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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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 http://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

are steroids addictive

-tsangosanya, Texas

Frequently Asked Question: Steroids—are they bad for you?
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 http://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.

-Roger Sorensen

Are steroids addictive ? What is the strongest steroids I can find? I want to be stronger

-Calvin Mires, Michigan

Hi Calvin,
Steroids don't make you big and strong by themselves--you have to work at it with exercise.  And if you do the work, you are getting bigger and stronger by yourself!  Anabolic steroids do help build muscles, but only in specific areas on the body with "androgen receptors", found in places like the neck and shoulders, places that are visible to others.  But no one has actually shown that they can make you stronger or increase your endurance.  And steroids can be dangerous.  In males, they can reduce the size of testicles, cause baldness and cause development of breasts.  In females, they can cause growth of facial hair, baldness similar to men and a deepened voice.  In adolescents, they can cause additional problems because adolescents aren't full grown.  For example, they can cause stunted growth.  You can find more information at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids  

-Nancy Pilotte

Are steroids as equally dangerous as other addictive drugs?

-mbanks, Texas

Hi mbanks, 
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 http://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

Are steroids bad ?

-Calvin Mires, Michigan

Hi Calvin,
Yes, steroids are very bad. They can cause all kinds of damage to your body, including damaging your heart and liver, and they can cause your sex organs to shrink. They also can lead to depression and mood problems like anger. 

-Eric Wargo

are suboxitives less dangerous but still dangerous after doing heroin

-ISmart, New Hampshire

I'm not quite sure of your question, ISmart. But since you mentioned heroin, I'm thinking that you are referring to Suboxone and naloxone (brand name: Narcan). These are medications that are used to save a person dying from an opioid overdose. Suboxone and naloxone block the ability of heroin and other opiates [oxycodone] to produce their effects on the body and brain. Suboxone and naloxone are great life-savers in treating heroin and prescription opiate overdose.

-Roger Sorensen

Are the bad effects from a cig the same as marijuana?

-discovery, Washington

Some of marijuana's effects include panic, anxiety, sensory distortion, lack of coordination, increased heart beat, etc.  Here is some additional info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana/what-are-marijuana-effects.

As to which one is more harmful, I'd say whichever one you are using is. That said, e-cigs and cigarettes are pretty harmful. While 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. 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 the national surveys for teens who use drugs very accurate, if at all? Because how do you know if the survey participants are telling the truth about if they do or don't use drugs?

-hugs-notdrugs, Maryland

Hey, hugs-notdrugs!  That's a really good question, and one I hear all the time. We use statistics to estimate how truthful and reliable our surveys are using complex methodologies that are well-tested and verified. There are three major national surveys that look at drug use behavior and attitudes among teens- the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillence, and the Monitoring the Future survey.  All three of these surveys have different methods and look at slightly different populations. So which one to believe, if any at all?  Even though the numbers in each survey may differ, over time they show almost exactly the same trends, which gives us a good picture of drug use.

-Marsha Lopez

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 – http://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 – http://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: http://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

Can alcohol kill a person? How?

-lcontreras, Texas

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as "alcohol poisoning."

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

It's also possible to die from long-term abuse of alcohol. The liver can become enlarged and inflamed and ultimately stop working. 
 

-Aaron White

Can alcohol kill you?

-Eli!!!!!, Michigan

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as alcohol poisoning. It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes. It's also possible to die from long-term abuse of alcohol. The liver can become enlarged and inflamed and ultimately stop working.

-Aaron White