NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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are nicotine withdrawls and depression related?

-theblindmonkey, Kentucky

Nope...Many people who stop taking nicotine (tobacco) can experience depressive-like behavior, like depressed mood, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, trouble sleeping, increased weight gain, but it doesn't mean they are clinically depressed.

-David Shurtleff

are the drugs prescribed for ADD and ADHD considered to be in the same family as amphetamines?

-theblindmonkey, Kentucky

Great, sophisticated question.The answer is--Yes and No.Yes: Methylphenidate (Ritalin and Celera) are members of a class of pharmacological agents called central nervous system stimulants, which also includes Adderall (amphetamine) and methamphetamine. All these agents change the amounts of natural chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.No: The ADHD medications are classed as safe and very helpful for many people who take them orally as prescribed by their doctors to control ADHD symptoms; methamphetamine is classed as having no medical use and is extremely addictive and illegal.Here are some links to information about these drugs and medications:

-Kevin Conway

Are the effects of hard alcohols different from wine or beer?

-porkchop, Utah

They all contain the same drug -- alcohol. Because liquor is so much more concentrated than wine and beer, it is absorbed into the body more quickly and can produce effects much more quickly. However, a single serving of each (for liquor, this is a 1.5 ounce serving of 40% alcohol; for beer, this is a 12 ounce serving of 5% alcohol) has the same amount of alcohol and therefore has the potential to produce the same amount of harm. For more information on standard drink amounts for different types of alcohol, check out:

-Aaron White

Are there any benefits from smoking marijuana once?

-301goonboy, Maryland


-Joe Frascella

Are there drugs in chocolate

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Great questions. Here are some of the drugs that are found in chocolate:ANANDAMIDE-- Chocolate contains small quantities of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that targets the same brain structures as THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. But to make a substantial impact on the brain's own natural anandamide levels, experts estimate you would need to eat several kilos of chocolate! Neuroscientist Daniele Piomelli suggests that chocolate works more indirectly to produce its 'high'. As well as anandamide itself, chocolate contains two chemicals known to slow the breakdown of anandamide. Chocolate might therefore work by prolonging the action of this natural stimulant in the brain. THEOBROMINE -- Theobromine is a stimulant frequently confused with caffeine. Theobromine affects humans similarly to caffeine, but on a much smaller scale. Theobromine is mildly diuretic (increases urine production), is a mild stimulant, and relaxes the smooth muscles of the bronchi in the lungs. In the human body, theobromine levels are halved between 6-10 hours after consumption. Because of its ability to dilate blood vessels, theobromine also has been used to treat high blood pressure. Theobromine has very different effects on the human body from caffeine; it is a mild, lasting stimulant with a mood improving effect, whereas caffeine has a strong, immediate effect and increases stress. A normal portion of chocolate exhibits psychopharmacological activity.PHENYLETHYLAMINE -- phenylethylamine has earned the nickname 'chocolate amphetamine.' High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and apprehension. Phenylethylamine works by stimulating the brain's pleasure centres and reaches peak levels during orgasm. Chocolate has the highest concentration in any food of phenylethylamine, which is the chemical produced in the brain when a person is in love. Yet the role of the 'chocolate amphetamine' is disputed. Most if not all chocolate-derived phenylethylamine is metabolised before it reaches the CNS. Some people may be sensitive to its effects in very small quantities. TETRAHYDRO-BETA-CARBOLINES -- C(THbetaCs) Cacao and chocolate bars contain a group of neuroactive alkaloids known astetrahydro-beta-carbolines. Tetrahydro-beta-carbolines are also found in beer, wine and liquor; they have been linked to alcoholism. But the possible role of these chemicals in chocolate addiction remains unclear.EPICATECHIN (FLAVENOID) -- Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods that have been shown to have a number of health-benefiting properties including anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and anti-cancer activity. Cocoa, especially dark chocolate, has high amounts of the flavonoid Epicatechin and has been found to have nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea. Epicatechin may improve blood flow and may have potential applications for cardiac health. Two recent clinical trials have found that cocoa flavanols can boost the flow of blood to key areas of the brain, giving scientists hope for developing treatments for dementia and strokes. Another study found potential applications for treating blood circulation problems associated with long-term diabetes. Hope this helps.

-Joe Frascella

Are weed brownies healthier than smoking weed?

-pHlevel1, Maryland

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

-Susan Weiss

can u get high off of dry erse markers

-sttbrown29, Pennsylvania

Yup. These markers have volatile organic solvents in them. We call solvents like acetone, toluene and ethyl acetate 'inhalants' and they are sequestered by (and dissolve) lipids. The organs in your body with the most lipid are your brain and your liver. 'Huffing' these solvents can also kill you.

-Nancy Pilotte

can u over dose with weed?

-BarneY, Maryland

Probably not. But are you tryinig to?

-Ruben Baler

Can weed cause death?

-NickP, Maryland

Hi! Interesting question...hard to answer exactly because marijuana is generally not toxic in the sense that if you smoke it, it is going to kill you. But, if you were to get high and then drive, have unprotected sex, or do something else that could be dangerous, the consequences could be serious...even deadly. Approximately 14% of fatally injured drivers test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs)

-Joe Frascella

Can weed cause death? (with regular eat habits)

-PoloBoy, Maryland

The worst thing that can happen to you is getting hurt or killed, not directly from the drug, like the way that alcohol or opioids can stop your breathing, but by getting into a car wreck or having some other consequence of altered judgment and perception from being high. The biggest danger has to do with marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, reaction time....Studies have found that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who were injured or died in traffic crashes tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Learn more on the Sara Bellum blog at

-Steve Grant

Can you abuse prescription marijuana

-mr. jiggleworm, Vermont

Yes, medical marijuana is the same as the marijuana that is abused. Anything that is prescribed for you by a doctor shoud be used as directed by the doctor. Anything else can put you at risk for problems, especially health problems.

-Joe Frascella

can you bare a child if your addicted to drugs

-babels, New York

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

-Nicolette Borek

Can you get addicted to perscription drugs?

-powerup12, Kentucky

Yes, absolutely. That's an important question because some people believe that if a doctor prescribes a drug, it must not be addictive. The catch is, these drugs can be addictive when people use them other than as prescribed by the doctor.The most commonly abused prescription drugs are pain relievers like oxycontin and vicodin. In 2009, approximately 1.4 million individuals aged 12 or older were addicted to pain relievers. This risk for addiction is a real threat -- and it highlights the importance of using prescrition drugs ONLY under the close supervision of a physician.Here's more information on prescirption drugs:

-Kevin Conway

Can helpful antibiotics be created from methamphetamine or Acid?

-Genifore, Georgia

Not that I know of. In fact, there is some evidence that methamphetamine impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infection, especially HIV.

-Steve Grant

can maryguana make canser on you

-15379633, Maryland

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

-Nicolette Borek

can people die if they smoke weed

-BC, New Jersey

Yes, people can die because marijuana can affect their judgement and perception, so they are more likely to get into a car accident, get hit by a car, fall down stairs, or even walk off a cliff. However, one would be probably pass out before you could smoke enough marijuana to stop your heart or breathing. The biggest danger has to do with the effects on judgment, perception, reaction time....Studies have found that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who were injured or died in traffic crashes tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Learn more on the Sara Bellum blog at

-Steve Grant

are all illeagle drugs plants?

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Many illegal drugs are found in plants, but not all. Some drugs are completely synthetic, meaning that they were created in a laboratory and are not present in either plants or animals. LSD. MDMA (Ecstasy), and methamphetamine are examples of synthetic drugs.

-Steve Grant

Are all illigal drugs plants/

-16984560, Maryland

Many illegal drugs are found in plants, but not all. Some drugs are completely synthetic, meaning that they were created in a laboratory and are not present in either plants or animals. LSD. MDMA (Ecstasy), and methamphetamine are examples of synthetic drugs.

-Steve Grant

are drugs bad?

-amanda, New Jersey

Hi, Amanda. Thanks for the questions. Not all drugs are bad. Medications prescribed to you by your doctor and taken as instructed are generally not harmful. You need to steer clear of drugs that are illegal and prescription drugs when not prescribed specifically for you, or taken in a way that was not intended.

-David White

Can sharpies get you high?

-hackettstown, New Jersey

If you sniff them too much, yes. Eating them can be a choking hazard! hehe... Like other inhalants, the solvents in sharpies can rob your brain of oxygen and make one woozy if you sniff them too much. Over the long run, one's brain can shrink from excessive sniffing. There is a whole lot of scientific info on this topic and why it is a seriously bad idea at:

-David Thomas

can smoking marijuana help asthma?

-boilingsprings, Pennsylvania

There some evidence that it relaxes the bronchioles which can help in the short term, but in the long run its likely to be more problematic because of the general negative effects smoking has on the lungs.

-David Shurtleff

can soda be a drug

-rabinj, New York

Non-caffeine free soda contains caffeine. And caffeine is a drug that people can become physically dependent on. But physical dependence is not the same as addiction. It occurs because the body naturally adapts to chronic exposure to a substance (e.g., caffeine or a prescription drug), and when that substance is taken away, symptoms can emerge while the body readjusts to the loss of the substance. Physical dependence can lead to craving for the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. But, that said, if you find yourself unable to stop drinking lots of soda-it's definitely a good idea to ask a trusted adult for help.

-Cheryl Boyce

Can some drugs make you see things

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Depends on the drug. LSD and other hallucinogen drugs like psilocybin (mushrooms), mescaline, DMT, and Salvadorium A (salvia) can produce mild to strong perceptual distortions, which can include changes in colors, or in the shape and size of objects. Sometimes even common objects can look like something entirely different. Other types of drugs, such as stimulants, marijuana, or opioids, don't produce such strong perceptual effects. Here's some more facts on hallucinogens:

-Steve Grant

can some painkillers be considered as drugs


Yes, prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin are part of a class of drugs called opioids, just like heroin. These prescription painkillers can be very helpful to people in pain but when they are abused, that is taken in higher doses, more frequently, or smoked or injected, they can be very dangerous.

-Gaya Dowling

Can someone get high off ADHD or ADD medicine?

-dragonslayer1o1, Kentucky

Good morning dragonslayer. The class of medication most commonly used to treat ADHD/ADD are stimulants. I know - if someone is already 'hyper' why would you give them something to make them more hyper?! Because of the biology of the disorder, the truth is, if someone has ADHD taking stimulants is actually calming. You wouldn't get high from taking the medicine, but the medicine will help with things like attention and concentration. However, just like any other medical condition, you should not take medicine for something you don't have, as the effect on your body would be different than what is expected. Addiction to stimulants can happen if they are taken without medical supervision. Want to know more about ADHD? See our Q and A at: here's some further info on ADHD medications:

-Amy Goldstein

Can any drug permanently afffect you?


This is a complicated question with no simple answer, but let me try to answer it.Remember that there are direct and indirect effects of drug use AND there is tremendous variation among people, so each person will react differently to the effects of drugs. One person may be affected by cocaine (for example, developing a heart condition -- a direct effect) and another person might not. There is also huge potential for permanent indirect effects, for example, dying or becoming permanently disabled after a car accident in which you were driving (or be driven by someone) under the influence of alcohol or drugs.Need more information on the effects of drugs? Visit: and

-Michelle Leff

can babys be effected by drugs for long term time


It depends, but drug exposure to a baby can cause serious damage. Prenatal exposure can affect a child and affect his or her brain and behavior development . The medical consequences of drug exposure can range depending on many factors. Negative consequences can be short or long term affects on the brain resulting in problems in memory, attention and behavior. If someone is pregnant and using drugs, there are treatment programs designed to help them and their baby. If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Tha

-Cheryl Boyce

can dogs get drunk?

-i am mike, New Jersey

Yes they sure can! Any mammal can.

-Aaron White

Alot of people do drugs because they are bored. What else is there to do on a friday night?

-Smith, New Jersey

Smith - can't think of something to do on Friday night? Why not - see a movie, go to a sporting event, attend a concert, participate in a rousing game of Twister with friends, read a good book, play video games, watch TV, go out to dinner, select something from a cook book and make it, do a craft or art project, clean your room, get a jump on homework, or visit the NIDA teen website at: The possibilities are endless all you need is an imagination.

-Redonna Chandler

Can a child get harmed by taking an adults prescription medicine?


Absolutely. In fact, even drugs that don't seem fatal or dangerous can harm children (for example, a common cause of unintentional overdose in children is from multi-vitamin's-because of the iron). But for prescription pain killers, children can have serious health issues and even death from accidental ingestion. It's dangerous for anyone to take a prescription medication that isn't prescribed for them-but for children that risk is even greater.

-Carol Krause