These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions.

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are people more likely to do drugs if they have to much stress in their lives?

-johnathon,

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

-Susan Weiss

are people that once were adicted to one drug be more likely to start using another to cope with the withdrals from the other?

-jumpman23, Utah

Sometimes people who were addicted to one drug may start using another substance of abuse. That's why doctors recommend that people who have had an addiction should stay away from trying any addictive sustance because they run the risk of getting addicted to the new substance.

-Ivan Montoya

Are prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin, Vyvanse, Adderol, or others the same as those sold on the street? If not, what's the difference?

-noiseless, Wisconsin

Not sure I can tell you what's being sold on the streets--but I certainly wouldn't trust that your getting what you think you are. We know from our National Surveys that people are abusing stimulants prescribed for other people--but most report getting them from friends and relatives--either knowingingly or not (e.g., stealing from the medicine cabinet). Taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you can be dangerous, even if it is a medicine. Doctors prescribe them for a specific purpose, and knowing the medical history of their patient to determine the risks and appropriate dosages. For more information on this topic, please check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/prescription.html

-Susan Weiss

Are single mothers more likely to do drugs than married motheres?

-Phillies0809, Pennsylvania

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

-Joni Rutter

Are some drugs good for a person?

-Alvarado16, Arizona

Thanks for your question. Many substances that are addictive also have medical purposes. For instance, stimulants can be useful for people with attention deficit disorder, opiate drugs are helpful for people with pain and sedatives can help people with severe anxiety. The key is that these substances are taken under a doctor's careful supervision.

-Wilson Compton

Are some drugs more addicting/harmful than others? If so, which ones are worst? Which ones are least addictive

-casa grande, Arizona

Whichever one you are using. Some drugs can kill you quickly (heroin, methamphetamine), and some can kill you slowly (nicotine). Some won't kill you, but will ruin your health or life prospects. 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 when you choose to use drugs it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette'. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it.

-Steve Grant

can an alcoholic actually recover?

-rose, Pennsylvania

Hi. Thanks for your question -- this is something that many people wonder about. Many people believe that someone addicted to alcohol cannot ever recover. However, many people with alcohol problems, including alcoholism, can stop drinking, or reduce their drinking to less harmful levels. You can get more information on alcohol at the website of our sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at: www.niaaa.nih.gov. They also have a special site for teens at www.thecoolspot.gov and another site with tips and strategies for stopping at http://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/. Thanks again for your great question and keep 'em coming!

-Harold Perl

Can anti depressents become addictive?

-volleyball girl, Utah

No. Antidepressants do not appear to produce addiction. Learn more about the science of addiction at http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/

-Ivan Montoya

Can anyone get addicted to drugs?

-asia1533, Pennsylvania

Good question!! Yes! Anyone can get addicted to drugs. Some people get addicted more quickly than others but anyone can get addicted. All drugs are potentially harmful and may lead to addiction or have other life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects; another person may be particularly vulnerable and develop addiction...others may overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Dave McCann

Can being around gas/smoke fumes of a fire or car be as dangerous a drug?

-Millennium2009, Ohio

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

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

-Joni Rutter

can chewing hurt your body

-2DIRKOLTIN2, New York

Good morning! If you are referring to chewing tobacco, yes, chewing tobacco can harm your body. Remember, that chewing tobacco contains the addictive drug http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html for more information on tobacco and tobacco products.

-Steve Gust

can chocolate become as addicting as a caffeinated soda?

-smurf, Utah

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

-Nora Volkow

Can cocain make you get brain lost?

-casa grande, Arizona

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that increases levels of dopamine, a brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) associated with pleasure and movement, in the brain's reward circuit. With repeated use, cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain's reward system and in other brain systems as well, which may eventually lead to addiction. Also, with repeated use, tolerance to the cocaine high often develops. Many cocaine abusers say that they try but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first use. Some users will increase their dose in an attempt to intensify and prolong the euphoria, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.

-Stephanie Older

can a baby get high if it sees the person getting high and smells it?

-dixie smurf123, Utah

This is a really good question and a really tough one to answer - primarily because we don't yet have enough information about environmental exposures to many drugs. If the person getting high is getting high on a drug that's being smoked, and is therefore in the air around the baby, then it probably is possible that the baby could get high. We know most about second-hand tobacco smoke exposure. Approximately 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke and children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.

-Larry Stanford

can a gurl use steroid?

-cguhs, Arizona

She sure can, but she definitely shouldn't. In addition to the well known and major effects of steroid abuse (like liver damage; jaundice; fluid retention; high blood pressure; and increases in 'bad' cholesterol) females risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice. Teens in general risk permanently stunted height, accelerated puberty changes, and severe acne. All users, but particularly those who inject the drug, risk infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

-Ruben Baler

Can addictiveness to tobacco become hereditary? For example can a pregnant woman addicted to tobacco pass it on to her child?

-kevin, Maryland

Hi Einstein,Good question. We do know that tobacco addiction has a genetic cause-- in fact, any form of drug abuse has a strong heriditary component (meaning it 'runs in families'). Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted. Scientists have even identified variations in particular certain genes that are linked to an individual having a higher risk of developing drug addiction. But that doesn't mean that your child is doomed to a life of bad breath, a smoker's cough and yellow nails and teeth! Even if an individual has these 'risk genes', addiction can be entirely avoided if drugs are not used. The other 50 percent of the risk is due to the environment--for example, if you smoke while you are pregnant, the chemicals in the smoke may have non-genetic effects that can increase the risk of the child to become addicted to drugs, or even worse health conseqeunces. But, once the child is born, other environmental factors, like if your child grows up and takes good care of themselves, go to school, hang out with friends who don't drink or use drugs, and are active (like playing sports) can increase their chances of having a good, healthy and long, life--drug free. For additional information on cigarettes, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/tobacco.html. You can also check out NIDA's Website for teens. It contains information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-Joni Rutter

Avez vous deja trop utilise l'alcol? P.S Aimez vous les patates?

-SClions027, Pennsylvania

pas du tout, je n'aime pas l'alcohol et je n'aime pas les patates

-Nora Volkow

Back in the day..why would they actually put cocaine in the coke a cola products?>

-gruberec, Pennsylvania

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

-Joe Frascella

because of drugs is the percentage a greater risk of being alone when your older

-Casa Grande, Arizona

People who abuse drugs or develop an addiction often end up hurting their friends and family because the drug slowly takes over and becomes the most important thing in the addict's life. When a person starts stealing from their friends and family to buy more drug, or becomes abusive and hurtful over and over again, then no one, not parents nor children, not husband nor wife, will tolerate having the person around. So, over time, their social circle is likely to get smaller and smaller, and unless they realize their substance abuse problem and decide to seek help, they can indeed end up being alone as they grow older.

-Steve Grant

Both of My Parents are alcoholics, does that make it more likely that I will drink when i'm older

-Casa Grande, Arizona

Good news, because your parents used alcohol, that doesn't mean that you will automatically become addicted, although drug abuse and alcoholism have strong heriditary components (meaning it 'runs in families'). Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.Many other factors, such as stress levels and family environment also contribute heavily. We even have identified particular gene variants that are linked to higher risk of alcoholism, but even if you have the high risk form of these genes,alcoholism can be entirely avoided if alcohol is not used. Here's NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov Here's more good news! Doing things like going to school, hanging out with friends who don't drink, and being active (like playing sports) can help protect you from alcoholism and other drugs--even if you have other risk factors. You have total control over whether or not you become addicted to alcohol. I hope you stay sober!!

-Joni Rutter

can a baby die from drugs while there in ur tummy and ur using them?

-hbishop, Michigan

Your question is very important. It is known that drugs of abuse can cross the placenta and reach the fetus. So, drugs used by the mother definitely can affect the baby's health and can even produce long-term harm many years later. That is why doctors recommend that pregnant mothers should not smoke or use alcohol or other illicit drugs.

-Ivan Montoya

As a school who has drug testing, do you know how many schools in PA or nationally have drug testing and are there any statistics to support positive outcomes?

-Mrs. Y, Pennsylvania

Hmm, well i found found one stat from 2007 that says 'Since 2003, the Department of Education has awarded more than $36.1 million dollars in multi-year grants to over 80 school districts to support random student drug-testing programs in more than 400 schools.' Some schools have adopted a random student drug testing policy hoping it will: (1) serve as a deterrent and give students a reason to resist peer pressure to take drugs; (2) identify adolescents who have started using drugs so that parents and counselors can intervene early; and (3) identify adolescents who already have drug problems, so they can be referred for treatment. It is not intended to be punitive, but rather to prevent drug use or promote early intervention. The Supreme Court has ruled drug testing as legal for any students participating in extracurricular activities. Currently, there is insufficient research in this area to show whether random drug testing is an effective approach.

-Anna Staton

can some people be ok with using drugs and others cant handle it as well?

-asia, Pennsylvania

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

-Dave McCann

Can someone who has only smoked 1 or 3 times become addicted in the future?

-kitty_16, Maryland

Anybody can become addicted if they use drugs on a regular basis. And, if drug use starts early (like during childhood or adolescence) then the risk of addiction increases later in life. So, it is best not to use drugs at all.

-Kevin Conway

can steroids kill you?

-washingtonrodri, Michigan

Steroidsare safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

-Ruben Baler

can steroids kill you?

-washingtonrodri, Michigan

Steroids are safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

-Ruben Baler

can the drugs cause a person to become mentally ill

-casa grande, Arizona

Great question! Drug abuse and mental illness commonly co-occur (this is referred to as comorbidity). High rates of comorbidity between drug use disorders and other mental illnesses does not mean that one caused the other, even if it appeared first. In fact, establishing this is difficult for several reasons. Some symptoms of a mental disorder may not be recognized until the illness has substantially progressed, and imperfect recollections of when drug use/abuse started can also present timing issues. Still, three scenarios deserve consideration:

Drugs of abuse can cause abusers to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. The increased risk of psychosis in some marijuana abusers has been offered as evidence for this possibility. Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse. Individuals with overt, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia is believed to lessen the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition ('Smoking and Schizophrenia: Self-Medication or Shared Brain Circuitry?'). Both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or trauma.

All three scenarios probably contribute, in varying degrees, to how and whether specific comorbidities manifest themselves.Thanks for the question!

-Kevin Conway

can the smoke of marijuana affect a baby?

-weedhead, Maryland

Hi - and thanks for your question. yes, weed/marijuana smoke can affect the baby. We've got a couple of studies on this - including one that has followed the kids from the prenatal/in utero/pregnancy stage until they were adults. And guess what - these studies have found subtle developmental effects on the baby's ability to think, pay attention, and other brain functions. Plus, people who use pot often smoke tobacco too, and tobacco use can also negatively affect the baby's health. For example, some studies show that babies born to mothers who used tobacco are more likely to use tobacco themselves and become addicted later on. You might be interested in learning more about long-term effects of marijuana: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana. Of course, we recommend pregnant women not use http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

-Nicolette Borek

can pot give u cancer

-mbottom, Michigan

It's hard to know for sure since many people who smoke a lot of pot also smoke cigarettes and use other drugs. But it is known that marijuana smoke contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. But cancer isn't the only health effect to know about-people who smoke marijuana often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette smokers have, such as coughing and wheezing, they tend to have more chest colds than nonusers, and they are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. You can read more about pot at NIDA's website http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

-Marsha Lopez

can prescription drugs kill you if you take to many of them

-amorton, Pennsylvania

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

-Cindy Miner