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 here.

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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

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

Are some prescription medicines harmful to your body?

-echan, Texas

Yes, most drugs have side effects that could cause a lot of problems to the body, or even kill if taken in large amounts. Even Tylenol could permanently damage the liver if overdosed. Also anti-cancer drugs can have severe side effects, such that the only reason people take them is that they will die from the cancer otherwise!The other risk in all this is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it.

-Jim Bjork

Are teens today having more problems with drug addictions than in the past?

-larlhamc, Ohio

I would say that the answer to this question is, 'Yes.' While people may state that we have better ways to collect information about use (about everything!) and better means of publicizing that information, it is also true that availability of different prescription drugs (used for non-medical purposes), and illicit substances has increased; and the types of 'drugs' abused has increased.

-Michelle Leff

Are drugs fun?

-TheIronSquanto7, Michigan

Hey Rochester Adams HS, MI! Thanks for your question. People say they use drugs because they think it will be 'fun.' In fact, drugs have a very clever way of hijacking your brain mechanisms to make you think they are pleasurable: they cause the brain to release a substance called dopamine. But these feelings are short-lived. Dopamine--one of many known brain neurotransmitters--is intimately involved in important aspects of brain function, which makes it a key player in drug abuse and addiction. Dopamine is present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, thought, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. In fact, when you have a nice meal or listen to your favorite music, dopamine signals your brain that something important has happened that needs to be remembered--prompting you to repeat the behavior. Drugs can cause a much more powerful release of dopamine so that such natural pleasures can no longer compete, because they cannot produce the same 'high' that drug abusers remember and seek to repeat. Eventually, people become focused on obtaining and using drugs at every opportunity--although recreating the initial high becomes nearly impossible. Dopamine is also involved in other brain disorders that have nothing to do with drug abuse: the tremors and other symptoms that characterize Parkinson's disease, for example, are the direct result of the loss of neurons that make dopamine. Addiction is a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction. I'd say drugs are definitely NOT fun.

-Joni Rutter

are drugs illegal?

-catch22, Maryland

Hi catch22---Some are and some aren't. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana are generally illegal. Prescription drugs are legal if prescribed by a doctor, but it is illegal to abuse them---taking them without a proper prescription. Some states allow marijuana to be taken for symptom relief when recommended by a doctor, but the federal government has not approved it as a safe medication. Confused? It is important to know that when there are drugs, there are often legal consequences. Anywhere from 50-70% of people in our country' prisons and jails can benefit from some sort of drug treatment. They are often in prison for selling drugs, stealing things to get money to pay for drugs, or being violent and commiting crimes while high on drugs.

-Carol Krause

Are drugs like

-jimmmmmy, Indiana

They can produce addiction, although it may be a little different from some other drugs like
cocaine,
alcohol. But it can be hard to quit steroids, and stopping has been associated with depression and suicidal thinking

-Nora Volkow

Are drugs like steroids addictive?

-jimmmmmy, Indiana

They can produce addiction, although it may be a little different from some other drugs like cocaine, alcohol. But it can be hard to quit steroids, and stopping has been associated with depression and suicidal thinking.

-Nora Volkow

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

can alcohol make you sleepy?

-monkey413, Maryland

Yes, for sure. Alcohol is considered a 'central nervous system depressant', meaning it slows down brain activity. As a result, it can make a person feel very sleepy.Interestingly, while alcohol makes people sleepy and might even make them fall asleep faster than normal, alcohol actually disrupts sleep. People who sleep after drinking alcohol do not sleep as long or as deeply as people who do not have alcohol before going to sleep. So, while alcohol does make people sleepy, it is not good for sleep.

-Aaron White

Can all of the drugs that we know of affect us negatively in some way?

-leapfrog33, Pennsylvania

Thanks for the question!By definition, all drugs of abuse can create problems in the lives of their user - marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, prescription drugs, alcohol (and others) all can, can impair you ability to think and learn, lead you to make really bad decisions that could influence your health and safety (e.g., increase risk of accidents, injury, STDs and more), and can lead to addiction. Want to learn more about what teens are thinking about drugs and how drugs impact the body? Click on - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/, http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php)

-David Shurtleff

Can an addict stop their addiction?

-IMS424, Louisiana

The short answer is YES but of course it's more complicated than that. Addiction is a chronic (long-lasting) brain disease -- that means it actually changes the brain in major ways. Recovery from addiction can also be a long-lasting process, but it can be done. Scientists (including many working with NIDA) have identified a number of medications as well as behavioral (counseling) therapies that are effective for addressing many aspects of addiction, and we continue to work on more options. You can learn about many effective treatment options by checking out our publication, 'Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment' (http://www.nida.nih.gov/PODAT/PODATIndex.html), or at our site for teens (http://teens.drugabuse.gov).

-Lori Ducharme

Can caffine actually damage you?

-tsheehan, New Hampshire

caffeine is a drug that can cause dependence but it is a very mildly addictive drug with generally no major ill effects, except for the withdrawal symptoms that many dependent people experience when they miss their caffeine fix.thanks!

-Ruben Baler

can cemicals hurt you

-40009091, Maryland

Sure. There are all sorts of chemicals. Poisons, food additives, vitamins, the list goes on and on. I am guessing you are asking more about drugs. Some drugs are medications, and when used properly should not hurt you. Medications used improperly can certainly hurt you. For example prescription pain killers used improperly kill thousands of people each year.Drugs of abuse (e.g. marijuana, LSD, cocaine…) each have a long list of negative effects on people. For more info, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php

-Dave Thomas

Almost half of my family smokes,is it hereditary?

-Saparicio, Texas

yes

-Nora Volkow

Approximately how much

-DjChop, Pennsylvania

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. For a 140 lb female, that would be about 10 drinks in 2 hours, and much less alcohol for someone lighter. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.For more information on safe drinking limits for adults, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Aaron White

Approximately how much alcohol would it take for an individual of average BMI to fataly overdose?

-DjChop, Pennsylvania

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. For a 140 lb female, that would be about 10 drinks in 2 hours, and much less alcohol for someone lighter. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.For more information on safe drinking limits for adults, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Aaron White

are all drugs addictive

-theos sethj, Pennsylvania

Most drugs of abuse like cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, amphetamine can be addictive because they directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good! You can check out NIDA’s Web site to learn more at:http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-David Shurtleff

are all drugs additive

-natalie14, Ohio

Yes, they all are. The timing changes from person to person, but all of them are equally dangerous and can lead to addiction. Read our colorful Science of Addiction booklet to learn more: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/

-Anto Bonci

Are all drugs babd for you bro?

-ims306, Louisiana

Drugs that are prescribed to you by your doctor and taken as instructed are generally safe and helpful. The same drugs taken without a doctor's prescription, or differently from the way they were prescribed, can be dangerous. Illegal drugs are all dangerous--that's the main reason why they're illegal.

-Dave White