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Transcript for 2014 Chat Day

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

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

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

mary1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: why do teens think its cool to do drugs?

Cora Lee Wetherington: Hi Mary, so let me turn your question around:  Do you think it's cool to do drugs?  Somehow, I am thinking your answer is no, so good for you.  Sure, some teens yield to peer pressure, but not all do so.  It's easy to think that more teens are doing drugs than there really are. Plenty of teens choose not to do drugs, and in fact illicit drug use has remained relatively stable over the last few years.  And remember, there are plenty of teens who thought it would be cool and ended up addicted.  Which is better -- cool addicted or don't use? Only users become addicted.  
YOE23 - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: Can smoking marijuana make you seem to have an all of a sudden hunger issue causing you to constantly eat?

Joe Frascella: 
Marijuana has the properties of an appetite stimulant, which causes an increase in appetite.
 
Check out the following site for more information on marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
This is the end of the Chat. The questions seem to get better every year! ! To see if your question got answered, we will upload the transcript in a week or two onto our Chat Day site and you can search for your question using your username or your school name.

The scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse thank you for your interest in the important issue of drug abuse---see you next year!
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What is bad about smoking weed? What are the negative effects?

Joni Rutter: Hey CFPC,
Did you know that marijuana use is linked to a severe drop in IQ?? Yep, exposure to cannabinoids (the class of chemicals in marijuana) during adolescent development can cause long-lasting changes in the brain's reward system, and critical brain regions involved in learning and memory.  You can read about cannabis use in adolescents and lowered IQ in this NIDA Notes article: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/08/early-onset-regular-cannabis-use-linked-to-iq-decline
gaydeath1123 - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: it true that drugs are addicting because you what to have that enjoyment again

Joe Frascella: 
Hey gaydeath1123, great question! There are lots of factors contributing to drugs'addictive properties, but a major reason that they are so addicting is that drugs of abuse are 'psychoactive' -- that is, their main effect on the brain results in pleasurable feelings. Drugs specifically act on the pathway within the brain called the reward system and cause the release of the brain chemical, dopamine, within this system. The release of dopamine is associated with euphoria that is felt when drugs are taken initially. People tend to like the feeling of euphoria that drugs can initially give, which in turn, leads them to continue taking drugs.  This continued drug taking can lead to addiction.
 
Here's a link to more info on addiction science including two videos, Why Drugs are so Hard to Quit and Anyone Can Become Addicted to Drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science
williamss - Ennis High School , Texas: Is there any time that marijuana is appropriate for medical treatment?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey williamss,
It depends on who you ask. Some people think marijuana is okay to treat cancer chemotherapy and AIDS patients, but there's difference of opinion. See our fact sheet on marijuana as medicine: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine 
Great question! 
yffjc - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can marijuana change your feelings/attitude?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey yffjc:  Thanks for your question!  It's a complicated question....individuals respond to drugs differently, so there's not a single answer.  In general, people take drugs for different reasons.   The bad thing is that those effects wear off and people become addicted because they have to keep taking the drug to keep the high.  Once that happens, other effects of the drugs take over and they 'hijack' the brain so that you can no longer make good decisions.
Serotonin is clearly an important neurotransmitter in addiction and contributes to the intoxicating effects of alcohol--and also may be the link to alcohol and depression.  There is definitely a higher incidence of mental health issues in people who do drugs, but we don't have a good handle on why this is.  Maybe you will become a scientist and help us figure this one out!
 
You can check out this great webpage on the NIDA for teens site that explains what effect drugs have on the brain: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction.
treebee - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is marjuna addictve because lots of people say that the person who smokes it makes it addictve and they think that they cant live without it.

Steve Gust: 
Very good question, treebee. Marijuana can be addictive for some users. The best information we have is that about 1 in 10 people who smoke it do become dependent or addicted. This risk increases to about 1 in 7 for people who start smoking when they are teenagers. If you want to ask about what you can do to help those who believe that they can't live without marijuana, call 1-800-662-HELP.  You can also visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide for more information on treatment.
tree bee - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: why do people fall asleep when they get drunk?

Aaron White: 
Alcohol is a sedative, meaning it causes people to feel sleepy. This is because alcohol mimics the effects of the chemical in the brain, called GABA, that helps make us feel sleepy. 
 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how bad is LSD?

Joe Frascella: Hi lalala, thanks for your question.  LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. The experiences, often referred to as “trips,”are long;typically, they end after about 12 hours.
 
LSD causes its effects by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. Distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord, the serotonin system is involved in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems, including mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception. LSD and other hallucinogens can have negative effects on all of these functions.  Given all of these effects to one's body and brain, I think you can see the very real and potential dangers of this drug to everyone.  
 
For more information on hallucinogens, check our fact sheet at:  pcphttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
26110 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how many people do drugs and why do they do it if they know it is bad for them?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey person with a number for a name! 
 
The numbers vary depending on the drug, but it is tens of millions, especially if you include cigarettes and alcohol.  As for why they do it, it is very hard to quit. If it weren't, most people would just stop.  Addiction is a disease and although it can be treated, there is not a real good cure.  Hopefully someday, there will be.  We are working on potentials cures at NIDA and making some progress...
Dave
Student 6 - Pomona Middle School, New York: What happens when you get high, how does it affect your decisions

Roger Sorensen: 
Yo, Student 6.
Drugs change the way your brain functions by altering the ability of chemicals in your brain, known as neurotransmitters, to communicate between nerve cells or neurons. The front of your brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is the brain area that is responsible for decision-making.  Drugs change the function of the prefrontal cortex so that you can think clearly and make proper decisions. Protect your brain. Don't try drugs. 
This is the end of the Chat. The questions seem to get better every year! ! To see if your question got answered, we will upload the transcript in a week or two onto our Chat Day site and you can search for your question using your username or your school name.

The scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse thank you for your interest in the important issue of drug abuse---see you next year!
ra - Pomona Middle School, New York: are drugs like viruses and attack cells

Will Aklin: 
Dear ra, that is a great analogy. Drugs do act like viruses that impact the brain in a very significant way. Drugs have strong behavioral, chemical and emotional effects of drugs. For example, drugs contain chemicals that take over the communication system in the brain, and therefore, interrupts the way in which nerve cells send, receive and process this information. Drugs, in other words, imitates the brain's natural chemical signals, and also intensifies the 'reward'circuit of the brain. Drug addiction actually changes the brain and compulsive drug seeking is part of it, this is why addiction is such a devastating disease. 
 
Stay healthy! 
. - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how many people in america are addicted to drugs? Lucas

Ivan Montoya: 
According to a national survey, there were about 7.5 million Americans with abuse or dependence on drugs in 2012.  That's a lot of people with addictive disorders!  See http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.htm#ch7.1 for details.
 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: what happens when you do to much hookah?

Cindy Miner: Hookah usually includes tobacco so check out health consequences related to tobacco to learn more: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf  In addition some researchers are starting to look at specific effects of hookah.
jackh8 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: are they going to legalize marijuana

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey, Jackh8, that's a very complicated question you're asking. Drug laws in the United States--like most laws in our country--can come from different places. There are local, state, and federal laws, and sometimes they're in conflict with each other. Some places--Washington State and Colorado--have made recreational marijuana legal, even though it's still illegal under federal law. There are 20 states and the District of Columbia with medical marijuana laws on the books. Some of these laws were what we call ballot initiatives, where the citizens vote in an election for an issue, and some of them were passed by the state legislatures. Colorado's new marijuana law was passed by the legislature, while Washington's was a ballot initiative.
But the only way for marijuana to become legal in the entire United States is for the US Congress to pass legislation making it so. And they don't currently have any plans to do that.
George lopez - Pomona Middle School, New York: how can you say no to drugs? [marsha Lopez]

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey, George, are we related??  How about just saying 'no thanks' for starters!  If you feel like you need some reason for saying no other than you just don't want to, check out the the NIDA website for some great information about how drugs affect your brain, body, and future.  Also, here are a couple of interactive videos that allow you to make decisions and see the consequences of those decisions http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/choose-your-path
 
 
If you are already addicted, or if know someone who has a hard time saying no and has  a substance abuse problem, here is some information on steps you can take:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem 
Bob the Builder - Pomona Middle School, New York: Does rehab treatment really help people who are addicted?

Will Aklin: 
Yes.  In terms of rehab, medication and behavioral therapy are important tools to help people who use drugs. Helping people understand the reason why they use drug and help them develop alternative healthy behaviors is essential. Additionally, helping people who use drugs involves a focus on all aspects of a person's life including, medical, mental health, and social aspects--all important to achieve a drug-free lifestyle.
 
To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment, a good place to begin is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Web site,www.samhsa.gov.
Damn#5 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: hello i was wondering does weed or coke making you want to do things you wouldn't normally want to do

Joni Rutter: Hey there.  weed and coke can definitely make you do things you wouldn't normally.  They can make you impaired and confused, too.  Better to stay healthy!
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What's in bath salts that gets you high?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Aveson,
Bath salts contain stimulants called synthetic cathinones. Here's a fact sheet on these dangerous drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts 
Jimmy Fallon - Pomona Middle School, New York: What other drugs cause cancer?I NEED TO KNOW

Susan Weiss: tobacco;marijuana has been linked to testicular cancer, and the jury is still out on lung cancer.  See also: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/medical-consequences-drug-abuse/cancer
finnigan619 - North carroll middle, Maryland: If a women is pregnant and takes drugs, will the baby be born with birth defects?

Will Aklin: 
Dear finnigan619, this is an excellent question, and thank you. The answer is very complex and depends on the individual situation. There are a reasons why a baby of addicted parents might have medical problems or become addicted. For example, if a pregnant woman who is addicted to heroin or prescription drugs, her baby could be born addicted to that drug and go through a period of withdrawal. 
 
Although there is no guarantee the baby will grow up to become drug-dependent, it is especially important for kids of parents who were addicted to avoid using drugs. 
eechero - Adamson High School, Texas: Is it possible to create a drug that enhances brain activity like the one in the movie "Limitless?"

Joni Rutter: Never saw the movie, but eechero, what price would you pay for something like that?  Would you be willing to give up your free will?  
lololololo - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: whats the effect of marijuana on steratonin levels? And what is the newest drug appearing in schools across the country?

Joni Rutter: lololololo, hey!  
 Marijuana can actually increase serotonin levels in certain areas of the brain that are important for mood and anxiety.  This suggests that repeated exposure to marijuana may be associated with those disorders.  Serotonin is clearly an important neurotransmitter in addiction and contributes to the intoxicating effects of alcohol--and also may be the link to alcohol and depression.  
 
One of the newest drugs appearing are in the spice/bath salt category.  Very dangerous! Poison Control Centers and ERs receive a lot of visits from people using these drugs. 
 
You can check out this great webpage on the NIDA for teens site that explains what effect drugs have on the brain: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction.
hulia123456789 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what is the difference between medical marijuana and reguler marijuana?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi again hulia,
There isn't necessarily a difference, although some so-called 'medical marijuana' is bred specifically to have a higher ratio of the chemical cannabidiol to THC.  
Great question! 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: why do teens think its cool to smoke and do drugs?

Ivan Montoya: 
Hi Ialala:
Actually, many teens DON'T think it's cool to smoke and do drugs.  Most teens don't do drugs and are able to do really well without them.  We have drug  prevention information on our website that might be helpful: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/prevention-research
brendonurie - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I'm always wondering why molly always tends to be the drug that comes up in electronic dance music festivals(idk what they call those types of festivals), is there any reason why it's that specific drug?

Jack Stein: Molly is a term for MDMA or Ecstasy which is a hallucinogen. This class of drugs creates visual and audio distortions, an experience reported to be sought during social experiences like a rave dance party. However, there are many negative effects that can accompany these drugs--not worth the risk in our opinion!
ASOMENESS - North carroll middle, Maryland: Why are drugs so unhealthy, What do drugs do to your brain, What effects could drugs have on peoples bodies, Why do a lot of people take drugs, Why do drugs cost so much and why do people bother to pay for drugs.

Ivan Montoya: 
Hey ASOMENESS:
These are great questions and each one is complicated!  Basically, people use drugs for two reasons:  to feel better and address some brain abnormalities they experience OR to feel high where drugs cause an increase in brain reward centers.  But drugs all have side effects--they all can cause addiction and some cause really bad medical problems (cancers, stroke, heart attacks, just to name a few).   
jcashbuckets - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are the outcomes of cocaine

Roger Sorensen: 
Good to hear from you again jcashbuckets,
 
Hm, you want to know about the use of cocaine. Lots of things can occur. Cocaine can make you feel happy and excited, and you may talk, move, and think quickly. Cocaine also speeds up the rest of your body. Your heart beats faster, your body feels too hot, you might shake and twitch, and you don't sleep or eat much. Yet cocaine is addictive. Some people who abuse cocaine experience panic attacks or episodes of full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which they lose touch with reality and hear sounds that aren’t there. Cocaine can also cause stroke and change your heart function. Read more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine.
 
l3bron - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What percent of high school students have tried marijuana?

Susan Weiss:  45% of 12th graders have tried it at least once.
Aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: why is marijuana bad for you? And your lungs?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Aveson,
Marijuana is bad for your brain for lots of reason. It's not good for your lungs either, but we still don't know if it's as bad for them as tobacco. We don't know if it causes lung cancer, for example.
Great question! 
pfcball3 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is the most addictive drug, cocaine, marijuana, cigarettes or heroin?

Joe Frascella: 
Good question, but one that is very difficult to answer specifically.  There are a number of factors affecting the addictive properties of drugs and how they might affect a particular individual. We are reluctant to rank drugs in order of addictiveness and/or danger. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken. These factors play important and changing roles in determining to what extent abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction or other dangerous health effects.  Although it is almost impossible to rank drugs in this way, we can identify factors that contribute to or influence the dangers of a drug. What we do know is that all drugs have harmful side effects.  And because we have no way to predict how someone will an individual will respond to the drug, taking drugs is like playing 'Russian Roulette.'  
 
pretty100 - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How can I stop one of my family members from doing all kinds of drugs?

Ivan Montoya: Getting help for a family member or friend can be very difficult.  Fundamentally, we can't actually stop someone from doing a behavior.  What we can do is control how we respond to their decisions and behavior.  The best bet is to work with a counselor or mental health expert to help.  They might recommend an intervention or a way to carefully confront the family member about their behavior or they may recommend some changes in how you interact with your family member.  Most important is taking care of yourself in the process so you don't get pulled down with your family member.
collettesfunny - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What are mushrooms?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Collette.  I thought I answered this hours ago, but this day has been a bit of a blur.  The mushrooms you are talking about are the ones which produce hallucinations.  They produced effects a lot like LSD.  Here is some more information on hallucinogens for you.
 
 
Dave 
Chase Manhattan - Pomona Middle School, New York: What chemicals are in cigerattes?

Cindy Miner: 
Well, there are over 7000 chemicals, many are toxic. Here's a link for more information!
justdoitbro:) - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: is it true ganja helps you grow brain cells?

Susan Weiss: no
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: why does everyone say that marijuana is a gate way drug (im told that means it leads you to try other drugs) but that doesnt make much sense if you think about it I mean why would it cause you to want to do other drugs, cause if you have pure common sense than you would know that it wont be the same as weed (I understand that not everyone has common sense but i mean really!!) P.S. thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to do this for us sincerely Jeff The Killer

Lis Robertson: 
Hey Jeff the Killer, 
you're right not everyone has common sense however the term Gateway drug is a term that first appeared in the epidemiology research literature.  It was actually a much debated theory that if an individual used one drug they were more likely to try other drugs with gateway meaning the the drug(s) you first used would lead to further experimentation.  The theory started with examining marijuana which is the most commonly used first drug among youth.  It is actually true that those who use one drug like marijuana are more likely to try other drugs, so there is actually truth to the concept in that sense.There was a study recently that showed that tobacco actually primes the brain for cocaine addiction---so there might be a biological basis for the gateway theory for some drugs. 
 
mega256 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Why do people make new drugs?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey mega256,
Great question. Some people are inventing new (often harmful) drugs in labs in order to create products that they can sell legally. Sometimes it takes a while for the authorities to catch up and ban them. 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -Why are drugs so harmful to your body?

Joni Rutter: CFPC - 
There are a variety of different chemicals in drugs that make them harmful to your body.  These chemicals act on the brain and body.  Depending on the drug and the dose, these effects can be different but some can have immediate deadly effects that cause your heart to stop, or more long-term deadly effects that give you lung cancer.  
 
You can become addicted, even if you think you are being responsible.  Drugs have a way of 'hijacking' your brain, and before you know it you can't stop.  Remember, once you make a decision to use drugs, it could be hard to reverse the damage.  You can't treat death....
 
Boss - Simmons Junior Senior High School, Mississippi: Why do drug harm people and make them abbusive?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hey, Boss.
Drugs affect the ability of your brain to function properly. The brain controls everything that you do. Drugs affect the ability of neurotransmitters to communicate with neurons in the brain. This can change the personality of the person who is using the drugs. Drugs may make the person seem like somebody totally different. The drug can make the person react to situations differently than when not using the drug. So the person may react to a situation by being abusive or even violent. Think about this when you think about drug use.
Swankdaddy - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Are you guys biased against weed?

Susan Weiss: Maybe--but that's because we understand its harms--especially for young people.
CallMeCAT - Pomona Middle School, New York: If you are raped while being high will you forget what happened after the high is gone?

Cora Lee Wetherington: 

Hi again,CallMeCat. An interesting and important question. A rape during a high may be remembered, but it may not, especially if given certain drugs such as those known as date-rape drugs. If after a high is gone, someone thinks they were raped, I recommend going to an emergency room for a physical exam, and to be examined for exposure to date-rape drugs. And to report the suspected rape to the police. Read more about date-rape drugs GHB and Rohypnol here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/club-drugs-ghb-ketamine-rohypnol.


In 2013, about 39% of 12th graders reported they drank alcohol in the past month. This means nearly 61% did not drink in the past month.
marshmallow - North carroll middle, Maryland: can heroin be smoked

Roger Sorensen: 
Hello again marshmallow-- 
 
Quick answer. Heroin can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. It also can be smoked or snorted up the nose.
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Why is marijuana used as medicine?

Susan Weiss: Some people use it because of some of its ingredients which have medicinal effects.  However, smoking a plant as a medicine is problematic--you don't really know what you're exposing yourself to (the plant contains hundreds of ingredients, and may even have been exposed to pesticides);and smoking anything isn't good for the lungs.  Scientist are working hard to isolate the medicinal chemicals from the marijuana plant and develop those as medications that could be dosed properly and have less of the side effects of marijuana.  There are already medications available--marinol, e.g., that are synthetic forms of THC--the ingredient in marijuana that makes you high.
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: do you get diaria from weed

Steve Gust: 
HI Ralf - I haven't heard of that being a specific effect of marijuana, but it does have lots of bad effects. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can cause anxiety and confusion. It can cause impaired thinking that can lead to traffic and other accidents. Please take a look at this website for a more comprehensive overview of the effects of marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
madeline_clinto - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is marijuana good for cancer patients?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey madeline,
Marijuana is helpful for some cancer chemotherapy patients, helping control their nausea. But contrary to what you may have heard, there's no evidence marijuana helps treat cancer. Some chemicals in marijuana might, but that's still being studied.
Great question. 
AshleyP-P2 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What may be the strongest drug that can affect your heart and nerve system?

Joe Frascella: It's difficult to rank the negative health effects of various drugs.  But of course we know there are clear cardio-vascular effects with stimulants like cocaine, meth and speed.  Check out our health effects chart for a listing of short- and long-term health effects of a number of drugs of abuse:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/health-effects
Gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: Is a .08 illegal or is that legal to drink?

Aaron White: 
For adults, 0.08% is the legal blood alcohol limit for driving a car. It's legal for adults to drink more than that, but it's not legal for them to then get into a car and drive. For people under 21, there is no blood alcohol level that is legal, because it's illegal for them to drink alcohol under most circumstances.
 
*There are some states where teens can drink if their parents supervise but not many.  
dave - Lathrop High School, Alaska: how is weed bad...?

Steve Gust: Hi Dave - marijuana has a lot of adverse effects.  NIDA has a very good website on this that you can check out at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
c3222d - La Sierra Military Academy, California: What is the main ingredient in WAX ?

Steve Gust: Wax is a highly concentrated form of marijuana, specifically containing high concentrations of THC or the primary active component of marijuana.
The Next - Pomona Middle School, New York: does nicotine have any other effects than being addictive

Cindy Miner: Thanks for your question - Here's some info on nicotinehttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-addiction/nicotine-addictive
AnnmarieS. - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta38: What does "4:20 blazing it" mean?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey Sparta,
“420 Blaze it is a command to smoke marijuana. Which if you've been paying attention, is not a good idea! :-)
Sara - Ennis High School , Texas: What side effect does marijuana cause?

Steve Gust: 
Marijuana has lots of bad effects. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can cause anxiety and confusion. It can cause impaired thinking that can lead to traffic and other accidents. Please take a look at this website for a more comprehensive overview of the effects of marijuana:http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
akennedy - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I've heard hookah is as dangerous as smoking, or even worse. Is that true? I thought it was just a water vapor.

Joni Rutter: hey akennedy! Hey hana!  Although some believe that smoking tobacco using a hookah (water pipe) is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, it still delivers the addictive drug nicotine and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoking. In fact, research shows that hookah smokers may absorb even more of the toxins found in cigarette smoke because a 1-hour hookah session involves inhaling 100–200 times the volume of smoke from a single cigarette.  Learn more about trends in teen drug use by clicking here - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends
clide - Lathrop High School, Alaska: is chewwing tabaco worst then cigs?

Cindy Miner: Hi - good question - both chewing and smoking tobacco can lead to severe health problems like cancer and both are addictive.  
ehrud - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how many teenagers are suffering fro drugs?

Marsha Lopez: Hi there ehrud. Thanks for the question. According to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17.9 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 had used illicit drugs in the past year in 2012. What's more, 24.2 percent reported lifetime use of an illicit drug.  If you know anyone who might need substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
meow2626 - North carroll middle, Maryland: have you ever driven while under the influence of drugs? if so how did it effect your driving?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Meow, not really.  Taking drugs can hurt you, but driving impaired can hurt many people.  Try not to ever drive impaired!!!  And that includes alcohol!
Dave 
herro im yerro - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I was told weed doesnt actual kill and it is safe to use is that true

Steve Gust: 
No that is not true.  While it is true that there is no documented case of a lethal marijuana overdose there are many dangerous effects.  NIDA has a good website for teens that you should check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
maryjane - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Hello, I smoked weed a few times and I felt fantastic! It also helped with my anxiety. I didn't feel slowed down after it wore off. Why is everyone so close-minded about weed when it seems to help? Not to mention, it smells sublime.

Joni Rutter: Hey maryjane.  You might think that now, but long-term effects are not good.
Did you know that marijuana use is linked to a severe drop in IQ?? Yep, exposure to cannabinoids (the class of chemicals in marijuana) during adolescent development can cause long-lasting changes in the brain's reward system, and critical brain regions involved in learning and memory.  You can read about cannabis use in adolescents and lowered IQ in this NIDA Notes article: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/08/early-onset-regular-cannabis-use-linked-to-iq-decline
DynamoDude2801 - North carroll middle, Maryland: What places in the US have the most drug addicted people?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi DynamoDude2801, thanks for your question!  Unfortunately there are Americans addicted in all states, but different areas of the country and different age groups tend to have different patterns of drug use. But you can check out these cool maps from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showing overall drug use, marijuana use, perception of harm and more. For example states with the highest percentage of drug use among teenagers include DC, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Maryland, where you're writing from, falls in the second to lowest group. 
 
Regardless of where you live, you can always find help for someone who is struggling with a drug problem. Go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
armen kasabian - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are the biggest dangers of marijuana and why is it called a gateway drug.

Susan Weiss: For a young person, the biggest dangers are the effects it could have on your academic performance and achievement.  It also causes addiction and can impair skills needed for driving.  Finally depending on your genes (and other factors), it may affect your mental health.  Marijuana is called a gateway drug because it is usually the first illicit drug a person uses before progressing to other drugs like cocaine, heroin.... But this is a very controversial point, since tobacco or alcohol could also be considered gateway drugs, and many people who use marijuana do not go on to use other drugs.  Nevertheless, studies conducted in animals do show that exposure to THC (the main ingredient in mj that makes you high) during adolescence changes the brain in ways that make it more likely that the animal will voluntarily take heroin when it is an adult.
sandy20 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Are there any substances that people use daily, but don't know they actually contain drugs?

Steve Gust: Hi Sandy - this is difficult to answer without knowing the specific substance you are talking about.  However, several possible examples are various herbal products that are available online.  We do not know what many, or most, of these products actually contain.  There are also products out there like bath salts and spice which have drugs sprayed onto them. If you have any doubts or questions the best thing to do is to avoid taking them.  
treebee - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: does alcohol affect the brain

Aaron White: 
The teenage years are a very important time for brain development. The thinking memory, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

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

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!
gaydeath1123 - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Why do people see drugs a an escape from the real world.? The world may be a mad and we are trying to fix that you don't want to escape it's a life were there are bad days just think everyone has had a bad day but that's the past. This goes out to my mother who was a drug addict and is recovering from drugs

Dave Thomas: 
Hey G,
Yup, drugs are not an escape.  One should make the real world good, not hide in a drug-induced fiction.  I am glad your mother is recovering.
Dave 
 
z_oneill - North carroll middle, Maryland: What can the use of multiple drugs at once result in?

Joni Rutter: Don't find out, z-oneill!  it's one way to ensure a hospital visit, coma, or more likely, DEATH.  So, keep it simple....stick to healthy choices.
Blacktarharoin - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is it addiction if your proscribed drugs.

Cora Lee Wetherington: 
Absolutely, addiction to prescription drugs -- and especially those for pain -- has become a very serious problem.  A lot of people think that because something is prescribed it is not addictive and cannot cause problems, but that is not true.  Please see this information on prescription drug abuse that we have created just for teens: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx. So, if someone thinks they may be addicted to a prescription drug (or any drugs), here's some quick signs: changes in eating, looking really tired, acting like they don't care about things like they used to (such as school or athletics), and relationship problems with family or friends. And if you think there's a chance you may be addicted, or know one with a substance abuse problem, here is some information on steps you can take: 
http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem
marijuanakills - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Did meth become more popular after Breaking Bad?

Marsha Lopez: Hi, marijuanakills, what a great question! Nationally we haven't seen an increase in the popularity of meth since Breaking Bad debuted in 2008. If anything we have seen a slight continued downward trending in use since that time.  Our most timely report of emerging trends comes from a network of City and State researchers, law enforcement, treatment and other health officials who report regularly on what emerging drugs they're seeing in their local communities, so it remains to be seen what will happen in the upcoming months and years.  You can click here to see the most recent reports by region. If you want to learn about the heath effects of meth and other drugs, check out NIDA's website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
skylerisdope - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: In the Macklemore song, they say how cough syrup can ruin people's life. I dont get it. Help explain?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi again, skylerisdope,
In 'Otherside,' Macklemore is singing about od-ing on codeine cough syrup (usually mixed with soda and candy to make a drink called 'sizzurp' or 'lean' or 'purple drank'). That stuff really is bad news. Codeine is an opioid, which when abused can be really addictive;and it can depress your breathing fatally. This is what happened to a few rappers who used to sing the praises of this drug. 
thebigD - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: If marjiuanas only effect is boosted matabalism, why is it considered so bad

Steve Gust: Marijuana has lots of bad effects.  It can increase heart rate and blood pressure.  It can cause anxiety and confusion.  It can cause impaired thinking that can lead to traffic and other accidents.  Please take a look at this website for a more comprehensive overview of the effects of marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Teens who use marijuana put themselves at risk for joining in or being pulled into other risky behaviors like driving (or riding with someone) under the influence, or taking other kinds of drugs. Remember, people who sell pot benefit from getting you addicted.
barackobama - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What does lsd stand for? What are its symptoms

Joni Rutter: 
Hey mrpresident.  LSD (acid)=d-lysergic acid diethylamide.
  
LSD is a powerful hallucinogenic drug.  It can cause major and rapid mood swings and hallucinations. LSD also can affect the way you experience your surroundings.  Users sometimes report seeing color, smelling smells, hear sounds, and other sensations seem highly intensified or sometimes even crossed (like seeing sound/hearing color...isn't that weird?).  LSD has been reported to cause frightening flashbacks that persist a few days after drug use, even up to a year afterwards.  Definitely not something you'd want to deal with!
 
Just remember that once you make a decision to use drugs, it can be very tough (but not impossible) to reverse the damage.
 
Keep on asking us those great questions! And learn more about the effects of hallucinogens at: pcphttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
sexxi-kitten22 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is perscription drugs like aderall just as dangerous, less or more dangerous as other drugs or harder drugs like weed and cocaine

Roger Sorensen: 
Hmm. You are making me think on this question.
 
Adderall is a stimulant drug. It has good medical uses for treating ADHD and for some patients in the emergency room. Thus, when taken as recommended by a doctor, adderall and other prescription drugs have good uses. The problems occur when taking prescription drugs, or taking any other drug for that matter, without a prescription or in a way other than prescribed, or just to get “high.” Drugs affect your brain. This alters your ability to think, to make proper decisions, and to lose your coordination. Drugs may also affect your heart and other organs. There are many dangers in using any drug for non-medical reasons.
treebee - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: how much alcohol does it take to get drunk

Aaron White: 
Good question. Getting drunk depends on several things, including the size of the person and whether they are male or female. For some people, just one drink can be enough to make them feel intoxicated and cause impairments. For others it might take a few more. Adults are considered to be legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (a measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood) reaches a level of 0.08%, which happens after about 4 or 5 drinks in a few hours.
 
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

 

Gabrielle - Pomona Middle School, New York: why is drinking alcohol and taking drugs at the same time dangerous

Aaron White: All drugs disrupt brain function in some way. Alcohol disrupts most brain functions. So, combining alcohol with most other drugs leads to larger impairments and more danger. In fact, the number of young people who get hospitalized each year for combining alcohol with other drugs went up 76% (a lot!!) between 1999-2008. In short, it can be quite dangerous to combine alcohol with other drugs. 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Can you get addicted to drugs the first time that you use them?

Steve Gust: Hi CFPC.  For some people the first use of a drug can lead to an overwhelming urge to use again, which can often lead to addiction.  While a true diagnosis of addiction is probably impossible after a single use, there is no doubt that some individuals are more prone to developing addictive patterns after initial exposure.
lawrence high - Lawrence High School, Kansas: Is it true that smoking Marijuana cannot kill brain cells?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Lawrence,
 
Brain activity is certainly different in people that smoke marijuana, and marijuana does impact things like memory and maybe IQ (not in a good way!).  However, I am not aware of a definitive study indicating whether or not marijuana kills brain cells in people.  It is a very hard study to do, if you think about it.   
Dave 
juarezalex35 - Adamson High School, Texas: Why do people tend to do anything or everything for drugs?

Will Aklin: 
Thank you for your question, juarezalex35! There are many reasons why people who use drugs tend to preoccupy themselves with drugs given the strong behavioral, chemical and emotional effects of drugs. For example, drugs contain chemicals that take over the communication system in the brain, and therefore, interrupts the way in which nerve cells send, receive and process this information. Drugs, in other words, imitates the brain's natural chemical signals, and also intensifies the 'reward'circuit of the brain. Drug addiction actually changes the brain and compulsive drug seeking is part of it, this is why addiction is such a devastating disease.
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School - What can drugs do to your body?

Joe Frascella: Thanks for the question.  Different drugs can cause different negative health consequences that affect your brain, body and behavior. There are often both short- and long-term issues.  Check out our teen Drug Facts site for information on specific drugs and their effects:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: whats the difference between crack and cocaine -BillyBobJoeTod

Dave Thomas: 
Hey BBJD,
Crack is simply crystallized cocaine, and tends to be smoked, not snorted.  Both are harmful. Here is some more information if you are interested.  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
Dave
 
 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -How much does it take to overdose on heroin, cocaine, and crack?

Susan Weiss: depends on the person--people have different sensitivities;also depends on the person's drug use history--people can develop tolerance to a drug's effects meaning they need more to achieve the same effect.  This would also make them less likely to overdose on a drug than a naive users.
klucas - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: What happens if you smoke marijuana as your taking the THC pill

Steve Gust: Hi klucas - interesting question.  If this were to happen the person would be very likely to have an overdose of THC.  It would depend upon how much the person smoked and how many of the pills were taken.  There certainly would be a possibility of taking in too much THC and having some bad side effects.
sonya - Ennis High School , Texas: What is salvia

Joni Rutter: 
hey sonya!  Salvia is a plant sometimes referred to as sage and is in the mint family.  It can cause you to hallucinate to where you can't tell fantasy from reality. Here's why this is bad--our brains are precious, we only have one.  Our brains must process a lot of information in a split second to keep us functioning well and efficiently.  When you hallucinate, your brain loses its power to process logically and distorts everything.  If your brain isn't able to protect you, what is?
 
Learn more!  Check out NIDA's drug facts page on salvia.
drugrox - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it true that some drugs can actually help heal depression?

Jack Stein: Yep...There are a number of FDA approved medications used to treat depression. Unfortunately, these are often abused.
kenziecheer828 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what drug can affect a pregnant woman the most?

Cora Lee Wetherington: 
Good question, kenziecheer828!  Let me turn you question around: What is the safest abused drug (including alcohol and tobacco) for a pregnant women to use? The answer is that there is no abused drug that we know is safe to use during pregnancy, but that any drug that is prescribed to a pregnant women should be taken only as prescribed by the doctor. To make sure to not harm their baby, a pregnant woman should not use alcohol, tobacco or any illegal drugs. Illegal drugs can harm your baby depending on the drug, how much drug is used and when in pregnancy it is used.  For known harmful effects of alcohol check this out: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/fetal-alcohol-exposure. And for cigarette smoking during pregnancy: http://women.smokefree.gov/9-myths-about-smoking-pregnancy.aspxAnd for other info on drug  use in pregnancy, check out this site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby.  
#twerkteam - Pomona Middle School, New York: Is marijuana bad for you?

Will Aklin: 
#twerkteam--The short answer is 'yes.'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%). But addiction isn't the only concern.  Research has shown that marijuana has short- and long-term effects on learning and memory, and these effects last even after someone stops using marijuana. For example, a recent study shows that regular marijuana use that begins in the teen years reduces IQ into adulthood, even if the person stops taking marijuana. So marijuana use during adolescence can produce negative biological (brain development) effects that can change the structure and function of the brain. You can read more here: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-abuse/marijuana-addictive.
william_yang - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is crack bad for you

Joni Rutter: hey William_yang.  Yep, crack is bad for you.  don't you know that if you step on one, you'll break your mother's back?  Just kidding.  Here's the deal on crack: 
 
Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users are at risk of heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the very first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards.  
 
Once you start using cocaine, it can be tough to reverse the damage to your health.  To learn more about cocaine, see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
 
Thanks for asking! 
abdullah - Ennis High School , Texas: why do people do drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi abdullah and thanks for this question. People try drugs for a variety of reasons: some do it because they think it's cool (NOT the case), others think it will solve a problem or make them feel better. Some are just curious. There is NO good reason to abuse drugs. All drugs have negative health effects and can lead to addiction. See here for more.
lawrence high - Lawrence High School, Kansas: People say that Vaporizing pens that don't have tobacco in them aren't bad, is that true?What effects do these pens have on people?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Lawrence,
 
Those pens, or electronic cigarettes, don't have tobacco.  And there is no smoke.  So they are likely safer than smoking cigarettes.  However, you can put all sorts of chemicals in the devices, and some of those chemicals might not be safe when inhaled.  Right now, we don't have a lot of information on the safety of these devices   
 
The use of these e-cigs is rapidly increasing.  We are starting to do research into the health impact (positive and negative) of using these devices.  Hope to have more answers soon...
Dave 
Longtime marijuana users report being less satisfied with their lives, experiencing memory and relationship problems, poor mental and physical health, lower salaries and less career success.
Advisory1 - Ennis High School , Texas: is marijuana addictive?

Steve Gust: Very good question, Advisory1. Marijuana can be addictive for some users. The best information we have is that about 1 in 10 people who smoke it do become dependent or addicted. This risk increases to about 1 in 7 for people who start smoking when they are teenagers. For some more information on marijuana, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
bmorse - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can steroids permanetly make you strong?

Susan Weiss: no--those effects tend to go away when you stop taking them, but some of the harmful effects can be permanent--e.g., stunted growth, the masculinizing effects in females, such as deepened voice; and feminizing effects in males.
maria1029 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Other than Emphasyma, what are other diseases that are caused by tobacco that affect the lungs?

Cindy Miner: 
Hi there! Great question...well, there's lung cancer, that's a really big one. And COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), tuberculosis, asthma, pneumonia...and those are just lung related, there's so much more! Here's a good summary from the 2014 Surgeon General's report--  
 
 
 
 
fernandf.19 - Pomona Middle School, New York: how can drugs make it to your brain?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi fernandf.19
I'll see how good I do at explaining this and also give you some links that will help.  
When drugs are introduced into the blood they flow to the brain.  There is what is called the blood brain barrier.  This barrier keeps some compounds from entering the brain.  Unfortunately there are a large number of harmful compounds that can cross this barrier.  Thus you introduce a drug, it flows through the blood, and circulated through the brain were it crosses into brain cells.  
There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
charlie_sheen - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I heard vaping weed is healthier than smoking. is this true?

Joni Rutter: Hey Charlie Sheen.  Neither is healthy. Marijuana can have harmful effects on the brain and lungs, but we don't know if it causes cancer like smoking cigarettes.  Here's what we do know about marijuana:
  • Many of the carcinogens and co-carcinogens present in tobacco smoke are also present in smoke from marijuana.
  • Marijuana smoking does cause inflammation and cell damage, and it has been associated with pre-cancerous changes in lung tissue.
  • Marijuana has been shown to cause immune system dysfunction, possibly predisposing individuals to cancer
Bottom line: Though marijuana most likely pales in cancer risk when compared to cigarette smoking, it's better to play it safe. Also, did you know that marijuana use is linked to a severe drop in IQ?? Yep, exposure to cannabinoids (the class of chemicals in marijuana) during adolescent development can cause long-lasting changes in the brain's reward system, and critical brain regions involved in learning and memory. You can read about cannabis use in adolescents and lowered IQ in this NIDA Notes article: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/08/early-onset-regular-cannabis-use-linked-to-iq-decline.
 
wangisnotasian - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how will drugs affect the rest of my life

Will Aklin: 
Hi there wangisnotasian, Thanks for your question. Drugs of all kinds can have serious effects on the brain, as well as your body in the short- and long-term. Risk for addiction is influenced by biology, environment, age, and gender.  Drug use in your teens could impact your life later on because this is a time where your brain is still developing.  It's kind of like introducing 'bugs'into your computer while you are still writing the code of who you will become.  But unless you are addicted, drug use is a choice and today is a new day to choose not to use.  The more days you don't use drugs the less they can impact you now and in the years to come.
 
Read more here about the short- and long-term effects of drugs:  www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction.
We are nearing the end of the Chat. If you didn’t get an answer to your question, we will upload the transcript in a week or two and you can search for your question using your username or you school name. We are sorry we can’t answer all of your questions---not enough time! But you can also search for a topic like “marijuana”or “alcohol”and you can find other answers that interest you.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is it possible to get high off of over the counter drugs such as tylenol or advil?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question.  I was just telling Lexie that high can mean all sort of things, from being very aroused, relaxed, euphoric or in a state of distorted perception.  Tylenol and Advil really don't produce any of the effects that we call, 'high,' so I would say no, they won't make you high.  Of course, if you take too many of them, you will feel sick...
 
Dave 
viperstrike - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is the most dangerous drug in the world? I watched a documentary about a drug in columbia which, when waved in front of a person face, causes them instantly to fall into a trance a lose the ability to resist or say "no". Then you can convince them to give you money and so on.

Eric Wargo: 
Hi viperstrike,
You're referring to scopolamine (also called 'Devil's Breath'). It is used by criminals as a kind of 'date-rape' drug to rob people without them being able to resist or remember. Bad stuff!
haleyb-p6 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: do people do drugs because they think its cool and so they can show off

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi haleyb-p6. This is an important question to ask. Some people probably do try drugs because they think it's 'cool' and a mature, glamorous thing to do because of how drugs are portrayed in the media and popular culture. In fact, drugs are NOT cool and can have devastating health consequences. Check out this page to see just how 'uncool' drugs are.
chchchase estes - North carroll middle, Maryland: Can any drugs kill you with in a day

Steve Gust: Yes, unfortunately.  Many drugs can kill you if you overdose.  For example, pain killers.  Also, certain other drugs used for anxiety.  Inhalants can also kill.  
@LexieRust - Ennis High School , Texas: What does it feel like to be high?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Lexie,
 
High is a funny word.  It can mean different things depending on the drug you are talking.  For example, cocaine, marijuana, heroin and meth produce vary different impacts on the brain and so the highs they produce are different.  However, we generally talk about people being 'high' as if it were one thing.  But depending on the drug, high might mean relaxed, euphoric, hyperactive or to have distorted perceptions.  For more information on various drugs see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse   
 
Dave 
lawrence high - Lawrence High School, Kansas: what are the dangers of second-hand smoke from Electronic Cigarettes

Joni Rutter: 
hey lawarence high again.  Go Jayhawks!
 
Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as diethylene glycol and nitrosamines), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.
 
Stay tuned for when more research comes in to address this very question! Learn more about electronic cigarettes at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes and http://www.legacyforhealth.org/content/download/582/6926/file/LEG-FactSheet-eCigarettes-JUNE2013.pdf
angie33 - Pomona Middle School, New York: why do people use drugs if they know it`s bad for them?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Angie33 
good to hear from you.  This is a good question.  People do all sorts of things that aren't good for them -- like driving too fast, or eating too much.  There is a phenomenon called magical thinking.  What this refers to is the idea that many people think the worst consequences for a certain behavior will never happen to them, it is always the other guy.  This type of thinking is something that is very common in adolescents.  It is thought that young people react this way as a function of their greatly expanding cognitive and physical capacities - they feel invincible.  They feel stronger and more cognitively competent which they are, but it doesn't exempt them from negative consequences.  
sunshinechowell - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is the differance between cosuming marajuna in food ex. brownies and smoking it

Steve Gust: Hi sunshine - the main difference between eating vs smoking is in how fast the drug gets into your system.  When smoking, the THC (the active drug in marijuana) gets into your blood within seconds.  When eating marijuana, the blood levels increase much more slowly, over minutes or even hours.  In general the smoking route means higher blood levels achieved more quickly, and the eating route means lower blood levels achieved more slowly.  However, it is also important to realize that it is very hard to control the actual overall dose of marijuana when ingesting it, meaning that it is generally easier to overdose when eating vs smoking.
ILoveChipsEHS12 - Ennis High School , Texas: How manyyoung adult , that do marijuana, are African American?

Marsha Lopez: Hi, ILoveChipsEHS12, thanks for your question.  According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 9% of African Americans reported they had used marijuana in the month before the survey.  That corresponds to 2.8 million African Americans ages 12 and older. Regardless of someones race or ethnicity, though, drugs can ruin lives.  Read about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
christopher123 - Pomona Middle School, New York: are prescription drugs bad?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi christopher123,
Prescription drugs can be very bad when they are used in a way that was not intended by the prescribing doctor or by someone other than the person for whom it was intended. The specific health problems you can experience by abusing prescription drugs depends on the type of drug. Learn more about the dangers of prescription drug abuse by type of drug here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs
panther02 - North carroll middle, Maryland: why do most drugs come mostly from Mexico?

Steve Gust: I am not sure that is true.  Illegal drugs come from many sources, some in the US (marijuana, methamphetamine) and some outside the US (heroin, cocaine, ecstasy).
yayme32 - North carroll middle, Maryland: can some drugs that are considered bad be used for good like treatment in a hospital

Susan Weiss: Yes--there are a number of drugs that have medicinal effects when used properly but can be very dangerous when abused.  The best example is opioids (vicodin, oxycontin), which can be very helpful for treating pain, but can also be very dangerous when not used as prescribed--in fact the number of overdose deaths due to opioid abuse was about 12,000 in 2010.  
titan6 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how much percent % does drugs control your body

Joni Rutter: titan6, hey!  If you are high, it's 100%.  If you are addicted, drugs have basically taken away your free will.  I like having free will...how about you?
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How much money does the drug business make a year?

Marsha Lopez: Hi, aveson. It's hard to say how much the drug business is worth. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that global cocaine and opium markets (heroin) were worth more than $150 billion in the 2000s. And that's not even including the multi-billion dollar marijuana market in the United States. That's the long answer. The short one, is too much! There are lots of fun things spend your money on that don't hurt your body like drugs. To find out more about what drugs do to your body,  visit NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
officivl_tjc__ - Pomona Middle School, New York: Can diseases be inherited ?

Joni Rutter: Hey officivl_tjc_--great question!  I'm a geneticist and we've worked very hard to address your question.  
It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents.  For 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 Disease 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! 
 
Dr. Wilson ComptonDr. Wilson Compton is a psychiatrist, and is NIDA's Deputy Director. He loves to study the interactions between people and their environments that contribute to drug use. He has done a lot of research focusing on the epidemiology of drug abuse, HIV prevention and co-occurring mental and drug use disorders. Dr. Compton loves the beach, and likes to spend nearly every weekend at his house in Bethany Beach, Delaware. He enjoys playing games such as —bridge, scrabble, crosswords, and sudoku.
Dakota Lee - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: how will drugs affect you when you age. Will you adapt to them or will you still get the effects?

Steve Gust: Hi DLee - some drugs have different effects in the elderly, primarily because the metabolism, or how the drugs are broken down, changes.  Also, as a person uses more and more drugs, they can have less and less effect.  This is due to tolerance and occurs whether you are old or young, but rather is dependent on how much is used.  Overall though, experience with a drug will mean its effects are different.
Gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: It is illegal for passengers to bring alcohol into a car even though the driver is sober?

Aaron White: It's illegal for a passenger to have an open container of alcohol in all but 7 states -- Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, West Virginia, Virginia, Rhode Island and Delaware! More details about the laws can be found here http://alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/open_containers_of_alcohol_in_motor_vehicles.html
Dixie + Chester - North carroll middle, Maryland: What Drug is smuggled over the US boarder the most?

Marsha Lopez: Hi Dixie + Chester. Marijuana is the drug most smuggled into the United State, followed by cocaine and then methamphetamine. This makes sense, too, because marijuana is the most widely-used drug across all ages in the United States. 
Makers of MDMA (Ecstasy) ---also called Molly----can add anything they want to the drug, so you never know what you are really taking. Yuk!
Julie3 - Los Altos High School, California: What is worse, someone doing drugs, drinking alcohol, or smoking everyday?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Julie3,
Lots of people ask that question, but it's hard to answer. It's like asking 'what's the worst disease?' It partly depends on your opinion--they all have different effects!
lawrence high - Lawrence High School, Kansas: Is second-hand smoke from hookah/shisha harmful in any way?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey lawrence high--ROCK CHALK!  I'm from Kansas, too.  Now I'm a geneticist at NIDA.
 
Although some believe that hookah (water pipe) is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, it still delivers the addictive drug nicotine and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoking. In fact, research shows that hookah smokers may absorb even more of the toxins found in cigarette smoke because a 1-hour hookah session involves inhaling 100–200 times the volume of smoke from a single cigarette.  So, yes it is harmful! For example, NIDA researchers tested the blood and brains of smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke and found that both the active and passive smoker (the person not smoking but exposed to 2nd hand smoke) had almost the SAME levels of nicotine (one of the addictive chemicals in tobacco) in their brains and blood. So you don't even have to be the one smoking to experience the effects of smoking! Take care of yourself! Learn more about smoking and its effects at - http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: Where do people get illegal drugs?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi gem,
great name.  people get illegal drugs from a variety of places: the medicine chest (parent/grandparent prescription ), peers, from drug dealers, sometimes off the internet, doctors who sell prescriptions, so you see there are a lot of ways of getting drugs that can be used in inappropriate ways. No one can force you to take a drug though. 
Liz 
yffjc - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: does taking drugs actually help you in anyway

Joni Rutter: Hey yffjc.  Is this a trick question?  It's a good one.  There are drugs that can be good for you--they are the ones that your physician prescribes.  Your physician knows which drugs at what dose will help you with an illness or health condition.  They are usually safe for you when used properly!  But used improperly, they can become very dangerous.  You might take a peek at this Prescription Drugs Fact page for more info: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs.
drugz - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I have a friend who has type 4 breast cancer and she constantly smokes weed to "cure the pain" but i really think she uses for recreational use. Does marijuana actually help with the pain? or is is just an excuse to smoke and get high?

Susan Weiss: drugz--I'm so very sorry to hear about your friend.  It is possible that the marijuana is helping with her pain--we do know that it contains ingredients that can decrease pain.  But there are other drugs as well that can help, and I think its most important that she is getting proper care from her physician.  
Sexy beast - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Does having sex with someone who is high make u high?

Joni Rutter: You can't catch being high from having sex.  But you can catch sexually transmitted diseases or get pregnant.  
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Would the amount of people taking drugs decrease if their was less peer pressure?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Friendly person, I'm friendly too!
I would say yes ---but it is complicated because the reason any one person uses drugs is a combination of factors such as: family dynamics,  personality, how they react to stress, knowledge about drugs, etc. They might want to feel better, or do better in school and they mistakenly think it will help.  Certainly for youth who would not otherwise use drugs, peers can  play a huge role.  Also for kids who lack in self-confidence or the skills to say no to drug offers, peers can play a significant role in starting to use drugs.  If a friend wants you to try a drug are they really a friend? It might seem like everyone is doing it---especially when there are so many drugs on TV, movies and in popular music. But in fact, most kids don't use drugs---We actually have scientific surveys that show this. Maybe the non-users just don't talk about it as much as drug users do. 
ashleycasiano - Adamson High School, Texas: Why does the goverment even let drugs be legal including (alcohol) if we know its bad and causes half of the worlds death?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi ashleycasiano,
Great question. Drugs like tobacco and alcohol are legal for complex historical, social, and economic reasons--it doesn't have that much to do with how dangerous or safe they might be. Lots of adults like alcohol, in spite of its health risks, so they'd be unlikely to make it illegal. They tried in the 1920s but it didn't work for long. And even though most Americans no longer smoke tobacco, it's still a huge moneymaker for tobacco companies. Also, lots of Americans think it should be your right to smoke even if it hurts you. It's a complicated question--glad you're asking it!
Allen - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: What is the most commonly used drug?

Marsha Lopez: Hi there Allen, great question. Alcohol is the most used among all age groups (remember, it is an illegal drug for minors), but after that is marijuana and the non-medical use of prescription drugs.  This pattern shows up for most age groups. For example, over half of Americans 26-34 had used marijuana in their life, and almost one third had used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. For younger Americans, inhalants move up the ranks, with almost 11% of 8th graders reporting they've tried inhalants before, just behind alcohol (28%) and marijuana (16.5%). If you are a teen who might be addicted, or if know one with a substance abuse problem, here is some information on steps you can take:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem
VladimirPutin - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do any countries see drugs as a good think for econmic reasons? Does Russia?

Steve Gust: 
Hi Vladimir - you should know! haha
 
Actually, most countries do not see any economic benefits from drugs, but rather there are economic costs, mostly from the damage done to individuals lives, their productivity, their health, and from the law enforcement costs related to preventing drugs from coming into the country and being sold and distributed.
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is smelling markers while high make you more high?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey aveson.  Markers, paint, glue, etc, are inhalants.  Using inhalants is not a harmless way to get a buzz.  It is like sucking the oxygen right out of your brain and lungs.  All that for a high--or more of a high?  No way.  One of the little known long-term effects of inhalants is that they can break down myelin, the substance that protects your nerve cells, a lot of which are in your brain.  If that happens, it can cause muscle spasms, tremors, and even affect the ability to walk.  Remember, once you use drugs, it can be tough to reverse the damage.  
 
Visit the NIDA for teen website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.  
marshmallow - North carroll middle, Maryland: if I take molly a lot will I die

Roger Sorensen: 
Hey marshmallow.
You might. It's never a good idea to use drugs unless your doctor tells you to. People who use molly (MDMA, ecstacy) can become dehydrated through vigorous activity in a hot environment. It may not seem like a big deal, but when MDMA interferes with the body's ability to regulate its temperature, it can cause dangerous overheating, called hyperthermia. This, in turn, can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or, rarely, death. High levels of the drug in the blood stream can increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart's ability to maintain its normal rhythms. You don't want to prevent your heart from working like it should. You can read more about molly at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly.
 
Jose - Adamson High School, Texas: Why do drugs change a person's behavior?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Jose,
 
Drugs can change a person's behavior because when I person becomes intoxicated, their judgment is altered and they can do things they normally wouldn't do. This lapse in good judgment can have long term health effects especially if you contract an infectious disease during drug use. Best to stay drug-free, and in complete control! 
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What are "bath salts"

Roger Sorensen: 
Answer:
Bath salts are made from chemicals related to cathinone - an amphetamine-like stimulant found in the khat plant. They are called bath salts because they actually look like scented crystals some folks use in theirbath water. Don't be fooled - steer clear of these. They are bad news. Bath salts have been linked to a high number of visits to emergency departments and Poison Control Centers across the country. Reports showbath salts users have needed medical attention for heart problems (such as racing heart, high blood pressure, and chest pains) and symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks. Find out more about bath salts here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts
Swaggie torn - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What is kush

Joni Rutter: Hi Swaggie torn.  Kush is from Cannabis indica.  It's a strain of marijuana.  Learn more about marijuana and its effects at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
fernandf.19 - Pomona Middle School, New York: How can people get addicted to drugs like in one or two weeks?

Roger Sorensen: 
This is such an important question, and scientists have learned a great deal about the brain in seeking answers to it.
Broadly speaking--
The first step in becoming addicted to drugs is taking a drug, and the second step is continuing to take enough of it for long enough to undergo the drug-induced brain changes that make stopping very, very difficult. Whether a person passes through both of these steps depends on his or her genes (which confer personality traits and susceptibility to drug effects), and environment (the people and events that can influence one's decisions). Here's a good place to find more detail:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
We are nearing the end of the Chat. If you didn’t get an answer to your question, we will upload the transcript in a week or two and you can search for your question using your username or you school name. We are sorry we can’t answer all of your questions---not enough time! But you can also search for a topic like “marijuana”or “alcohol”and you can find other answers that interest you.
yoemen113 - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: Are over-the-counter medicines okay to take during pregnancy?

Steve Gust: Hi yoemen - some are and some are not.  Be sure to carefully read the label on the medications for information on whether or not it is safe for pregnant women.
iloveny210 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can cigarettes affect your eyesight?

Cindy Miner: 
Great question! Short answer: yes. Long answer - health consequences causally related to smoking include blindness, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. Check out the summary of the just released Surgeon General's report on tobacco for more information on these and other health consequences. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf
 
An imaginative, serious question will get you a star from the moderator!
SarahQ3 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: why do people still make drugs when they know the it is bad for the human body ?

Joni Rutter: Hey SarahQ3.  I don't know.  What I do know is that it's important that you know that no one can make you use drugs--you can choose to be healthy.  Stay cool, SarahQ3.
Nicotine addiction can be very powerful. 3 out of 4 teens who think they will stop smoking in a few years don’t!
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -If tobacco can kill you and marijuana can’t, why is tobacco legal and marijuana illegal?

Susan Weiss: they have different risks--marijuana can affect your ability to learn and remember, can affect your mental health, and like tobacco, it is addicting.  Also marijuana can kill--not directly, but indirectly through car accidents (especially when combined with alcohol).  
Arbor Day - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Why does media have shows about cooking meth and making moonshine?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hello, Arbor Day, great question! The root of the matter is that these shows exist because someone finds them fascinating, and because the companies that create and air the shows can make money off them.  Unfortunately people have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction, and many of these shows fail to acknowledge that substance abuse and addiction is a disease, and not just something interesting to watch on television. For more facts on how drugs can hurt your body, check out NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
OmarElNegro - Ennis High School , Texas: What are the affects of doing cocaine?

Joe Frascella: 
Hi Great question! Cocaine, like other stimulant drugs (meth, speed, etc.), alters the uptake of certain neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. In other words, it messes with your brain chemistry. In large enough doses, it can cause drug-induced psychosis -- hallucinations, delusions, and violent behavior.  So when you interfere with the normal brain processes, it can disrupt brain functions that result in changed behaviors.
 
Hope you will read more about cocaine and other stimulants at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
huntress - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is there certain drugs that effect you more than others?

Joni Rutter: Hey huntress, the way drugs affect a person depends on the drug, how it is taken and how it affects the chemicals in the brain. Everyone is vulnerable to the actions of drugs....everyone who is bitten by a snake will have some sort of an reaction--drugs are the same way.  
 
Why risk it?  Stay smart and get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain and body at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-shatter-myths
QuestionHumans are in their early to mid twenties before their brain is fully mature. This is why people get concerned when teens use drugs, because chemicals can affect the developing brain. The last part of the brain to mature is:
The correct answer is: The prefrontal cortex, or forebrain, is the thinking center of the brain. It powers our ability to plan, solve problems, control our actions, and make decisions. If it gets flooded with drugs, it could affect a teen’s cognitive abilities--the ability to think effectively, make good decisions, and do well in school. Learn more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
eechero - Adamson High School, Texas: Can dangerous drugs be modified to become less harmful? What are some effects that vicodin can have on a person? Where do most of the illegal drugs in the United States come from? Could there ever be anyone immune to the effects of harmful drugs?

Steve Gust: Hi eechero - thanks for your questions.  Let me try to answer some of them at least.  Your question about modifying drugs to make them less harmful is an excellent question. There has been a lot of research effort to try to develop pain medications, for example, that are less addictive.  Some progress has been made but we have a long way to go.  Vicodin is an opiate drug that reduces pain but is also addictive for some.  If taken in high doses it can cause euphoria, disorientation, and such things as respiratory depression.  Illegal drugs come from many sources, some in the US (marijuana, methamphetamine) and some outside the US (heroin, cocaine, ecstasy).  Your last question is a very good one.  It is true that there are large differences between people in their responses to drugs.  Some people are a lot more susceptible to the euphoric effects and so are much more susceptible to becoming addicted.  However, since all drugs of abuse affect the most basic parts of our brain having to do with reinforcement and reward, it is doubtful that there would ever be total immunity to their effects.
kyliej - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: Why isn't Meth illegal if it does so much damage to you?

Jack Stein: Hi! Methamphetamine use is illegal unless it is prescribed by a physician for use to treat specific ailments. 
2089536 - Adamson High School, Texas: Why are drugs legal (not all drugs) if people use them and they frequently get injured, go nuts, and/or even death can happen to them?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi 2089536,
Great question! And a hard one to answer. Some drugs, such as prescription drugs, have lots of benefits when they are used properly, so no one would want to make them illegal. Alcohol is a legal drug that has lots of harms and dangers, but the fact is people (adults) like it too much to make it illegal. And tobacco, even though it causes terrible health problems, is a big moneymaker for some big companies. Whether a drug is legal or not doesn't necessarily depend on how dangerous it is!
I'm glad you're thinking about this! 
spongebob - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can drugs lower your focus in school

Lis Robertson: 
Hey Spongebob,
Absolutely!!!! Good question.  Drugs affect the brain and central nervous system.  During the teen years and up to about age 25 the brain in a very rapid period of development.  Doing anything that hinders the maximum development of the brain is harmful to cognitive functioning. Recent research suggests that marijuana, for example, can actually lower your IQ if you start using as a teen. Below are some links that give you more specific information.
 
There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: If you are exposed to drugs for 24 hours is it the same as taking them?

Joni Rutter: Do you mean second-hand exposure, CFPC?  If so, it can certainly have similar effects as taking the drugs.  For example, NIDA researchers tested the blood and brains of smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke and found that both the active and passive smoker (the person not smoking but exposed to 2nd hand smoke) had almost the SAME levels of Nicotine' target='_blank' >nicotine (one of the addictive chemicals in Tobacco' target='_blank' >tobacco) in their brains and blood. So you don't even have to be the one smoking to experience the effects of smoking! Take care of yourself! Learn more about smoking and its effects at - http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/
Janet LintonJanet Linton, is one of our moderators today reviewing the questions you send in. She is an an IT Specialist with NIDA's web team and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animation. In her job, she provides web support, manages NIDA's Facebook accounts, and maintains the National Drug Facts Week site. With two teens of her own, she understands questions many teens have and the importance of being informed about the risks and consequences of drug use.
Mark FlemingMark Fleming joined NIDA in December 2000 as its Webmaster. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology from Miami University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in visual communications from Ohio University. He has worked for NIDA for the past 28 years and built all of its Websites from the ground up! As the father and stepfather to 4 kids in their teens and early twenties, he understands the importance of knowledge about drug and alcohol use to make informed decisions and to help understand the risks involved. His role in CHAT DAY is to help screen questions going to the moderators to remove redundant or inappropriate questions---in other words, he is a 'first responder' for your CHAT DAY questions!
SarahQ3 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: WHAT IS LSD?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Sarah,
LSD stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. This is a commonly used hallucinogen that causes sleeplessness, trembling, and raised heart rate and blood pressure. People who use LSD can also experience a variety of emotions simultaneously which can be quite frightening. You can learn more about the dangers of LSD use here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/curricula-and-lesson-plans/mind-over-matter/hallucinogens/lsd-most-commonly-used
Gaya DowlingPlease welcome your CHAT DAY moderator---Dr. Gaya Dowling. Dr. Dowling headed up the Science Policy office at NIDA until last month, when she left to go work at the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH. She will bring her knowledge of drug abuse to scientists studying heart, lung, and blood diseases. She wanted to come back and help moderate the CHAT this year, a job she has done for 5 years, because it was always the most fun part of her job at NIDA! 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 six year old girl and an eight-year old boy.
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: Are students starting to get more creative with things they ingest?

Susan Weiss: i don't know if students are getting more creative--but drug makers are.  they are coming up with new and dangerous chemicals (like bath salts and spice) to make money, without concern about the consequences.
Dr. Jack SteinDr. 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.
Katniss - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: what is more bad for your health? Marijuana or cigarettes?

Jack Stein: Both are drugs that have negative health effects on the brain and body. There's lots more research on the health effects of cigarettes so its difficult to compare which is worse. Good news is cigarette smoking is down among kids. Bad news is marijuana use on the rise.
elijah.a - Lathrop High School, Alaska: If a mother or father was addicted to drugs and then had a child, would it affect the child? Would the child have medical problems, or even be addicted to the drug?

Steve Gust: Hi elijah - it depends on the drug, how long it was taken, and when in the pregnancy.  It is very possible that taking a drug during pregnancy can have serious effects on the developing fetus - and, thus, the child.  There is more information available at http://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/prenatal.pdf.
DRPROFESSORPAT - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Why is it hard for teenagers to stop using drugs but everyone around them is on drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi DrProfessorPat: thanks for asking. It can be very hard for teens--or anyone--to stop abusing drugs mainly because as time passes and drug use continues, the drugs change how your brain functions. They impair your ability to think clearly, to feel OK without drugs, and to control your behaviors. It's important to know that help is available and addiction is treatable (although it is chronic). 
RyanMiles3 - Pomona Middle School, New York: what makes people addicted to drugs

Albert Avila: Hi Ryan---this is a question scientists have been studying for years. Drugs make the chemical dopamine fire in the brain---producing a good feeling. But in some people, they can hijack the brain, making you want more and more of the drug. Addiction is a disease of the brain---it's that simple and that complicated.  No single factor determines whether a person will become addicted. The overall risk depends on the biological makeup of the person- it can even be influenced by gender or ethnicity, your age and developmental stage, and the surrounding social environment (e.g., conditions at home, at school, and in the neighborhood). If your parents are addicted, you are at higher risk. If you hang out with addicts, you are at higher risk. We don't yet have a test to tell in advance if you will become addicted---so the only sure proof thing is to not take the risk at all and stay away from drugs. It is important to keep you brain clear and free to do all the great things you ant to accomplish in life. Check this out:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is taking a common substance (i.e. Snorting salt smoking pine leaves or mixing hand soap into a pill) Illegal? And why?

Susan Weiss: why would you want to do that?
Mackbball22 - North carroll middle, Maryland: What country has smuggled the most drugs into the United States?

Marsha Lopez: Hey Mackbball22. Most experts would say that the largest amount of drugs that come to the United States come from Mexico, but that can be deceiving. The fact is that different kinds of drugs enter the United States in different ways, and not always in the most direct way. For example, most of the cocaine in the United States comes from the Andean Region of South America (think Colombia, Peru, Venezuela). But to get here, that cocaine can go through Central America and Mexico by land, it can go through the Caribbean by way of sea and air, or it can be smuggled in using boats and submarines in the Pacific Ocean. Methamphetamine from Mexico can cross the border in just as many ways--land, air and sea--and in some cases smugglers build tunnels under the border. So while much of the illicit drug trade goes through Mexico, that doesn't necessarily mean the drugs originate there (though some do--like much of the marijuana in the United States). 
RyanMiles3 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do drugs make you feel the way you do

Susan Weiss: While there are differences between drugs, nearly all increase the brain chemical dopamine in the reward system.  That's what makes drug users feel good and makes them want to repeat the experience. Normally this system is involved in reward that are necessary for survival, such as eating.  Drugs can be more powerful than natural rewards, also making them more dangerous.
kenziecheer828 - North carroll middle, Maryland: where in the untited states is drugs most popular ?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi kenziecheer828, thanks for your question!  Unfortunately drugs are used in all states, but different areas of the country and different age groups tend to have different patterns of drug use. But you can check out these cool maps from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showing overall drug use, marijuana use, perception of harm and more. For example states with the highest percentage of drug use among teenagers include DC, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Maryland, where you're writing from, falls in the second to lowest group. 
 
Regardless of where you live, you can always find help for someone who is struggling with a drug problem. Go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17, by State: Percentages, Annual Averages Based on 2010 and 2011 NSDUHs
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
More than 49,000 non-smokers in the U.S. die every year from heart disease and lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.
wj - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: whats opioids?

Steve Gust: Opioids are a class of drugs that react with a particular type of receptor in the brain.  There are many of them and some are legal and some are illegal.  They can be very addictive though and can also cause overdose and death if taken in sufficient quantities. Check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/opioids-and-pain-relievers for more information.
We are nearing the end of the Chat. If you didn’t get an answer to your question, we will upload the transcript in a week or two and you can search for your question using your username or you school name. We are sorry we can’t answer all of your questions---not enough time! But you can also search for a topic like “marijuana”or “alcohol”and you can find other answers that interest you.
JASONSS - Pomona Middle School, New York: If you have used alcohol or drugs longer than 10 years how will that have affected your immune system and appearance.

Roger Sorensen: I like this question, Jasonss. Bravo. We need scientists to do more research so that we can understand what alcohol and drugs do to the immune system. We do know that alcohol and many drugs of abuse suppress the immune response. This makes you more susceptible to fighting infections and getting sick. The actions of drugs on the immune system may also contribute to people becoming addicted to alcohol and drugs. And for something really yukky, people who abuse methamphetamine may develop Meth mouth”. This is when Meth users'teeth become broken, stained, and rotten because they may drink lots of sweet things, grind their teeth, and have dry mouths. Drugs can also make you look much older than you really are. How come some people choose not to look their best?
Dave-C - Holland Middle School, Pennsylvania: Do you feel that it is more dangerous to... Drive buzzed/Drive wile texting/or drive high? I know that they are all bad, but as a SADD member trying to impact teen students, which is the worst?

Susan Weiss: sorry--i don't know how to rank those--you're right--they are all dangerous and cause accidents.  One other point to make is that combining alcohol and marijuana is worse than either one alone.  In general, alcohol is the most common substance found in drivers who are in accidents, but that's probably because it's most commonly used, and texting may be more difficult to identify as a cause.
gabriela10 - Adamson High School, Texas: What are the health consequences of marijuana?

Jack Stein: Marijuana smoke is an irritant to the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, and a heightened risk of lung infections. One study found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than those who don’t smoke marijuana, mainly because of respiratory illnesses. It is not yet known whether marijuana smoking contributes to risk for lung cancer.
stashjian - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is LSD?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey stashjian.  
I don't think its really useful to rank drugs...it's kind of like ranking grapes, pears and oranges...how do you do that?  
 
LSD is a powerful hallucinogenic drug.  It can cause major and rapid mood swings and hallucinations. LSD also can affect the way you experience your surroundings.  Users sometimes report seeing color, smelling smells, hear sounds, and other sensations seem highly intensified or sometimes even crossed (like seeing sound/hearing color...isn't that weird).  LSD has been reported to cause frightening flashbacks that persist a few days after drug use, even up to a year afterwards.  Definitely not something you'd want to deal with!
 
Keep on asking us those great questions! And learn more about the effects of hallucinogens at: pcphttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
yffjc - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are the side affects to drugs? What do they feel?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi YFFJC,
 
There are all sorts of drugs and all sorts of effects on your health. Too many to describe here.  Here is a site with lot's of information that should answer your question.
 
http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
 
Dave 
NEEDFOSPEEEEEED - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What is Speed?

Jack Stein: Speed is a generic 'street' term for amphetamines which are stimulants. Methamphetamine is one form of speed.
WHITEBOY101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: what is the percentage of drug suicide from teenagers a year

Denny Pintello: 
WHITEBOY101: Thanks for your question - unfortunately your question is not that easy to answer.
Based on NIH studies, we have found that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people (6.9 per 100,000 for teens ages 15-19). Your question about suicides from drugs gets complicated because there are many accidental overdoses. While teens are not among the biggest drug users or age group for accidental overdosing, about 150,000 accidental drug overdoses occur each year among teens ages 13 to 24, according to recent teen drug overdose statistics.
 
So ...the bottom line is that too many teens attempt suicide. For more info: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml. 
angie33 - Pomona Middle School, New York: who invented drugs?

Joni Rutter: Nature?  I don't know.  What do you think the answer is?
kenziecheer828 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how long wold it take to recover if you were high?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey kenzie,
This is really a chemistry and physiology question.  The body breaks down drugs that you take.  Some drugs take a long time to break down, and their effects can last longer.  Further, drugs in your body get 'cleared' at various rates, where the drugs get removed from your body via various routes (mostly urination).  That has an impact of the duration of the drug effect also.  It also depends on how much of the drug is taken.   
 
So bottom line, it varies, but it can be anywhere from minutes to days.  
Dave 
BirthdaYCakE - Pomona Middle School, New York: is it possible to get high from inhalants?

Steve Gust: 
Hi BCake - absolutely!!  There are many different types of inhalants and one thing they have in common is that they can cut off the oxygen to your brain and make you lightheaded, or high.  Many of them are also very damaging to the brain and other body organs.  In general, inhalants are extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs! Please do not consider ever getting high like this.  Please check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants for more information.
 
 
#FreeBieber - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is snorting cocaine better than injecting it

Ruben Baler: 
FreeBieber,
There is no safe way to use cocaine. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can make some people feel energized, but it can also increase heart rate and blood pressure to dangerously high levels. You can learn more about cocaine here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
SANDMAN-HTTR1 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what's the most deadly chemical in cocaine

Joni Rutter: hey, Sandman-HTTR1.  is this a trick question?  I'm gonna say, cocaine!  Read up on the effects of cocaine on the brain and body at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
kerstin - Ephraim Curtis Middle School, Massachusetts: Are teenagers more likely to do drugs than adults?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, Kerstin, thanks for your question!  According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are more than two times as many 18-25 year olds using drugs than 12-17 year olds (21% vs. 9.5%). So I would definitely say young adults are more likely to do drugs. While that's not good at all, it is better than the other way around because science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs the more likely s/he is to get addicted and suffer major social and medical problems. 
 
To learn more about the health effects of drugs, visit NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
maryd@aslacadem - Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, New Mexico: Can the effects of drugs, like feeling dizzy or sick to your stomach, last even after you stop doing drugs?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for your thoughtful question.  Most drugs have both short- and long-term harmful effects, although dizziness and nausea are often short-term. However, if the drug has some damaging effects to certain brain areas, long-term dizziness can result. 
 
You might want to check specific drugs in our teen Drug Facts section:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/ 
yoemen6996 - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: I have been doing mollys for quite some time now, i heard they make you perspire rapidly. Is this true?

Steve Gust: Hi - one of the effects of mollys is overheating.  This can lead to dehydration and perspiring, especially if a person is in a hot environment and is active (such as a dance rave).  
Dave-C - Holland Middle School, Pennsylvania: Is there a breathalyzer that police can use to test drivers for pot;in order to get them off the road immediately?

Susan Weiss: Not yet--although scientists are working feverishly to develop one.  In the meantime, you can use blood or even saliva to test for recent marijuana use--but unfortunately that's not as immediate as we would like.
Blacktarharoin - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is weed bad for you

Joe Frascella: 
Good question! The short answer -- yes, weed can be bad for you as it most definitely affects your brain and your behavior. Studies have shown a connection between regular marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness. Marijuana’s impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the other side effects wear off. Did you know that if you use marijuana as a teen, your IQ level could actually drop as an adult? See our marijuana fact sheet: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana and our book for teens:
 
kyliej - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: Susan Weiss,What do you mean by "snorted"?

Jack Stein: Snorting is a term that refers to inhaling a substance thru the nose (intra-nasally)
Fringe - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: So, I know that drugs affect teens more, as their brains are still in development, but why exactly is it easier to get addicted to a substance the younger a person is? Is it because of social influences, as kids are more susceptible to peer pressure and things of the sort? Is it because they are still growing, and dopamine is more potent to a teen than an adult? Or, is it because alterations to your brains caused by drugs make you more dependent if the brain is still growing?

Joni Rutter: 
Fringe!  You are awesome and get the star for most thoughtful question of the day!  Please think about a career in science.  You got most of the answer right, but I'll just add that the problem with teen brains is that areas of a teenager's brain that control impulsive behavior are not fully formed, while brain circuits that reinforce drug use are already in high gear. We still have a lot to learn about the why, but we are making headway.  Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain at: 
QuestionRepeated drug abuse can change the brain and “hijack” the brain’s reward system. This means:
The correct answer is: All drugs of abuseaffect the brain’s “reward” circuit, which is part of the limbic system. Normally, the reward circuit responds to pleasurable experiences by releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine, which creates feelings of pleasure. Drugs hijack this system, causing unusually large amounts of dopamine to flood the system. If a person is addicted to drugs, and stops using them, it may take many months or even longer for the brain to return to normal. Learn more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
roei.yanku - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what are the most common methods to stop an addiction of drugs?

Steve Gust: Hi yanku - there are two main types of treatment programs for addiction.  One involves putting someone in a hospital or treatment program where they can be treated with medications and behavioral counseling.  The other is done on what is called an out-patient program, where a person goes to a doctor every few days to few weeks for counseling sessions.  These may or may not involve medications too.  Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide for more information.
maryd@aslacadem - Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, New Mexico: If you smoke a lot of marijuana what happens to your body?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Mary,
That is a good question and we are trying to figure that out.  We know it can change your brain activity, lower IQ and impair memory  However, the exact extent is not completely clear, and its also not clear whether you can recover if you quit. There is a lot of research that needs to be done on the impact of marijuana on the body, especially with marijuana becoming more and more accepted in our country.
 
For more information see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana 
 
Dave 
Inhalants prevent the necessary oxygen from reaching the brain, which can damage brain cells.
Kim Jong Un - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: IS marijuana more addicting than cigarettes?

Susan Weiss: probably not--about 30% of people who use cigarettes become addicted;9% of marijuana users (although its about 17% if you start as a teen).
xxzuldulv567xx - North carroll middle, Maryland: what is the most recent drug to be exposed to the public???

Eric Wargo: 
Hey xxzuldulv567xx,
Wow, that's a good question. It seems like every week we read about a new drug craze. I'll tell you the most scary one lately--Krokodil is a really nasty homemade opioid made from household chemicals that causes your skin to rot where it is injected. No joke. It has been used by poor people in Russia as a cheap substitute for other opioids, but they usually wind up losing limbs as a result;now there have been a few reports of Krokodil in the U.S. Yuck! 
But next week it will be something different...
pancho - Ennis High School , Texas: what is croc or crocodile?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Pancho, thanks for asking about this. “Krokodil”is a dangerous drug that has recently started appearing in parts of the United States. It's a synthetic form of a heroin-like drug called desomorphine that is made by combining codeine tablets with various toxic chemicals including lighter fluid and industrial cleaners. Desomorphine has a similar effect to heroin in the brain, although it is more powerful and has a shorter duration. Krokodil gets its name from the scaly, gray-green dead skin that forms at the site of an injection. The flesh destroyed by krokodil turns to gangrene, and sometimes limb amputation is needed to save life.
WHITEBOY101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: does it make a differance to take drugs when your very old vs when your only a teenager?

Joe Frascella: 
Great question whiteboy101!  Most research shows that the earlier one starts taking drugs, the more likely one is to become addicted. Also, given the brain is still developing well into one's 20's, drugs at an early age can have significant effects on brain development and on one's behavior.  This is a terrific question.
 
If you would like to learn more about drug effects on the brain, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
CallMeCAT - Pomona Middle School, New York: If your drugged and you agree to sex but when your not high anymore you realize the guy is a stranger does it count as rape?

Cora Lee Wetherington: 
Hi CallMeCat, you have identified a really important consequence of using using drugs -- it can lead to impaired judgment such that people do things that they'd never think about doing when not high, such as agreeing to have sex with a stranger. So, after something like this happens, the first step is to go to a medical doctor or clinic if there was no protection used, as risky sex carries the danger of STDs and pregnancy. If the person is having negative thoughts and emotions as a result of this incident - regardless of whether it can legally be defined as rape - he/she should talk to a trusted adult (whether a parent, teacher, guidance counselor). If the thoughts or feelings persist or are extremely negative, professional help can be found 24/7 by calling 1-800-662-HELP -- to talk about those things as well as drug treatment.  Also, they could go to to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.  
pat153 - Pomona Middle School, New York: is inhaling baby powder bad for you????

Ruben Baler: Um. Why would you do this? The sneezing would be awful.
xJell0 - Pomona Middle School, New York: What can someone do to stop doing drugs?

Steve Gust: Quitting drugs can be very difficult, but often is not.  It may be that a person is not addicted but finds the drugs pleasurable and doesn't want to quit.  If a person does want to stop there are many ways to get the help you might need, including talking to a doctor or counselor.  You can also talk to someone by calling 1-800-662-HELP 24/7.  There is also some information available on NIDA's website that might be helpful.  Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide.
kyliej - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: Why is marijuana illegal?

Susan Weiss: because it can be harmful--especially for young people.  more and more research is showing that if you use marijuana regularly and start when you're young, you have an increased risk of addiction, of lowering your educational achievement (and IQ), and you may be altering how your brain develops.
mary1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: why do teenagers think its cool to smoke crack?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Mary1
I think i would rewrite your question to say  'why do very small percentage of teenagers think its cool to smoke crack?' this of course varies by location and where you are may be higher than national averages. But in reality, very few teens smoke crack---and it your crowd is doing it you should definitely find a new group of friends.  I am attaching the Monitoring the Future Survey link.  This gives you statistics by age and specific drug as well as lots of other information.  You might think about conducting a similar survey in your school.  That would help you to see what is actually going on around you and get your school  mobilized to do something about it.  Good luck with this. You can ask your teacher to help you read this survey. http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/
Best
Liz 
bmorse - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: do drugs make the user have more of a sex drive?!?

Dave Thomas: 
Not really.  But drugs of abuse do typically impair a person in many ways.  For more information on drugs see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
Dave 
Aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: If you have a kid and take drugs what affect can that have on the child?

Cora Lee Wetherington: 

Hey Aveson. That's a really good question - I wish the answer were simple but it isn't. I am assuming that you are asking about using drugs when pregnant. So, yes, it can have a bad effect, but whether it does depends upon many factors such as - what was the drug (cocaine, tobacco, alcohol, etc)? How often and how much was used? During what stage in pregnancy was it used? We also know if a pregnant women is using drugs, the sooner she stops, the less likely her child is to be affected. And we know that there is treatment for women who are using drugs while pregnant. We also know that a good, loving, caring, nurturing home environment can reduce bad outcomes in the child. If you'd like to read more about drug use while pregnant, go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby
barackobama - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: If you snort weed? Whats its affect?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey barack, snorting weed is probably not a good idea, as it would be an irritant to your sinuses.  It is not water soluble, so it is unlikely that it would have any psychoactive effects.
 
You should check out some more information about marijuana at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
dancerncms - North carroll middle, Maryland: What way do most people start drinking or smoking?

Lis Robertson: 
Hey dancerncms
this is a great question.  Most people first gain access to alcohol and nicotine as teens when friends introduce them to these substances in unsupervised free time or at parties.  Sometimes it is older siblings who are using these substances and sometimes parents are really lax about keeping these things away from their children.  Early experimentation with drugs is generally slow at first and then picks up over time.  For example cigarettes usually taste really yucky the first few times, then you get used to it, then you get to actually like it.  Over time it becomes more of a habit and then an addiction.  Then you regret trying  it in the first place.
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: Why do teens mix cough medicine and sprite?

Susan Weiss: probably for taste
Kellers Class - Ennis High School , Texas: Why shouldn't i do drugs everyone else is!

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Kellers Class
It may seem to you that everyone is using drugs but in actuality it is a relatively small proportion of youth who use illegal drugs and inappropriate use of prescription drugs.  More youth drink alcohol and smoke nicotine products that they usually get from older kids,  or  from unguarded supplies at home.  I am attaching information on how to connect to the Monitoring the Future Survey.  This will give you a lot more information, by age, geographic local (rural, urban) and drug.  I hope this helps you to see that not everyone is using drugs, although I wish it was lower.  Perhaps you could do a survey in your school as a project.  You could find out what is actually happening at your school and compare it to the MTF figure.  Ask your teacher to help you read the MTF site...http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/Good luck
Liz 
jetiiiii - North carroll middle, Maryland: what is opium

Ivan Montoya: Hi jetiiii.... opium is a product extracted from a plant that grows in Asia and South America. Opium contains approximately 12% morphine, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin, which is a highly addictive drug. Thank you for the question. 
YouthSource - YouthSource Renton, Washington: Do teens start using drugs more in early, middle, or late teen years?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey, YouthSource, great question! Thankfully most teens don't start using drugs at all, but if they do the percentage of teens starting to use drugs increases as they get older.  For example, among those who hadn't used before, nearly 12% of 16-17 year olds started using drugs in 2012, compared to 3% of 12-13 year olds. Science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs the more likely s/he is to get addicted and suffer major social and medical problems, so while we don't want any teens to start using drugs, it's more harmful if they do when they're younger. To learn more about the health effects of drugs, visit NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact 
nicoboy78 - Pomona Middle School, New York: what do mushrooms do

Dave Thomas: 
Hello Nicoboy,
Mushrooms that are abused cause hallucinations.  They are kind of like LSD.  Here is some more information of hallucinogens.  Hope this helps:
 
 
Dave 
 
 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What can heroin do to your body?

Roger Sorensen: 
Welcome to Chat Day, CFPC.
Heroin is one of many chemicals that are known as opioids. Heroin is made from morphine, a compound taken from the poppy plant. Opioids have a medical use in treating pain. Unfortunately, it was found that the use of heroin has bad effects on the body. At first, heroin produces a rush of good feelings and clouded thinking. For the first several hours after taking heroin, people want to sleep, and their heart rate and breathing slow down. However, when the drug wears off, people may feel a strong urge to take more. If you take more, your heart rate and breathing further slow down. You could go into a coma or die. For more information, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/heroin
 
 
 
Marijuana’s impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the other side effects wear off.
Lawrence High - Lawrence High School, Kansas: How are all the senses affected by second-hand tobacco smoke, not just the sense of smell?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hello, Kansas.
You are making me think about this question. Good for you. Tobacco smoke has over 4000 chemicals. These chemicals can get in your nose and bind to odorant receptors. This is why you 'smell' tobacco smoke. These chemicals can enter your mouth and block your taste buds, which are also receptors. This changes your ability to properly taste things. Your eyes water and your throat becomes sore because they become irritated from the chemicals in smoke. All this occurs whether you are smoking the tobacco, or being affected by second-hand smoke. Personally, I hate smoke and avoid people who smoke whenever I can.
c322d - La Sierra Military Academy, California: what does cocaine do to your brain cells?

Joni Rutter: 
c322d...good question!  There has been a lot of research on this very question and my answer will not begin to cover it all.  I'll rely on your curiosity to read more and find out for yourself.  Cocaine works in the brain by tapping into the brain's communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. This similarity in structure 'fools' receptors and allows the drugs to lock onto and activate the nerve cells. Although these drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don't activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network. Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain at:
AnnmarieS. - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta5: What % of Americans take drugs?

Marsha Lopez: Hey Sparta5.  Thanks for your question. According to the 2012 National Survey on drug use and health nearly 24 million Americans ages 12 and older were current (past month) drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. This number represents 9%  of the population in that age range!  
unc - North carroll middle, Maryland: is heroin legal in any state

Susan Weiss: No--although it is legal in some other countries as a treatment for very severe pain.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: who should i talk to for guidance?

Will Aklin: 
Dear Lalala,
 
Thanks for your follow-up message.
 
To find a substance abuse treatment professional, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, for five questions to ask when searching for a treatment program, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment.
 
Best wishes,

Will 
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: What are shrooms?

Susan Weiss: shrooms are psilocybin--a hallucinogen that can produce different effects in different people.  Some people find them very anxiety provoking while others have experiences they enjoy.
Bob the Builder - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do schools teach students about drugs and how addictive they are if most of them don't even know about drugs?

Lis Robertson: 
Hi Bob the Builder -- I love your name -- fabulous!
This is also a really, really good question.  Thank you for asking it.   Drug education is one specific tool that families, schools, and communities use to prevent drug use.  However, we know through prevention research that drug education alone is not effective and can actually have what we call iatrogenic effects -- this means unintended negative effects. The most effect prevention efforts include skills training such as social skills, academic skills, communication, coping skills etc., interaction with others (discussion, role play) and active practice of skills learned.  When people of any age are activity involved in what they are learning about they are more likely to internalize it.  I hope this helps you.Tell the teachers at your school to look at this link to give them some drug teaching tools---you could be a big help to your school! http://www.drugabuse.gov/parents-educators
Liz 
blackmamba97 - Adamson High School, Texas: Why do people still do drugs? Even when they know its bad for them.

Will Aklin: 
blackmamba97--Thank you for your question. Many people use drugs despite knowing the negative consequences often times to fill a void, deal with stress, cope with depression or anxiety.  As you might imagine drugs do the exact opposite, in fact, they make stressful situations even worse, intensify feelings of anxiety and depression, and overall outlook on life. The best way to help people kick the habit is to help them develop healthy strategies and alternative behaviors to deal with stress, depression, and anxiety that do not involve using drug. And for some people they want to stop, but because they are addicted, they need treatment to do so.
 
Check out this new website for more info on the effects of drugs: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/index.htm 
 
 
WALL-E - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: My dad did tobacco but hes stopped for about a month. how can i make sure he doesn't get back on it?

Cindy Miner: 
Hi New Mexico! First of all, it's great that you are thinking about how to support your Dad. The website smokefree.gov has all sorts of resources for your Dad (like what to do if he is having cravings to smoke). And there's also a page for people like yourself who want to support their family members and/or friends who have quit or are trying to quit.  It has great suggestions, check it out: http://smokefree.gov/social-support
We are nearing the end of the Chat. If you didn’t get an answer to your question, we will upload the transcript in a week or two and you can search for your question using your username or you school name. We are sorry we can’t answer all of your questions---not enough time! But you can also search for a topic like “marijuana”or “alcohol”and you can find other answers that interest you.
kenziecheer828 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what's one of the worst drugs out there ?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey kenzicheer828! Good question--and one of our most common.  They answer is that they are all bad--if someone is addicted to a drug, that drug is the worst one for them.  But more generally, tobacco has the reputation for being a very bad drug.  It's highly addictive and it is the cause of 1 out of every 5 deaths in the US.
Check out the NIDA for teens website on the different kinds of drugs and their affects on the body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
 
Keep up the good work at North Carroll Middle School. 
Ruthless Gravy - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: My cousin sells mollies, he says they are like candy but I have never seen them. What are mollies?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey Ruthless Gravy,
I've never heard of mollies that taste like candy. 'Molly' is a term for supposedly pure powdered form of MDMA (same thing as ecstasy) that usually comes in capsules--although in fact it is often contaminated with other drugs like bath salts. It definitely isn't like candy! And it's definitely bad news. If that's what he's selling try to persuade your cousin that he should get a better line of work!   
#blackgirl - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: does weed kill you? like cigaretts have nicotine and depending on your genes and your use to some it reacts faster and slower but it dameges your lungs and gives you cancer but does weed get you addicted or give you cancer?

Joni Rutter: #blackgirl - hey.  
Marijuana can have harmful effects on the brain and lungs, but we don't know if it causes cancer like smoking cigarettes.  Here's what we do know about marijuana:
  • Many of the carcinogens and co-carcinogens present in tobacco smoke are also present in smoke from marijuana.
  • Marijuana smoking does cause inflammation and cell damage, and it has been associated with pre-cancerous changes in lung tissue.
  • Marijuana has been shown to cause immune system dysfunction, possibly predisposing individuals to cancer
Bottom line: Though marijuana most likely pales in cancer risk when compared to cigarette smoking, it's better to play it safe. Also, did you know that marijuana use is linked to a severe drop in IQ?? Yep, exposure to cannabinoids (the class of chemicals in marijuana) during adolescent development can cause long-lasting changes in the brain's reward system, and critical brain regions involved in learning and memory. You can read about cannabis use in adolescents and lowered IQ in this NIDA Notes article: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/08/early-onset-regular-cannabis-use-linked-to-iq-decline.
 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

Susan Weiss: Not exactly sure which drugs you are considering soft vs. hard.  Some drugs are definitely more addictive than others (e.g., methamphetamine) and  people can be more sensitive to some drugs than others because of their genetics.  Alcohol and tobacco are among the most damaging--because they are so widely used--are they hard or soft?
Mr bendover - Adamson High School, Texas: What is the percentage of teen drug users in the united startes

Marsha Lopez: Hi there Mr. B. Thanks for the question. According to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17.9 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 had used illicit drugs in the past year in 2012. What's more, 24.2 percent reported lifetime use of an illicit drug.  If you know anyone who might need substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
maryd@aslacadem - Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, New Mexico: Can Drugs kill you?

Jack Stein: some can...and do. Either directly (like overdosing from heroin) or indirectly (like driving while drunk or stoned). Worth the risk??
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. Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol and drugs can affect this development, and contribute to a wide range of problems.
h walk - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: how many teen do drugs

Marsha Lopez: Hi there h walk. Thank you for your question. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17.9 percent of Americans aged 12 to 17 had used illicit drugs in the past year in 2012. What's more, 24.2 percent reported lifetime use of an illicit drug.  If you know anyone who might need substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
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.
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!
Shuly BabitzShuly 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. Aaron WhiteDr. Aaron White is now here to answer your questions about alcohol. Aaron is a psychologist with our sister Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. His expertise is in how alcohol affects the brain. He knows a lot about how the brain changes during the teenage years and how alcohol and other drugs affect the teen brain. He is very interested in something called 'alcohol blackouts,'where people, including teenagers, who drink too much can't remember what they did while they were drinking. His favorite things about his job are that he gets to be on the cutting edge of science, help teenagers make healthy choices about alcohol and, hopefully, keep their brains safe.
Dr. Cora Lee WetheringtonDr. Cora Lee Wetherington is the coordinator for NIDA's women and sex and gender differences program which fosters research in this area across all aspects of drug abuse, including vulnerability to drug abuse, effects of exposure to drugs during lifespan development, treatment, pregnancy issues and other issues unique to females. She is a native North Carolinian and prior to joining NIDA, Dr. Wetherington was a professor in the psychology department at UNC-Charlotte for 11 years. She has two adorable beagles, Bodie and Abbie.
luffy101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: why do teen use drugs

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi luffy101--this is a great question and is asked a lot. Teens use drugs for a variety of reasons: some do it because they think it's cool (NOT the case), others think it will solve a problem or make them feel better. Some are just curious. There is no good reason to abuse drugs. All of them have negative health effects. See here for more.
SarahQ3 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: what is LSD

Ivan Montoya: LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide) 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 causes its effects mainly by activating one type of receptor for serotonin. Because serotonin has a role in many important functions, LSD use can have many effects. These may include sleeplessness, trembling, and raised heart rate and blood pressure. And LSD has an unusual “echo”: many users have flashbacks—sudden repetitions of their LSD experiences—days or months after they stop using the drug. As you can see, it's really a bad idea to use this drug. 
Dr. Susan R.B. WeissDr. 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 adviser 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.
kyliej - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: what is cocaine?

Susan Weiss: cocaine is a stimulant drug that can be snorted, smoked or injected.  It can be very addictive.
PRPL3DRANCK - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is cocaine also bad for your nose?

Ivan Montoya: Hi PRP...  Oh yes.... Cocaine use can produce severe irritation of the nose. That why some people who snort cocaine have chronic nose bleeds. The regular use of cocaine and the chronic irritation of the nose can damage the nose tissue that covers the bone and eventually damage the bone and open a hole. This is called a perforation of the nose septum, which is a widely described complication of chronic cocaine use. Thank you for your question. 
melanie45 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why do some drugs change someones appearance to a much older age than they really are if they are young?

Joe Frascella: Great question, melanie45!  You probably have seen the transformations to one's appearance that happen after methamphetamine abuse.  Meth 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 and other drugs, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/
Eric WargoDr. 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.
Dr. Dave ThomasDr. 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.
Dr. Jack SteinDr. 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.
cakecakecake - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can you get high off of poppy seeds?

Susan Weiss: nope.  
mike - Pomona Middle School, New York: what is the worst drug out there

Ivan Montoya: 
thanks for your question. The answer is the same one you'd get if you asked 'what is the worst disease?'Well, for a drug addict the worst drug is the one that he or she got addicted to. For example, if a person is addicted to nicotine and gets a lot of breathing problems, then that's the worst drug for that person. The same holds true if a person is addicted to marijuana or any other drug. There are some studies showing that the there are differences in the addictive properties of drugs. According to those studies, the most addictive drug is nicotine. Unfortunately, it is widely used and many teens move onto other drugs after starting with nicotine. The best thing to do is to stay away from any drug because if you try it, it could become your 'worst drug.'
Swaggie torn - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I smoke weed before dinner every night, is that bad

Jack Stein: Hey Swaggie- regular use of marijuana, especially in the teens years, is a recipe for potential substance use problems later in life. In addition, research has shown that regular use over a long term period can result in decrease in IQ. Don't think worth the risk....you?
Dr. Roger SorensenPlease welcome Dr. Roger Sorensen to the Chat. Roger has always been fascinated by the brain, constantly wondering how it works and how it makes you become a person who is different from your sister or best friend. He was trained in neurochemistry, and at work, he spends his time thinking about how drugs of abuse change brain function and a person's behavior. When not at work, he spends his time riding his bicycle or practicing guitar and piano. He expects that someday scientists will be able to determine how this complex organ known as the brain makes us think, feel, and be who we are.
jd - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: thoughts about drugs being glamorized in the media

Ruben Baler: 
Hi jd,
 
What's your definition of 'glamorize'? Watching people harm themselves is not my idea of glamour. 
Dr. Joni RutterHave 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. Dr. Rutter received her PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Dartmouth Medical School in 1999 and joined the NIH cancer institute that same year. She moved to NIDA in 2003 where she managed studies in human and population genetics, pharmacogenetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, and molecular epidemiology, as they relate to drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Rutter is also involved in oversight and the continued development of genomics research at NIDA, which includes a repository of clinical data and biologic samples for drug abuse research in genetics. Dr. Rutter was recently appointed as the Director of NIDA's basic science programs. When she's not at work, she likes to spend time with friends and go hiking &birding. Her favorite class in high school was physics;she was student body president and played varsity volleyball and basketball. She has 2 cats, Winky and Dobby, 10 red-footed tortoises, 6 red-kneed tarantulas, 2 Arizona hairy scorpions, 6 Xenopus frogs, and 1 lungfish.
barackobama - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is it possible to OD on caffine

Susan Weiss: You can experience anxiety, an increase in blood pressure, or heart palpitations that can be upsetting if you drink too much coffee.  Some people wind up in emergency rooms because of it.  Your heart rhythm can also be disturbed (arrythmia).
chchchase estes - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is there any drugs that have no harm to you

Eric Wargo: 
Hey chchchase estes,
Good question. I don't know of any completely safe drugs! Even caffeine can hurt you if you drink a LOT of coffee or energy drinks.  
Dr. Elizabeth RobertsonDr. Elizabeth Robertson is an expert in human and family development with particular interest in how to help prevention practitioners use science-based intervention 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 home and her cat Bella Luna Dark Shadow Robertson. Luna helps her with all of her favorite pastimes of gardening, needlepoint, and various other crafts.
Dr. Denise PintelloDr. Denise Pintello is online now. Known as 'Denny,' she worked at NIDA for 11 years and now works at the National Institute on Mental Health---and is still helping out during CHAT DAY! While in college and grad school, she studied the impact of childhood trauma so she can talk to teens about both drug abuse and other mental health issues. One of her many fascinating jobs at NIMH involves overseeing studies that help make treatment more accessible for students struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd dog, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and traveling to beautiful locations to enjoy warm beaches.
Dr. Ivan MontoyaJoining us now is Dr. Ivan Montoya who received his M.D. from the University of Antioquia in Colombia (in South America!) and a Masters in Public Health from The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Dr. Montoya works with scientists who are trying to create better medications for people who suffer from addiction. He also has been a consultant for the World Health Organization’s Pan American Health Organization. He likes all kinds of water sports, in particular swimming and kayaking, and also likes to play the bassoon and dance Latin music.
surferforlife - North carroll middle, Maryland: How does meth actively effect the human nervous system while driving?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey surferforlife.  Hang Ten!  Meth is known for its ability to mess with the brain's chemicals (called neurotransmitters).  In a way, meth can cause the release of lots of neurotransmitters all at once.  Think about it....if you are feeling moody, angry, anxious, sweaty, euphoric AND driving at the same time, that can result in a BAD outcome...like losing your concentration and hurting yourself and others. Not a good idea to start!  Find more info on meth and its effects here at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine-meth
  
Dr. Marsha LopezDr. 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 poly-substance use (abusing more than one kind of substance) and co-occurring psychiatric conditions (like using drugs and being depressed at the same time.) While most of Marsha’s extended family lives in Argentina, she lives here with Marco (age 9), Gigi (age 6), and their two axolotls Mad Eye and Hermione. She chose a Hermione look alike to be her avatar today.
Ruthless Gravy - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: Why are so many kids in school on drugs?

Albert Avila: Hi Ruthless Gravy-  Actually most kids are not doing drugs. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 9.5% of 12 to 17-year-olds used an illicit drug in the past month--which means that about 90% did not use any drugs.  Those that do use drugs use them for a variety of reasons such as to relax, feel more energetic, because of the 'high'.  The bad thing is that these effects wear off and people can become addicted because they have to keep taking the drug to keep the high.
Clever Username - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How can medical marijuana be helpful, and what diseases/medical problems can it be used to help "cure"?

Ruben Baler: Hi Clever Username (clever!). Marijuana is composed of hundreds of chemicals, and not all of them are useful in treating disease. Some of the chemicals that are purified from marijuana called cannabinoids have been used to treat nausea. The purified chemicals are much more useful as medications because you can control their concentration and avoid using ingredients that cause unwanted or harmful side effects. You can learn more about marijuana here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
Dr. Steve GustDr. Steve Gust directs NIDA's international program, where he coordinates the institute’s international research and training activities. He has experience in with many types of research programs in the substance abuse field--including laboratory research on how drugs change the way you behave and think, studies of the effects of drug use on workplace performance, and the development of workplace drug policies and programs. He also is an expert in drug testing---and keeps track of efforts to figure out how to test for marijuana intoxication in drivers. He has traveled all over the world for his job---not a bad gig.
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: How is marijuana evolving in a way that it is becoming more harmful to humans?

Jack Stein: Good question-marijuana's major effects occur because of a chemical called THC. Over the years, THC content in marijuana has increased dramatically. As a result, today's marijuana is more potent than ever before resulting in being potentially more harmful. 
kittykat234 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What would you do if your friend was on drugs? Would you tell someone or would you follow you friend?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi kittykat234. Thanks for your question. A good place to start is by talking to an adult you trust  (that's what I would do). You can also call this hotline, available 24/7: 1-800-662-HELP.
Dr. Joseph FrascellaDr. 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.
damn #5 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: would my girlfriend remember what happened last night if we were both high

Joe Frascella: I would hope so!
Walter_White - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What are the cons of Marijuana? My friends use it and I am concerned about their health.

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Walter, are you worried about Jesse???  
 
Actually, marijuana can cause memory and IQ deficits, problems in attention and energy level. There are also some respiratory issues that could occur. I suggest you discuss your concerns with your friends or a trusted adult.  I hope things work out for your friends.
 
For more info see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
 
Dave 
Dr. Nicolette Borek is a clinical psychologist at the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AT CTP Dr. Borek leads a group of FDA scientists who work on a large study on tobacco use, attitudes and health called the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. The PATH Study will include about 42,000 adults and 17,000 12 -17 year olds from all over the U.S. looking at things like 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 children and teens exposed to nicotine and other drugs of abuse 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 spend time with family and friends, do yoga, run, hike and bike, take pictures, and travel.
water star - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What causes people to drink?

Aaron White: 
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.
Learn more about why alcohol is dangerous for kids under age 21 and how you can resist the peer pressure to drink at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp 
DahvieV - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: If you smoke pot does it shorten your life span? If so by how much

Eric Wargo: 
Hi DahvieV,
At this point, there's no strong evidence pot shortens your life span. For example, we don't know for sure that it contributes to risk of lung cancer, the way cigarettes do. But the reasons we are concerned with pot mostly have to do with effects on mental functioning, especially if you use it heavily when you're young (when your brain is still developing).
Great question. 
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what do you do if one of your family members is involved in drugs and the drug business?

Denny Pintello: 
Hello there :) - thank you for sending us your question. I suspect that you are worried about your relative - and what could happen to him/her. On one level, you might be concerned about whether they are doing drugs themselves, and may become addicted. Another concern is that they are engaged in criminal activity, which can lead to jail and other consequences. By chance, have you talked with them and shared your concern about them? If that is not an option, can you talk with another trusted adult in your family? If that doesn't feel safe, then you may consider talking with a school teacher, counselor, coach, etc. Please consider trying to talk this problem out with someone who can help. Please know that your family is very lucky to have you as a member ...  
Sorrelosophic - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: What does it feel like to be on drugs for an extended length of time, and then stop altogether? Do the automatic urges often overwelm one so much that permanent or just temporary harm can overtake a person?

Steve Gust: Hi Sorrel - thanks for your question.  If drugs are taken for a long time, they will often stop having the same effects.  This is called tolerance.  Related to tolerance can be the development of dependence or addiction.  Not all drugs cause dependence, but the ones that do result in feelings like you describe, having urges, feeling strange, sometimes having severe and life-threatening withdrawal.  These symptoms go away quickly for most people. If you want to ask about getting substance abuse treatment for yourself or for someone you care about, call 1-800-662-HELP 24/7.  Or, you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
Ruben BalerDr. 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, 19 and 27, so when he lectures about the neuroscience of risky behaviors, he talks from personal experience.
Drizzy_Drake - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: what is your opinion on the legalizing of medicinal marijuana

Ivan Montoya: 
Legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use and for medicinal purposes is currently the subject of much public debate. Whatever the outcome, public health experts are worried about use increasing among teens, since marijuana use as a teen can may harm the developing brain, lower IQ, and seriously impair the ability to drive safely, especially when combined with alcohol
 
NIDA is a scientific institute and researches the effects of marijuana and other drugs---we do not set policy or make laws, but we do hope our science will help inform the public debate about legalization. 
Ask a different kind of question that will help us educate teens and earn a gold star!
dave - Lathrop High School, Alaska: is it true they are going to make weed legal??

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey dave. That's a very complicated question you're asking. Drug laws in the United States--like most laws in our country--can come from different places. There are local, state, and federal laws, and sometimes they're in conflict with each other. Some places--Washington State and Colorado--have made recreational marijuana legal, even though it's still illegal under federal law. There are 20 states and the District of Columbia with medical marijuana laws on the books. Some of these laws were what we call ballot initiatives, where the citizens vote in an election for an issue, and some of them were passed by the state legislatures. Colorado's new marijuana law was passed by the legislature, while Washington's was a ballot initiative. 
 
But the only way for marijuana to become legal in the entire United States is for the US Congress to pass legislation making it so. And they don't currently have any plans to do that.  
kauai high - Kauai High School, Hawaii: how does the brain tell the lungs to stop breathing?

Joe Frascella: Hi there in Hawaii!  The brain sends signals to the lungs to keep breathing.  The brain does not typically signal to the lungs to stop breathing.
Gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: How does drinking alcohol affect your REM cycle?

Aaron White: What a great question! Alcohol disrupts sleep in general. While people might feel sleepier after drinking and might actually fall asleep faster, the sleep cycles are all messed up. People who drink before going to sleep have less REM than normal during the first part of the night but then a rebound increase in REM above normal during the second half of the night. They also tend to wake up earlier than if they didn't drink before bed. 
leanman - Ennis High School , Texas: If I drink cough syrup like robertussin with sprite will it cause the same affect as hydrocodone syrup?

Susan Weiss: No they are different drugs although both can make you feel high and confused, and both are cough suppressants.  Cough syrup also causes a feeling of depersonalization--where you don't feel like yourself. 
Our scientists are writing as fast as they can---we know a lot of you have not had their questions answered. Please take some time to read the answers we are posting---you might find them interesting.
Student 6 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Do some Junk foods have similar properties as drugs,

Joe Frascella: 
Great question, Student 6!  Some very recent research in animals has shown that junk food can be highly addicting.  We know that combinations of fat, sugar, and salt can make foods highly irresistible...and therefore, hard to say no to!  Research has shown similar brain responses to these foods as to drugs of abuse.

 Thanks for such a thoughtful question!!! 
24% of teens say they have been in a car when the driver has been drinking. Is that smart?
SarahQ3 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: why do people still make drugs when they know its bad?

Marsha Lopez: Hi, SarahQ3, if only we knew!  People start using drugs for many different reasons and without being a mind reader it's kind of hard to say. 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.  There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
stephanie - Adamson High School, Texas: Why are drugs so addicting

Joe Frascella: 
Hi stephanie...thanks for the question!  The short answer is because all drugs of abuse affect the brain's reward pathway. All drugs of abuse stimulate the release of the brain chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for the reinforcing or pleasurable feelings after drugs are taken.  Because they stimulate these areas of the brain so effectively -- more so than for the natural stimuli like food and sex for which this system evolved to signal -- people tend to want to repeat this act.  It is the repeated use of drugs that can lead to addiction.
 
Of course, the answer is more complicated than this, but you should check out some more interesting materials on specific drugs and their addictive properties at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how come if people say they eat a lot of bread then they can drink more alcohol?

Aaron White: Having food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol and decreases the peak amount of alcohol that gets into the body and brain. In other words, if a person drinks alcohol with a full stomach of food, such as bread, they might not feel the effects of alcohol as much. But it's food in general - nothing specific to bread.
ehrud - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: why is it so hard to stop using drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
ehrud,
That is a good question, and hard to answer.  There are many reasons why various drugs are difficult to stop abusing.  One factor is that quitting drugs can cause an unpleasant reaction called 'withdrawal.'  One tries to quit, feels awful, and starts taking the drugs to stop this bad reaction to quitting. Plus there is a lot of habit in drug abuse.  People tend to do what they have done in the past, and old habits are hard to break.  There is a lot more to it, but that is part of it.  Usually people have an easier time quitting if they get help
 
Dave 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: whats the difference between HIV and AIDS

Jack Stein: HIV is the name of the virus that ultimately can cause someone to develop the disease called AIDS. Not everyone infected with HIV develop AIDS. This is particularly true if they get treated. That's why its important for anyone at risk to be tested for HIV.
helloeveryone - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: why are the bad things put in the drugs

Joni Rutter: helloeveryone.  wish I knew.  Good reason not to take them, though.  Don't you think?
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What effects can happen to the baby if a mother is pregnant and smokes marijuana?

Ivan Montoya: Hi :)... This is really a very important question but unfortunately there is very little research about it. It is known that TCH is the psychoactive component of marijuana. When a pregnant mother smokes marijuana, the THC goes to her bloodstream and her brain (that's why she gets high) but it also goes to the baby blood and brain. So, it is expected that marijuana will affect the baby. Perhaps the baby also get high but we don't know for sure. When a pregnant mother uses marijuana for a long time, it is not know what kind of long-term effects that can produce on the baby. Recent research suggest smoking marijuana increases the risk of stillbirth, but here is a great need of scientific research in this area. It is known, however, that chronic use of alcohol during pregnancy can produce long-term effects on the baby and some may develop what is called a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. So, I think it a good idea that pregnant mothers stay away from using cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and avoid exposing their babies to those toxic substances. Great question. Thanks. 
Aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How do adolescents acquire drugs? Why would they want them in the first place?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello Aveson. Two very good and important questions here. First answer: People can acquire drugs from peers/friends, family members, strangers. People can be introduced to and acquire drugs at a party, at a friend's house, school, in their neighborhood/community, and I am sure there are others I have missed. Some people acquire prescription drugs from a doctor who prescribed it to them or they may acquire drugs that have been prescribed to someone else. The second answer: some people try drugs to fit in (peer pressure) or because they think it will solve a problem, or make them feel good or feel better. In fact, drug abuse just leads to greater problems. Click here for more.
 
Aditya Arun - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Are pain killers harmful in the long run?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey Aditya,
They're harmful if you keep taking them longer than prescribed--yes. But if you just take them for the length of time your doctor prescribed, you should be okay.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how do you quit drugs

Will Aklin: 
Hey lalala,
Medication and behavioral therapy are important tools to help people quit using drugs. An important goal of treatment usually involves helping people understand the reasons why they use drugs and help them develop alternative healthy behaviors. Additionally, helping people quit drugs involves a focus on all aspects of a person's life, including medical, mental health, and social--all important in order to achieve a drug-free lifestyle.  
 
If you or someone you know needs help- call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
scarey - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: if you gave an animal drugs would it have the same affects of on humans

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Scarey,
 Not necessarily. Animals are used in research all the time during medication development, etc. but just because a drug is safe in animals doesn't mean it is safe in humans and vice versa. Drugs used for medications undergo extensive research before they are allowed to be used in humans. 
Allen - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: How does extacy do your body?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey GREAT Academy, great question!  Ecstasy, or MDMA, interferes with the body's ability to regulate its temperature. And ecstasy is often used at rave parties where people are dancing for hours in crowded, hot places. Given the drug's effects combined with physical activity like dancing, ecstasy tends to make people sweat, become dehydrated, and overheated.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are hallucinations and how do they affect daily activities?

Joni Rutter: Hey lalala!  We're getting LOTS of questions on hallucinogens today!  Long-term effects of some hallucinogens include frightening flashbacks, impaired memory, problems thinking clearly and more.  These effects can be unpredictable.  Bad trip or not, there are some serious side effects associated with use of hallucinogens
 
For more info check out our website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ 
Azreal Garcia - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is getting shot painful when you are high?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Azreal.
Interesting question.  Very interesting.  Getting shot likely is very painful.  Many drugs of abuse can stop some or a lot of pain (for example, heroin, alcohol, prescription opioids, marijuana). However, I suspect a gun shot wound would still hurt.  Better to avoid both drugs of abuse and getting shot!
 
Dave 
cakecakecake - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is using vodka tampons better than drinking it?

Aaron White: Oh goodness no!!  Alcohol is a powerful irritant. Imagine pouring rubbing alcohol onto a cut. It would burn so bad! The mouth, esophagus and stomach are made to withstand, at least for awhile, irritants like alcohol. The delicate membranes of the vagina and other areas (e.g., eyeball, nose) are super sensitive and not well protected from irritants like alcohol. So, for one, putting alcohol in the body that way can cause pain and inflammation. In addition, alcohol can get into the body a lot faster through some non-stomach routes. That means alcohol can flood the bloodstream and hit the brain even harder than normal. It's simply a very, very, very bad idea to try to get alcohol into the body any other way that through the digestive system and only after you've reached the legal age of 21. 
kenziecheer828 - North carroll middle, Maryland: is crack the same thing as cocaine? what's the difference ? does it affect your body differently?

Jack Stein: Thanks for asking....crack is a form of cocaine that comes in a 'rock' form and 'crackles' when smoked. Because it is smoked, the effect is often faster and more powerful than snorting cocaine. Either way, they both have some really bad effects including increased heart rate possibly resulting in heart attack.
CampoDude - Marymount International School of Rome, : Where can i find info regarding marijuana causing Schizophenia?

Susan Weiss: 
 
Good question--the link above is to a NIDA report that discusses the link between marijuana and schizophrenia.  Marijuana can cause a temporary psychosis, usually with higher dose exposures--very possible today with the high strength marijuana that is available.  This usually resolves on its own;however, some people who are vulnerable may experience a longer lasting psychosis or schizophrenia. Usually there's some other genetic or other factor that makes a person susceptible to this, but mj smokers tend to have earlier onset schizophrenia and a more severe course if they keep using it. 
A Hillard - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: If I am hooked on smoking, is it better to smoke an E-cigarette or not?

Steve Gust: Hi Hillard -that is a good question.  E-cigs certainly have the advantage of reducing your exposure to many of the toxic chemical in tobacco.  However, nicotine itself is not healthy to consume and I hope you try to get off the e-cigs too. For help quitting, check out http://smokefree.gov/. Good luck!
kw - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are the sideffects of drinking and using drugs at a young age

Aaron White: 
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. 
 
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
 
Lawrence High - Lawrence High School, Kansas: What are long-term effects of marijuana...things that don't show up for a while?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Lawrence High,
Long term effects --if you use it heavily as a teen -- include problems with thinking and memory and loss of IQ. One study showed that people who used marijuana heavily as teens lost 8 points of IQ that they didn't get back even if they quit using the drug as adults. Totally not worth it! It's because these effects creep up on you over time that people don't notice them and thus think marijuana is a 'safe drug.' It's not.
Great question. 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how old was the youngest person to die from smoking?

Cindy Miner: 
Hi there - you know there is a lot of research on what happens when moms smoke during pregnancy. Mom's smoking is related to miscarriage, still birth, perinatal mortality and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), (as well as birth defects and other health problems)... so the youngest people to die of smoking are very very young.  If you know someone who is smoking during pregnancy, they can talk with their doctor to get support to quit - it'll help mom and baby! Check this out for some great information about women, smoking, and pregnancy and info on quitting  http://women.smokefree.gov/pregnancy-motherhood.aspx
 
 
sampugliese - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can drinking or smoking give you brain damage? or put you in a comatose state?

Aaron White: 
Yes, alcohol can damage the brain and put you in a comatose state, not to mention kill you! The thinking memory, and feeling parts of the brain are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

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

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: What is heroin?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Gem,
Heroin is an opioid chemical that is purified from the seed pod of the Asian poppy plant. Opioid medications are used to treat pain that can occur when someone has cancer. Heroin is not used as medicine and is extremely addictive. You can look here to learn more about heroin and what it does to your body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/heroin
morgenmontano - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: why does cocaine make your nose bleed?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hello Morgen 
 
Good question.
 
Some people take cocaine by snorting through the nose. Cocaine is a vasolilator, meaning that it will constrict or close the blood vessels in the nose. Cocaine also increases heart rate. The combination of these two actions can make the nose bleed when taking cocaine. I don't know about you, but a nose bleed is not pretty. 
crabcakes123 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How does our body get rid of alchohol

Aaron White: Most alcohol gets broken down by the liver. However, some of the alcohol a person drinks, about 5%, gets excreted unchanged through breath, urine, sweat and feces. That's why breathalyzers are able to determine how much alcohol is in the body by analyzing the amount of alcohol in the breath. 
~8.19.13~ - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: how long does it take for your lungs to get infected when you smoke cigarettes or do any type of drug

Joni Rutter: Hey 8.19.13!  Why that date?  Did you know that 8/19 is orangutan day? I'll answer this question from the perspective of cigarette smoking.  Your lungs generally don't get 'infected' from smoking cigarettes, your lungs can turn really cruddy with tar, smoke, etc.  Take a look at the picture I sent you...that's really what a smokers lungs can really look like.  You don't want that!  Your best bet is to stay smoke free!!!!     
Smokers Lungs
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How come smokung is symbolized as being a good thing?

Jack Stein: Thanks for question: The good news is that fewer and fewer see smoking as a good thing compared to years before. As a result, less and less people smoke. Educational campaigns (plus laws regulating smoking) explaining the dangers of smoking have clearly paid off....though we start got a ways to go!
Azreal Garcia - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Are drugs bad for you?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Azreal,
Good question.  Drugs include illegal drugs, like heroin or cocaine as well as drugs that a doctor might prescribe for you.  Abusing any drug is bad for you but using a drug that your doctor has prescribed in the way it was prescribed can be very good for you.  Those drugs are called 'medicine'.   
Dave 
A menthol cigarette is still a cigarette—complete with all the chemicals and addictiveness of any other tobacco product. Flavoring isn’t going to make it any safer. In fact, research shows that menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes and could make it even harder for smokers to quit.
swagystudent666 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: will more kids be likely to do drugs if rappers sing about it in their songs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi Swagystudent--thanks for your question. I do think that music--including rap music--can have a powerful influence on people, especially youth. We know that music can affect learning and memory. 
OrosiHigh - Community Services and Employment Training, California: WHAT IS WORSE? METH OR COCAINE

Roger Sorensen: 
That's an interesting question, OrosiHigh.
 
Both cocaine and methamphetamine are known as stimulants. They both can boost mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness. So far so good, but...
 
Both have dangerous effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.
Both cause addiction and wreck lives. And...
 
METH can make you feel like bugs are crawling on or under your skin so you scratch a lot and create sores on your face and arms. Meth users burn a lot of energy and don't eat well, which can make them lose a lot of weight and look sick. And do you know about 'Meth mouth”? Yuk. Meth users'teeth become broken, stained, and rotten because they grind their teeth.
 
Cocaine increases the risk of stroke and sudden death from heart arrhythmia.
 
Be smart. Stay away from both.
Mary - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: i think my friened is on cocanie an addicted what can i do

Cora Lee Wetherington: 

Hi Mary, your friend is lucky to have you as a friend. I suggest that you talk with your friend in a very caring and non-judgmental way and tell her/him what you've seen about her/his behavior that makes you concerned. Signs your friend is addicted could include: changes in eating, looking really tired, acting like they don't care about things like they used to (such as school or athletics), and relationship problems with family or friends. Let your friend know that treatment is available and that she/he could talk to a trusted adult such as guidance counselor. Most important, assure your friend that you are still his/her friend and want what's best them. Here is more information on steps you can take to help your friend: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem

hulia123456789 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is the difference between meth and crystal meth?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi hulia,
They are the same drug, but crystal meth refers to meth in a rock crystal form. But they do the same thing to your body and brain. Meth is bad news, in any form! Read our fact sheet for more info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
annie - Kauai High School, Hawaii: Are there drugs that people take to become less stressed?

Denny Pintello: annie: Hello there! Thanks for your question - and the short answer is 'yes.'However, the best answer is to ask you about the source of your stress - school, home, friends. Ideally you want to find solutions to deal with the stress without considering medications. Stress is a normal reaction and sometimes can be beneficial in certain situations. This way, you can solve your way out of many problems on your own, and you might come up with some amazing, creative solutions. If you really think you might benefit from taking medications during a tough time, talk with your parent(s) or a school counselor, who might be able to help link you up with a doctor, who will help you. 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: whats the difference between crack and herion

Dave Thomas: 
Hi again aveson.
 
Crack is crystallized cocaine and acts in the brain by increasing the amount of a brain chemical called dopamine.  Heroin tends to be a powder, and works in the brain by binding to particular places called opioid receptors,   
your pen pal,
Dave 
username - Bellows Falls Union High School, Vermont: What are the positive and negative effects of hallucinogens?

Joni Rutter: I can't really think of any positive effects of hallucinogens, username.  There are a lot of not-so-positive things that can happen when using hallucinogens.  For example, they can  Hallucinogens can cause rapid mood swings and hallucinations (duh!).  Hallucinogens also can affect the way you experience your surroundings.  Users sometimes report seeing color, smelling smells, hear sounds, and other sensations seem highly intensified or sometimes even crossed (like seeing sound/hearing color...isn't that weird).  Some hallucinogens have been reported to cause frightening flashbacks that persist a few days after drug use, even up to a year afterwards.  Definitely not something you'd want to deal with!
 
Keep on asking us those great questions! And learn more about the effects of hallucinogens at: lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp' target='_blank' >http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: My mom told me that marijuana is made of bad report cards and the disappointed tears of parents. Is this true? She also told me that everybody who does pot goes into a coma, because their brains turn into smoke. How does that work? What's the scientific explanation?

Susan Weiss: hmmm--not sure you are being serious here.  Regular marijuana use can impact your grades, and even lower your IQ--maybe permanently.  So you may ultimately disappoint your parents or yourself.  Long term users report less life satisfaction, poorer health and mental health, and less professional achievement than those who do not use marijuana.
thunderclan - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: why is alcohol so addicting?i don't drink by the way

Aaron White: 
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.
 
jadeiscool - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: why are adults adidactic to meth and other drugs

Jack Stein: Thanks...good question ! drugs 'hijack' the brain resulting in a compulsive desire to use over and over despite negative outcomes. This is the very definition of addiction!
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How do drugs cause hallucination what part of the Brian starts the hallucination

Joe Frascella: xxx
Different drugs can have different effects on the brain.  For example, stimulant drugs (cocaine, meth, speed, etc.), alter the uptake of certain neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. In other words, they mess with your brain chemistry. In large enough doses, they can cause drug-induced psychosis - hallucinations, delusions, and violent behavior.   
 
To compare drugs, take a look at our chart of negative Health Effects at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/health-effects
 
For information about specific drugs, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts 
Cowgirl555 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Does your past cause how much you use drugs?

Steve Gust: Hi Cowgirl - thanks for your question.  There are many different things that affect a person's likelihood of using drugs.  One thing that is very important is whether or not a person has used drugs in the past.  One of the best things you can do to avoid become addicted to drugs is to not start using them, especially if you are a teen!  Please check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction for more information.
Did you know that more people die from overdoses from prescription painkillers (like Vicodin and Oxycontin) than from heroin and cocaine combined?
ThleduinAlkara - Conestoga Valley High School, Pennsylvania: Are there any hallucinogens that can be placed into an aerosol can? If so, are they dangerous?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi ThleduinAlkara,
I've never heard of hallucinogens that you can put in an aerosol can! Good question. Definitely don't sniff anything from an aerosol can--it can be really dangerous.
Kevin Killa - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: If the government stop the sale of drugs people will just make them from household chemicals so how can the government stop people from doing that?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Kevin,
I'm sure there are a lot of folks who would like to know the answer to that. Let us know when you figure that out! 
Key$hawn_Fowler - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is molly considerd a drug?

Joni Rutter: Hey Key$hawn_Fowler.  Who is Molly?  Just kidding.  I've heard of it.  It's one of the many street names of Ecstasy.  The geeky term for ecstasy is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). And, yep, it's a drug.  Here's more info on Molly -  
 
OK, now I have a question for you....
 
Which of these other names are street names for ecstasy:  
 
XTC
X
Adam
hug
beans
love drug
 
Answer:  All of 'em. 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What does an LSD trip look like? Say, if I saw a chair, what would I see if I was on LSD?

Dave Thomas: 
Hmm, hard to say aveson.  Hallucinations are funny things.  They can be all sorts of things, and it is hard to predict.  But I suggest you never try LSD.  There are some serous health consequences to doing LSD.  Here is a site with some more information.
 
 
Dave 
#FreeBieber - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do you think that celebrities influence teen's views on drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hi FreeBieber. Good question. I am interested in what you and your friends think about this. My answer: I think youth tend to believe things as they are portrayed in music videos and in the media. The problem is that drug use is often glamorized and glorified and the 'truth' about the consequences and realities of drug use are not portrayed accurately. I wish more celebrities would help spread the word and portray the negative affects and realities of drug use and also portray healthy alternatives and a healthy lifestyle. I also think that peers can help influence teen views on drugs. So, you and your friends can play an important role in sharing the facts on drugs and drug use with your friends and encouraging your friends to not start using drugs. For more information on drugs and their effects go to teens.drugabuse.gov.
 
 
treebee - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How many people use drugs in the us

Marsha Lopez: Hi, treebee. Thanks for your question. According to the 2012 National Survey on drug use and health nearly 24 million Americans ages 12 and older were current (past month) drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. This number represents 9%  of the population in that age range!
Luma - Pomona Middle School, New York: Who was the creator of drugs? How do they feel about them being used for drunk driving and drug abuse?

Aaron White: In many cases, nature creates drugs and alcohol. If you put a bowl of fruit somewhere for long enough yeast will land in it, causing fermentation and the production of alcohol. However, humans create some drugs in labs, too. I doubt it was anyone's intention that alcohol would end up being harmful or dangerous.
youngman_58 - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: What is meth?

Susan Weiss: Methamphetamine is a very powerful stimulant that is highly addictive.  
hzuber - Pomona Middle School, New York: Is tobacco stronger than marijuana?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Hzuber,
Comparing drugs is really difficult because each person experiences a drug differently. That is because a person's genetics, environment, drug use history, etc. all play a role. Staying drug free is the best way to guard your health.  
Scooby - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: How many teens die from cigerettes yearly?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, Scooby. Thanks for the question. Cigarette smoking isn't likely to kill you in your teenage years, but if you smoke you are much more likely to die before your time as a result of tobacco use. Tobacco use harms every organ in the body, and has been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia, and it accounts for about one-third of all cancer deaths. The death rate of people who smoke heavily is four times greater than people who don’t smoke.
 
Each year one out of every 5 deaths (440,000/yr) in the US is because of tobacco use, and secondhand smoke is estimated to contribute to as many as 46,000 deaths related to heart disease and about 3,400 lung cancer deaths per year among people who do not smoke. Zoinks! 
 
So while it may not get you in your teen years, those cigarettes will catch up to you.  Then again, it might get you in your teen years- believe it or not, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, leading to more than 700 deaths each year! 
 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Why are drugs addicting?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hello Aveson--
That's a deep question. The answer is that we know much about the answer, but still have much to learn.
 
Different drugs act on the brain in different ways, but all addictive drugs have two features in common: First, they increase the amount of a chemical called dopamine in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This excess dopamine causes temporary feelings of pleasure and well-being, and motivates people to take the drug again. Second, as the person continues taking an addictive drug, it changes other parts of the brain in ways that make it very, very hard to quit using.
 
For more details, check out this website:   http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
 
 
water star - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: why are drugs so addicting?

Jack Stein: Simply put drugs mess up how the brain works. Eventually they 'hijack' the brain's operation requiring the user to crave the drug to prevent from feeling bad. This results in a vicious cycle of seeking and use....called addiction! yikes. 
c322d - La Sierra Military Academy, California: a student wants to know...How can you tell if people smoke weed?

Susan Weiss: Well--there's a distinctive smell to the smoke if you happen to be around the person shortly after they've smoked, but if not-- they may be acting silly, have trouble remembering what they just said or did, have slowed reaction time or poorer coordination (in sports, for example). 
biggdaddyjay - Adamson High School, Texas: what are the pros and cons of using marijuana both short and long term? and which is worse for the human body tobacco or marijuana?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi biggdaddyjay,
That's a big question! The cons part is easy: in the short term it seriously impairs your mental functioning (making it very dangerous to drive a car, for example);in the long term, it can harm your brain development if you use it a lot while you're a teen, and cause a permanent loss of IQ, as well as other life problems. By pros, you're probably referring to the health benefits of some of the chemicals in marijuana. Some patients try to get these benefits by smoking the plant, but a better bet is taking actual FDA-approved drugs that contain THC or other cannabinoid chemicals. Scientists are hard at work turning these chemicals into real medicines without the side effects of marijuana.
As far as which is worse ... there's no way to answer that. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Marijuana seriously affects the developing brain, which can derail or even ruin your life;tobacco's main health risk is lung cancer. Which is worse? Depends on who you ask. 
 
jaredmendez - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: i smoke weed how can i stop

Ivan Montoya: Hi Jaredmendez. I appreciate your honesty and it's really great that you ask this question. There are many ways that people can stop using marijuana. There is one that is called a 'self-help' method. This teaches you ways to stop using--- sometimes with relaxation techniques, meditation, or changing your life-style. Some people prefer to get help from professionals and they seek treatment from counselors or therapists. They help give you skills to be able to control the drug use. There are several psychotherapy approaches that have shown to be useful.  Other people prefer to go to a medical doctor and seek their help because they may have some medical complications due to the drug use that need attention or because they may need some sort of medication to help them cope with the drug withdrawal and other symptoms. So, as you can see, the way to stop depends very much on the individual. So, my suggestion is to seek some guidance from your school counselor or your doctor. It's very important to make that first step and seek professional help. Here's a great link with resources that can help. Good luck with your efforts to improve your life. http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem
wangisnotasian - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what really is marajuana

Albert Avila: 
Hello wangisnotasian, Marijuana is a mixture of the dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. The mixture can be green, brown, or gray.  Marijuana has a chemical in it called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. A lot of other chemicals are found in marijuana, too, many of which could affect your health. But THC is the main psychoactive (i.e., mind altering) ingredient. In fact, marijuana’s strength or potency is related to the amount of THC it contains.
Check out our teen webpage on marijuana for more info.  Thanks for your question!
WALL-E - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: What are the side affects of cocaine?

Dave Thomas: 
There are a bunch.  Paranoia is common, and lots of cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure.  It can even cause heart attacks, strokes and even death.  Here is a link with some more information.  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
Hope this helps.
Dave 
Mary - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Im about to attempt sucide ,is the right site

Denny Pintello: Hi Mary. Sorry to hear that you are thinking about this - please call: 1-800-273-TALK or click on: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. The people at this site and at this hotline will help you get through this difficult time. Things will get better! Your life is important :)
SarahQ3 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: what is LSD? and what can it do to you

Joni Rutter: Hey SaraQ3.  Thanks for your question.  
LSD powerful hallucinogenic drug.  It can cause major and rapid mood swings and hallucinations.  LSD also can affect the way you experience your surroundings.  Users sometimes report seeing color, smelling smells, hear sounds, and other sensations seem highly intensified or sometimes even crossed (like seeing sound/hearing color...isn't that weird).  LSD has been reported to cause frightening flashbacks that persist a few days after drug use, even up to a year afterwards.  Definitely not something you'd want to deal with!
 
Just remember that once you make a decision to use drugs, it can be very tough (but not impossible) to reverse the damage.
 
Keep on asking us those great questions! And learn more about the effects of hallucinogens at: pcphttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is alcohol fattening?

Aaron White: It can be. For instance, a typical beer or glass of wine contains around 150 calories. That's as much as a small bag of potato chips. So, if someone started having one beer every day, that would be like adding a bag of chips to their daily diet. Because a pound of fat constitutes about 3500 calories, a person drinking a glass of wine per day could gain an extra pound each month.
advisorybsup - Ennis High School , Texas: What are "bath salts?"

Albert Avila: 
Hi advisorybsup, Bath salts often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals. These chemicals act in the brain like stimulant drugs and are highly addictive.  Bath salts have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users.  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.  For more info check out our teen page on bath salts.
High levels of ecstasy in the blood stream can be life-threatening! They increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart's ability to maintain its normal rhythms.
High levels of ecstasy in the blood stream can be life-threatening! They increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart's ability to maintain its normal rhythms.
Mary - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: are mostly teenager doing drugs or is adults doing drugs

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, Mary. Thanks for participating in Chat Day!  According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are more than two times as many 18-25 year olds using drugs than 12-17 year olds (21% vs. 9.5%).  So I would definitely say adults, which is better than the other way around, because science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs the more likely s/he is to get addicted and suffer major social and medical problems. To learn more about the health effects of drugs, visit NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
doyle06 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what are common ways that drugs can effect babies in pregnant women?

Cindy Miner: 
Hi there and thanks for your question - abused drugs, even cigarettes have been linked with many negative outcomes for babies/fetuses ... everything from premature birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), birth defects, stillbirth. Exposure to some drugs during pregnancy has been linked to cognitive and learning problems, attention problems, ADHD, and behavior problems in the offspring. Alcohol use during pregnancy is linked to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders which include a variety of developmental, cognitive, and behavior problems. Check this out for more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/prenatal-exposure-to-drugs-abuse  
The good news is that pregnant moms can  quit.  For info on substance abuse treatment during pregnancy or any time call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
Fandomsarelife - North carroll middle, Maryland: Hi I was wondering, what are some of the side effects of Tobacco? How do you stop someone from T

Dave Thomas: 
Hey fam,
Tobacco produces all sorts of health problems.  These include respiratory and cardiovascular issues and cancer.  About 440,000 people die each year from tobacco related health issues.  So yeah, there are side effects, big time!  
 
The best way to stop someone from smoking is to not smoke yourself - show them that you can have a great life without cigarettes.  But if they do smoke and would like to quit there are lots of treatments that can be tried.  For more information, see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products 
Dave   
kendall753 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how many cigarettes does it take for a person to get addicted?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey Kendall753, Thanks for your perceptive and important question.  It's probably a stretch to try to predict whether someone will become addicted to smoking after 1 cigarette or 100. Just know that smoking is addictive, just ask the millions of people around the world that are addicted and dying from diseases caused by smoking.  It's best to just prevent an addiction to cigarettes by not starting smoking at all.  If you are smoking, try to quit. There are resources out there for adults and teens.
tobacco-products' target='_blank'>http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products 
colton - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: i hate my 3rd period class, can i just chug a vodka and smoke weed while injecting heroine, or do i need to learn about worthless stuff, like taxes and buying houses?

Jack Stein: taxes and buying houses any day.....
hellow kitty - Pomona Middle School, New York: Does Hiv/Aid have a occure?

Steve Gust: Hi Kitty - unfortunately there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS.  But, there have been great advances in developing medicines to help people live healthy lives for many years with the disease.  For more information on HIV/AIDS check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/hiv-aids-and-drug-abuse.
NotFake - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: When I took Adderall XR for my ADD, along with it making me feel really bad, it also made my mouth dry, and my saliva kind of foamy. Why is that?

Denny Pintello: 
NotFake:
 
Hello again! I am glad that you are curious to learn more about your medication.
 
You are describing some of the side effects of Adderall, which you really need to report to your doctor. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. Due to the chemical nature of Adderall,  it can cause dehydration, which would result in a dry mouth and foamy spit.  FYI - other potential side effects include headaches, weight loss and difficulty sleeping.
 
NotFake: Keep being curious - you may end up one day becoming a researcher who can help us in this field! 
 


2fab4u - Adamson High School, Texas: I think drugs are very scary . what's worse , weed or cigarettes ?

Susan Weiss: 2fab4u--good for you--there are some fears that are good for you and this is one.  Especially for teens, drugs pose a lot of risk because your brain is still actively developing and you could alter this in ways that may be permanent (at least for weed).  Also, when you start using drugs early, your chance of becoming addicted is increased.  Cigarettes put you at risk for all kinds of health problems--cancer, heart disease among others and they are very addictive (about 1/3 of those who try it).  Weed can alter your ability to learn and do well in school (at least while under its influence--and longer if you use it regularly), it can impair driving, and is also addictive. Much better to focus on friends, sports, music and other activities that inspire your passion and are not unhealthy for your brain.   
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: Why do Doctors prescribe medications?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi gem,
Medications are valuable for treating some medical conditions--they are an important part of medicine. The problem is when people take prescription drugs in greater amounts than prescribed, or in different ways, or just to get high.
Great question! 
sonya - Ennis High School , Texas: What drugs are considered deathly?

Albert Avila: 
Hi Sonya, thanks for your 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 (about 440,000 in the U.S.) by tobacco than by all deaths from illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, murders, and HIV combined!  For more information see: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality/
 
 
SlapCheese - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: How many teens die a year from cigerettes?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, SlapChees. Thanks for this complex question. It's not likely cigarettes will kill you right away, while you're a teenager, but you are much more likely to die before your time as a result of tobacco use. Tobacco use harms every organ in the body, and has been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia, accounts for about one-third of all cancer deaths, and the death rate of people who smoke heavily is four times greater than people who don’t smoke. 
 
Each year one out of every 5 deaths (440,000/yr) in the US is a result of tobacco use, and secondhand smoke is estimated to contribute to as many as 46,000 deaths related to heart disease and about 3,400 lung cancer deaths per year among people who don't smoke. 
 
So while it may not get you in your teen years, it will catch up to you. Then again, it might get you in your teen years- believe it or not, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, killing more than 700 Americans yearly!
 
If you or someone you know is a smoker, visit  www.smokefree.gov, or www.fda.gov/quitnow to learn how to quit. 
blacklavender - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: does lean make you fall asleep?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi blacklavender,
Yes, lean can put you to sleep ... even permanently! Lean (codeine cough syrup with soda and candy flavor) contains opioids that can make you relaxed and drowsy. Unfortunately rappers who sing about lean have died from it because opioids can suppress breathing enough to make you stop breathing completely. That's an overdose. Real bad news.
david rios - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: what do you do when you overdose off marijuana?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi David,
You would probably fall asleep first, but don't try it. Marijuana is an addictive substance that can impair your judgment which puts you in danger of harming yourself or others, like when you drive under the influence. Stay safe and spend your time doing other things that are much more worthwhile! 
Radog - Pomona Middle School, New York: Would taking a drug cause a black out?

Steve Gust: Hi Radog - many drugs can cause blackouts. Certainly alcohol, but also many others, such as sleeping pills or other types of drugs. If you want to ask about substance abuse treatment for yourself or someone you care about, call 1-800-662-HELP 24/7.  Or, you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
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.
Dakota Lee - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: How does drugs affect your perspective of life?

Joni Rutter: Really good question, Dakota Lee.  
Drugs cause major changes in normal levels of brain chemicals and can actually increase serotonin levels in certain areas of the brain that are important for mood and anxiety.  This suggests that repeated exposure to drugs may be associated with your outlook on life.  Serotonin is clearly an important neurotransmitter in addiction and contributes to the intoxicating effects of alcohol--and also may be the link to alcohol and depression.  There is definitely a higher incidence of mental health issues in people who do drugs, but we don't have a good handle on why this is.  Maybe you will become a scientist and help us figure this one out!
 
You can check out this great webpage on the NIDA for teens site that explains what effect drugs have on the brain: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction.
dave - Lathrop High School, Alaska: why is weed a drug? all it is a plant?

Jack Stein: Great question Dave! Plants are the source of lots of drugs. Heroin for example comes from the poppy plant. Cocaine from the cocoa plant. Its the chemical in these plants that can be used to make medications to heal or sometimes used to experience an altered state. In many cases, there can be accompanying negative health effects. 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What are bath salts and how can they affect your body

Roger Sorensen: 
Bath salts are made from chemicals related to cathinone - an amphetamine-like stimulant found in the khat plant. They are called bath salts because they actually look like scented crystals some folks use in their bath water. Don't be fooled - steer clear of these. They are bad news. Bath salts have been linked to a high number of visits to emergency departments and Poison Control Centers across the country. Reports show bath salts users have needed medical attention for heart problems (such as racing heart, high blood pressure, and chest pains) and symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks. Find out more about bath salts here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -Why are alcohol and drugs so addicting?

Joe Frascella: 
Great question, CFPC!  There are lots of factors contributing to drugs'and alcohol's addictive properties, but a major reason that they are so addicting is that drugs of abuse are 'psychoactive' -- that is, they have their main effect on the brain, which results in the reinforcing or pleasurable feelings one experiences. Drugs specifically have their effect on the pathway within the brain called the brain reward system and release the brain chemical, dopamine, within this reward system.  The effects on this system result in drugs'addictive properties. People tend to like the feeling of euphoria that drugs can initially give, which in turn, can lead to addiction.
 
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Could drug addictions be passed down to the baby?

Joni Rutter: Hey :)--great question!  I'm a geneticist and we've worked very hard to address your question.  
It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents.  For 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 Disease 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! 
 
Kim Jong Un - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do drugs cause physical harm?

Dave Thomas: 
Kim, 
That is easy.  Yes, they do.  The harm depends on the drug, but abusing drugs can cause disease and death.  Here is more information about various drugs and the impact they can have if they are abused.  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/by/6/drugs-abuse
 
Dave 
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: What chemicals are in cocaine?

Roger Sorensen: 
Good afternoon, gem.
 
Unlike tobacco and marijuana that have many chemicals in the leaves, cocaine is a single chemical. It is classified as a stimulant.
chchchchia - North carroll middle, Maryland: what drug(s) can effect your senses

Eric Wargo: 
Hey chchchchia,
Hallucinogens like LSD and 'magic' mushrooms can affect your senses--make you see and hear things differently. So can marijuana.
Great question! 
 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: apparently recent studies have shown that the most dangerous drug is alcohol... is that true?

Aaron White: You are right that some studies suggest that alcohol is more dangerous than many, if not most, other drugs. However, it really depends on how you define 'dangerous'. In terms of the number of years of life lost due to drugs, the number of deaths due to drug overdoses, the number of fatalities caused by injuries sustained while under the influence of drugs, alcohol ranks #1. But part of the reason is because there are so many people in the world who drink alcohol. Way more people drink alcohol than do other drugs. This makes it hard to compare the consequences of various drugs. 
ehrud - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how can people underage can access to the drugs so easily?

Lis Robertson: Hi ehrud thanks for signing in.  Some drugs are legal for people over a certain age (like 18 for tobacco and 21 for alcohol).  Kids can get these drugs by presenting IDs that show they are older than they really are, or by having an older sibling or peer buy them, or by stealing from people who bought the drugs legally and do not monitor where they keep them well enough.  Prescription drugs are often taken by kids from parents medicine cabinets, traded for with peers, or obtained through fraudulent prescribing practices.  Illegal drugs are usually accessed through someone who is selling them or someone who is sharing drugs obtained illegally.
JayyVee - Adamson High School, Texas: What can drugs do to your relationship with you and your parents?

Ivan Montoya: Hi JayyVee. This is really a tough question. The abuse of drugs can do a lot of things to yourself and to others including your parents and friends. Research studies have clearly demonstrated that that abusing drugs can damage the brain and many other parts of the body. The chronic use of drugs can produce health consequences that can be for life. Drug abuse produces changes in behavior including becoming aggressive, paranoid, isolated, etc.. All this changes can clearly affect the relationship with your friends and your family. For example, it can happen that a person who is popular and has a lot of friends starts using drugs and become aggressive, defensive, paranoid etc... his/her friends get tired of him/her and little by little loses friends. Also, although parents tolerate more, they can also become very frustrated when the son/daughter is doing poorly in school or is constantly grumpy because he/she is high or is in drug withdrawal. So, drug abuse has a lot of consequences to the person using the drugs, his/her friends and family, and the society in general. It was great that you asked this question. Thanks. 
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: How do drugs affect you during puberty?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Felisa,
Drug use during puberty is particularly dangerous especially because the teen brain is still developing. Brains don't mature until your mid-twenties, so you can risk long-term mental and physical problems when you consistently use drugs at this young age. Anabolic steroid abuse can stunt your growth among many other things. You can learn more here: steroids' http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids 
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Some teachers teach us that alchohol is poison and a "drug". However are parents drink it responsibly and we dont think of them as drug addicts. Is alchohol being labeled fasley?

Aaron White: Very good question. Alcohol is a drug, and one that poses different risks depending on how old someone is. Teens who drink face many of the same risks as adults who drink - but teens face additional risks including negative effects on brain development and an increased risk of developing alcohol problems later in life. Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
Walter White - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: i hate my life and want to take acid while smoking weed and injecting heroin and chugging vodka, should i do this or should i go to an institute to help people, i really like doing all these drugs, so maybe ill just do the drugs on the way to the hospital

Denny Pintello: Walter - I am glad that you contacted us. Life can really be tough sometimes, I am concerned about all the different drugs/substances that you mention above;they can be really dangerous. Please talk with someone you trust - a good friend, counselor, teacher, etc. You can also call: 1-800-273-TALK anytime 24/7. Please hang-in there - and talk with someone today. Life will get better when you get help!
spraycanjoker99 - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: what is more bad for your brain weed or cocain

Roger Sorensen: 
Hey, do you think that there are bad drugs and worse drugs? Both weed (marijuana) and cocaine alter brain function. They both change how you think and act. Both are addictive. Cocaine is a stimulant. Stimulants are a class of drugs that can elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness. Yet cocaine also has dangerous effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure. Smoking weed produces over 400 chemicals. The chemical, THC, found in weed can make you feel “high,”or filled with pleasant sensations. Yet weed also causes a loss of coordination, and affects memory, judgment, and perception. Marijuana also affects other body functions outside the brain such as increasing heart rate and reducing lung function. To me, drugs are just bad.
 
You'll find a ton of information about drugs and what they do here:  teens.drugabuse.gov
#Toomuchswag4u - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do drugs affect your lifestlye or nahhhhh? no this is not joannah

Dave Thomas: 
Oh yeah!  Once someone becomes addicted, they tend to spend much of their lives focused on getting and using drugs.  They neglect family and friends, their performance at work and/or school gets diminished.  They may have legal or financial troubles.  Drugs do much more than cause health issues, they cause life issues.
 
Dave 
dave - Lathrop High School, Alaska: can you die off of spice?

Jack Stein: Hi Dave- Spice is a synthetic drug that contains many different chemicals some which may be very dangerous to ingest. A number of emergency room visits were a result of spice use over the past several years. Fortunately, the word seems to have gotten out about its dangers and use is down among teens.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it true that cannabis is safer to use than alcohol?

Aaron White: It's such a hard question to answer because it's comparing apples and oranges. They do such different things in the body and brain. For teenagers with developing brains, they're both bad news. 
bluegirl5 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Why do so many celebrities go downhill and take drugs?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey bluegirl5,
That is a really good question. I'm only speculating--I'm not an expert on celebrities--but I think being a celeb doesn't protect you from the same stresses everyone else feels, but they can easily feel like they are invincible. Plus I think it is part of the culture, if you are a professional musician or actor;drugs are unfortunately part of the world those people live in. I don't envy them!
 
fernandf.19 - Pomona Middle School, New York: why do you get a bad reaction when you use drugs?

Joni Rutter: Hey fernandf, you get bad reactions because everyone is vulnerable to the actions of drugs....everyone who is bitten by a snake will have some sort of an reaction--drugs are the same way.  
 
Why risk it?  Stay smart and get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain and body at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-shatter-myths
#Toomuchswag4u - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is alcohol more affective then any other drug or naa?

Aaron White: 
Well, first, it's really hard to compare the effects of alcohol and other drugs since each drug is different. 
 
I can tell you that there are lots of negative effects of drinking before age 21, especially since your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development. 
 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
maya101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Does drugs and alcohcol mainly used by people our children that suffer brain disorders like deppresion or a person who is by polar?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello maya101. Very good question. Drugs and alcohol are used by all types of people. Studies have shown that substance abuse is common in people with a mental disorder (such as depression, bipoloar disorder and others), and that vice versa: a mental disorder is common in people who use drugs. This is often called co-occurring disorder. A few estimates that you might find interesting and helpful: About 50 percent of people with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. About one third of alcohol abusers and half of drug abusers also have at least one serious mental disorder. Finally, about one third of all people diagnosed as mentally ill abuse either alcohol or drugs. For more information on this click here.
 
 
 
 
CheezPizza12345 - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: What forms does meth come in? And also why do people do meth?

Dave Thomas: 
I had cheese pizza for lunch!!!  
 
Meth tends to come in a crystal form and it is smoked. There are a lot of reasons why people abuse drugs, but one reason is that drugs tend to activate a part of the brain known as the reward system.  But meth is a seriously bad drug.  It really screws people up, and it is hard to imagine anyone starting to use meth, given its impact.  For more information on meth see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
 
Dave 
We have more than fifty 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!
haleyb-p6 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: how come people get addicted to drugs so fast

Albert Avila: 
Hello haleyb-p6! Drugs stimulate the reward system in your brain that is normally stimulated by food, sex, or the good things that happen in your life. At first these feelings are really good, but over time-you can't feel good from the regular things that make you happy. Then you start feeling really bad if you don't have the drugs, so you continue to take them. The reward system was originally designed to increase survival- but drugs hijack this system when someone is addicted. 
 
--No one can make you use drugs-you can choose to be healthy.-- 
Will you get a star from the moderator this year? We are giving stars for imaginative, original questions that will help other teens better understand the science of drug abuse and addiction.
La'Quitah - Adamson High School, Texas: what are Bars?

Susan Weiss: places where you go to drink???  Sorry--had to google it.  They are Xanax--which is a depressant drug similar to valium.  They can make you sleepy and confused--especially if the dose is pretty high.
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can animals become high if they smoke drugs or inhlae second hand smoke

Joni Rutter: How exactly do animals smoke drugs?  Be nice to your pet....
Studies have shown a connection between regular marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness.
LO - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: when actors smoke onstage are they real or fake?

Ruben Baler: Hi LO, I sure hope that they are faking! Smoking is the leading cause of cancer that can be prevented. I don't think actors would want to risk their lives for their job. What do you think?
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What is the most addicting drug?

Albert Avila: 
Great question CFPC and the short answer is...it depends!  The answer is very complicated since there are many factors that can contribute to addiction.  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.  Cigarettes were used by about 26% of the population aged 12 or older in 2012.  They are difficult to quit and lead to the most deaths, about 1 in 5 in the U.S. alone.  Check out our teen site for more info.
 
morgenmontano - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: how would your pet react if you blew marijuana smoke in its face? would it overdose? because i know animals can not have alcohol.

Joni Rutter: Hey morgenmontano, your pet might get mad and bite you.  Stop blowing smoke.  Pick up a book.  Study.  
CallMeCAT - Pomona Middle School, New York: Can you go to jail for killing someone for drunk driving?

Aaron White: Oh yes! It happens every day!
Elias - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: My parents won't stop drinking, they are being mean what should I do?

Aaron White: 

Hi Elias - what you're going through is really tough. It's so hard to be worried about your parents'drinking habits. First, you should talk to an adult you trust, like a teacher, doctor, or family member about your concerns.   There are also organizations out there who can help you. Click here for a list of organizations you can contact: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

Here are some 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:

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

Good luck! 
 
JayyVee - Adamson High School, Texas: What would be at risk if you decide to do drugs?

Harold Perl: 
Hey there JayyVee.  Drug use presents more risks than a lot of people realize.  There are risks to your physical health, your psychological health, even your emotional health. You may risk losing the trust of your parents, your friends and other family members.  You risk getting into trouble at school, or losing your privileges to compete in sports.  You even risk getting into trouble with the law -- and that could make the rest of your life really hard!
 
One key fact that your question reminds us about is that YOU can decide whether to take the risk to use drugs -- it's up to you to make the choice! So make the healthy choice and don't start.
 
Check out more info on our NIDA for Teens website:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov
jamealbrechtsen - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can you inject cleaning products into your bloodstream?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey jamealbrechtsen....uh....why would you want to inject cleaning products into your blood?  You could do it, but it could kill you... and painfully.
 
Give me a better question... 
chchchase estes - North carroll middle, Maryland: What is the worst drug there is

Ivan Montoya: Hi Chchchase estes--thanks for your question. The answer is the same one you'd get if you asked 'what is the worst disease?'Well, for a drug addict the worst drug is the one that he or she got addicted to. For example, if a person is addicted to nicotine and gets a lot of respiratory complications then that's the worst drug for that person. The same holds true if a person is addicted to marijuana or any other drug. There are some studies showing that the there are differences in the addictive properties of drugs. According to those studies, the most addictive drug is nicotine. Unfortunately, it is widely used and many teens move onto other drugs after starting with nicotine. The best thing to do is to stay away from any drug because if you try it, it could become your 'worst drug.'
Benny29 - North carroll middle, Maryland: How do drugs affect the brain?

Joni Rutter: 
Best question of the afternoon, Benny29!  There has been a lot of research on this very question and my answer will not begin to cover it all.  I'll rely on your curiosity to read more and find out for yourself.  But in short, Drugs are chemicals. They work in the brain by tapping into the brain's communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. This similarity in structure 'fools' receptors and allows the drugs to lock onto and activate the nerve cells. Although these drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don't activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network.  
 
TheJimmyGraham - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: How does Marijuana differ from medical Marijuana?

Susan Weiss: It doesn't--marijuana is still a plant containing many different chemicals--whether it is used as a medicine or to get high.  However, there is an interest in breeding the plant in ways that would decrease certain components (THC) that make you high and increase others (CBD) that don't, but may have beneficial health effects for seizures and other problems.  Most scientists are looking at ways to extract or synthesize the chemicals in marijuana that could have benefits so that they could be taken at proper dosages, in ways other than smoking, and you would know exactly what you are getting--which is not the case now for 'medical marijuana'. 
Not a Drug Guy - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Can you get high off life?

Jack Stein: sure can....we can now even see the brain 'light up' when we are participating in engaging activities like sports, etc. Try it!
Lihy.B. - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I've never smoked anything in my life but my father is a pretty heavy smoker, can it affect me in any way? am I in any danger?

Cindy Miner: Hi there - thanks for your great question. Second hand smoke (the smoke you are exposed to when you are around a smoker) has been linked to poor health outcomes like respiratory problems and middle ear disease in kids, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in babies, and cancer, stroke, and heart disease in adults. Here's a little more info in the latest Surgeon General's report that was just released last week:  http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf.  Also, if you want any info for your Dad on quitting,  the website smokefree.gov that has good info.
catherinem48 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Why are they called bath salts?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Catherinem,
 
Bath salts are made from chemicals related to cathinone - an amphetamine-like stimulant found in the khat plant. They are called bath salts because they actually look like scented crystals some folks use in their bath water. Don't be fooled - steer clear of these. They are bad news. Bath salts have been linked to a high number of visits to emergency departments and Poison Control Centers across the country. Reports show bath salts users have needed medical attention for heart problems (such as racing heart, high blood pressure, and chest pains) and symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks. Find out more about bath salts here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts
Pablo69 - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Why are there so many lies that are told to teens about Medical Cannabis such as it is addictive, destroys brain cells and destroys your brain even though that these are lies and Cannabis is a medicine that helps people.

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Pablo69,
You ask an important question. The problem with medical cannabis is that there's no simple answer (despite what advocates may try to tell you). Marijuana can probably benefit some people, but that doesn't negate the bad health side effects--and those effects are especially bad in young people. Lots of scientific research shows this, so people who tell you it's not true are the ones lying. The question is how you balance the benefits and the drawbacks, and then it becomes a matter of opinion. Ultimately, the best answer is going to be developing real medications that use the beneficial chemicals in the cannabis plant (like cannabidiol) without causing the 'high' or the long-term effects on brain development. 
Here are some fact sheets with good info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana 
 I'm glad you're thinking about this complicated question--it's an important issue, with no simple answers!
David - Adamson High School, Texas: Does marijuana really destroys your brain cells ? when the scientists tested the monkeys they put a mask full of smoke without breathing for 5 min

Dave Thomas: 
David,
That is a VERY important question. Right now, marijuana is being made legal in many states for medicinal purposes, and in some states for recreational purposes.  We need to know if it will hurt people's brain, and if so, in what ways.  We are increasing research in the impact of marijuana so we can understand the impact of marijuana on the brain and the entire body.  
 
As for the study you describe, obviously not having air will cause brain damage, but I'm betting that the experiment involved putting a mask on and giving the monkeys a mix of marijuana smoke and regular air. This would be a way of testing how marijuana impacted the brain and other organs too.  
Dave 
If you didn’t get an answer to your question, we will upload the transcript in a week or two and you can search for your question using your username or you 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.
sexxi-kitten22 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: does coke make you skinny

Cora Lee Wetherington: 
Hi Kittten22, interesting question you've asked.  Coke can have a weight loss effect, but you do not want to go there.  Coke has many dangerous effects, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, but most importantly addiction and possible overdose and death.  By the time someone's coke use made them skinny, they've very likely be on the path to addiction or already there.  If you know someone who is thinking about using coke to lose weight or get skinny, please help them find healthy ways to do that. Ways that will help their body and the brain, not harm it.   
 
For more information on cocaine and its health effects, go to http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine.  
Did you know we have scientists here today from the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products? They know just about everything there is to know about tobacco---except why some kids start smoking when they know it is not healthy! So if you want to know anything about smoking or other tobacco products--- ask now!
NotFake - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: I was prescribed Adderall XR for my ADD, but I stopped taking it because it made me feel awful. I was taking 30 mg a day, and I realized I'd rather have attention problems then feel that way. Also, it says it contains M. amphetamine and D. amphetamine. What's the difference, and is M. amphetamine like methamphetamine? Thanks!

Denny Pintello: 
Hello there NotFake! Sorry to hear that Adderall XR did not work well for you. By chance, did you talk with your parent(s) or doctor about this? Often, your side effects can be managed by adjusting the dosage of your meds, or trying different meds. Yes, M. amphetamine is methamphetamine and D amphetamine refers dextroamphetamine, which is a related molecule to methamphetamine.  As you already know, methamphetamine is a stimulant, although it can have effects that are opposite from what would be expected of a stimulant. While stimulants (like caffeine) can cause hyperactivity, methamphetamine usually has a calming effect when it is taken in doses intended for ADHD treatment. For more info on ADHD, check out: 
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml
Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do. This can further increase the lungs'exposure to chemicals in the smoke, resulting in irritated lungs.
Directioner - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Can overdosing on trazodone cause you to be put in a concussion?

Joe Frascella: Hi Directioner...thanks for the question.  I am guessing that you are asking if overdosing can cause comas.  From what I can find, there have been reports of coma caused by trazodone.
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: how do I stop using drugs I had medication and I got addicted is there a method to help me

Will Aklin: 
Dear Aveson,
 
Thank you for your message, and I hope to offer you helpful advice. The best way to get help with prescription medication misuse is to seek out help from a treatment professional. A commonly used approach to help with prescription medication misuse is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT, which helps people understand the reasons why they misuse medication and develop healthy strategies and alternative behaviors that do not rely on medications. 
 
To find a treatment professional near you, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. For five questions to ask when searching for a treatment professional, go to: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment
 
Best wishes and remember, this is a treatable condition--you just need to get the right treatment from a trained professional.
aquinonez214 - Adamson High School, Texas: I love angel dust but what are the substances in it ?

Joni Rutter: Ok, aquinonez214.  
I'd like to start off by saying if you are really serious about loving angel dust, I strongly suggest you get help/seek treatment for its use.  Addiction is NO game and can mean the difference between life and death for so many people.  If you are playing around...get a life, because like I said, addiction is not a game for so many people...it can destroy their lives, families and kill them.
 
With that being said, the geeky name for angel dust is PCP or phencyclidine.  it is a 'dissociative' drug, distorting perceptions of sight and sound and producing feelings of detachment. Users can experience several unpleasant psychological effects, with symptoms mimicking schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, extreme anxiety). 
 
 
Stay smart and stay away from PCP and other drugs!
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ 
treebee - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is marajuna additive because ive been wondering.

Steve Gust: 
Very good question, treebee. Marijuana can be addictive for some users. The best information we have is that about 1 in 10 people who smoke it do become dependent or addicted. This risk increases to about 1 in 7 for people who start smoking when they are teenagers. For some more information on marijuana, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
yunglean - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Have you ever smoked crack?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey yunglean...No, I never have and never plan to!
 
Check out why I choose not to at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
careta656 - Pomona Middle School, New York: What is the most taken drug?

Marsha Lopez: Hi there careta656. Great question. Alcohol is the most used among all age groups (remember, it is an illegal drug for minors), but after that is marijuana and the non-medical use of prescription drugs.  This pattern shows up for most age groups. For example, over half of Americans 26-34 had used marijuana in their life, and almost one third had used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. For younger Americans, inhalants move up the ranks, with almost 11 percent of 8th graders reporting they've tried inhalants before, just behind alcohol (28%) and marijuana (16.5%). If you are a teen who might be addicted, or if know one with a substance abuse problem, here is some information on steps you can take:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it true that there is a certain type of drug that lets you stay awake for 48 hours?

Steve Gust: Hi lalala - there is a class of drugs caused stimulants that can cause sleeplessness and temporary alertness.  These drugs include amphetamine, methamphetamine, ritalin, and many others.  While they can help a person stay awake, they also have many other effects, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, panic, and possibly hallucinations.  For more information on how drugs can affect you, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
Not a Drug Guy - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Do you forget things after using marijuana the same way you do when you're drunk?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey Not a Drug Guy - I like that - be smart and keep it that way!  Way to go!
 
Marijuana has clear effects on memory;alcohol also can affect one's memory when drunk.
 
If you would like to learn more about marijuana's effects, go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana 
 
For more on alcohol check out: http://thecoolspot.gov/ 
wj - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: whats the most used drug?

Marsha Lopez: Hey wj.Thanks for your question!  Alcohol is the most used among all age groups (remember, it is an illegal drug for minors), but after that is marijuana and the non-medical use of prescription drugs.  This pattern shows up for most age groups. For example, over half of Americans 26-34 had used marijuana in their life, and almost one third had used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. For younger Americans, inhalants move up the ranks, with almost 11 percent of 8th graders reporting they've tried inhalants before, just behind alcohol (28%) and marijuana (16.5%). If you are a teen who might be addicted, or if know one with a substance abuse problem, here is some information on steps you can take:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem
Dr. Ericka BooneNow 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.
RyanMiles3 - Pomona Middle School, New York: why do people feel the way they do when they are on drugs

Lis Robertson: 
Hi again RyanMiles3, That's a very good question that is rather complicated to answer.  The short answer is that the types of drugs that are abused affect the brain and central nervous system.  This alters a variety of aspects of human functioning such as how you perceive your physical environment, the sensitivity of your body to touch, taste, etc., how you react to interactions with others etc.  
Drugs can also affect other aspects of physical function such as digestion (feeling ill) and so forth.  
Here is a resource that can provide you with a more in depth discussion
 
There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And check out this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
advisorybsup - Ennis High School , Texas: What is the worst drug?

Harold Perl: 
Hello advisorybsup!  You ask a very complicated question and the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in order of addictiveness and harm. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: like one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken -- all of which play important and interacting roles in determining how a particular drug may lead to addiction.

Even though it is almost impossible to rank drugs, we still can identify factors that contribute to or influence the addictiveness of a particular drug. One thing we do know, once you try drugs, you have a higher risk of becoming addicted. So the best solution is to not start at all!  For more info on addiction, check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Have any of you guys done drugs and are you using past experiences to help other with advice or are you guys just going off of what you know -HAJ

Jack Stein: Hey Aveson- our information is based on research conducted with people who are in fact addicted to drugs. In addition, there are many people here who either know someone with a drug problem, are in recovery, or are in recovery themselves. 
Walter White - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: why is it illegal to eat weed in brownies?

Steve Gust: Hi Walter - how are things in the lab?  As for marijuana in brownies, it is illegal in most states to smoke or eat marijuana. In several states marijuana has been made legal for medical uses, and in Colorado and Washington it is now legal to possess it for smoking or eating.
thebigD - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: recent studies have shown that the benifits of weed out wiegh the risks?

Susan Weiss: 
High bigD--not sure what studies you are referring to here.  Medically, some of the components in marijuana have benefits in treating nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and extreme weight loss associated with AIDS--but there are specific medications (marinol, cesamet) that contain these ingredients.  There's also interest in cannabadiol or CBD--which is sometimes found in marijuana--as a potential treatment for seizures, especially in young kids.  However, most of the marijuana that is available on the street has very little CBD, because it doesn't make you high and can even counter the effects of THC--the component that does make you high.  
 
Taking weed -- especially when you are young and have a developing brain, poses risks for your success in school, your mental health, and even addiction. Not sure the benefits of getting high can outweigh these risks.  
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.”
huntress - North carroll middle, Maryland: What is the most used drug in the United States?

Marsha Lopez: Hello there huntress. The most widely used illegal drug in the United States for minors is alcohol. After that it's marijuana and the non-medical use of prescription drugs. The most recent Monitoring the Future Study found that 62% of high school seniors had used alcohol, 36.4% had used marijuana and 15% had used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month. This is similar for most age groups (marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug for the United States as a whole).  For younger Americans, inhalants are more frequently used, with almost 11% of 8th graders reporting they've tried inhalants before--just behind alcohol (28%) and marijuana (16.5%). If you are a teen who might be addicted, or know one with a substance abuse problem, here is some information on steps you can take:

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem 
amanda_foo - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Does drugs affect body development?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi Amanda,
 
Yes drug use can affect body development. For example abusing anabolic steroids can cause stunted growth by causing the bones to stop growing too early. Also girls can experience facial hair growth and male pattern baldness. Take a look at the NIDA site for more problems that result when steroids are abused. 
Elmo - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What are the effects of ecstasy?

Harold Perl: 
Hey there Elmo.  Good question: lots of folks wonder about ecstasy (or MDMA). It has effects similar to those of other stimulants, and it often makes the person feel like everyone is his or her friend, even when that’s not the case. People might feel very alert at first, or lose a sense of time. People may become anxious and agitated, or feel faint or dizzy. Ecstasy can also cause muscle tension, nausea, blurred vision, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. But it doesn't stop there. Even if a person takes only one pill, the side effects of Ecstasy—including feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, and memory difficulties—can last for several days to a week (or longer). All in all, using ecstasy doesn't seem so great.
 
WALL-E - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: What are the effects of using heroin everyday?

Joni Rutter: 
WALL-E.  What...every day??  whoa.  
 
Heroin is definitely NOT GOOD for the body. Short-term effects of heroin include a surge of euphoria (feeling very good) and clouded thinking followed by alternately wakeful and drowsy states. 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. Heroin slows breathing, which means that an overdose can be fatal. 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! Stay smart!
Elias - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: I am a bigger person, will drugs take longer to effect me?

Joe Frascella: 
Hi Elias!  Good question...but hard to answer specifically, because there are lots of factors contributing to drug effects.  For example, it will depend on what drug you might be taking, what your experience with the drug is, how your genetics or other biological aspects will interact with the drug, what your expectations are, how much drug you take, or how you take the drug. 
 
Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol and drugs can affect this development, and contribute to a wide range of problems. I would say, that you should consider choosing smart and healthy over dull and impaired.
Matthew FingerMatthew Finger helps NIDA scientists figure out how many people are taking drugs and why. He earned his master's degree from the University of Denver, where he studied the international drug trade and, in particular, the Colombian drug war. He has lived in Washington for nearly three years;his current roommates include three women, a guy from college, and a cat named Pip.
SarahQ3 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: what is LSD?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi SarahQ3,
LSD stands for d-lysergic acid diethylamide. It's a synthetic (laboratory-made) chemical that causes powerful, long-lasting hallucinations and distortions in thought and perception. To learn more, you can check out our fact sheet on hallucinogens: pcphttp://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
laciek - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: Waht dose meath do to yo thats really bad

Albert Avila: 
Hello laciek, good question! Methamphetamine or 'Meth'can have various dangerous effects and a lot depends on how your body reacts to the drugs, genetics and how the drug is put into your body (such as in pill form, snorted, or injected directly into the bloodstream).  Some specific examples of bad methamphetamine effects are: an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, skin sores, weight loss, aging, problems with emotions and memory, and meth can sometimes be fatal.  One side effect that nobody would want is 'meth mouth,'take a look at this image. Yuck!
 
juanaa - Ennis High School , Texas: is it bad for pregnant girls to do drugs?

Ivan Montoya: Hi Juanaa. The answer is yes. It's bad for pregnant girls to use drugs and it's even worse for the baby. All drugs of abuse that pregnant mothers use get to the baby and can produce many bad effects. Some children whose mothers'use certain drugs such as heroin and prescription opiates, can develop what is called a Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. That mean that the child will have the symptoms of drug withdrawal and the baby suffers a lot. I hope I answered your question and have helped you to communicate to your friends that it's really a bad idea to use drugs during pregnancy. Thank you for your question. 
maryd@aslacadem - Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, New Mexico: What is meth?

Jack Stein: Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine.  Although methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited, and the doses that are prescribed are much lower than those typically abused. Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment
yunglean - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: If smoke marijuana for 10 years straight how with this affect your lungs?

Steve Gust: Hi yunglean - thanks for your question.  Smoking anything is not good for your lungs or health.  While marijuana has not been directly linked to lung cancer, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and ongoing research to examine that question. For sure, there are many compounds in smoked marijuana that are toxic and especially harmful if smoked over a long period of time.  More information on this can be found at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
rainbowcat - North carroll middle, Maryland: how long does it take for a person to stop being addicted?

Harold Perl: 
Hi rainbowcat.  Great question!  The answer is complicated: it depends on a lot of factors.  All drugs affect how your brain (and body) works in some way. Some drugs even change the actual physical structure of the brain! As you would guess, the more a drug affects the brain, the harder it would be to stop using it. Some people are especially susceptible to the addictive nature of a particular drug, so they may have a harder time stopping drug use than other people.  We are not sure why this is so, but it probably is related both to their genetic background and the environment in which they live. You can't know in advance if you are more likely to be affected by drugs, so the best thing is to not start at all.
 
Here's a link that explains why drugs are so hard to quit: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/videos/videos/why-are-drugs-so-hard-quit.  
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What does it mean when you "pop" a molly?

Jack Stein: MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), popularly known as ecstasy or, more recently, as Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.
:) - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what does MDMA stand for?

Jack Stein: MDMA stands for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, popularly known as ecstasy or, more recently, as Molly, is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception.
tennis1019 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Has the number of new smokers per year risen since 2000?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, Tennis,1019, that's a great question.  To answer, let's l turn to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which gives us data for the 10 years from 2002 to 2012.  In 2002 about 1.9 million Americans ages 12 and older started smoking, and 2012 the number of new smokers went up to 2.3 million (it actually went up in 2004 and has stayed pretty much the same since), which averages to about 6,400  new cigarette smokers per day. The number of new smokers under age 18 in 2012 was 1.2 million, which is basically unchanged from the 1.3 million 2002. If you'd like information about smoking and prevention, visit www.smokefree.gov, or FDA: www.fda.gov/quitnow
donaldo223 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what state in America is most affected by marijuana pls answer

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello donaldo223. Interesting question. First question I have received asking this today. Based on a national survey done in 2011 on drug use in the U.S., the states with the highest prevalence of drug use were Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington State. 
 
 

 

devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can you die from hallucinogens?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey devondonahue!  It's possible.  Not common, but possible.  At high doses, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration drop. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. PCP abusers are often brought to emergency rooms because of overdose or because of the drug’s severe untoward psychological effects. While intoxicated, PCP abusers may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves and others. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Because PCP can also have sedative effects, interactions with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can also lead to coma.
 
I'd suggest focusing on life and pursuing natural highs like hanging with friends and having fun!  Learn more about hallucinogens using this resource - lsd http://www.dr 
OmarElNegro - Ennis High School , Texas: Is cocaine bad for you?

Albert Avila: 
Yes, OmarElNegro, cocaine is very bad for you!  Like most drugs, cocaine can be deadly when taken in large doses or when mixed with other substances. Cocaine overdoses can lead to heart problems, strokes, increased body temperature, and convulsions, which if not treated immediately can result in death. Abusing cocaine along with alcohol increases these dangers, including the risk of overdose.
In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly soon after. Thanks for your question.
CampoDude - Marymount International School of Rome, : If tabacco and alcohol r so bad, then whe r they legal?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi CampoDude,
Unfortunately how dangerous a drug is doesn't necessarily relate to whether it is legal. Alcohol and tobacco are legal because they have always been valued by our society, for better or worse. Tobacco was important in the American colonies, and we exported it to the rest of the world and got the whole planet hooked! It has always been big business. Nowadays, even when most Americans no longer smoke, tobacco companies still have a lot of influence, even though they sell a deadly product. And despite its health dangers, alcohol is widely valued too;making it illegal (back in the 1920s) didn't last very long, even though that had beneficial health effects.  
Great question--and a complicated one to answer! 
hzuber - Pomona Middle School, New York: what drug can kill you the fastest

Joe Frascella: 
Lots of teens have asked some form of this question today.  Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in order of addictiveness and/or danger. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: like one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken, all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction or other dangerous health effects.
Although it is almost impossible to rank drugs, we can identify factors that contribute to or influence the dangers of a particular drug. What we do know is that all drugs have harmful side effects.
 
For more info on harmful health effects of drugs, check our chart at:
 
Thanks for writing in! 
gec731 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do drugs come in different flavors?

Ruben Baler: Hi gec731. Sometimes companies try to make drugs more appealing by adding flavors such as menthol to cigarettes. Other times users themselves can add them to different substances such as flavored alcohol (spiced rum), etc. Don't fall for that trap and steer clear. It's better to enjoy healthy items that taste good.
Aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: How are you doing today? What is the difference between Meth and Heroin?

Dave Thomas: 
I am doing great, thanks for asking Aveson!   
 
The big difference is that methamphetamine is a neural stimulant (it activates the brain) and heroin is a neural depressant (it slows brain activity). And this impacts what people do when they're on the drugs.  Meth abusers tend to 'bounce-of -the-wall' whereas heroin abusers tend to go to sleep (and sometime don't wake up ever). 
 
Dave 
Meg7 - Ephraim Curtis Middle School, Massachusetts: My friend eats an excessive amount of cough drops when she doesn't have a cold or sore throat. Is this bad?

Susan Weiss: Hi Meg---Hmmm--it depends.  If its the kind of cough drop that contains the medicine found in some cough syrups--dextromethorphan, then it could be problematic.  High doses can make you confused.  But if its the kind that just helps keep you from having a dry throat, then its probably not harmful (except for all the sugar in those candies).   
RrRrRayG - North carroll middle, Maryland: Do drugs have the same intoxicating abilities as alcohol?

Roger Sorensen: 
HhHhHey RrRrRayG
Thanks for asking.
 
Drugs and alcohol both intoxicate--basically,'intoxicate' means 'poison'. Intoxication from drugs and alcohol are the same in some ways--for example, both cause a chemical called dopamine to build up in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, and both alter thinking and memory. In other ways, each drug produces intoxication effects of its own.  
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: what are mushrooms and what do they do to you?

Joni Rutter: Hey again, Aveson.  
Some mushrooms can be safely eaten - My favorite fungi are oyster mushrooms.  They are a good source of vitamin D.  I get them from my local grocery store.  
 
But the psychedelic mushrooms are definitely harmful, and you don't find them at Whole Food...  The active ingredient is psilocybin and it's a hallucinogen.  It can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness and lack of coordination.  You can check out what kind of effects hallucinogens have on the body on the NIDA website's Drug Facts page: lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp http://www.dr  
rainbowcat - North carroll middle, Maryland: How much money is spent on drugs?

Marsha Lopez: Hi rainbowcat! What a purrfect question for chat day! It's hard to say how much money is spent on drugs, but estimates put the cost of drug abuse to be about $193 billion, with $11 billion coming from healthcare costs alone. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that global
cocaine and opium markets (heroin) were worth more than $150 billion in the 2000s. And that's not even including the multi-billion dollar marijuana market in the United States. That's the long answer. The short one, is too much! There are lots of fun things spend your money on that don't hurt your body like drugs. To find out more about what drugs do to your body,  visit NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
RyanMiles3 - Pomona Middle School, New York: how can people die from drugs

Albert Avila: 
Hello RyanMiles3, There are different ways people can die from drugs.  One is decreasing respiration so much that the person stops breathing. Sometimes, people vomit after passing out, and die from choking on their own vomit. Another way is from, heart attacks or other cardiovascular events (strokes), which is mainly associated with stimulant drugs like cocaine and amphetamines or from long-term diseases like cancer caused by smoking tobacco.  A third way is by engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence. For example, a fight, falling down or driving under the influence can all lead to death.  
31670 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how many pounds of cocaine are smuggled across the American border every year

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi there 31670. You're asking a good question. Unfortunately it's hard to measure exactly how much cocaine is smuggle into the United States. But we do have pretty good estimates. The White House's Office on National Drug Control Policy estimates that in 2010 there were 709 metric tons moving toward the United States from abroad. That's over 1.5 million pounds! You can check out the full report here, on ONDCP's website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/16/new-report-cocaine-smuggling-2010
 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how much alcohol does it take to get high

Aaron White: 
Good question. Getting drunk depends on several things, including the size of the person and whether they are male or female. For some people, just one drink can be enough to make them feel intoxicated and cause impairments. For others it might take a few more. Adults are considered to be legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (a measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood) reaches a level of 0.08%, which happens after about 4 or 5 drinks in a few hours.
 
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

 

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. Recognizing some of the warning signs is the first step in helping yourself or someone you care about. Learn more about the warning signs here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-a-major-preventable-mental-health-problem-fact-sheet/index.shtml.
Danielle wells - Ennis High School , Texas: Why is Mary Jane bad? It makes you feel real good. Have you ever went to sleep high? It's like sleeping on clouds

Steve Gust: Hi Danielle - while you may feel good after smoking marijuana you need to be aware that it is also having some harmful effects on you.  Teenagers brains are still developing and marijuana can affect important parts of it.  One recent study suggests that people who start smoking at a young age and continue smoking it will have serious reductions in their IQ.  So, please remember that marijuana is not a harmless drug.  You might want to check out this website for some additional information http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Dr. Joseph FrascellaDr. 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.
amanda_foo - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How are people introduced to drugs?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello amanda_foo. How are you? Good question. Well, people can be introduced to drugs by peers/friends, family members, strangers. People could be introduced to drugs at a party, at a friend's house, at school, in the community. Drugs could be introduced by anyone and in any setting or situation. Some people start using a drug that has been prescribed to them by a doctor for a medical reason and then start to misuse or abuse the drug by continuing to use longer than prescribed, more than prescribed or for reasons other than prescribed. It is most important to know the facts about drugs and their effects, and to prepare how you'll respond and avoid use if drugs are made available to you.
Aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What is the most consumed drug in the world?

Jack Stein: Alcohol is the most widely consumed drug in the world!
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -Can you get a good natural high?

Joni Rutter: Hey CFPC! You bet!  I do it all the time.  Good food is one of my favorite natural highs!
YouthSource - YouthSource Renton, Washington: How much alcohol or drugs do you need to take to be called an abuser?

Aaron White: That's tricky. Some people would say that any alcohol use at all by teenagers is alcohol abuse because of the numerous negative outcomes that can result (alcoholism, brain damage, etc). But the amount of alcohol it would take for someone to start missing school, not doing homework, being late to work, etc, could be quite different from person to person. 

While only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure if someone has a problem, here are some 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

·You drink even if it causes physical problems, or makes problems you already have worse

You can learn more about the signs of alcoholism and suggestions for quitting here:

http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Support/ChooseYourApproach.asp 
 
 
Dr. Steve GustDr. Steve Gust directs NIDA's international program, where he coordinates the institute’s international research and training activities. He has experience in with many types of research programs in the substance abuse field--including laboratory research on how drugs change the way you behave and think, studies of the effects of drug use on workplace performance, and the development of workplace drug policies and programs. He also is an expert in drug testing---and keeps track of efforts to figure out how to test for marijuana intoxication in drivers. He has traveled all over the world for his job---not a bad gig.
Allen - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: How do drugs affect the brain?

Dave Thomas: 
Great question Allen.
 
I am actually a neuroscientist, so I like this sort of question.  The answer is actually complicated and depends on the drug.  For example cocaine causes a direct increase in dopamine (a brain chemical). Heroin activates a certain type of receptor (receptors are places where chemicals bind) called an opioid receptor.  It also causes dopamine release.  Amphetamine is a stimulant and produces a general increase in brain activity.  Benzodiazpines generally reduce brain activity.  Most drugs affect the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain but they often have other affects too.  
 
For more information see: 
http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain
 
Dave 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: what is in expo markers that makes you high?

Joni Rutter: 

Thanks for your question aveson

expo markers contain volatile solvents, liquids that vaporize at room temperature. There are many products readily found in the home or workplace—such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids—contain volatile substances that have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties when inhaled.  Most abused inhalants depress the central nervous system in a manner not unlike alcohol. The effects are similar—including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant abusers may also experience light-headedness, hallucinations, delusions, nausea, vomiting...effects that can last for hours!  

Inhalants can even be lethal, causing heart failure and also suffocation due to lack of oxygen.  Want more information on inhalants?  Check out this resource - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants and http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants
Dr. Jacqueline LloydDr. 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 training's, 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.
Angel - Ennis High School , Texas: Can marijuana kill you?

Steve Gust: Hi Angel - it is often said that marijuana has never caused a death by overdose. However, there are many other harmful effects of marijuana that could increase the risk of severe injury or death.  For example, there is an increased risk of having an accident while driving under the influence of marijuana.  For more information check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Dr. Susan R.B. WeissDr. 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 adviser 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.
KitkatXD - Los Altos High School, California: Why is cocaine a good tea for head aches but bad for you as a drug?

Joe Frascella: Hi KitkatXD.  Thanks for your thoughtful question.  When brewed as a tea, coca leaves can help with a headache because they ease constricted blood vessels.  While it is derived from the coca leaves, cocaine is a different animal. Because of its concentrated form, it is a much more potent stimulant that can cause many harmful health effects.  For details about short- and long-term effects, check out the teen fact sheet at:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
c322d - La Sierra Military Academy, California: One time I took a lot of my mom's prescription drugs. I started to feel really hot and weird I was super itchy and uncomfortable I was very tired after wards what was happening to me?

Steve Gust: Hi - that sounds very scary.  Without knowing what the drugs were it is hard to say, but you may have been having an allergic reaction.  You were lucky the symptoms were not worse.  Allergic reactions can be very serious, even deadly.  Using anyone's prescription is not a good idea.  For some additional information on how drugs affect you, take a look at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs.
Dr. Marsha LopezDr. 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 poly-substance use (abusing more than one kind of substance) and co-occurring psychiatric conditions (like using drugs and being depressed at the same time.) While most of Marsha’s extended family lives in Argentina, she lives here with Marco (age 9), Gigi (age 6), and their two axolotls Mad Eye and Hermione. She chose a Hermione look alike to be her avatar today.
druguser214 - Adamson High School, Texas: if I take bath salts will I turn into a zombie like the guy in Miami? I want BRAINNNNNNZZZZZZZZZZ!

Eric Wargo: 
Hey druguser214,
I'm a drug user too--if you count caffeine. Hopefully that's what you mean too. :-)
No, you won't turn into a zombie if you take bath salts. Bath salts do cause bad reactions though, and can cause psychotic reactions. You can read more about it here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
It might interest you to know that the guy in Miami turned out NOT to have bath salts in his system--only marijuana! Marijuana probably won't make you a zombie either, though. Sorry! 
Dr. Dave ThomasDr. 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.
Dr. Nicolette Borek is a clinical psychologist at the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AT CTP Dr. Borek leads a group of FDA scientists who work on a large study on tobacco use, attitudes and health called the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. The PATH Study will include about 42,000 adults and 17,000 12 -17 year olds from all over the U.S. looking at things like 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 children and teens exposed to nicotine and other drugs of abuse 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 spend time with family and friends, do yoga, run, hike and bike, take pictures, and travel.
Gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: How do kids get into smoking?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello Gem. Good and important question you are asking here. I think the media (t.v., movies, and advertisements) lead many kids to thinking that smoking is an 'adult' and 'cool' thing to do. IN FACT smoking is not cool at all. Smoking is the number one cause of cancer and also leads to other terrible health problems Try to educate your friends and encourage them to do the same as well. For information on the smoking and tobacco click here.
Dr. Denise PintelloDr. Denise Pintello is online now. Known as 'Denny,' she worked at NIDA for 11 years and now works at the National Institute on Mental Health---and is still helping out during CHAT DAY! While in college and grad school, she studied the impact of childhood trauma so she can talk to teens about both drug abuse and other mental health issues. One of her many fascinating jobs at NIMH involves overseeing studies that help make treatment more accessible for students struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd dog, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and traveling to beautiful locations to enjoy warm beaches.
Dr. Aaron WhiteDr. Aaron White is now here to answer your questions about alcohol. Aaron is a psychologist with our sister Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. His expertise is in how alcohol affects the brain. He knows a lot about how the brain changes during the teenage years and how alcohol and other drugs affect the teen brain. He is very interested in something called 'alcohol blackouts,'where people, including teenagers, who drink too much can't remember what they did while they were drinking. His favorite things about his job are that he gets to be on the cutting edge of science, help teenagers make healthy choices about alcohol and, hopefully, keep their brains safe.
novatoxin - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: how many people die from smoking

Cindy Miner: Hi GMG - in the United States alone it's about 440,000 deaths per year or one in five deaths a year are attributable to smoking, over 20 million since 1964 when the first surgeon general's report on smoking was released...Here's some more info: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm#definition
Eileen Marshall - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: As a teacher, what can I say to parents when their drinking and or smoking is affecting their student?

Susan Weiss: 
Dear Ms. Marshall---your students are lucky to have such a caring teacher. We recommend you encourage the parents to check out the NIDA Web site, which discusses the dangers of second hand smoke around the house (it can actually cause lung cancer in non smokers.)  The parents should also know that their child is at higher risk for addiction because of their own behavior---tell the student that he/she has the power to avoid trying any drug. For more information on alcohol, the parents can go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse &Alcoholism Web site at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.
Most importantly, we wanted to make you aware of two helplines if the student is in a crisis:  
he/she can call the government’s crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7. People call this line for help with substance abuse, relationship and family problems, illness, abuse, depression, mental and physical illness, sexual orientation issues, and even loneliness or thoughts of suicide. He/she will be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area. If abuse is an issue, you or the student can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-7233/ http://www.thehotline.org/
AG - Pomona Middle School, New York: Jack Stein, if AIDS can be managed or treated why do people still die from this disease?

Jack Stein: Unfortunately, not all people infected with HIV get treated or get treated early enough in their disease. Our goal is that everyone at risk be tested for HIV early and yearly so they can begin treatment asap. Thanks for asking!
Dr. Cora Lee WetheringtonDr. Cora Lee Wetherington is the coordinator for NIDA's women and sex and gender differences program which fosters research in this area across all aspects of drug abuse, including vulnerability to drug abuse, effects of exposure to drugs during lifespan development, treatment, pregnancy issues and other issues unique to females. She is a native North Carolinian and prior to joining NIDA, Dr. Wetherington was a professor in the psychology department at UNC-Charlotte for 11 years. She has two adorable beagles, Bodie and Abbie.
suicide silence - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: do you think they should band beer and not weed because more die a year of drinking but you dont really hear of people dying of weed

Aaron White: Interesting question. It's not a question we can answer but one that you, as a member of the next generation of leaders, can decide!
Dr. Joni RutterHave 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. Dr. Rutter received her PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Dartmouth Medical School in 1999 and joined the NIH cancer institute that same year. She moved to NIDA in 2003 where she managed studies in human and population genetics, pharmacogenetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, and molecular epidemiology, as they relate to drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Rutter is also involved in oversight and the continued development of genomics research at NIDA, which includes a repository of clinical data and biologic samples for drug abuse research in genetics. Dr. Rutter was recently appointed as the Director of NIDA's basic science programs. When she's not at work, she likes to spend time with friends and go hiking &birding. Her favorite class in high school was physics;she was student body president and played varsity volleyball and basketball. She has 2 cats, Winky and Dobby, 10 red-footed tortoises, 6 red-kneed tarantulas, 2 Arizona hairy scorpions, 6 Xenopus frogs, and 1 lungfish. 
megans - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: is marijuana addictive?

Steve Gust: Hi megans - very good question.  Marijuana can be addictive for some users.  The best information we have is that about 1 in 10 people who smoke it do become dependent or addicted.  This risk increases to about 1 in 7 for people who start smoking when they are teenagers.  For some more information on marijuana check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Dr. Ivan MontoyaJoining us now is Dr. Ivan Montoya who received his M.D. from the University of Antioquia in Colombia (in South America!) and a Masters in Public Health from The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Dr. Montoya works with scientists who are trying to create better medications for people who suffer from addiction. He also has been a consultant for the World Health Organization’s Pan American Health Organization. He likes all kinds of water sports, in particular swimming and kayaking, and also likes to play the bassoon and dance Latin music.
jackie - Pomona Middle School, New York: What affects alcohol and drugs in your body?

Aaron White: 
Alcohol can cause a variety of problems for young people. In particular, alcohol affects both the brain and the body:

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. 

Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot  have trouble with learning. Also, 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!

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

 
SlapCheese - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: Im about to attempt suicide, is this the right website?

Denny Pintello: 
SlapCheese: Hey - I'm sorry to hear that you are struggling. Your instinct to talk with someone is a great step - and right now, I want you to do any of the following:
 
1) Find a trusted person (teacher, coach, etc) and share your thoughts with them 
2) Call 1-800-273-TALK
3) Visit: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 
4) Go to your local emergency room or call 911
 
Please don't wait - help is available! You matter! Your life is worth it. Things will only get better. :) 
christopher_bri - Simmons Junior Senior High School, Mississippi: why do people see drugs as something good to use?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi Christopher_bri -- thanks for your question. Some people may think drugs will make them feel good, solve problems or help them fit in with their peers. Others may think drugs are cool because of the way drugs are portrayed in the media. In fact, drug abuse will create more problems.  It's best to avoid drugs--and for people to get help if they are abusing them.
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: How many different types of drugs are there?

Dave Thomas: 
There are a lot!  And people can change drugs by doing little chemical processes, and create new drugs.  There is a pretty good listing of the drug that are abused the most on the NIDA website.  However, new drugs pop up all the time, and the list constantly needs to be revised.
 
 Dave
 
 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/by/6/drugs-abuse
Dr. Elizabeth RobertsonDr. Elizabeth Robertson is an expert in human and family development with particular interest in how to help prevention practitioners use science-based intervention 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 home and her cat Bella Luna Dark Shadow Robertson. Luna helps her with all of her favorite pastimes of gardening, needlepoint, and various other crafts.
Ruthless Gravy - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: If I have sex while high and drunk what could happen?

Jack Stein: Drugs impair judgement leading to potentially risky activity that could result in transmitting infectious diseases like HIV.
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is drinking alcohol mixed with water better for you?

Aaron White: Yes, if you're an adult, drinking alcohol in drinks that are more diluted will slow the rate that alcohol gets into the body and affects the brain. It's also a very good idea for people to drink a big glass of water or other non-alcoholic beverage after they have in between drinks. If you're under age 21, you should not be drinking alcohol at all.
username - Bellows Falls Union High School, Vermont: If you don't have a bad trip what are the long term effects of hallucinogens?

Joni Rutter: Yo, username, you don't have a bad trip to have long-term effects of hallucinogens. It's a complicated question--you get credit for that! Long-term effects of some hallucinogens include frightening flashbacks, impaired memory, problems thinking clearly and more.  These effects can be unpredictable.  Bad trip or not, there are some serious side effects associated with use of hallucinogens.
 
For more info check out our website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ 
20n62604 - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: Can marijuana cause cancer

Will Aklin: 
20n62604--Wow! This is a great question, and one that is currently being studied extensively. We have learned a lot about cigarette smoking and we are only just beginning to learn about marijuana. Remember, it took a long time for us to understood the connection between cigarette smoking and illness.  Now we know, however, that cigarette smoking results in more than 443,000 deaths in the US each year, and an additional 8.6 million people suffer from serious illnesses including cancer caused by smoking. There are studies ongoing where researchers are now investigating whether there is a similar link between smoking marijuana and cancer. Stay tuned!
Eric WargoDr. 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.
huntress - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is there a certain amount of days your life decreases with some amount of alcohol?

Aaron White: That's really hard to say because adults who drink small amounts of alcohol (1 drink per day for a woman or 2 for a man) tend to live longer while those who drink heavily to die sooner. So there really isn't a certain amount of life lost per drink. Good question, though!!
umastar 97 - North carroll middle, Maryland: if I take cocaine a couple dozen times will it kill me nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Joe Frascella: Hey umaster 97!  Thanks for the question.  Hard to answer this question definitively, as some people take cocaine for many years and they do not die, and some take it once or twice, and end up with medical complications and even death.  There is no way to predict how an individual will respond to a drug or what kind of consequences will follow after taking it.  There are lots of reasons because people might have individual vulnerabilities or allergies to certain drugs;they might have some genetic or other biologic factors that will affect one's response to a drug;they might have a pre-existing medical condition that a drug might interact with;etc.  Part of the danger of taking drugs is that it is a bit like playing Russian Roulette.  Stay safe, stay healthy...avoid drugs and give yourself the best shot to succeed!
Did you know that more than 10,000 kids like you are also asking us questions today---and we only have 50 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 accidentally learn something about drugs!
student 007 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what is the least commonly used drug?

Marsha Lopez: Hey student 007. That is a really tough question to answer with some stirring (not shaken!) answers. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health tells us that in the past year less than 1% of Americans aged 12 and older used crack cocaine, heroin, LSD, PCP, inhalants and methamphetamine. Wow! Those are a lot of well-known drugs that Americans aren't actually using. It just goes to show you that despite what some might say, everyone is not using drugs. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
#SWAG - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: whats the 2 worst drugs u can mix

Ruben Baler: Hi, #swag. That's a great question, and the answer is complicated. Mixing two drugs that both have 'sedative' effects can be very dangerous because their effects are often more than simply 'additive' - examples in this category could include alcohol, tranquilizers, sleeping aids or hallucinogens such as PCP. But sometimes mixing drugs that have opposite effects could mask their individual effects (for example, alcohol and energy drinks), causing someone to consume dangerous levels because they don't feel the effects right away. And even mixing prescription medications is dangerous unless prescribed by and under the close supervision of a doctor. So don't do it unless a doctor says it's okay!
Spike Nick - Lathrop High School, Alaska: how much vodka, whiskey, all the other hard alcohol can you take before getting really drunk?

Aaron White: 
Good question. It depends on several things, including the size of the person and whether they are male or female. For some people, just one drink can be enough to make them feel intoxicated and cause impairments. For others it might take a few more. Adults are considered to be legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (a measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood) reaches a level of 0.08%, which happens after about 4 or 5 drinks in a few hours.
 
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

 

yunglean - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Can coke knock off your nose completely if you do it for a while?

Dave Thomas: 
Well I don't know about that.  It would be upsetting!!!  Snorting cocaine can cause extensive damage to the nasal mucosa (the lining of you nasal passages), which is serious.  However, I do not think your nose will fall off.
 
Dave 
Send us a serious question we have never seen before and the moderator will reward you with a star!
Radog - Pomona Middle School, New York: Would a drug cause a allergic reaction?

Steve Gust: Hi Radog - yes, absolutely.  Many drugs can cause an allergic reaction, both legal drugs and illegal drugs. There is no easy way to predict who will have an allergic reaction, but if you have one and have difficulty breathing, develop a sudden skin rash, or have a sudden fever or chills you should see a doctor right away!
Each day in the United States nearly 3,300 young people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 700 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers. That’s way too many!
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What are the worst drugs to take together

Joe Frascella: 
Hi! Great question but the answer to your question is not so simple. We really cannot predict the harmfulness and dangers of different drug combinations. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: like one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken, all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction or other dangerous health effects.
 
I would recommend that you take a look at some of what we do know about the harmful side effects of drugs.  Rarely are combinations of drugs safe.
 
For more info on health effects of drugs, check our chart at:
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: Is heroin the most harmful drug?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey gem,
Hard to say.  Heroin is very dangerous for sure.  Heroin tends to be injected, and you can get all sorts of diseases doing that.  But more people die of tobacco- or alcohol-related illnesses  - and they're legal and freely available.   
 
Whereas it is hard to compare drugs as to exactly how bad they are relative to each other, heroin certainly is very dangerous and you should not try it, even once...
 
Dave 
QuestionAbout how many 8th graders havetried an inhalant to get high?
The correct answer is: A little more than 1 in 10eighth graders have tried inhalants to get high. Common inhalants are glue, cleaning fluid, permanent markers, and spray paints. The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) reports that approximately 100 to 125 people lose their lives every year from “sudden sniffing death syndrome,” when inhalants cause the heart to stop. Learn more: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/inhalants
NotFake - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: In middle school, I remember a lot of my friends who would eat a spoon full of nutmeg because they said it gave them a safe high... does it make you high, or is it a mental effect? Also, is it even safe?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi NotFake,
Great question. It's true, nutmeg can reportedly cause a (real) hallucinogenic experience ... as well as make you spend a while in the bathroom throwing up (and other stuff). Kids sometimes end up in emergency rooms from eating nutmeg trying to get high. No, it's not safe, and it's not smart.   
Caseybro_45 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How long does a high last?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for the question! The answer to this question is complicated...it depends on many factors, such as how much and which drug is taken, what one's previous experience with the drug is, how the drug is taken (smoked, snorted, eaten, injected), how the person is going to respond to the drug, what a person's expectations are, etc., etc.
 
If you want to learn more about specific drugs, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
Jay Will - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Why do some people do drugs?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Jay Will! There are lots and lots of reasons why people take drugs. Some reasons include: 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. ...Here is a link to learn more about preventing drug abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents
Thanks for the great question Jay Will!
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What is the most popular drug in high school?

Marsha Lopez: Hi there!  Great question! The most widely used illegal drug in the United States for minors is alcohol. After that it's marijuana and the non-medical use of prescription drugs. The most recent Monitoring the Future Study found that 62% of high school seniors had used alcohol, 36.4% had used marijuana and 15% had used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month.  You can see all the results of this survey here, at the MTF website: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/
Jay Will - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Why do people take drugs?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Jay Will! There are lots and lots of reasons why people take drugs. Some reasons include: 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. ...Here is a link to learn more about preventing drug abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents
 
 Thanks for the great question Jay Will! 
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: If medical marijuana is legalized would people need a medical card?

Bethany Deeds: Hello to you again Gem at Glen Meadow Middle School--Thanks for your question! There are 20 states and Washington, DC that currently have medical marijuana policies. There are differences in how states administer these programs including how to register (or get a medical card). Also some states are have or are investigating 'reciprocity' of each other's cards. For more information, check out: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/state-laws-related-to-marijuana
beginagain - Pomona Middle School, New York: Are there any drugs that are typically considered illegal that can be prescribed by doctors?

Steve Gust: Hi beginagain - generally no...by definition drugs that can be prescribed by doctors are not illegal.  The one exception to that is marijuana which is legal under some states'laws but still illegal under Federal law. Great question!
drugs are bad - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: why do so many teens do drugs and go to drugs to solve their problems if they are just making it worst for themsleves?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hi drugs are bad (like your name!): Some people mistakenly think that drugs will solve their problems--But that's not the case. You've already said it--they are just making their problems worse!  Drugs can have severe health consequences including addiction.  While there are teens that turn to drugs (for many reasons: peer pressure, to feel better, curiosity, etc.), most teens, in fact, do not use drugs. Check out this fact sheet on youth trends: click here.
helga - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: What happens when people take aderall when they dont need it?

Joni Rutter: 
hey helga, why would you take Aderall if you don't need it?  I guess if you did, you'd risk a few things. There are those that take it because they feel that it will help them concentrate and get good grades. But unless you have ADD or ADHD, studies show that it doesn't really help you.  There are side effects associated with misuse of stimulant medications, including irregular heart beat and changes in blood pressure.  Other potential side effects include abdominal pain, acne, blurred vision, dry mouth, loss of appetite, nausea, seizures, and weight loss.
 
Danielle wells - Ennis High School , Texas: Is using vape pens bad? I love mine I got good flavors

Cindy Miner: 
Hey Danielle - good question - the thing is, we don't really know all of the chemicals in vape pens/e-cigs like the chemicals that go into the flavors that you like so much.  Chances are there is nicotine in the vape pen, and we do know that nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. Check out this.... http://teen.smokefree.gov/e-cigs.aspx
And here's some info on nicotine: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-addiction/nicotine-addictive
 
chloemateleska - North carroll middle, Maryland: which state in the u.s abuses drugs the most.?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi chloemateleska!  It's hard to say which state abuses drugs the most. Different areas of the country tend to have different patterns of drug use. It also differs by age group. But you can heck out these cool maps from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showing overall drug use, marijuana use, perception of harm and more. For example states with the highest percentage of drug use among teenagers include DC, California, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Maryland, where you're writing from, falls in the second to lowest group. 
 
Regardless of where you live, you can always find help for someone who is struggling with a drug problem. Go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
Illicit Drug Use in the Past Month among Youths Aged 12 to 17
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Eileen Marshall - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: Can it hurt me to take Tylenol and Advil at the same time?

Dave Thomas: 
Eileen,
Probably not.  They are similar types of pain killers. But they typically are not given together.  If you take one and it works, there aren't advantages to taking the other.  But if you have pain, I suggest you get some medical advise from a doctor, and try that instead of experimenting on yourself.
Dave 
tug123 - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: what is vicdin

Steve Gust: Hi tug - Vicodin is a pain killer drug, otherwise known as hydrocodone.  It is a very powerful drug and should only be used for a short time, and only with a doctor's prescription. Thanks for the question!
AG - Pomona Middle School, New York: are bath salts the same as bath salts? what are bath salts, they sound like inhalants

Steve Gust: HI AG - good question.  And the answer is no.  There are bath salts that are meant to be used in an actual bath, and these tend to be things that smell nice or make your skin smooth.  There are also 'bath salts'that are drugs meant to be taken by mouth and not used in baths at all.  The 'bath salts'term is just used to get around the illegality of selling these substances for human consumption.  It is important to know and remember that these 'bath salts'are very different from each other and that they can contain any of a number of chemicals, many of which we do not know much about.  For more information check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts.
AnnmarieS. - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta48: What % of teenagers drink alcohol?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hey, AnnmarieS, thanks for your question. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports about 13% of kids ages 12-17 are current drinkers of alcohol.  Around 7% in the same age group were binge drinkers (binge drinking is defined as having 5 or more drinks on one occasion). if you want to know more about alcohol abuse, there is another government agency that studies alcohol’s effects. Check out the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse &Alcoholism Web site at: www.niaaa.nih.gov.
Gingy - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: How will drugs affect my diabetes?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hi Gingy,
I assume that you are taking medications to control your insulin and sugar levels. There are many drugs  that can affect the ability of your diabetes medication to control your blood sugar. Drugs may directly prevent the diabetes medication from regulating insulin levels. Other drugs may alter the production of insulin such that your diabetes medication doesn't do its job. It is very important that you tell your doctor what drugs you have been taking so that you can properly manage your diabetes.
Deal888 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what reaction in the body cause people to get drunk or high, and how would it feel?

Ruben Baler: Hi, Deal888. All abused drugs act in the brain to make you feel 'drunk' or 'high.' It's hard to describe how it would make you feel, as people react differently to drugs. And different drugs have different effects. Some people do like the feeling that drugs give them, but that brief pleasure isn't worth the consequences - some of which are very serious. And many actually find the feelings caused by drugs to be very unpleasant. Given that you won't know how a drug will effect you, it's not worth the experiment.
krista - Ennis High School , Texas: yo what if one of your prescribed meds makes you have hallucinate??????????

Denny Pintello: Hey Krista!  Pleeease talk today with one or your parents and your doctor who prescribed yours meds. This is a serious side effect - so please, promise me that you'll do this right away. Your doctor will adjust the meds ASAP.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: which celebreties are known for drugs and alocohol

Joni Rutter: There are lots of celebrities who have been in the media for drug use.  There are also those that unfortunately died as a result of drug use, including Whitney Houston, Cory Monteith, Heath Ledger, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Elvis...sadly, the list goes on...
garciaj04 - Ennis High School , Texas: whats the most dangerous drug?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hey Garciaj
 
We've been asked this question a lot.
 
This question is complicated so the answer is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in order of harm. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: like one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken, all of which play important and changing roles in determining whether one will have a dangerous reaction or to what extent abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction.

That doesn't mean we don't know a lot about the dangers of drugs--we do. Check out this website: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/index.htm 
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.”
thebigD - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: in a recent song by trinidad james, he claims that he pops a molly and starts to perspire, however i once popped a molly and did not go through the same symptoms. Is this actually a real thing or did he just made this up for the song

Dave Thomas: 
Hi BigD,
I would not try it again if I were you.  Lots of people who abuse MDMA (Molly) move around/dance a lot and sweat.  Hyperthermia is actually a big issue, and is sometimes fatal.  That is likely what the song is referring to.  Maybe the Molly that you took wasn't really Molly or was a very low dose.  
 Dave 
JefferyWoodsJTK - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: why are people so attracted to alcohol it is a deppressant

Aaron White: 
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.
Learn more about why alcohol is dangerous for kids under age 21 and how you can resist the peer pressure to drink at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp 
c322d - La Sierra Military Academy, California: How do you know when to stop drinking alcohol?

Aaron White: That's a tough question to answer. If you want to avoid being at an increased risk of alcoholism later in life, getting in trouble legally, having grades suffer, etc, it's best not to start. If you're referring to drinking during a particular evening, the risk of getting injured or injuring others increases with every drink. 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What does the term ¨getting high¨refer to?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi aveson,
'Getting high' refers to the pleasurable feeling caused by some drugs. Drugs cause a surge of brain chemicals (such as dopamine) in the same brain circuits that give you a pleasurable feeling like when eating a delicious food or hearing nice music. Drugs magnify this good feeling and in some cases prolong it. The problem--or one of the problems--is that it causes your brain to want and expect more of the drug, leading very easily to addiction.
Great question! 
aquinonez214 - Adamson High School, Texas: aren't drugs good for you

Jack Stein: Medications that are taken as prescribed are indeed drugs that are good for you. Unfortunately, these and other kinds of drugs can be abused leading to serious health effects. check out drugabuse.gov for more info.
nymike412 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: HOW DO DRUGS AFFECT SOMEONES LIFE

Denny Pintello: 
nymike412: hello there! Your question is great - and to really tackle it, it would take a few hours to answer, yet let me give it a go ... :)
 
We are using science to find out that drugs of abuse (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc) actually change the chemistry of brain. Brain imaging studies from drug-addicted individuals show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control.  These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works, and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction. Check out this pub: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction.
 
Down the road, drugs can influence your ability to make good decisions about what to do with your life, it can keep you from succeeding in school, work and from developing really meaningful friendships and relationships in your life. 
Tyost@vtsd.com - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: can you quit smoking marijuana as easy as it is to quit smoking cigarettes?

Bethany Deeds: Hi Tyost!  I am not sure, but I would imagine both are equally challenging to quit.  The best thing to do is not to start!  For more information on quitting either drug, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
A 2013 survey showed that about 26% of 10th graders drank alcohol in the past month. That means about 3 in 4 teens chose NOT to do so.
lordkickbutt69 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Do you think marijuana should be legal in all states?

Steve Gust: Hi lord - If tobacco and alcohol are any example, marijuana should not be legal at all.  It has a lot of detrimental effects on the brain and behavior.  There are a lot of reasons to consider changing the legal penalties for using it.  But making it legal will only make it more available, and that will lead to more people becoming addicted, more traffic accidents related to its use, and more effects on the developing teenage brain.   
ivonne - Ennis High School , Texas: what is k2?

Dave Thomas: 
 K2 is a drug that is supposed to mimic how marijuana acts.  It's often used because it doesn't show up on tests of marijuana.  But, like other drugs, it has harmful effects including that K2 often has mixtures of lots of drugs, many of which we don't know much about.  For more information see: 
 
http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/spice-synthetic-marijuana
 
  
Dave 
Linda.Thurman - Ennis High School , Texas: What is a Molly?

Will Aklin: 
Hi Linda,
 
Molly is just a new term for a drug that's been around awhile, known as MDMA or ecstasy. It's a psychoactive drug--which means it affects brain function. MDMA causes many physical and emotional feelings, including anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and drug craving. What is interesting and perhaps disturbing about 'Molly'is the fact that these conditions occur after taking the drug and continue for weeks after.
 
For more information about 'Molly'or any other drug of abuse, please see the following link: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly
 
 
 
 
3lo - Kauai High School, Hawaii: Does the alcohol damage the lungs? If so, how?

Aaron White: While it's possible for any body organ to be damaged by alcohol, it's not common for the lungs to be affected. 
JefferyWoodsJTK - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: How do you help someone deal with surviving a recent incident with severe alcohol poisoning

Aaron White: If you are concerned that a friend might have had too much to drink, it's important to call for help immediately. It would be much better to have a friend angry at you for calling for help than to die from alcohol poisoning. There isn't anything a person can do to help a friend sober up or pull them back from the brink of death. It's so so so important to call for help. You can learn more about alcohol poisoning, including recognizing its signs here: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm
Marissa Roybal - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Do all drugs effect the body.

Jack Stein:  The impact of addiction can be far reaching. Cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and lung disease can all be affected by drug abuse. Some of these effects occur when drugs are used at high doses or after prolonged use, however, some may occur after just one use. Check out drugabuse.gov for more info.
lionstudent - Ennis High School , Texas: I have been told that if you smoke K-2 **SPICE** it will not show up on a drug test, is this true?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi lionstudent,
That used to be true when those drugs were first sold a few years ago, but they now can easily test for K2/Spice and other related drugs.
Good question! 
gec731 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Will I become a cannibal if I use lsd?

Ruben Baler: 
Hi gec731. I'm not aware of any science showing that drug use can result in cannabilism. But LSD does have some effects that you should be aware of, such as distorting perceptions of reality and producing hallucinations. These effects can be frightening and cause panic, so you could do things you normally wouldn't do if you weren't on LSD.
 
 
buttercup - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: What is the best tasting margarita?

Aaron White: Hmm. I don't really like margaritas so to me the best tasting margarita would be a Sprite.
king thomas - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: what is spice?

Susan Weiss: 
 Hello King Thomas---hello to all at the GREAT Academy! 

“Spice”is a mix of herbs that produce experiences similar to marijuana (cannabis). Spice mixtures are marketed as “natural,”legal alternatives to marijuana, but labeled “not for human consumption.”They contain dried, shredded plant material along with manmade chemicals that cause mind-altering effects.Sometimes it is called 'fake marijuana' but it is really very different. 

 People who abused Spice and were taken to Poison Control Centers report symptoms like a fast heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause less blood to flow to the heart. In a few cases, it has been associated with heart attacks. People who use Spice a lot may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms.

For mroe information on Spice, see this: 
 
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/spice
Lu_nation - Pomona Middle School, New York: Who created drugs and alcohol?

Aaron White: In many cases, nature creates drugs and alcohol. If you put a bowl of fruit somewhere for long enough yeast will land in it, causing fermentation and the production of alcohol. However, humans create some drugs in labs, too.
gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: Is marijuana illegal in NY

Bethany Deeds: Hello to Gem at Glen Meadow Middle School. Yes is the answer but New York may be considering medical marijuana legalization later this year. Thanks for the question and here is a resource for drug prevention: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -How much alcohol does a person need to drink in order to get poisoned?

Aaron White: 
Alcohol poisoning means that a person drank enough that they are throwing up, having trouble staying conscious, and maybe even having a hard time breathing. Several thousand people in the US die from alcohol poisoning every year. It's tricky to know how many drinks a particular person would have to consume to suffer poisoning because it depends on how much a person weighs, whether they are male or female, whether they ate food before drinking alcohol, and other factors. 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. You can learn more about alcohol overdose and poisoning at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm
More than 1,200 people die each day in the United States because of cigarette use –that is nearly 1 person every minute!
wondering - Marymount International School of Rome, : Is marijuana worse for you than alcohol if you get the same amount of high with either one?

Steve Gust: Hi Wondering - the effects of marijuana and alcohol are very different, and this would include the 'high'or effects on how a person feels after taking them.  For more information on their effects, please check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana and http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/alcohol.
Marissa Roybal - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: What parts of the body do drugs effect.

Joni Rutter: Hey Marissa!  The big toe! Just kidding.  Drugs can affect all of the major organs in your body.  The brain, the heart and the lungs are probably the organs most affected by drugs.  I don't know about you, but I want my brain, heart and lungs to work as close to optimal as possible!!  Learn more about the effects on the brain and body at - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/be-aware-your-brain-drugs-change-critical-parts
SlapCheese - GMG (Green Mountain Garwin), Iowa: Why is it illegal to have weed in most states? Its just a plant. People should use it freely. Its their own life. People in power or in control of a big corp or like the president though, shouldn't have it because they could mess up with the economy but otherwise..

Eric Wargo: 
Hi SlapCheese,
Whether marijuana is legal or illegal is up to the voters. About half of Americans now think it should be legal, for the reasons you mention, so maybe it will be in the future. At NIDA, we don't get involved in legality questions;we are concerned about the health effects--marijuana, whether legal or illegal, does have health consequences, especially if used by young people.  
Sara - Ennis High School , Texas: How much alcohol is too much?

Aaron White: 
Well, that depends on what you mean by 'too much'. Because of the risk of alcoholism and altered brain development that occurs if people start drinking too early in life, not to mention the fact that alcohol is illegal for those under 21, one could argue that even one serving is too much. 
luffy101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: what causes you to upchuck after you drink to much alcohol?

Aaron White: Two reasons. Sometimes people throw up after drinking because the alcohol irritates their stomachs and makes them feel full, bloated, and nauseous. Other times it's because a part of the brain that monitors the blood for toxins detects high levels of alcohol and the brain triggers vomiting to try to get rid of any remaining alcohol that might be in the stomach.
barackobama - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can you absorb alcohol through skin?

Aaron White: Yes, but not very well! 
Drizzy_Drake - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: what is a molly

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Drizzy_Drake from the GREAT Academy! The term Molly is slang for “molecular”and refers to the pure crystalline powder form of MDMA, usually sold in capsules. MDMA is 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, otherwise known as ecstasy on the street and is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. Why wasn't that a mouthful! Read more about it here if you'd like: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly
Thanks for the question! 
 
meaghangibbons - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is there a difference between chrystal meth and meth

Joni Rutter: Hey meaghangibbons!  It's good to know the distinction. 
 
Impress your friends and call it n-methyl-1-phenyl-propan-2-amine, also known as methamphetamine, methylamphetamine, or desoxyephedrine. But I guess it's easier to simply call it 'meth'.  Meth is meth, but it comes in different forms, like a pill or powder, but it can also be made in a crystal form...hence, crystal meth.  Crystal meth is also called 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.  Drugs act on dopamine-- the chemical in the brain that makes people feel high.  
 
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! 
Drake sr. - Pomona Middle School, New York: Is coacaine more addicting then meth

Joe Frascella: 
Hi Great question!  The answer to your question is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in order of addictiveness and/or danger. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: like one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken, all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction or other dangerous health effects.
Although it is almost impossible to rank drugs, we can identify factors that contribute to or influence the dangers of a particular drug. What we do know is that all drugs have harmful side effects.
 
Hope you will read more about cocaine and other stimulants at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
For more info on health effects of drugs, check our chart at:
finnigan619 - North carroll middle, Maryland: If drugs and alcohol is bad, then why do people sell it?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello to you Finnigan618 from North Carroll Middle School! Some people sell it to support their own drug habit, some people drift into it (from being a lookout or go-between), others sell it to make money. Regardless, federal drug trafficking penalities steep. Please see this link to learn more: http://www.justice.gov/dea/druginfo/ftp3.shtml
 
Thanks for the question! 
laciek - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: If you are addicted to Alcohol and you stop drinking how can it affect you

Aaron White: If someone drinks a lot of alcohol for a long enough time, they can have very serious withdrawal symptoms when they stop. These often include insomnia, anxiety, irritability, diarrhea, depression and craving for alcohol. In serious cases, withdrawal can cause seizures and death. It's a good idea for someone who wants to stop drinking to seek professional guidance. 
Trey_So_Famous - Adamson High School, Texas: Is Heroin the Strongest drug?

Jack Stein: Its hard to say which drug is the 'strongest'. However, heroin is an opiate which when used can cause serious effects including death due to overdose. 
sharkesha476584 - Ephraim Curtis Middle School, Massachusetts: Do you remember the experiences you have when you get high? If you don't, why do people get addicted to the positive rush they get when using drugs?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey sharkesha476584!  Depends on the drug, how much is taken, etc., but in general, people will remember their experiences when getting high, which often is why people will take drugs again, to recapture the feelings. The positive rush is the result of the brain chemical, dopamine, that is released in the brain reward areas.  Often, the more you take the drug, the less its effect because you build up a tolerance. So users find they need to escalate the amount they take, which increases the risk of harmful effects including addiction.  
 
You can read more about this very fascinating brain pathway in The Science of Addiction, and watch videos explaining why drugs are hard to quit and how you become addicted by linking here:
 
 
 
kmussett - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: What are inhalants and what do they do to the body?

Will Aklin: 
Shout out Kmussett at Bellefonte!  Inhalants are the chemical vapors from smelly household products like paint remover, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids, that users sniff to experience the mind-altering (brain effects) of these chemicals.  
 
The worst effect on the body is what is known as 'sudden sniffing death' because the toxins can cause the heart to fail.  Other effects include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant abusers also report feeling light-headed, hallucinations, and delusions. With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache.  
 
Check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants 
xPreparationz - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: Do drugs effect the people around the people that are doing the drugs

Roger Sorensen: 
Hi x...z. I bicycle in Bellefonte when I visit my relatives.
 
Absolutely doing drugs affects the people around them, in many ways. Drunk and drugged driving can harm and kill pedestrians and passengers in the car. Drugs and alcohol might change a person's personality, which can lead to conducting violent acts. If it's a friend doing the drugs, you will worry about your friend. You will worry whether your friend who is taking the drugs will harm himself, do something stupid that your friend wouldn't normally do, or have medical consequences or overdose and you will have to get them medical help quickly. You and your friends can have much more fun doing something other than drugs. Don't ruin your fun by taking drugs.
 
cbluvzanimals11 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: How do you feel about the glorification of drugs in the roots of hip hop culture? For example, up and coming artist Trinidad James has popularized ther term "molly" in his smash hit "All Gold Everything".

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello there--great question! The short answer is that I don't like it one bit and am very concerned. The reason: I think that the media, the music industry and celebrities can have a big influence--especially on youth. I think 'glorification' of drugs in songs and music videos can lead young people to think drugs are glamorous and cool. Wouldn't it be great if 'smash hits' and music videos portrayed the negative realities and consequences of drug use and if positive alternatives were 'glorified'?  OK, not quite there yet, huh? I think you are asking the right questions. Maybe you and your friends will have an opportunity to change this. For more FACTS on the effects and consequences of drug use, click hereI hope you and your friends will  play an important role in letting others know that drug use is not to be glorified, and the best thing is to not start using drugs.  
love_music - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: If there were no negative affects, would you be tempted to do drugs?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi love_music,
I love music too! Much better than drugs, if you ask me.
Your question is really good. Sometimes with drugs, the 'good' effects (or the things that might tempt you to take them) ARE the bad effects. This is because flooding the brain with psychoactive chemicals causes the brain to want more of those chemicals--the thing that can lead to addiction. It's much better, and much more satisfying in the long run, to get your highs without drugs--through things like music, sports, martial arts, friends, inspiring books, and other meaningful activities. Here's a hint: try meditation. It can lead to some pretty amazing, trippy experiences, plus all kinds of good side effects like making you smarter, more confident, and more relaxed. No drugs can do those things! So no, I wouldn't be tempted, because I don't need drugs.
Great question! 
 
finnigan619 - North carroll middle, Maryland: How many different types of alcohol is there?

Aaron White: There are more than a dozen types of alcohol, including rubbing alcohol, wood alcohol and ethyl alcohol. Only ethyl alcohol, found in alcoholic beverages, is safe to drink. Ethyl alcohol can be found in the three main types of alcohol beverages -- beer, wine and distilled spirits.
You Are Fake - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Are people that are "high" as alert as as people that are not?

Jack Stein: Great question- drugs affect the brain which, in turn, affects how they think, feel, and act. Its pretty difficult to be alert while on drugs due to how they impact the brain. 
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the U.S.
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: whAT is acid?

Joni Rutter: 
In chemistry:  acid is a pH less than 7.
 
In drug lingo, acid is LSD and is one of the most powerful mood-changing chemicals.  LSD causes major and rapid mood swings and causes hallucinations.  LSD also can affect the way you experience your surroundings.  Users sometimes report seeing color, smelling smells, hear sounds, and other sensations seem highly intensified or sometimes even crossed (like seeing sound/hearing color...isn't that weird).  LSD has been reported to cause frightening flashbacks that persist a few days after drug use, even up to a year afterwards.  Definitely not something you'd want to deal with!
 
Just remember that once you make a decision to use drugs, it can be very tough (but not impossible) to reverse the damage.
 
Keep on asking us those great questions! And learn more about the effects of hallucinogens at: pcp http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
mia_johnson29 - Pomona Middle School, New York: How do people get addicted from drugs?

Roger Sorensen: 
Greetings mia johnson29.
 
This is such an important question, and scientists have learned a great deal about the brain in seeking answers to it.
 
Broadly speaking--
The first step in becoming addicted to drugs is taking a drug, and the second step is continuing to take enough of it for long enough to undergo the drug-induced brain changes that make stopping very, very difficult. Whether a person passes through both of these steps depends on his or her genes (which confer personality traits and susceptibility to drug effects), and environment (the people and events that can influence one's decisions). Here's a good place to find more detail:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
herro im yerro - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is it true that aderol lowers your tolerance to drugs and alcohol

Roger Sorensen: 
Hmm. You are making me think on this question.
 
Adderall is a stimulant drug. It has good medical uses for treating ADHD and for some patients in the emergency room.
 
With long-term use, a person can become tolerant to Aderall's effects.Aderall and other stimulants produce tolerance by similar biological mechanisms, so someone who is tolerant to one may well be tolerant to others. However, aderall and alcohol produce tolerance by different mechanisms, so tolerance to one wouldn't necessarily affect tolerance to the other. Similarly, with other drugs, whether there was a shared tolerance would depend on how similar the biological mechanisms are.
RrRrRayG - North carroll middle, Maryland: Why is marijuana classified as a gateway dug?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello to you ReReRayG--Are you interested in being an addiction scientist because this is a great question?! So when you hear the term 'gateway'it often refers to the idea that some drugs (like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use) can lead to other drug taking. This is a somewhat controversial topic because some scientists feel that the linkage between these gateway drugs and subsequent drug taking is strong, whereas other people do not believe in this model. The gateway drug model is based upon data that most illicit drug users report use of tobacco products or alcohol prior to illicit drug use. 
laciek - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: what is up with hooka pens?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi there laciek. Thanks for the question. We're still learning about hookah pens, since they're fairly new.  A Hookah pen is very similar to an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) that comes in a wide variety of styles, colors, flavors, and nicotine strengths.  If you are using it with nicotine that's no good, as it is both addictive and affects your entire body.  Nicotine changes your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, and in high concentrations nicotine can be deadly. In fact, nicotine has been used as a pesticide for centuries and one drop of purified nicotine on the tongue will kill a person!   
 
Many hookah pens are advertised to be nicotine-free (hooray!), but I think the jury is still about about how harmful they can be.  For one thing, we don't know enough about the effects of the liquid vapor being inhaled through the device.  And then there's just the behavior of inhaling something through a device, encouraging a smoking-like habit. If you want more information about smoking and prevention, you can find it at www.smokefree.gov, or FDA: www.fda.gov/quitnow
meaghangibbons - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is there nicotine in alchohol

Aaron White: Nope. No nicotine in alcohol. Just alcohol.
Directioner - The GREAT Academy, New Mexico: Is spice one of the drugs that is commonly sold on the streets?

Jack Stein: Yes....unfortunately it was available quite easily but laws have been enacted over the past years to prevent it being sold. The good news is that its use has decreased among kids. 
thebigD - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: they're have been recent stidues at colleges of people taking eye shots. is this more dangerous than regualr drinkingm and what are teh effects

Aaron White: There haven't been any actual studies done on people putting alcohol in their eyes, but there have been lots of reports in the news. It is SO dangerous! Alcohol is a powerful irritant. Imagine pouring rubbing alcohol onto a cut. It would burn so bad! The mouth, esophagus and stomach are made to withstand, at least for awhile, irritants like alcohol. The delicate membranes of the body in other areas, like the eyeball, are super sensitive and not well protected from irritants like alcohol. So, for one, putting alcohol in the body that way can cause pain and inflammation. In addition, alcohol can get into the body a lot faster through some non-stomach routes. That means alcohol can flood the bloodstream and hit the brain even harder than normal. It's simply a very, very, very bad idea to try to get alcohol into the body any other way that through the digestive system, particularly through the eyeball! 
AshleyP-P2 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: Would Mental Health and Illness be the main cause of drugs and alcohol?

Denny Pintello: 
Hello there AshleyP-P2!  Thanks for the interesting - and actually, complicated question! The short answer is no, mental illness is not the main cause of substance abuse, yet it may contribute. At NIMH, we are finding that symptoms of mental illness can emerge during childhood and adolescence. Sometimes, these symptoms can be confusing and difficult to deal with, so some folks try drugs and/or alcohol to feel better (temporarily). NIDA has a great resource to check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/comorbidity-addiction-other-mental-illnesses which might provide additional info. 
 
OmarElNegro - Ennis High School , Texas: What are the affects of cocaine?

Joni Rutter: Hey OmarElNegro.  Thanks for your interest in Chat day!  Here's the skinny on cocaine:  
 
Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric (good/happy) 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!
surferforlife - North carroll middle, Maryland: Why does the street value of certain drugs change over time?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello to you Surferforlife at North Carroll Middle School! Changes in drug price (and purity) could reflect the effects of a drug's supply and demand (and consequently how reduction programs are working to keep the community safe). This is just one type of indicator that used in drug market research. If you are interested in this topic, I'd recommend this link for more information: http://www.rand.org/topics/drug-policy-and-trends.html
 
Thanks for the terrific question! 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: what will happen if your 14 and you smoke weed on a regular basis

Steve Gust: Hi Aveson - that is an important question.  We know that 14 year olds still have a growing brain, and we also know that marijuana can affect important parts of the growing brain.  One recent study has shown that people who start smoking marijuana at a young age and continue smoking as they grow can have significant reductions in their IQ...certainly a serious and long term bad outcome.  We need to learn a lot more about how drugs affect the developing brain, but the evidence we do have suggests that drug use during the teen years is a bad idea. 
24% of 11th graders say they have been in a car when the driver has been impaired by alcohol or drugs.
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how much cocane do you need to snort before you die

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Ralf,
Is that you again, or is everyone named 'Ralf' at your school.
 
The simple answer to that is there is not simple answer.  It varies widely.  You just never know how it will impact you.  So people snorting cocaine are always taking a chance.
 
Dave 
 
AshleyP-P2 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: How much damage would your brain be in if you are in a disease and is doing drugs such as cocaine?

Joe Frascella: 
Hey AshleyP-P2!  Hard to know how to answer this question because I don't know what disease you are referring to.  Given that cocaine can have serious physical/brain and psychiatric effects, adding a disease could certainly complicate the medical situation.
 
If you would like to read more about cocaine, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
laciek - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: How do Drug tests work how can they tell if you do drugs or not

Jack Stein: Drug tests rely on lab techniques that test for various components that break down upon administration of drugs. Tests can be conducted on various body fluids (like saliva) or hair. Depending on the drug, tests can detect the presence of drugs for various periods of time after use.
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: If i smoke do drugs and drink alcohol all at the same time will my body just shut down? wil i become very ill? can i die?

Dave Thomas: 
Devon,
Yeah, don't do that.  Combinations of drugs can be very dangerous.  I would not call it your 'body shutting down.'  It's more like you may stop breathing, or your heart may stop, or you may pass out and choke on your own vomit.  So again, I would suggest not doing drugs, and certainly not combining drugs.  
 
Dave 
quagmire - North carroll middle, Maryland: what is the least used drug in America

Marsha Lopez: Hey Quagmire. That is a really tough question to answer with some surprising answers. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health tells us that in the past year less than 1% of Americans aged 12 and older used crack cocaine, heroin, LSD, PCP, inhalants and methamphetamine. Wow! Those are a lot of well-known drugs that Americans aren't actually using. It just goes to show you that despite what some people say, everyone is not using drugs. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
karla - Adamson High School, Texas: Why do teenagers use drugs to run away from their problems?

Bethany Deeds: 

Hello Karla from Adamson High School! There are a number of reasons why people might try drugs (including to run away from their problems). Some other 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.  For more information and resources check out this link: http://www.drugabuse.gov/students-young-adults

meaghangibbons - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what drugs give you skitsofrenia

Harold Perl: 
Hello meaghangibbons. That is a very interesting question. Schizophrenia is not typically caused by using a specific drug, but many drugs can lead to having a psychotic episode and to other serious mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, panic, hallucinations and delusions -- just to name a few. In fact marijuana use in vulnerable persons can actually lead to increased risk of psychosis.  
 
You can get more info at our website: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts 
herro im yerro - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: whitney houston died from drugs is the chance of death equal among all different people or do they have more vulnerability

Joni Rutter: 
Whitney, RIP!  hey herro im yerro.  
 
The word on the street is that Whitney OD'd on cocaine and it stopped her heart.  That is a big (and well-known) danger of cocaine.  Cocaine increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea.  Some reports say that Whitney also had other drugs in her system, too.  Mixing drugs is also a big danger as it increases your risk of having an adverse effect. Everyone is vulnerable to the actions of drugs....everyone who is bitten by a snake will have some sort of an reaction--drugs are the same way.
 
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!
gabriela10 - Adamson High School, Texas: What are the health consequences of marijuana?

Susan Weiss: This is a very smart question to ask---especially since everyone is talking about marijuana. Researchers are studying possible medicines that can be made from components in marijuana. But teens should be aware that it can cause a variety of health and behavioral problems. Using marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional,  changes, and, contrary to popular belief, can be addictive. Long-term exposure to marijuana smoke, just like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and can also distort perception. Studies show that students who regularly smoke marijuana get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school, compared with their nonsmoking peers. In addition, marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, and anxiety.  A recent study suggests that marijuana use that starts as a teen can lower IQ, and another study suggests that pregnant women should not smoke it because it is linked to stillbirth. 
For more information on marijuana, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html
patty.mach@enni - Ennis High School , Texas: Should Marijuana be legalized in Texas?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi patty,
That's up to the voters in Texas to decide. We at NIDA don't get involved in legalization questions. What I can tell you is that, even if Texas legalizes marijuana, it would probably only be for adults. Everyone agrees marijuana is bad for young people. It can seriously harm your brain development if you take it when young. You can learn more about its effects here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
Good question! 
mia_johnson29 - Pomona Middle School, New York: How come beer is sold on airplanes? Can't people get drunk on the airplane?

Aaron White: Typically, airlines sell wine and liquor in addition to beer. Yes, people are allowed to drink on airplanes, but if they get drunk and act drunk they run the risk of getting kicked off of the plane.
anon - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how can cough medicine make you high?

Steve Gust: Hi Anon- believe it or not, many cough medicines contain drugs that are similar to opium.  While the particular drugs in cough medicine do suppress cough, they can also affect the brain in similar ways as opiate drugs, which, if taken in large enough amounts, will cause a person to feel high.  For more info on how drugs affect teens check out teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can elderly people get addicted to cocaine?

Harold Perl: 
Hey there friendlyperson1. Great user name! The short answer is YES -- elderly people can be addicted to cocaine or any other harmful and illegal drug. In fact, elderly people may even be more likely than younger adults to be harmed by many drugs. For example, the elderly may be less able to absorb and break down medications and drugs as easily as it used to (so drugs may stay in the body longer, which can increase their effects). Aging brains are also different than young ones and may be at greater risk for harmful drug effects (on memory or coordination, for example). And the elderly could be on medications for medical conditions, and these medications could interact with abused drugs in dangerous ways.
 
Here's some other information on cocaine if you're interested: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
Gabby5001 - North carroll middle, Maryland: How long does it take to get addicted to smoking/

Dave Thomas: 
Hi Gabby,
It varies but it generally does not take that long.  We are doing some research to see who is more vulnerable to addiction, including addiction to smoking. But keep in mind, if you start to smoke, you may end up addicted even if you don't intend to.  It's hard to predict how vulnerable you are to addiction.
 
 
And keep in mind, once addicted, smoking cigarettes is VERY hard to quit.  Look how many people try to quit but fail.
 
Dave 
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: How do you know if someone drinks a lot?

Aaron White: 

While only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure if someone has a problem, here are some 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

Here is a link to further information about the signs of alcoholism and suggestions for quitting:

http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Support/ChooseYourApproach.asp 
 
Good luck. 
 
Dr. Marsha LopezDr. 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 poly-substance use (abusing more than one kind of substance) and co-occurring psychiatric conditions (like using drugs and being depressed at the same time.) While most of Marsha’s extended family lives in Argentina, she lives here with Marco (age 9), Gigi (age 6), and their two axolotls Mad Eye and Hermione. She chose a Hermione look alike to be her avatar today.
ivonne - Ennis High School , Texas: what is crock?

Jack Stein: Krokodil is a synthetic form of a heroin-like drug called desomorphine that is made by combining codeine tablets with various toxic chemicals including lighter fluid and industrial cleaners. Desomorphine has a similar effect to heroin in the brain, although it is more powerful and has a shorter duration. Krokodil gets its name from the scaly, gray-green dead skin that forms at the site of an injection. The flesh destroyed by krokodil becomes gangrenous, and, in some cases, limb amputation has been necessary to save a user’s life.
sandy20 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can drug withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations cause the former drug user to kill himself/herself?

Denny Pintello: 
January greetings - Sandy20. And thank you for your interesting question - and unfortunately, drug withdrawal symptoms can have major adverse effects, including anxiety, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, perspiration, racing heart and palpitations, labored breathing, shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc (I've worked with folks going through this - it's a really horrible experience). I can't say for sure that the hallucinations can cause suicide, but it can be one of many factors that contribute. If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications. Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.
Dude - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Are the same kind of drugs used in other parts of the world or do they have different ones?

Marsha Lopez: Hey Dude. Great question! Generally speaking, different regions of the world use drugs at different rates, just like the United States has regional differences in use. Some parts of the world experience types of drug use results because they come from plants that are specific to certain regions of the world. For example the chewing of betel nut, grown in tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. That said, some drugs unfortunately appear in most places around the globe. Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, tobacco, and ecstasy are some of the most common ones. Check out this interactive map the Guardian newspaper put together using United Nations data. But remember: drugs down the street or on the other side of the planet have the same bad effects on your health and your life. So choose abide by a healthy lifestyle and stay off drugs, Dude!
doyle06 - North carroll middle, Maryland: if you can die of over dose can you drink enough alcohol to kill you?

Aaron White: 
Yes. Every year, more than 2500 people in the United States die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning means that a person drank enough that they are throwing up, having trouble staying conscious, and maybe even having a hard time breathing. Several thousand people in the US die from alcohol poisoning every year. It's tricky to know how many drinks a particular person would have to consume to suffer poisoning because it depends on how much a person weighs, whether they are male or female, whether they ate food before drinking alcohol, and other factors. 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. You can learn more about alcohol overdose and poisoning at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm
Heisenberg - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is it possible to get addicted to more than one drug at a time

Steve Gust: 
Dear Heisenberg :-)
 
Absolutely - a person could be addicted to several drugs at the same time.  For example, it is very possible for a person to become addicted to alcohol and pain medication. This, of course, can make it even more difficult to find effective ways to stop using.  If you want to ask about getting treatment for yourself or a friend, you can call 1-800-662-HELP.  Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov to find information about treatment centers in your area.  Thanks for the question.
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is this a reliable source?

Jack Stein: NIDA supports a majority of the research on drugs of abuse world-wide. We are THE trusted source of information about drugs and their abuse. All information stated is backed up by scientific information.
Ask something really smart and different about the science of drug abuse and get a star from the moderator!
Ginger Bread 3 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is cigarettes or alcohol worse to do if it is every day?

Aaron White: Wow, tough question. Both can cause cancers and damage to other body organs. It's a tough call. Your best bet is to avoid both!
BobTheHackSaw - North carroll middle, Maryland: if you are high all the time will you get E.D

Harold Perl: 
Hey there hacksaw -- this is one question I have not seen before!  But it's interesting!  Actually, drug use has many effects on your body and brain -- and they are mainly very harmful.  You might not expect that a young man would have problems with ED, but the fact is that drug use can cause things like that. For example, using steroids can do things to you that you really wouldn't want to happen.
 
Check out this fact sheet for more on steroids: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroidsAnd try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”for health effects on various organs: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
sod off it - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Dose your race affect how much alcohol you can consume

Aaron White: For some people, yes. Approximately 36% of East Asians (Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans) show a characteristic physiological response to drinking alcohol that includes facial flushing (redness), nausea, and rapid heart rate . This so-called alcohol flushing response (also known as 'Asian flush' or 'Asian glow') is predominantly due to an inherited deficiency in the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). As a result, a toxic compound called acetaldehyde builds up in the body. 
Combining marijuana with drinking even a small amount of alcohol greatly increases driving danger, more than either drug alone. Just ask the CSIs who examine dead bodies at car accidents.
lionstudent - Ennis High School , Texas: Is Molly today the same thing as the black and yellow molly's from the 80's?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi lionstudent,
I've never heard of black and yellow mollies from the 80s, but Molly today is definitely a new term for MDMA, so it's different.
Good question! 
chchchase estes - North carroll middle, Maryland: what happens when too much alcohol is consumed for the first time

Aaron White: Well, if that one drink was just a single serving, like a beer or a glass of wine, even that small amount is enough to cause small changes in balance and reaction times that could make it more likely to have an accident or get into a car crash and die. More importantly, the earlier you begin to drink significantly increases the risk of becoming an alcoholic later in life. Researchers found that the earlier someone has their first drink of alcohol, usually meaning more than a few sips with family, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic. It isn't known whether a few sips is enough to make that happen or if more alcohol is needed. The best bet is to avoid alcohol completely until your brain is done developing in the early 20s. You can learn more about the effects of alcohol on kids at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp
coolshay - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: What is MDMA? And why and how is it very bad for a person under the influence of it?

Will Aklin: 
Hey coolshay, MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, is a psychoactive drug.  MDMA causes feelings of confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and anxiety. Interestingly, these conditions tend to occur soon after taking the drug or even weeks after. 
 
You can find out more about it at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly 
leahb - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what is the drug molly made up of?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi leahb,
Great question. Molly is supposed to refer to 'pure' powdered MDMA (the same thing as ecstasy). But often it is actually contaminated with other ingredients, or is completely replaced by other drugs such as bath salts.
meaghangibbons - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: In the long term run what does alchohol do to your brain?

Aaron White: 
The teenage years are a very important time for brain development. The thinking memory, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

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

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!
Paola - Ennis High School , Texas: What areas of the brain are most affected by drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
Good question!  We think a lot about brains around here.
 
As for your answer, it depends of the drug to some degree.  When someone takes a drug, it goes to all parts of the brain.  Once in the brain drugs usually impact a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens or reward center of the brain.  They also inhibit function in a part of the brain that is involved in self control and judgement.  But individual drugs can affect other parts of the brain too.
 
Dave 
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: if you get intoxicated too many times can you develop a serious medical problem?

Aaron White: 
There are lots of negative long term effects of drinking before age 21, including an increased risk of medical problems including cancers and liver disease. Also, your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development. 
 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can you od on steroids

Joni Rutter: 
I don't know of many cases of death due to overdose on steriods, but there can be some very serious consequences resulting from the use of steroids.  For example, you can damage your liver and cause blood pressure problems.  Steroid use can also result in other really thrilling effects like breast enhancement, testicle shrinkage and baldness in males (lovely!).  For women, you can get breast shrinkage, deeper voice, facial hair, etc...but who wants that?!  
 
All in all, you may not necessarily die from use of steroids, but there are so many other unpleasant effects....your best bet is to stay 'steroid free'!http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids 
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: What are the effects of steroids?

Susan Weiss: 

Steroids are usually synthetic substances similar to the male sex hormone testosterone---sometimes used illegally to build muscles. They are sometimes prescribed by doctors ---but never to young people to build muscles.  Here are some of the effects:

  • For guys—shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, development of breasts
  • 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, causing extreme mood swings.
meaghangibbons - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Will drinking underage effect your future life?

Aaron White: 
There are lots of negative long term effects of drinking before age 21. First of all, your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development and your academic achievement. 
 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
Lu_nation - Pomona Middle School, New York: It is harmful for a baby, say if your pregnant, if you are smoking and drinking right?

Cindy Miner: 
Hi Pomona - yep, there's lots of research out there that has looked at smoking and drinking during pregnancy and it really can be harmful including miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), birth defects, premature delivery to start with and then with drinking there's also fetal alcohol spectrum disorder that can lead to developmental, cognitive and behavioral problems. If you know someone who is smoking and drinking during pregnancy, they can talk with their doctor to get support to quit - it'll help mom and baby! Check this our for some great information about women, smoking, and pregnancy and info on quitting  http://women.smokefree.gov/pregnancy-motherhood.aspx 
lalala - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what percent of people die from drug abuse per year?

Marsha Lopez: Hello, lalala, what a good, but complicated question!  Many times when people talk about dying from drugs they mean overdose, so let's start there. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38,329 Americans died from overdoses in 2010. More than half of those involved non-medical use of prescription drugs, and most of those prescription drugs were opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. (Opioids are painkillers made from the same stuff as heroin.)  Of course, drug related death goes way beyond overdose, and can encompass deaths due to drug-related crime, accidents, suicide, infections, and other health conditions related to prolonged drug use. The best way to prevent a drug-related death is to stay off drugs. But if you or someone you know has a drug problem, there's help. Call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7, or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: Is getting addicted to alcohol more common for boys &girls?

Aaron White: Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol problems than girls. It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives. But whether a particular person develops alcoholism depends on lots of factors, including the age at which the person starts drinking (the earlier the more likely alcoholism will occur) and whether there is a family history of alcoholism (family history increases the risk).
pancho - Ennis High School , Texas: What is the drug called crock

Jack Stein: Krokodil is a synthetic form of a heroin-like drug called desomorphine that is made by combining codeine tablets with various toxic chemicals including lighter fluid and industrial cleaners. Desomorphine has a similar effect to heroin in the brain, although it is more powerful and has a shorter duration. Krokodil gets its name from the scaly, gray-green dead skin that forms at the site of an injection. The flesh destroyed by krokodil becomes gangrenous, and, in some cases, limb amputation has been necessary to save a user’s life.
If you have severe distress or concern about body weight or shape, you might have an eating disorder. The media’s obsession with extremely thin models and celebrities can contribute to unhealthy weight goals among girls. The National Institute of Mental Health has supported studies showing that challenging this super thin ideal can reduce the onset of eating disorders. Learn more about eating disorders here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml
Cowgirl555 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Can drugs cause trauma?

Steve Gust: HI Cowgirl - yes, many drugs can cause serious psychological damage.  Some people who take hallucinogens or stimulants, for example, can have very bad reactions to them.  These can include hallucinations, panic, anxiety, and depression.  It is important to remember that drugs have many different effects and many of these effects are harmful.  For more information on how drugs affect teens please check out teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
sandy20 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is the largest factor that causes young people to start using drugs?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Sandy20! People often start taking drugs when in their late teens (but some people start earlier, some later). The 'why'or 'what factor' 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--it depends on the person and their environment. You can learn more here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/
 
Thanks for the great question. 
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: can snorting kool-aid cause brain damage

Joe Frascella: 
Snorting Kool-Aid...really?!  I don't know that it will cause brain damage, but I know there is high likelihood that it will cause irritation to one's respiratory system! I wouldn't recommend it! 
 
 
Batman_BvB - Ennis High School , Texas: Why is Meth so dangerous?

Joni Rutter: 
Batman-BvB--hey.  How did you choose your name??!
 
Ask Robin, Meth can kill.  Here's how:  An overdose of meth can result in heart failure. Long-term physical effects such as liver, kidney, and lung damage may also kill you.  And, if it doesn't kill you, it will do terrible transformations to your mouth! (see this image of 'meth mouth' from the department of justice website)  YUCK!!  There's an article, too, on meth mouth on the Sara Bellum blog: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/meth-mouth-and-crank-bugs-meth-morphosis.
 
Be smart and stay away from meth!
 
xxzuldulv567xx - North carroll middle, Maryland: what are the effects of too much crystal meth???

Will Aklin: 
Hey there xxzuldulv567xx at North Carroll Middle School--Any amount crystal meth can cause serious effects. Many people report anxiety, confusion, sleep problems, mood swings, as well as violent behavior. Other behaviors include visual and auditory hallucinations (feeling like someone is watching you or thoughts of hearing things). 

In the long-term, meth can further harm your physical health, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), and skin sores caused by scratching.

Still curious about all the nastiness of drugs--check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/ 


Superman269 - Pomona Middle School, New York: hey,what are the most harmful drug?

Steve Gust: 
Hi Superman - depends on how you measure it.  Tobacco and alcohol cause the most harm to our society as a whole, but many other drugs cause serious problems for the user.  Methamphetamine is one of the most addicting drugs out there.  Spice and bath salts are dangerous because we don't really know much about what is in them and what effects they have.  For more info on what drugs can do to your body check out teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
 
AshleyP-P2 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: Once you take steroids and start to get different appearances such as facial hair and deeper voice,is there anyway someone can reverse that?

Joni Rutter: Once you take steroids, the effects can be reversed.  The best way to reverse the effects is to stop taking them!  Learn more about the effects of steroids at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids
barackobama - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Do you have a backround of drugs?

Dave Thomas: 
Dear Mr. President,
 
It is an honor to speak with you today!!!! 
 
I was trained as a pain researcher, and hired at NIDA since we have a pain research program.  Some medicines that are used for treating pain are also abused by people who aren't in pain.  Since working at NIDA I have picked up an understanding of drug abuse.   
 
I hope that answer your question, sir.  
 
Dave 
xx_cristinam_xx - Pomona Middle School, New York: how do drugs affect our bodies?

Albert Avila: 
Hi xx_cristinam_xx, This is a great question.  Drugs affect your body in many different ways depending on the drug you take.  Illegal and legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, can make you depressed, anxious, hostile, paranoid, lead to memory loss, slow reaction time, lead to cancers, and even lead to death.  To see how these drugs affect your body click this link.  Keep in mind that drugs are anything you put in your body, from medications such as aspirin and heart medications to alcohol and cigarettes.  When properly prescribed or used, prescription medications, can be very helpful in improving your health. 
HI - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What internal effects does marjuana have on the body

Joe Frascella: Hi Manhassat Secondary School.  Thanks for your question.  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.  You can learn more about the health effects of marijuana on our teen web site:  http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
Lawrence High - Lawrence High School, Kansas: What are the different categories of EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) and is there as much research on this as for anorexia and bulimia?

Denny Pintello: 
Hello again Lawrence High! EDNOS are eating disorders that do not meet all the symptoms for anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Binge-eating disorder is a type of eating disorder called EDNOS. EDNOS is the most common diagnosis among people who seek treatment. A lot more people suffer from EDNOS than from bulimia and anorexia combined. As with other eating disorders that have been more widely studied, the cause of EDNOS is most likely a combination of environmental and biological factors. 
Dr. Susan R.B. WeissDr. 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 adviser 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.
asdfghjkl - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: can you die from excessive tylenol or any other medical drugs, without taking them with the purpose of addiction?

Steve Gust: Thanks for your question.  Absolutely!  Many drugs can cause overdose and death.  Tylenol can cause liver failure.  Pain killers can cause respiratory depression.  Stimulants can cause heart attacks and strokes.  For more information on the effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs on teens check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs.
buenahighschool - Buena High School, Arizona: I heard marijuana is a gateway drug, how long before the high doesnt satisfy you anymore?

Susan Weiss: Hello! What a smart question. What you are speaking about is what we call tolerance. Your body gets used to a certain dose of the drug---and you don't feel the high anymore so you need to take more and more to get the high. One in six high schoolers who start using marijuana will eventually become addicted. They will find they have to take more and more of the drug to feel the same high. We can't say how long it will take because it varies with every person. But if you choose to use any drug once you raise your risk of addiction. You cannot get addicted if you never start. A lot of people think you can't get addicted to marijuana---but some people do get addicted. The definition of addiction is that you continue to use a drug, even if it has negative consequences. That does happen to some marijuana users, who would like to stop but find it difficult. 
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are magic mushrooms?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey devondonahue!  Be a FUN GUY, don't use the magic fungi.
 
Magic mushrooms are psychedelic mushrooms, and are definitely harmful.  The active ingredient is psilocybin and it's a hallucinogen.  It can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness and lack of coordination.  You can check out what kind of effects hallucinogens have on the body on the NIDA website's Drug Facts page: lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp
 
Remember, choose smart and healthy, not gross and impaired! 
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can drugs affect how you age

Dave Thomas: 
Ralf,
That is a good question.  I just heard a lecture on this topic.  Clearly drugs can make you look more aged.  Give you wrinkles, make your skin sag, etc.  But is that actually changing your age? I am not sure. But if you don't want to look old when you are not old, staying off drugs will help.   
Dave 
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.
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: do drugs make you happy

Joni Rutter: Hi again, ralf-weiner.  People say that they take drugs to make them happy, but the happiness is short-lived and for a very high price. Aren't there other and better ways to make you happy?  I like to read, hike, and hang out with friends.  What makes you happy?  Live above the influence !!!  http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/
Linda.Thurman - Ennis High School , Texas: What is white widow?

Jack Stein: It is the name of a strain of marijuana. There are many, many strains of marijuana, each with different amounts of chemical compounds resulting in different effects.
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: WHAT IS THE MOST SEVER OVERDOSE

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Ralf, WHY ALL THE CAPS????
 
More people overdose and die from prescription opioids (pain killers) than any other drug.  In the US, the number has grown to about 15,000 per year! That is a lot of people.  But any overdose is bad!
Dave 
stashjian - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: if someone becomes addicted to drugs, is there more of a chance he will also become addicted to alchohol aswell and vice versa?

Joni Rutter: stashjian, hey!  Thanks for your thoughtful question.  The answer is yes!  Addiction is generally thought of as a process that does not have to be specific to one drug.  Oftentimes, if someone is addicted to one drug, it can be sort of a gateway to making them vulnerable to using another drug.  This might happen because if someone becomes tolerant to one drug, they might try a stronger or different drug.  Or, people may use several drugs to counteract the effects of each other.  
 
You may be interested in reading this Sara Bellum blog on smoking as a gateway drug and how drugs change the brain - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/smoking-how-it-primes-brain-addiction 
 
Talk about messing up the brain!  Not good.  
sampugliese - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: if lots of kids in a certin area smoke or drink underage do you think it to get carried down each year to younger kids?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello to you Sampugliese! Your social environment can indeed influence drug use. You can be at a higher risk for abusing drugs if a sibling abused drugs and research indicates that closer the siblings are in age, the greater the chances. Peer pressure from friends can also play a role too. 
 
Keep in mind that the social environment can be a positive influence too--read more about prevention facts here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/drug-abuse-prevention
maria1029 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are some ways to try and get over an addiction?

Harold Perl: 
Hi maria1029!  The best treatment depends on the needs of the person, since drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of a person’s life. In general, talking to a parent or a trusted adult (like a teacher or minister) is a good first step in getting treatment.  Drug abuse treatments typically include behavioral counseling, often accompanied by medicines. Here's a link with more information, including questions to ask when seeking treatment: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/parents/drug-abuse-treatment
 
Of course the best way to get over an addiction is to never start using drugs Here's a pretty cool website that can give you more info on identifying and managing drug addiction:
 
ReyesB01 - Ennis High School , Texas: Why is it bad for mothers to be on drugs while pregnant?

Jack Stein: Thanks for this important question. Drug use during pregnancy can result in the fetus becoming exposed and born addicted as well as possible other health effects. This is why it so important for prenatal health for the mom.
cameron_bailey - Simmons Junior Senior High School, Mississippi: How do you think people get addicted to drugs when they know in there mind that it is bad for them

Harold Perl: 
Hey there cameron.  Excellent question.  You are right -- it seems surprising that people would do things that end up hurting them.  Some people believe that nothing can hurt them, no matter if they are doing something very dangerous. Others just don't believe the facts -- that drugs can actually hurt them or even kill them.  Unfortunately, some people are feeling so badly about themselves or their lives that they would risk anything just to feel some relief.  Check out this link, which describes that anyone can become addicted: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/videos/videos/anyone-can-become-addicted-drugs.
 
If you know anyone who is like that, you can tell them that they can get some help.  And here is some information on steps you can take: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem.
Jasmine s - Adamson High School, Texas: Does marijuana not hurt you because it is natural

Eric Wargo: 
Hey Jasmine s,
Marijuana does hurt you, even though it's natural. Lots of things that are natural are dangerous. Tobacco is just as natural as marijuana;so are opium poppies, 'magic' mushrooms, etc. Just because something is natural doesn't make it safe. 
Great question! 
Lawrence High - Lawrence High School, Kansas: How do eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia affect the neurons in the brain?

Denny Pintello: 

Hi there Lawrenece High!  

Great question! As you can guess, an eating disorder is an illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. Researchers are finding that eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors. But we still don't have all the answers. 
Some our our studies are looking at the study of human genes. Researchers are examining various combinations of genes to determine if any DNA variations are linked to the risk of developing eating disorders. And here is a link to a study about lab rats and cake frosting!  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2011/biology-not-just-society-may-increase-risk-of-binge-eating-during-puberty.shtml.
 
Who knows ... maybe you might be interested in becoming a researcher and help us answer this question!  For more info, chek out: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2011/most-teens-with-eating-disorders-go-without-treatment.shtml.
tomcat66$$$ - North carroll middle, Maryland: why are drugs used in medicine

Dave Thomas: 
Hey tomcat,
I hope I understand your question.  In general, drugs when used as a doctor advises can help people.  Even prescription pain killers, which are abused at a disturbing rate, are very helpful for people in severe pain when used properly.  Thus, drugs are used in medical treatment because they help people.  But some drugs that are used as medicine can also be abused and not all drugs are helpful for medical purposes.   
 
 
YouthSource - YouthSource Renton, Washington: What do shrooms do to your brain after you take them?

Joe Frascella: 
Thanks for your question.  Mushrooms (shrooms) are part of 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.
 
Hallucinogens powerfully affect the brain, distorting the way our five senses work and changing our impressions of time and space. When people use these drugs a lot they may have a hard time concentrating, communicating, or telling the difference between reality and illusion.  These effects can be very powerful, and we know very little about how such drugs affect the developing brain.  I would read up and educate yourself before experimenting with these or any drugs.
 
For more information, check outlsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp http://www.d .
trippy_twiin - Simmons Junior Senior High School, Mississippi: How can marijuana harm your body?

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hello trippy_twiin. Very good question. It is great that you are interested in knowing the facts about how marijuana can harm your body. For information on the health effects of marijuana click here.
As you can see, marijuana has harmful effects and can be addictive.
chchchchia - North carroll middle, Maryland: how long does it take to recover after being high

Joni Rutter: Hey chchchchia.  it depends on the dose and the drug.  Usually the high does not last a long time, but the recovery can take days, months, or even years.  If you do get high, take the time to recover completely--treatment works!  Need to find treatment?  Here is a resource - http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.  Also, here's more info to help you understand drug abuse and addiction - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction
jet_x101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: if drugs were made for medical reasons then how come you see people using drugs incorrectly?

Steve Gust: Hi Jet - thanks for the question.  Many legal drugs that are prescribed for medical problems, such as anxiety or pain, for example, are also abused.  The reasons for this are many, but generally it is because they cause euphoria (feeling good) or relief (feeling better).  Unfortunately, they also have other effects such as dependence and addiction.  For more info on the effects of drugs on teens check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
sampugliese - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what drugs cause halluciations?

Albert Avila: 
Hello sampugliese, Various drugs can cause hallucinations such as marijuana and bath salts but mainly those that cause hallucinations fall under a class of drugs called hallucinogens. Some of the drugs that fall under this category of drugs are LSD, also known as acid, and PCP.  It's important to know that if you are taking a drug it could contain hallucinogens in it without you knowing. If you're interested feel free to check out our page on hallucinogens. Thanks for your question.
 
sandy20 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Medical marijuana is legal, even though it is considered a rather dangerous drug. So why do doctors keep prescribing it? Is there anything that can replace it?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi sandy20,
Great question that I love to answer. Marijuana is harmful because it has all kinds of negative effects, but some of the chemicals in marijuana may be useful treatments for some medical conditions. Scientists are busy developing drugs that deliver those chemicals without the side effects, and without needing to smoke an unpredictable plant. Those drugs will probably replace 'medical marijuana.' 
helenson15 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Why do addicted drugges feel depressed?

Susan Weiss: 
Hello helenson15---You have asked a very important question. People who are addicted get depressed because it is so difficult to stop taking drugs, even thought most of them want to stop. Drugs hijack the brain, making it almost impossible to stop without help. They feel ashamed, and their relationships often fall apart---they can even lose their jobs and get into trouble with the law. Here is an excellent video that explains why drugs are so hard to quit: http://www.easyread.drugabuse.gov/quit-drugs-video.php
the good news is treatment can help them lead healthier lives.  
RrRrRayG - North carroll middle, Maryland: Are steroids the only drugs that enhance athletic abilities?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey RRRRRay,
Anabolic steroids are not the only chemicals used to enhance performance.  For example, testosterone, stimulants, pain killers, diuretics, blood boosters and other drugs are used.  As a sports fan, I think it is a real shame, for the athletes and the sports.   
 
Dave 
If you know someone who has recently quit smoking or is trying to quit, you can share these facts with them: www.fda.gov/quitnow. Above all, be sure to let them know you’re proud of their decision to become smoke-free.
nicoboy78 - Pomona Middle School, New York: how does marijuana affect how the body works

Joe Frascella: Thanks for your question, nicoboy78.  Studies have shown a connection between regular marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness. Marijuana’s impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the other side effects wear off. Did you know that if you use marijuana as a teen, your IQ level could actually drop as an adult? 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.  Take a look at our teen marijuana book at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens
z_oneill - North carroll middle, Maryland: Can you overdose on inhalants? And if so, is it easier or harder to overdose on them than other drugs?

Joni Rutter: 
You can definitely overdose on inhalants.  It's a misconception that they are harder to overdose on than other drugs.  
 
Markers, paint, glue, etc, are inhalants and they are relatively easy to get from household items.  Using inhalants is NOT a harmless way to get a buzz.  It is like sucking in toxins directly into your lungs. Sniffing inhalants can also result in 'Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome'which can happen when inhalants cause death by either stopping the heart from beating or preventing the person from getting enough oxygen. All that for a high?  No way.  One of the little known long-term effects of inhalants is that they can break down myelin, the substance that protects your nerve cells, a lot of which are in your brain.  If that happens, it can cause muscle spasms, tremors, and even affect the ability to walk.
 
Remember, once you use drugs, it can be tough to reverse the damage.  
 
Visit the NIDA for teen website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.  
Danielle wells - Ennis High School , Texas: What's is lemon haze someone tried selling me some before

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Daniella,
It's a lemony-smelling and -tasting strain of cannabis with relatively high THC content. Don't buy it--be smart!  
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: is nicotihne highly addictive

Jack Stein: In a word- yes! Nicotine is extremely addictive as demonstrated by the many, many people who've become addicted to smoking. Fortunately, there are various treatments, including medications, to help people quit. 
santucci98 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: what types of drugs target how you think

Steve Gust: 
Hi Santucci - thanks for your question.  A lot of drugs do not get into the brain so they do not directly effect how you think.  However, many drugs do get into the brain, including all the illegal drugs, plus some legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco.  All the drugs that get into the brain do affect how you think.
 
This is actually a fascinating topic.  Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain for info on how drugs affect the brain.
samim34 - North carroll middle, Maryland: How can your peers at school influence your choices about drugs?

Bethany Deeds: 
Good Afternoon Samim34 from North Carroll Middle School! Yes they can! Some risk factors that increase the likelihood for someone to use/abuse drugs include peers that are using drugs and schools/communities that do not enforce rules/regulations regarding drug possession and use. Peers at school can definitely be a positive influence too--you can read more about prevention here:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/topics-in-brief/drug-abuse-prevention
 
 
Dr. Denise PintelloDr. Denise Pintello is online now. Known as 'Denny,' she worked at NIDA for 11 years and now works at the National Institute on Mental Health---and is still helping out during CHAT DAY! While in college and grad school, she studied the impact of childhood trauma so she can talk to teens about both drug abuse and other mental health issues. One of her many fascinating jobs at NIMH involves overseeing studies that help make treatment more accessible for students struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd dog, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and traveling to beautiful locations to enjoy warm beaches.
beachgirl - North carroll middle, Maryland: how much alcohol can you consume

Aaron White: 
It's tricky to know how many drinks a particular person would have to consume to pass out (i.e., become unconscious from drinking too much) or die from alcohol poisoning because it depends on how much a person weighs, whether they are male or female, whether they ate food before drinking alcohol, and other factors. 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. Both passing out and suffering memory blackouts happen somewhere between that first drink and death. You can learn more about alcohol overdoses at:http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm
Dr. Nicolette Borek is a clinical psychologist at the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AT CTP Dr. Borek leads a group of FDA scientists who work on a large study on tobacco use, attitudes and health called the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. The PATH Study will include about 42,000 adults and 17,000 12 -17 year olds from all over the U.S. looking at things like 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 children and teens exposed to nicotine and other drugs of abuse 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 spend time with family and friends, do yoga, run, hike and bike, take pictures, and travel.
jstreet - Bellows Falls Union High School, Vermont: Do you think the pot is not legal, because the government has no way of taxing it?

Susan Weiss: 
Hi jstreet,
thanks for the thoughtful question. We know that teens have a lot of questions about marijuana. Right now the federal government has not made the drug legal. However, two states (Washington and Colorado) have made it legal and this presents a difficult legal question about which law---state or federal---should rule.  In the meantime, those states will tax the sales of marijuana and many people are watching to see if there will be more health problems in the states that decided to legalize it. While the lawyers and legislators argue this debate, public health experts are hoping teens will stay away from marijuana because research shows it can harm the developing brain. 
barackobama - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What affect does alcohol have on your digestive system

Aaron White: Great question!! Alcohol increases the release of acid in the stomach which can cause indigestion, acid reflux and contribute to ulcers. In the long-term, alcohol kills healthy bacteria in the gut and leads to problems digesting food and absorbing nutrients and medications. 
unc - North carroll middle, Maryland: what type of diseases from sharing needles

Dave Thomas: 
Hi unc,
If a person shares needles there is there is blood-to-blood exposure.  They are exposed to the blood of other users.  Lots of diseases are transmitted this way like AIDS and hepatitis.  These diseases are real problems for IV drug users, beyond the addiction itself.  Not a good situation...
Dave 
Donuts - Ennis High School , Texas: What's lemon haze?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Donuts,
That's a high-THC marijuana strain that supposedly has a lemony smell and taste.  
haydencwiek02 - North carroll middle, Maryland: How often do people attempt to smuggle drugs across the border?

Marsha Lopez: Hi haydencwiek02. Thanks for tuning in to NIDA's Chat Day, and for the great question. There are a lot of different ways traffickers try to get drugs into the country.  The criminals trying to get those drugs into the country will use everything from small planes, cars and trucks to tunnels, carrying them on foot, and even submarines! It's hard to really count how often this smuggling is attempted, but the U.S. Department of Justice reported that From January through November 2009, 1,626 metric tons of illegal drugs in were seized on their way into the United States. That's a LOT, huh? One way to help keep drugs off the street to choose to live a healthy, drug-free life. 
Drug Tunnel
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Dr. Jack SteinDr. 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.
CheezPizza12345 - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: What is Meth really? How does it affect differently than alcohol, tobacco or any other inhalant or stimulant?

Joni Rutter: Hey CheezPizza12345!  I like pineapple on my pizza!  Good question about Meth.  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. Like other drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, stimulants, meth acts on dopamine-- the chemical in the brain that makes people feel high.  Meth can actually be toxic to the brain by damaging brain cells that release the chemical dopamine.
 
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! 
master gamer - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: what is the most comin drug

Jack Stein: Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are the most commonly used drugs. Check out drugabuse.gov for more info.
Dr. Aaron WhiteDr. Aaron White is now here to answer your questions about alcohol. Aaron is a psychologist with our sister Institute, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. His expertise is in how alcohol affects the brain. He knows a lot about how the brain changes during the teenage years and how alcohol and other drugs affect the teen brain. He is very interested in something called 'alcohol blackouts,'where people, including teenagers, who drink too much can't remember what they did while they were drinking. His favorite things about his job are that he gets to be on the cutting edge of science, help teenagers make healthy choices about alcohol and, hopefully, keep their brains safe.
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: How does PCP alter your mind?

Jack Stein: Great question! LSD causes hallucinations, which are profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin.  Distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord, the serotonin system is involved in the control of behavioral, perceptual, and regulatory systems, including mood, hunger, body temperature, sexual behavior, muscle control, and sensory perception. 
kenziecheer828 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what's one of the most common drugs?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Kenziecheer828 from North Carroll Middle School! For teenagers, I'd say it's marijuana. For 2013, 7.0 percent of 8th graders, 18.0 percent of 10th graders, and 22.7 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month, up from 5.8 percent, 13.8 percent, and 19.4 percent in 2008.  Click here to learn more : http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends
parislover8 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it more dangerous to take rx drugs or marijuana...etc

Joe Frascella: 
Hi parislover8.  The answer to your question is not so simple. Scientists are reluctant to rank drugs in order of addictiveness and/or danger. There are just too many variables that would need to be considered: like one's genetics, the environment that one is in, and developmental age when the drug is taken, all of which play important and changing roles in determining to what extent abuse of a particular drug will lead to addiction or other dangerous health effects.
  
Although it is almost impossible to rank drugs, we can identify factors that contribute to or influence the dangers of a particular drug.  What we do know is that all drugs have harmful side effects.
 
For more info on health effects of drugs, check our chart (it includes marijuana and RX drugs) at:
Eric WargoDr. 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.
Dr. Dave ThomasDr. 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.
krista - Ennis High School , Texas: what is Kat or meow meow

Eric Wargo: 
Hey krista,
Good question! MeowMeow is a street name for mephedrone, one of the chemicals found in bath salts. It's technically what we call a 'synthetic cathinone'--a type of stimulant related to the Khat plant. Kat may be another street name (I know 'MCAT' is also one);Khat (with an h) is a plant that is chewed in Africa to provide a stimulating effect, and is also illegal. 
To learn more about mephedrone and other synthetic cathinones, check out our fact sheet: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
Dr. Joni RutterHave 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. Dr. Rutter received her PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Dartmouth Medical School in 1999 and joined the NIH cancer institute that same year. She moved to NIDA in 2003 where she managed studies in human and population genetics, pharmacogenetics, epigenetics, bioinformatics, and molecular epidemiology, as they relate to drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Rutter is also involved in oversight and the continued development of genomics research at NIDA, which includes a repository of clinical data and biologic samples for drug abuse research in genetics. Dr. Rutter was recently appointed as the Director of NIDA's basic science programs. When she's not at work, she likes to spend time with friends and go hiking &birding. Her favorite class in high school was physics;she was student body president and played varsity volleyball and basketball. She has 2 cats, Winky and Dobby, 10 red-footed tortoises, 6 red-kneed tarantulas, 2 Arizona hairy scorpions, 6 Xenopus frogs, and 1 lungfish. 
meaghangibbons - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: does cocaine have an immediate effect on your body?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Meaghan,
Sure, it changes your how your brain works and your physiology.  And this happens in seconds.  It also has long-term effects.  Here is some more of the science on cocaine:
mary1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: my friends mom gives her money to buy weed...Is that bad?

Redonna Chandler: 
Mary1,  Thanks for your question.  Yeah, it's bad.  Research is telling us a lot about the negative consequences of marijuana use and its impact on the brain, body, and behavior.  Marijuana use, among other things, is linked with poor concentration, memory, and ability to learn new information.  The sale and purchase of marijuana is illegal in most states in the U.S. (although that is changing) and not allowed by those under 18 in any state.  So, from both a health and legal perspective I don't think it is good for parents to encourage the use or purchase of drugs.  
 
For more information on marijuana see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
whitemomba20 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how do drugs/alchohol affect your brain

Joni Rutter: 
hey whitemomba20!  The human brain is the most complex organ in the body. Using drugs can cause a BIG increase chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin, which are important for pleasure, mood and anxiety.  Over time with repeated drug use, natural pleasures (eating, seeing loved ones, sex, etc) don't seem 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. Drugs have a very clever way of hijacking your brain to make you think they are pleasurable, but these feelings are short-lived. 
 
 
ilovepandas101 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it possible to get high from a perscription drug?

Susan Weiss: 
Hello ilovepandas... (so do I.)
You can definitely get high from many prescription drugs---which is why some people get addicted to them if they are not used properly.  The most common ones are pain relievers like Vicodin (which is an opiate, just like heroin) stimulants for ADHD like Adderall, and cough syrup that is bought in drug stores. The most important thing to remember is that prescription drugs should be taken as prescribed by your doctor. Also---you should not take medicines that are prescribed for other people. It can be dangerous to abuse these drugs---did you know that more people die from prescription drug overdoses every year than from heroin and cocaine combined? More here: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/index.htm
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: are alcohol and smoking bad combinations?

Aaron White: Both alcohol and nicotine can produce nausea and some people get really sick from the combination. If you meant smoking marijuana, both can impair balance, coordination, reaction times, decision making and attention, making the odds of being injured or making back choices higher if you combine the two drugs. 
Dr. Will AklinDr. Will Aklin received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Maryland. This means he is an expert in helping people work out their problems---in some cases very serious problems. His current research focuses on the development of treatments that will help people manage behaviors like impulsivity and risk-taking, which sometimes lead to unhealthy choices like drug abuse. He also supports researchers around the country who are trying to figure out how communities can help people with these kinds of challenges. When he is not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Courtney, and two kids, Peyton (4) and Liam (2). Will is an avid sports fan, including golf, college basketball, and soccer!
thebigD - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: at 21 most people arent responsible, so why dont they raise the drinking age

Aaron White: Good question! The US created the 1984 law raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 because too many young people were getting hurt by drinking alcohol. Raising it to 21 helped to significantly reduce the number of young people killed in alcohol-related car crashes. By contrast, kids drink more heavily in places like Europe and Australia, where the drinking age is lower than 21. So, raising the drinking age was a good thing. If it were raised more, it just might save more lives. But the age 21 law is working pretty well at the moment. 
 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What happens to your body in the future if you get drunk before you turn 21?

Aaron White: 
Drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!The teenage years are a very important time for brain development. The thinking memory, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

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

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. 
tatianamartinez - Pomona Middle School, New York: what drog is the worst that can make u get cancer

Cindy Miner: 
Hi there Pomona - it is really amazing (in a bad way) all the different kinds of cancer linked to smoking tobacco - lung, stomach, pancreas, liver, cervix, bladder, esophagus, larynx, colorectal to name a few....for more info- check this out: 
 http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf
 
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.
Angel - Ennis High School , Texas: Dont do drugs

Jack Stein: You got it!!!
-A - Ephraim Curtis Middle School, Massachusetts: why do people promote using drugs and smoking? (songs, music videos etc..)

Jacqueline Lloyd: 
Hi A. That is a very good question. Wouldn't it be great to have chance to ask music video producers and song writers why they do this? Well, one reason might be that the people promoting drugs and smoking might think it's cool or they might think it's what people want to hear about--and what will sell. Wouldn't it be great if the realities and consequences of drug use were promoted more, and also if more healthy alternatives were promoted? I think the important thing is for you your friends to be well aware of the realities and consequences of drug use and smoking (that abuse has really bad health consequences and that drugs are addictive), to avoid using and to get help if you are abusing. For more information on drug effects, click hereHere is an exciting contest that involved youth submitting songs that actually inform about drug abuse: click here.
 
samim34 - North carroll middle, Maryland: How do drugs affect your performance in school as a child?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi samim34,
Great question. It depends on the drug and how often you take it. For example, marijuana can seriously impair your learning ability and grades, so it's definitely a bad idea if you are in school! 
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!
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Can one drink (that has alcohal in it) effect someone who is, say 14, in a threatening way?

Aaron White: Well, if that one drink was just a single serving, like a beer or a glass of wine, it's unlikely that a person would die but even that small amount is enough to cause small changes in balance and reaction times that could make it more likely to have an accident or get into a car crash and die. More importantly, that one drink at the age of 14 could significantly increase the risk of becoming an alcoholic later in life. Researchers found that the earlier someone has their first drink of alcohol, usually meaning more than a few sips with family, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic. It isn't known whether a few sips is enough to make that happen or if more alcohol is needed. The best bet is to avoid alcohol completely until your brain is done developing in the early 20s. You can learn more about the effects of alcohol on kids at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp
hi123 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is the use of drugs incresings and if yes do you think it will keep doing the same thing or decrease.

Marsha Lopez: 
Hello, hi123, great question.  The most recent data we have is from the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, which shows an increase in past-month drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders (combined) over the past 5 years, going from 14.6% in 2008 to 17.4% in 2013. This is primarily driven by marijuana use--if you look at drugs OTHER than marijuana there is no increase and in fact trends downward for more than 10 years. 
 
Many scientists spend their careers trying to figure out if drug use will increase or decrease, and while there are many pieces to this puzzle, one is looking at how attitudes and social disapproval of drug use changes over time.  For example, Monitoring the Future also asks kids about how harmful they think a particular drug is, and how that changes over time can sometimes be a good predictor of what will happen with use.  
You can read more about teen drug use and attitudes at www.monitoringthefuture.org.  
 
But regardless of what people perceive, drug are harmful to your body and your mind.  
There's more information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site, here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

Monitoring the Future: Perceived risk vs Prevalence
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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.
samim34 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is drinking too much alcohol as a child at one time more fatal then when you're an adult?

Aaron White: Yes, absolutely. Children tend to be much smaller than adults so the amount of alcohol needed to cause a fatal overdose is much lower. 
AshleyP-P2 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: What are some ways to tell if someone is doing drugs or not by their body appearence?

Harold Perl: 
Great question, AshleyP-P2! I'm thinking that you may be wondering whether one of your friends is having problems with drugs?  You are a good friend to be concerned.  You may notice that they have lost a lot of weight recently, or look really tired or even act like they don't care about things like they used to.  If it turns out your friend has a problem, you can talk to your parents -- or a trusted adult (like a teacher, minister or someone) -- and get their advice.  Here's a link that gives signs to look for and steps you can take to help your friend, if there is a problem: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem
brittney s. - Pomona Middle School, New York: why are some alcohol drinks illegal?

Aaron White: There are only a few alcohol beverages that have been made illegal in recent memory. In particular, Four Loko was required to reformulate its beverage to take out the caffeine and to add a twist off cap so that people didn't feel pressured to drink the whole container all at once. However, there aren't very many instances in recent history in which specific types of drinks have been outlawed. 
Will you get a star from the moderator this year? We are giving stars for imaginative, original questions that will help other teens better understand the science of drug abuse and addiction.
jcashbuckets - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how can you tell if someone around school is smoking tobacco

Roger Sorensen: 
Hi jcashbuckets,
Have you been around people who smoke? Have you smelled an ashtray? Smoking tobacco has a very tell-tale smell. My nose picks it up immediately. I hate the smell. The smell gets into your clothes, your hands, your hair. If you detect that smell, you know that someone has been smoking.
the_furry_fox - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is medical marijuana still bad for people?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi furry fox,
Great question. The answer is yes. Marijuana that is smoked for medicinal purposes still has all the negative health effects, such as impairment in thinking and perception. If used long-term, it can affect your brain development if you are a teenager. But there are safe medications made from marijuana that don't have these problems (or at least not as bad).
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.
kbrace7 - Vergennes Union High School, Vermont: How many car crashes result in the usage of drugs?

Steve Gust: Hi kbrace - thanks for your question.  Clearly the use of drugs, especially alcohol, is related to car crashes.  Over 10,000 people die each year in alcohol-related crashes.  The use of other drugs that impair reaction time and thinking ability have also been associated with an increased risk of crashes. These include marijuana, prescription drugs, and many others.  If you would like additional information on this topic you can check out www.nhtsa.gov.
QuestionK2 or Spice refers to a variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences similar to marijuana, but in some cases more powerful and unpredictable. Which fact is NOT true about K2/Spice?
The correct answer is: Labels on Spice products often claim that they contain “natural” psycho-active material taken from a variety of plants. Spice products do contain dried plant material, but chemical analyses show that their active ingredients are synthetic (or designer) cannabinoid compounds. Learn more: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/spice-synthetic-marijuana
laciek - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: if you get in the car with someone who has been drinking and you feel they had a little to much and they might not be able to drive what is the best thing to do if you cant drive

Aaron White: 
This is such a good question. It can be hard to speak up when you are in a difficult situation like this. But if someone is pressuring you to do anything that's not right or good for you, you have the right to resist. You have the right to say no, the right not to give a reason why, and the right to just walk away from a situation. Resisting pressure can be hard for some people. But it's much better to have a few friends or your parents get mad at you than to be in an accident and get hurt or killed. 
It's obviously best not to be faced with situations like these, but if you are, prepare yourself to stay safe.
Check out this website for more info on how to resist and how to get help if you need it:
http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp
 
maria1029 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is there any way for people to escape the second hand smoke around them?

Roger Sorensen: 
Hi maria1029, How are you? 
Obviously, this can be difficult to avoid. I find it hard many times. I hate the smell of smoke. If you can, I just move away from the smoke. Many businesses such as restaurants have policies against smoking. Those are the places that I go to. And if all else fails, be polite and ask whether the person who is smoking might stop. Research has shown that second-hand smoke can be just as bad as smoking itself. Good luck.
sha-nae-nae - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: Why does xanax make you feel extremely relaxed where your body is almost completely numb? and how come it also causes you to forget numerous activities from the night before? and how much is xanax is to much, (# of pills)

Denny Pintello: 

Hello there sha-nae-nae! Xanax (aka: alprazolam) happens to belong to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines, which works by slowing down the movement of chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced. This results in a reduction in nervous tension (anxiety). Xanax is used to treat anxiety disorders. When used as prescribed, it usually does not result in forgetfulness, yet each person reacts differently to medications, so please talk with the MD who prescribed it to you. If you are interested in learning more about why folks take Xanax (anxiety), check out: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml. 

MGHS1717 - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: what are most of the street names for cocaine?

Susan Weiss: 
Hello Mt. Graham H.S.
Street names changes with the  times---and can vary depending on where you live. Cocaine has also been called blow, snow, bump, C, candy, Charlie, crack, flake, rock, toot and more.  But whatever it's called, it's the same dangerous stuff. 
jackh8 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how do know if your friend is high?

Redonna Chandler: 
Hi there, great question - Drugs impact the brain and behavior. You can often tell someone is under the influence or 'high' because their coordination, reaction times, speech, and decision making are impaired.
 
You can find more health consequences of drug use at: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/index.html
 
 
yaire2468 - Pomona Middle School, New York: How do drugs miss up the brain

Steve Gust: 
Hi Yaire - drugs can affect the brain in many ways, but the most important one is by interfering with the natural, normal chemical processes going on in there!  For more info on how drugs affect you check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
 
 
ninja6963 - Pomona Middle School, New York: can you eat marijuana

Eric Wargo: 
Hi ninja6963,
You can. It affects the body less swiftly when it is eaten in food, although it can actually be more dangerous this way, because it is easy to consume too much before you know it, and have a very bad reaction (such as terrible anxiety).
Great question! 
amanda_foo - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How do drugs get to the united states?

Marsha Lopez: Hey amanda_foo. There are a lot of different ways traffickers try to get drugs into the country. The criminals trying to get those drugs into the country will use everything from small planes, cars, and trucks to tunnels, carrying them on foot, and even submarines! Some drugs are made here in the United States, too. For example, America is the world's largest prescriber and abuser of prescription drugs. Thanks for the important question! And don't forget that you can choose to stay healthy and stay off drugs.
Narco Submarine
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skull - Pomona Middle School, New York: What does alcohol do to your brain?

Aaron White: 
The teenage years are a very important time for brain development. The thinking memory, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

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

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!
smiley509 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what kind of help can a drug addict get and where at?

Redonna Chandler: Smiley,  You again! There are lots of places people can get help with drug addiction.  Treatment programs provide formal help including medication, behavioral interventions to teach people new skills to resist the urge to use drugs, and establishing activities that support healthy choices.  More information about drug treatment can be found at:l 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
kw - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: my friend has a serious problem with drus anything i can do to help

Harold Perl: Wow, kw, you are a good friend -- you really want to help him or her.  One thing to do is to talk to your parents -- or a trusted adult (like a teacher, minister or somemone) -- and get their advice.  You can call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7--or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area. You can also call a crisis line like 1-800-273-TALK. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area. They can give you some ideas. Here's a link with steps you can take to help your friend: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem. Good luck, and I hope your friend can get some help. 
can'tell - Marymount International School of Rome, : hello, if you have asma is the spray that you use a drug?

Jack Stein: 
Thanks for your question! Not if the spray is being prescribed to treat your asthma. Drug abuse is defined if you use an illegal substance or take a medication in ways other than prescribed.

 
_desiringlm - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why is alcohol considered a drug?

Steve Gust: 
Thanks for the great question.  Drugs are any chemicals that affect how the body works.  There are many legal drugs and many illegal ones, but they all affect the body and the brain.  Alcohol fits the definition and is definitely a drug.  One of the most harmful if used by young people - or by anyone in excess.  Check out http://thecoolspot.gov/ for more information.
 
 
Ry's Beiber - Bellefonte Area Middle School, Pennsylvania: Why do people who smoke marijuana have more respitory problems?

Susan Weiss: 
hello to all the Bellefonte kids!  
Marijuana smoke is similar to cigarette smoke---both contain thousands of chemicals, including ones that are linked to cancer.  It is only logical that if you inhale toxic smoke into your lungs that your lungs can get irritated. Lungs are for breathing----they are not designed to absorb a bunch of bad chemicals. 
smiley509 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what are the laws and penalties for taking drugs ?

Redonna Chandler: 
Hey Smiley,  A combination of federal and state laws determine the legal status of drugs. What is legal to do in one state may not be legal in another.  To make things more confusing, something may be legal according to state law, but not Federal.  Best bet is to stay clear of the drama!
 
More information can be found at: http://www.justice.gov/dea/agency/penalties.htm.
In 2013, about 39% of 12th graders reported they drank alcohol in the past month. This means nearly 61% did not drink in the past month.
Kim Jong Un - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Does nationality effect vonerability to drugs?

Joni Rutter: Way cool question, Kim Jong Un!  Genes and environment are both important things to consider in terms of one's vulnerability.  For example, the Irish are known for alcoholism, but not all Irish are alcoholics.
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!  
 
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!
akennedy - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: I've heard marijuana has never killed anyone, is this true?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi akennedy,
Marijuana advocates like to make this claim. It definitely isn't true: It causes auto fatalities when people have used marijuana before driving, for example. No, you are very unlikely to 'overdose' on marijuana, but that isn't the main concern with this drug anyway. It can have a strong effect on brain development when it is used by teenagers, leading to failure in school and diminished success and happiness in later life. This is the biggest reason we try to steer young people away from marijuana. It may not seem harmful, or feel harmful, but can derail your life in all kinds of ways.
I'm glad you asked! 
@Official_Terio - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Is it true that steroids is a carcinogen and it can cause very severe problems with your health?

Joni Rutter: Yes, steroids can cause cancer, @Official_Terio.  It's not a potent carcinogen, but one nonetheless. People using steroids might get buff, but they will also have some very unwanted effects, too.  Boys taking steroids risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility! YIKES! Girls taking steroids risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice! Check out this informational video on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc
  
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.  And some more info is here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
 
 
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: What are the effects of LSD?

Albert Avila: 
Hello felisa.holden. You're on a roll today! Some effects are that the user feels an intense, altered state which transforms into disassociation and despair. Often there is no stopping “bad trips,”which can go on for up to twelve hours. Other effects include sweating or chills (“goose bumps”), tremors, delusions, and panic attacks to just name a few.  Check out our teen website for more info. 
 
 
Sorrelosophic - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: I know that drugs stimulate an area in the brain that "lights up" in pleasure. Does doing anything else pleasureful activate the same area? Is it possible to "trick" the brain with a wrong stimulant and deviate away from drugs?

Redonna Chandler: 
Good question WJ High.  You are referring to the 'pleasure center' of the brain where a chemical called dopamine is released when we engage in pleasurable activities.  Yes, there are naturally reinforcing activities that lead to the release of dopamine and feelings of well being and pleasure including savoring your favorite meal, exercising, spending time with friends, even making a good grade on a hard test.  For me that part of my brain lights up after a good run or reaching the top of the wall at my local indoor rock climbing center.  
 
For more information about drugs and their impact on the brain see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
 
morgenmontano - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: why does alcohol increase the probability of sex?

Aaron White: Alcohol affects the parts of the brain that allow us to think about the consequences of our actions and make good choices. It also decreases activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for making us feel nervous or anxious. Some people refer to the combination of those effects as 'reduced inhibitions'. In other words, we're more likely to do things that we normally would not do because our anxiety or concern over consequences would hold us back. This can increase the odds that a person will decide to be engage in sex in a given situation. Importantly, despite what we see in movies and on TV, people who are intoxicated cannot legally give consent to have sex. So, if a person takes advantage of the reduced inhibitions of an intoxicated person in order to have sex with them, it's actually a crime!
joejakeskate - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are some effects of steriods

Joni Rutter: hey joejakeskate!  People using steroids might get buff, but they will also have some very lovely, yet unwanted effects, too.  Boys taking steroids risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility (btw, girls love to share their bras with their boyfriends)! Girls taking steroids risk growth of facial hair, deepened voice, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice (ladies...dudes love manly chicks)! Check out this informational video on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc
  
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.  As you can see, the effects are serious!  If you want to increase your muscle mass and get stronger, the best way to do it is by going to the gym and eating a healthy diet.  And some more info is here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.
 
 
devondonahue - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: will drugs effect your physical appereance?

Dave Thomas: Oh yeah, someone else just asked about this.  For example, Google 'methamphetamine' and look at before and after pictures of people that got addict to meth.  It is amazing how much they change in such a short amount of time. And it is not a good change.  And if you have a strong stomach, Google 'meth mouth.'  Smoking meth basically melts ones teeth!!!!  Other drugs also can have a effect on how you look - all negative!
Luma - Pomona Middle School, New York: Could alcohol be in the food that we eat? Can that be another way kids get drunk?

Aaron White: Yes, there are foods and beverages that contain small amounts of alcohol, though probably not enough to make people intoxicated. Legally, non-alcohol products are allowed to contain up to 0.5% alcohol, which is about the amount that might be present in fruit juice as a result of natural fermentation. A standard beer contains 5% alcohol, ten times the amount that can be present in non-alcoholic beverages. 
smiley509 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what is in drugs that make it so hard to stop taking them?

Harold Perl: 
Thanks for asking, smiley509! All drugs affect how your brain (and body) works in some way. Some drugs even change the actual physical structure of the brain! As you would guess, the more a drug affects the brain, the harder it would be to stop using it.  Some people are especially susceptible to the addictive nature of a particular drug.  You can't know in advance if you are more likely to be affected by drugs, so the best thing is to not start at all. Here's a link that explains why drugs are so hard to quit: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/videos/videos/why-are-drugs-so-hard-quit.  
haleyb-p6 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: why do people like drinking so much

Aaron White: 
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.
Learn more about why alcohol is dangerous for kids under age 21 and how you can resist the peer pressure to drink at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp 
fernandf.19 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do you have to be 21 to drink alcohol? Why can't it be 18 like tobacco?

Aaron White: 
Good question. The US created the 1984 law raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 because too many young people were getting hurt by drinking alcohol. Raising it to 21 helped to significantly reduce the number of young people killed in alcohol-related car crashes. By contrast, kids drink more heavily in places like Europe and Australia, where the drinking age is lower than 21. So, raising the drinking age was a good thing. 
 
kaylingailey - North carroll middle, Maryland: How many people smuggle drugs across the border per year?

Marsha Lopez: Hi there kaylingailey. Thank you for the thoughtful question. There are a lot of different ways traffickers try to get drugs into the country. Many drugs that come to the United States come from South and Central America, and Mexico. The criminals trying to get those drugs into the country will use everything from small planes, cars and trucks to tunnels, walking on foot, and even submarines! It's hard to really count the number of people moving the drugs by these and other methods, but the U.S. Department of Justice reported that From January through November 2009, 1,626 metric tons of illegal drugs in were seized on their way into the United States. That's a lot!
Narco Sub
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hulia123456789 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is more addictive meth or crystal meth?

Joe Frascella: Hi hulia1-9.  It's more about how you take the drug.  For example, smoking crystal meth gets the drug to your brain faster than injecting it. Check out our teen fact sheet on meth: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine-meth
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -Does alcohol effect your eye sight over time?

Aaron White: When a person drinks, alcohol causes the muscles around the eyes to relax, making it harder to move the eyeballs around smoothly. This is why police officers often test to see if people are intoxicated by having them keep their heads still and move their eyeballs as a pen is moved from side to side in front of them. If a person is intoxicated, the eyes will skip around and not be able to move smoothly. So alcohol affects vision by affecting the muscles around the eye rather than the eye itself.  There is no definitive evidence that drinking alcohol affects your eyesight over time, though.
Volubilis - Bellows Falls Union High School, Vermont: While I agree that drugs are extremely dangerous, is it not true that making them illegal dramatically raises the amount of violent crime involved with the selling and production of drugs? As well as putting many people who should probably not be in prison into our already boated prison system, costing many taxpayer dollars, not to mention the huge amount of money spent on the crimes caused by drug trade and the police who try to stop drug trade.

Redonna Chandler: 
Volubilis,  You ask a terrific and difficult question.  The link between drug use and crime is complicated. There is evidence to suggest that violent behavior increases when people take drugs and that over half of those currently incarcerated in the U.S. have serious drug abuse problems.  We are currently engaged in a changing landscape regarding the legalization of marijuana in the U.S.  This will provide us an opportunity to conduct research and learn more about the impact of legalization on health consequences, violence, the economy, and even the criminal justice system.
DarkBlade65 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why are drugs and alcohol addicting to people?

Albert Avila: Hi DarkBlade65, Great question! Drugs and alcohol stimulate the reward system in your brain that is normally stimulated by good things in your life such as food, sex, or exercise. At first these feelings are really good, but over time-you can't feel good from the regular things that make you happy. Then you start feeling really bad if you don't have the drugs, so you continue to take them. The reward system was originally designed to increase survival- but drugs hijack this system when someone is addicted. 
xx_cristinam_xx - Pomona Middle School, New York: what makes alcohol addicting

Aaron White: 
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.
 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What makes alcohol a drug?

Aaron White: A drug is a substance that alters how we think, feel, function and behave. Alcohol is a very powerful drug. 
Lu_nation - Pomona Middle School, New York: How long does it take for alcohol to affect your CNS?

Aaron White: After a person drinks a drink, it takes about 30 minutes for the peak amount of alcohol to hit the brain, depending on whether the person has food in their stomach when they drink, which would make it take longer for the alcohol to hit the brain. 
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.
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What is the amount of alcohol you can drink before you become drunk?

Aaron White: 
Good question. It depends on several things, including the size of the person and whether they are male or female. For some people, just one drink can be enough to make them feel intoxicated and cause impairments. For others it might take a few more. Adults are considered to be legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (a measure of the amount of alcohol in the blood) reaches a level of 0.08%, which happens after about 4 or 5 drinks in a few hours.
 
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

 

aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: what happens if you inject heroine into your genitals

Dave Thomas: 
Aveson, 
That is a bit of an odd question, don't you think?  Let's see, I guess it would be about the same as injecting it into a muscle, in that the heroin would be taken into the blood stream, and eventually get to your brain.  I suspect there would be a local toxic effect on your private parts too.  I suggest not trying this experiment. 
Longtime marijuana users report being less satisfied with their lives, experiencing memory and relationship problems, poor mental and physical health, lower salaries and less career success.
sampugliese - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can drugs cause extreme hallucinations?

Harold Perl: 
Hey there sampugliese! Thanks for this great question!  Yes, some drugs do cause hallucinations, and some drugs cause very intense extreme ones.  They can be very very frightening to experience and very confusing to a person. Check out this website for more info: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/curricula-and-lesson-plans/mind-over-matter/hallucinogens
 
felisa.holden - TC Williams High School, Virginia: Can you smoke bath salts?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi felisa,
Good question. Bath salts are usually inhaled, snorted, or injected, not smoked. For more info on bath salts, you can check out our fact sheet: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts 
clide - Lathrop High School, Alaska: is chewwing worse then smokeing

Cindy Miner: Hi clide - good question - both chewing and smoking tobacco can lead to severe health problems like cancer. 
Dr. Denise PintelloDr. Denise Pintello is online now. Known as 'Denny,' she worked at NIDA for 11 years and now works at the National Institute on Mental Health---and is still helping out during CHAT DAY! While in college and grad school, she studied the impact of childhood trauma so she can talk to teens about both drug abuse and other mental health issues. One of her many fascinating jobs at NIMH involves overseeing studies that help make treatment more accessible for students struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. For fun, Dr. Pintello spends time jogging with her German shepherd dog, tearing down walls in her home (renovating!), and traveling to beautiful locations to enjoy warm beaches.
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can you snort cocain trough any hole in your body?

Joni Rutter: Hey Ralf-weiner.  I thought snorting by definition was through the nose.  Some people are also known to inject cocaine or inhale crack smoke.  Interesting...and bizarre question....
tommy659380 - Pomona Middle School, New York: why do people drink and drive

Aaron White: 
We wish we knew. It's so dangerous. 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.
 
Alcohol interferes with the parts of the brain that let us focus our attention, make good choices, keep our balance and coordinate our hands and eyes. When people drive after drinking, they are less likely to stop in time at traffic lights and more likely to drive fast, swerve and drive recklessly in other ways.
 
Here's a podcast that discusses the dangers drinking and driving poses for teens:
http://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=8625488 
Thunder - Pomona Middle School, New York: what does mixing different drugs do

Steve Gust: 
Hi Thunder - that is a great question.  There are many different kinds of drugs and they fit into general categories such as stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, etc.  The effects of mixing drugs is very unpredictable and dangerous.  Especially if two or more depressant drugs or hallucinogens are mixed. More information on the effects of drugs on teens can be found at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.
 
 
official-_sean - North carroll middle, Maryland: Can you build a tolerance to drugs or alchohol?

Harold Perl: 
Hi there official-_sean.  I've gotta ask: is there an 'unofficial' sean out there somewhere?  (just kidding!) Your question is important, and the answer is YES, absolutely.  For alcohol and many drugs, tolerance does build up.  That means that a person needs to take more to feel the effect. In fact, that is often when the really big problems start to happen.  A person keeps taking larger amounts of drugs or alcohol and the physical and mental damages keep growing larger!  Its always best not to start at all -- then you won't need to worry about tolerance.  Check out this website for more info: teens.drugabuse.gov
 
downies - Lathrop High School, Alaska: if i were to eat 4 pounds of acid would i die

Dave Thomas: 
Oh my!!!!
 
LSD is very potent.  One lick of LSD can put you in an altered state for many hours.  I am not sure what 4 pounds would do but I'm betting that it would kill you - probably before you were able to ingest a full 4 pounds.   
 
Dave 
RyanMiles3 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why is it illegal to travel with alcohol if you're not drunk

Aaron White: For adults it isn't legal to travel with unopened containers of alcohol in the car. However, for people under 21 it's illegal to possess alcohol even if the containers are closed. 
WaffleKing - North carroll middle, Maryland: Are there any drugs that are not Addictive?

Joe Frascella: 
Great question, WaffleKing!  Most abused drugs are very addictive, but there are some, such as some of the hallucinogens for which addictive properties have not been shown.  That said, everyone's response to drugs is unpredictable;just because someone may abuse some drug and not become addicted, it does not mean that for someone else, taking a drug a few times might not lead to addiction.
 
For more information on addiction, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
Lu_nation - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do people, feel the need to drink a lot? What makes the alcohol so addicting?

Aaron White: 
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.
As for what makes alcohol addicting, alcohol is a drug that tricks the brain into making a person feel different for a little while. Some people like this feeling and choose to drink alcohol for that reason. If they keep drinking alcohol their body becomes dependent on the alcohol to feel normal. Over time, this develops into an addiction. That is, the person doesn't feel okay without the alcohol and they have a strong urge to drink. You can learn more about alcohol problems at http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
You can learn more about why alcohol is dangerous for kids under age 21 and how you can resist the peer pressure to drink at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp
 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -Does marijuana really work for medical uses?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi CFPC,
Good question! Yes, marijuana can be used for a few things like controlling nausea in cancer chemotherapy patients and boosting appetite in people with AIDS, as well as a few other conditions. But it would be much better to get those effects from medicines created from marijuana chemicals. That's what scientists are busy doing. There are already FDA-approved drugs made from marijuana. 
Our fact sheet on marijuana as medicine has more information on this: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine 
RALF_WEINER - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can you die if you drink too much water

Joni Rutter: hi again Ralf-weiner!  good question.  The answer is yes.  All things are toxic at a given dose--even water.  What happens is that the water depletes the electolytes in the body.  Electrolytes are what makes our heart tick, our kidney's function, our brain think, etc.  Too much water means no electrolytes and you can die.
jcashbuckets - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what makes cocaine so addictive

Albert Avila: 
Hello jcashbuckets, After cocaine enters your body it makes it's way to the brain where it leads to the release of a chemical called dopamine. Normally, dopamine release is stimulated by things that naturally make us feel good like food, exercise or sex. Cocaine and other drugs hijack this reward system and cause a rush of dopamine that leads to the 'high'.  This increases the likelihood that a person will use the drug again...which of course increases the likelihood of addiction, and continued cocaine use.
 
For more info check out our teen website here.
Derpysquid101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: are people who use drugs at a higher risk of cancer

Steve Gust: 
Hi Derpy.. - thanks for the question.  Certainly people who smoke cigarettes or use any form of tobacco are greatly increasing their risk of cancer - and tobacco is a drug.  Also, alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth and digestive tract.  As for other drugs, we don't know a lot about their direct cancer causing effects.  There is a lot of information on the heath effects of drugs at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.  
 
 
ashlin5702 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how much nicotine is in one cigarette?

Joni Rutter: 
Hey again ashlin5702!  It varies by brand, but there is ~1.3 mg of nicotine in one cigarette.  There are 20 cigarettes in a pack of cigarettes, so about 26mg of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes.  That's a LOT of nicotine! Learn more about nicotine and smoking at - http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/index.html and tobacco-products' target='_blank'>http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products
z_oneill - North carroll middle, Maryland: Is daily function harder when using drugs such as meth or heroin?

Jack Stein: Yes! drugs like meth and heroin affect thinking and behavior. Oftentimes, the main interest the individual user has is to find and use more drugs leaving little time (or energy) for other things like school, work, and family. Thanks for asking!
Who_Am_I - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Why do drugs cause permanent fear and panic?

Joe Frascella: 
Hi Who_Am_I!  You ask a good question. Not all drugs cause permanent fear and panic, but because drugs of abuse have their main effects in the brain and affect the brain systems involved in emotional, psychological, mental health regulation, disruption of these pathways can cause mood disorders, fear, anxiety, panic, and other psychological issues.
 
Take a look at our online chart about the health effects of some commonly abused drugs at:
VladimirPutin - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Why do people binge drink? Its cool in Russia.

Aaron White: 
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, whether you live in Manhasset or Moscow. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.
Learn more about why alcohol is dangerous for kids under age 21 and how you can resist the peer pressure to drink at: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/index.asp 
DynamoDude2801 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Cigarettes kill thousands of people in the US every year, yet they are legal. Marijuana has produced no deaths, yet they are illegal. Why is this?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey DynamoDude2801,
You ask a really interesting question. There are lots of reasons. History and greed are two of the reasons: Tobacco was an important part of American society and our economy even before we were a nation, and by the time we found out how harmful it was (in the 1950s), lots of Americans were hooked, and the companies that made cigarettes weren't about to give up a big money-maker--so they have fought hard to keep people using their products. Although marijuana has been used for a long time, even in early America, it hasn't been as important in our society, so it was easier to make it illegal when its dangers became apparent. It's dangers are very different from those of tobacco though: It affects intelligence, motivation, and other mental factors, especially when used by young people.
I'm glad you're thinking about this--it's an important question! 
imtyping... - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Do people take drugs to be cool or do they think they actually need them?

Jacqueline Lloyd: Well hello imtyping! Some people may think that using drugs is an 'adult' and 'cool' thing to do. IN FACT using drug is not cool at all. Using drugs can cause all types of health problems as well as problems at home, with the law, with friends, at school, etc.  Also drug use can lead to addiction which makes it difficult to stop use once people start. This can make people feel that they actually 'need' to keep using and use even more to get the same effects. Not cool at all.  
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is alcohol made up of exactly?

Aaron White: Alcohol is just made up of alcohol (ethyl alcohol more specifically).  Alcohol is a very simple molecule made when yeast, a type of fungus, eats sugar and gives off alcohol as a waste product. Most alcohol that people drink is made by putting yeast into a mash of fruits or vegetables. The yeast eat the sugar in the mash and alcohol is produced. It's still a little bit of a mystery how alcohol works, but in general it interferes with the ability of brain cells to work properly, making it harder for a person to walk, talk, think and make good decisions.
Did you know that 9 out of 10 high school students don’t smoke? That’s a record low. So even if it seems like everyone around you smokes, it’s important to recognize that smoking is actually not the norm.
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -How many people die a year due to alcohol related causes?

Aaron White: 
Certainly a lot of teens. Every year in the US, about 5,000 young people under age 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This includes:
  • 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes
  • 1,600 from homicides
  • 1,200 from alcohol poisoning, falls, burns, and drowning
  • 300 from suicides
Learn more statistics here:
http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/underage-drinking
haleyb-p6 - Sugar Land Middle, Texas: what is mdma

Jack Stein: MDMA is what is commonly referred to as Ecstasy (or more recently, Molly). It is a hallucinogen that can cause significant health effects. Check out drugabuse.gov for more info.
unc - North carroll middle, Maryland: will any drug effect your physical features

Dave Thomas: 
Sure, and depending on the drug, it can be a huge affect. Google 'methamphetamine' and look for before and after photos.  It is amazing how much that drug can change appearance (and not in a good way) in just a couple of years. Try looking up 'meth mouth' while you are at it.  Other drugs can all affect appearance, but not so dramatically.  
 
 Dave
someone - North carroll middle, Maryland: why do people do drugs in the first place I know that some people do drugs because bad things happened to them but do some people do it just because it is cool but do you think that there are other reasons

Jacqueline Lloyd: Hello there. This is a great question. Another important question is 'Why do people try or use drugs when they know it is bad for them?' There are lots of reasons why people might try or do drugs. Yes, the reasons you mentioned might be reasons for some -- because bad things happened to them and they THINK it might make them feel better or forget;or, because they think it is cool, although it really is NOT. Others may think drugs will make them feel good, perform better or they may try it because they are curious or pressured by peers. Drug abuse does NOT solve these problems. In fact, drug abuse usually creates more problems later on. And, stopping once you start abusing or become addicted is really hard so it's best not to start. Unfortunately, just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent some people from using drugs;it might be a starting point.  For more resources on teen drug use go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
Simon N. - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is it possible to OD on weed?

Steve Gust: Hi Simon - thanks for your question.  It is often quoted in the press and online that no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana.  However, a person can certainly overdose on a drug without dying, and marijuana is no exception.  If a person takes a large amount of marijuana, perhaps by smoking too much of a high potency marijuana or taking too much by eating food products containing marijuana, they can experience many very negative consequences, such paranoia, severe anxiety, and even psychotic symptoms, which is when a person loses touch with reality.  Hope this helps and thanks for the question.
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: how much alcohol can you consume before it becomes dangerous

Aaron White: 
Well, that really depends. For healthy adults, having one glass of wine or a beer isn't necessarily dangerous healthwise. However, for people under the legal drinking age of 21, with brains that are still changing and growing, alcohol can be pretty dangerous for the brain and can increase the odds of getting injured or injuring other people.
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
laciek - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: Dose Marijuana make you want to eat food more

Dave Thomas: 
Yes, it does.  They call it the 'munchies.'  Marijuana works in a lot of areas of the brain, including the area that makes you feel hungry - the feeding area.  Marijuana can cause hunger even in people who have recently eaten.
 
Here is some more information on marijuana at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/term/135/Marijuana
 
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School -What percentage of kids in the United States under the age of 14 do drugs?

Marsha Lopez: Hello CFPC!  The National Survey on Drug Use and Health goes back as far as age 12, and tells us that about 3.5% of kids ages 12-13 said they had used drugs in the past month. It's important to note that your adolescent years--from about 12 to 18--are when your brain is doing a lot of its growing. Anything that interferes with that process, like drug use, could have long-lasting effects. So stay off drugs to stay healthy! If you want more information on drugs, visit NIDA’s Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/

Check out the 'Students and Young Adults' tab.
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can you die if you drink one cup of alcohol?

Aaron White: Well, if that one cup was just a single serving, like a beer or a glass of wine, it's unlikely that a person will die but even that small amount is enough to cause small changes in balance and reaction times that could make it more likely to have an accident or get into a car crash and die. If that cup was full of all vodka, then yes that might be enough to directly kill you. 
polkadot - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: is hooka dangerous?

Cindy Miner: 
 Hi there polkadot - if by dangerous you mean hazardous to your health, then yep, it's dangerous, the same way smoking cigarettes is dangerous.  See this and you will understand why hookahs are as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. http://www.cdc.gov/features/hookahsmoking/
 
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How long does it take to get drunk after drinking alcohol?

Aaron White: 
That's hard to say because alcohol affects different people in different ways.  Any amount of alcohol can be dangerous for teenagers, so it's best to stay away from any amounts. Legally, adults are considered drunk when their blood alcohol levels read 0.08%, which takes about 4-5 servings of alcohol.
 
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


name - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: how do people smoke meth

Joe Frascella: 
When methamphetamine is concentrated into crystals, one can light it and smoke it.  When a drug is smoked, it enters the lungs and is absorbed directly into the blood that then circulates up to the brain.  This is one of the fastest ways that a drug can reach the brain and have its effects.
 
For more information on methamphetamine, check out: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine-meth
 
Thanks for writing in! 
Donnita Rogers - Booker T. Washington High School, Louisiana: can drinking alcohol at a young age have long term affects on you?

Aaron White: 
There are lots of negative long term effects of drinking before age 21. First of all, your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development. 
 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
ashlin5702 - North carroll middle, Maryland: are electronic cigarettes still bad for you?

Joni Rutter: 
Good question, ashlin5702!  
Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and recent research suggests nicotine exposure may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. Also, testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as diethylene glycol and nitrosamines), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.
 
Stay tuned for when more research comes in to address this very question! Learn more about electronic cigarettes at - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes and http://www.legacyforhealth.org/content/download/582/6926/file/LEG-FactSheet-eCigarettes-JUNE2013.pdf
jareda - Frank Ward Strong Middle School, Connecticut: which drug alters your motor skills more, Marijuana or alcohol?

Eric Wargo: 
Hey jareda,
Both of the above. Marijuana and alcohol both affect your motor skills. And both make it very dangerous to drive afterwards. Don't believe anyone who tells you marijuana is safer--we've done studies on this and it not only doubles your chance of being in an accident, its impairing effects on driving ability can be detected weeks after a person smokes!
Great question! 
party - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: Why is the legal age to drink alcohol 21 and why isnt it lower?

Aaron White: 
Good question. The US created the 1984 law raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 because too many young people were getting hurt by drinking alcohol. Raising it to 21 helped to significantly reduce the number of young people killed in alcohol-related car crashes. By contrast, kids drink more heavily in places like Europe and Australia, where the drinking age is lower than 21. So, raising the drinking age was a good thing. 
 
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can drinking orange juice get rid of a hangover?

Aaron White: Really nothing gets rid of a hangover except for time. However, some things, like replacing lost fluids, can help ease the symptoms a little. For some people, toast and coffee is their preferred strategy. For others, it might just be orange juice. It just depends on the person. The best way to deal with hangovers is to avoid them entirely! Just don't drink!
Long-term inhalant use results in nerve cells not being able to do their job. This can cause muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic functions like walking, bending, and talking.
DynamoDude2801 - North carroll middle, Maryland: What drugs are the most used?

Jack Stein: Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are the most commonly abused substances
CFPC - Center for Prevention and Counseling, New Jersey: Sparta Middle School - What is in alcohol and why do you get drunk?

Aaron White: Alcohol, specifically ethyl alcohol, is the ingredient in alcoholic beverages that gets people drunk. Getting drunk happens when enough alcohol gets into the brain to disrupt activity in areas that control thinking, feeling, balance and coordination, decision making and other important functions. When people are drunk, they tend to take more risks and make bad choices due to the effects on the frontal lobes of the brain. Due to effects on the hippocampus, another area of the brain, some drunk people don't remember what they did when they wake up the next day. Alcohol disrupts the cerebellum in the back of the brain, which makes drunk people stumble around and lose their balance. 
Bob the Builder - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why are drugs addictive?

Joe Frascella: 
Hi Bob the Builder! Great question.  The short answer is because all drugs of abuse affect certain parts of the brain called the brain reward pathway.  They all stimulate the release of the brain chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for the reinforcing or pleasurable feelings after drugs are taken.  Because they stimulate these areas of the brain so effectively - much more so than for the natural stimuli like food and sex for which this system evolved to signal - people tend to want to repeat this act.  It is the repeated use of drugs that can lead to addiction.
 
Of course, the answer is more complicated than this, but you should check out some more interesting materials on drugs and their addictive properties at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
The Next - Pomona Middle School, New York: What are some of the ways drugs can be taken other than inhaling, injection, and eating

Bethany Deeds: Hi The Next! Looks like you covered most of the ways drugs can be administered: swallowing, snorting, smoking, injection and using suppositories.
. - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: What is Adderall?

Dave Thomas: 
Hi person without a name.  Adderall is a stimulate used to treat ADHD, but is also abused.  Here is a page with a lot of information for you. Hope this helps. Dave
 
 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/stimulant-adhd-medications-methylphenidate-amphetamines
friendlyperson1 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How dangerous is it to drink alcohol at 16?

Aaron White: 
Teens who drink can experience lots of problems, including: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Negative effects on brain development
  4. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior
  5. Starting to drink before age 21 increases the risk of developing alcoholism later on
The brain is changing in very important ways during the teenage years and alcohol can interfere with brain development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
huntress - North carroll middle, Maryland: What are the types of cancer you can get from alcohol

Aaron White: Drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth, throat, and breast. You can learn more about these risks at:http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm#chapter06
cookiemonster14 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Should the age limit for alcohol should be raised, lowered, or stay the same?

Aaron White: 
Good question. The US created the 1984 law raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 because too many young people were getting hurt by drinking alcohol. Raising it to 21 helped to significantly reduce the number of young people killed in alcohol-related car crashes. By contrast, kids drink more heavily in places like Europe and Australia, where the drinking age is lower than 21. So, raising the drinking age was a good thing. 
 
jackiemoon - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what are the long term effects of cocaine use

Marsha Lopez: 
Hello, jackiemoon!  cocaine-use' target='_blank'>Cocaine affects the body in many ways.  Let's start with the brain. Cocaine affects the brain's dopamine system, the part associated with motivation and reward.  After repeated use of cocaine, the brain starts to adapt and becomes less sensitive to natural rewards and the drug itself. This means higher doses are needed for the same 'high' and users could be more sensitive to cocaine's other toxic effects.  Cocaine affects blood vessels, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, can cause headaches, nausea, and appetite, sometimes leading to malnourishment. Most seriously, cocaine use can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death.
 
Some of cocaine's effects depend on the way it is used. Snorting, for example, can lead to loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and a chronically runny nose. Injecting cocaine can bring about severe allergic reactions and increased risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases. If you or someone you know is using cocaine, there's help to stop. Call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
sampugliese - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: do you think that people arrested for DUI should be forgiven easily?

Aaron White: That's a tough question. We know that strict laws prevent people from drinking and driving and reduce the number of repeat offenders. So, forgiving them easily probably would be a very bad thing and would lead to more drunk driving deaths.
cookiemonster14 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Why are some drugs so popular, then disappear after awhile?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi cookiemonster14,
That's a great question, and it has a lot to do with fashion--the same thing reason your clothes go out of style after a few years! Drugs become fashionable and then go out of fashion. And like with clothes, they usually come back into fashion eventually. That's sort of what's happening with marijuana--It was popular in the 60s and 70s, then it became less cool in the 80s, came back into fashion in the early 90s, then went out of fashion again until a few years ago. 
jordans_101 - Pomona Middle School, New York: how does crystal meth make your teeth yellow

Jack Stein: Crystal meth is very addictive. Users often care about nothing much else than seeking and using the drug. As a result, general health is affected, including oral care. This contributes to the yellowing (and other dental problems).
Agenst abuse - Mt. Graham High School, Arizona: Is mixing drugs and alcohol worse then doing them both by themselves

Joe Frascella: 
Mixing drugs with alcohol or with other drugs is not a good idea.  Whether or not you mix them or use individual illegal substances (or medications for non-medical purposes) can lead to a wide range of consequences for your brain, your body and your behavior.  
  
There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty”http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/
Ramos2014 - C. H. Yoe High School, Texas: What are some of the long-term effects that can occur for the use of some drugs?

Redonna Chandler: 
Ramos,  Using drugs poses many potential long-term consequences for the brain, body, and behavior. Drug use can lead to risky behaviors including drugged driving and unprotected sex, impaired memory, school and family problems, even addiction.  
 
 
Get the facts at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
fearlessmiracle - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do you feel high when your drunk

Aaron White: 
Alcohol 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. 
 
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. There are much better, more sustainable and healthy ways to get high than drinking alcohol or doing other drugs!
 
ashlin5702 - North carroll middle, Maryland: how fast can smoking kill you?

Joni Rutter: Well, ashlin5702, if you smoke and you fall asleep, the cigarette can cause a fire and kill you immediately! But, I bet that's not the answer you were going for.  Smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease, and other tough health consequences.  Cancer takes some time to develop--sometimes decades.  But, in the meantime, you'll have yellow teeth, bad breath, stinky clothes, and you'll feel short of breath a lot. Choose to be smart and healthy ashlin5702!  Learn more about smoking and its effects (minus the housefire part...) at - http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/index.html
George lopez - Pomona Middle School, New York: what happens when when to much alcohol is consumed while smoking

Aaron White: Both alcohol and nicotine can produce nausea and some people get really sick from the combination. If you meant smoking marijuana, both can impair balance, coordination, reaction times, decision making and attention, making the odds of being injured or making back choices higher if you combine the two drugs. 
satanluvr666 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what happens when you mix alcohol with viagra?

Aaron White: Hmm. We're really not sure. That hasn't been studied. However, alcohol interacts with more than 150 medications so there's a good chance something bad could happen. 
Gem - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: What is considered binge drinking for girls and boys?

Aaron White: 
Binge drinking is consuming so many drinks at one sitting that the amount of alcohol in your blood reaches a dangerous level (that is, a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08g/dL, which is the legal limit of intoxication). For girls ages 9 to 17, this takes about 3 drinks. For boys, it depends on the age range:
Boys, ages 9-13: About 3 drinks
Boys, ages 14-15: About 4 drinks
Boys, ages 16-17: About 5 drinks
 
You can learn more about these underage drinking issues at:
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/UnderageFact.htm 
Tyost@vtsd.com - Glen Meadow Middle School, New Jersey: what would happen to a person if they gave prescription medication to people who didnt need it

Harold Perl: Very interesting question, Tyost, and one that lots of people wonder about. It really depends on what the specific medication is because almost every medication has side effects -- effects that are not medically desirable.  Some meds cause effects like dizziness, or feelings of weakness, or mental confusion and memory loss.  Most people wouldn't want to go through those things, especially if there is no medical benefit for them.  So if anyone asks you to try a medicine -- except for your doctor of course -- it's best to refuse.
sexxi-kitten22 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how do you know when your addicted to drugs,... i think i am

Redonna Chandler: 
Kitten22,  I think I just answered one of your other questions.  Generally we say a person is addicted if they continue using drugs in spite of negative consequences.  If you want to stop but you can't that's a sign that your at risk for addiction, if not already there.  And since you already think you are addicted I strongly encourage you to reach out for help.  Find a trusted adult - parent, teacher, coach, etc and have an honest discussion about your drug use.  
           
If you want to ask about getting substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: have any of you actually done drugs or are you just going off of what youve seen/been told?-HAJ

Dave Thomas: 
Aveson,
Most of us are on caffeine right now!  
 
Actually, NIDA is the biggest funder of drug abuse research in the world.  We have a research center in Baltimore, and fund research laboratories and clinics around the world.  So I think we do know something about drug abuse beyond what personal experience can reveal.  
 
dave 
awesomeguy531 - Pomona Middle School, New York: If a person has a penny in their mouth when taking a breathalyzer test will it impact the results of the test?

Albert Avila: 
Hi there you awesomeguy531! No, pennies will not affect the test and holding batteries, tongue studs, braces, dentures, or anything else (except alcohol) in your mouth will not influence the results of a breathalyzer test either.
--Choose smart and healthy over dull and impaired.-- 
officivl_tjc__ - Pomona Middle School, New York: Has drug use risen or declined among teens in the last five years ?

Marsha Lopez: 
Hi, officivl_tjc__, great question.  The most recent data we have is from the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, which shows past month drug use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders (combined) has risen over the past 5 years from 14.6% in 2008 to 17.4% in 2013.  This is primarily driven by marijuana use--if you look at drugs OTHER than marijuana there is no increase and in fact trends downward for more than 10 years. You can read more about teen drug use at www.monitoringthefuture.org
 
There's also lots of information on NIDA’s Web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov/ 
 
Check out the 'Students and Young Adults' tab.
Kids are getting smarter and smoking less. So why do some teens still light up? Ask our experts on tobacco.
24468 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what is the difference between chewing tobacco and smoking/ do they doth cause the same problems

Joni Rutter: 
Each day in the United States, more than 1,200 youth under age 18 use smokeless tobacco for the first time (including chewing tobacco or snuff). More than 1,200 people die each day in the United States because of cigarette use –that is nearly 1 person every minute!  Each contain poisonous chemicals and can cause similar problems, such as cancer.  
  • Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 carcinogens (cancer–causing agents).
  • Smokeless tobacco increases the risk for cancer of the oral cavity, which can include cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth.
  • Other effects include oral leukoplakia (white mouth lesions that can become cancerous), gum disease, and gum recession (when the gum pulls away from the teeth).
  • Possible increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive problems are being studied.
An imaginative, serious question will get you a star from the moderator!
Guess what? Kids are drinking less. But some kids still don’t know how or why to be careful about alcohol. Do you have any questions about that? We have alcohol experts here today---please ask us anything!
You might have heard a lot about “Molly.”It is really nothing more than repackaged MDMA (Ecstasy)---and it can lead to memory loss or put you in the hospital. Some teens have even died from trying it.
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Is there any similarity between Adderall and Meth? Or any other drugs? - A

Eric Wargo: 
Hi Aveson,
Yes, Adderall and meth are closely related drugs. They are both amphetamines, and have similar effects in the body--mainly, raising the amount of the brain chemical dopamine in circuits controlling movement and pleasure. The main difference is how quickly and intensely those drugs affect those circuits. Meth does it fast and intensely;Adderall more slowly, making it less harmful (as long as it is taken by someone with ADHD, who needs it).
Great question! 
Lerbon Kenny - Pomona Middle School, New York: If you Take your parents pills can you die or get injured

Redonna Chandler: 
Hey Lerbon,  Thanks for your question.  Depending on the pills--yes, taking someone else's medication is dangerous.  Prescription medications are powerful drugs that require a prescription by a doctor because it's important that they know the patient, their treatment needs, and how they can safely use that medication.  The prescribing physician has NONE of that information on anyone else so taking medications prescribed to another person is dangerous and could lead to serious consequences including injury or death.  
 
For more information see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs
 
1203 - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: how can marijuana effect your behavior?

Albert Avila: 
Hello 1203, Marijuana can affect your behavior in a lot of different ways.  It can contribute to memory problems, decreased reaction time, alter perceptions, lead to sleep problems and more.  Marijuana can also slow your reaction times, and people who drive after or while smoking marijuana are more likely to get into accidents, some of which can be fatal.  Since it's a mind-altering substance it will also affect your ability to do challenging activities such as taking a test or performing your best in an athletic event. It's definitely not something I'd want in my body! 
  
sharkesha476584 - Ephraim Curtis Middle School, Massachusetts: Can people get addicted to nicotine patches when trying to stop smoking?

Dave Thomas: 
Interesting question shark.
 
When people smoke they become addicted to nicotine, which makes it hard to quit smoking.  Nicotine patches can help people stop smoking because they provide the person nicotine.  When a person uses the patches to quite smoking, they usually will use patches with lower and lower amounts of nicotine until they don't need the patch anymore.  But even if they don't get off the patches, the patches are less dangerous than smoking. But you are right, they are still addicted when just using the patches.
 
Dave 
Matthew FingerMatthew Finger helps NIDA scientists figure out how many people are taking drugs and why. He earned his master's degree from the University of Denver, where he studied the international drug trade and, in particular, the Colombian drug war. He has lived in Washington for nearly three years;his current roommates include three women, a guy from college, and a cat named Pip.
WalterJohnsonH - Ephraim Curtis Middle School, Massachusetts: Do some drugs have similar symptons then others?

Joni Rutter: Hi WalterJohnsonH!  Yes, some drugs have similar effects.  The main reason is that even though there are different drugs, they can affect the same brain regions.  For example, drugs can affect the limbic system--this brain region controls our emotional responses, such as feelings of pleasure when eating chocolate.  Learn more about the effects of drugs at - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
cocainrelli - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: How have drugs affected your life?

Bethany Deeds: 
Hello Cocainrelli and thanks for the great question. I used to work in a teen clinic in Baltimore in my 20s. The HIV+ teens I interacted with there commonly referenced drugs as one of the problems that affected their health dramatically (making a sexual decision when they were high that they regretted, becoming addicted to drugs, getting mixed up with drug dealing or sexual exploitation, etc.). I wanted to make the world a better place and decided after hearing their stories, that I wanted to commit my professional life to stimulating and enhancing addiction science - so I came to work for NIDA. I hope you too find your life's passion--when you do, I promise you it won't feel work at all! 
Sheri GrabusSheri Grabus is online helping our scientists. She is NIDA's press officer and helps write materials for non-scientists. Sheri was trained as a neuroscientist and has also taught college courses in the field of psychology, including courses specific to drugs of abuse and their actions. Immediately prior to joining NIDA, Sheri ran a small-town Chamber of Commerce. When not at NIDA, she is busy playing with (and of course chasing and picking up after) her three young children. And sometimes she even gets time to go scuba diving with her husband, who is a jet pilot in the Navy.
sexxi-kitten22 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: i think my mom is on cocaine an addicted what do i do to help

Redonna Chandler: 
Hey Kitten 22,  Having a parent struggling with addiction is a tough spot.  The best thing you can do is to encourage her to seek treatment.  Try to let her know that you are concerned about her cocaine use, how it may be negatively impacting her, and how her drug use negatively affects you.  If your mom is addicted, she can't just stop (even if she really wants to) because addiction is a disease that changes how the brain works and she will need of a professional treatment provider to get help and recover.  
 
More information about drug treatment can be found at: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/           
Another really important thing to do is to make sure you get the support you need.  Is there a trusted adult like a coach, teacher, minister, or school counselor that you can confide in?  Getting together with other people that love addicted people may also be helpful.  Check out: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/for-alateen for groups in your area.        
jackiechan23 - Lathrop High School, Alaska: is weed good fore you

Eric Wargo: 
Hi jackiechan23,
No, weed isn't good for you. But some of the chemicals in weed may be useful in treating some diseases. That's why scientists are hard at work trying to create medicines from marijuana chemicals. Smoking the plant as medicine isn't probably the best. See our fact sheet on 'medical marijuana': http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine 
Shuly BabitzShuly 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).
IDOCOCAINE! - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: Whats the worst drug to use?

Steve Gust: Hi IDOCOCAINE! - i hope that is a joke btw....the worst drug to use depends on how you want to define worst.  For health effects, tobacco and alcohol cause the greatest damage to the health of the country. Methamphetamine or speed is probably the most addictive.  And street drugs such as spice or bath salts are dangerous because there is no way to tell what you are really taking, since most of these drugs contain many different substances, most of which we know very little about.  Find out more at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Thanks for the question.
Kim Jong Un - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: Can addictions to drugs be genetic?

Jack Stein: Most definitely! In fact, genetics plays a very significant role in determining if a person will ultimately develop a drug problem. However, other factors contribute as well, including one's environment in which they grow up and peer influences. 
Dr. Ericka BooneNow 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.
Each year in the United States, about 5,000 young people under age 21 die as a result of drinking. (Source: NIAAA Underage Fact Sheet http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/Underage_Fact.pdf)
hana - Walter Johnson High School, Maryland: Is smoking hookah bad as it seems?

Joni Rutter: Hey hana!  Although some believe that smoking tobacco using a hookah (water pipe) is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, it still delivers the addictive drug nicotine and is at least as toxic as cigarette smoking. In fact, research shows that hookah smokers may absorb even more of the toxins found in cigarette smoke because a 1-hour hookah session involves inhaling 100–200 times the volume of smoke from a single cigarette.  Learn more about trends in teen drug use by clicking here - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends
drugs are bad - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: if drugs are so bad then why do they give them to people through prescriptions?

Harold Perl: I like the username - drugs are bad.  Prescription drugs have medical uses and do help people who need them -- but only when they are prescribed by a medical expert, like a doctor. Some people think that they can just use them without a medical reason, and that's when the problems happen.  There are other illegal drugs that do not have medical benefits, and those cause very serious problems for the people who use them - and for their friends and families.
luisalicious - Adamson High School, Texas: what are some sideaffects of meth?

Dave Thomas: 
Hey Luis,
 
ok, I really hate Methamphetamine.  It really has a terrible impact on people who abuse it.  Just Google images of people before and after using it.  It is like night and day (or should I say pretty and ugly).  It also can cause anxiety, panic and heart problems among other things.  Here is a webpage to refer to but meth is BAD.   
 
Dave
 http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine-abuse-addiction
maria1029 - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: what is the youngest age that children begin with any type of drug

Bethany Deeds: 

 Hello Maria1029! Thanks for the awesome question.

Drug use often starts during the teenage years....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 figure showing mean age at first use for specific illicit drugs. To get additional data from NSDUH, go to http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.htm.
CallMeCAT - Pomona Middle School, New York: How is marijuana a gateway drug?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi CallMeCAT,
That's a great question. Not all scientists agree that marijuana is a gateway drug--it's a controversial question. Some think it is, because people who use 'harder' drugs like coke or heroin usually use marijuana first ... but that doesn't mean that marijuana necessarily leads to other drugs. Also, you could say the same thing about alcohol and cigarettes--those are the first drugs people usually use, but it may just be because they are more available than other drugs.
Sorry I can't give you a clearer answer--it's complicated! 
angel5551997 - Adamson High School, Texas: Is it the drug that's bad or the chemicals that make the drug?

Albert Avila: 
Hi angel5551997, Drugs are the general name for substances that produce effects in the body and/or central nervous system.  So it's the chemicals in them that are 'bad'.  Keep in mind that there are some chemicals in medicine, for example, that are good.  Maybe you could become a scientist someday and study the affects of drugs on the brain and body.
I'm The Man - Pomona Middle School, New York: how can drugs damage your body

Joni Rutter: 
Hey, I'm The Man!  I'm The Woman!  All drugs damage the body.  For example, 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 all kinds of drugs and their affects on the body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts 
 
Why risk it?  Stay smart and get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!
Janet LintonJanet Linton, is one of our moderators today reviewing the questions you send in. She is an an IT Specialist with NIDA's web team and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Animation. In her job, she provides web support, manages NIDA's Facebook accounts, and maintains the National Drug Facts Week site. With two teens of her own, she understands questions many teens have and the importance of being informed about the risks and consequences of drug use.
shelby132002 - North carroll middle, Maryland: Why do people do drugs if they know it can kill them?

Harold Perl: Hi shelby132002.  That is a great question, and there are a lot of reasons.  Some people believe that nothing can hurt them, no matter if they are doing something very dangerous. Others just don't believe the facts -- that drugs CAN actually hurt them or even kill them.  Unfortunately, some people are feeling so badly about themselves or their lives that they would risk anything just to feel some relief.  If you know anyone who is like that, you can tell them that they can get some help.  And here is some information on steps you can take: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem.
Michaella - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do people smoke and drink when they know it is so bad for them?

Redonna Chandler: 
Michaella,  People use drugs for lots of reasons.  A few reasons include: to feel better, curiosity, peer pressure, enhance performance, etc.  Regardless of the reason, drug use has negative consequences for the brain, body, and behavior.  
 
Check out this activity on NIDA's site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx
 
 
Mark FlemingMark Fleming joined NIDA in December 2000 as its Webmaster. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in zoology from Miami University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in visual communications from Ohio University. He has worked for NIDA for the past 28 years and built all of its Websites from the ground up! As the father and stepfather to 4 kids in their teens and early twenties, he understands the importance of knowledge about drug and alcohol use to make informed decisions and to help understand the risks involved. His role in CHAT DAY is to help screen questions going to the moderators to remove redundant or inappropriate questions---in other words, he is a 'first responder' for your CHAT DAY questions!
dancerncms - North carroll middle, Maryland: how can you avoid over-drinking?

Aaron White: The very best way to avoid over-drinking is not to drink at all! However, if someone does decide the drink, there are few simple strategies. Never have two drinks in a row. Always separate them by one or more non-alcohol drinks. Eat food before drinking to limit the absorption of alcohol. Eat food while drinking to make sure there is food in the stomach at all times. But these tips only apply to adults over the age of 21!
chocolate - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: how long does it usually take to get over an addiction to nicotine?

Joni Rutter: 
This is a good question.  It really depends on the person.  For some people, they can quit cold turkey.  For others, it can take a lifetime--and by then, it's too late.  
 
The good news is that if you want to, you can quit.  ....and the sooner you quit, the easier it will be! Check out this NIDA resource to learn more about smoking and ways to quit - http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-addiction
Did you ever wonder why cigarettes are so hard to quit? Ask our tobacco experts!
mj666666 - North carroll middle, Maryland: what percent of kids are more likely to smoke or use drugs if their parents use them?

Redonna Chandler: 
MJ,  Interesting and difficult question.  I can't give you a percentage but I can tell you if parents use drugs it does increase the chances that their children will too. But-ultimately, each individual has a lot of control over whether they choose to use drugs.  If you are interested in genetic risk for addiction--we know from studies of identical twins that as much as 1/2 of an individual's risk to becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs depends on their genes.
 
Regardless of parental attitudes or biological risk, anyone can choose to not use drugs.  
sampugliese - Manhasset Secondary School, New York: can marijuana intoxicate drivers and cause them to be unsafe on the road?

Eric Wargo: 
Hi sampugliese,
Great question! The answer is a definite yes. Marijuana more than doubles a person's chance of being in an accident! Don't believe people who tell you they drive slower and safer when high--we've done studies on this and found that people who drive high are very impaired, and the effects on driving can be detected as much as a month (!) after using the drug. 
Be safe--don't ever use any drug and then drive, and never get in a car being driven by someone who has. 
lj12 - Pomona Middle School, New York: Can homemade cigarettes have the same effect that cigarettes sold in stores

Cindy Miner: Yes.
fearlessmiracle - Pomona Middle School, New York: Why do most people feel nauseous when your drunk

Aaron White: Not everyone does. However, when people do there are two reasons.  Sometimes people get nauseous and throw up after drinking because the alcohol irritates their stomachs and makes them feel full, bloated, and nauseous. Other times it's because a part of the brain that monitors the blood for toxins detects high levels of alcohol and the brain triggers vomiting to try to get rid of any remaining alcohol that might be in the stomach.
aveson - Aveson Global Leadership Academy, California: is marijuana a drug or herb

Steve Gust: Hi aveson - thanks for the question. I think the term 'herb'is just referring to the fact that