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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Wat kind of affects does drugs have on your body

-Trackstar,

There are direct adverse health effects depending on the drug. Individuals who suffer from addiction often have one or more accompanying medical issues, including lung and cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and mental disorders. Imaging scans, chest x-rays, and blood tests show the damaging effects of drug abuse throughout the body. For example, tests show that tobacco smoke causes cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, blood, lungs, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix. In addition, some drugs of abuse, such as inhalants, are toxic to nerve cells and may damage or destroy them either in the brain or the peripheral nervous system. In addition, drugs will impair your judgment which can lead people to engage in all kinds of risky behaviors and these behaviors may impact your health. Please go to www.drugabuse.gov for more information.

-Jacques Normand

wat u think about coke

-anthony,

I prefer Mountain Dew!

-Moderator

What aer the signs of drugs?

-orcas,

There are many different signs of drug use depending on the type of drug taken. Stimulants cause behavior like talkativeness, sleeplessness, and general "hyper" activities. Depressant drugs like tranquilizers or sedatives make people sleepy, drowsy, and unable to think clearly. If someone is addicted to drugs, that individual will exhibit overwhelming or uncontrollable urges to seek and use the drug, regardless of the consequences such as poor performance in school, loss of friends, and loss of pleasure in things that used to bring pleasure.For more information about drug abuse, visit http://www.drugabuse.gov. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Steve Gust

What affects do drugs have on your brain?

-gator bit my ass of....ouch,

Drugs of abuse increase the release of neurotransmitter known as dopamine in the brain's reward centers. With continued use and release of dopamine, individuals can become addicted to this effect and start to take the drug "compulsively." With continued use, drugs of abuse can affect decision making and affect your ability to learn new things.

-David Shurtleff

what age do most people start drinking?

-loufuszplayer23,

most often in their early teens

-Nora Volkow

This is an odd question, but I was reading that some of you work at the NIDA that does research on drugs and brain effects by drugs. Does the NIDA pay people to sit around and do 'drugs' so you can observe them??

-user,

Thanks for a great question.We support a lot of different kinds of research and some of the studies do in fact involve the administration of various drugs to people in controlled laboratory situations.The people involved (subjects) always have prior experience with the drug being studied, doses are generally small, and subjects are well informed about the study and possible effects. No one who works at NIDA can be a subject of one of these studies.

-Steve Gust

Tell me everything I should know about nicatine...what are the long term effeccts?

-cookiesrus,

Wow!I can sit here all day answering your question! That's a very good one!There is a lot known about the long-term effects of nicotine. Since 1964, 28 Surgeon General reports on smoking and health have concluded that tobacco use is the single most avoidable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Most smokers use tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. Research has shown how nicotine acts on the brain to produce a number of effects. Nicotine activates reward pathways the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure. Cigarette smoking produces a rapid distribution of nicotine to the brain, with drug levels peaking within 10 seconds of inhalation. However, the acute effects of nicotine dissipate in a few minutes, as do the associated feelings of reward, which causes the smoker to continue smoking in order to maintain the drug's pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal. You can find more information at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/ and http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-addiction

-Ivan Montoya

Test 1

-dabaum512,

yes, we are here and are being overwhelmed with questions....

-Moderator

The only negative effect of shrooms that I have found (aside from overdose) thus far is a bad trip... could you give me more of an insentive not to use?

-The High-Heeled Avenger,

The key words in your question are "thus far" Using drug, any drugs, can lead to unpredictable effects. A bad trip is only the tip of an iceberg. By assuming that this is the only thing happening in your body, particularly after long term use, is really like playing russian roulette with your body.

-Barry Hoffer

What are the functions of your brain?

-Carry,

The brain does so much, that's a hard question to answer in just a few words. Your brain co-ordinates everything that happens inside of your body including thinking and feeling, breathing and digesting food. It also coordinates your external behavior, like...well, everything you do.You might want to take a course in Psychology or Neuroscience to learn more about how the brain works and what it does.To learn more about how drugs affect the brain, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Steve Grant

What are the long term effects of alcohol?

-pseudonym28657,

Thanks for asking. Long-term drinking of alcohol can lead to persistent memory problems and poor decision-making. Additionally, it can have bad effects on other systems within your body, like the liver. For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Nancy Pilotte

What are the long term effects of heroin?

-Pablo,

Heroin is very addictive. Death from overdose, early death (most heroin addicts die before age 50), and lung disease are a few of the major long term effects that are more likely to happen as use continues. Also, although heroin users often start with snorting heroin, they often end up with injecting heroin, which can lead to serious diseases and conditions such as hepatitis, bacterial infections, HIV/AIDS, etc. A drug using lifestyle damages person's relationships with friends and family and ultimately, drug users can end up with people and in places that they wouldn't want to be. The sooner the person enters drug abuse treatment, the better.For more on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the go to the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

-Petra Jacobs

what are the long term effects of pot

-kelly,

marihuana impairs your memory and learning and decreases your motivation the long term effects are an impairment in your educational and professional achievements

-Nora Volkow

what are the long term effects of smoking pot

-vboutsidehitter32,

There are many long-term effects of smoking marijuana. The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and,contrary to popular belief,it can be addictive. Marijuana smoke, like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and also distort perception. Marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It also may weaken the immune system and possibly increase a user's likelihood of developing cancer.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Kevin Conway

what are the long-term effects of marijuana?

-blake, Pennsylvania

There are many long-term effects of smoking marijuana. The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and,contrary to popular belief,it can be addictive. Marijuana smoke, like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and also distort perception. Marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It also may weaken the immune system and possibly increase a user's likelihood of developing cancer.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Kevin Conway

what are the effects of crack and cocaine on the human body?

-Pi0trek K4hn,

Good question. Crack and cocaine are stimulants, so they have particular effects on the body and brain. Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Users may also experience feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Evidence suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at even greater risk of causing harm to themselves than those who snort the substance. For example, cocaine smokers also suffer from acute respiratory problems including coughing, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains with lung trauma and bleeding. A user who injects cocaine is at risk of transmitting or acquiring diseases if needles or other injection equipment are shared. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug and compulsive cocaine use seems to develop more rapidly when the substance is smoked rather than snorted. A tolerance to the cocaine high may be developed and many addicts report that they fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first cocaine exposure. Smoking crack delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense, but do not last long. For example, the high from smoking cocaine may last from 5 to 10 minutes. The high from snorting can last for 15 to 20 minutes. For more information, please visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/Cocaine.html.

-Joe Frascella

What are the effects of crystal meth?

-Can-Can, Maryland

Crystal meth can increase attention, decrease fatigue, decrease appetite, increase breathing, increase heart rate, cause irregular heart beats, causes paranoia and hallucinations, memory loss, aggressive or violent behavior, mood disturbances, severe dental problems, and addiction.

-Gaya Dowling

What can the drug oxicontent do to the body?

-Mayor Manson,

oxycontin is an opiate drug used to treat pain but it acts on the same proteins that heroin does so it can produce addiction and can also like heroin lead to death from overdose

-Nora Volkow

What causes people to be affected differntly???? I know age is a factor, but what else??????

-SEAMANkurczewski,

You are right, age is a factor! There are other things, too. In general,an individual's response to a drug can vary by his or her biology(genetic makeup, for example), personal history (such as prior us of drugs or alcohol), and even family history of addiction. So,multiple reasons can influence the different effects people experience-- and as scientists we're learning more about this every day. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joni Rutter

what causes the adiction

-kw5332,

Part of what causes addiction is that drugs increase the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine tells the brain that something important has happened and that the brain needs to pay attention and learn more about what just happened. So the more you use drugs, the more the brain focuses on them,until they become the thing you care most about. And that is addiction. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Steve Grant

what chemicals are in shrooms? how is it harmful and what are the long term effects?

-cait,

Great question! The potent hallucinogenic chemical in "shrooms" is psilocybin. It's a hallucinogenic substance obtained from certain types of mushrooms that are native to tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Mexico, and the United States. You might find it interesting to know that the use of psilocybin is associated with negative physical and psychological consequences. The physical effects, which appear within 20 minutes of ingestion and last approximately 6 hours, include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness, and lack of coordination. The psychological side effects of psilocybin use include hallucinations and an inability to tell fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and psychosis also may occur, particularly if a user ingests a large dose. Another risk associated with ingestion of psilocybin, individuals who abuse psilocybin mushrooms also risk poisoning if one of the many varieties of poisonous mushrooms is incorrectly identified as a psilocybin mushroom. While there is no evidence that users may become physically dependent on psilocybin, tolerance for the drug does develop when it is taken continuously over a short period of time. 

-Joe Frascella

What chemicals does tobbaco chewing gum have?

-dj jay,

It sounds like you are talking about nicotine gum that is used to help people quit smoking. Because it has nicotine, which is the main chemical in cigarette smoke that is addicting, it makes it easier for people to quit smoking.For more information on tobacco, visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine.html.

-Gaya Dowling

What do drugs do to you

-thompsonmi,

All drugs of abuse target the brain's reward system by flooding it with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Dopamine is released when you do something pleasurable such as eat ice cream for example, but drugs cause a much more powerful release. This"overstimulation" of this dopamine system produces the euphoric effects sought by people who abuse drugs and can create an overwhelming urge to repeat the behavior.Our brains are wired to ensure that we will repeat life-sustaining activities by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way. Unfortunately, this can lead to drug addiction, which can affect your life in negative ways including loss of friend and family relationships, loss of job, poor performance in school.To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-David Shurtleff

what do drugs do to your brain

-ruthie,

The simple answer is that drugs of abuse have their main effects on the brain. Drugs are chemicals that can tap into the brain's communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. This interaction between drugs and the brain is what sets up the potential for abuse and addiction. And although different drugs can have different effects on the brain, most can disrupt motivation, sensitivity to natural rewards or pleasures, and control over behavior. If you would like to learn more on the topic of addiction, please check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-Barry Hoffer

what birth effects do drugs have on babies

-articfrost1564,

it depends on the drug and the time at which the fetus is exposed to them. Alcohol can produce organ malformations and mental retardation, nicotine and MJ can interfere with normal brain development, cocaine and methamphetamine can affect blood delivery to the fetus and interfere with overall growth.

-Nora Volkow

What body parts besides the brain are affected by drugs?

-Dealer_of_teh_drugs,

well it depends on the drug that's being abused. some body parts that may be impacted include the heart, skin, teeth, lungs,and reproductive organs. for more information on the consequences associated with specific drugs please go to www.drugabuse.gov.

-Nora Volkow

What Are The most Addicting Drugs

-McLovin,

All drugs can be addictive, and it is impossible to give you a straight answer because it very much depends on the specific vulnerabilities of each user, how the drug is taken and how much. Having said that, most addicted people are addicted to nicotine. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Barry Hoffer

What are the most common drugs used?

-babymishell,

The most common drugs used in the US are alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana.

-Nicolette Borek

what are the most commonly abused antidepressents ?

-skaggsk,

Antidepressants do not cause the same kinds of effects in the brain as drugs like marijuana and cocaine. For that reason, they are not typically abused.

-Kevin Conway

what are the nick names of marijuana

-juan,

Pot, ganja, weed, grass, and many others. For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Eve Reider