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 there any specific social groups associated with certain drugs?

-jeffreyk, Pennsylvania

Hi, jeffreyk, that's a complicated question to answer. If by social groups you mean certain ethnic or gender groups you can find out all sorts of information from the University of Michigan's annual Monitoring the Future Study (look at Appendix D), which has specific drug information for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders broken down by gender, race/ethnicity, and parental education among others. If you mean social groups like boy scouts or kickball leagues, sorry I can't help you.

-Marsha Lopez

are there natural highs?

-adison_s, Pennsylvania

Absolutely, and that's why it is so silly to seek artifical ones that can and do harm your brain and overall health.The active ingredient in any basic receipe for a natural high is this (are you ready?): find out what you are really passionate about (whatever it is, except drugs, of course), nurture that passion and then follow it to wherever it takes you. It works every time, and you will never regret it.

-Ruben Baler

are there ways to stop using drugs or quit?

-bobbymcwire, California

Yes, if you know someone who is addicted to drugs, you should try to convince him or her to get professional help. There are many successful treatments and ways that can help people quit using drugs. Some people just decide to quit 'cold turkey' but this can be very difficult for some. We know that drug treatment does work and helps many people with this difficult problem.For more information, and for help, see:http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.

-Joe Frascella

Are they any negative effects of drinking moderately?

-avincent, Kentucky

For adults, one (for females) or up to two (for males) servings of alcohol can help decrease the chances of developing heart disease. However, any more than that increases the risk of developing a host of problems, including liver and pancreas diseases, weakened immune system, and certain kinds of cancers.There are no known benefits of alcohol for teenagers, only negative effects. Starting to drink under the age of 21 is associated with an increased risk of developing alcoholism, getting injured in various ways and developing chronic diseases later in life.For more information on how alcohol can affect your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm

-Aaron White

are you getting tired of answering questions?

-UMaD BrO?, Minnesota

It's both tiring and invigorating! I've been here since 8 AM and it is now 5:58!! Thanks for asking your questions--it was a lot of fun.

-Joni Rutter

are you more likely to do drugs if you go to public school or are home schooled but do a lot of outside activities?

-isheahan, New Hampshire

This is a little complicated. I don't think that we have research to answer this question one way or the other. You could speculate that a person in a regular school setting may be exposed to more opportunities for getting pressured by peers to use drugs or to have access to drugs than a person in a home school setting where a parent is present throughout the day. But there are a lot of adults monitoring what goes on during the school day and parents are often monitoring after school so it could go either way.

-Belinda Sims

are you most likely to get a disease(cancer and other things) if you start to drink at a young age , lets say 13 or 14?

-acastro, Texas

That's a tough one and we really don't know the answer yet. However, we do know that heavy drinking during the adult years increases the chances of getting cancers of various types, particularly for women, and that starting to drink at a young age, like 13 or 14, is associated with a much higher risk of drinking heavily during the adult years. So, if you look at it this way, getting started young could indirectly increase your odds of developing cancer at some point in life.

-Aaron White

As a health teacher, what curriculums would you suggest for the middle school aged student when talking to them about drugs

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

Thanks so much for asking! We have a special section on our Web site for middle school and other teachers---just click on
http://www.drugabuse.gov/parent-teacher.html. We are especially proud of the Brain Power curriculum and the Mind Over Matter series starring 'Sara Bellum' which targets this age group. Please note you can order these materials free of charge from NIDA---the Web site will show you how. While we of course want to educate this age group about drugs, we also want to stress the importance of keeping the brain healthy. They will need it!

-Carol Krause

As a health teacher, what curriculums would you suggest for the middle school aged student when talking to them about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco?

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

Thanks so much for asking! We have a special section on our Web site for middle school and other teachers---just click on http://www.drugabuse.gov/parent-teacher.html. We are especially proud of the Brain Power curriculum and the Mind Over Matter series starring 'Sara Bellum' which targets this age group. Please note you can order these materials free of charge from NIDA---the Web site will show you how. While we of course want to educate this age group about drugs, we also want to stress the importance of keeping the brain healthy. They will need it!

-Carol Krause

As a health teacher. What things do you feel are the most important to address with the middle school aged students to help them learn to make informed decisions about not using drugs?

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

Hello. Thanks for this very good question. It is important to make sure that youth receive information that is developmentally appropriate. It is important for youth to know that drug use is not the norm (everyone is NOT doing it). It is important for youth to know the effects of drugs on the brain and body and how drugs effect their decisions and behaviors. It is important for youth to acquire skills to be able to make good healthy decisions about drug use and other risk behaviors (e.g., communication, decision making and drug refusal skills). Following are some key principles for prevention programs in schools: Programs should focus on children’s social and academic skills, including enhancing peer relationships, self-control, coping, and drug-refusal skills. If possible, school-based prevention programs should be integrated into the school’s academic program, because school failure is strongly associated with drug abuse. Integrated programs strengthen students’ bonding to school and reduce their likelihood of dropping out. Other types of interventions include school-wide programs that affect the school environment as a whole. All of these activities can serve to strengthen protective factors against drug abuse. (See examples of school-based programs in Examples of Research-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Programs.)For information on priniciples of prevention in Drug Abuse Prevention Programs, see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/prevention/applying.html. In addition, a fun curriculum for teachers to use with middle school students can be found here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/brain-power. Other information for teachers generally may be found here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/parent-teacher.html

-Jacqueline Lloyd

as some people abuse prescription drugs, is there a limit of how much prescription drugs you can get by prescription?

-clorenzi, Illinois

For some prescription medications, there are limits on how many a physician may prescribe. For the most controlled medications, the limit is generally enough to last a patient 30 days. But for some medications, there is no legal limit on the number, and physicians may prescribe a 90 day supply (or even longer).

-Wilson Compton

At what age do people become vulnerable to become addictive to drugs?

-acahill, Illinois

Addiction can begin at any age and the earlier someone starts using drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. Most addiction starts during teen years and recent research has taught us a lot about brain development during adolescence. This is a major time for brain growth and change and drug use may be particularly risky for those who start early.

-Wilson Compton

At what age do the students get influenced to take drugs and what motivates them to do so?

-vaidehi, Georgia

Hello! Individuals who use drugs often have their first use of drugs (onset) in adolescence. The earlier a person begins to use alcohol, tobacco or other drugs the more likely they are to progress to abuse and addiction later on. There are a number of factors that may increase the chances that a young person will use drugs. We call these risk factors. Risk factors may come from one or more sources, including social, environmental, or biological factors, and often more than one risk factor will be present. Just because someone has a risk factor it does not mean that they will use drugs. Youth also have many protective factors in their lives--things that reduce the likelihood of using drugs that could also be social (e.g., positive peer relationships), environmental (e.g., caring and supportive family), or biological (e.g., good self-control). But using drugs can have a lot of negative consequences including losing friends, not doing well in school, getting in trouble with the law, and other problems, too. Here are some websites you may be interested in.https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/,  http://drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/booklet.php

-Belinda Sims

Before I was born, my Pap smoked for twenty years and told me that he just quit without taking any medicane or having any help. Is it possible to smoke for that long and just quit?

-Emily C, Pennsylvania

It is possible to quit 'cold turkey,' as they say. I'm glad your Pap was able to do it. My Pap was too. He had to get lung cancer to make him quit, but he was one of the lucky ones. His lung cancer was cured, although by removing part of his lung. He just turned 80! There are many people who need help quitting, though. For more information on how to quit, see: www.smokefree.gov.

-Joni Rutter

Besides actual drugs, what else can you get 'high' of off?

-SSHS22, Nevada

'high' is a funny term, but you can get kicks from all sorts of things. Gambling, the internet...You can absolutely get a natural high by doing things that you enjoy, such hanging with friends and eating great foods (but not too much). You may also want to consider exercising (believe it or not!). Studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which produce a sense of euphoria (well being). So, participating in a sport is an excellent way to boost your mood.One of the great things about natural highs--besides the fact that they don't put you at risk for addiction and other bad consequences--is that they don't have 'aversive' side effects or withdrawal effects. For example, stimulants make people high, but they also make people nervous, edgy, and sometimes paranoid. Opiates cause physical discomofort and blah feelings as they leave the body. With natural highs, you just get the high--well, maybe some sore muscles the next day.

-Dave Thomas

Besides peer pressure, whyy do some people do drugs even though they know what happens to them?

-annemarie.p, Texas

Hello Annemarie--great question, IMO really gets to the 'heart of the matter.' What could be a big reason for you (like peer pressure) may not be the main reason for someone else (an escape from a stressful lifestyle). People start using drugs for a variety of different reasons, but absolutely NONE are worth the consequences of substance use addiction. Here is a great series on our teen site that will give you information about various drugs of abuse. If you have the facts, you will be better able to make healthy decisions about drug use and abuse: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/mom/

-Bethany Deeds

By using drugs to feel better about oneself make you an addict or even an abuser?

-Krazy Panda, Minnesota

Hello Minnesota! I went to Hopkins high! You're technically a drug abuser once you start using drugs so much you start neglecting important things like schoolwork, and start blowing off people who you used to care about. Once you can't stop yourself from seeking out and using drugs, and lose interest in everything else that used to give you a lot of pleasure, then you're an 'addict.' Being an abuser or addict really doesn't have anything to do with why you're using drugs. Abuse and addiction are more about the CONSEQUENCES of drug use getting to be really bad.

-Jim Bjork

can

-adison_s, Pennsylvania

The FDA, which approves all therapeutic drugs in the US has not approved marijuana for the treatment of any disease or condition. That's because it hasn't been proven safe and effective in carefully controlled studies with patients. Marijuana is not likely to become a medicine for several reasons--its a plant that contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from plant to plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal; and finally, anything thats smoked is bad for the lungs. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See
http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Christine Colvis

can 1 beer decrease your smartness

-ZaCh!, Ohio

It is possible that it could for at least a few minutes. In some lab tests, we have detected memory and other impairments in people who have very low blood alcohol concentrations - maybe the result of just one beer.

-Aaron White

Are kids with divorced parents more likely to do drugs rather than kids without divorced parents?

-drugsR4thugs, Nebraska

Yes, but only if the divorce results in less monitoring of the young person (i.e. who he or she is hanging out with and where and when). My own parents divorced when I was nine, but my mother was on my case all the time. No drugs for me!

-Jim Bjork

Are more teens likely to take drugs if there parents are telling them constantly not to take drugs or are they more likely to take drugs if there parents don't bring it up?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Howdie Bethanne--thanks for submitting a terrific question.Parents can have a tremendous positive influence on teens’ decisions to not drink and use drugs by communicating risks of drugs/alcohol, role-playing how to avoid peer pressure, encouraging their children to participate in extra-curriular acivities, etc. It isn't always easy to talk about serious subjects, so sometimes parents and kids might be uncomfortable. It helps to get the facts and we have great resources online. Go to www.teens.drugabuse.gov for science-based information that parents can share too. There are teacher and parent resources on our main website as well: http://www.drugabuse.gov/parent-teacher.html

-Bethany Deeds

Are mushrooms very common anymore?

-Hank H, New York

Hello to Skaneateles High School! Alcohol and drug use do follow trends across generations and time. Different generations can abuse different drugs and/or alcohol in different ways. In Volume I of the Monitoring the Future survey (appendix E) there is a chart measuring annual prevalence of use for all seniors of hallucinogens other than LSD. Numbers have gone up and down since 2001 with a high of 5.7 percent in 2004. In 2010, it was 3.7 percent. To access the chart, go to the survey at http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/MTF.html. scroll down to the 2010 MTF survey and click on Volume I. Then click on Appendix E.

-Bethany Deeds

are only some drugs addictive?

-mhernandez, Texas

Addiction is when someone uses a drug compulsively despite knowing that it is harming them or their quality of life. All abused drugs can produce this effect in some people. Of course, many medications, such as aspirin, antibiotics that you take for a fever, or asthma medications are not addictive.

-Dave Thomas

are people who smoke weed more prone to canibilism

-llamasarecool, Michigan

thanks for your question,As far as I know, the munchies do not extend to the urge to eat human flesh...

-Ruben Baler

Are people who struggle with depression and anxiety as well as other mental disorders more prone to addiction?

-maddiec, Wisconsin

hi maddiec: For many teens (and adults) depression or anxiety and drug use go hand-in-hand. Sometimes, folks who are depressed or anxious use drugs to make themselves feel better (commonly called 'self-medicating'). This is not a good approach to treating depression or anxiety, and the drug use often leads to more problems. If someone is depressed and they are thinking about using drugs, this is a great opportunity for both prevention and treatment (preventing drug use and treating depression). Using drugs when depressed will only make it harder to treat depression or anxiety. So, if someone is depressed or has an anxiety problem, best to seek professional help - we have many effective treatments for depression and anxiety in teens.Here is some general information about depression: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/.And here is some more information about anxiety: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml Want to know more about Depression in Children and Teens? See: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/To find general information on substance abuse prevention and treatment a good place to start is the Web site of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. www.samhsa.gov.

-Joel Sherrill

Are people who use

-Emily T, Maine

Good question. Most people who smoke marijuana already smoke cigarettes or drink
alcohol. So, they are already using other drugs. Some people go on from marijuana to other drugs, too. Once someone starts with one drug it's much more likely that they'll continue. It's safest not to start at all

-Wilson Compton

Are people who use marijuana more likely to start using other drugs as well?

-Emily T, Maine

Good question. Most people who smoke marijuana already smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. So, they are already using other drugs. Some people go on from marijuana to other drugs, too. Once someone starts with one drug it's much more likely that they'll continue. It's safest not to start at all.

-Wilson Compton

are protein workout products bad?

-ryanzorn, Pennsylvania

hi ryanzorn.I don't think so. if they contain just protein, they should be fine. And you do need a lot of protein to rebuild those muscle fibers that were torn down during heavy lifting...

-Ruben Baler

Are schitzophrnic people crazy in the mind but still smart?

-jprice, Texas

Someone who has schizophrenia can certainly also be smart, but their illness can sometimes mask that. John Nash is an example--he won the Nobel prize in economics and also suffers from schizophrenia. 'A beautiful mind' is a book/movie that tells his story.

-Susan Weiss

Are some cigarettes better to smoke than others?

-pekin2016, Iowa

That is a hard question to answer. Smoking anything poses a risk to your lungs because of the harmful effects of chemicals produced during burning. Even the so called 'e-cigarretes' still deliver nicotine, which is both addictive and has harmful physiological effects. In fact, tobacco plants evolved to produce nicotine to kill the insects that feed on the tobacco plant. So that should give you some idea of whether any cigarrette is good to smoke.

-Steve Grant