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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 cigars worse than cigarrettes and if they are, by how much?

-Elevatior music, Illinois

Good question! Both are bad for your health. Cigarette smoking remains one of the leading causes of death in this country -- nearly 500,000 people die each year because of smoking cigarettes. Although fewer people smoke cigars, cigars are dangerous because they involve burning tobacco, which maximizes the harm of the chemicals in tobacco. This is true of any kind of cigar, including big (traditional) cigars, little cigars, and cigarillos. It's best to avoid tobacco altogether for a healthy life!

-Kevin Conway

Are depressant bad for you when your actually depressed?

-isaac, California

Drugs like alcohol are called "depressants" because they depress activity in the brain, and can make you feel sad. For people who are already depressed, this can be dangerous. For example, people who are depressed and drink alcohol are more likely to try to kill themselves. So yes, alcohol and other "depressants" are indeed bad for you when you are actually depressed.

-Josh Gordon

Are drug's effects worse to younger people?

-Emre, Illinois

Hi Emre,
Good question. The big risk in younger people is that their brain, your brain, is still in development. Brains are not completely developed until about the age of 25. And a developing brain is more "fragile" than a fully developed brain. Thus drugs may have a bigger and longer lasting impact on younger people.

-Dave Thomas

are drugs bad?

-anon, New York

Drugs can cause significant health problems including addiction!

-Jack Stein

Are drugs more affective if you are young?

-sprinkle sparki, Texas

If you start using drugs while you are young---as a teen---you are more likely to get addicted.

-Michele Rankin

Are drugs more popular in male or females

-James , New York

Hi, James, thanks for your question. Generally the percentage of males who report using drugs is higher than females. According the the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12.5% of males had reported using drugs in the month prior to the survey, compared to nearly 8% of females. Here's a chart comparing gender differences regarding prescription drugs - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-dru...

-Marsha Lopez

Are E-Cigarettes as bad as regular cigarettes?

-jnguyen, Texas
We are just beginning to understand vaping but we have much more to learn including what kinds of chemicals may be inhaled. So, although many of the toxic chemicals from burning cigarettes may not be present in vaping, other dangers may exist! There are many checmicals in the vaping liquid that were never meant to be inhaled. In addition, many of these liquids contain nicotine, which is very addictive. So, while we don't know the answer to this question, we do know that vaping OR smoking is bad for you. Stay in control of your health and don't use any tobacco product!
-Heather Kimmel

Are e-cigs actually safer than regular cigs?

-AceFlash225, Illinois

Overall yes, but they themselves can have toxicity, and because they deliver nicotine they are also addictive

-Nora Volkow

Are E-cigs worse than regular cigarettes?

-PacePinellas, Florida

Good question and one that lots of others are asking in today's chat. The research is very clear that cigarettes are really, REALLY bad -- you should never smoke them. For vaping (e-cigs), the research is still ongoing but we are learning vaping involves risk to your health, especially because it invovles heating liquid (juice) and other products and inhaling them into your lungs. And, e-cigs can also contain nicotine, which is the chemical that makes tobacco so addictive. The same general answer applies to marijuana -- vaping is a risky business.

-Kevin Conway

Are electric cigarettes or cigarettes more used?

-ntruong, Texas

Hi, ntruong, thanks for your question. Right now there are more teenagers reporting use of electronic cigarettes than regular cigarettes. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, 12.5% of high school seniors, 11% of 10th graders, and 6% of 8th graders reported they had used electronic cigarettes in the month prior to the survey compared to 10.5% of 12th, 5% of 10th, and less than 3% of 8th graders reporting use of regular cigarettes. Want more data? Check out www.monitoringthefuture.org

-Marsha Lopez

Are electronic cigarettes better for you than normal cigarettes?

-K Perry, New Hampshire

hey K Perry, Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and recent research suggests nicotine exposure may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. Also, testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.

-Maureen Boyle

Are hallucinogens classified as dangerous like drugs?

-kphung, Texas

Hi kphung,

Hallucinogens ARE drugs, and so they are dangerous and bad for your health. Read more at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.

-Carlos Blanco

Are hallucinogens damaging to your internal orientation of the body? Like can it have the same effects as Vertigo?

-wellhellothere, Maryland

Dear wellhellothere,

I am not sure that it can cause permanent vertigo, but there are reports of it being associated with psychosis and schizophrenia. Some forms (LSD) are synthetic drugs, so they are made with no regulation of the process or chemicals used. Also, there may be other toxic chemicals mixed in that can be dangerous, and these may vary from one batch to another. The LSD itself causes brain circuits to become desynchonized and chaotic, and we believe this leads to the hallucinations that it can cause. So you may see or hear things that are not there. In addition to the harm that LSD might do to brain cells, your reactions and responses while under the influence may endanger you. People on LSD may be more likely to get injured or die in accidents. You can find more information here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/hallucinogens

-Roger Little

Are inhalants as prevalent now as before? Are they more popular than the weed, or less?

-Rin2Deep4U, Massachusetts

Hello. Inhalants are extremely dangerous and fortunately inhalant use decreased among 8th graders this year compared with last year, and overall inhalant use has been decreasing over time. Marijuana use is more prevalent among youth than inhalant use. For more information on youth use of inhalants, marijuana and other drugs, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-fu...

-Jacqueline Lloyd

are inhalants more dangerous than smoking?

-ACarpenter, Texas

Inhalants can kill you from a respiratory or cardiac complication right away while you are using it. Tobacco can kill you after many years of use because of cancer other other pulmonary or cardiac negative effects.

-Nora Volkow

Are injections the most harmful way to take drugs?

-Dab On It, Maryland

Injecting a drug is the fastest way to get it to the body. It can be considered the most dangerous in some ways because it is easier to overdose (as opposed to a pill which is a carefully measured amount) People who inject drugs are also at high risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). This is because these diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, which can occur when sharing needles or other injection drug use equipment. (HCV is the most common blood-borne infection in the Unites States.)
But every person's biology is different, and each oerson responds to drug delivery systems differently.

-Michele Rankin

Are kids more likely to die from Drugs/Alcohol than adults?

-Mnehls, Texas

It depends on the dose. The body of a child is more vulnerable than the body of an adult, so if they take similar amounts, children are more likely to die or have other negative consequences than adults.

-Carlos Blanco

Are kids more likely to try drugs if their imbecilic health teacher makes up incorrect drug facts and they realize they're lying?

-Juan, Pennsylvania

Hi Juan,
Yes, "alternative facts" are not helpful, and will always backfire. Everyone should tell the truth. Sometimes authorities exaggerate drug dangers as a scare tactic, but kids are pretty smart, I think. At NIDA, we try to be honest about what we know and what we don't know about drugs.
But one thing that probably sounds like a bogus scare tactic but is actually true, based on real scientific studies, is that drugs are especially harmful for teens. Here's why: Since your brain is still developing (until you are about 25), it is more vulnerable to being altered by drugs like alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. You are much more likely to develop an addiction, for example, if you start using drugs in your teens than if you wait until you try them as an adult.
Take care, stay healthy.

-Eric Wargo

are marijuana candys bad

-ert, Other

Well even if you put marijuana in candy, it's still marijuana. Here are some info on marijuana:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

-Dave Thomas

Are men more susceptible to do drugs than women? Or is it the other way around

-Dylan@gentryjs, Texas

It not one or the other.. It really depends on the drug. There are certain drugs for which men are more susceptible to addiction and some for which women are more susceptible. For some, men become addicted more quickly, for others women become addicted more quickly.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

are over the counter drugs addictive if you use them the wrong way?

-Ryleigh D., Pennsylvania

Hey Ryleigh- even over the counter drugs can be dangerous if they're not used properly, so you should always follow the instructions on the package. Most over the counter drugs do not have a high risk of addiction, however, with the exception of nicotine-containing products.

-Emily Einstein

are painkillers damaging to the nervous system?

-Juliagelston, Maine

Opioids do not directly cause brain damage. Some people, though, suffer nonfatal overdoses and then suffer from hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), which if prolonged can cause substantial brain damage.

-Dave Thomas

Are people taking drugs more today than in the 1900s?

-awalker, New Hampshire

Good morning awalker, Good question! Well, in fact overall drug use among youth has been decreasing over the past 40 years. This is really good news! Check out NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey for more information.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Are problems with alcohol hereditary?

-maggie, New York

Yes. People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop a problem with alcohol themselves.
Having alcoholism in your family greatly increases the chances you'll develop a problem, too.

Researchers believe a person's risk increases if he or she is in a family with the following difficulties:

  • an alcoholic parent is depressed or has other psychological problems;

  • both parents abuse alcohol and other drugs;

  • the parents' alcohol abuse is severe; and

  • conflicts lead to aggression and violence in the family.

    You can learn more about the genetics of alcoholism here:
    https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FamilyHistory/famhist.htm

-Aaron White

are some drugs legal in some states

-trase A, Texas

Hello to you trase A from Lake Olympia Middle School. Depends which drugs you are talking about. Some substances (like the ones we use for medicine) can be legal in the U.S. This is a link to the controlled substances schedule that lists all the drugs that doctors can legally prescribe in the U.S:http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.htmlutm_source=Pharmaceutical+Tips+%7C+Storage+%7C+Disposal+%7C+Abuse+Prevention&utm_campaign=Pharmaceutical+Tips&utm_medium=email For marijuana--28 states and Washington, DC have passed laws allowing smoked marijuana to be used for a variety of medical conditions. In addition, voters in 8 states and Washington, DC also passed initiatives legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older under state law. However, there are things teens should know about marijuana's effect on the developing brain. Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Bethany Deeds

Are steroids addictive?

-Jonathan R, Pennsylvania

An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. If left untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs.

-Ruben Baler

Are steroids good for you?

-AGUA, Iowa

If you mean anabolic steroids, then the abuse of anabolic steroids, that are widely used by athletes and non-atheletes, is associated with significant and serious adverse health consequences. See a recent article by Pope, Khalsa and Bhasin in JAMA (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2592911) for more.

-Jag Khalsa

are students allowed to buy energy drinks that consist of alcohol

-nharrison , Texas

As far as we know, there aren't any energy drinks with alcohol currently for sale in the United States.

When alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, a popular practice among young people, the caffeine in these drinks can mask the depressant effects of alcohol. At the same time, caffeine has no effect on the metabolism of alcohol by the liver and thus does not reduce breath alcohol concentrations or reduce the risk of alcohol-attributable harms. Drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink (based on breath alcohol levels) than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks.

-Aaron White

Are teenagers at greater risk for drug addiction?

-sv42, New York

Hi sv42,
Yes, teens are at greater risk because their brains are still developing. Brain development isn't complete until the early to mid-20s. Most people who develop an addiction started using drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs) during their teens years.

-Maureen Boyle

Are teens more likely to do drugs if their parents are smokers?

-Anthony G, New York

Hi Anthony - there are many complicated factors that can increase a person's risk for addiction like a person's genes, current health conditions, and what you mentioned here - their environment. For some people, being in environment where other people use substances does increase the likelihood that they will use drugs, but not for everyone. You can learn more about risk factors for addiction here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science

-Michele Rankin