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

Do you think that the positive effects of marijuana outweigh the negative effects?

-LeF507749, Illinois

Good question, LeF507749! No, I don't. Even if someone finds that marijuana boosts their mood and relaxes them, those positive effects to my mind are outweighed in the short term by the drug's effect of dulling thinking and memory, and symptoms of irritabilty and low mood that can occur as the drug leaves their system; and in the long term by potential disruption of normal brain development and addiction. Marijuana can impair school performance and driving, and reduce life satisfaction and motivation. Nor does everyone who tries marijuana experience any positive effects. Some people experience anxiety instead of relaxation, and some have sought treatment in emergency rooms, reporting unease and shaking, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations, and in rare cases, extreme psychotic reactions. So I'd say, no, there is not a net benefit to using marijuana, especially for teens.

-Michele Rankin

Do you think the combination of alcoholic beverages an other drug substances is the reason our death rates increase each year?

-JE, South Carolina

Great question JE! Combining alcohol with drugs, even some prescription drugs used as directed, can cause drug interactions that are dangerous and may lead to deaths. If you go to our website or the CDC website you can look up rates of overdose deaths due to drugs or alcohol but I'm not sure that we have rates on cases involving both drugs AND alcohol. Keep an eye out for updates on our site for that information. Thanks for your question!

-Aria Crump

DO you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

yes--many clever chemists out there... we know alot about the chemical structure of addictive drugs, so people can play around with those and keep coming up with new drugs with unknown risks, as long as there's a demand for them.

-Susan Weiss

do you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years?

-nyla-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hey Nyla- This is an interesting question! Something we've noticed recently about the drug supply is that there are many more illegal synthetic (or human-made) drugs than ever before, and new versions with slight tweaks to the chemical structure are popping up all the time. So yes, the number of drugs does seem to be increasing.

-Emily Einstein

Do you think weed should by legalized across the U.S.?

-frog, Oregon

Hi frog -- Thanks for the question. Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA does not support legalization. For more information on the negative effects see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Dave Thomas

do you work with all types of drugs or does your group focus on a certain type?

-theboyz, Illinois

Dear theboyz, thanks for asking! At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we support research on the causes and consequences of drug use overall. This includes tobacco, anabolic steroids, inhalants, pills, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids (like painkillers and heroin), hallucinogens and many other substances. Another agency at the National Institutes of Health works with alcohol--the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For more infomation about these agencies, see: https://www.drugabuse.gov/ and https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Wilson Compton

do Zoloft and alcohol interact in the body?

-aidan, Illinois

Yes they can! Zoloft and alcohol are both drugs, and taking drugs together can increase the risk of negative consequences. Since both Zoloft (sertraline) and alcohol affect the brain, there is a risk of greater side effects like dizziness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, headache, nausea and diarrhea! Alcohol should be avoided in people that take Zoloft.

Learn more about harmful interactions between alcohol and medicines here: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm

-Vijay Ramchandani

Doctor Einstein any relation to Einstien himself

-MS, Illinois

:) my family did come to America from the same part of Germany, but we would be distant relatives at most

-Emily Einstein

Does a mothers cocaine addiction affect the unborn children?

-AB, New Hampshire

Hi, when a pregnant woman uses any substance, including cocaine, this can have harmful effects on the baby. All drug and alcohol use should be avoided when pregnant.

-Emily Jones

does weed have effects on the body such as health problems?

-TY, New Mexico

Marijuana can produce a number of health problems. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, produces adverse effects on the heart, brain and other organs. THC causes increased heart rate and palpitations (i.e., irregular heart beats), which could contribute to serious heart dysfunction. THC leads to impaired thinking and decision making, which could contribute to loss of behavioral control. Long term use of marijuana is associated with an increased risk for psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, a devastatng brain disease. In short, the risks posed by marijuana are substantial.

-Michael Baumann

does weed relax the body?

-TY, New Mexico

Great question. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, can produce different effects on the body, depending upon the dose and each individuals' response. In general, THC increases heart rate and can cause palpitations (i.e., irregular heartbeats). Marijuana can produce anxiety, panic attacks and hallucinations. So, contrary to popular belief, marijuana does not relax the body.

-Michael Baumann

Does wine really help your heart, or does it harm your body?

-4176, Illinois

The latest research suggests that small amounts of alcohol, whether from wine or beer or spirits, could make it less likely someone has a heart attack. But it can increase the chance of cancer, injuries, and other bad outcomes. So it looks like it's not worth it to drink alcohol for health.

-George Koob

Does your sexual performance decrease if you do hard drugs

-AMLOver,

Yup- long term use of heroin or cocaine is associated with diminished sexual desire and performance.

-Suzanne Lim

Doesn't LSD have positive affects?

-drugsalcohol, Illinois

Hi drugsalcohol,
Good question
There are quite a few reputable researchers that believe so, and there has been sort of a renaissance in the past decade or so in the area of hallucinogenic research in general and LSD and psilocybin in particular. It will take more time to have a clearer picture of the potential therapeutic and spiritual benefits of these drugs, but I think the scientific community is slowly moving in that direction. Stay tuned.

-Steve Grant

Don't psycadelics have some possible positive affects?

-drugsalcohol, Illinois

Thanks for the question. There are some clinical research studies going on that are studying the possible uses of some drugs like MDMA in some limited circumstances. It's important to keep in mind that studies like this are done with a lot of supervision and in very controlled and safe environments. Psychedelics are mostly used for recreational purposes at relatively high doses; doing this can have a lot of unpredictable effects.

-Roger Little

Dr Dave, what drugs are most addictive

-Chungus, Illinois

All drugs of abuse are addictive, and its hard to say which is the most addictive. It depends on a lot of things. For example, people have a real hard time quitting smoking. But a lot of smokers smoke all day long, and that is likely part of why they are hard to quit. For more info, check out the NIDA for teens website on the different kinds of drugs and their affects on the body: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-Steve Grant

Drinking while pregnant can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, and doing drugs while pregnant can lead to an addiction for the baby. What are the effects of smoking marijuana while pregnant? Also, are there any addictive properties in marijuana?

-I am Spartacus, Missouri

Hi, there is evidence that using marijuana while pregnant--whether smoked or injested another way--can be harmful for the fetus. Using marijuana while breastfeeding is also a bad idea. Yes, marijuana is addictive; among those who start at a young age, 17% become addicted. The best thing is to avoind using it!

-Emily Jones

Drugs are bad for my health and me growing? Right?

-chamneess_a, Oregon

Hi Cham,
When you are still growing, you are more vunerable bad effects of drugs. And if these drug effects impact your developemnt, those change could stay with you the rest of your life. We are doing a lot of research on this topic, but we are very concerned about the impact of drug on younger people, as they are still growing and developing.

-Dave Thomas

does doing drugs make my pp smaller

-duude, Illinois

Hi duude
In some cases, yes. For example, using anabolic steroids during your teenage years, before your growth spurt, can stunt your growth and leave you with a shorter height.
not good.

-Aaron White

Does drinking alcohol decrease your growth rate?

-jaxgreat8, Maryland

Prenatal alcohol exposure definitely decreases growth and causes many other harmful effects. One would hope that young people were never drinking enough alcohol to slow growth. Given that the legal age is 21, drinking after 21 can cause weight gain but there would likely not be any growth after 21.

-George Koob

does drinking alcohol effect you're brain?

-44332, Illinois

Question: can alchohol cause brain damage or survere brain damage? Answer: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

-George Koob

Does fentanyl have positive effects?

-Dev, Maryland

Hi Dev,
Sure, fentanyl is used a lot when a person has surgery for pain. It is powerful, and its effects are short lasting. But the fentanyl from the streets is resulting in more overdose deaths than any other drug. It's a REAL problem!!!

-Shwe Gyaw

Does Fortnite have the same addiction power as drugs do?

-Ms. Bartlett, New Hampshire

Great question, Ms. Barlett! We used to think that video games weren't really addictive because they don't directly alter the brain's chemistry and don't cause painful physical withdrawals when you stop, for example. But video games do act on some of the same systems in the brain as addictive drugs. For instance, they produce bursts of the reward neurotransmitter dopamine.

Some people think that using video games a lot might cause problems similar to drug use. Drug addiction causes people to be unable to get satisfaction from other things in life and to continue to use drugs even when it causes them harm. If you experience these kinds of effects related to playing Fortnite, you should talk to someone.

-Shwe Gyaw

Does smoking marijuana cause cancer?

-Wiley Wildcat, Illinois

Hey Wiley- It's actually still not known whether smoking marijuana leads to lung cancer. However, there does appear to be a link between marijuana use in adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer. 

-Emily Einstein

does smoking marijuana have any positive effect on you?

-her508310, Illinois

Hello Her508310,

Marijuana, like tobacco, is a plant that contains many hundreds of chemicals, including potentially pesticides (which kill insects). One of these chemicals, cannabidiol, may be effective for preventing seizures in some children, but researchers are still studying this. Most of the chemicals in marijuana are harmful both physically (they have negative effects on a person's brain) and because they can affect a person's judgment and their ability to drive safely, for example. For more information, check this out: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

Best,
Roger

-Roger Little

does taking drugs make you suicidal?

-YG, Illinois

Illicit drugs raise the risk of suicide. More than half of people who die by suicide have alcohol or drugs in their blood at the time of death! If you are already depressed or having suicidal thoughts, get help and don't use drugs or alcohol. If you have suicidal thoughts while taking a drug, stop taking the drug, and get help right away from a friend or trusted adult. People having suicidal thoughts can also get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, 24/7 (you'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area).

-Joshua Gordon

Does the alcohol is dopping?

-dadio,

Hi dadio,
I am not sure what you are asking about...
If you mean "is alcohol use dropping?" the answer is Yes. Recent surveys do show that alcohol drinking, particularly in teenagers and young adults is decreasing.
On the other hand, if you mean "is alcohol used in doping?", i suppose the answer could be yes. Alcohol can slow down our reflexes and performance and if used before sports or other activities, it can casue impairment.
Hope this helps!!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Does the current scientific literature reflect the assertion that habitual marijuana use is correlated with a reduced IQ?

-Pajamadunes, California

Wow--excellent question. Yes and no. The original study that showed this indicated that many years of chronic use (and cannabis dependence) was associated with a reduced IQ (and numerous other factors were ruled out as causal). Some more recent studies have failed to replicate the finding and suggest instead that some other environmental factor is associated with reduced IQ and cannabis is not critical for the decline. Its always difficult to know conclusively what the answer is because you can't do the definitive experiment which would require you to randomize people to heavy use or not, holding all other factors equal. But the recent non-replications covered much shorter time frames, so it still may be the case that long term (30 years) persistent cannnabis use, begun in adolescence, does cause a reduced IQ. We hope to answer that question more definitively with an ongoing study: ABCD

-Dave Thomas

Does the usage of marijuana cause cancer??

-Ye'07, Illinois

Still not sure--it has been associated with a fairy rare form of testicular cancer, and the jury is still out on lung and other airway cancers.

-Susan Weiss

does the way you take the drug effect how bad it is

-peyton, Maryland

Hello Peyton,

Drugs are dangerous because if you start taking them and develop an addiction, then you feel like you have to keep using them, even if they're damaging your health. For instance, some people who develop an addiction to opioid pain medicine would never have dreamed they'd ever inject heroin, but that's what happens for some people, and they can't help themselves. So taking a drug one way is no guarantee it won't escalate to something more dangerous like injection -- which can result in the spread of diseases like HIV, hepatitis, and other infections. For more information, see this: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/

Thanks,
Roger

-Roger Little