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 all vaping devices cause popcorn lung?

-Jimmy, Illinois

Hi Jimmy - this is a great question. "Popcorn lung" is another name for a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which makes you cough and feel short of breath. Workers at a popcorn factory were found to have this disease more than other people, and it turned out that the cause was a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical is also present in many vaping liquids, which is a cause for concern. The contents in vaping devices are not regulated, so it's impossible for a user to know what he or she is vaping. Check out these resources on e-cigs -

-Heather Kimmel

Do any studies actually prove that medicinal marijuana works, if so by who?

-Ben the dog, Oregon

This is a great question, Ben the dog, but we don't have a good answer yet. So far, we do not have enough large-scale clinical studies that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its risks in patients it's meant to treat. You can find some examples of studies on medical use of marijuana here and here.

The purified version of CBD (extracted from the plant) has been approved by the FDA to treat seizures and to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy . Use of the whole plant will not necessarily provide the same benefits because the plant has so many more chemicals in it that can cause other problems. More research is needed on this topic!

-Vani Pariyadath

do certain drugs effect animals too?

-BS, Montana

Yes, drugs have similar, if not identical, effects in animals as they do in humans. Of course, animals can't describe the subjective effects of drugs, but the effects on their brain and behavior is usually the same and is a good indication of their effects in humans. Animals will self-administer nearly every drug of abuse that humans do. So, animal studies are commonly used to test whether a new drug is likely to have abuse liability in humans.

-Steve Gust

do different drug require different specialized treatment plans for rehab

-spence_5644, South Carolina

Great question! Actually, each PERSON in treatment requires a specialized treatment plan tailored specifically to that person. This includes addressing the drug(s) being used as well as multiple other factors including family dynamics etc. This is why treatment plans are SO important.

Thanks for asking!

-Jack Stein

Do drugs affect lifespan

-nicole, Maryland

Hi Nicole! Thanks for your question. There are a few ways to look at drugs affecting lifespan. Some drugs can cause overdose and death (heroin, opioids like fentanyl) ,some drugs when abused can cause health issues (cocaine can cause cardiac problems), and certainly if people are under the influence they may make bad decisions (like driving while drunk or drugged) which could result in a life-threatening situation. In general, it really would depend on the drug, how often it is used (frequency and also length of use), etc.

-Michelle Leff

Do drugs and alcohol actually affect intelligence?

-WP, Texas

For example, some studies show that marijuana users tend to have lower IQs compared to non-users, but others don't. However, more research is needed to show this for sure and for other drugs. But I think it is clear that drugs do not make a person smarter and likely negatively impacts intelligence, and it does affect grades in a negative way... Something to think about.

-Dave Thomas

Do drugs can improve your athletic ability?


Hello, Pelooon! Great question. There is a lot of misinformation about the effects of drugs on athletic ability. Your own body produces all the resources it needs to be a great athlete. The kinds of drug sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids or stimulants. Adults and teens who use these drugs increase the risk for high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, irregular heart rate, heart attack, stroke, dangerously high body temperatures, and intense anger or paranoia. Far from a winning combination! For more information check out this resource.

-Katia Howlett

Do drugs have a taste?

-Mr. Man, Illinois

Sure. They do not taste good, but they do have a flavor. Typically, drugs are acidic or bitter. Marijuana is being sold in some states as "edibles" where it is included in such things as cookies that cover up the marijuana flavor. The issue here is that these cookies are sometimes eaten by mistake (a child just thinks its a cookie). Not a good thing.

-Dave Thomas

Does Alcohol contain THC?

-abauers, Michigan

Nope. not unless someone adds it to the drink. Alcohol is a very small molecule and a universal solvent. .See NIAAA's Rethinking Drinking web site for a ton of great info about alcohol and its effects.

-George Koob

Does alcohol helps you to get warmer?


That is a good question! Alcohol creates the feeling of warmth because it causes the blood vessels under the skin to dilate or expand. However, this is a temporary effect - alcohol does not increase the body temperature. In fact, alcohol can decrease the body's temperature casuing hypothermia which can be dangerous!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Does alcohol make you live longer

-Trumps123, Maryland

We used to think that small amounts of alcohol could prolong someone's life, mostly by reducing the chances that they have heart attacks, but now we're not sure! The safest choice is not to drink.

-George Koob

Does alcohol or drugs affect women's menstruation?


Yes, repeated alcohol and/or drug use can disrupt the menstrual cycle.

-Bethany Deeds

does alcohol stunt your growth?

-Ben, Maryland

Definitely! If a woman drinks alcohol while she is pregnant, it can do lots of damage to the developing fetus. During the teenage years, drinking alcohol can stunt a person's emotional growth and the growth of the brain.

-George Koob

Does all vape or dab pens contain nicotine?

-Imanidp, North Carolina

Hi Imandip -
Most vapes contain nicotine. Because e-cigarettes were not regulated until recently, labels that say they are nicotine-free may not be accurate. And just because an e-cigarette might not have nicotine doesn't mean it is safe. If you want to check out more facts like these visit The Real Cost: Vaping.

-Shwe Gyaw

Does any drug amplify or make you have stronger emotions?


Many drugs can affect your mood or behaviors in that direction, like amplifying your emotions. The ones that are more associated with this effect are MJ, Ecstasy, and other psychedelic drugs.
thanks for a great question.
Be smart and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

does anyone think there will ever be a time when we rid of drugs completely?

-carsonsc , South Carolina

Great question, carsonsc! Some drugs, like fentanyl and other opioids, are used medically, so it is not likely that they will ever disappear from the earth totally. Some people, like people in the last days of their lives with serious illnesses like cancer, need the pain relief that strong opioids bring. But, we can do a lot to reduce misuse of these drugs by educating people about the dangers of drug addiction. Set a good example for your friends by prioritizing your health and staying drug-free! The teen brain is not totally developed, and since your brain is still growing, drugs can be especially harmful.

-Emily Jones

Does beginning to drink alcohol at a younger age lead to an alcohol addiction in the future?

-sco507873, Illinois

Hi sco507873,
Yes, research has shown consistently that starting to drink at an earlier age - before age 21 - increases the risk of developing alcohol problems in the future. The harmful effects of alcohol on our developing brains are well known, and some of the changes caused by alcohol on our brain structure and funtion can lead alcohol use disorder down the road. Check these resources for more info--

Thanks for a great question!
- Vijay.

-Vijay Ramchandani

Does caffeine count as a additive drug?

-Charlie Hartman, California

Sort of, but probably low risk relative to other drugs, except at high doses when people can experience heart or blood pressure problems. Someone who uses caffeine regularly may experience headaches when they stop (but those disappear within a few days). We also don't know enough about how (or whether) caffeine exposure in teens affects their brain development.

-Susan Weiss

does catnip like weed for cats?

-DM, New Hampshire

it is for my 3 cats! (except they eat it and roll around in it instead of smoking)

-Susan Weiss

Does cigarette smoke give you cancer?

-Jimmy John Jr, Illinois

Hi Jimmy John Jr,
Cigarette smoke contains a toxic mix of 7,000+ chemicals, including more than 70 that can cause cancer. In fact every cigarette smoked increases the risk for cancer.
Find out more facts about cancer and smoking by visiting:

-Suzanne Lim

Does Coca Cola have trace amounts of cocaine in it?

-Superdood, Illinois

Hi superdood.
It used to in the olden days but not any longer

-Emily Einstein

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

do drugs make people commit suicide

-IDK WHO AM I, Illinois

Dear IDK---this is an excellent question. They probably do for many reasons. One--people who are addicted are often extremely depressed about their life and their inability to stay off drugs. Sometimes the drugs make their depression worse. They sometimes think their families are better off without them, They are wrong, of course...what families want is for the person to keep trying until they get better. There is help available. Here is a website where you can get help for thoughts of suicide and other serious problems such as drug abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and depression: .If you have questions about substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Carol Krause

do drugs shorten your life spam

-2400269, Illinois

Drugs can most certainly shorten your life span. Drugs can have a wide range of adverse effects from contributing to chronic diseases like cancer, liver disease, and HIV to acute problems like strokes and overdoses that can be fatal. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here:

-Marsha Lopez

do drugss cause cause permanent damage to your body even after you have quit

-whitney-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hey Whitney,
Unfortunately, in some cases, all of the damage to one's body may not be reversed. However, the body does have a remarkable ability to heal, and people do make remarkable recoveries from addiction.

-Dave Thomas

do more people do drugs cus of fameouse people

-AD, Illinois

That is a great question--I am not sure anyone has asked that before. You could be right. Lots of people in the music industry sing or rap about drugs, because it makes them look "edgy" and "cool" and I guess it helps sell their music. Surely that influences people. In a survey done about 10 years ago 1 in 3 popular songs mentioned drugs and/or alcohol, and 3 in 4 rap songs mentioned drug and alcohol. As you know, a lot of those singers and stars end up in rehab over and over again because their drug problems are very difficult to manage. As a teen, you are responsible for your own health---it is up to you to make decisions that will give you a long healthy life.

-Carol Krause