have been shown to cause depression...for example, cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, ecstasy, etc.
For more information on drugs, check out: www.drugabuse.gov.
austinc - Oglesby ISD, Texas: How can you tell if someone is using drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello there.  Good questions.  Well, there are some telltale signs of drug use such as moodiness, dilated pupils, confusion, and loss of coordination, but the exact symptoms depend on the particular drug. 
However, it is not always easy to tell if someone is using drugs.  I am not sure of your reason for asking this question, but if you are concerned that a friend might be using drugs, it is important for that person to get help.  You can find helpful information about drugs, drug use and additional resources that you can share with your friends at:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Lance Armstrong used steriods and didn't get caught - even though it is like impossible for someone to naturally win the Tour de Frace 7 times in a row - does that mean steroids are untraceable in some circomstances

Marilyn Huestis: Anti-doping testing is complex. Each drug has a different period of time in which it can be detected that depends on two things -- (1) how strong the drug is and (2) how much is taken. In Lance Armstrong's case he had a lot of help avoiding detection including physicians, trainers, and others who worked to prevent a positive test. One of the biggest deterrents the World Anti-doping Agency and the United States Anti-doping Agency have to prevent cheating is being able to go back 8 years to test specimens that are saved. In many cases, dopers are ahead of the testers, with brand new drugs. The testers must ensure that their methods are accurate and do not produce false positives. When you think of anti-doping- think about all the people who became discouraged and didn't compete because they didn't want to dope and couldn't win against those that did cheat.
laneam - Legacy, Texas: How does alcohol effect the immune system?

Shuly Babitz: 
Your immune system is often compared to an army. The army defends your body from infection and disease. Drinking too much weakens the immune system. Chronic alcohol use reduces the ability of white blood cells to destroy harmful bacteria, among other things. With a compromised immune system, chronic drinkers are more likely to contract diseases like pneumonia and TB than people who drink too much. Studies have shown that drinking heavily over a long period of time can also increase your risk for certain types of cancers. 
 
To learn more about the effects of alcohol on the immune system, please visit:
bob77 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how many people do drugs in the US

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey there bob77, thanks for your question.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 22.6 million people over the age of 12 reported they used drugs in the month prior to being asked.  Check out lots of other drug stats at:  http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm
Figure 2.1 
laxlover21 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what does heroin do to the body?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi laxlover21!  Heroin is definitely NOT GOOD for the body. Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria (feeling awesome) and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states.
 
Heroin also causes breathing to be slower and more shallow, meaning less oxygen is getting to your blood and brain--which can kill you!  Users who inject heroin also risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis--and have ugly needletracks on their arms!  
 
Get the facts on drugs to make healthy decisions for your body and brain. Here is where to find more info on heroin: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
 
Hope you've learned something! And good luck at your next lacrosse game! 
joshm69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: do doctors use weed for medical uses. what king of medical conditions.

Ruben Baler: 
hi josh.
 
No, in fact there are no approved medications that one can smoke, because even if there is a beneficial compound in the cannabis plant (which probably there is) it would be irresponsible and counterproductive to deliver that compound together with a thousand other chemicals most of which are likely to cause damage.
 
take a look at this doc:
you might find it interesting.
 
good luck and thanks for your question.
Ruben 
olakaka - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How much money would it cost to obtain illegal drugs such as cocaine?

Marsha Lopez: Hi olakaka, interesting question.  I actually don't know the answer to that but I would guess it would depend a bit on the supply and demand of the local area. 
50cent - Clinton High School, Iowa: What are the effects of a vicadin addicton?

Jen Katt: Getting addicted to prescription drugs like Vicodin and other painkillers has similar effects in the brain as addiction to heroin.  In fact, some people transition to heroin following prescription painkiller abuse.  Depending on amount taken, opioids can depress breathing and even cause death from overdose, particularly when mixed with alcohol.  SEe http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
maguilera - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: About how many people die a year from drugs??????

Bethany Deeds: According to the CDC, over 38,000 people died in 2010 due to drug overdose. 
fig69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What is withdraw?

Marilyn Huestis: Withdrawal happens when a person is dependent on a drug and doesn't have access to the drug for many reasons- no money, no supplier, trying to quit, etc. Withdrawal effects vary for different drugs. You are probably used to seeing heroin withdrawal on TV and in movies. It is difficult--with terrible cramping, vomiting, and inability to think about anything else but getting more drugs. Marijuana withdrawal is more subtle but can affect sleep, mood- highly irritated and upset for weeks. Alcohol withdrawal is very dangerous and people can die without treatment because seizures are common. Unfortunately, when people are in withdrawal they frequently reuse the drug to stop the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is one of the main reasons that people can't stop using drugs even when they want to.
cotakid - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Why do people cut themselves?

Amy Goldstein: Hi cotakid.  That is a good question.  Cutting is a form of self-harming behavior that is different from a suicide attempt because people who cut don't want to die.  Cutting is used as a way to cope with with emotions or negative feelings, such as anger or frustration. Cutting may be linked to a variety of mental disorders, such as depression, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder. The problem is, it is a pretty unhealthy way to manage feelings. People who cut themselves don't always see this behavior as harmful. Life is full of events that can leave someone feeling angry, frustrated and upset, so it is important to learn early on some healthy ways of coping. If you know someone who is cutting, it could be a sign that they need help.  For a crisis, and someone to talk to 24/7, call 1-800-273-TALK.  
Scoop5517 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why are some drugs illegal?

Susan Weiss: Some of this is historical--drugs became illegal at different times because of their potential effects on society and on health. The DEA has a museum exhibit that you might want to check out for a description of how this evolved over time: http://www.deamuseum.org/museum_ida.html. In theory, it has to do with their adverse health and societal effects, but of course, we know that nicotine and alcohol--2 of our most harmful drugs--are legal, so it's by no means a perfectly logical system.
JoshB - VISTA, Oklahoma: Is it true that if you use X for two weeks that you will be permafried.

Nancy Pilotte: 'Permafried?'  All effects of any drug depends on how much you take and how often.  For example, taking too much acetominophen can damage your liver (although perhaps not permafrying it!).  Ecstasy, or MDMA, is a derivative of amphetamine, which is the only drug that we know can cause actual damage to the neurons in your brain. While other drugs have effects on how the neurons work, amphetamines will actually kill them.  It stays in your system for a relatively long time and can exert its effects all the while it is there.  While each person has individual vulnerabilities to each drug of abuse, one person may need a longer time to experience the adverse effects than their neighbor.  This means that someone may have adverse reactions in as little as a single use!  We cannot yet predict who will have those experiences--be smart and avoid abusing drugs altogether!  Here's a link to more info on Ecstasy:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/ecstasy-mdma.
KatzForLyfe - Clinton High School, Iowa: How do drugs effect your life?

Aria Crump: It's hard to know how drugs will affect your life.  But we know that kids who use drugs are less likely than those who don't to do well in school.  We know that drugs affect your relationships with parents, teachers, friends, and boy/girlfriends in ways that people don't think about.  Can you imagine how your parents would react if they found out that you were using drugs and how it might change your relationship?  Sometimes kids who use drugs find themselves in really difficult positions that they never imagined, for example having an encounter with the police or in a hospital emergency room.  So it's easy to see that using drugs can have a real and negative impact on your life.
flamersdude918 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what is bathsalt

Joe Frascella: 
The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.
Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria and increased sociability and sex drive, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. For more information check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts.
Laura Marie!!(: - Oglesby ISD, Texas: Why do people do drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello there. Good question. Another related question that youth ofen ask is 'Why do people try or use drugs when they know it is bad for them?' Well, there are a number of reasons why people might  use drugs. Some reasons include because they think it will make them feel good, perform better or simply because there is an opportunity, they are curious, or feel pressured by their peers. Drug use does not solve these problems. Unfortunately, just knowing the facts and that drugs does not prevent some people from using drugs. In addition, it is important for people to have knowledge, skills, and resources to make healthy and informed decisions.  For more information and resources on youth drug use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
IMS126tt - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: how are inhalants dangerous

Jen Katt: They are directly toxic to the brain, to the neurons.  They can actually kill neurons, so they're really bad.  Especially since the younger-aged kids are the ones using them.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants for more.  
inhalants graph
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
jackk - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: are all drugs addictive?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question!
 
The definition of addictive is: causing compulsive use despite the fact that use is harmful.
 
Most drugs used as medications are not addictive. Some drugs used as medications have the potential to be addictive, but are safe when used according to a doctor's orders. All abused drugs--including tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and pain medications that are taken without a doctor's order--are addictive.
 
People also can become addicted to things other than drugs. They just have to be unable to stop doing  something despite the fact that it is messing up their health and life.  People can become addicted to video games, food, gambling and many other things...
 
People can recover from addiction with treatment. Unfortunately, many addicted people do not seek treatment until their health and life are badly damaged. 
 
IMS107AG - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How long will it take to stop takeing heroin after taking it for four years?

Marilyn Huestis: There is no answer to your question. It is different for everyone. Some people who want to quit can on their own, but this is rare. Others can quit the drug with help- this help could be counseling, or taking methadone or buprenorphine to help you get through the withdrawal and craving that comes with stopping heroin use. The most important thing to know is this: if you want to stop using heroin you can and it will change your life. The life expectancy of someone using heroin is much shorter than normal and the quality of life is dramatically less. Call 1-800-662-HELP or www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov for confidential help 24/7.
buttercup5 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Are some drugs good for you when you are sick?

Jen Katt: Yes, of course.  Medications have improved and transformed many people's lives.  It's when they're taken in ways or doses or by people they weren't prescribed for that makes them dangerous.  
IMS201CH - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How does using the same drug equipment or a needle for drug use spread HIV ?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello. Very good question. Needle sharing and sharing injecting drug use equipment exposes you to bodily fluids (blood) that may be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). So, if infected bodily fluids get into your body, you can become infected. HIV shuts down your immune system and can cause the disease called acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). To learn more about how drug use and risky sexual behavior puts you at risk for getting HIV, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/hiv-aids-and-drug-abuse
latinmax - Various American Schools throughout Italy, : What are date rape drugs?

Marilyn Huestis: Any drug that makes someone unable to fight against a rape could be considered a date-rape drug. The biggest date rape drug is alcohol followed by many benzodiazepines (prescription sedatives), and many other drugs- many legal medicines. Some date rape drugs that you may have heard of include GHB and 'roofies' or flunitrazepam, but still the most common is just to get a person drunk and take advantage of them.
jcarter - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What is the most addictive drug?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Nicotine from using tobacco.  About 23% of the population of the US uses tobacco products and it is extraordinarily difficult to quit.
Check this link for info about tobacco:  http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/index.html
El Diablo - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What are the long term affects that drugs can have on a person's life? why?

Michelle Leff: 
That is a great question, El Diablo.  I think there are two ways to think about this important question.
 
1)  It depends on the drug.  I'll give you a few examples.  For instance, if you smoke, it has been shown that long-term effects can include problems with your heart, blood pressure, and an increased chance of developing certain cancers.  If you use cocaine, you may develop problems with your heart (this could happen short-term or over time).  
 
2) However, the biggest long-term effects don't necessarily have to do with a particular drug, but rather all the things that people can't do when they are addicted to drugs.  When people are addicted to drugs, it becomes the only thing they can think about, and all other aspects of their life suffer.  People with addiction problems tend to drop out of school, or under-perform in school.  They may lose their job because they become unpredictable and unreliable when they are addicted.  They may damage important relationships with family and friends.  The long-term effects of not finishing school, not being able to hold down a job, and losing friends/family support are staggering.
turtles - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: why are drugs deadly?

Dave Thomas: 
Depends on the drug.  Opioids like heroin cause respiratory depression; overdoses can stop a person's  breathing. Cocaine can cause heart attacks. Cigarettes cause cancer.  People who are high on drugs have an elevated risk of dying in accidents. The list of dangers go on and on.   Here is a good link with more information.
Dave 
 
IMS316cm - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Is marijuana medicine?

Jen Katt: 
Scientists are making use of their knowledge about the potentially healthful properties of some of marijuana's ingredients (and the body systems that they effect) in order to develop new medications (generally in pill form) for a variety of symptoms and diseases, including pain, obesity, and addiction. 
 
It's not likely that smoked marijuana will be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine for more.
lollipops - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What in bath salts make you eat people?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Lollipops,
 
Bath salts are bad news, but they won't make you eat people (probably)! Some violent and cannibalistic attacks reported in the news last year were attributed to bath salts by the media before the facts were known, and those drugs turned out not to be involved. The 'face eater' in Miami turned out only to have marijuana in his system when his blood was tested.
 
But bath salts (technically called synthetic cathinones) have powerful stimulant and hallucinogenic properties--they can cause hyperactivity and delirium and even violent psychosis in a minority of users.
 
 
Eric 
WalterW - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is tetrahydrocannabinol a naturally found psychoactive chemical in brain function?

Joni Rutter: Hi WalterW:  Good job on the chemical name!!  Tetrahydrocannabinol is not a natural chemical in the brain. Tetrahydrocannabinol is also known as THC and is the main component of marijuana and it has psychoactive properties.  If you smoke marijuana, the THC is will have effects on your brain function.  
 
Marijuana alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short term and long term effects. In the short term--marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team.
 
But in the longer term marijuana is addictive. 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.
 
 
Thanks for the question, and get the facts on drugs so you can make healthy decisions for your body and brain!
Zach H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can you get addicted to drugs like caffeine

David Shurtleff: 

The general thought is that while a true caffeine addiction is rare, folks can become physically dependent on caffeine – as anyone trying to stop drinking his or her two regular morning cups o'joe can tell you – but physical dependence is not the same as addiction. Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body simply gets used to (or adapts) the presence of a substance (for example caffeine), and when it is taken away, their bodies react to the substance not being there and they begin to crave it.  So don’t worry...your coffee desires won’t lead you to a life of crime or knocking off Starbucks to supply your caffeine habit! Have a great day!  

XxBlack TearxX - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What are some side long effects for drugs, and is there anyway to make them go away?

Anto Bonci: Every drug has a different set of side effects. They can range from mood disorders (depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory loss) to stroke, coma, up to death. The first thing to do is to quit taking drugs and seek help from a professional, who can help treat both the addiction as well as any possible health consequences associated with taking the drug. Treatment providers can be found by calling 800-662-HELP or here.
chicken1237 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people smoke if they know they might die?

Cindy Miner: 
Good question! It doesn't seem to make any sense - but when you are talking about addiction, sense isn't what it's about. What do I mean? Tobacco contains one of the most addicting substances - nicotine. It's what makes  quitting so hard, even if you know you  might die. Here's some more info on tobacco addiction...http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/tobacco-addiction
 
If you want more information about quitting tobacco see  http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
wjhs - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What lobe of the brain would be the most damaged in the use of drugs, and wich drug would be the one that mostn affect to brain damage?

Dave Thomas: 
Interesting questions. Most drugs affect all of the lobes of the brain.   However, in teens, the frontal lobe is less developed than other lobes of the brain.   The frontal lobe is involved with self control.  Thus the area of the brain that is most responsible for stopping a person from abusing drugs, gets impaired.  This can result in more drug abuse and the cycle continues.   
 
Inhalants result in less oxygen getting to the brain. The brain needs a lot of oxygen to function and stay alive.   Inhalants are known to cause a lot of brain damage.  Here is some more information on inhalants. 
 
John Ju - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is there a cure for addiction?

Marilyn Huestis: There are many ways to help people who become addicted to drugs. There are good behavioral therapies that give people the tools to stop using drugs, but many people also need a medication to help them stop using drugs. We have good medications for heroin and prescription opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc), but we have not yet discovered a good medication to help stop addiction to cocaine and methamphetamine, despite much effort. Stopping addiction is difficult- addiction to any drug, but many are successful and lots of help is available: Call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov for confidential help 24/7.
IMS125mt - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Why do they say that bath salt are a drug because they don't seem like they would be?

Joe Frascella: 
The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.
Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria and increased sociability and sex drive, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. Check out this site for more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts.
88l8chai - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: A lot of musicians smoke and do drugs. When listening to their music, I notice how raspy their voices sound. Is this a result of doing drugs? If so, how does doing drugs affect your vocal chords?

Nancy Pilotte: It is is really unlikely that the drugs affect the vocal chords directly, but how people take them has a huge effect.  Passing smoke over the vocal chords on the way to the lungs, whether it comes from tobacco or other smoked drugs like marijuana or cocaine, is never a good idea because these contain a lot of other contaminants, which can lead to the raspiness.  We just don't know what all of them are yet.  The best thing to do is to avoid smoking--the smart decision.
love - Croatan High School, North Carolina: if someone had mental health problems and the symptoms still showed at serten points of strain dose that mean the are still actively "insane" ?

David Shurtleff: 
If any one is feeling anxious, depressed for a while then they may have a mental health problem. About 20% of teenagers will have at least one type of mental illness in their lifetime. But the good news is that we have good treatments for the mental health problems that affect children, teens, and adults. Depending on the person and the problem, these treatments can include specific talk therapies (psychotherapies), medications, or a combination of treatments.
 
So when someone is struggling, it's important for them to talk to a professional as early as possible to get help. Mental illnesses are real and can be treated. They are not often something a person can just snap out of. Some people do not get help because they are embarrassed or afraid to. However, getting help for mental issues is really no different than seeking help for a medical condition like diabetes. If you or someone you know needs help go to http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/getting-help-locate-services/index.shtml for information on who to talk to and how to find help in your area. Also see: http://www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov/support.asp?nav=nav02_0&content=2_0_support
Ron1331 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is it possible to make a non addicting drug ?

Marilyn Huestis: Yes. There are many good medications that help people with many diseases that are non-addicting. Drug companies always evaluate their drugs to determine if they are addicting or not, but sometimes it hasn't been possible to develop a drug that helps many people but isn't addictive. A good example are many of the benzodiazepines- sedatives, sleep medications, that help many people but are still addicting.
heartbreaker:) - East Hollywood High school, Utah: what do you do if you think you're depression pills are making you worse but you don't know for sure

Amy Goldstein: Talk to your doctor!!  People respond differently to the same medications so what works for someone else may not work for you.  Medications have side effects, so if you are feeling worse, it is important that you tell the healthcare professional who prescribed the medication as soon as you can.  Your doctor can help figure out why you may be feeling worse, and if another medication may be better for you. Here is more on different depression treatments: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/how-is-depression-diagnosed-and-treated.shtml.
IMS104jd - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: If someone smokes and then quits do they still have a high chance of getting cancer

Cindy Miner: 

Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer. However, it takes a number of years after quitting for that risk to start to decline. But the longer you remain smoke free, the cancer risk will continue to decrease. 

There are a number of other positives from quitting.....your heart rate and blood pressure will return to normal, the carbon monoxide in your blood will decrease which means your blood can better carry oxygen to your brain which is what it is supposed to be doing. You won't cough and wheeze as much and your lung function will improve. And don't forget, if you quite smoking, food is going to taste better and you'll smell better too. 

Coach - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Are there effect of alcohol abuse other than death and liver damage?

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

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Emily,
 
No, caffeine can't stunt your growth -- at least, there's  no evidence of that that I know of.
 
Eric 
ck1216 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is drinking alcohol as bad as doing drugs?

Shuly Babitz: 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!
My Name Is: - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: does learning about drugs really help us prevent them

Aria Crump: I really hope so.  The more I know about things, the easier it is for me to make my own decisions rather than following what others do.  What do you think?
88Dale Jr fan - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Why do people drink? What happens to people if they get three DUI;s? Is homemade wine illigal? Why do people smoke after they cratuate high scool? Why do people drank and drive?

Aria Crump: 
While alcohol is illegal for youth under 21 in the United States, it is the most commonly used drug by youth.  This is in part because alcohol is legal for those 21 and older, thus it is more available to youth and it might be seen as less dangerous than other drugs.  Still, alcohol is responsible for unnecessary deaths--5,000 a year and injuries--190,000 in just 2008 alone.  Laws related to DUI depend on where you live.  Many states have the 'three strikes law' which means that they will go straight to jail. Check your state government websites to learn more about this in your area.
 
For your questions about smoking--most people who smoke start before the age of 18--so your question is a good one.  I don't know why some people start after graduation, but certainly some do.  Regarding drinking and driving, it's important to realize that having too much to drink (which doesn't take much for people who aren't used to drinking) keeps people from making smart decisions.  Some people may think they aren't too drunk to drive when they really are.  Sometimes teens may feel like they need to get home without their parents knowing they've been drinking.  Remember (and tell your friends) it's always better to be safe. 
 
Homemade wine?  Yes, it is legal in most states for adults to make a certain amount.  But it is not legal for teens to make any amount. 
ncayon - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why would you inhale something like household cleaners when many of them have warnings about how certain chemicals in them can make you sick? What would make it seem like a sane thing to do?

Aria Crump: That doesn't sound very sane to me.  I'll be honest with you--when I was younger, I always thought it seemed like a bad idea, but I never knew just how serious the damage to your brain can be from inhaling substances.  It's an awful idea.
REW90 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How many people die a year from Alcohol a year?

Shuly Babitz: 
The CDC reports that there are about 80,000 alcohol-related deaths per year. That includes about 5,000 young people under age 21.
 
Read about these statistics here:
Adults:
http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
Underage Drinkers:
ciara123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: WHAT ALCHOHOL BEVERAGE IS THE WORST FOR YOU?

Shuly Babitz: 
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:
Daniel - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is coffee considered to be deadly because of its high caffine content?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Daniel,
 
Coffee is not that dangerous when consumed in moderation -- it's certainly not deadly. In fact, as drugs go, caffeine (when consumed in coffee, tea, or soda) is one of the least dangerous.  
 
Eric 
sdm - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: why is stopping cold turkey bad for you?

Marilyn Huestis: 
 You have probably seen heroin withdrawal on TV and in movies. It is difficult--with terrible cramping, vomiting, and inability to think about anything else but getting more drugs. Marijuana withdrawal is more subtle but can affect sleep, mood- highly irritated and upset for weeks. Alcohol withdrawal is very dangerous and people can die without treatment because seizures are common. Nicotine withdrawal also really affects a person's mood and the craving for more cigarettes can be difficult. That is why many people need help when they quit a drug 'cold turkey.' We have good behavioral therapies that can help a person and there are some good medications like methadone and buprenorphine for heroin addiction, but we need more-- especially for cocaine and methamphetamine addiction. Some people can stop cold turkey and do it on their own, but if you want to avoid going back to the drug, many people need help. Help is available.  Call 1-880-662-HELP.  (It's free, private and available 24/7).
chadams - The Blake School, Minnesota: How much cocaine do you need to snort to overdose?

Nancy Pilotte: 
There is no do-it-yourself manual.  It depends on your own vulnerability to cocaine.  Some people, like the basketball player Len Bias, tried cocaine just once...and died.  Others are luckier.  Death by cocaine usually happens as a combination of hyperthermia (in the brain) and stopping the heart by interfering with catecholamine metabolism.  Catecholamines are transmitters that are needed to make your heart work--but only in small amounts.  When too much catecholamine is available, your heart stops...and so do you.  Do us a favor, and do not try this experiment.
Check out this page on our website for more info on cocaine:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine.
olakaka - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What effects does heroin have on your brain besides addiction?

David Shurtleff: Heroin Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. Heroin depresses breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal. Users who inject the drug risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin for more.
JKLOLROFL - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: What percent of people in the U.S do drugs?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hello again, JKLOLROFL!  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 8.9% of Americans ages 12 and older are current drug users.   Check out lots of other drug stats at: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
 
Figure 2.2 
Tar Heels15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: how long have you been doing this?does this help the teens of the world?How long did it take you in college?

Joe Frascella: 
Here are answers to your questions:
 
How long have you been doing this?  I have been working in the addiction field and at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)/NIH for about 25 years.
 
Does this help teens in the world?  Yes, that is exactly our hope to provide information about substances of abuse and related issues.
 
How long did it take you in college?  I spent 4 years as an undergraduate, and then another 5.5 years to get my Ph.D. 
 
For more information about drug abuse and addiction check out: www.drugabuse.gov.
guillermoflower - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What are the chances of getting HIV/AIDS while having unprotected sex?

Dave White: 
Having unprotected sex is never a good idea!  Not only can you get HIV/AIDS but you can also get several other sexually transmitted diseases.  And if that's not bad enough, you can either get pregnant if you're a girl or you can get a girl pregnant if you're a boy.  Its also very difficult to tell if someone has HIV/AIDS and they may not even know themselves! 
 
chadams - The Blake School, Minnesota: How can prescription drugs be addictive?

Jen Katt: 
Prescription drugs act on the same receptors in the brain as do illicit drugs.  For example, painkillers act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. When these drugs attach to their receptors, they reduce the perception of pain. Some people experience a 'high' from these medications, since they also affect the brain regions involved in reward. The desire to repeat this pleasurable experience can lead to addiction.
 
Also, some people try to make their experience more intense by taking the drug in ways other than those prescribed. For example, people who abuse OxyContin may snort or inject it--and so increase their risk for serious medical complications, including overdose. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
IMS312dj - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: why are drugs hard to quit

Michelle Leff: That is an excellent question, and really is the foundation for a lot of research that we are doing at NIDA.  I wish we knew the complete answer to this question, because then we could develop effective treatments for drug addiction.  Scientists are looking at how drugs can affect brain pathways.  It does appear that the initial 'high' from a drug is rewarding, and as we know, if we are 'rewarded' by a particular behavior, we will tend to do that behavior.  Over time, that behavior may become a habit, and automatic - meaning that even if we know we shouldn't do something, we automatically act.  The problem is, that after a while, the 'reward' from drugs becomes much smaller or even disappears, but we can't stop the behavior - and we are faced with all the negative problems with addiction.  It is hard to break habits, but certainly, people ARE successful in quitting their drug use.  It is hard, and there may be relapses, but people CAN recover.
MRAWs0meChicKen - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What do illegal drugs do to the brain?

David Shurtleff: 
Welcome, Warren County!  Drugs of abuse, legal (such as alcohol and tobacco)or illegal (such as cocaine, heroin), release Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that has a lot of duties, including regulating movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and overtime, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good! For more information on how drugs affect the brain, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
 
If you are curious to know more, please see the link: http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction
88l8chai - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: If I were to start smoking, how could you tell?

Cindy Miner: Well, there is one obvious one...you are going to smell, and that smell is hard to get rid of.  Don't think a breath mint will be able to disguise the disgusting smokers breath you will be exhaling! You know what, most kids don't smoke, its certainly not cool like some would like you to believe.  Don't buy into the hype and advertisements, its expensive, you will smell bad, you could buy into a lifetime of addiction, and cancer.  Yuck....be smart, don't start.
Emily P - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is the job field for drug research expansive and will it be relevant in the next 20 years?

Nancy Pilotte: I am afraid it will still be relevant in the next 20 years because we still do not have many treatments that can help people who abuse drugs.  We need more research to understand exactly what changes occur in the brain after long-term use and withdrawal, and what changes might lead to relapse.  These changes, called neuroplasticity, are hot topics in neuroscience...and addiction is certainly a brain disease.  If you are thinking of this as a career for yourself, welcome aboard.  We need you.
waterbug31 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How many people in the US use a type of club drug?

Marsha Lopez: Hey there waterbug31,  'Club drug' could mean any number of different types of drugs, so I'll give you a few of them.  According to the University of Michigan's 2012 Monitoring the Future survey 3.8% of high school seniors reported they had used MDMA/ecstasy in the past year, and roughly 1.5% reported they had used Rohypnol, GHB, or Ketamine.  You can check out all other youth drug stats at http://monitoringthefuture.org/
NIDA is frequently asked whether alcohol is a drug, and where to find information about alcohol abuse. There is another government agency that studies alcohol’s effects. For information on alcohol, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Web site at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.
QuestionWhat is NOT true about "bath salts," often sold in head shops:
  1. They can cause intense cravings similar to what methamphetamine users experience.
  2. They usually contain some type of stimulant drug along with other unknown ingredients.
  3. They are really only dangerous if snorted or injected.
  4. They have sent hundreds of people to the emergency room.
C. They are really only dangerous if snorted or injected. "Bath salts" often contain amphetamine-like chemicals including mephedrone,which can put users at risk for an overdose. While snorting or injecting bath salts are linked to the most serious health problems, including death, taking them orally can also be dangerous. These synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions. (Emerging Drugs)
Have you ever wondered if addiction can be passed down from your parents? Or why genetics is so important in the science of addiction? You can ask NIDA's best genetics expert, Dr. Joni Rutter. She received her PhD from Dartmouth Medical School in 1999 and joined the National Institutes of Health that same year studying the genetics of cancer. She moved to NIDA in 2003 and managed research grants in things like human genetics, medicine development, bioinformatics, as they relate to why people get addicted to drugs. Dr. Rutter currently heads and coordinates NIDA's basic science and genetics research activities that are going on in labs all over the country. She also manages the NIDA Center for Genetic Studies ---a repository that stores more information on genetics than you can imagine---so other scientists can use it as well, including real biologic samples. She loves everything about basic science and still remembers her high school science teacher Mr. Sanders, who understood that science is about asking questions and not about getting everything right. And---she plays a mean game of softball for the Women over 40 league! A good day for her is studying laboratory science and fielding line drives at 3rd base.
123456789 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: What do you do if you are hallucinating?

Marilyn Huestis: When someone hallucinates after taking a drug their thinking is not logical and they can see many things happening that are not really occurring. Hallucinations can be different for everyone. Many times people think that people, animals and bugs are after them. sometimes colors and sounds are very different and time passes more slowly or quickly. You are not able to control hallucinations- they occur and many times these are the worst experiences for people, but not always. Hallucinations are unreal thought processes.
ncayon - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Are there any drugs that can be dangerous to your health in prescription drugs?

Jen Katt: Yes, Rx drugs contain ingredients that can cause serious health problems if abused.  For example, prescription painkillers like OxyContin can depress breathing; and prescription stimulants like Adderall, if abused, can cause strokes. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
laneam - Legacy, Texas: Is it the tobacco itself that is harmful or are there other chemicals put in it that are actually harmful?

Cindy Miner: Its actually both.  Tobacco itself contain many harmful constituents and when you burn it, new chemicals are created that can also be cancerous.  In producing tobacco products, cigarettes, smokeless products, and others, many chemicals are added in that can be harmful.  But don't be fooled by the advertising, all natural, organic tobacco without additives doesn't mean its safe.  There are no safe tobacco products.
1234 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the percent of kids that use marijuana???

Marsha Lopez: Hi 1234, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, 23% of high school seniors, 17% of 10th graders, and 6.5% of 8th graders were current marijuana users at the time of the survey.  Fewer kids said they smoked marijuana daily - 6.5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and about 1% of 8th graders.  There are many more drug stats to see at http://monitoringthefuture.org/- check it out!
jshyi - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: how do people stop using drugs?

Joe Frascella: 
Interesting question that has a complicated/not very specific answer.  There are a number of ways people stop...all depends on a number of factors.  But in general, some people just stop (cold turkey); others have lots of difficulty and cycle in and out of addiction. Many people must seek professional treatment help to stop using drugs.
 
More information on treatment can be found at: 
www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, 24-hours  a day, 7 days a week.
SynGatesA7X7 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Aren't some prescription drugs and illegal drugs the same?

David Shurtleff: Great question- yes!! Pain medications such as Vicodin and heroin are similar in that they are both 'opioids'.  Prescription pain medications can cause addiction and death, just like heroin, if they are used in ways or amounts not prescribed by a physician. Check out this link for more information about prescription drugs - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs and http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-prescription-drugs-chart
atran - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: How many people die because of drugs?

Bethany Deeds: Hello Sugar Land!!! Thanks so much for this fantastic question. We don't know exactly because there is no one definition of what we mean by drug-related deaths. But about 570,000 people die annually due to drug use. That breaks down to about 440,000 from disease related to tobacco, 85,000 due to alcohol, 20,000 due to illicit (illegal) drugs, and 20,000 due to prescription drug abuse. If you want more information, check out NIDA's site at www.drugabuse.gov.
Sherlock Holmes - East Hollywood High school, Utah: What is ectasy?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Sherlock!  I watch your show on BBC all the time ;)  
 
Ecstasy (technically MDMA, 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) is a drug also known as: XTC, X, Adam, hug, beans, and love drug.

Ecstasy is a synthetic drug (pill) that has both stimulant and psychoactive properties.  People who take ecstasy experience feelings like mental stimulation, emotional warmth, enhanced sensory perception, and increased physical energy. Taking ecstasy has negative health effects including nausea, chills, sweating, teeth clenching, muscle cramping, and blurred vision. Ecstasy can also interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature, which can be lethal. Users of ecstasy might mix it with using other drugs like alcohol, which is especially dangerous because alcohol causes overheating and the body cannot properly regulate temperature while on ecstasy, leading to deaths you hear about in the news from people partying while on ecstasy and other drugs.

Get the facts on drugs to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! Here is some more information on ecstasy (MDMA) from our website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy
 
Hope this helps, thanks for the question!
blakeschool - The Blake School, Minnesota: How big of role do you think peer pressure plays, or is it mostly personal choices when it comes to drugs and alchohol?

Jen Katt: Peer pressure definitely plays a role, doncha think?  Cause people want to fit in or be a part of a certain group.  And if that includes doing drugs and alcohol, the temptation is greater to join in.  Check this out:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/teenbrochure.pdf
skylerf - Oglesby ISD, Texas: why do bath salts make you kill people? well i think that happens dose it happen?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Skylerfrillou,
 
Bath salts usually don't make people homicidal, but they are dangerous and they can occasionally make people act violently. This is because they contain powerful and unpredictable chemicals called synthetic cathinones, which act as powerful stimulants as well as possessing hallucinogenic properties. Some users experience extreme anxiety and paranoid delusions from these chemicals. However, some violent attacks in the media have been attributed to bath salts before the press knew all the facts. The 'face eater' in Miami, for example, turned out only to have marijuana in his system, not bath salts.
 
Eric
Delirious Daja - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What should you do if your a alcoholic and pregnant?

Shuly Babitz: 
You should see your doctor right away. It is dangerous to drink while pregnant. However, it is also dangerous to stop drinking too quickly while pregnant as you could have a seizure and the baby could go through withdrawal, as well.
 
Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. It can result in a range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). 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.
 
In short, there is no proven 'safe' level of drinking while pregnant. Women are urged not to drink at any point during their pregnancy.
Nearly 9 out of 10 adult daily smokers used their first cigarette by age 18.
turtles - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what would happen if you swallowed cocaine?

David Shurtleff: You'd probably get high...but you'd definitely endanger your health and life!
brookep - VISTA, Oklahoma: what are Rx Drugs?

Jen Katt: Rx drugs = prescription drugs, those that are prescribed by a doctor.
Cbujno#2 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How can crack affect you?

Anto Bonci: 
Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which (when heated) produces vapors that are smoked. It can damage your body and your brain in many different ways. For example, it can produce a sudden heart attack, or a stroke, even in very young people. A stroke can result in paralysis and irreversible brain damage. You can read more at: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine.
etrejo5 - Oglesby ISD, Texas: What is the WORST alcohol?? /:

Shuly Babitz: 
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:
chicken - Clinton High School, Iowa: what is cocane

Nora Volkow: 
hello chicken!
 
cocaine is a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that is snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack is cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been processed to form a rock crystal that is then usually smoked.
 
Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards.
 
 
Thanks for your question.
 
Take the Truth Poll on the right hand column of the Chat!See how many other teens on the Chat agree with your answer!
Snowflake - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: When a person does weed, and when they get high, can they remember what they did while high? or is it the same as being drunk? like, you can barely remember anything.

Nancy Pilotte: Both of these drugs (marijuana and alcohol) are known to impair memory, decision-making, and reaction times.  Are they equivalent or are the effects the same?  Hard to say because each person has individual reactions to each drug. It also depends on when you measure the cognitive function (ability to remember) and how much drug was taken.  Either way, it doesn't sound like a good thing to do.
ciara123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: WHICH ALCOHOL BEVARGE IS THE WORST FOR YOU .

Shuly Babitz: 
All alcoholic beverages 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/.
Dr. Nora D. Volkow is now online. Dr. Volkow is the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects of drugs and their addictive properties. Dr. Volkow was born in Mexico, and earned her medical degree from the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where she received an award for best medical student of her generation. She was recently featured in a 60 Minutes profile called 'Hooked,' which you can watch on the 60 Minutes site. She has been named one of Time Magazine's 'Top 100 People Who Shape our World.' Dr. Volkow is also an artist and avid runner---logging dozens of miles a week.
johnson - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Can pot or heroine do damage to your liver?

Dave White: 
Both drugs can have negative effects on the body.  Heroin can cause liver damage among a long list of other harmful effects.  Its better to stay away from both drugs!  You can find more information at:
 
PRAvenger - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How does the legalization of marijuana affect me as a student? As a society?

Susan Weiss: Very good question--hopefully it will not affect you personally as a student--especially since it is still not legal for youth.  But the bigger question is a really important one.  Recent research is telling us that regular marijuana use begun in youth can have long lasting effects on the brain--e.g., it can decrease IQ; and alter connections between the hippocampus and other brain areas--which is important for learning and memory, and may also be involved in schizophrenia.  Regular marijuana use may 'dumb down' our society, since kids will not be learning as well as they could be and are at a critical point in development.  As a society, we may lose our competitive edge. In the last Monitoring the Future Survey--a national survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, 6.5% of 12th graders reported using marijuana daily or almost every day.  That means they are going to school in a somewhat impaired condition all or most of the time (even if they smoked the night before); and either they are already addicted or are at high risk of becoming so.  That is just too many kid's futures to be putting at risk.  So, I think what is important now is that the message get out as to what the real risks are of marijuana use, and we need your help to talk to your peers.  For some facts that might help, see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Researchers found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol to produce a third substance called 'cocaethylene.' Cocaethylene is associated with a greater risk of sudden death than cocaine alone.
V0113y8a11 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU DRANK A WHOLE BOTTLE OF NYQUIL?

Jen Katt: You'd probably get real sick and have to go to the Emergency Room to have you stomach pumped out.  You could even die.  Why would anyone do that?
axman4215 - East Hollywood High school, Utah: I've heard that cutting releases the same things in the brain as drugs. Is this true?

Amy Goldstein: Hi axman4215. This is a excellent question...you can feel pain from cutting, which releases endorphins in your brain, and endorphins can make you feel good - in the short term.  Cutting is usually followed by guilt and shame and the return of painful emotions. Cutting, like using drugs, is a short term and dangerous solution to dealing with longer term problems - such as managing anger, frustration or depression.  It is important to find healthier ways of making yourself feel better. In a crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK 24/7, or 1-800-662-HELP for mental health services in your area.  
Do you have questions about ADHD? Today we have specialists from our sister Institute ---the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and they know a lot about ADHD and other issues about things that happen in the brain. They are here to answer your questions.
soccer rocks 13 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how do you get addicted to drugs?

David Shurtleff:
Drugs of abuse get you high by causing rush of dopamine being released in brain areas that are important in helping us to feel pleasure. Over time, this over stimulation changes the brain in ways that can lead to addiction and to withdrawal symptoms when drug use stops.  Want more info on how drug abuse/addiction happens?  Click here http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts_understanding_addiction_final_0.pdf and http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-your-body-it-isnt-pretty-teaching-guide-poster.
cbalingit - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What makes drugs so addictive?

Joe Frascella: 
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.

To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
jcorona - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: Why is the legal age of drinking 21?

Shuly Babitz: 
The legal drinking age was raised from 18 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
pancakes13 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Why is weed legal in some states but not all of them?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Lots of you are asking this question, so here is the answer I sent out earlier.  Marijuana has been legalized through a political process, and reflects the votes of the people of those states, but the political process does not consider the potential health consequences. Other legal drugs, like nicotine in cigarettes, and alcohol, also have significant health risks, and these contribute significantly to our national health bill. It seems that people would be far smarter to avoid drugs like these that are known to make people sick.
For information about marijuana, check out this page from our teen site:
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
MangoAndGrape - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: According to my mom, my dad is a drug addict and that's part of the reason they broke up. Should I feel ashamed? People say I should but for some reason I don't.

Michelle Leff: 
Dear MangoAndGrape,
I agree with you - you should not feel ashamed about your dad's drug addiction.  You are not responsible for your father's behavior or his condition.  Good luck. 
IMS311bh - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How would you know if someone has a drug problem?

Michelle Leff: 
This is a good question.  Different drugs will affect physical appearance and emotional demeanor in different ways.  However, there are some general behaviors that you may notice in someone who has developed a drug problem.  Some of those behaviors are:  
1) a change in friends, and those friends may be known to experiment/use drugs,
2) spending more time alone or leaving abruptly (one of the criterion for drug abuse is spending a LOT of time using the drug or obtaining the drug or being under the influence of the drug),
3) change in school performance, or sports performance.  
 
 
There are questions people can ask to assess whether or not a person has a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:
Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
 
To learn more about drug addiction, visit our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
Hope this is helpful!
cquiroz - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: About how many people die on cars accidents by drinking alcohol? 

Shuly Babitz: 
The CDC reports that in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
 
That includes about 1,900 deaths of young people under age 21.
 
You can learn more statistics like these at:
IMS326cs - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How many drugs are prescribed every year?

Bethany Deeds: Hello Iberia Middle School! Thanks so much for this great question. We don't know exactly how many medications are prescribed every year but we do know that in 2011 there were about 220 million prescriptions filled for an opioid (such as oxycodone or Vicodin) and over 51 million prescriptions filled for stimulants (such as Ritalin or Adderall). 
Joining us is Isabelle Thibau, who will be assisting our experts. She graduated in 2011 with a degree in Chemistry and French. Isabelle greatly enjoys working at NIDA, which often involves “translating” information from Science to English. In her spare time, Isabelle loves to cook, research on health, study nutrition, enjoy wildlife, and watch the seasons change.
960433 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What are the psychactive ingrediants in dymethaltryptomine?

David Shurtleff: 
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT or N,N-DMT) is a psychedelic drug in of itself – it’s synthesized from a common amino acid L-tryptophan.  DMT in the brain binds to serotonin receptors (serotonin helps regulate mood and sleep) and when injested can cause profound distortions in perception of reality. Under its influence people can see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist!
QuestionK2 or Spice is a mixture of chemicals and herbs sometimes called "fake marijuana." If you smoke it, what will you be inhaling?
  1. Natural materials from eucalyptus leaves.
  2. Incense approved by the FDA.
  3. Powerful chemicals similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, but much stronger and untested in humans.
  4. Dried wildflowers.
C. Powerful chemicals similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, but much stronger and untested in humans. Spice abusers who have needed emergency care report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart, and in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks. Regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms. (Spice DrugFacts)
purplekushlove - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why heroin bad

Anto Bonci: Heroin is bad for many different reasons. It is very addictive, which can lead users to continue to seek and use the drug despite harmful consequences. One of these consequences includes effects on your health. Users can get hepatitis and HIV/AIDS through a needle used to inject it. Heroin can also damage your brain, and a single dose can induce coma or death. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses (infection at the injection sites), and liver or kidney disease.
Brittany R - VISTA, Oklahoma: What is PCP? How does it affect people?

Nancy Pilotte: 
PCP is the abbreviation for phencyclidine.  It acts by binding to ion channels in the neurons in the brain.  People who take PCP say that they feel invincible, very strong, and possibly immortal (but they are really none of these).  They can be very dangerous to themselves (some people have thought they could fly and have jumped off of high buildings) and to others (they can become very aggressive).  This is a good one to avoid. Here's a fact sheet from our website on PCP and other hallucinogens:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
Honeybee7777 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why aren't inhalants illegal?

Susan Weiss: Because they are usually products that have other routine uses and were never intended for inhalation--paint, lighter fluid, marker pens....  Unfortunately, people can be very creative in finding ways to abuse many things, ignoring the serious risks that go with it.  For more information on inhalants, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants
PTrahan - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: If a lot of people you are related to has gotten addicted to drugs/alcohol, are you more likley to be addicted if you try drugs/alcohol?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey PTrahan, GREAT question! And perfect for me because I am a geneticist :) 
 
Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, so if you have relatives who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but how much you inherit can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
 
Here's an example: Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also.
 
Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
 
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/
 
Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
g-thug - East Hollywood High school, Utah: What amount of prescription pills does it take to officially overdose?

Jen Katt: That depends on the type of pills and the individual person. That said, if you take prescription painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin with alcohol, it may not take many pills at all to 'officially' overdose or die. 
IMS201pb - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How fast does marijuana bring your heart rate up?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Marijuana is more likely to reduce your heart rate than to increase it.  Check out this site for more info: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
 
trealbert - VISTA, Oklahoma: can you od on pain relevers

Jen Katt: yes.  especially mixed with alcohol.  In fact, more people die from prescription painkiller overdose than from heroin and cocaine combined!
betty123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: why do more teenagers do drugs than adults?

Nora Volkow: 
Hi Betty, what a great question.
 
We don't know for sure why this is so, but we have a pretty good idea. Our theory says that it has to do with evolution. You see, evolution wants young people to be willing to take risks, to be able to leave the tribe, leave the security of their parental home behind, try new roles and identities, etc. This risk-taking is built in in the way the human brain works. In fact, the impulsive parts of the brain mature much earlier than the part of our brains that ponder consequences and and block obviously risky behaviors. This is essentially a good feature of our brains, but in today's environment, the natural risk-taking feature of the adolescent brain finds a release valve in dramatically more dangerous behaviors, like drug use, binge drinking, reckless driving and risky sexual behaviors.
 
hope that knowing what puts kids at risk and that it's not really their fault, will help you better deal with the dangerous environment you find yourself in.
 
good luck to you.
 
Sherlock Holmes - East Hollywood High school, Utah: How will smoking weed effect you in the future?

Dave Thomas: 
Elementary, my dear Sherlock. Marijuana can cause memory problems and may lower IQ.  Plus, smoking marijuana may cause lung cancer and respiratory disease, just like smoking cigarettes. There is also a tendency of marijuana users to start to abuse other drugs. Also, the time someone spends high on marijuana would be better spent doing something that leads to something.
 
Here is some other information on marijuana you might be interested in: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.
kmercier - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What can marijuana do to your health

Joe Frascella: 
Marijuana has been shown to have direct effects many areas of the brain. It has direct effects on cognitive processes 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 part of a finely calibrated 'endocannabioid' system found in the brain and the body that is involved in a whole host of functions, including pain regulation, reward, metabolism, mood and even immune function (how the body protects itself from infection). Marijuana floods the system, disrupting the finely orchestrated response that evolved over millions of years to do the many functions mentioned above. This leads to the effects that users feel--in the brain the cannabinoid 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. Marijuana disrupts the normal function of those areas and with repeated use the endocannabinoid system starts to adapt--to cope with the artificial situation created by exposure to marijuana. We do know that people can become addicted to the drug (and suffer withdrawal symptoms when they quit--irritability, sleep and appetite disturbances), and that they may suffer cognitively in the long run. Long term users also report decreased life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems and decreased career and educational attainment compared to their peers from similar backgrounds.
 
Symptoms from marijuana 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 optimally--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.
Evidence is clear that marijuana can affect the normal functioning of brain cells. For more information, check out: http://www.marijuana-info.org/.
063c3 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is more dangerous? One pack of cigarettes a day or smoking weed about once a month?

Eric Wargo: It's hard to compare the dangers of different drugs, and everyone responds differently, but a person smoking a pack of cigarettes a day is doing terrible harm to their body. In terms of physical dangers, the pack a day is much worse than the occasional joint. In terms of effects on the brain ... it's hard to tell. 
My Name Is: - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: are drugs bad

Anto Bonci: 
Drugs are bad in many different ways. It really depends on the drug taken. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Others can damage your liver, lungs, or cause coma and death - even with a single dose.
 
The one thing that abused drugs have in common is that they can produce addiction. This is continuing to take the drug despite harmful health effects, damage to relationships, or legal consequences. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
HetaliaForvever - East Hollywood High school, Utah: My brother just got lung disease from smoking, the doctor said he needs to stop, but he is to stressed to stop. How can I help him so that it wont turn to cancer?

Cindy Miner: 
Thanks for your question - sorry to hear about your brother. How great that he has a sibling like you who cares about him! Quitting can be hard, having your support is great. I've found it helpful to remember that smoking is more than a bad habit - it's an addiction. Tobacco contains nicotine - a very addictive chemical. It's hard to quit but not impossible. Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help your brother quit. Good luck to both of you~
MLopez - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: can drugs be useful?

Jen Katt: Yes, of course.  Medications have improved and transformed many people's lives.  It's when they're taken in ways or doses or by people they weren't prescribed for that makes them dangerous.  
Ilovereading6 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Can drugs affect animals?

Joni Rutter: 
Hello Ilovereading6!  Welcome to Chat Day! I love reading too :)
 
Drugs can definitely affect animals.  In fact, a lot of the research we support uses animals to examine the effects of drugs.  
 
When it comes to conducting tests related to intelligence, learning, and drug abuse, rats are a popular choice due to their high intelligence (believe it or not!), cleverness, and adaptability. Their psychology, in many ways, seems to be similar to humans.
 
The great thing about rats and other animal models is that rats don't have social pressures, they don't care about being popular, or how they look (ever seen a rat with a Justin Beiber hairdo?).  Rodents don't know what addiction is.  This means that when scientists observe addictive behaviors in rats, they know that those effects are likely to have similar effects in humans.  
 
And, the rat brain has many of the same 'parts' as the human brain, just on a smaller scale (see the attached image).  Believe it or not, they've been used in biology and psychiatry research since the late 1800's! Since then, rats have been used in many experiments, which have added to our understanding of genetics, diseases, the effects of drugs of abuse.  A 2007 study found rats to possess metacognition (knowing about knowing), a mental ability previously only documented in humans and some primates.

Rats you might have for a pet differs from wild rats in many ways. They are calmer and less likely to bite (WHEW!); they can tolerate greater crowding; they breed earlier and produce more offspring--that means scientists can make sure they use a lot of rats in their studies to have the statistical ability to show an effect.

Thanks for the great question! 
human vs rat brain
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What can you do when faced with peer pressure

Dave White: That's a tough question!  Peer pressure influences lots of kids to do things that they don't really want to do.  But you don't have to give in.  First, think about your own health and your own body - do you want to do something that can have very bad effects on your health and your future?  Then consider the other kids that are pressuring you to do drugs.  Are they really your friend if they want you to do something harmful?  Are there friends who aren't interested in drugs that you can hang out with?  Remember, you're the one who will have live with the effects of drug use - it's better to stay away from them!
WOW we are sure getting a lot of questions---we can't use these keyboards fast enough! Please be patient. And if your class ends before you get an answer, we will upload the transcript in a week or two---you can search for your answer using your user name.
Stephanie Older is online helping our scientists. She is NIDA's deputy communications director and oversees NIDA's outreach and dissemination team. Stephanie also leads the Institute's social media efforts. (Follow NIDA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NIDANews) Her experience includes work as the media liaison for the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and crafting public awareness campaigns for the Social Security Administration and the National Health Council's 'Putting Patients First' initiative. Stephanie holds a law degree from the University of Baltimore as well as a B.A. in communications from the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School. Before joining NIDA, she worked as Attorney-Adviser to an Associate Chief Judge at the U.S. Department of Labor. When not Tweeting for NIDA, she keeps busy with her five-year old son Owen and two-year old daughter Tessa.
Lilzeek105 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people use steroids?

Marilyn Huestis: 
Mainly to improve their body image and to improve their performance in sports. Many young men take steroids so that they appear more muscular and they have increased strength. But athletes cheat by taking steroids to make them stronger and able to do endurance and strength sports better. Unfortunately, there are many bad side effects to using them.  Read more here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
jbarrares - The Blake School, Minnesota: do bath salts really make you eat other people

Eric Wargo: 
Hi jbarres,
 
Bath salts are bad news, but they won't make you eat people (probably)! Some violent and cannibalistic attacks reported in the news last year were attributed to bath salts by the media before the facts were known, and those drugs turned out not to be involved. The 'face eater' in Miami turned out only to have marijuana in his system when his blood was tested.
 
But bath salts (technically called synthetic cathinones) have powerful stimulant and hallucinogenic properties--they can cause hyperactivity and delirium and even violent psychosis in a minority of users.
 
 
Eric 
15crawfsie - Pine View, Utah: What are the effects of cocaine?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question!!
 
 
From a scientific point of view, people abuse cocaine because it causes a chemical called dopamine to build up in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. When dopamine levels go up in the nucleus accumbens, we feel pleasure.
 
Normally, we get dopamine bumps in the brain when good things happen--say, we see a friend, win a contest, find a our lost dog, eat ice cream. The problem with taking cocaine is that it gives you the same feeling that you would get from something good happening, but nothing good has happened. And with continued cocaine use, bad things probably lie ahead, including potentially serious health problems and addiction.
 
Here is some more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine.
axman4215 - East Hollywood High school, Utah: What are some of the effects for mixing different kinds of pills?

Jen Katt: Mixing pills is like playing Russian Roulette.  You never know what may happen.  Mixing pills is especially dangerous when alcohol is added.  That's how must people end up overdosing.
ashley - VISTA, Oklahoma: What is the difference between hookah and weed ?

Cindy Miner: Generally what you get when you go to a hookah bar is tobacco with some flavorings smoked through a 'hookah' or water pipe.  Its possible that there may be people who put weed in those hookah pipes.  Bottom line, you are inhaling the smoke from a burning plant, be it tobacco, weed, or maybe what they swept up off the floor.  Why would anyone want to gunk up their lungs with that stuff?  If you think everyone is doing it...think again, very few people, less than 1 in twenty kids and less than 1 in 10 adults have ever tried a hookah.  Its just not all that cool.
fhafford - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: about how many people do drugs in a day?

Bethany Deeds: Nice to meet you Kingswood Regional Middle School!  In 2011, among people age 12 or older, about 22.5 million used an illicit drug, 68 million used a tobacco product, and over 133 million used alcohol in the past month. For more information check out the NSDUH site
Hey-we have alcohol experts here. Send us your alcohol questions.
prounite20 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What's in weed to make you high?

Dave Thomas: 
Marijuana contains a lot of chemicals in its leaves, including THC and cannabinol, which are 'cannabinoids.' Cannabinoids have effects on the brain that include producing the high that marijuana smokers seek. Here is some more information about marijuana: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.
Tar Heels15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Why do teenagers want to hurt there selves by taking drugs?

Nora Volkow: 
Hi Tar Heels15
 
We don't know for sure, but we have a pretty good idea why many teens tend to gravitate towards drugs. Our theory says that it has to do with evolution. You see, evolution wants young people to be willing to take risks, to be able to leave the tribe, leave the security of their parental home behind, try new roles and identities, etc. This risk-taking is built in in the way the human brain works. In fact, the impulsive parts of the brain mature much earlier than the part of our brains that ponder consequences and and block obviously risky behaviors. This is essentially a good feature of our brains, but in today's environment, the natural risk-taking feature of the adolescent brain finds a release valve in dramatically more dangerous behaviors, like drug use, binge drinking, reckless driving and risky sexual behaviors.
hope that knowing what puts kids at risk and that it's not really their fault, will help you better deal with the dangerous environment you find yourself in.
good luck to you.
 
Bulls23 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Do steroids cause side effects

Marilyn Huestis: Yes.  Steroids cause bad side effects, especially in a growing maturing young person. They can especially affect many of the hormones in your body that are changing as you grow. The changes are different in boys and girls and different depending upon the drug you might take. There are suggestions that steroids can lead to cancer, but this is not definitely proven yet. 
Bobthebuilder6 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is the main ingredient in crystal meth?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Bobthebuilder6....Welcome and thanks for your question!
 
Not to get too geeky, but the chemical name is n-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine, and is called methamphetamine, methylamphetamine, or desoxyephedrine. But it's easier to simply call it 'meth'. When it is in its crystalline form, the drug is called crystal meth, ice, Tina, or glass and is smoked. 
 
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.   Nasty!
 
Get accurate facts on drugs to make healthy decisions for your body and brain. Go here to check out info on meth. 
 
Keep up the good work in school and enjoy the rest of your day! 
trealbert - VISTA, Oklahoma: can i get high from people doing drugs around me

Michelle Leff: That is a good question, trealbert.  The good answer is, no - it would be very difficult for you to get high if you, yourself, are not doing drugs, but just in a room with others who are doing drugs.  However, if you are hanging out with people who do drugs a lot, you may feel peer pressure to 'try' drugs.  This is a dangerous situation, and it might be best if you found other friends (who don't do drugs).
ADVENTURETIME1 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: what is the easyest way to break an addction

Joe Frascella: 
Interesting question that has a complicated/not very specific answer.  There are a number of ways people stop using and 'break the cycle of addiction'...all depends on a number of factors. But in general, some people just stop (cold turkey); others have lots of difficulty and cycle in and out of addiction. Many people must seek professional treatment help to stop using drugs. The best way out differs for different individuals.
 
More information on treatment can be found at: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP, 24-hours  a day, 7 days a week.
heartbreaker:) - East Hollywood High school, Utah: is meth really the worst drug there is?

Dave Thomas: 
Hmm, depends how you define bad. Cigarettes kill the most people.  But if meth is not the worst, its pretty close to the top of the list.  It really takes over a persons life quickly, and don't get me started on meth mouth.  Just Google pictures of meth mouth, and you will see.  Seriously gross.  Here is some more info on meth: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine.
haileyisadork - East Hollywood High school, Utah: how many pills does it take to od?

Jen Katt: That depends on the type of pills and the individual person. That said, if you take prescription painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin with alcohol, it may not take many pills at all to overdose. 
My Name Is: - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: are you scientists

Dave Thomas: Yup, most of us here are.  Some of us have laboratories   Others just help promote good science.  And we even do chat day once a year. Pretty fun job.   
Rosie Rose - East Hollywood High school, Utah: Can you develop mental disorders from taking drugs?

Amy Goldstein: Hi Rosie Rose.  This is not an easy question to answer!  There is some research to suggest that marijuana plays a role in psychosis, but the direction of the relationship is unclear.  For example, in one study, teens who used marijuana were more likely to experience hallucinations when they were older, while younger teens who had hallucinations were more likely to use marijuana later on.  The important thing to realize is that people who have mental illness often use drugs as a way to 'self medicate' or make themselves feel better.  Using drugs is a short term and risky solution to dealing with a mental illness. If you need more help or treatment call 1-800-662-4357.
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Why do people use drugs even though its bad for them

Dave White: Seems kind of silly to do something even though you know its bad!  But a big reason that people do drugs is peer pressure - their friends are doing drugs so they decide to try them.  But that's not a good idea!  If they are truly a friend, they won't ask you to do something that is harmful.  For more information on drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
This year we have experts on mental health waiting for your questions about why teens are special---and why they sometimes have special problems.
kbell - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the difference between medical marajhuana and marajhuana

Jen Katt: 
Scientists are making use of their knowledge about the potentially healthful properties of some of marijuana's ingredients (and the body systems that they effect) in order to develop new medications (generally in pill form) for a variety of symptoms and diseases, including pain, obesity, and addiction. 
 
It's not likely that smoked marijuana will be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine for more.
Batman - VISTA, Oklahoma: What kind of drug is BathSalts?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Batman,
 
Bath salts contain chemicals called synthetic cathinones, which act as powerful stimulants as well as possessing hallucinogenic properties. They are related to the psychoactive chemical found naturally in the Khat plant, but they are created in the lab. Some users experience extreme anxiety and paranoid delusions from these chemicals. 
 
Eric
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What are some of the most abused drugs, and why?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, Regina, you ask an excellent question.  Some of the most commonly abused drugs are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, and to a much lesser extent cocaine, hallucinogens, and others.  Go ahead and check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Health http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm  and the Monitoring the Future study http://monitoringthefuture.org/ for more details.
 
Why do people abuse drugs? Well, they start for many different reasons so it's hard to give a single answer.  What we do know for sure is drugs interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information in the brain. Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help. 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.

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Think Drug Users Are Cool

Yes 18 percent, no 72 percent, and maybe 10 percent.

whiteTiger2013 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: What is the number of beer cans/bottles can you drink before you get drunk.

Shuly Babitz: 
That's just so hard to say because alcohol affects different people differently. Here are some of the factors that influence how 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 t
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. 
 
For more information on safe drinking limits for adults, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
XxBlack TearxX - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What if you know a friend that smokes, how can i help him/her to stop smoking?

Marilyn Huestis: What a good friend you are! Years ago we didn't know that smoking was addictive and so harmful to your health. Now we all know that smoking is highly addictive- 1 in 3 people who try tobacco develop problematic use. Hearing all the negatives about tobacco smoking including poor health and death, cost, effect on your children, bad smell etc from a friend is different than hearing it from a parent or advertisement. Just talking about the negatives with a friend could really help make them think about the choice they are making, and surely they will understand that you care about them. Good luck.
tsimmons - Oglesby ISD, Texas: does drug do alot of stuff in u

Jen Katt: Sure.
cayo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what is ADHD?

Amy Goldstein: Hi cayo.  ADHD, stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, an illness that usually has 2 key features. The first is inattention - so someone who gets bored with things easily, forgets to do homework assignments, loses track of small details, has difficulty focusing...someone who teachers think is daydreaming a lot during class. The other sign is hyperactivity - this would be someone who fidgets in their seat, is always 'on the go,' or talks a lot. ADHD in kids also involves some impulsivity - someone who is impatient, has difficulty waiting their turn, interrupts other. Most kids/teens have all of these (inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity) to some degree. It may be ADHD when these things are getting in the way of doing what you need to do - like schoolwork. If you think that you or someone you know has ADHD it's important to see a qualified mental health professional who can make the appropriate diagnosis. For more information about ADHD see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/what-are-the-symptoms-of-adhd-in-children.shtml
IMS316cm - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How do inhalants affect the brain?

Nora Volkow: 
hi
Inhalants are directly toxic to the brain, this is why a single event of huffing or puffing can cause suden death. 
for more information on inhalants please visit here: 
 
be smart and stay safe and away from drugs.
 
meldridge - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: haw can i now if they are doing drugs?

Michelle Leff: 
This is a good question. Different drugs will affect physical appearance and emotional demeanor in different ways. However, there are some general behaviors that you may notice in someone who has developed a drug problem. Some of those behaviors are:
1) a change in friends, and those friends may be known to experiment/use drugs,
2) spending more time alone or leaving abruptly (one of the criterion for drug abuse is spending a LOT of time using the drug or obtaining the drug or being under the influence of the drug),
3) change in school performance, or sports performance.
 
There are questions people can ask to assess whether or not a person has a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:
 
Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
 
To learn more about drug addiction, visit our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
Hope this is helpful!
lilneegee123 - East Hollywood High school, Utah: How do i know if I'm addicted to Caffeine?

Marilyn Huestis: Caffeine is addictive. Many people are now drinking high caffeine beverages like Red Bull. Becoming addicted to caffeine is easy. If you stop caffeine, one of the first signs is usually headache and irritability. Also, craving or wanting to take caffeine is also another good sign. 
IMS119an - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What is the age that people has started drugs?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Iberia Middle School! Drug use often starts during adolescence....Statistics show that young people usually initiate experimentation with tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, and marijuana. The age of initiation for each of these substances is generally younger than for any other illicit substance. According to the latest data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the mean age at first use of tobacco is 15; alcohol, 16; inhalants, 16; and marijuana, 17. Clink on this link to see a NSDUH table showing mean age at first use for specific illicit drugs. To get additional data from NSDUH, go to http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH.
cayo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why does marijuana make you hungry?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Marijuana often prompts people to eat. One of the side effects of smoking marijuana is craving for food, or getting the 'munchies.' Some people have advocated the use of marijuana for people who have tissue-wasting diseases like HIV/AIDS that take away their appetites so that they eat more. Some pharmaceutical companies have been developing drugs to reduce eating by blocking THC, the active compound in marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) that normally promotes eating.
As it turns out, THC binds to specific receptors in the brain, and some of these are located in an area called the hypothalamus, which regulates how much you eat.  When the THC binds to these sites in the hypothalamus, it makes you hungry.  These receptors are naturally found in your brain, and probably evolved to do just that! 
#1SoulEaterFan5 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Do kids get presciption drugs?

Jen Katt: yes, unfortunately, they get them all too easily--usually from friends and family.  Of course, that's different from getting them prescribed for you from a doctor for a real medical reason.  
cstenman - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: What drug is the most popular?

Marilyn Huestis: Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug around the world after alcohol, which is a drug too but a legal one. Another highly abused drug is methamphetamine in the US, Australia and Asia, amphetamine in Europe.
AHo - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: How does drugs give you cancer???? !!!!!!

Nancy Pilotte: There is no direct link between abused drugs and cancer, but their repeated use can cause genetic and cellular mutations that make you more susceptible to getting cancer.  The best way to decrease your chances of getting cancer from these drugs is to avoid abusing them!
mickey15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: is it illegal to share your precription strength advil with a friend in pain?

Dave White: 
You should never use a drug that hasn't been prescribed for you by a doctor and you also should never share your medications with a friend.  Even though the drug has been prescribed by a doctor and is safe when used as directed, if you take more than what the doctor prescribed or if someone else takes it, the drug may have harmful effects.  For more information on drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
RUBY - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why does marijuana make us high?

Dave Thomas: 
Marijuana contains a lot of chemicals in its leaves, including THC and cannabinol, which are 'cannabinoids.' Cannabinoids have effects on the brain that include producing the high that marijuana smokers seek. Here is some more information about marijuana: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana
heartbreaker:) - East Hollywood High school, Utah: whats the worst drugs to mix?

Joe Frascella: 
With respect to what is the 'worst drugs' to mix, this question is complicated and the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in terms of which drugs are most dangerous, alone or in combination. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered -- for example, genetic, environmental (e.g., drug availability) and developmental (e.g., age at which the drug is abused) -- 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.
Also, each person's brain is different, so it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if someone chooses to use and mix drugs.  Also, we don't really have lots of specific information on drug combinations.  Best advice, stay away from drugs, especially in potentially dangerous combinations!
For more information, please visit: www.drugabuse.gov.
PookiePooh - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why is marijuana a medicine? or is it a medicine?

Susan Weiss: Marijuana--the plant--is not a medicine, although some states have passed laws stating that it is.  That's very confusing, I know, but all medicines are supposed to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on careful research showing their safety and effectiveness as a treatment.  Marijuana is not FDA approved, and has some inherent problems that make it unlikely to become a medicine: Medicines must have well specified ingredients, so that they can be prescribed at doses appropriate to a patient's needs.  As a plant, marijuana has thousands of chemicals in it that vary from one plant to another, and most have not been identified or tested for safety.  Also, smoking is not a good way to deliver a medicine since it is bad for the lungs.  Finally, its risks also have to be taken into consideration--for example, it impairs learning and thinking. That said, some of the ingredients in marijuana do have medicinal potential and some are already available in pill form.  They can help with nausea produced by cancer chemotherapy, and extreme weight loss associated with AIDS.  Scientists are working hard on finding ways to isolate the medicinal properties of marijuana to make medicines that are effective, with less risk, and that can be approved by the FDA.
ims317sm - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Why is spice illegal and you don't know it affects?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi ims317sm,
 
Synthetic marijuana (also called Spice or K2) is illegal because it has proven to have harmful properties, and in fact thousands of young people are ending up in emergency rooms because of these drugs. There are many different chemicals being created in laboratories and being sold as Spice, and unfortunately it is impossible to test all of the effects of all the drugs.
 
Eric 
elise - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How do "bath salts" react with brain?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Elise! Great question! The term 'bath salts' refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria  but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. According to NIDA's 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey, the use of 'bath salts' is not common among teenagers, with only 1.3% of 12th graders reporting use in the previous year.
OptixReborn - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: what is spice? (drug)

Jen Katt: K2/Spice

'Spice' is fake marijuana. But although Spice products do contain dried plant material, chemical analyses of seized Spice mixtures have revealed different things---including the presence of synthetic compounds and potentially harmful heavy metal residues.

Presently, there are no studies on the effects of Spice on human health or behavior, and there is no scientific data regarding their toxic effects in humans. A variety of mood and perceptual effects have been described, and patients who have been taken to Poison Control Centers in Texas report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/spice-synthetic-marijuana for more.
spice
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
candy1123 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why are drugs adictive to people when they just use it just one time

Anto Bonci: Great question. It's because even a single exposure to a drug changes very powerful brain chemicals (such as dopamine and glutamate) and produces an unconscious brain memory of the drug, which plays an important role in addiction and substance abuse. To find out more about addiction, check out Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.
420Blazing - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How long will a drug stay in your blood? So how long would a person have before they could take a drug test, and come up clean after taking a drug?

Marilyn Huestis: This is different for each drug and depends on how strong the drug is, what you are measuring the drug in- blood, urine, hair or saliva, and how much of the drug the person took. If someone is an occasional drug user a drug may stay in the blood for several hours or days, but if someone is a daily user of marijuana for example- we could still measure the drug for 30 days in these chronic users. So there is no one answer to your question.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What will happen when you mix different type of drugs? And which mix would be the most dangerous?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Regina!  Are there a lot of quails around Quail Valley Middle School?  :)
 
Mixing different types of drugs is very dangerous!  Not only is it illegal to drink before age 21, but drinking too much alcohol can impair brain function and motor skills and lead to addiction. Mixing alcohol with illicit or other drugs—even legal ones—greatly increases dangers:

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

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

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

Be sure to check out the embedded links to get accurate facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
 
Thanks for the great question Regina! Bottom line: Play it safe and don't take drugs, let alone mix 'em. What do you think?
Pizzalover17 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Why do people think doing drugs helps their body?

Richard Denisco: 
Thank you for the question. when I was working in a treatment center for young adult men I found 2 types of drug use. The most common was the use of drugs to feel better, and I do not know of any of the guys who thought that helped their bodies. The second type of drug use that you might be referring to was the use of steroids and other such drugs to increase muscle strength. I even treated one guy who had a contract with the Atlanta Braves farm team. Unfortunately he lost that when his drug use and DUI became known. The sad part was he was so good he did not need the steroids. He could throw a baseball over 75 yards - on his knees. So I do not think very many if any people think drugs help their bodies.  For those that use steroids to get stronger, it is short lived.  Once they stop using they don't keep the muscle strength they achieved with the drugs and meanwhile, they risk all kinds of health problems including liver damage, high blood pressure, severe acne. and males can face 'feminization' like shrunken testicles and breasts and for girls, they risk facial hair, male-patterned baldness, and deep voices. Want to learn more?  Check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/steroids-anabolic.
chicken - Clinton High School, Iowa: are street drugs worse than pirscirtion

Jen Katt: Not necessarily, it depends on how they're taken.  Since prescription drugs act on the same receptors in the brain as illicit street drugs, people who abuse prescription drugs can experience similar effects, even overdose.  
Bulls23 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Do only depressed people use drugs

Dave White: Sometimes people who are depressed will use drugs to try to feel better, but drugs are more commonly used by people who start using the drugs to fit in or be cool.  They may have friends who use drugs and pressure them to try them.  But it's not a good idea to even try them once!  You can get more information at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
My Name Is: - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: my cousin does drugs how should i get her to stop

Michelle Leff: 
This is unfortunately a common question today -- one that a lot of teens are dealing with or curious about. On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about trying to help your cousin. Be a good friend to your cousin, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause. Start at our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov -- it includes some helpful information.
 
Next, encourage your cousin to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
Felisa H - T.C. Williams H.S., Virginia: Are there any drugs that increase or improve brain activitiy?

David Shurtleff: 

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

waterbug31 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Are club drugs used more by teens or young adults?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi waterbug31, I'm going to give you one example of a drug in the 'club drug' group and to answer your question I turn to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study.  In 2011, just over 2% of high school seniors reported they were current users of MDMA/ecstasy as opposed to 0.7% of college students/young adults.  You can see similar stats for a whole bunch of other drugs at 
CMacleod - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: How can steroids effect your health like you can take them to help if your sick?

Marilyn Huestis: The steroids people abuse to perform better in sports or to make themselves more muscular do not help you if you are sick. There are other steroids- corticosteroids- that can help some people if they have inflammation or other disease. But abusing steroids in no way helps your health. They can really harm your development when you are still growing.
trealbert - VISTA, Oklahoma: can drugs make you blind

Anto Bonci: Yes, they can. For example, drugs such as cocaine can cause a stroke in the part of the brain associated with vision (visual cortex) and make you blind. Get the facts on the health consequences of drugs here.
jeff - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what the drugs do to you?

Carol Krause: We have some great research to answer this. Drugs affect the brain and body. 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.Check out www.teens.drugabuse.gov, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, and other interesting stuff. 
Tkamal - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: What are ways you are supposed to do when you are a drug addict and you want to quit?

Michelle Leff: 
One way is to find a professional treatment program in your area. You can do that by looking online at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov -- some are available just for teens. Another option is to call 1-800-662-HELP, where private and confidential assistance is available 24/7. And a third way is to consult your physician - they are there to help you get healthy.
 
I hope this helps, and good luck to you! 
Zomified - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Someone I know takes more and more pills than they are supposed too. How do I convience them it's a bad idea?

Nora Volkow: 
Hi Zomified,
 
You can tell them that when they take the pills they don't know what they are consuming and this could lead not only to a very bad experience but could also be quite dangerous since some of the pills can lead to a deadly overdose.
 
The abuse of Prescribed medications is a very serious problem, particularly because many people wrongly perceived them as safer than street drugs.
 
To learn more about Rx abuse. Please visit our NIDA site on the topic.  
 
thanks for your question and good luck to you 
YOLO - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what do,s heroin do to your body

Joe Frascella: 
Heroin is an addictive drug that is processed from morphine and usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black, sticky substance. It is injected, snorted, or smoked.
Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. Heroin depresses breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal. Users who inject the drug risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Awesomeman5 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: Is there anything worse than beer or alcohol?

Jen Katt: It's not really helpful to rank drugs from best to worse.  For some people, there's nothing worse than beer or alcohol if they're addicted and have lost their jobs, their families, and their self-respect because of it.  Happens.
iluvMcNuggz - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Is nicotine more addictive than heroin?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey iluvMcNuggz:  Good question!  Bottom line is that both nicotine and heroin are addictive.  
 
Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs on a scale of 'addictive-ness.'  The drug that an individual is addicted to is the worst for that person--so it's a case-by-case basis.  However, statistics show that tobacco is one of the worst and post widely-used drugs in the whole world-- with horrible health consequences, including death! People who smoke can have breathing problems, tooth decay, emphysema, mouth cancer, and lung and heart disease. Definitely things no one wants to deal with!
 
Nicotine is the addictive component of cigarettes and it is very effective in getting people hooked.  Here are the facts on nicotine, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/tobacco-addiction-nicotine
 
  
People are different, and addiction has many sides to it that make a person more or less likely to become addicted to a drug, such as genetics (e.g., genes that metabolize drugs can be different across people), environment (e.g., drug availability; parents using drugs/tobacco/alcohol) and development (e.g., age--the younger you are when you try a drug, the more likely you are to abuse it), all of which play important and changing roles in determining how a person becomes addicted.

No matter what, all drugs of abuse are bad for your body! Get accurate facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!
For more information on specific drugs go to: www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/health.html
 
Keep up the good work iluvMcNuggz and 'Just Say Know!'
mjgiraffes - Croatan High School, North Carolina: If you've never been tested for ADHD and you think you have it from the side affects what should you do? Because my parents take me

Amy Goldstein: 
HI mjgiraffes.  There are medications for some illnesses that can make you feel like you have symptoms of another.  If you think you may have ADHD, or are experiencing the symptoms of it from another medication you are taking, it is important to tell your doctor.  If a medication or any kind of treatment is making you feel worse, and not better, tell your doctor as soon as you can.  Open and honest conversations with your parents and your doctor is an important part of getting better.  
RUBY - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: some people say the marijuana help us with stress, Is it true?

Nora Volkow: 
initially when u first smoke marihuana it may make u more relaxed but with repeated use then u will start to feel more and more anxious and then u will need to take the marijuana just to try to feel normal.
 
 if you are interested to learn about all the known adverse effects of smoking marijuana, you can visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.
 
cheers 
hbushman - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how can you tell when someone is using drugs?

Michelle Leff: 
Hello hbushman,
This is a good question. Different drugs will affect physical appearance and emotional demeanor in different ways. However, there are some general behaviors that you may notice in someone who has developed a drug problem. Some of those behaviors are:
1) a change in friends, and those friends may be known to experiment/use drugs,
2) spending more time alone or leaving abruptly (one of the criterion for drug abuse is spending a LOT of time using the drug or obtaining the drug or being under the influence of the drug),
3) change in school performance, or sports performance.
 
There are questions people can ask to assess whether or not a person has a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:
Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
 
To learn more about drug addiction, visit our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
Hope this is helpful!
Daisy - Croatan High School, North Carolina: How are shows like "Moonshiners" legal? Do the police ignore the locations and actions of those people?

Shuly Babitz: 
Virginia authorities (Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control) says that the show is a dramatization and that no actual 'moonshine' is being produced. 
 
You can read more about that here.
Meow62007 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How many years of being an alcoholic does it take for your liver to fail?

Shuly Babitz: Alcoholic liver disease develops in 10 - 20% of heavy drinkers, usually after 10 - 15 years of heavy alcohol consumption.
Stephen, H - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Why dose PCP make you have no feeling of pain. Why did they use it in hospitals in the 1950s

Nancy Pilotte: Great to hear from a school in Colorado!  PCP was developed initially as an anesthetic.  It blocks electrical conduction in neurons (nerves) by interfering with certain proteins called ion channels that are necessary for the neurons to work.  It turned out to be a pretty good anesthetic, but there was a problem.  When people awoke from the anesthesia, they often had terrible headaches and they did not feel normal.  This property made PCP what is called a 'dissociative anesthetic' and its use in humans was discontinued because of it.  However, a derivative of PCP called ketamine is still used as a veterinary anesthetic, particularly in cats.
MW3master209 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What does cocaine really do to you?

Dave Thomas: 
From a scientific point of view, people abuse cocaine because it causes a chemical called dopamine to build up in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. When dopamine levels go up in the nucleus accumbens, we feel pleasure.
 
Normally, we get dopamine bumps in the brain when good things happen--say, we see a friend, win a contest, find a our lost dog, eat ice cream. The problem with taking cocaine is that it gives you the feeling same feeling that you would have from something good happening, but nothing good has happened. And with continued cocaine use, addiction and other adverse health effects probably lie ahead.
Cocaine, like other stimulants, also increases a person's heart rate and blood pressure.
 
Here is some more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine
babyfactory - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: which alcoholic drink tastes the best

Shuly Babitz: I guess that would be a matter of personal preference. But regardless of the taste, drinking when you're under the legal drinking age of 21 is always risky.
jcarter - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What is the most addictive drug?

Nora Volkow: 
in terms of its chemcial actions metamphetamine    however each one of us has different genes that may make u more vulnerable to the addictiveness of specific drugs.  for example some people are very susceptible to alcohol , others to nicotine,  ets etc. 
 
One of the reasons why we can't really rank the effects of addictive drugs is that it is quite impossible to take into account these very significant individual differences.
 
good luck to you. and stay safe
 
laneam - Legacy, Texas: What is alcohol made of?

Shuly Babitz: 
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/
terps16 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how can prescription drugs be harmful, if they are intended to help someone?

Jen Katt: Prescription drugs act on the same receptors in the brain as do illicit drugs.  For example, painkillers act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. When these drugs attach to their receptors, they reduce the perception of pain. Some people experience a 'high' from these medications, since they also affect the brain regions involved in reward. The desire to repeat this pleasurable experience can lead to harmful health effects, including addiction.
 
Also, some people try to make their experience more intense by taking the drug in ways other than those prescribed. For example, people who abuse OxyContin may snort or inject it--and so increase their risk for serious medical complications, including overdose. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
960433 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What is the difference between magic mushrooms and magic truffles?

Nancy Pilotte: Both are fungi, but truffles are found underground and are way more expensive than mushrooms.  Magic truffles and magic mushrooms share a common substance, psilocybin, that is responsible for their psychoactive qualities.  As there are other mushrooms that are poisonous, and they don't look much different, stick to the supermarket for your fungi.
IMS320np - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: If a parent lets their child do drugs, is it their responsible to get locked up in jail? Or the child goes to jail?

Michelle Leff: This is a good question, but a complicated one.  Parents should provide supervision to ensure their children are safe, etc.  If that is not happening (i.e., parents let children do drugs), then there may be a case of parental neglect.  In that case, the parents won't necessarily go to jail, but they may be ordered by the court to get treatment (parenting classes, etc.), and they may lose custody of their children.  The child would not go to jail, but hopefully would get the treatment that s/he needs.
cayo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Does marijuana actually give you stress relief?

Marilyn Huestis: People take marijuana for many reasons and forgetting about stress might be one of them, but using marijuana has many other effects at the same time. You can't just choose one effect. Marijuana reduces memory, increases your heart rate, makes you hungry, decreases your ability to think, changes your attention and ability to reason and handle multiple tasks at one time. New data shows it can even lower IQ.  One of the saddest things about using marijuana in young people is how it changes their performance in school and how they feel about doing well in school. So remember- all the affects happen at once and affect how well you perform.
aliciag34 - Pine View, Utah: Is drug addiction considered a disease? Can this be passed on from parents to children?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey aliciag34!  Thanks for your question!  Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain - they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.
 
Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, so if you have relatives who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but the amount of heritablility can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
 
Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
 
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/
 
aliciag34, make sure to use the links above to get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
15crawfsie - Pine View, Utah: When other people do drugs, is it okay to go along with them?

Dave White: 
What do you think?  There is lots of research that shows that doing drugs is never a good idea.  There are lots of ways that drugs can cause harm - even if you use them only once!  Its always better to say 'no' and find other friends who won't ask you to do something that can harm you!
 
For more information on drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What happens when you get high? How much damage can drugs do? Besides the stereotypical effects? How does alcohol intoxicate someone? What is the “worst” drug? What part of the brain do drugs damage most? Which nationality is affected most by drugs of any sort? If we are ever put into a situation where one of our friends are on drugs, should we try to help them, or should we just cut off communication, or what? Is nicotine considered a drug as powerful as some of the stereotypical ones?

Dave Thomas: 
whooo, that's a lot of questions!!!!
Drugs can do a lot of damage, and can kill you.
Hard to say what the worst drug is. That depends on how they are used, how long they are taken, who takes them.
I would try to help a friend that is taking drugs. Nicotine is pretty darn addictive. Looks at all those people who try and stop smoking but cannot...
 
Here is a bunch more information:
 
Michaelw - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Is there an illegal drug for ADHD?

Amy Goldstein: Like all prescriptions, the medications used to treat ADHD are considered controlled substances and they need to be prescribed by a licensed physician.  Stimulants are commonly used to treat ADHD...obtaining them through a way other than a prescribing physician is illegal.  
lbedore - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How were the Israeli government making marijuana without the effects of getting high? Were they taking THC out of the finished product?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi lbedore,
 
Good question. The plants being grown by an Israeli company are bred to not have THC in them (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), but have a high amount of cannabidiol, a chemical that has anti-inflammatory properties and may be useful in treating illnesses. So no, they aren't taking the THC out of the leaves afterward -- they are grown that way.
 
Eric 
v45478 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can alcohol kill you or do something to your body ?

Shuly Babitz: 
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
killerchef - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: about how many people do drugs in the U.S.A.

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey there killerchef, thanks for your question. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 22.6 million people over the age of 12 reported they used drugs in the month prior to being asked. Check out lots of other drug stats at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm
Figure 2.1
coolcat69 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: why are drugs addicting?

Joe Frascella: 
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.

To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
laneam - Legacy, Texas: How was alcohol discovered?

Shuly Babitz: Good question! 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.
IMS328kv - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: how can some one quit somking?

Michelle Leff: The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder, like smoking, is to seek help from a trained counselor. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Hope this helps.
PookiePooh - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: how long does a drug stay in your body?

Marilyn Huestis: This is different for each drug and depends on how strong the drug is, what you are measuring the drug in- blood, urine, hair or saliva, and how much of the drug the person took. If someone is an occasional drug user a drug may stay in the blood for several hours or days, but if someone is a daily user of marijuana -for example- we could still measure the drug for 30 days. So there is no one answer to your question.
purple2016 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what are the signs of ADD?

Amy Goldstein: Hi purple2016.  ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder usually has 2 key features.  The first is inattention - so someone who gets bored with things easily, forgets to do homework assignments, loses track of small details, has difficulty focusing...someone who teachers think is daydreaming a lot during class.  The other sign is hyperactivity - this would be someone who fidgets in their seat, is always 'on the go,' or talks a lot.  ADHD in kids also involves some impulsivity - someone who is impatient, has difficulty waiting their turn, interrupts other.  Most kids/teens have all of these (inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity) to some degree.  It may be ADHD when these things are getting in the way of doing what you need to do - like schoolwork.  If you think that you or someone you know has ADHD it's important to see a qualified mental health professional who can make the appropriate diagnosis.  For more information about ADHD see  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/what-are-the-symptoms-of-adhd-in-children.shtml
thesupersam - Beacon Academy, Indiana: Are there any drugs that give you superpowers? If so what are they?

Joni Rutter: Hey thesupersam!  
Sorry to burst your bubble, but super powers aren't real! And drug abuse can result in serious, adverse consequences -- especially in teens! Get the facts here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php.
 
Some drugs might make someone feel like they have superpowers because they may not feel pain immediately.  The reason that someone on drugs like hallucinagens might not feel pain is because they are 'dissociative' drugs and cause hallunications (hence the name).  This means it distorts perceptions of sight, sound, and physical sensations, producing feelings of detachment (or not being 'in' their body). Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects from PCP, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety).
 
Bottom line is we are human.  Our brains give us the best 'superpowers' of all.  A supersam is a smartsam!  Get accurate facts on drugs from the link above to make healthy choices for your brain and body.  Stay smart and use your brain well!
Quarter23 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is Ketamine?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic derived from PCP (phencyclidine).  It is called dissociative because when it was used in people, some patients awoke from anethesia and reported feeling disconnected from reality.  It is not used in people today for that reason, but it is often used in veterinary medicine to anesthetize or tranquilize cats.  (Cats are often very sensitive to other anesthetic agents, but seem to tolerate Ketamine well.)
 
Check out our great teen blog at:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog
GenBuckets - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can animals get addicted to drugs?

David Shurtleff: 
Yes- if fact scientists often use animal like specific genetically bred mice and rats as a model to better understand how drugs affect the body and how addiction develops.  They use these animals because believe it or not our brains are not that different from other animals like rats and mice and when given the opportunity to take drugs, they show signs of addiction that we see in people! Have a uncontrollable desire to learn more about the use of animal models in research?  Click here - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/brain-actions-cocaine-opiates-marijuana/section-ii-introduction-to-reward-system/1-reward-drug-
RSiddiqi - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: How does drugs affect your personality?

Nora Volkow: 
Dear RSiddiqi
 
To start with, this will depend on your personality characteristics (style). The effects will also differ at the beginning of your history of using relative to when you've been using for a while. For example, someone who drinks for the first time may become more social, but someone else may become violent.  Then, with repeated use or excessive consumption, alcohol can make you more depressed or anxious whenever you are not intoxicated. We call this withdrawal effects. 
 
cocaine and amphetamine can make someone appear more outgoing but a different person can become psychotic; in fact, with repeated use, the likelihood of becoming paranoid increases.
 
be smart and stay away from drugs.
 
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: when teens do drugs do they not relize it can hurt them very badly or do they know and just want to fit in and not want to be an outcast ?

Dave Thomas: 
Some teens know drugs can hurt them but don't care. They think about the immediate high, and  kinda of forget about the future. 
 
Sometimes teens don't have the facts. That's why we are here today, to chase away myths and get the facts out there.
 
And I do mean facts. We are scientists at the National Institute of Health, and we deal with data and facts.   
 
1234 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why do you start hallucinating when you're using drugs????

Joe Frascella: 
Certain drugs have 'hallucinogenic' properties causing you to hallucinate.  
 
More specifically, Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug. This interaction with the serotonin system in the brain results in hallucinations.  Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used—mostly during religious rituals—for centuries. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters (e.g., acetylcholine-, serotonin-, or catecholamine-like). While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.
Softball.Chik33 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: My dad quit smoking about 8-10 years ago. He is doing better, but he has gotten fatter than usual. Is that a common side effect of quiting?

Cindy Miner: 
Good question - weight gain can be a side effect of quitting but it is not inevitable. There can be several reasons for this - including changes in metabolism and increased appetite. A slower metabolism + more food without any exercise or some other offset = weight gain. The nicotine in cigarettes raises the “metabolic rate” of smokers, which increases the amount of calories used. When you quit smoking, your metabolic rate slows down to a healthy level. It may even slow down an extra amount before going back to
normal. It can take a few weeks or even months for your metabolism to rise back to a normal level. Meanwhile, this slower rate burns fewer calories. It is also normal for your appetite to increase after quitting smoking. Studies show that people who quit smoking increase their food intake. Increased appetite
is a common withdrawal symptom after quitting. It tends to last somewhat longer than other symptoms. For more information including healthy weight control check out this: http://www.smokefree.gov/pubs/FF3.pdf.
PookiePooh - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what is MDMA?

Dave Thomas: 
Well PookiePooh, MDMA is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine.  Here is a bunch of information on it:
 
atran - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What is the percentage of people take drugs because they were abandoned as a young child?

Richard Denisco: Good question. Unfortunately we do not have an exact answer, other than to say any type of childhood stress increases the chance of drug use. But it is not a perfect correlation, some kids have horrible home lives and do great. Other kids have great home lives, and develop terrible addiction problems. Also genetics plays a role. But remember a person who is at very high risk won't develop a problem with drugs if they never use them. 
jshyi - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: will people act differently because they took drugs ?

Nora Volkow: 
yes and the effects will depend on the drug they take and the personal characteristics of the user.
 
For example, alcohol can make someone be more aggressive and someone else more social, whereas marijuana can make one person calmer but another person paranoid.
 
thanks for the question and be safe.
 
jshyi - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: why do kids want other kids to do drugs with them?

Richard Denisco: When people do something risky, sometimes they feel more able to take a risk when there are others with them.  That somehow it makes doing the wrong thing OK.  Sometimes kids who use drugs feel very alone and self-conscious and getting other kids to use with them makes them feel less alone.  It's hard when people try to pressure you to do something you know isn't good for you--but it may help to know that most kids aren't using drugs.
939067 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why are drugs bad for you??????

Jen Katt: They're not all bad, medications have improved and transformed many people's lives.  Taking illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, or abusing prescription drugs = bad for you. Besides addiction, drug abuse is linked to a variety of health problems, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and many more. It is also linked to homelessness, crime, and violence. Thus, addiction is costly to both individuals and society.  See  http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/medical-consequences-drug-abuse for more.
Jamesp - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Can marijuana be fatal?

Dave Thomas: 
It can cause cancer and impair motor skills like driving, leading to accidents. However, I have never heard of an overdose of marijuana.  Neither have the scientists sitting on either side of me...
 
 
chastings - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why do some people take drugs for other needs then health issues?

Dave White: People take drugs for lots of reasons but one big reason is peer pressure - their friends are doing drugs so they decide to try them.  Once they try drugs once, they may like how the drugs make them feel so they use them again and again and again...  The problem is, although drugs may make a person feel good for a short while, they can have harmful effects and the person can become addicted - not to mention the effect on their schoolwork!  Its always better to stay from any drug unless it has been prescribed for you or your parents or caregiver give it to you for a health problem.
bazinga - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: how often do people die from taking drugs?

Marsha Lopez: Hi bazinga, thanks for your question. About 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 24 die from drug overdoses. But that doesn't even count the number of people who take drugs and drive, killing themselves and other people. Plus--- it doesn't count people who get into fights while high and kill someone with a gun, a knife or with their fists etc. Those are harder statistics to get. The group that dies the most from overdoses is people from age 25-54---with the highest rate being from 45-54. Many of these are people who started drug use when they were younger, became addicted, led a difficult life of addiction, and eventually their luck ran out. Others are people who started abusing prescription drugs ---mostly painkillers---and became addicted. Some are people who had tried to quit drugs, and when they relapsed, took such a high dose it killed them.
YOLO - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How do,s drugss work

Joe Frascella: 
All drugs of abuse change the brain. 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.
 
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.
To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
Girlygirl19 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: How many people die from drugs a year?

Marsha Lopez: Hi Girlygirl19, thanks for your question. About 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 24 die from drug overdoses. But that doesn't even count the number of people who take drugs and drive, killing themselves and other people. Plus--- it doesn't count people who get into fights while high and kill someone with a gun, a knife or with their fists etc. Those are harder statistics to get. The group that dies the most from overdoses is people from age 25-54---with the highest rate being from 45-54. Many of these are people who started drug use when they were younger, became addicted, led a difficult life of addiction, and eventually their luck ran out. Others are people who started abusing prescription drugs ---mostly painkillers---and became addicted. Some are people who had tried to quit drugs, and when they relapsed, took such a high dose it killed them.
lchase - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Does marijuana kill your brain cells if you smoke it every day

Nora Volkow: 
There is no evidence that marijuana kills brain cells, however, there is evidence that marijuana interferes with the connections between cells in the brain. This affects how your brain processes information and that affects your behavior and overall performance. This, in turn can put you at risk of injury (if you drive a vehicle while impaired) or contracting a sexually transmitted disease (if you engage in risky sexual behaviors)
 
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why are steroids so bad

Marilyn Huestis: Steroids mess with your normal growth and development. They interfere with your hormones, growth and can affect your behavior too. Aggression has been linked to steroid use, and some athletes claim that their steroid use produced brain cancer, but this is not proven yet. Growing up is complex and steroids interfere with your normal growth.
am - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What is the most addictive drug?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi am at Kingswood: Good question!  Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs on a scale of 'addictive-ness.'  The drug that an individual is addicted to is the worst for that person--so it's a case-by-case basis.  However, statistics show that tobacco is one of the worst and most widely-used drugs in the whole world-- with horrible health consequences, including death! People who smoke can have breathing problems, tooth decay, emphysema, mouth cancer, and lung and heart disease. Definitely things no one wants to deal with!
 
Nicotine is the addictive component of cigarettes and it is very effective in getting people hooked.  Here are the facts on nicotine, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/tobacco-addiction-nicotine
 
No matter what, all drugs of abuse are bad for your body! Get accurate facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!
 
For more information on specific drugs go to: www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/health.html
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: Are there any countries where drugs are legal for non-medical uses? If so, please specify. D. Gionis

Susan Weiss: 
The most liberal drug policies currently are in Portugal, which has decriminalized drug use--meaning the people don't go to jail for having small amounts of drugs on them for personal use.  However, someone caught with drugs must still appear before a panel of people including a psychologist, social worker, and legal advisor to determine whether they need treatment or some sort of brief counseling to help them stop using drugs. 
 
Zombie - East Hollywood High school, Utah: I'm currently a teenager who, I am sad to admit to myself, have used marijiuana with friends about 5 times since the school year started, and I am very interested in buying some. I want to know some ways to resist these kind of impulses before I get, ya know, royally screwed.

Carol Krause: Zombie---your user name is ironic because that is close to what can happen when people get addicted to drugs.  I am sure there are other teens who have had the same experience as you. If you are thinking a lot about drugs it is possible you are already getting into some trouble that could lead to addiction.Think about this:  One in 6 teens who start using marijuana will become addicted---despite what people tell you. Addiction is disastrous and it is still within your power to stop it from happening.    I STRONGLY suggest you talk to an adult you trust about this---your doctor, your counselor---even your parents. So far nothing terrible has happened and it is the perfect time to tell them. Remember that drugs hijack the brain so it is hard to feel pleasure any other way. If that is happening to you, you need to ask for help---I know it takes courage but it is the smart thing to do. 
ScrappyFTW - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What are bath salts used for?

Jen Katt: 
Some bath salts--the legal kind--are used in the bathtub to help people relax, like epsom salts. 
 
The illegal kind are stimulant-like drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals that can produce euphoria, but also paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some people even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
IMS - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What do steroids really do to you?

Marilyn Huestis: Steroids interfere with your normal growth and development, they can affect all the organs in your body. They do build muscle and increase your performance in endurance sports- weight lifting for example, but they also affect many other processes at the same time. Steroids have also been linked to aggression and according to some, brain cancer, but that has not been proven yet.
yayforferrets - Croatan High School, North Carolina: What are the long term effects of popping pills?

Jen Katt: Taking prescription drugs that weren't prescribed for you or taking your own prescription meds in ways or amounts not intended can cause lots of unpleasant health effects over the long term, including addiction.  It depends what kind of drug you're taking--if you're taking pain killers, especially with alcohol, you can overdose immediately. Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/curricula-and-lesson-plans/mind-over-matter/prescription-drug-abuse
Elizabeth M - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: How do you get addicted to meth what kind of substance that makes you addicted to it?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Elizabeth M,
 
Good question. The answer is a little complicated. Meth raises the amount of a brain chemical called dopamine in brain circuits that control pleasure and reward. Ordinary pleasures like food raise dopamine a little, and most abused drugs do it more, which is what makes them more pleasurable than other natural rewards; meth raises dopamine even more extremely and faster than many other drugs, and the effect of taking it multiple times is that the reward circuits in the brain become less sensitive to dopamine. What this causes is a vicious circle: To feel even normal, a person needs to get the dopamine rush they get from the drug, and the more they do this, the more addicted they become. 
 
 
To learn more about how addiction happens, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Eric 
 
harrystyles - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how long will it take to get drugs out of our bloodstream

Marilyn Huestis: This is different for each drug and depends on how strong the drug is, what you are measuring the drug in- blood, urine, hair or saliva, and how much of the drug the person took. If someone is an occasional drug user a drug may stay in the blood for several hours or days, but if someone is a daily user of marijuana -for example- we could still measure the drug for 30 days. So there is no one answer to your question.
lightning14 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why are drugs overused when people know it's going to hurt them?

Nora Volkow: 
good question
the answers is that we like to feel good and drugs can give you initially a sense of pleasure. The problem is that with repeated use you become less sensitive to the pleasurable effects of drugs but also to other stimuli that may be pleasurable. With repeated use, some can become addicted and at that point the brain looses the ability to stop taking the drug even when the person knows they are causing harm to themselves.
 
be smart, ad be safe 
thesupersam - Beacon Academy, Indiana: Is ADHD overdiagnosed?

Amy Goldstein: Great question, thesupersam.  The answer is 'it depends.'  While there are some studies that suggest, in certain settings, ADHD is overdiagnosed, there are others that suggest there are many kids/teens who aren't being identified or getting the treatment that they need. There is no single test that can diagnose someone as having ADHD.  Diagnosis should be done by a licensed health professional who will talk to you, your parent, and maybe even your teachers.  ADHD can be mistaken for other illnesses, which is why it is important to seek a qualified mental health professional for diagnosis. 
Bulls23 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Why do a lot of famous people use drugs and alcohol

Dave White: 
Hard to understand why someone who has so much would want to ruin their life with drugs!  But part of why they may try drugs is because they have everything and so are looking for something different and exciting.  I think they also don't think they can become addicted or that drugs can harm them - but they can!  
 
For more information on drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
 
Thanks for the question! 
BurningChicken - VISTA, Oklahoma: WHAT KIND OF DRUG IS BATHSALTS?????

Joni Rutter: 

Hey BurningChicken:  The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant.  Here's where you can find more information--and you watch the video:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/emerging-drugs.

 
Hope this helps BurningChicken!   
A.A.D. - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I know a large number of people who use marijuana, however they are able to carry on very normal lives. Because of this, I find it hard to believe that it can be hazardous or even cause death. What is the percentage of people who are hospitalized or die from the usage of marijuana?

Marsha Lopez: 
Good question A.A.D., but kind of a hard one to answer. While it is harder to overdose on marijuana than many other drugs of abuse, the use of drugs can be associated with dying in various ways. While most people who smoke weed do not go on to use other drugs, long-term studies of high school students show that few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. So a person who uses marijuana is more likely to be exposed to and and put in contact with people who use and sell other drugs which have a greater likelihood of shortening your life span. Deaths related to drugs can be due to overdose, suicide, homicide, accidents, and infection or other chronic illness.
 
Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increases the lungs' exposure to chemicals in the smoke, resulting in irritated lungs. Many studies have shown that there is a connection between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and a very serious mental illness called schizophrenia. A common myth is that marijuana is harmless. But research has shown that it affects learning and memory, which can affect your schoolwork; coordination and judgment, which affects your ability to drive and play sports; and can be addictive.
Ghetto Urinal - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Can you get drunk off of vanilla extract?

Shuly Babitz: The FDA requires that real vanilla extract be no less than 35 percent alcohol by volume, about 70 proof, so while theoretically possible, we strongly recommend using it solely for baked goods. 
cayo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can overdosing sleeping pills kill you?

Joe Frascella: 
Yes, there have been reports of death from sleeping pill overdose.  For example, a sleeping pill overdose can kill a person within a few minutes from the lack of oxygen in the lungs (report from the UC San Diego Health System). Go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/prescription-drugsfor more information.
Zebraboy_zac - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Is it true that pot is healthy for you.

Susan Weiss: Nope.  There are some ingredients in pot that may have medicinal properties for someone who is ill (e.g. a patient undergoing cancer chemotherapy may get some relief from their nausea).
siavasheb - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: drugs don't seem too bad to me, why are they so bad?

Anto Bonci: Scientists like myself have studied these drugs for more than half a century, and I assure you that drugs are bad in many different ways. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Some other drugs can damage your liver, lungs, cause cancer, coma and death - even with a single dose. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
AshlynC - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What is the worst thing cocaine can do to you?

Richard Denisco: Thanks for the question. Cocaine can have many adverse effects, but the worst I have seen is when cocaine induced high blood pressure caused an artery in the brain to rupture - killing the patient. Similarly, cocaine use can cause a heart artery to close down, causing a heart attack. Even if these attacks occur in the hospital they are usually fatal.  Also the thing to know about drugs like cocaine is that someone can use it once and die or many times with no problem--but you never know which time you will die and which time you will walk away.  
ItsMeh - The Blake School, Minnesota: Why are drugs addictive?

Nora Volkow: because they have the ability to increase dopamine in brain reward regions.  dopamine is a chemical that will activate the pleasure centers of our brain and trigger changes in the communication between cells in this region and this ultimately leads to addiction.
IMS327ct - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What is the worse way to take drugs

Anto Bonci: 
Every way is bad. For example, smoking can cause damage to the lung, including lung cancer. Snorting drugs (inhaling through the nose) can lead to loss of smell; nosebleeds; problems with swallowing; hoarseness; a chronically runny nose; and damage to the tissues in the nose. 
 
Any route can lead to addiction, which makes all of them bad. But smoking a drug or injecting it into a vein increases its addictive potential (since the drug enters the brain so quickly). Given this, and because of the increased chance of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis infection through shared needles, injection is the worse route. 
 
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: do people do drugs to releave pain ?

Dave Thomas: 
I like this question!  Most drug addicts are not having much fun.  They tend to be suffering, and the abuse of drugs is mostly to reduce their suffering and pain, both psychological and physical.
hopesolo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: do people get addicted to drugs they're first time or get addicted the more times they take a drug

Nora Volkow: People dont get addicted the first time they take the drug. They have to take it several times to become addicted. However, some people require less exposure than others making them particularly more vulnerable to addiction.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What are the effects of drinking during pregnancy?

Shuly Babitz: 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.
ims201pb - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How do you get muscles off of steroids?

Marilyn Huestis: Steroids affect muscle cell growth and increase their size, and endurance, but they also do many other things.  Steroids mess with your normal growth and development. They interfere with your hormones, growth and can affect your behavior too. Aggression has been linked to steroid use, and some athletes claim that their steroid use produced brain cancer, but this is not proven yet. 
HopeC - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What is the side effects of the drug heroin? And what drug has the worst side effects( behavior)?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello HopeC! Thanks for the two-parter question!
 
Heroin is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the opium poppy plant. Heroin abuse has some very serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis (the later two particularly in users who inject the drug). Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the abuser as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.
 
The second part of your question is more difficult to answer! While all drugs cause side effects, tobacco is one of the worst and most widely-used drugs in the whole world-- with horrible health consequences, including death! People who smoke can have breathing problems, tooth decay, emphysema, mouth cancer, and lung and heart disease. Nicotine is the addictive component of cigarettes and it is very effective in getting people hooked. For more information on this, check out this link

No matter what, all drugs of abuse are bad for your body! For more information on specific drugs and their actions on your body, click here
 
27222 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: I know someone who is cutting themselves. What should I do?

Amy Goldstein: Hi 27222.   Teens who cut usually do it as an unhealthy way to cope with negative feelings, such as anger, depression, or frustration.  They do not always see cutting as harmful. The best think you can do if you know someone who is cutting themselves is to try to get them connected to appropriate help.  If you don't feel comfortable speaking with them directly, talk to a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult.  If you think this person is in a crisis, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. 
harrywang - The Blake School, Minnesota: What does methamphetamine do to the body?

Carol Krause: 
Hello harrywang---Good question. Many kids are only curious about the 'high' a drug gives them but the smart ones---like you---find our how they will affect your body and brain, not the mention your behavior. Methamphetamine 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. You can read more at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/methamphetamine
and keep asking those smart questions. 
Bennett M - The Blake School, Minnesota: What is worse for the body? Cocaine or crystal meth? Why? What does each do to the body?

Nora Volkow: Both drugs are very harmful to many organs in the body, including brain heart and kidneys. Many people die from either drug so its hard to say which one is more dangerous.
SamRob - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Can alcoholism and drug addiction be genetically inherited??

Joni Rutter: 
Hey SamRob, GREAT question!   I am a geneticist, and I am interested in understanding how genes impact how easy it is for someone to become addicted to drugs, and how we as scientists can use that knowledge to help make better treatments for people who have become addicted and need help.  
 
Did you know that drug abuse is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental?  That means that when we study drug abuse, we have to consider both nature and nurture.  And, what I think is most interesting about genetics of drug abuse is that even if you have 'bad genes' the environments you are in can override the genetics- cool!  
 
To learn more about why drug abuse is fun to study, check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Keep up the good work in school, and check out our drug facts to get the most accurate information to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!
businessbacca7 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is the most used drug in America?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi businessbacca7, you ask an excellent question. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, and to a much lesser extent cocaine, hallucinogens, and others. Go ahead and check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Health http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm and the Monitoring the Future study http://monitoringthefuture.org/ for more details.
Why do people abuse drugs? Well, they start for many different reasons so it's hard to give a single answer. What we do know for sure is drugs interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information in the brain. Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help. 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.
Dr. Cathrine Sasek is now 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.
4eyedswimmer - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How did they decide the drinking age?

Shuly Babitz: 
The legal drinking age was raised to 21 from 18 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
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: do steroids harm you later in life

Marilyn Huestis:  Steroids can harm you now and later in life.  They mess with your normal growth and development, interfere with your hormones and can affect your behavior. Aggression has been linked to steroid use, and some athletes claim that their steroid use produced brain cancer, but this is not proven yet. 
liviiiiii - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What's the difference between an alcoholic and just a drinking problem?

Shuly Babitz: 
Only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure what kind of alcohol problem they have. Here are symptoms and problems that indicate someone should seek out help:
 
  • Tolerance - needing to drink greater amounts of alcohol to feel its effects
  • Withdrawal - not drinking causes nausea, sweating, shakiness, anxiety
  • You drink more or for longer periods of time than you intend to
  • You have an ongoing desire to control your drinking, but are unsuccessful
  • You spend too much time getting alcohol, drinking, and recovering from hangovers
  • You give up important activities like being with friends, playing sports, etc.
  • You drink even if it causes physical problems, or makes problems you already have worse
 
You can learn more about these issues at:
CMacleod - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what can cocaine do to your nose

Nancy Pilotte: The nasal passage of the person will be agitated by the inhalation of drugs. This will often result in sniffing or rubbing of the nose and nose bleeds. Also look at the person's septum (the piece of flesh that divides the nostrils). This will thin with regular cocaine use.

cbalingit - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: Whats the most used drug in the U.S?

Bethany Deeds: Hello Sugar Land! Well, the big three among teens are alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Here is some more information from our annual survey on drug use among teens: Monitoring the Future Survey.
Honeybee7777 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Do club drugs dissolve in water? (so you would know if someone sneaked one in your drink)

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Honeybee7777!  Because some club drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others without their knowing.  This property makes these drugs very dangerous.  For more information on club drugs see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/club-drugs-ghb-ketamine-rohypnol
 
Thanks for the great question Honeybee7777!
HappyBacon9475 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: What is the difference between prescription drugs and illegal drugs?

Jen Katt: Prescription drugs are prescribed by doctors, not so for illegal drugs.  Since prescription drugs act on the same receptors in the brain as illicit street drugs, people who abuse prescription drugs can experience similar effects...the 'high' from prescription medications can prompt people to want to repeat the experience, which can lead to addiction and other negative health effects, as with illegal drugs.  
 
WoodlandMS - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what does marijuana do to your brain

Nora Volkow: Marijuana activates the cannabinoid recpetors, whcih are proteins that regualte the communication between cells in the brain. Since these receptors are lcoated in many, many brain regions this explains why marijuana has so many different effects in the brain, including pleaseure, interference with memory and learning, and interference with motor coordination.
gir - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Can medical marijuana help with depression

Susan Weiss: So far, the research says no.  Marijuana may make you feel better initially, but over time it can make you feel worse--similar to what happens with alcohol.  Regular use of marijuana has been linked with increased risk of anxiety, depression, suicidal thinking, schizophrenia, and an 'amotivational syndrome'--which is probably not that different from depression.  
eat - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: what is the most popular drug?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi eat, you ask an excellent question. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, and to a much lesser extent cocaine, hallucinogens, and others. Go ahead and check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Health http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm and the Monitoring the Future study http://monitoringthefuture.org/ for more details.
Why do people abuse drugs? Well, they start for many different reasons so it's hard to give a single answer. What we do know for sure is drugs interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information in the brain. Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help. 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.
chastings - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why do kids think drugs are cool?

Dave White: Hard to understand isn't it!  But I think most kids don't think drugs are cool.  They may end up using them because of peer pressure - when other kids are using them so they feel like they should too.  Then once they try them, they may like the way they make them feel so they keep using them.  But its never a good idea to go along with something just because 'everyone' is doing it!  Drugs can hurt you and are never good to even try once!
NoDrugs - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: how does marijuana affect your brain?

David Shurtleff: 

Did you know that marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions? It alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short-term and long-term effects. In the short term, marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team.

But in the longer term marijuana is addictive. 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 don't believe just what you see on the outside--some of these changes take time to happen, and some people are more likely to have 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.

Make sure you get the facts so you can make healthy decisions for your body and brain!

You can get more info on marijuana at www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ or http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
El Diablo - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Why are prescription drugs so addicting?

Jen Katt: 
Prescription drugs act on the same receptors in the brain as do illicit drugs.  For example, painkillers act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. When these drugs attach to their receptors, they reduce the perception of pain. Some people experience a 'high' from these medications, since they also affect the brain regions involved in reward. The desire to repeat this pleasurable experience can lead to addiction.
 
Also, some people try to make their experience more intense by taking the drug in ways other than those prescribed. For example, people who abuse OxyContin may snort or inject it--and so increase their risk for serious medical complications, including overdose. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
Jordanc - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: How does mariujuana effect your body and brain???

David Shurtleff: 

Did you know that marijuana, like most other drugs, affects the parts of the brain that allow us to make plans, solve problems, and make decisions? It alters brain chemistry in ways that can have both short-term and long-term effects. In the short term, marijuana can cause someone to do something dangerous when they are high--like driving and getting into an accident, or not studying and having their grades drop, or seeing their athletic performance decline, and getting kicked off a team.

But in the longer term marijuana is addictive. 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 don't believe just what you see on the outside--some of these changes take time to happen, and some people are more likely to have 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.

Make sure you get the facts so you can make healthy decisions for your body and brain!

You can get more info on marijuana at www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ or http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
Hannal - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: PCP, also known as "Angel dust", does this drug do to your system? Are you really dead before you know it?

Michelle Leff: 
PCP prevents the actions that normally result when a neurotransmitter, called glutamate, attaches to its receptor in the brain. It also disrupts the actions of other neurotransmitters.
This drug’s effects on people are very unpredictable. For example, it may make some people hallucinate and become aggressive, while others may become drowsy and passive. It is also addictive.
 
For more information, look at www.teens.drugabuse.gov or at our drugs of abuse fact page: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse.
V0113y8a11 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How could you stop someone who is literally trying to kill their selves??? Like your friend?

Amy Goldstein: Hi V0113y8a11.  I am sorry to hear that your friend is having such a difficult time, but it's great that they have someone like you who wants to help.  Don't keep this information to yourself.  Even if your friend told you not to tell, it is important that you tell a trusted adult - parent, teacher, coach, school counselor.  They can help you approach your friend directly, or they can reach out to your friend and help connect them to appropriate mental health treatment.  If your friend is really in crisis and trying to hurt themselves, it may be important that they seek care right away in an emergency setting, or call 1-800-273-TALK - a crisis line available 24/7.
Zebraboy_zac - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Out of 200 people how many of them do drugs.

Marsha Lopez: 
Hello Zebraboy_zac, let's see how good you are at math - according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 8.9% of Americans ages 12 and older are current drug users. So what's 8.9% of 200....Check out lots of other drug stats at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm
jmangumfarrar - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: is cocaine effects hereditary

Joni Rutter: 
Hi jmangumfarrar:  Awesome name/handle!  And good question!
 
Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, whether it's cocaine or other drugs of abuse. If you have relatives who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but the amount of heritablility can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
 
Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
 
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/
 
Make sure to check out the links above to get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
gfosberg - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: why do kids at 12/13 years old find it "Cool" to do drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
Hard to say.  Years ago, smoking used to be cool.  Just look at old movies. The stars are smoking their cigarettes, looking all suave and sophisticated.  Now smoking is consider a lot more smelly and gross than it used to.  Once people see the real impact of drugs, I think it starts to look a lot less cool.  However, 12/13 year old kids likely have not seen the ugly side of drugs yet.   
syousaf - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: how can you stop using rx drugs

Michelle Leff: 
Hello syousaf.  Using prescription drugs in a way other than prescribed by a healthcare professional is considered drug abuse, and can lead to harmful health effects including addiction.  The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder is to seek help from a trained counselor. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
 
 
Hope this helps.
MMai - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: How do drugs kill people?

Nora Volkow: 
They can kill people in many ways, which will differ  for different drugs. For example, heroin and pain medications containing opioids can kill from overdose (you just stop breathing). With cocaine, you can die from miocardial infarction, stroke, and seizures. In the case of meth you ca die from cardiac problems or hyperthermia, while alcohol can kill you from an overdose (binge drinking) or from a vehicular accident when you are driving while intoxicated. 
lightning14 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What are all the side effects to steroids

Carol Krause: Hello lightening14---I know steroids have been in the news a lot lately. Major effects of steroid abuse can include liver damage; jaundice; fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in 'bad' cholesterol. Also, males risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility. (yuk who would want that?) Females risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice. Teens risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. you can find our more at our NIDA for Teens site at www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
pancakes13 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: I've heard that weed doesn't kill brain cells, is that true?

Susan Weiss: We don't have evidence that marijuana kills brain cells--but we do know that it changes how the brain works, especially in people who start young and use the drug regularly.  It can affect learning and memory (and decrease your IQ), it affects the connections in your brain--which is how different parts of the brain talk to each other; and it may increase your risk for certain types of mental illness.  
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroidsWhat is the side effects of steroids

Jen Katt: 
Major effects of steroid abuse can include liver damage; jaundice; fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in 'bad' cholesterol. Also...
  • Males risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility. 
  • Females risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice. 
  • Teens risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. 
  • All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
wcyr - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: What is the worst drug for you.

Eric Wargo: 
Hi wcyr,
 
Good question, and one that we at NIDA hear a lot. Unfortunately, it's hard to answer. Worst in what way? Risk of overdose? Risk of addiction? Short-term health effects? Long-term health effects? Scientists don't like to compare drugs this way. Some drugs such as meth present an extremely high risk for overdose and addiction, but more people actually die from overdoses from prescription painkillers than from meth or heroin or any other drugs -- partly because they're more commonly used. But in terms of deaths from all drugs, the worst could be cigarettes -- lung cancer is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., even though people don't overdose on cigarettes. There's also 'worst' in terms of effects on your life. Depending on who you are and your circumstances, any drug could fill that role. Marijuana derails many people's lives, even though you are highly unlikely to overdose on it (and a link to lung cancer hasn't been established). 
 
Eric 
meldridge - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Wit if your frand is doing drugs wat shoud you say?

Michelle Leff: 
This is unfortunately a common question today -- one that a lot of teens are dealing with or curious about. On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about trying to help your friend. Be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause. Start at our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov -- it includes some helpful information.
 
Next, encourage your friend to talk to an adult that they can trust -- maybe a teacher or coach or a parent of another friend. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
trealbert - VISTA, Oklahoma: how long does it last when u get high

Nora Volkow: 
It depends on the drug.  with cocaine it last twenty to thirty minutes; with alcohol depends on how you drink it but as long as the person drinks they will feel the high; with methampetamine it lasts about one hour; with marijuana, some six hours; and with heroin, several hours. 
cstenman - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: What drug is the most popular?

Nora Volkow: alcohol, nicotine and marihuana (in that order)
thesupersam - Beacon Academy, Indiana: Are you guys screening questions so as to maintain a consistent message?

Susan Weiss: what is our consistent message?  no, we are not.
IMS308ad - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What is Methamphetamine?

Anto Bonci: 
Methamphetamine is a stimulant that increases the levels of brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which can make you become addicted to it. It is a very dangerous substance that can induce irreversible brain damage even with a single exposure. 
Triple3 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what is the most commonly used drug

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi Triple3, you ask an excellent question. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, and to a much lesser extent cocaine, hallucinogens, and others. Go ahead and check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Health http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm and the Monitoring the Future study http://monitoringthefuture.org/ for more details.
Why do people abuse drugs? Well, they start for many different reasons so it's hard to give a single answer. What we do know for sure is drugs interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information in the brain. Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help. 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.
person - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: in a movie i watched, this guy started doing heroin because his brother used it. then this guy takes his drugs away and ythe user didnt have them for 3 days but all that happened was he had a splotchy/rash like face. why didnt he suffer more of the symptons of withdrawl?

Anto Bonci: 
Movies are often inaccurate. The reality is that heroin withdrawal syndrome is really bad and horrible to experience. Symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after the last heroin usage, can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements (“kicking the habit”), and severe craving for the drug. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of the drug and typically taper off after about 1 week. Some individuals, however, may show persistent withdrawal symptoms for months. 
mexicanman - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: is there a cure for addiction

Michelle Leff: 
Hi mexicanman,
We wish there were a cure for addiction.  There is no specific cure.  Some people are able to stop using drugs.  Many people need professional treatment for them to recover from their drug addiction.  Sometimes people relapse, and need to go back to treatment after these relapses.  For these people, drug addiction is like a chronic illness.
 
There is a lot of ongoing research trying to find more effective treatment strategies (behavior treatment, medications, etc.) for different drug addictions. 
 
The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder is to seek help from a trained counselor. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Hope this helps!
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why do people take bath salts?

Nora Volkow: to get high and feel good.  some to experiment. It turns out that recreational use of these so called 'bath salts' it's a particularly dangerous behavior, that can lead to serious health consequences, including erratic, violent behavior and even death.
harrystyles<3 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why do people pass out after taking drugs ????

Dave Thomas: Some drugs are sedatives, which reduce activity and make one sleep.  Opiates, marijuana, alcohol, benzodiazepines all make people sleep. These drugs impact the areas of the brain that control sleeping. 
Theaddictboy - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How many deaths are reltaed to marijuana usage?

Marsha Lopez: 
Good question Theaddictboy, but kind of a hard one to answer. While it is harder to overdose on marijuana than many other drugs of abuse, the use of drugs can be associated with dying in various ways. While most people who smoke weed do not go on to use other drugs, long-term studies of high school students show that few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. So a person who uses marijuana is more likely to be exposed to and and put in contact with people who use and sell other drugs which have a greater likelihood of shortening your life span. Deaths related to drugs can be due to overdose, suicide, homicide, accidents, and infection or other chronic illness.
 
To become non-addict boy, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
AHo - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: Is there a way to get rid of drugs????!!!!!!!!!

Nora Volkow:  its hard but it can be done.
ashley - VISTA, Oklahoma: Can you get addicted to steroids?

Nancy Pilotte: The use of steroids does not cause physical dependence like the use of narcotics can, but there have been some research reports of people feeling depressed when they stop using them.  Abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to a number of psychiatric problems such as mood swings and extreme anger ('roid rage').  Learn more at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids
nero1 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: can withdrawel cause sickness

Richard Denisco: 
Many drugs, when stopped cause the body to go through withdrawal, and some can cause severe sickness. The exact type of sickness induced withdrawal depends on the drug.  For some drugs like Xanax or any benzos withdrawal can cause fatal seizures. Opioid withdrawal can be very painful and causes diarrhea and bad sleep disturbances.  It's important that withdrawal is done in a medical setting, like a hospital or treatment facility, so that trained professionals can help the person manage the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the discomfort and risk of serious complications.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What age do most people start taking drugs? -

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Regina--What an interesting question to ask. Most people start taking drugs as a teenager....Research shows that adolescents usually experiment with tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, and marijuana. The age of initiation for each of these substances is generally younger than for any other illicit substance. According to the latest data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the mean age at first use of inhalants is 16; tobacco is 17; alcohol is 17; and marijuana is 18. Click HERE for more information. 
matrixcatfood - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Has anyone mixed drugs together and if so what happened?

Dave Thomas: oh yeah, they have, and that can be very dangerous.   Sometimes the bad effects of drug are amplified when combined   Its called synergy. For example both alcohol and pain killers reduce breathing.  Put them together, one can get a fatal overdose with much less drug than normal.  Lot's of people die from mixing drugs.  
tumblr51 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How do you convince a friends to not be a drug addict if they say they're life's so messed up, drugs are the only way to make them feel better.

Joe Frascella: 
Great question! I would encourage you to talk with your friend to encourage him or her to stop using drugs by having them become aware of the negative consequences drug use has on their brain and body.  Drugs tend to make people feel good initially, but in the case of your friend, they could contribute to depression and other physical and psychological problems that could compound the problems for your friend.  We know that drug addiction results in many negative health consequences.  
 
When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do.  Encourage your friend 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. More information about drug treatment can be found at: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.
Brandon - VISTA, Oklahoma: What is "LSD"?

Jen Katt: LSD stands for d-lysergic acid diethylamide. It is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is sold in tablets, capsules, and, occasionally, liquid form; it is often added to absorbent paper, which is then divided into decorated pieces, each equivalent to one dose. The experiences, often referred to as “trips,” are long; typically, they end after about 12 hours.
DrugHateGamer64 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what does marijuana do to your brain?

Nora Volkow: Marijuana activates cannabinoid receptors which are located all over the brain, which is why they can produce pleasure but also interfere with memory and motor coordination and also lead to paranoia and other mental problems.
brookep - VISTA, Oklahoma: can you really get smarter from smoking weed?

Michelle Leff: 
No; in fact, there is some research that suggests that weed, or marijuana, can have a negative impact on learning and memory.
Visit the teen website to find out more information on marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana .
NDB013 - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: What is the drug, Cheese?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi NDB013, 
 
Cheese is actually a combination of heroin with crushed over-the-counter cold medications like Tylenol PM. It caused a number of deaths among teens in Dallas-Ft. Worth in 2005-2007.
 
Eric 
purplepie - Croatan High School, North Carolina: How many different types of illegal drugs are their?

Jen Katt: Lots.  I don't know the exact number.
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the worst inhalant?

Nora Volkow: All of them are quite similar and the negative effects will depend on the doses that are inhaled and the situation in which they are taken. Inhalants are extremely dangerous, they are directly toxic and can cause death even after a single episode of use.     
Kaci M - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Why is cocaine illegal?

Anto Bonci: 
Cocaine is illegal because it is highly addictive, and even one usage can kill you by causing stroke or a heart attack. To read more about the consequences of stimulant abuse (including cocaine), check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants
kkeefe - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what do you do if you know someone who is using illegal drugs?

Michelle Leff: 
This is unfortunately a common question today -- one that a lot of teens are dealing with or curious about. On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about trying to help.  Be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause. Start at our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov -- it includes some helpful information.
 
Next, encourage your friend/relative to talk to someone that they can trust. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
atran - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: How do drugs effect people?

Anto Bonci: Drugs affect people in many different ways. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Others produce lung damage, cancer, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and so on. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
SpaceJam - The Blake School, Minnesota: How is MDMA bad for you

Nora Volkow: MDMA can damage the serotonin containing neurons in your brain, which are the ones that are jimprotant to control your mood and allow you to feel good. So, by destroying them it can make you feel depressed.
IMS325Ds - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: is it hard to stop smoking marijuana

Michelle Leff: 
It can be very difficult to overcome an addiction, including an addiction to marijuana.
 
The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder is to seek help from a trained counselor. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Hope this helps!
caden - VISTA, Oklahoma: how many people smoke marijuana a day in the united states?.

Marsha Lopez: Hi caden, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, 23% of high school seniors, 17% of 10th graders, and 6.5% of 8th graders were current marijuana users at the time of the survey.  Fewer kids said they smoked marijuana daily - 6.5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and about 1% of 8th graders.  There are many more drug stats to see at http://monitoringthefuture.org/- check it out!
arvieXburgos - East Hollywood High school, Utah: Do you believe that if we make marijuana legal in the staes, that we have to make all other drugs legal. Like Cocaine, Meth, or Heroin?

Susan Weiss: Hope not, and frankly I doubt it, since there's much less enthusiasm for legalizing the other drugs you mention. The concern we at NIDA have, is that with 2 States legalizing marijuana, people will not consider its risks, especially for a young person, who's academic success and career potential may be affected, not to mention the risk of addiction, car accidents, and other problems.  Also, keep in mind that even though states have legalized marijuana, it remains illegal on a Federal level, and Federal law beats State law in the courts.  
beautifulgodess - VISTA, Oklahoma: How long will it take to quit smoking cigarettes? If someone i knew was actually trying to quit.

Cindy Miner: 
Hi Oklahoma! That's a good question - it can really vary. Some people quit and stay quit, others relapse several times. Why is that? Smoking isn't just a bad habit, it's an addiction. Tobacco contains nicotine, a very addictive chemical. When you quit smoking you go into withdrawal - your body is craving the nicotine. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and increased appetite. These aren't very fun to experience. People often relapse and smoke again because of withdrawal symptoms, weight gain, or stress. Sometimes people quit for several years and then relapse and start smoking again. The good news is there are ways to quit and stay quit. Here's some information about quitting http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/quitting/index.htm.
IMS302ka - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How can a male grow breast from abusin seroids?

Marilyn Huestis:  Steroids mess with your normal growth and development. So when a boy takes steroids, the steroids can produce breasts because of the interference with your normal hormones
cayo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why does marijuana make you cough?

Nora Volkow: The smoke you inhale when you smok marijuana is an irritant to your respiratory tract. Just like tobacco smoke.
caden - VISTA, Oklahoma: whats a jeffery?.

Jen Katt: Well, according to 'urban dictionary,' a Jeffrey is a mix of drugs rolled up in a joint that includes, pot, heroin, bits of e, methodone, and angel dust. Yikes! Term comes from the movie Get Him to the Greek.
Kylier - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: How does cocaine affect you heart body and brain

David Shurtleff: 

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that can be snorted, injected, or smoked. When people use it, it usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea.  In some people, frequent cocaine use can cause problems with their throats or noses.  They can get nosebleeds or for some, cocaine can even cause hole to form in the tissue that separates the nasal septum (the cartilage that separates the nostrils). In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. Need more info on the effects of cocaine or what teens think about cocaine? Click here - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants or http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

brookep - VISTA, Oklahoma: are all drugs addictive?

Nora Volkow: No, but most of them are.  LSD and PCP are not addictive.

Your 2013 Truth Poll Answers:


PollI Think Drug Users Are Losers

Yes 37 percent, no 47 percent, and maybe 16 percent.

1234 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why do people start hallucinating when they are under the use of drugs???

Joe Frascella: 
Certain drugs have 'hallucinogenic' properties causing you to hallucinate.
More specifically, Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug. This interaction with the serotonin system in the brain results in hallucinations. Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used—mostly during religious rituals—for centuries. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters (e.g., acetylcholine-, serotonin-, or catecholamine-like). While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.
Question (01/31/2013 08:34 AM): why are drugs addicting?
Answer (01/31/2013 10:51 AM):
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.

To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
Matt - Pine View, Utah: Does marijuana really help with helth problems?

Jen Katt: 
It can.  Scientists are making use of their knowledge about the potentially healthful properties of some of marijuana's ingredients (and the body systems that they effect) in order to develop new medications (generally in pill form) for a variety of symptoms and diseases, including pain, obesity, and addiction. 
 
It's not likely that smoked marijuana will be developed as a medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine for more.
4eyedswimmer - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: how many drugs are in the world?

Marsha Lopez: Hi 4eyedswimmer,  You ask a question that is really hard to answer. There are just so many drugs, and new ones emerging every day. You can look at the DEA website of controlled substances to get some idea of what's out there...http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html
Young Junior - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what is the average number of teens that abuse weed ?

Marsha Lopez: Hi Young Junior, thanks for your questions!  According to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, 23% of high school seniors, 17% of 10th graders, and 6.5% of 8th graders reported they were current marijuana users at the time of the survey.  Fewer kids said they smoked marijuana daily - 6.5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and about 1% of 8th graders.  There are many more drug stats to see at http://monitoringthefuture.org/- check it out!
lost-in-life - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How do you know when someone has been using an illegal drug? Like, what do the drugs smell like?

Michelle Leff: 
This is a good question, lost-in-life.  Most drugs, except for marijuana and tobacco, are odorless. 
 
In general, different drugs will affect physical appearance and emotional demeanor in different ways. However, there are some general behaviors that you may notice in someone who has developed a drug problem. Some of those behaviors are:
1) a change in friends, and those friends may be known to experiment/use drugs,
2) spending more time alone or leaving abruptly (one of the criterion for drug abuse is spending a LOT of time using the drug or obtaining the drug or being under the influence of the drug),
3) change in school performance, or sports performance.
 
There are questions people can ask to assess whether or not a person has a drug problem. These do not necessarily indicate that someone is addicted, but answering yes to any of these questions may suggest a developing problem, which could require follow-up with a professional drug treatment specialist. These include:
Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been using alcohol or drugs?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to relax, to feel better about yourself, or to fit in?
Do you ever use alcohol or drugs when you are alone?
Do you ever forget things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
Do family or friends ever tell you to cut down on your use of alcohol or drugs?
Have you ever gotten into trouble while you were using alcohol or drugs?
 
To learn more about drug addiction, visit our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
Hope this is helpful!
Kevin D - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Which is worse, weed brownies or smoking weed?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Kevin,
 
The potential dangers of marijuana are possibly greater when eating it in food than when smoking, for the following reason: When smoking, it is easier to control and know how much you are taking, whereas this is hard to predict when cooking it in food. It is easy to ingest too much without knowing it, and experience extreme negative reactions.
 
Eric
ohgod23 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What can u tell me about bath salts?

Nancy Pilotte: 
Bath salts had been sold openly for several years and can contain a variety of chemicals. They are injected, ingested, or snorted and have nothing to do with actual bath products except for their appearance.  The chemicals that have been found most often are derivatives of amphetamine and cocaine.  This epidemic originated in Europe; Great Britain made bath salts illegal in 2010. Bath salts are illegal in 41 states, with legislation pending in the rest of them.  Health effects can be very dangerous. Here is some info from our teen site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts-drugs/spice-salvia-and-bath-salts
15stephmit - Pine View, Utah: why would heroin users share needles?

Dave White: 
Hard to imagine when there can be so many harmful things on shared needles (e.g., HIV)!  But people who use drugs and become drug addicts end up focusing on just getting the drug.  They don't think about other things that can be harmful to them.  So someone who is addicted to heroin only wants more drug - they don't care about other things.  That can have an effect on everything in their life.  They stop caring about school, friends, or even eating!  Better to stay away from drugs!
 
For more information see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
jcarter - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What is the most used drug in the U.S.?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi jcarter, you ask an excellent question. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, and to a much lesser extent cocaine, hallucinogens, and others. Go ahead and check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Healthhttp://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm and the Monitoring the Future study http://monitoringthefuture.org/ for more details.
Why do people abuse drugs? Well, they start for many different reasons so it's hard to give a single answer. What we do know for sure is drugs interfere with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information in the brain. Drugs can weaken the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body, the chemical that helps us feel happiness. If dopamine is weakened by drugs, the person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. People then feel the need to take more drugs just to feel normal and it becomes a horrible cycle. If this is happening to you, ask for help. 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.
LA - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: if one of your parents smoke and were smoking before u were born, do u have that addicted gene?? is it possible that you would want to do drugs too, like tobacco ? would you feel the needs of the drug?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi LA:  Thanks for the great question!  Any drug, including smoking cigarettes, can damage the fetus.Drugs of abuse can have immediate effects and effects that can last throughout the child's life. Recent research has shown that if you take drugs while pregnant, not only can you damage the child, you can also damage your grandchildren!--the children from the child who was exposed during pregnancy. That's right--drugs can act on the reproductive system in ways that can be transmitted across generations.
 
For more information on this, you can go to the Prenatal Exposure to Drugs of Abuse fact sheet: http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html
 
As for the genes: Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, so if you have relatives (including your mother) who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that you can inherit them from parents), but how much you inherit can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
  
Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
 
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/
 
Use these links to get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
loraxmoviefan13 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why are steroids so bad for you?

Nora Volkow: Because drugs interfere with the function of many organs in your body including your brain. Also, because drugs are sometimes taken in the context of sport and they can weaken the heart muscles, so their abuse can increase the risk of collapse and death from cardiac complications. Finally, some people inject steroids, and the shared use of contaminated needles can spread blood borne diseases, like AIDS or hepatitis.  
Spencer t - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Do shrooms grow in the ground with certain bad molecules or do people put the bad molecules in shrooms?

Nancy Pilotte: They come fully equipped with all the chemicals they have.  They usually grow in the woods, on the forest floor, or on dead tree trunks.  But picking mushrooms is not for the uneducated--many are highly poisonous and can curtail your career plans.  
hopesolo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: how can drugs effect your behavior

Joe Frascella: 
All drugs of abuse change the brain. 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. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. And nearly all drugs of abuse, directly or indirectly, activate this dopamine system.  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.
 
These brain changes also change one's behavior and ability to function normally. For example, drugs can affect learning and memory, can affect your psychological and physical state, can affect your motor (movement) skills, etc.
 
To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
Beans&Potatos - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: does steriods actually shrink the testicals?

Marilyn Huestis:  Steroids mess with your normal growth and your development, this can include maturation of your testicles. 
Rose - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How addicting is marijuana? I have heard conflicting theories which have ranged from not at all, to over 50% of people using get hooked.

Jen Katt: Good question. Research shows that about 1 in 11 people who try marijuana get addicted. If you start as a teen, this number goes up--to about 1 in 6. The 50% number you cite comes from research about young people who smoke it daily as teens--25%-50% of whom get addicted. Moreover, among young people in drug abuse treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions: 61 percent of those under age 15 and 56 percent of those 15-19.
spiddyman101 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: has anyone died last year taking drugs or drinking?

Marsha Lopez: Hey there, spiddyman101, the answer to your question is...absolutely!  US death statistics are little behind, but in 2009 according to the Centers for Disease Control Prescription painkiller overdoses were responsible for more than 15,500 deaths.
Kaci M. - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Why is cocaine so addictive to people?

Joni Rutter: 

Hey Kaci M, great and important question!  Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, which is a common reason for why people take cocaine.  But cocaine also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards.

Check out information on our website about cocaine: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
 
Why risk it?  Stay smart and get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!
Jellyfish - East Hollywood High school, Utah: why is it bad to use marijuana and then fall asleep?

Dave Thomas: 
Nothing wrong with sleep. Its good for you.  Marijuana does have some negative impacts on health and your brain.  Here is some more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana
pancakes13 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: My step grandfather is an alcoholic and literally has drank 2 bottles of wine in one night and passed out at the table. How can you help this?

Shuly Babitz: 
Wow, that must be very hard for you. It might be helpful to find an adult that you trust and talk to them about this. To learn more about how you can help someone you care about, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp.
Jcarter - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what are the top 3 worst drugs and why

Dave Thomas: 
That is a really difficult question!  Each drug of abuse impacts people in very significant ways.  Smoking kills the most people but the list of drugs that can seriously hurt or kill you is long.  Here is some information on most of them: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse.
lhub3 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can some depressants make you more depressed?

Joel Sherrill: Hi Ihub3, good question.  Just as there are many signs and symptoms of depression, and not everyone will have all of the same symptoms, there are also many different side effects with medications, and not every person has the same reactions.  If you are taking a medication to treat depression and you are still feeling depressed or feeling even worse, it is very important to talk to the doctor who provided the medication.  It could be that the depression is actually worse, or it could be that the medication has some side effects.  In either case, you don't wan't to make changes to your medication without talking to your doctor first. So talk it through with your doctor as soon as possible!
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: How much longer would a person live who doesn't take drugs, than a person who does?

Nora Volkow: 
How many years you will live depends on may factors including whether or not you use drugs, how much and what type of drugs you have used. For example, regular smoking decreases your life expectancy by an average 10 years.  Heroin  decreases your life expectancy by a greater amount since the risk of overdoses is very high (but we don't have a precise number). Similarly, alcohol increases the risk of death in part because it can lead to so many fatal accidents. 
MMai - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: What do drug users do in Rehab?

Richard Denisco: Rehab is not meant to be punishment, it is a place of medical care and support. There are basically 2 stages; one is the detox stage, where the drug leaves the person and painful withdrawal symptoms are treated. This is a short phase, the next phase tries to give the addicted person a chance to understand why he/she feels the need to use. Also it explores any issues that are causing the person discomfort in their lives.
Rhianna I-K - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What in drugs gets people addicted?

David Shurtleff: The short answer to your question is Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good! For more information on how drugs affect the brain, click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
saraha - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: If you overdose on a doctor prescribed drug, what would happen to you?

Jen Katt: It depends on the drug. Possibilities are far-ranging--from nausea, dizziness, agitation to... coma, seizures, heart attacks--even death.  
iam awesome - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: can taking crack make you mad and depresses???

Anto Bonci: 
Yes. Crack, a form of cocaine, can change your mood in many different ways, including making you very depressed, anxious, obsessive, and paranoid. It does so by changing specific brain chemicals. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek treatment from a healthcare professional by calling 800-662-HELP. Or call 800-273-TALK if you are feeling depressed and need to talk to someone right away
YOLO - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why do people abuse Marijuana ?

Nora Volkow: Because it makes them feel good and relaxes them. However, with repeated use, the drug is less and less capable of making them feel good and if they don't take them they become very anxious, which keeps them going back to it.
TheKingOfInfo - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I DO DRUGS HOW DO I GET OVER THEM!!! I NEED SERIOUS HELP AND INFO

Michelle Leff: 
Addiction is a serious problem, and it's good that you are willing to seek help for yourself!  The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder is to seek help from a trained counselor. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov
 
You can find information about treatment from our 'Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment' booklet (http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment)  and drug facts on our teen website (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts )
ColtonS - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: Does popping a molly make you sweat?

Joe Frascella: 
Yes, one of the adverse or bad effects of 'molly' ecstasy is sweating, chills, nausea, muscle cramping, and dehydration.
 
HChatigny - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: do people drug other people?

Richard Denisco: Good question. Unfortunately people do drug other people. The most common cause of this is 'date rape' this is no joke and carries the same penalty as rape. We have no real statistics, but I would guess the next reason is a type of bullying, where they drug them and then take embarrassing pictures and other similar activities. 
reginac - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: How does alcohol cause a reaction in your body and/or organs?

Shuly Babitz: 
Every organ in the body is affected by alcohol. This is particularly true for the nervous system, which includes the brain.  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.
IMS323hr - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What do you do with the drugs you test?

Marilyn Huestis: I'm not sure what you mean- what do we do with the drugs we test? We know the chemical structures of drugs and we use this to identify them. We use complex instrumentation like mass spectrometers to make sure we have the sensitivity and specificity to get accurate results. If you mean what happens with drugs that the police seize in drug raids or when they find someone using a drug for instance while driving, they are kept as evidence until a trial is over and then they are destroyed.
Mikeprettiboy - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How does alcohol kill you

Shuly Babitz: 
If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as 'alcohol poisoning.'
It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.
benjitheman51 - North Carroll Middle, Maryland: Do fake cigars/cigars to help you quit smoking actually help you quit smoking?

Cindy Miner: Fake cigars? You mean like candy chocolate cigars? Seriously, all tobacco products are harmful to your health. Quitting can be hard but there are lots of resources to help.  Connect with us at http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.
bigguy444 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Will teenagers get drunk if they drink one bottle of beer?

Shuly Babitz: 
That's hard to say because alcohol affects different people in different ways. Here are some of the factors that affect how quickly people get drunk:
 
How much alcohol you drink and how fast you drink it
Whether you have food in your stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body
How much you weigh
Whether you are male or female - girls tend to be affected more by alcohol than boys.
JordynB - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Dear scientist, does it depend on your age for different effects of cocaine? Like for example, if a 13 year old took cocaine, what would the effects be?

Joni Rutter: Hey JordynB:  That's a wicked good question! (I lived in Boston for many years and haven't outgrown using 'wicked' :) 
 
One big effect is that teens are more vulnerable to becoming addicted!  People who begin using drugs as young teens are at greater risk of becoming addicted compared to those who begin drug use as an adult because the teenage brain is still growing, like the rest of you! The part of the brain that controls impulses is not fully formed in teenagers. Scientists have shown that the human brain continues to develop until the age of about 25--no other organ in the human body is like this! Wowza!  Check out one of our NIH scientist's work on this:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/interviews/giedd.html
 
Keep asking good questions and get accurate facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!
 
 
Jesuslover2 - The Blake School, Minnesota: How does drugs make you high?

Anto Bonci: Drugs make you high by activating chemicals in your brain such as opioids, dopamine, serotonin, and many others. To find out more about drug addiction, go to: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction.
RQuinlan - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: if alcohalism runs in someones family does that mean if they start drinking they can get it too?

Shuly Babitz: There is definitely 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.
Bontaseek - East Hollywood High school, Utah: could you take a drug to stay up late

Jen Katt: Some people take prescription stimulants to stay awake, but this isn't smart since it can cause unintended and negative side effects.  Of course, caffeine is also a drug that people use to stay up--Starbucks anyone?
ref789913 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Was there cocaine in coke in the 1800s?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi ref789913,
 
Yes, extract from the coca leaf (where we get cocaine) was one of the ingredients in Coca Cola originally, from the 1880s through the early years of the 20th century. No doubt this contributed to the drink's popularity!
 
Eric 
Commment101 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Do drug uses cause many people to do commit suicide

Michelle Leff: This is a difficult question to answer.  From what we know about drug addiction, drug use can make a mental illness worse (like depression).  Also, people with drug addiction can become depressed because of their addiction and the consequences that come with it.  Drug use can also impair judgement.  Drug use can also lead to isolation (because people lose important relationships, can not keep a job, etc.).  We do know that these factors - mental illness, impaired judgement, and isolation - are risk factors for suicide.  So, drug use may exacerbate suicide risk, but it is not a clear risk factor for suicide.
IMS324as - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Can Marijuana effect you even though your not smoking it?

David Shurtleff: Yep...if you eat it, it will still affect you and if you are in the room with someone who is smoking it (heard of a 'contact high'??), it can affect you...maybe just not to the degree that it would if you were smoking it yourself.  The best thing to do is to walk away when someone is about to light it up!
BurningChicken - VISTA, Oklahoma: AWGUIBARG!!! WHAT KIND OF DRUG IS BATHSALTS???!?!?!?!

Nora Volkow: 
'Bath salts' actually refer to mixture of drugs, all of which have stimulant-like properties, such as mepehdron and cathinone that make you feel high and energized but can also lead to paranoia. Some of these drugs also have hallucinogenic properties.
If you are interested to learn more about so called 'bath salts' and their effects please read on: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What is meth?

Nancy Pilotte: 'Meth' usually refers to the psychostimulant methamphetamine.  It is a relatively short-acting chemical with profound effects in your brain.  Users claim it produces a state of euphoria and increases their energy and their ability to focus.  It is from the family of amphetamines, which have been shown to cause actual brain damage after heavy use.  We have some additional information on our easy-to-read site:  http://easyread.drugabuse.gov/meth-facts.php
KatzForLyfe - Clinton High School, Iowa: On average, how many teens die a year due to drug/alcohol related problems?

Marsha Lopez: Hi KatzForLyfe , thanks for your question. About 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 24 die from drug overdoses. But that doesn't even count the number of people who take drugs and drive, killing themselves and other people. Plus--- it doesn't count people who get into fights while high and kill someone with a gun, a knife or with their fists etc. Those are harder statistics to get. The group that dies the most from overdoses is people from age 25-54---with the highest rate being from 45-54. Many of these are people who started drug use when they were younger, became addicted, led a difficult life of addiction, and eventually their luck ran out. Others are people who started abusing prescription drugs ---mostly painkillers---and became addicted. Some are people who had tried to quit drugs, and when they relapsed, took such a high dose it killed them.
IMS312dj - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: is manjiuana used to cure cancer

Susan Weiss: No--its use has been to treat symptoms of chemotherapy (e.g., nausea), or of AIDS--the severe weight loss (by increasing appetite), and possibly to provide pain relief.  Note however, that marijuana (the plant)  is not an Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medicine (despite the fact that some states have approved it, which i know is very confusing).  Because it is plant containing thousands of ingredients that vary from plant to plant, and is smoked, it is unlikely that marijuana will ever be approved.  Nevertheless, there are ingredients in marijuana that can be isolated or man-made and that are already approved medicines (marinol). Also more are on the way, since this is a very active area of research--to design medications that have well defined ingredients, without the side effects of marijuana.
BLG99 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: how long does it take for drugs to affect your body?

Nora Volkow: 
It really depends on your age, your genes, and the drug and the doses that you are taking (among other factors).  Some athletes have died after the first ingestion of cocaine just because they were so sensitive to it, whereas there are people that can take drugs for long periods of time and don't die from it. 
Dr. Swag - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can drugs affect your mind in any way?

Joe Frascella: 
Yes, all drugs of abuse have psychoactive properties, meaning they affect psychological processes.  Drugs can have stimulant effects and speed up mental processes and others can have depressant effects, slowing down processes.  Others can significantly cloud, distort, and alter mental processes.

For more information on the drugs of abuse and their physical and psychological effects, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
JayJay - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Whats heroin like?

Dave Thomas: 
Heroin is an opioid, which is made from morphine.  Morphine is derived from opium, a chemical that comes from the poppy plant. Opioids can reduce pain; they are addictive, but are considered safe when used according to a doctor's orders.  Heroin is very addictive and is not used clinically for pain treatment.  
 
Here is some more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/heroin
Venessa c - VISTA, Oklahoma: How do you know if someone has been drug abused.?

Richard Denisco: Sometimes it can be hard to know if someone is abusing drugs. It is not easy because each drug has different characteristic.  Basically look for behavior out of normal, change in grooming, lose of interest in school/friends. Their is no one thing but change in behavior is the best single thing.
1224 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: someone i know does drugs and they never really got hurt from them. why?

Nora Volkow: 
Thanks for the question,
 
This is because each person has a different sensitivity to the effects of drugs. This has to do partly with your genes. So there are people who smoke all their life but never develop lung cancer.
IMS309me - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What does Marijuana have in it that makes it so addicting?

Nora Volkow: Marijuana (indirectly) activates dopamine in the brain, which stengthens connections in the memory and pelasure centers of the brain driving the person to want to take more and more of the drug.
kuhn11 - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: What drug is overdosed on most in the USA?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi kuhn11,  Of the 36,500 drug poisoning deaths in 2008, more than 40% (14,800) involved opioid analgesics. For about one-third (12,400) of the drug poisoning deaths, the type of drug(s) involved
was specifed on the death certifcate but it was not an opioid analgesic. The remaining 25%
involved drugs, but the type of drugs involved was not specifed on the death certifcate (for
example, “drug overdose” or “multiple drug intoxication” was written on the death certifcate)
Elizabeth M - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Can meth shrink your body size or stunt your growth

David Shurtleff: Not sure about that, but drugs tend to have unpredictable effects on still developing brains and bodies.  But growth is not the only thing to be concerned about with meth -- meth increases your blood pressure, make you have an irregular heart beat, cause bad breath and teeth ('meth mouth'), make you anxious, paranoid and more.  The best thing to do is not use it.  good luck Oberon Middle!!!
cayo - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: if my mom had done cocaine before she had me would it still affect me?

Michelle Leff: 
Hi Cayo!
If your mom used cocaine before she became pregnant with you, then no, there would not be an effect on you.
If your mom used cocaine while she was pregnant, the research findings are not clear-cut.
 
Scientists have found that exposure to cocaine during fetal development may lead to subtle but significant deficits later in life, including problems with attention and information processing—abilities that are important for success in school. 
Research in this area is particularly difficult to interpret because it is often hard to single out a drug’s specific effects among the multiple factors that can all interact to affect maternal, fetal, and child outcomes. These factors include exposure to all drugs of abuse, including nicotine and alcohol; extent of prenatal care; possible neglect or abuse of the child; exposure to violence in the environment; socioeconomic conditions; maternal nutrition; other health conditions; and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.
 
Hope this is helpful.  For more information, take a look at our website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
 
treaalbert - VISTA, Oklahoma: is there any drug that doesnt hurt you

Nora Volkow: caffeine is a drug that unelss you take a very, very high dose or have a preexisting cardiac problem, has shown no evidence of serious adverse effects.
banana sam - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: who does the most drugs blacks whites or asians

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, banana sam, that's a really thoughtful question.  We know that health problems are not evenly distributed across all people and drug use is no exception.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which surveys civilian non-institutionalized households in the US, for overall illicit drug use:
 
Figure 2.10 
jcarter - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: How many people are studying drugs in the U.S.?

David Shurtleff: Good question!  In 2012 NIDA And NIAAA awarded almost  over 2700 research aimed at studying drug abuse and addiction- many of these grants involved research teams of several members each.  In addition addiction research is being conducted all over the world, Europe, China, Australia, Japan, and other countries as well!  The world could always use more scientists though!  Join us!
jiporty14005 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How many people average smoke marijuana

Marsha Lopez: Hi jiporty14005, thanks for your question!  According to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, 23% of high school seniors, 17% of 10th graders, and 6.5% of 8th graders reported they were current marijuana users at the time of the survey.  Fewer kids said they smoked marijuana daily - 6.5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and about 1% of 8th graders.  There are many more drug stats to see at http://monitoringthefuture.org/- check it out!
IMS303bb - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Why does a human have to work with steroids instead of just growing muscle without working with it?

Marilyn Huestis: Steroids can improve endurance like in weight lifting, but steroids mess with your normal growth and development. They interfere with your hormones, growth and can affect your behavior too. 
thesupersam - Beacon Academy, Indiana: If you take enough stimulants will your heart explode?

Nora Volkow: Your heart will not literally explode but you can end up with an infarct or an arrythmia and eventually your heart can stop beating.
honeybadger - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the main ingredient in heroin

Dave Thomas: Morphine. And morphine is derived from opium, a product of the poppy plant.
IMS321hr - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Can a person die from trying to get high off of everyday things like glue and paint?

Carol Krause: 
The simple answer is YES. Trying to get high from household items like glue, paint or cleaners is one of the stupidest things you can do. We call these things 'inhalants' when people are abusing them like this. Most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles being drunk. If inhaled in large amounts, nearly all solvents and gases produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness. You can actually do permanent brain damage, lose your hearing, or get uncontrollable spasms. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants can literally kill you by stopping your breathing or causing your heart to stop. You can find more information on this and other drugs on our teen Web site at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What is the mot dangerous drug in the world? Which would kill you the fastest?

Nora Volkow: probably metampehtamine but some people are mose sensitive to some drugs than others
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What are the major reasons people start taking drugs? -Erik S.

Nora Volkow: Probably because they are curious and others tell them they will feel very good with the drug.
Ivy - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How are people even able to attain marijuana?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Ivy! How are you? What an interesting question? The answer: It depends. In the United States, 18 states and DC have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical uses; however, since all other medicines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their safety and efficacy--marijuana has not met these standards. Also, this past November, the states of Washington and Colorado approved initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults only. Currently, the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states for adolescents. This link has some data about the increase in marijuana use in 8th, 10th and 12th graders from a NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future survey.
 
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: Other than alcohol, what is the most addictive drug in the world?

David Shurtleff: 
Most drugs of abuse are addictive- the drug that most people are addicted in the united states and the world is nicotine in tobacco-Nicotine is highly addictive and  is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death (more than 440,000/year) in the U.S.   Cigarette smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and about 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke.  Can you believe that it is estimated that there are more than 1 billion smokers in the world and they have smoked about 5.7 trillion cigarettes -- WHAT??!!!
 
Want more information on tobacco and smoking?  Click on - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco
jimmer - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What do you think about the legalization of marijuana?

Susan Weiss: I am concerned about it.  We already have 2 legal drugs (tobacco and alcohol) that have severe health and societal problems associated with them, and because they are legal, they are also the most commonly used substances.  Adding a third substance to the mix could increase the problems we face, since we know marijuana can be addictive (about 1 in 10 users), impairs driving, and messes up learning and memory.  Plus, new research is telling us that if you use marijuana regularly when you are young, you may be doing permanent damage to your brain, increasing your risk of mental illness, and generally not living up to your potential.  Right now, 6.5% of 12th graders report daily (or almost daily) use of marijuana--that is too many young people at risk of messing up their future.  
betty123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: why do people think that drugs are cool?

Dave White: 
Not everyone thinks drugs are cool!  In fact, most kids know that drugs are harmful and aren't even close to cool.  But kids may use drugs anyway because their friends are using them and they think they should to in order to fit in and be cool.  Peer pressure is a big reason why kids try drugs.  But you don't have to!  
 
For more information see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why do people take steroids cant it mess with how u do things and cant you overdose on them too ?

Marilyn Huestis:  Steroids mess with your normal growth and development. They interfere with your hormones, growth and can affect your behavior too. Aggression has been linked to steroid use, and some athletes claim that their steroid use produced brain cancer, but this is not proven yet. Growing up is complex and steroids interfere with your normal growth, but they don't cause overdose. Their effects occur much slower, unlike drugs that you can overdose on like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, as examples.
Jelly2013 - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: adhd and add are the same thing so then why do they catagorize the drugs seperatly???

Joel Sherrill: Hi Jelly2013.  ADD stands for 'attention deficit disorder' and ADHD stands for 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.'  the terms are used pretty much interchangeably.  ADHD essentially has 2 general sets of signs or symptoms.  The first set involves inattention--like trouble paying attention, concentrating or staying focused.  The other set involves behavior, or hyperactivity-- like trouble sitting still or feeling unusually fidgety and sometimes impulsive.  In general, whether a person has more trouble with attention or with hyperactivity, the drugs that are used are essentially the same.  Most are drugs from the 'stimulant' type, but some other types of drugs are also used.  Just as not all individuals experience the same symptoms, not all individuals have the same response to the same drug.  So it is important to see a health professional first to determine whether you have ADHD/ADD and then to explore treatment options.  For more on ADHD/ADD, visit: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml.
johnf - M.R. Wood Center for Learning (alternative), Texas: i know that weed helps your mind it relaxes u is that true

Nancy Pilotte: Well, that is an interesting way to put it.  What marijuana actually does is to impair your ability to think clearly and to make good decisions.  It has been said to reduce your motivation to do anything...is that relaxing?  A recent study found that long-term use of marijuana can cause a decline in your IQ.  For more info on marijuana's effects on your brain, go to:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana
Coffee-Cake - Croatan High School, North Carolina: I know some specific drugs lead to extreme weight loss- while others can cause slight obesity, what exactly would these drugs be?

Michelle Leff: 
Amphetamines are a class of drugs that can cause weight loss.  This is a side-effect of amphetamines; there are a lot of side effects from these drugs, and all drugs.  This is not a healthy, long-term way to lose weight.
 
You can read more about amphetamines and other drugs at our website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov
woodlandms - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: on average how many people in the us use heroin

Marsha Lopez: Hi, woodlandms, thanks for your question! According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 0.2% of Americans ages 12 and older are current heroin users. Check out lots of other drug stats at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm
ehrler - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Is it really bad to do drugs only once?

Nora Volkow: There is no evidence that taking drug once can make you addictive. However, taking drugs, even once, cad lead you to engage in behaviors that could harm you, like getting into a car accident if you drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or some other impairing drug.
markellatsal - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how does medical marijuana affect the body of a patient prescribed to take it? does it still have the harmful affects? WIll they get addicted?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi markellatsal,
 
Very good question. Marijuana's main active ingredient is THC (cannabis), which not only makes you high but also has other effects like killing pain and promoting appetite. It is for these latter reasons that it is sometimes given as 'medicine.' And yes, if a patient with severe pain (for example from cancer or HIV/AIDS) takes marijuana, they may also experience the variety of psychoactive effects (the high, for instance) caused by the drug. This is why NIDA does not support legalization of 'medical marijuana' but instead supports research in creating drugs that use THC and related chemicals but without other side effects. Another problem with smoked marijuana as medicine is that it is hard to control the dose; the FDA does not approve smoked marijuana because medication doses need to be easily controlled, as in a pill. But already there are very effective drugs based on THC that don't have the side effects of smoked marijuana.
 
Eric 
lhub3 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what drugs affect animals and why do people give drugs to them? (other than the occasional racehorse)

Nancy Pilotte: Drugs affect animals in exactly the same way that they affect people.  So people give animals antibiotics for infections, insulin for diabetes, anti-depressants for anxiety, and many others.  That is one reason why animals are such good models for studying drug abuse--they produce the same kind of responses as people but it is easier to control variables like what they eat and how they live and who they hang out with.
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What are the dangers of misusing prescription drugs?

Jen Katt: Several classes of prescription drugs act on the same receptors in the brain as do illicit drugs.  When abused, even a single large dose of a painkiller, for example, can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Regular (e.g., several times a day, for several weeks or more) or longer term use or abuse of opioids can lead to physical dependence and, in some cases, addiction.
 
Also, some people try to make their experience more intense by taking the drug in ways other than those prescribed, like snorting or injecting. For example, people who snort ADHD drugs increase their risk for serious medical complications. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
CheSkyAnnPahl - East Hollywood High school, Utah: What are some side effects of heroin abuse, and can it change your sexual orientation?

Nancy Pilotte: Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. Heroin depresses breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal. Users who inject the drug risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.  It has no effect on your sexual orientation--your genes are responsible for that one--but it can help you to engage in risky sexual behavior as it impairs your ability to make good decisions.
Theaddictboy - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How are drugs made?

Nora Volkow: Some drugs, like tobacco, cocaine or marijuana, are derived from plants; others, like bath salts, anabolic steroids, and methampetamine are made in laboratories.
Chuck T - Croatan High School, North Carolina: what is the most addictive non hallucinating drug

Nora Volkow: Probably, methampetamine, but there are differences between people and for some cocaine may even be mnore addictive.
dontdodrugs71 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: if marijuana is illegal why do people still use it

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Woodland Middle School! You are correct that the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in all states for adolescents. Research has shown that as perception of risks goes down, use goes up (and vice versa). Here's a graphic showing that from a recently funded NIDA study.
 
MTF
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Blue Demon62 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: have weed ever killed anyone?

Susan Weiss: yes--its involved in some 4 to 14 percent of traffic accidents, including those with fatalities.  In general, it approximately doubles  the risk of accidents, and when combined with alcohol--the risk is much greater.
gfosberg - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Why do people over dose?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello there gfosberg!  Great question.  Some people overdose by accident. For example, they didn't know the amount they were taking was lethal or they took it in combination with another drug that caused a fatal interaction. Other people may have wanted to escape or feel numb because they are anxious or depressed. There are about 38,000 drug overdose deaths annually according to the CDC. 
TonTon49 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: whats the worst drug

Nora Volkow: It really depends on your biology  some people are very sensitive to an overdose from heroin, others to the cariac toxic effects of methamphetamine, awhile other to the seizures that can be caused by cocaine. However, on a dose by dose basis, perhaps metampethamince, since its also in general terms the most addictive.
oliveishartsy - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: How popular are drugs among teens now a days?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi oliveishartsy, thanks for your question! According to the University of Michigan's 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey about 13% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 40% of 12th graders say they have used a drug at least once in the past year. You can look at all sorts of information on youth drug use at their website, and even look at breakdowns of individual drug types- check it out!
WJfutbolswag - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is smoking marijuana physically or only mentally addictive?

Nora Volkow: We dont dsitinguish anymore between physical and mental addicitveness. The mental is generated in the brain which is a physcial entity.
iam awesome - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: how is crack is addictive

Nora Volkow: Crack is very addictive because it induces very intense activation of reward centers in the brain.
IMS325Ds - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: wat r the side effects of smoking marijuana

Anto Bonci: 
Marijuana has many side effects. From panic attacks, to psychosis, distorted perceptions, memory impairment, and difficulty thinking and solving problems. And marijuana is addictive: about 1 in 11 people using marijuana will become dependent. This risk increases in teens (1 in 6) and in daily marijuana users (25-50%). Recent research shows that regular marijuana use that begins in the teen years reduces IQ into adulthood, even if the person stops taking marijuana. So teens especially should stay away from it.
mexicanman - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what happens when you drink to much

Marilyn Huestis: Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug worldwide. When you drink too much it affects how you think, feel, drive, walk- almost everything you do. Your ability to make good decisions is decreased- like whether you should pass another car on the highway, cross the street in traffic or do your homework! That is what happens right away, but if you drink too much frequently, you can destroy your liver and your life. If you become an alcoholic it is very difficult to quit. Drinking too much when you are young and binge drinking- meaning you drink a lot of drinks in a short time can increase your chances of becoming an alcoholic. 
Commment101 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How do drugs effect young people?

Nora Volkow: Druhs interfere with the development of their brain which is not fully mature until the early twenties.
sexxyladdy - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: where can you find help to stop drugs

Michelle Leff: The best way to try resolving an addictive disorder is to seek help from a trained counselor. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to talk confidentially with someone who can help you, or you can look for a treatment program in your area at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Hope this helps!
Dr. Swag - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the most dangerous drug?

Marilyn Huestis: There are many dangerous drugs and it is hard to pick one. Some drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine can cause you to overdose and die. Other drugs can change your potential to be the person you want to be. Nicotine or tobacco can kill you over time. So it really depends on whether you are talking about dangerous right now or dangerous over time. All drugs hijack your normal brain function and can hurt your organs and tissues.
Tea - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Will mental disorders become worse with the use of drugs such as cocaine?

Nora Volkow: Yes, because cocaine can make you addicted to it but also can make you paranoid and can lead to anxiety and depression with repeated use.
renos - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how do you know that some wan is hi

Michelle Leff: 
This is a good question. Drugs make you high by activating chemicals in your brain such as opioids, dopamine, serotonin, and many others.  Different drugs affect the brain differently, and so will affect physical appearance and emotional demeanor in different ways.  For example, drugs can affect the part of your brain that controls your motor coordination, your ability to make fast and precise movements, your vision, and your judgement. So your physical abilities and your mental abilities will be impaired.
 
walawaladingdon - Croatan High School, North Carolina: What drug can mentally effect you the most?

David Shurtleff: 
To be fully honest, ALL drugs of abuse can lead to mental health problems.  While research has shown that many people who regularly abuse drugs are also diagnosed with mental disorders and vice versa, it's not quite clear which comes first...the mental health disorder then drug abuse or vice versa...we do know, however there is a strong relationship between the two.  Drug use can cause people to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. The increased risk of psychosis in some marijuana abusers has been offered as evidence for this possibility.  Also,nearly one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem.  Also, teens who have experienced major depression are 2x as likely to start drinking.  There's also a relationship between regular MJ use and mental health issues.  Want more information?  Click here - www.nimh.nih.gov.
harrys - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: do any of the drugs have posion in them if so.. what kind of drugs?

Nora Volkow: no,  but the way they are manufactured or sold into tablets can result in some instance in the addiction of other,  unknown and sometimes hazardous or poisonous contaminants introduced into them.
MeGustaElDulces - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Are drug abuse and suicide linked together?

Joel Sherrill: Hi MeGustaELDulces.  Drug abuse and suicide can be linked in a couple different ways.  Sometimes, when people are depressed or suicidal, they might turn to drugs to try to feel better.  The problem is, using drugs that are not from a doctor to feel better doesn't provide a good solution and makes things worse or leads to more problems.  Other times, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol do things they wouldn't normally do-- sometimes they become more depressed or impulsive and can harm themselves or become suicidal.  The bottom line is if anyone is using drugs OR feeling suicidal, it's very important to get help.  A good first step can be to talk to a trusted adult (for example a parent, teach, counselor, or doctor); if it becomes a crisis, help is available by phone 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK. 
HShagoury - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: Can you get cancer from tobacco and other drugs?

Nora Volkow: yes, but tobacco is the number one
lakers202 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Even if you use one type of drug is it too late get help and get it fixed

Michelle Leff: 
No, it is never too late! 
 
You can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If you are in crisis, you can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. 
 
Good luck! 
BurningChicken - VISTA, Oklahoma: What kind of drug is BathSalts?

Anto Bonci: 

The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. There are many very toxic drugs that fall into the category of bath salts.

Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. Bath salts can produce euphoria and increased sociability and sex drive, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances.

cotakid - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: can people function while being high?

Anto Bonci: No. Many brain areas are impaired, including brain areas that control judgment and decisions. This not only makes the user more likely to make risky decisions that negatively affect his/her health, but the health of others can also be impacted due to drugged driving
kthrash - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: which drugs do people use the most?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey there kthrash, thanks for your question. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 22.6 million people over the age of 12 reported they used drugs in the month prior to being asked. Check out lots of other drug stats at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm
Figure 2.1
monkeylover123 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can marijuana be taken any other way than by smoking it? if it can, does it effect your body the same way?

Nora Volkow: Yes, marijuana can be taken orally, in which case it induces less rewarding effects and is less addictive.
honeybadger - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What do they do in rehab

Michelle Leff: 
Hi honeybadger,
'Rehab' is usually how we refer to some kind of formal drug treatment program, which can involve either inpatient (overnight, many nights, under medical supervision) or outpatient (counseling, a couple hours at a time, one or several days a week). The intensity of the treatment varies depending on the person, the drug(s) involved, and how big the problem is.But in all cases, rehab provides people with a variety of supports to get their lives back together -- these can involve one or more medications to ease withdrawal symptoms or to help prevent relapse to drug use; behavioral (counseling) therapy that teaches new skills such as how to deal with 'triggers' that may tempt someone to use again; and even support services to help people get the rest of their lives stable-- like getting legal assistance if they need it, finding job training, etc. The best programs consider how drug abuse affects all of these aspects of a person's life and tries to get them back on track.
Thanks for your question!
walawaladingdon - Croatan High School, North Carolina: Can drugs and alcohol make you emotionaly unstable?

Jen Katt: Definitely.
sourgreenapples - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: Does marijuana affect someone with AIDS differently than someone who is clean?

Susan Weiss: Hmmm--not sure I know what you mean by clean, since having AIDS doesn't make you unclean--just sick.  However, the question is a good one since marijuana may have effects on the immune system which is compromised in patients with AIDS.  However, the data are unclear at this time--some research in cells suggests that marijuana can be bad for the immune system and other data conflict with that, even some research in monkeys.  So, it remains an active area of research.  
cartman - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What is the worst result of combining drugs and alcohol?

Nora Volkow: 
It really depends on the combination. A particularly dangerous mix is is cocaine and alcohol since it increases the risk of death. On the other hand, alcohol and tobacco increases the rewarding effects of the tobacco and increases risks of certain diseases like esophageal and lung cancer. 
Slenderman - VISTA, Oklahoma: What kind of drug is BathSalts?

David Shurtleff: 
Bath salts are a group of dangerous new drug stimulants much like cocaine but much more potent - because they are not regulated they may contain dangerous contaminants or cutting agents. These are generally cause your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, sometime to dangerously high levels. They also tend to produce hallucinations and cause panic reactions. These drugs are dangerous and can cause death, so it is not surprising that many people react strangely after taking them some ending up in the emergency room with medical complications such as psychosis, that requires treatment.  Want to learn more about bath salts?  Click here - http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/directors-page/messages-director/2011/02/bath-salts-emerging-dangerous-products and http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/drug_data_sheets/Bath_Salts.pdf
Natalie T. - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Why is meth so addictive and how does it effect you?

Nora Volkow: because it activates pelasure center in the brain very potently. This will be associated with a sensation of high and wellbeing
andrewj - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What does cocaine do to you?

Jen Katt: Cocaine usually makes the user feel 'high' and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards.
NDB013 - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: My friend drinks alcohol and I think he is Addicted, how can I help him to a fast recovery for the river?

Michelle Leff: 
This is unfortunately a common question today -- one that a lot of teens are dealing with or curious about. On the other hand, it's great that you're concerned about him and you are trying to help. Be a good friend, someone who can be trusted to provide good information, or at least listen when people need to talk. So educate yourself first about drugs and alcohol and the problems they can cause. Start at our great website for teens at http://teens.drugabuse.gov -- it includes some helpful information.
 
Next, encourage your friend to talk to someone that they can trust. If they don't feel comfortable doing that but they are ready to seek help, then you can check out available treatment resources in your community (some are available just for adolescents) at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. If they're in crisis, then they (or you) can call 1-800-273-TALK to talk to a professional who can help. Most of all, though, be the friend you'd like to have -- you can do a lot of good that way!
pupkinpiee - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what makes smoking cool to other?

Cindy Miner: Wow, that is a good question for you to ask your classmates.  I bet many would tell you it isn't cool at all.  Among high school kids, only about 15-16% smoke.  So its something that not everyone is doing.  Some might tell you that smoking is cool because they see the advertisements by the tobacco companies.  You might see tobacco use in movies as well...did you know that companies often pay to have their products placed in a movie?  Its just another form of advertisement.  I for one am not going to fall for that kind of manipulation!
sexxyladdy - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why do some people abuse drugs?

Nancy Pilotte: 
There are a number of reasons why people might take drugs.  Many try drugs because peer pressure.  Some are curious.  Some are trying to feel better.  Usually they do not know exactly what to expect and often do not like that first experience! But with more experience, they learn how it makes them feel, and people who continue to use the drug grow to like it--the drug makes them feel good.  Whether someone goes on to become dependent, or addicted, is a matter of their individual make-up--some are just more vulnerable than others, and continue to use.  And unfortunately we do not know how to predict who might become addicted.
For more information, check out this page on our website:   http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction  Scroll down to the section on why do people take drugs. 
warebear - Sullivan High School, Missouri: Is it ok to use a little bit of marajuana since it is legal in some states?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi warebear,
 
Good question. Whether a drug is legal or not doesn't really affect whether it is alright to take it if you're young. Marijuana is now legal for adults in Colorado and Washington, but that doesn't make it any safer for adolescents. The reason has to do with brain development: Your brain is not done growing and forming until you are in your twenties. Until then, drugs can have an exaggerated effect on your mental abilities. The consequences of use can actually be permanent if you use heavily. Scientific studies have now shown that if you start smoking heavily in your teens you can permanently lose up to 8 points in IQ--which may not sound like much but is a lot. 
 
Eric
wcyr - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: How many people in the world smoke ciggarretes in the world and what is the percentage.

Cindy Miner: Its estimated that more than a billion people world wide smoke.  The percentage can vary widely by country...some countries I've seen estimates as high as 70% of the men smoke.  In the U.S. around 20% of adults smoke.  We don't have data on many countries, but tobacco is a global problem!
ClariceR - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Do drugs affect any of your other senses? If so which ones and which drugs affect them?

Nora Volkow: 
Yes, and some more than others. For example, LSD can enhance and disturb visual perceptions, marijuna can also increase somatosensory perception making touch or food flavors more intense. 
TripleBeam47 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What does cocaine do to your health?

Nora Volkow: it harms your heart lungs and kidneys and brain sicne ti accunmlates in tehse organs   it also decreases the flow of blood to all organs,  whcih is why it can also affect 
17andUnemployed - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How many illegal drugs are there? List them please.

Marsha Lopez: You ask a question that is really hard to answer. There are just so many drugs, and new ones emerging every day. If you use drugs without a prescription written for you, it is considered illegal. You can look at the DEA website of controlled substances to get some idea of what's out there...http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.html
IMS414sh - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: How manyteens use Marijuana?

Marsha Lopez: Hi IMS414sh, thanks for your question!  According to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, 23% of high school seniors, 17% of 10th graders, and 6.5% of 8th graders reported they were current marijuana users at the time of the survey.  Fewer kids said they smoked marijuana daily - 6.5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders, and about 1% of 8th graders.  There are many more drug stats to see at http://monitoringthefuture.org/- check it out!
monkeylover123 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: So you know how some people take drugs because they are sad and want to feel better? well can depressants cause you to become sadder?

Joel Sherrill: Hi monkeylover123.  Just as there are many signs and symptoms of depression, and not everyone will have all of the same symptoms, there are also many different side effects with medications, and not every person has the same reactions. If you are taking a medication to treat depression and you are still feeling depressed or feeling even worse, it is very important to talk to the doctor who provided the medication. It could be that the depression is actually worse, or it could be that the medication has some side effects. In either case, you don't wan't to make changes to your medication without talking to your doctor first. So talk it through with your doctor as soon as possible!
IMS427zp - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What do i do if i see drugs at school?

Michelle Leff: This is a good question.  I think the most important thing is for you to leave them where you see them; but immediately let someone like a teacher/counselor/principal know where you saw the drugs.  It's important to keep your school safe and drug-free.
Cody S - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What are the ingredient of meth? What about them are so damaging?

Nora Volkow: Methampetamine is a derivative of pseudopehedrine which is a medication. The reason meth is so damaging is that it is a particularly potent and rapid way of increasing dopamine levels in the brain.    
monkeylover123 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can taking more than 1 drug at a time make it worse? like can they have bad effects if they are put together or used together?

Nora Volkow: yes
fbickerton - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: how many years dose a tin of chewing tabaco take off u life

Cindy Miner: I can't give you an exact answer for that, there are so many factors to consider including how you are using the product and your own biological vulnerability. Here are some facts from the National Cancer Institute: 

Smokeless tobacco is addictive! -- Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, the same drug that makes cigarettes addictive. If you hold an average size dip or chew in your mouth for 30 minutes, you get as much nicotine as you do from about 3 cigarettes. It is so addicting that some smokeless tobacco users sleep with it in their mouths so they keep getting nicotine through the night.

Smokeless tobacco causes health problems -- Smokeless tobacco can cause permanent gum recession, mouth sores, precancerous lesions in the mouth, and cancers of the mouth and throat.

JordynB - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What happens when someone does an overdose for cocaine, what is the worst thing it can do to your body?

Nora Volkow: an overdose of cocaine can kill you from a heart infarct, brain stroke or seizures.
HopeC - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What happens when you put in the toxins of Heroin in your body? What are the reactions/ or how you act around people when you do take the drug? Is it noticeable when you take the drug (means does it show in your teeth)?

Anto Bonci: There are many body reactions and yes, people around you will notice you've taken heroin. People that take heroin typically report an initial feeling a surge of pleasurable sensation - a 'rush.' With heroin, the rush is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the extremities, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching. However, after the initial effects, abusers usually will be drowsy for several hours. Mental function is clouded by heroin's effect on the central nervous system. Cardiac function slows. Breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death. Heroin can induce liver damage, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis (by sharing needles with others), tooth decay, and much more. Heroin overdose is also possible, because the amount and purity of the drug taken in the streets cannot be accurately known.
lost-in-life - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Do most people that do drugs usually have problems or struggles on the side of their life? For example their parents might have had a divorce or someone might have died recently?

Jen Katt: Stress can definitely be a trigger for abusing drugs--and so people may turn to drugs to self-medicate or cope.  However, it usually just brings on more problems.  Other people do drugs for the high they get, or because they're part of a group that does drugs.  Many reasons.  
why do drugs
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
heartbreaker:) - East Hollywood High school, Utah: if someone u really (like) is smoking pot how do u talk them into stopping?

Dave White: 
That's great that you want to help a friend!  Smoking marijuana is especially bad for young people whose brains are still developing.  Did you know that your brain isn't fully developed until you are in your 20s?  If someone you know is smoking and you want to help them, you can encourage them to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult.  There are also places that they can call but remain anonymous - the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), which helps with lots of issues besides suicide, including drug abuse, and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).  The Treatment Referral Helpline hooks people up with places where they can get treatment, support groups, and other local organizations that may  be able to help them.  Good luck!
 
For more information see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
H - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can drug addiction be caused through genetics

Nora Volkow: Genetics can influence your vulnerability to addiction but without drug you cannot become addicted, ever, period.
Brandon - VISTA, Oklahoma: How do the drugs take over you and make you feel "good" inside?

Joe Frascella: 
All drugs of abuse change the brain. 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. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. And nearly all drugs of abuse, directly or indirectly, activate this dopamine system.  However, there is a 'dark side' to drugs, and that is, 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.
 
These brain changes also change one's behavior and ability to function normally. For example, drugs can affect learning and memory, can affect your psychological and physical state, can affect your motor (movement) skills, etc.
 
To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.
trealbert - VISTA, Oklahoma: which drug is most used in the U.S.

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey there trealbert, thanks for your question. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 22.6 million people over the age of 12 reported they used drugs in the month prior to being asked. Check out lots of other drug stats at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm

Figure 2.1
warebear - Sullivan High School, Missouri: If you use bath salts are there any harmful effects as long as you dont consume it?

Eric Wargo: You would need to consume the drug to get any effects. But there is a difference between the drugs called 'bath salts' and the perfumed salts people put in bathwater (such as Epsom salts)--they are not the same thing!
mongose11 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what are side effects of sniffing spray paint

Nora Volkow: It can damage your brain directly, and the nerves throughout your body. Sniffing this and similar stuff will definitely make you less smart.
mrg - VISTA, Oklahoma: Are the new electric cigarettes harmful to your health?

Cindy Miner: They can be.  There have been a few reports of e-cigs exploding in peoples faces when they use them....Electronic cigarettes are so new to the scene that we don't have a lot of scientific data on their effects yet and we don't even know that much about what's in all of them. The ones that have been tested contain varying amounts of nicotine (in fact some e-cigs say they have nicotine but don't). The nicotine is dissolved in another chemical so that it can be heated usually by a small battery in the e-cig.  The bottom line....you don't know what you are getting in these products...so don't believe the hype, hype usually means they want your money. 
xxxx924xxxx - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What makes drugs exclusively addictive?

Nora Volkow: their ability to increase dopmaine in the pelasure centers of the brain
IMS417sl - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Is it true that everybody has tried drugs at least once in their life?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey IMS417sl , nope not at all the case!  The University of Michigan's 2012 Monitoring the Future Survey showed that more than half of high school seniors and two thirds of 10th graders reported they had NOT used marijuana in their lifetime.  And in fact, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, nearly 80% of high school seniors disapprove of regular marijuana smoking and that disapproval is even higher for most other drugs they survey  Check out more drug stats at http://monitoringthefuture.org/ .  
renos - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what are the major bad things about cocaine

Anto Bonci: 
Cocaine can cause death even after a single dose, by giving you a heart attack or a stroke. So stay away from it! Here is a link, in case you are curious to know more about stimulants such as cocaine: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants.
Felisa H - T.C. Williams H.S., Virginia: What is the most dangerous drug?

Anto Bonci: 
Great question. EVERY drug is dangerous, because any drug can irreversibly damage your brain, impair mental development, and cause death. Drugs damage brain cells in many different ways; for example, through chemicals that will kill brain cells or by inducing stroke (lack of blood flow) in parts of your brain. To find more on how drugs can affect your health, including effects on the brain, check out our website.
MeGustaElDulces - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the worst drug to use?

Nora Volkow: It depends partly on your genes: but some poeple are more sensitive to one drug than another . In general, methamphetamine may be the strongest drug in terms of its addictiveness
cwaggoner - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: why is alcohol addictive?

Shuly Babitz: 
Alcohol becomes addictive primarily because it affects a part of the brain called 'the reward system.' All drugs, alcohol included, turn this part of the brain on and make people feel good for a little while. Some people keep going back to alcohol to get that feeling. Over time, their brains lose the ability to feel good without alcohol and they become addicted to it, meaning they just can't stop thinking about it or using it. 
 
Also, the earlier in life you try alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. That is why it is sooo important to find healthy things to turn on the reward system on and make you feel good. For some people, this can be sports, laughing with friends, or even playing an instrument.
jbieber72 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: what effects can sharing needles for heroin have on your skin or body?

Anto Bonci: The worse and quite common effect is to get HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Stay away from it! It's not worth it. To learn the link between HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, go here: http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/.
monkeylover123 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can people sneak drugs into your food or drink with out you knowing or tasting it?

Susan Weiss: 
Yes--in fact, there are several drugs that are considered 'date rape' drugs that can be put into a person's drink without their knowing it--examples are GHB and rohypnol.  You should always be careful when in a public place or a party to keep an eye on your drink.  For more information on these drugs, please see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/club-drugs-ghb-ketamine-rohypnol.
 
Shanaynay S - Sullivan High School, Missouri: do people really eat faces when take bathsalts? does that make you a canable.

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Shanaynay,
 
Bath salts are bad news, but they won't make you eat faces or act like a cannibal (probably)! Some violent and cannibalistic attacks reported in the news last year were attributed to bath salts by the media before the facts were known, and those drugs turned out not to be involved. The 'face eater' in Miami turned out only to have marijuana in his system when his blood was tested.
 
But bath salts (technically called synthetic cathinones) have powerful stimulant and hallucinogenic properties--they can cause hyperactivity and delirium and even violent psychosis in a minority of users.
 
 
Eric 
mrwoods - M.R. Wood Center for Learning (alternative), Texas: is it true that marijuana really has harmful to the body as people think and why?

Nora Volkow: Yes, marijuana is particulary harmful to the brain of young people whose brains are still developing.
Archie - Clinton High School, Iowa: How many people die on average from drugs and alcohol every year?

Marsha Lopez: Hi Archie, thanks for your question. About 10 people out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. under the age of 24 die from drug overdoses. But that doesn't even count the number of people who take drugs and drive, killing themselves and other people. Plus--- it doesn't count people who get into fights while high and kill someone with a gun, a knife or with their fists etc. Those are harder statistics to get. The group that dies the most from overdoses is people from age 25-54---with the highest rate being from 45-54. Many of these are people who started drug use when they were younger, became addicted, led a difficult life of addiction, and eventually their luck ran out. Others are people who started abusing prescription drugs ---mostly painkillers---and became addicted. Some are people who had tried to quit drugs, and when they relapsed, took such a high dose it killed them.
Chaney C. - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: What are the main side-effects of Crack?

David Shurtleff: 
First, let me say that Crack is Wack!   But on a more serious note, crack is a form of cocaine and it causes similar effects, including increased blood pressure, irregular heart beat, anxiety, severe weight loss, addiction and more.  What makes crack so addictive is that it is typically smoked, and this enables the cocaine molecules to get into the brain faster than other methods, like snorting.  Want more information about crack and also powdered cocaine?  Click on http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Cocaine.html.
Archie - Clinton High School, Iowa: What is the most deadly drug?

Nancy Pilotte: Opiates such as heroin or prescription painkillers can cause a person to stop breathing. Cocaine can cause seizures, mental problems like anxiety and psychosis (losing touch with reality), and problems with your heart. Drugs can even cause your heart to stop beating. Methamphetamine can cause strokes, heart disease, and problems with thinking. PCP can cause people to stop breathing and can cause psychosis.  And tobacco kills 443,000 a year in the United States.  You can pick your poison, or you can be smart and avoid all of these.  
lhub3 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: are people just so stupid that they will drink dangerous amounts of alchol to just get drunk?!?

Shuly Babitz: That's a good question - there are lots of reasons people drink. Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.' Others may feel that they can escape problems in their life by drinking. But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.
elephants123 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: someone i'm close to has been smoking the past year. i haven't told anyone because i don't want it to affect him at home. i'm glad he hasn't done anything around me but i'm not sure what to do about it.

Cindy Miner: Hey - that can be a tough situation. It's great they have someone like you who cares about them. Quitting smoking can be hard, but there are resources for you and your friend. Here is some information http://go.usa.gov/42se to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit. Good luck. 
onedirectionst1 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: how does taking drugs damage the brain excactly?

Dave Thomas: 
Depends.
 
Some drugs take a long time to produce brain damage, but others can be quite quick.
 
One example of quick brain damage is when inhalants are abused. Inhalants reduce oxygen to the brain, sometimes to a great degree.  If the brain does not get enough oxygen, brain damage can occur within minutes.
 
Other drugs damage the brain by disrupting the ability of cells to communicate with each other in ways that support normal functioning. This type of brain damage affects the way people make decisions and produces addiction. 
Regina.c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: What are the best ways to get off of an addiction?

Richard Denisco: 
It is nearly impossible to quit by yourself. You almost always need help of some type. For addiction to prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol, people can go through hospital detox to detox in a 12 step program. Some addiction psychiatrists also do outpatient detox which works well. Depending on the drug, medications can be used during detox to help people manage their symptoms.  For long term recovery from addiction, people benefit from continued support from people they trust and from the life-skills they learn in treatment to help them stay of drugs. Check out this booklet for more info. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment/introduction.
Mia98 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Since drugs are used by students, when a teacher finds out about the situation. Why doesnt the school system report their own students and try to help? Also sometimes, drugs can be used medically, but why cant the country band all drugs, even though they understand the drug addiction in this country?

Nora Volkow: 
Because this situation is extremely complex. We have many drugs that can be abused but also have legitimate medical uses, also there are sometimes conflicts between state and federal laws, finally, it is not always clear what are the responsibilities (medical, social or ethical)  of a teacher when confronted with such a situation. as you see, is a very complex and multifaceted problem.
 
pooh bear - Croatan High School, North Carolina: is it better to smoke a cigerette or a cigar??

Cindy Miner: Gosh...I will answer that with another question...would you rather get run over by a car or a truck? There are no safe tobacco products.  The FDA's Center for Tobacco Products is working hard to ensure healthier lives by encouraging, empowering, and equipping people of all ages to live without tobacco. Take a look at what CTP has accomplished to date and learn more about tobacco products: http://go.usa.gov/gvFV
CR1234 - Clinton High School, Iowa: whats the most common drug people die from?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi CR1234 - Of the 36,500 drug poisoning deaths in 2008, more than 40% (14,800) involved opioid analgesics. For about one-third (12,400) of the drug poisoning deaths, the type of drug(s) involved
was specifed on the death certifcate but it was not an opioid analgesic. The remaining 25%
involved drugs, but the type of drugs involved was not specifed on the death certifcate (for
example, “drug overdose” or “multiple drug intoxication” was written on the death certifcate)
 
ab04b - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: is manjiuana used to cure cancer? or helped to ease the pain?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi ab04b,
 
Very good question. Marijuana is sometimes used to ease the pain of cancer. Its active ingredient, THC, has pain relieving properties in the body, and medications based on THC and related chemicals are now available, which may be better than smoked marijuana (and without the side effects like distorting your perceptions). 
 
Some people think marijuana may have anti-cancer properties too, but so far there is no evidence of this. It is being researched however.
 
Eric 
Cheyenne C - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: How does Marijuana affect the body systems? Specifically the nervous system?

Nora Volkow: Marijuana inhibits the formation of your own cannabinoids which are very important for brain function.
johnf - M.R. Wood Center for Learning (alternative), Texas: do steroids make u stronger but makes your penis smaller

Nancy Pilotte: They can give you more than you bargained for because they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the body, and can lead to a long list of alterations, such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in men. They may also increase the risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible. Are those enough reasons to keep away from abusing steroids? See more at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids 
310gg - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: Why is stress the main reason people use drugs

Michelle Leff: 
This is a good question.  I think that 'feeling stressed' may be one reason people use drugs, perhaps not the main reason.  Initially, people may want to feel 'high' or 'numb' from drugs.  Unfortunately, this is a very short-term effect, and drug addiction can CAUSE stress.
 
For more information about drug use, please look at our teen website, www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
For more information about depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, please look at the website,  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/index.shtml.
 
 
omustapha - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: If somebody slipped a club drug into your drink, wouldn't you realize it immediatly?

Dave Thomas: It would take a few minutes for the drug to get into your blood stream then to your brain.  Hopefully you are not hanging around people who would slip drugs into your drinks.  If so, maybe you should consider hanging out with different people?  I'm just saying...
onedirectionst1 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: do any every day medications have life threatening sideffects or contains addicting drugs?

Jen Katt: 'Everyday' medications like ibuprofen, available 'over the counter,' can have bad effects if people take too much.  Iburprofen can worsen asthma, for example, sometimes fatally.  Along with several other NSAIDs (like tylenol), chronic ibuprofen use has been related to risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, especially if used a lot and in high doses.  Other common medications are prescribed and do contain addictive substances, particularly pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin.  See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications for more.
IMS410vf - Iberia Middle School, Louisiana: What can happen if you inhale gas for the first time? Does it kill any brain cells?

Dave Thomas: It might. Inhalants reduce the oxygen that gets to your brain. Brain cells need a lot of oxygen to live and function, and if they don't get enough, damage can be pretty quick.   
ModderatorX8 - The Family Guidance Center of Warren County, New Jersey: How addicting is alcohol and how long does it take to get addicted?

Shuly Babitz: 
Alcohol becomes addictive primarily because it affects a part of the brain called 'the reward system.' All drugs, alcohol included, turn this part of the brain on and make people feel good for a little while. Some people keep going back to alcohol to get that feeling. Over time, their brains lose the ability to feel good without alcohol and they become addicted to it, meaning they just can't stop thinking about it or using it.
Also, the earlier in life you try alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. That is why it is sooo important to find healthy things to turn on the reward system on and make you feel good. For some people, this can be sports, laughing with friends, or even playing an instrument.
Girluh - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Why is it so "cool" to get drunk?

Shuly Babitz: That's a good question. Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.' Others may feel that they can escape problems in their life by drinking. But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.
TheChosenOne - Boiling Springs HS, Pennsylvania: Why do people like to drink the alcohol

Shuly Babitz: 
Good question - people drink alcohol for a lot of different reasons. Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.' Others may feel that they can escape problems in their life by drinking. But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.
ref789913 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why do people use drugs for happiness?

Anto Bonci: Great question. Probably due to lack of knowledge. They don't realize that after a few moments of feeling good, the side effects will kick in and make them feel bad. And they may become addicted. As you might know, every drug of abuse can cause very serious side effects, including coma and death, even after a single exposure.
Len - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is Scarface an accurate movie to describe what cocaine does to you?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey Len, it has been such a long time since I have seen Scarface, so I can't answer your question specifically.  But as I remember it, vaguely now, it was pretty accurate.
 
You may know that cocaine is a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that is snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack is cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been processed to form a rock crystal that is then usually smoked.  The effects cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterward.
 
For more information on cocaine, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine.
healthteacher - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the number one thing you would like students to know about drug use/abuse?

Anto Bonci: That ANY drugs of abuse can irreversibly damage your brain, body, and ruin your life, even after a single exposure. There is no such thing as a safe drug. Read more here: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction.
Redneck lover<3 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: A lot of people say when you drink alcohol, you come addicted to it. I don't think thats nessecaryly true. It does cause effect(s) and can really hurt people. But if people know what alcohol does to you, why do you think they keep doing it?

Shuly Babitz: 
It's hard to say exactly why people do things they know are bad for them.
 
First of all, alcohol can be addicting. It affects a part of the brain called 'the reward system.' All drugs, alcohol included, turn this part of the brain on and make people feel good for a little while. Some people keep going back to alcohol to get that feeling. Over time, their brains lose the ability to feel good without alcohol and they become addicted to it, meaning they just can't stop thinking about it or using it.
Also, the earlier in life you try alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. That is why it is sooo important to find healthy things to turn on the reward system on and make you feel good. For some people, this can be sports, laughing with friends, or even playing an instrument.
 
Even when people know that drinking too much can have bad consequences, they may still do it. 
Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.' Others may feel that they can escape problems in their life by drinking. But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.
biscut10 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: why do people take drugs and how dose it help them in sports

Marilyn Huestis: People take drugs for many different reasons, but athletes take drugs to help their performance in sports-- to reduce fear in dangerous sports, to heal better from sports injuries and reduce fatigue and improve sleep. Different drugs affect the body differently. Steroids build muscle and improve endurance; marijuana, during a high, might allow someone to forget a bad experience (i.e. a skiier might forget about a prior bad fall); relaxes an athelete and helps them sleep. So there are many reasons and many affects of taking drugs but it is all cheating or doping. Athletes are required to follow the doping regulations for fairness in competition.
mickey15 - Croatan High School, North Carolina: i have adhd and i was wondering if it is easier for me to get addicted to any drug/alcohol/or smoking substance?

Joel Sherrill: hi mickey15.  Some studies suggest that people who have ADHD or even depression or other behavior problems are more likely to become addicted to drugs than similar people without these behavior problems.  The relationship is complex-- sometimes people seek drugs or alcohol to try to feel better--the problem is, using drugs that are not from a doctor to feel better doesn't provide a good solution and makes things worse or leads to more problems.  Of course, the best way to avoid getting addicted is to never start!  This is good advice for everyone, whether or not they have ADHD...
Felisa H - T.C. Williams H.S., Virginia: How common are overdoses from OTC use?

Marsha Lopez: Hi Felisa, I don't actually know the answer to that question so let me give you some information I do know about OTC drugs with abuse potential.  The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study looks at OTC use of cough/cold medicine and in 2012 5.6% of high school seniors reported they had used these types of drugs to get high in the year prior to the survey.
 
Among recent drug overdose reports, more than 40% involved opioid analgesics (prescription pain killers) and for about one-third the type of drug(s) involved was specifed on the death certifcate but it was not an opioid analgesic, and the remaining 25% involved drugs but the type of drugs involved was not specifed on the death certifcate (for example, “drug overdose” or “multiple drug intoxication” was written on the death certifcate)
kkeefe - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what can bath salts do to your body and how do you know if someone is using them

Susan Weiss: Bath salts are very powerful stimulants--similar to cocaine and methamphetamine in how they affect the brain and body.  Because they are made by clandestine chemists--who are trying to skirt the law, and not subject to any quality control, bath salts can also contain all sorts of nasty ingredients besides the intended chemicals.  Someone who is using them regularly may become very anxious, hyper, paranoid, even violent. They can also affect your cardiovascular system (heart rate and blood pressure). If you know someone who seems to be showing dramatic personality changes, you should try to get them help as soon as possible--or talk to a trusted adult about it.  There is a crisis hotline that can be called--1-800-273-talk.  They can direct you to local treatment and other resources.  Bath salts are extremely dangerous, and many people are winding up in emergency rooms from taking them, so I would urge you to take this very seriously, and really appreciate your asking about it.  
wjhs - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Which lobe of the brain is the most damaged during drug use? why?

David Shurtleff: 
Hi WJ!  
Because drugs of abuse go everywhere in the brain, they can affect alot of different areas of the brain that are not specific to a particular lobe.  Drugs do, however tend to affect specific brain regions, including regions of the brain termed the 'reward centers', which are areas that control how we experience pleasure.  Using drugs stimulates the release of large amounts of the chemical dopamine in these areas and continued use of drugs over time can result in less production of dopamine.  It can also result in less blood flow to the brain, which can cause lesions or small areas of damage to white matter and fiber bundles that transmit information between between brain cells.  This can lead to a myriad of problems, including stroke and more.  Thanks for your question and keep 'em coming!
Stephanie.s - Oberon Middle School, Colorado: Dear Scientist, What does Cocaine do to your reason time does it make it slow or fast?

Joe Frascella: 
Hi Stephanie,
 
Thanks for your question.  Cocaine is part of the drug class of stimulants, which typically would speed up reaction times and reasoning times.  But, of course, despite its making you energetic, cocaine has lots of negative effects associated with it.  Cocaine is powerfully addictive and also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterward.
 
For more info on cocaine, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine
fatpanda22 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Can too much alcohol cause someone to pass out

Shuly Babitz: 
Yes, it certainly can. Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much and it can cause you to pass out.  Even if you have stopped drinking or pass out, alcohol in the stomach and intestine can continue to enter your blood stream and circulate throughout your body.
 
Make sure you are aware of the critical signs of alcohol poisoning, which can include: 
  • Mental confusion
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Hypothermia, or low temperature
  • Bluish skin color
  • Paleness
If you think someone you know may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, make sure to get help immediately. You can call 911.
bigguy444 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: How do you stop drinking alcohol

Shuly Babitz: 
Great question. The first thing to do is find an adult you trust - like a teacher, family member, school nurse, or family doctor, and talk to them about your drinking.
 
It is sooo important to stop while you are still young to avoid doing any further damage to your body and to allow your brain to heal and recover.
 
Here is a link to further information about the signs of alcoholism and suggestions for quitting:
fatpanda22 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What is the average amount of teenagers in high school that abuse drugs in the U.S. 

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Fatpanda22 (cool name by the way)....Drug abuse impacts our whole nation: individuals, families, schools and our communities. Everybody knows someone who is affected by drug abuse no matter what their age. In 2011, about 2.5 million (10 percent) teens reported the use of drugs, about 2.5 million (10 percent) reported the use of tobacco products, and about 3.3 million (13 percent) reported the use of alcohol in the past month. Go to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for more information. 
15stephmit - Pine View, Utah: why do sports players use drugs.

Dave White: 
Many of the drugs that are abused by people in professional sports are drugs that cause their muscles to be bigger - so that's why they use the drugs.  These drugs are called anabolic steroids.  Although they may make muscles bigger, they also have harmful effects.  A major effect of abusing anabolic steroids can include stunted growth and changes in puberty.  This means that someone who uses anabolic steriods may end up being short for their entire life if they use the drug before they stop growing.  But steroids can have other harmful effects including kidney problems and even failure, damage to the liver and heart, high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack - even in young people!
 
Anabolic steroids can also causes the testicles to shrink, baldness and development of breast in guys and growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, changes in the menstrual cycle and a permanently deepened voice in girls.  They can also have an effect on behavior including extreme mood swings.  They can also cause changes depression and other harmful effects on mood.
 
Makes you wonder why someone who consider using anabolic steroids!!
 
Coffee-Cake - Croatan High School, North Carolina: What effects to Bathsalts have on the brain?

Anto Bonci: 
There are many very toxic drugs that fall into the category of 'bath salts.' Much is still unknown about how these substances affect the human brain, and each one may have somewhat different properties. Chemically, they are similar to amphetamines (such as methamphetamine or 'meth') as well as to Ecstasy.
 
Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. Bath salts can produce euphoria and increased sociability and sex drive, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. Bottom line: stay away from them!
eric_c - Quail Valley Middle School, Texas: how do drugs help you get rid of stress or get you out of depression?

Jen Katt: Sometimes people are prescribed antidepressant medications to help them with depression.  Check out this video from the Mayo Clinic to see how they work in the brain: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antidepressants/MM00660
pineapplezidk - The Blake School, Minnesota: Is it bad to smoke weed if you have asthma?

Susan Weiss: There's very little research in this area--but marijuana smoke is clearly an irritant to the lungs, and likely to interact badly with asthma.  So I would not suggest it.
KayliMH - VISTA, Oklahoma: OMGSH. Someone tell me how long weed stays in your system????????

Marilyn Huestis: Weed or marijuana can stay in your system for a very long time (more than a month) if you are a daily smoker. Marijuana likes to be stored in the fat cells of the body and the more you smoke, the more of the active chemical- called THC- is in your body and brain. We have measured THC for more than one month in chronic smokers who stopped smoking. Think about it- the brain is full of fat and THC in chronic smokers. We know that marijuana changes the way your brain works for as long as there is THC stored there. So the answer is a long time if you are a regular smoker, and a much shorter time if you are just an occasional smoker.
deathbycupcakes - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: which drug is worse for you?

Anto Bonci: Scientists like myself have studied drugs for more than half a century, and I assure you that EVERY drug is bad, and in many different ways. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Some other drugs can damage your liver, lungs, cause cancer, coma and death - even with a single dose. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
sarahh - M.R. Wood Center for Learning (alternative), Texas: how much alcohol do you have to drink to get alcohol poison

Shuly Babitz: 
That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered to be pretty fatal. For example, college students who died from alcohol poisoning had blood alcohol levels around 0.35% as compared to the legal limit of 0.08%. For a healthy, 140 pound woman, reaching this level would take about 10 drinks in a 2-hour period. For a 160-pound man, this would take about 13 drinks in a 2-hour period. It is important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.
 
If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating. It's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off.
mikeh101 - C.H.Yoe High School, Texas: can you get addicted to vitamins like you can with other drugs or painkillers?

Marilyn Huestis: I do not think you can get addicted to vitamins like other drugs or painkillers, but you can overdose on vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A is bad if you take too much of it.
JayJay - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: Why do drugs become addicting?

Anto Bonci: That's a great question, and one that scientists have been working on for the past 40 years. Drugs are addictive because they change brain function by influencing brain cells. Specifically, when drugs are taken, they change the levels of brain chemicals such as dopamine, glutamate, GABA and many others. These brain chemicals are involved in addictive behaviors. Importantly, drugs of abuse can also produce an unconscious memory of their presence in your brain, and scientists believe that this memory plays an important role in addiction and substance abuse. Check out research that NIDA scientists are doing in this area: http://irp.drugabuse.gov/cnrb.php.
mrwoods - M.R. Wood Center for Learning (alternative), Texas: why is drinking so bad for you? chris

Shuly Babitz: 
Drinking is dangerous, especially for teenagers, because it can affect the development of your brain, cause you to make bad decisions, have accidents, and make it more likely for you to have alcohol problems when you get older. 
 
Brain: 
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!
 
Body
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.
 
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
Gaby_Boo13 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what are some action you can take to not do drugs?

Jen Katt: Hang out with people who don't engage in drugging or drinking.  Get involved in activities or sports that you look forward to and enjoy doing.  Choose wisely--toward valuing yourself and your future.
TTruong - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: can drug addiction be caused through genetics or influences?

Joni Rutter: 
Hi TTruong:  Excellent question!  
 
I am a geneticist, and I am interested in understanding how genes impact how easy it is for someone to become addicted to drugs, and how we as scientists can use that knowledge to help make better treatments for people who have become addicted and need help.  
 
Did you know that drug abuse is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental?  That means that when we study drug abuse, we have to consider both nature and nurture.  And, what I think is most interesting about genetics of drug abuse is that even if you have 'bad genes' the environments you are in can override the genetics- cool!  To learn more about the science of drug abuse, check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Do you think you would be interested in studying drug abuse someday?   
TigerBaby - Sullivan High School, Missouri: what is the most comen drug in the us

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi TigerBaby , you ask an excellent question. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives, and to a much lesser extent cocaine, hallucinogens, and others. Go ahead and check out the National Survey on Drug Use and Healthhttp://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm and the Monitoring the Future study http://monitoringthefuture.org/ for more details.
Tkamal - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: Is tobacco as bad as alchohol?

Cindy Miner: You know, they both can be bad.  Smoking kills over 400,000 people a year in the United States contributing to various cancers, respiratory and heart problems.  But alcohol has its own problems, we all know or should know the risks of driving while drunk.  Chronic abuse of alcohol increases your risk for a number of health problems as well... NIDA is frequently asked whether alcohol is a drug, and where to find information about alcohol abuse. There is another government agency that studies alcohol’s effects. For information on alcohol, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism Web site at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.
rdhuka - Sugar Land Middle School, Texas: What is meth

David Shurtleff: 

What's up, Sugar Land?! Nice to see you guys participating in Chat Day again!

Methamphetamine is commonly known as 'speed,' 'meth,' and 'chalk.' In its smoked form, it is often referred to as 'ice,' 'crystal,' 'crank,' and 'glass.' It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that can be dissolved in water or alcohol. meth increases your blood pressure, make you have an irregular heart beat, cause bad breath and teeth ('meth mouth'), make you anxious, paranoid and more. The best thing to do is not use it.  Want more information? Click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants

Young J - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: can weed be useful ??

Bethany Deeds: 
Dear Young Junior, What an interesting question to ask. Medicines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their safety and efficacy--marijuana has not met these standards. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases including pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. For more information check out our teen website HERE.
loraxmoviefan13 - Woodland Middle School, Illinois: What ingredient in steroids makes you stronger and get more athletic

Marilyn Huestis: There are many different steroids- but they are all hormones that interfere in your normal growth and development. They can cause abnormal growth, like producing breasts in males, and excess hair in females, as well as the positive effects on muscle growth and increased ability to lift weights. Get more info. here: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
Maddiem - Sullivan High School, Missouri: If someone does hardcore drugs, such as meth, could it make them cheat on the person they really love?

Jack Stein: Thanks for your question. All drugs have the potential to impair one's judgement, including their personal interactions with families and friends.
geo8899 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can crack kill you instantly if you use a wrong dosage?

Anto Bonci: Yes. Crack, a form of cocaine, can cause a heart attack or a stroke. But remember that there is no such thing as a 'right' dosage. Any dosage can trigger these serious health effects.
renos - Kingswood Regional Middle School, New Hampshire: what is the difference between mushrooms and bathsalts

Marilyn Huestis: Magic mushrooms, or psilocybin, are a very different chemical than bath salts. Bath salts are stimulants like amphetamines, while mushrooms are hallucinogens. So both of these drug classes are different chemically and in their effects on your body. Bath salts can be very dangerous with overdose a real possibility. Bath salts are v