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.

Download Full Year

Amna Hussain from Reservoir High school Most teenage drug users come from low income families. How can they seek help from rehabs and such if they have no insurance or anything else to pay for help?

-amna, Maryland

Hi Amna, Great question. Drug and alcohol use isn't limited to any income level, but it's true that low-income families and communities are at increased risk. The insurance problem is a terrible one, and it is one of the reasons for new health reform laws that are making it easier for low-income people to be insured and to have medicaid benefits, and also requiring insurance companies to cover drug rehab. Hopefully in the near future it will be easier for low-income people to get drug treatment. Glad you are thinking about this.

-Eric Wargo

Are alcoholism and drug addiction genetically inherited?

-DA, New Jersey

Hi DA

It's not 100%. Your genes are not a death sentence. but genes do contribute (abouot 50% roughly) to your overall risk of using drugs and of becoming addicted. The other 50% of the risk has to do with the environment you live in and the age at which you start using a drug. The earlier you are exposed to a drug of abuse the higher your risk of becoming addicted.

Thanks for the great question.
Ruben
 

-Ruben Baler

Are all drugs bad?

-jasmineb, Georgia

Hey jasmineb -  This depends on what you mean by "bad."  Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long-term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. Many drugs, and alcohol, can impair your coordination and lead to devastating accidents (like drunk driving). Other drugs, like meth, can be especially toxic to your brain. And taking drugs, like heroin or cocaine, or misusing prescription drugs, has the potential to cause overdose and death even the first time you use them. It can also lead to addiction. So any drug you use can be the most dangerous drug for you. Please protect your brain and your health - you need them! Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

-Joni Rutter

ARE ALL PRESCRIBED DRUGS GOOD FOR YOU

-Ethan G, Texas

Prescribed drugs are given to you in limited amounts for limited amounts of time and will hopefully help resolve the medical issue for which they are prescribed.  But if you misuse or abuse them by using them when you no longer have a problem or taking too much of them at one time or using someone else's prescription, they would not be good for you.  In fact, taking too much of the prescription medicine Vicodin or other opiate drugs can result in your death.  For more information on prescription drugs, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs

-Nancy Pilotte

are any steroids used for medical purposes?

-jgarcia, Texas

yes, some steroids are used as anti-inflammatory drugs, for the treatment of allergic reactions and autoimmune disorders.   the most frequently used steroid is cortisol. Androgenic anabolic steroids can also be used medically, to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning. The primary medical uses of these compounds are to treat delayed puberty, some types of impotence, and wasting of the body caused by HIV infection or other diseases.

-Nora Volkow

are brownies a drug and is it addictive

-mike hawk, Massachusetts

Hi Mike,Brownies contain chocolate, which is highly delicious, but not technically addictive.

-Eric Wargo

Are coca plants addictive or do they have to be converted to a drug?

-jthompson, Texas

the coca leaf generates a mild state of dependence. once it is processed into cocaine, then it becomes highly addictive

-Ruben Baler

are drug users losers?

-mary jane, Illinois

Hi mary jane,
Is that your real name? :-)
Everybody is a winner, so no. 
But in the long run, lots of scientific research shows that people who use drugs a lot have more problems in life including mental illness, do worse in school, don't make as much money, and are less happy. 

-Eric Wargo

are drugs and norcotis the same thing

-pizzapoppers, Illinois

Hi pizzapoppers,
"Narcotics" sometimes means all illegal drugs, but sometimes it is used to mean just drugs that make you sleep ("narco" means sleep), such as opioids.
Great question!

-Eric Wargo

are drugs good for you when you need it

-jamecia.T10, Georgia

Hi jamecia.T10,
Prescription drugs can be  good for you if you take them as directed by your doctor. They are mostly dangerous when used instead to get high.
 

-Eric Wargo

Are drugs purchased through the internet (e.g. Silk Road) generally more or less safe than drugs purchased on the 'street level'?

-gaas01, Minnesota

Great question, gaas01,
Both are unsafe. You have no idea who you are buying from, or who your dealer got it from. 

-Eric Wargo

Are drugs worse when smoked or does it not matter?

-choon0949, Michigan

Hey Choon0949--Drugs will get into your system faster if they are smoked. The faster a drug reaches your brain the more addictive it usually is. But drugs are still addictive when taken in other ways.

-Joni Rutter

are E cigarettes healthier than normal cigarette's?

-fabushaban, Texas

HI fabushaban,
There are a lot of misconceptions about vape pens and electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor,that e-cigs and vape pens produce is really made of the specific chemicals in the vape pen, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, THC, chemical flavorings, and others.  Surveys show that many teens don’t even know what chemicals are in their e-cig device. We still don't know all the effects of using vape pens because they are so new. One thing we worry about with e-cigarettes is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. On the other hand, if a cigarette smoker is able to give up cigarettes by using e-cigarettes, it’s probably a good thing. About 13 percent of 12th graders have tried e-cigs. Check out these resources on e-cigs – https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Maureen Boyle

are e cigaretts adictive

-egamboa, Texas

if they have nicotine then yes if just flavor then no

-Nora Volkow

are e-cigarettes better than real cigarettes

-mary jane, Illinois

hi mary jane
There are a lot of misconceptions about vape pens and e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor,that e-cigs and vape pens produce is really made of the specific chemicals in the vape pen, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, THC, chemical flavorings, and others.  Surveys show that many teens don’t even know what chemicals are in their e-cig device. We still don't know all the effects of using vape pens because they are so new. One thing we worry about with e-cigarettes is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. On the other hand, if a cigarette smoker is able to give up regular cigarettes by using e-cigarettes, it’s probably a good thing. About 13 percent of 12th graders have tried e-cigs. Check out these resources on e-cigs – https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Ruben Baler

Are electronic cigarettes addictive?

-Teagan, Massachusetts

Depends on what is in them. If one inhales an addictive chemical using an e-cig, it is still addictive. Check out our fact sheet for more info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes.

-Dave Thomas

Are electronic cigarettes bad for you?

-Ace, Massachusetts

Hi Ace.  While electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are often promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, which deliver nicotine by burning tobacco, little is known yet about the health risks of using these devices. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes. Because they are not regulated, it's hard to know exactly what is in the liquid vaporized by e-cigs. Early studies show that use of e-cigs among teens may increase their risk of smoking: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/08/teens-using-e-cigarettes-may-be-more-likely-to-start-smoking-tobacco.  

-Joni Rutter

Are inhalants the worst drugs you can take?

-Sagu, Texas

Uh, is this a contest? The worst drug you can take is the one you are thinking of using right now, especially if you have immediate access to it.  Choose your poison--stimulants like cocaine and narcotics like heroin or morphine can kill you immediately.  The old standbys like nicotine and alcohol usually take a little longer.  Stay smart and avoid these choices!  For more info on drugs see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Nancy Pilotte

Are injection drugs more dangerous the drugs you inhale? PLEASE ANSWER

-im realyy cool, Illinois

Hey im realyy cool. They are both dangerous. Users who inject drugs 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 the health effects of different drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

-Joni Rutter

Are legal drugs any less dangerous?

-jthompson, Texas

Hi jthompson,
Great question. Some would say no, and it's a big argument made by people who want to see marijuana legalized. Tobacco causes 480,000 deaths each year and alcohol causes nearly 90,000--much more than illegal drugs. But that is also because they are legal: more people can use them and be harmed by them. It's unfortunately very hard to compare the dangers of legal and illegal drugs.

-Eric Wargo

Are mushrooms as deadly as tabaccco.?

-KSJHGDFU, Michigan

Hey KSJHGDFU - they sure can be. If a person accidentally consumes a poisonous mushroom, it can lead to death. Learn more here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-dissociative-drugs/where-can-i-get-more-scientific-information-hallucinogens-diss
Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death.

 

-Joni Rutter

are mushrooms as deadly tobacco

-kdunckel, Texas

Hey kdunckel. I eat mushrooms on my steak all the time. But these are mushrooms that you can eat. Many mushrooms and other fungi contain highly toxic chemicals. When you eat these mushrooms, you can die. Smoking and tobacco use causes cancer and death. The toxins in poisonous mushrooms can cause death quicker. There are also other mushrooms that contain the chemical psilocybin. People may abuse this drug, just like they smoke tobacco too much. Make sure you  buy and eat mushrooms from the grocery store. Those are tasty.

-Roger Sorensen

Are mushrooms more dangerous than any other drug?

-JLe, Texas

Hi JLe, we often get asked: What is the worst drug?
This depends on what you mean by worst.  Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. Many drugs, and alcohol, can impair your coordination and lead to devastating accidents (like drunk driving). Other drugs, like meth, can be especially toxic to your brain. And taking drugs, like heroin or cocaine, or misusing prescription drugs, has the potential to cause overdose and death even the first time you use them.  They can also result in addiction. So any drug you use can be the most dangerous drug for you. Please protect your brain and your health, you need them! Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

-Maureen Boyle

are nicotine and caffine the same

-egamboa, Texas

no, nicotine produces addiction whereas caffeine does not  

-Nora Volkow

Are poppies dangerous?

-Karli Nadsady, Ohio

Hi Karli

If you mean the poppy seeds we find in the poppy bagels, the answer is no.
you can eat as many as you'd like.

\Ruben

-Ruben Baler

Are some drugs easier to get addicted to than others?

-Trump, Illinois

yes indeed,
meth is one of the most addictive drugs .

-Ruben Baler

are some drugs used as medicine

-jazminq, Texas

Sure. Just because a drug might be abused does not mean it can't be used as a medicine. But care is needed when a doctor prescribes these drugs, and the patient also needs to be careful. Prescription opioids are a prime example. They can help some people in pain, but they can also be abused.

-Dave Thomas

Are some drugs worse or better than others?

-bivensd, New Jersey

yes, some are more addicive than others, for example methampehtaine is more addictive than weed.

some are more toxic than others, for example: heroin and opioid prescription drugs can lead to overdoses much more rapidly than with alcohol.

-Nora Volkow

Are spray paint cans considered inhalants?

-JLe, Texas

Good morning JLE. Absolutely. The gases in spray paint cans are chemicals that you can breathe in. Thus, you inhale the chemical. This is why gasoline, paint thinner, and sharpies are considered to contain inhalants.These chemicals get in your brain and prevent your brain from using oxygen. You can die from lack of oxygen. Always use these chemicals in room wherre there is good airflow.

-Roger Sorensen

are steriods bad for u

-JTMS, New Jersey

HI JTMS,
Your own body produces all the steroids it needs. It needs them to regulate your growth, and for reproductive functions. The kind sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height.  It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male).  If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Maureen Boyle