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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How can we prevent addictions?

-Spicy Memelord, Montana

That is such a great question! We really don't know for sure, but if people are happy and have healthy ways to cope with stress and have fun, they're much less likely to develop addictions. So it's important that we help teenagers find ways to be happy and healthy.

-George Koob

How can we put an end to this drug overdosing world. It is ridiculous.

-MO, New Hampshire

Hi MO! This is a question that keeps me awake at night. Chronic use of drugs can overtake your brain, causing a person to change their thinking and jugdment. Unfortunately, the changes in their brain caused by drugs make these people even more motivated to seek drugs. NIDA is supporting research to understand why people have a difficult time changing their behavior towards seeking drugs, and discovering interventions that will help addicted people stop using drugs.

-Roger Sorensen

how can we stop the vaping epidemic?

-E, Illinois

That's a really important question.

The best way to stop the vaping epidemic is to stop teens from ever starting and making sure they understand there are real health consequences from vaping.

Check out our website for our teen public education campaign that we call The Real Cost. It has great information aimed at the teens at greatest risk of taking up vaping.

-Mitch Zeller

How can you approach people who are struggling with drugs

-MS, Illinois

One of the best things you can do for a friend who is drinking or using drugs is let them know you are there for them. That you are concerned about their behavior. Encourage them to seek help from a trusted adult, like a teacher, mentor, coach, or parent. You can also help by being a positive influence. Encourage them to get involved in activities that don't involve drugs, for example joining a club, playing sports, or playing music. If your friend is becoming a negative influence in your life, you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. If you feel your friend is a danger to him or herself or to others, it is important to get a trusted adult right away – it could save his or her life. For help go to: NIDA also has great guides:

-Tisha Wiley

How can you determine when someone is high or drunk?

-BGCN-Nowata, Oklahoma

Hello BGCN - Nowata! We hope the information at the links below is helpful.
Signs of marijuana intoxication

Signs of alcohol intoxication

-Ruben Baler

how can you handle someone who lost there life to drugs.

-teletubbies123, Illinois

It can be really difficult to know what to do about a friend or loved one who is suffering from the consequences of drugs. If by "lost their life" you mean they have actually died, then supporting each other and getting help yourself is the first priority. If you mean that their life has been seriously affected -- they're having trouble in school, work, or home, for example -- try helping them find a doctor or trusted adult to talk to or suggest they reach out to a hotline. To learn more about getting help for drug use, visit:

-Joshua Gordon

How can you know how resistant you are to alcohol witout getting wasted ?


Hi Saitama,
Alcohol is like other drugs in that its effects are proportional to the amount consumed. There is a lot of variability between people in how their body and brain respond to alcohol. Remember in the U.S., it's not legal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol.

Drinking alcohol results in people feeling high or drunk, and can also cause impairment - slowing your reflexes, performance and judgement. Some people develop tolerance to the feeling of high after drinking, however alcohol can still cause impairment and sleepiness ("feeling wasted").
Drinking alcohol in large amounts can also cause alcohol overdose and lead to death. For more information click here: Alcohol Overdose
Hope this helps!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

How can you know if someone is addicted to a drug?


Hi Max,

Good question!
Addiction can happen at any age, but it usually starts when a person is young. If someone you know continues to use drugs despite harmful consequences, he or she may be addicted. If your friend starts behaving differently for no apparent reason—such as acting withdrawn, frequently tired or depressed, or hostile—it could be a sign he or she is developing a drug-related problem. Friends, parents, teachers and others may overlook such signs, believing them to be a normal part of puberty.

Through scientific advances, we know more than ever before about how drugs work in the brain. We also know that addiction can be successfully treated to help young people stop misusing drugs and lead productive lives. Intervening early when you first spot signs of drug use in your friend or family member is critical; don't wait!

-Jinhee Lee

How can you stop your friend from dying from an overdose?

-Jul, Maryland

If you are present when someone is actively overdosing from an opioid, naloxone can save their life. Naloxone (Narcan®) is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. It can be given as an injectable, an auto-injectable (a prefilled device), or a nasal spray.

If you witness an overdose, whatever it's cause, you should get the person to the ER ASAP. Most states have laws that will protect you from getting in trouble, so please don't let fear prevent you from getting someone immediate treatment that can save their life.

If you are afraid that you have a friend who is in danger of overdosing, I strongly encourage you to help them find help before it gets to that point. You should reach out to a trusted adult to help you connect your friend to treatment. Resources: 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7;

-Heather Kimmel

how can you tell if some one is useing drugs

-samari-fvsu4h, Georgia

Samari, this is a great question. Initially it can be difficult to tell if someone is using drugs. However, if they continue and develop a problem they may behave differently. If someone you know suddenly doesn't like doing things they used to like doing (like sports or hanging out with friends) and starts showing other changes in personality like paranoia, these changes could be caused by side effects from drug use. You can find out more about helping someone you feel could be abusing drugs by learning more about effects of drugs here: You can also learn more about how to help someone abusing drugs by learning more about treatment options here:

-Redonna Chandler

How can you tell if someone drinks or smokes

-IDK WHO AM I, Illinois

Hi IDK. Sometimes it's really obvious when someone has been drinking or smoking--they may smell or show obvious intoxication. But sometimes people hide their behavior and it's hard to detect. More subtle signs are being absent from events with family and friends, changes in emotions (like anger or surprising giddiness), changes in school performance, or changes in friends. Here's a link to information about drug use in teens:

-Wilson Compton

How can you tell if someone is doing drugs? What are the effects that we will see?

-Toribio, California

Hi Toribio. Sometimes it's really obvious when someone has been drinking or smoking--they may smell or show obvious intoxication. But sometimes people hide their behavior and it's hard to detect. More subtle signs are being absent from events with family and friends, changes in emotions (like anger or surprising giddiness), changes in school performance, or changes in friends. Here's a link to information about drug use in teens:

-Wilson Compton

how can you tell if someone is high

-#externalharddr, Illinois

It depends on what drug the person has taken. Stimulants like cocaine or meth might cause someone to be very twitchy and talkative, while opioids may cause a person to be unusually relaxed. Slurred speech, lack of coordination, and especially big or small pupils are other signs of recent drug use.

-Tisha Wiley

How can you tell if someone is overdosing?

-DW, Washington

Hi, dwatkins@masd20! Symptoms of drug overdose include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, dizziness, loss of balance, and seizures. If you see any of these symptoms and you believe that the person has been taking drugs, please seek help as soon as possible. Call 911 and let an adult know.

-Roger Sorensen

how can you tell someone has been using weed? are the signs you can see in order to avoid getting in a car with a high driver?

-eloise, Illinois

Good question! It's not always easy to tell if someone is using marijuana. Marijuana use speeds up a person's heart rate, enlarges the bronchial passages (the pipes that let air in and out of your lungs), and expands blood vessels in the eyes, making the eyes look red. While these and other effects seem harmless, they can take a toll on the body. Marijuana use can also impact a person's ability to make good decisions as well as impact their coordination and driving, so if you are concerned about someone's ability to drive safely, definitely pass on that ride!

-Michele Rankin

how can you tell someone has taken drugs in school

-LA, New Hampshire

Hi, Lily. You might not be able to always tell, but if someone has taken enough of a drug it can affect their behavior. Marijuana use can sometimes be discerned by red eyes, stimulant use (even caffeine) can be indicated by jittery behavior. Withdrawal from drugs can also generate changes in behavior and emotions.

-Ruben Baler

how can you tell someone is depressed

-what the nugget, Illinois

Hi Nugget,
There are a few common symptoms of depression that you can look out for. Some of these include not getting happy from things that usually make you happy, not being motivated to do anything, and feeling unusually sad for extended periods of time (over 2 weeks). However, it can be difficult to tell if someone feeling like this is depressed or is just responding to the normal stress in their life. If you aren't sure if you or someone you know might be depressed, it could be worth you or them talking to a school counselor or trusted adult who might be able to give more personalized advice. You can also check out our Teen Depression brochure, here:

-Eric Murphy

how can you treat an addiction that is not related to substance use?


Hi Ic
great questions
There are many so caled "behavioral" addictions, from obesity, to gambling, to sex addicts. In some instances we have identified significant overlaps in the brain circuits impacted by drug and behavioral addictions, so treatment modalities may also overlap in some cases. But these conditions have to be first diagnosed and then treated by a mental health doctor specialized in the specific condition we are talkig about. Talk to your primary care doctor if you know someone suffering from any of these conditions. or call SAMHSA 1 800 273 8255

Best of luck

-Ruben Baler

How come it's legal for weed to be in california now?

-Messi, Illinois

Hi Messi, good question. Some states do allow medical and recreational use of marijuana, but it is still illegal according to the federal goverment. It is important to remember that it is not safe for teens to use marijuana, since the brain is not fully developed until you are in your mid-20s. Check out more info here: Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet:

-Emily Jones

How come people see it's a great idea to snort cocaine?

-DJ, New Hampshire

Hi Darcie Jackson! Cocaine gives people a burst of energy and euphoria. Unfortunately, when that wears off they feel bad and want to use the drug again. It definitely is not a good idea to snort cocaine!

-Michelle Leff

how come people take these drugs if they know it can kill them? What is so addicting about these drugs even though they taste bad?

-Skye, Illinois

People do drugs for lots of different reasons. Some people do it to impress people. Some people do it to feel good in the moment, kind of like eating junk food, without thinking about the consequences. But the effect of using drugs - any drugs - on your brain and body can be severe, especially if you start using drugs when you are a kid or in your teens. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: Addiction is complex and often driven by changes in your brain. This video is a good resource for helping to understand: Why Do Some People Get Addicted? See the Swiss Cheese Model of Drug Addiction:

-Tisha Wiley

How come weed is legal in Canada but not in the u.s

-Smoke Weed, Illinois

Because the Prime minister who was elected in Canada ran on a platform that included marijuana legalization. The US is abiding by an International Treaty that keeps it illegal, but allows research to determine its potential medical benefits.

-Susan Weiss

hello my name is barnacle boy what are the long term effects on vaping thank you have a great day buddy

-Xxtacticalman, Washington

hi there barnacle boy -
You bring up a great question. Vaping is fairly new, so we don't really know the long term effects yet. However, at this point, it looks like vaping leads to nicotine addiction. Addiction means that people cannot stop using the drug, and this can be problematic. Some people who vape end up smoking too. A lot of people are studying the effects of vaping, so stay tuned! Thanks for asking a question today!

-Michelle Leff

hello when someone tried to get me to vape of course I said no to the kid but i thought why would he try to get me addicted the question I have for you is why do people try to get others to vape and do drugs

-CP, Illinois

Thanks for your question C. People are social beings. We tend to want to do things with others.The most improtant thing is trying to stay true to who you are and feel comforatble with your decisions. Keep making positive healthy choices and surrond yourself with friends that support you. To learn more about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigs, see

-Aria Crump

Hello Which are the worst consequences of drug use?


Hi there - unfortunately the worst consequence of drug use can be death. There really is no safe drug use unless you follow your doctor's directions.

-Michele Rankin

Hello! How likely is it to get addicted to marijuana and how often would you have to use marijuana to become addicted?

-mb, Illinois

Hello! Up to 9 percent of people that try marijuana get addicted to it. In addition, if you're less than 18 years old, your risk is higher, up to 17 percent. Here's more information so you can draw your own conclusions:

-Anto Bonci

Hello, how can i help a friend that consumes a drog?


Hi MU- Thanks for your question. It is important for you to help them in any way you can. You can help them get the facts and understand the harmful effects of smoking marijuana like long terms problems with learning and memory, anxiety and smoking related cough and breathing problems. But, maybe the most important way is to help them is just by giving them encouragment and being a good friend. Here's a link with some more information:

-Kris Bough

Hello, how can i help a friend that has been dealing with drugs???

-its me,

Hi its me. It's really tough when someone you care about is dealing with a drug problem. Your friend may or may not realize that their drug use is causing harm--and he or she may not realize until the problem grows worse. As a friend, you can set a good example and encourage your friend to spend time with people who don't support the use of drugs. Depending on the situation, this may not be enough and your friends best chance may be to connect with a professional. You're a good friend--keep up the good work! Here are some resources for getting help with a drug problem: call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Aria Crump

Hello, I am a teacher asking my students' questions: Why are some drugs legal and illegal? What are their classifications?

-Miss Vins Class, Illinois

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the lead agency responsible for classifying drugs which is based on various factors about their safety and use. Here's their website:


-Dave Thomas

Hello, I am considering taking stimulants to up my fortnite game. Are there any negative side effects to this?

-EpicGamer10001, Maryland

Hi EpicGamer10001 - There are negative side effects to using stimulants in this situation. One thing is that your sleep-wake cycle could be disrupted. The second is that you may become addicted to stimulants - they are highly addictive. And finally, when under the influence of many drugs (including stimulants) your ability to think and your coordination can be affected - so it may affect your fortnite game in a bad way!

-Michelle Leff