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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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

do tactile drugs exist

-Maite,

Hi Maite,
Several recreational drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, narcotics and (more famously) magic mushrooms have been reported to cause tactile hallucinations (the false perception of tactile sensory input that creates a hallucinatory sensation of physical contact with an imaginary object). These types of hallucinations can also be caused by neurologic disorders like Schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
Thanks for the great question. Respect your brain and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

DO teens smoke more in high school or in college

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi Angela! About 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 98% first tried smoking by age 26 so both high school and college as prime times where smoking starts. More Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.

-Steve Grant

do the people who play video games produce the same brainn waves as when someone is using cocaine.

-SB, Montana

hi s b
good question.
Brain waves could be useful but may not be all that informative in this context. Dopamine on the other hand tells a more interesting story: the dopamine releases people display in their brain reward centers during video gaming or online social interactions can be very similar to those that happen in the course of a drug experience. This is one of the reasons we think that some video games could be actually quite addictive.
Thanks for your interest.
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Do u get worse when combining different types of alcohol

-romina ,

Thank you for your question! All of the forms of alcoholic beverages that people drink contain a type of alcohol called ethanol. It's the only type of alcohol that is even remotely safe to drink.
In terms of the different types of beverages -- wine, beer, distilled spirits -- they all contain the same drug, ethanol. Whether a person drinks beer, wine, spirits or all of the above, they're taking the same drug. It's not the combination, it's the amount of alcohol that causes harm.

-Heather Kimmel

Do you believe marijuana should be Legal?

-#VapeNation, Illinois

Hi -- Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA hopes that good science will inform decisions about legalization. Whatever happens, we do not want more teens to use marijuana, because of the potential impact on the developing brain (whcih does not stop developing until you are in your mid-20s.) For more information on the negative effects of marijuana, see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Steve Gust

Do you believe Marijuana should be used for medical purposes?

-Chungus, Illinois

There has been a lot in the news lately about medical marijuana. While the marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition, there is early research suggesting that some of compounds in marijuana may potentially help treat things like epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. Smoked marijuana isn't an ideal medication due to its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Tisha Wiley

do you guys feel using scare tactics is the best way to prevent kids from using drugs ya yeet

-dash, Illinois

Hi Dash--I perfer being honest. For instance, we know that the earlier that kids try drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. we also don't know the long-term ways drugs can affect the growing brain and if you can recover from these changes. You get only 1 shot a growing a FABULOUS brain--why risk it? I should also mention that just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs, so we recommend creating a positive environment for yourself (by cultivating an awesome support network of family and friends) so that you don't go down that road. Here is a link to learn more about preventing drug abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents. Thanks for the great question!

-Ruben Baler

do people get energy drinks as a drug just like steroids is it ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

People may take energy drinks for different reasons but is quite possible that some people take them because they can be addictive. Many energy drinks have caffeine, which provides a short-term boost of energy, but can be addictive.

-Carlos Blanco

Do people like vaping more than smoking pot in the world.

-JH, New Hampshire

The most recent data show that there are similar rates of vaping and marijuana use in high school seniors.

-Emily Einstein

Do shrooms help cure depression?

-LTHS2019, Illinois

Shrooms (psychedelic mushrooms) do not cure depression. However, some of the chemicals in shrooms are under study for possible effects in mental health conditions. So stay tuned -- someday we may have new treatments based on this research, but for now, don't look to shrooms for help. See a doctor or talk to a trusted adult.

-Joshua Gordon

do some teens vape to be considered "cool"?

-g, Illinois

Hi g from LTHS! People vape and use drugs for lots of different reasons. One is wanting to be 'cool' for fitting in (peer pressure). Other reasons may include boredom, rebellion, curiosity, and the list goes onnnnnnnn...... Check out this link for more reasons: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-why-take-drugs FYI: People can know drugs are bad for them, but 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. Check out one of NIDA's Drug and Health Blog posts about peer pressure here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/i-wish-that-i-could-be-like-the-cool-kids. Thanks for the terrific question.

-Jinhee Lee

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