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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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Hi! Good Morning! Im from Mexico and i have many questions about drugs and alcohol. My first question is what happens if get an overdose of alcohol and wich are the consecuences?


Good morning willyrex!
Alcohol overdose results from drinking too much and too quickly. When a person does that, it causes alcohol to accumulate in your body and increase the risk of damage to the brain, liver and other organs. Alcohol overdose is a serious problem. Check out this fact sheet on Alcohol Overdose for more information.

Hope this helps!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Hi! I have a doubt about how a drug can supply a necessity someone has in their lives?

-Ann :),

You pose an interesting question. Drugs can be a "necessity" under different circumstances. In some cases, a drug is a medication prescribed by a doctor to combat a specific disease (for example, insulin to treat diabetes). In other cases, a person takes an illegal drug to experiment or due to peer pressure, and this can lead to serious problems including a dependence on the drug. When some becomes dependent on a drug, they may feel that they cannot do without it even if they want to stop. Someone who develops this type of drug dependency should seek medical treatment.

-Michael Baumann

Hi! I hope you are having a great day I would like to awnser you if is true the thing that mixing alcohol substances at once cause more damage than only one (talking about the same quantity) :)


Thanks marifornitekill! It is a great day here! hope you are having one too!
Regardless of the type of alcohol beverage, they all contain the same drug (alcohol or ethyl alcohol). Mixing different types of alcohol increases the chance of getting more alcohol into the body which can lead to overdose and other problems.

-Vijay Ramchandani

Hi! What are the dangers of Cocaine

-drughater, Illinois

Hi drughater - Cocaine is seriously toxic! Some people take cocaine because it makes them feel energetic, but cocaine also increases a person's body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate and it can increase a person's risk of having a heart attack, breathing issues (respiratory failure), stroke, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In some, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. Check out information on our website about cocaine:

-Ruben Baler

hi, how do you help someone to stop smoking cigarettes


Hi Rana,
There are many resources available to help people quit smoking. It's great that you want to help someone quit smoking. Talking to someone about quitting can be difficult. Let him or her know there are immediate and long-term benefits to quitting, and what him/her quitting would mean to you. Offer your support and suggest he/she check out for quitting resources and tools.

-Suzanne Lim

hi, I am from Mexico which is the most dangerous drug?


Hello Yogis! Thanks for the question, it's a very popular one. Using drugs for the high is always a bad idea. The harm they can do varies based on how they act on the body, but they can all damage your brain, which is very sensitive to drugs, particularly if you are a teenager. So the best thing, and the easiest way to avoid these bad outcomes, is to stay away from drugs, any drugs, even legal ones -- and, if a doctor prescribes drugs for you, to follow the directions.
Respect your brain, it's the only one you'll ever have, and it will pay off big time in the long run.
best of luck!!!

-Ruben Baler

Hi, I'm from Mexico and I have a question. what happens if a schizophrenic person consumes marijuana?


Hi Sofig! Thanks for your question. Overall, people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer from a disabling and chronic brain disorder. Common symptoms include agitation, hearing things or voices that others do not hear, and worrying that something or someone is controlling their thinking. Consuming marijuana may enhance these symptoms - as well as other symptoms and may contribute to initiating other physical and mental health problems. Here is a link that can provide additional information about the health effects of marijuana:

If your friend or family member is not in treatment, please encourage them to get help from a professional - it can really make a positive difference!

-Denny Pintello

hi, im zanty i wanted to know, how long the marihuana effect lasts?


Good question! When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, THC (the chemical in marijuana that makes you feel "high.") quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, goes throughout the body, including the brain. Its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours. Decision making, concentration, and memory can be affected for days after use. If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects of THC appear later—usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour—and may last for many hours. Learn more here.

-Michele Rankin

Hi, why are drugs bad?

-MR, Oklahoma

Hi MR,
"Drugs" include illegal drugs, like heroin or cocaine as well as drugs that a doctor might prescribe for you. Some drugs are medicine and can help you if used as prescribed. However, other drugs that people use, like cocaine and heroin, can produce serious health issues, like problems breathing, heart issues and sudden death. Plus, taking these sorts of drugs can result in addiction, where it is very difficult to stop taking the drugs, despite serious risks.
Hope this helps,

-Dave Thomas

Hi, why cigarettes contain lots of substances that are poison for people, why they still have the permition to sell it?


Hi, Ragazzanna - this is a great question! To protect the public and create a healthier future for all Americans, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), signed into law on June 22, 2009, gives FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products. Because of this law, tobacco companies must provide FDA with detailed information about the ingredients in their products. In addition, FDA can regulate nicotine and ingredient levels in tobacco products to reduce harm. However, FDA does not have the authority to ban these products altogether. For more information, see:

-Heather Kimmel

hi, Why do some people become addicted while others don't?

-ana lu,

Great question ana lu! There is much we do not know about who becomes addicted and why. Every person is different, so it is a little like playing Russian Roulette if you choose to use drugs. Scientific studies show that if you have a family history of addiction, you may be more likely to develop addiction yourself. Also, if you are raised in an environment (like your school or neighborhood) where lots of people use drugs, you may be more likely to choose to take drugs and set yourself up at risk for becoming addicted.

-John Satterlee

hi. how can you identify when someone is using drugs? What are the symptoms?


Hi chema! Thanks for your question. There are some signs that you can look for that would let you know someone is using drugs. Look at their behavior. Are there changes? Maybe they are moodier than usual - one minute acting really grumpy then all of a sudden super happy and bright. You may also notice changes in someone's routine - maybe not coming to school as much, skipping classes or regular activities? Drug use is bad for health and a teen's developing brain. If you think someone is using drugs, tell a trusted adult and try to get them help. We've got treatments that work!

-Amy Goldstein

how addictive is marijuana?

-dylan, Illinois

Hi Dylan - It depends. There are many things that influence whether a person will become addicted. Age is really important. The younger someone is when they start to use drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. Kids and adolescents are more prone to addiction since their brain has not yet fully matured. Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we don't really know how many times a person must use a drug before that happens. The only way to be sure that you will never become addicted to marijuana or any kind of drug is if you don't use it. I'm glad you're thinking about this, Dylan. Thanks for your question. For more info, check out this link:

-Kris Bough

How addictive is the use of marijuana?

-dylan, Illinois

Good question, Dylan,

Marijuana is addictive for about 9 percent of people who use it. This means that a person cannot stop using marijuana even though it interferes with many aspects of their life, like their health, schoolwork, and relationships with friends and family. Also, when someone has an addiction to marijuana and stops smoking it, they can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Here's some more information: And whether a person develops an addiction to marijuana or not, using marijuana can affect the growing brain in teens and young adults.


-Roger Little

How am I able to tell someone no without saying the word NO. My friends at school have been starting to peer pressure me to vape because they all do it and they think I would fit in and I would like it. I have never done drugs, vaped, drank alcohol, nothing. I tell them no and they keep pressuring me. What should I do and what are the main dangers of vaping and future risks?

-anonymous2, Illinois

anonymous2 -- We received a question very similar to yours this morning. Knowing ways to resist substances is key, and it is important to be prepared. Here are some resources that may be helpful, including information on vaping. Thanks for the question!

Resisting Peer Pressure for Teens: This interactive website has many different links talking about declining peer pressure, how to say no without seeming to judge friends, and your right to resist. Check it out! You will find this very useful.

Too Smart To Start Campaign is also really helpful:

The facts on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults:

-Belinda Sims

How and when were some drugs discovered to be bad? I know that there was definitely some knowledge of it in the 19th century, but how bad they were was still fairly unknown. Can you give me more information?

-Sasha, Oregon

Hi Sasha
Good question.
Each drug has it own history, each more fasdcinating than the other. I can't give you a comprehensive account here but if you google the history of specific drugs you'll find a lot of info online. Particularly interesting are the histories of marijuana and hemp, hallucinogens and shamanic practices, and opium during the civil war.
best of luck

-Kristen Huntley

How are cigarettes legal if it is proven to kill people?

-John, Illinois

As we mentioned, the FDA doesn't have the authority to ban tobacco products altogether. But what we do have the authority to do is educate youth on the harms associated with cigarettes. We want to prevent youth from smoking and becoming addicted to cigarettes because nearly 9 out of 10 adult daily smokers smoked their first cigarette by age 18.

-Suzanne Lim

How are drugs consumed?

-wms, Illinois

Good morning WMS, good question! People use drugs in many ways--smoking, eating, vaping, inhaling, injecting, etc--and for lots of different reasons, such as peer pressure, boredom, rebellion, curiosity, and so on. Although people know drugs are bad for them, they may still choose to take the risk, while others may not be aware of all the risks. Then, once they're hooked, it can be very difficult to stop. There is also a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here:

-Katia Howlett

How are drugs made?

-wms, Illinois

Hello WMS,

This is a complicated question because different drugs are made in different ways. Marijuana and tobacco are plants; cocaine is extracted from plants; other drugs, like meth and LSD, are made in illegal labs, so they can be contaminated with toxic (poisonous) chemicals. But whether a drug comes from plants or is made by humans doesn't matter when it comes to its safety. Illegal drugs and many others (like prescription drugs) can be addictive and harmful; they can have effects on a person's brain or cardiovascular system, and they can increase a person's risk of some kinds of cancer. Here's more information:


-Roger Little

How are e-cigs different than cigarettes?

-gabrielam, District of Columbia

Hi, Gabrielam - Vaping and smoking are different, yet similar. Smoking involves burning tobacco and inhaling the smoke into the lungs. Vaping involves heating a liquid derived from tobacco products, and then inhaling the vapor into your lungs. Smoking can cause health effects that can be deadly. Vaping also contains some risk, including exposure to nicotine (the addictive chemical in tobaccco) and other chemicals that are vaporized during the heating process. To learn more about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigs, see

-Ruben Baler

How are most drugs made, and where do the ingredients come from?

-SE, Montana

Hi Elbert
some drugs are natural, found or extracted from plants, mushrooms, and even frogs. Others are made in laboratories (synthetic drugs)

-Kristen Huntley

How are most teens exposed to drugs and alcohol?

-SE, Montana

Hi S.Elbert, I guess it depends on the drugs, but in general teens can be exposed to lots of things through their peers, or family members. People sometimes do things that they know are bad because it may tempting to do them, especially when in groups: eating junk food, smoking...and using drugs. They may find it easier to concentrate on the short-term pleasurable effects than on the long-term negative consequences. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here:

-Susan Weiss

How are people with drug addiction treated?

-Limely lu, Illinois

Limely Lu, good question! Drug treatment can take different forms depending on the drug and needs of the individual. In some cases, medications can be used to treat addiction. Cognitive-behavioral treatment can be useful by helping people better understand the reasons they use drugs and address them, such as learn how to deal with stress and cravings for drugs, and develop different friends and activities to replace drug use. More information about drug treatment can be found at:

-Redonna Chandler

How are the chemicals in Juuls actually harmful?

-lyonslions, Illinois

Hello lyonslions. Juul has the same addictive nicotine that is found in cigarettes, and teens are especially sensitive to nicotine. There are other chemicals in Juul and e-cigs in general, such as propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavor chemicals. Some are known to be toxic and may directly harm the cells in the lungs. The safety of many others are just not known. Unless someone is using e-cigs to help them stop smoking, it would be best to avoid using e-cigs altogether, especially for teenagers whose brains are still developing. For more info:

-Kevin Walton

how bad are magic mushrooms

-will, Maryland

Great question. Magic mushrooms pose risks for a number of reasons. First, the active compounds in magic mushrooms (e.g., psilocybin) induce intense changes in perception and sensation that differ for each user and are unpredictable. Second, it is impossible to know the amount of active compounds in the mushrooms, so it is easy to overdose. Finally, because of the risk of overdose, there is the possibility of frightening and dangerous experiences. In short, magic mushrooms should be avoided at all costs.

-Michael Baumann

How bad can drinking affect your body?

-BGCN-Nowata, Oklahoma

Excellent question. Alcohol goes everywhere in the body that water goes and affects every organ system in one way or another. Alcohol affects how the brain works and increases the chances that a person will make bad decisions and get injured in various ways. Brain development isn't complete until the mid-20s and drinking during the teenage years can alter the way the brain develops. If a person drinks enough at one time they can die by shutting down parts of the brain that control breathing and other functions. With long-term heavy drinking, organs like the liver can be seriously damaged and the risk of cancer increases.
To learn more about alcohol and the body, check out "Alcohol and You: An Interactive Body" at

-Susan Weiss

how bad does the alcohol is in small amount?


We know that alcohol has harmful effects on many organs in our bodies. Any amount of drinking could potentially be harmful. In teenagers, we know that alcohol can have serious consequences on the brain that is still developing. That's why it is unsafe and illegal for minors (under 21) to drink. In pregnant females, any amount of alcohol can have harmful effects on the fetus.

-Vijay Ramchandani

About how long does a Cocaine high last?

-Dixon, South Carolina

Thanks for your question, Dixon! Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. How long the effects last and how intense they are depend on the method of use. Injecting or smoking cocaine produces a quicker and stronger but shorter-lasting high than snorting. The high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes. The high from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Even though that sounds like a short amount of time, cocaine use is very dangerous. Be smart and don't start. Get more info at:

-Mary Kautz

. How come teens and kids have so much access to vaping, drugs, and smoking?

-Jonny, Illinois

Good morning Jonny! Thanks for the great question. As you know, there are restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes to kids and teens, and most "drugs" are illegal. Yes, even with restrictions there is access, but most kids and teens are not vaping, smoking and using drugs. Access can occur thorugh a variety of methods -- such as sales to underage youth, or through the Internet. But, also, social media can make it seem like there is an increased pressure to use. It's important to know the facts about substances, both in terms of use, and in terms of the effects on health. Here are some resources for you.
Here is a great infographic on teens and drug use:
Here are the latest statistics on drug use for Americans age 12 and older:

-Belinda Sims

a long time ago a kid tried to get me to vape but I said no why do you think they try to get others to vape and get addicted

-Cassie, Illinois

Hi Cassie,

It's often very difficult to say "no," especially to friends, so we commend you for resisting to peer pressure!
People use drugs for lots of different reasons, such as peer pressure, boredom, rebellion, curiosity, and so on. People can know drugs are bad for them, but they may still choose to take the risk (and even ask others to join them), while others may not be aware of all the risk. Then, once they're hooked, it can be very difficult to stop. Check out one of NIDA's Drug and Health Blog posts about why teens take drugs here:

Hope this helps!

-Jinhee Lee