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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Hi! Good Morning! Im from Mexico and i have many questions about drugs and alcohol. My first question is what happens if get an overdose of alcohol and wich are the consecuences?


Good morning willyrex!
Alcohol overdose results from drinking too much and too quickly. When a person does that, it causes alcohol to accumulate in your body and increase the risk of damage to the brain, liver and other organs. Alcohol overdose is a serious problem. Check out this fact sheet on Alcohol Overdose for more information.

Hope this helps!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Hi! I have a doubt about how a drug can supply a necessity someone has in their lives?

-Ann :),

You pose an interesting question. Drugs can be a "necessity" under different circumstances. In some cases, a drug is a medication prescribed by a doctor to combat a specific disease (for example, insulin to treat diabetes). In other cases, a person takes an illegal drug to experiment or due to peer pressure, and this can lead to serious problems including a dependence on the drug. When some becomes dependent on a drug, they may feel that they cannot do without it even if they want to stop. Someone who develops this type of drug dependency should seek medical treatment.

-Michael Baumann

Hi! I hope you are having a great day I would like to awnser you if is true the thing that mixing alcohol substances at once cause more damage than only one (talking about the same quantity) :)


Thanks marifornitekill! It is a great day here! hope you are having one too!
Regardless of the type of alcohol beverage, they all contain the same drug (alcohol or ethyl alcohol). Mixing different types of alcohol increases the chance of getting more alcohol into the body which can lead to overdose and other problems.

-Vijay Ramchandani

Hi! What are the dangers of Cocaine

-drughater, Illinois

Hi drughater - Cocaine is seriously toxic! Some people take cocaine because it makes them feel energetic, but cocaine also increases a person's body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate and it can increase a person's risk of having a heart attack, breathing issues (respiratory failure), stroke, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In some, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. Check out information on our website about cocaine:

-Ruben Baler

hi, how do you help someone to stop smoking cigarettes


Hi Rana,
There are many resources available to help people quit smoking. It's great that you want to help someone quit smoking. Talking to someone about quitting can be difficult. Let him or her know there are immediate and long-term benefits to quitting, and what him/her quitting would mean to you. Offer your support and suggest he/she check out for quitting resources and tools.

-Suzanne Lim

hi, I am from Mexico which is the most dangerous drug?


Hello Yogis! Thanks for the question, it's a very popular one. Using drugs for the high is always a bad idea. The harm they can do varies based on how they act on the body, but they can all damage your brain, which is very sensitive to drugs, particularly if you are a teenager. So the best thing, and the easiest way to avoid these bad outcomes, is to stay away from drugs, any drugs, even legal ones -- and, if a doctor prescribes drugs for you, to follow the directions.
Respect your brain, it's the only one you'll ever have, and it will pay off big time in the long run.
best of luck!!!

-Ruben Baler

Hi, I'm from Mexico and I have a question. what happens if a schizophrenic person consumes marijuana?


Hi Sofig! Thanks for your question. Overall, people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer from a disabling and chronic brain disorder. Common symptoms include agitation, hearing things or voices that others do not hear, and worrying that something or someone is controlling their thinking. Consuming marijuana may enhance these symptoms - as well as other symptoms and may contribute to initiating other physical and mental health problems. Here is a link that can provide additional information about the health effects of marijuana:

If your friend or family member is not in treatment, please encourage them to get help from a professional - it can really make a positive difference!

-Denny Pintello

hi, im zanty i wanted to know, how long the marihuana effect lasts?


Good question! When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, THC (the chemical in marijuana that makes you feel "high.") quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, goes throughout the body, including the brain. Its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours. Decision making, concentration, and memory can be affected for days after use. If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects of THC appear later—usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour—and may last for many hours. Learn more here.

-Michele Rankin

Hi, why are drugs bad?

-MR, Oklahoma

Hi MR,
"Drugs" include illegal drugs, like heroin or cocaine as well as drugs that a doctor might prescribe for you. Some drugs are medicine and can help you if used as prescribed. However, other drugs that people use, like cocaine and heroin, can produce serious health issues, like problems breathing, heart issues and sudden death. Plus, taking these sorts of drugs can result in addiction, where it is very difficult to stop taking the drugs, despite serious risks.
Hope this helps,

-Dave Thomas

Hi, why cigarettes contain lots of substances that are poison for people, why they still have the permition to sell it?


Hi, Ragazzanna - this is a great question! To protect the public and create a healthier future for all Americans, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), signed into law on June 22, 2009, gives FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products. Because of this law, tobacco companies must provide FDA with detailed information about the ingredients in their products. In addition, FDA can regulate nicotine and ingredient levels in tobacco products to reduce harm. However, FDA does not have the authority to ban these products altogether. For more information, see:

-Heather Kimmel

hi, Why do some people become addicted while others don't?

-ana lu,

Great question ana lu! There is much we do not know about who becomes addicted and why. Every person is different, so it is a little like playing Russian Roulette if you choose to use drugs. Scientific studies show that if you have a family history of addiction, you may be more likely to develop addiction yourself. Also, if you are raised in an environment (like your school or neighborhood) where lots of people use drugs, you may be more likely to choose to take drugs and set yourself up at risk for becoming addicted.

-John Satterlee

hi. how can you identify when someone is using drugs? What are the symptoms?


Hi chema! Thanks for your question. There are some signs that you can look for that would let you know someone is using drugs. Look at their behavior. Are there changes? Maybe they are moodier than usual - one minute acting really grumpy then all of a sudden super happy and bright. You may also notice changes in someone's routine - maybe not coming to school as much, skipping classes or regular activities? Drug use is bad for health and a teen's developing brain. If you think someone is using drugs, tell a trusted adult and try to get them help. We've got treatments that work!

-Amy Goldstein

how addictive is marijuana?

-dylan, Illinois

Hi Dylan - It depends. There are many things that influence whether a person will become addicted. Age is really important. The younger someone is when they start to use drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. Kids and adolescents are more prone to addiction since their brain has not yet fully matured. Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we don't really know how many times a person must use a drug before that happens. The only way to be sure that you will never become addicted to marijuana or any kind of drug is if you don't use it. I'm glad you're thinking about this, Dylan. Thanks for your question. For more info, check out this link:

-Kris Bough

How addictive is the use of marijuana?

-dylan, Illinois

Good question, Dylan,

Marijuana is addictive for about 9 percent of people who use it. This means that a person cannot stop using marijuana even though it interferes with many aspects of their life, like their health, schoolwork, and relationships with friends and family. Also, when someone has an addiction to marijuana and stops smoking it, they can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Here's some more information: And whether a person develops an addiction to marijuana or not, using marijuana can affect the growing brain in teens and young adults.


-Roger Little

How am I able to tell someone no without saying the word NO. My friends at school have been starting to peer pressure me to vape because they all do it and they think I would fit in and I would like it. I have never done drugs, vaped, drank alcohol, nothing. I tell them no and they keep pressuring me. What should I do and what are the main dangers of vaping and future risks?

-anonymous2, Illinois

anonymous2 -- We received a question very similar to yours this morning. Knowing ways to resist substances is key, and it is important to be prepared. Here are some resources that may be helpful, including information on vaping. Thanks for the question!

Resisting Peer Pressure for Teens: This interactive website has many different links talking about declining peer pressure, how to say no without seeming to judge friends, and your right to resist. Check it out! You will find this very useful.

Too Smart To Start Campaign is also really helpful:

The facts on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults:

-Belinda Sims

How and when were some drugs discovered to be bad? I know that there was definitely some knowledge of it in the 19th century, but how bad they were was still fairly unknown. Can you give me more information?

-Sasha, Oregon

Hi Sasha
Good question.
Each drug has it own history, each more fasdcinating than the other. I can't give you a comprehensive account here but if you google the history of specific drugs you'll find a lot of info online. Particularly interesting are the histories of marijuana and hemp, hallucinogens and shamanic practices, and opium during the civil war.
best of luck

-Kristen Huntley

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


-ladarius-FVSU4H, Georgia

There are many ways people can get help stopping smoking. There are medications, group and individual talk therapy, telephone counseling, and even smartphone apps and text messaging treatments. Reach out to someone you trust. To learn more about tobacco and nicotine products (including quitting), visit:

-Joshua Gordon

How can police tell if drivers are under the influence of marijuana if it stays in your system for an entire month?

-airhead, Illinois

Thanks for the question. The roadside tests for driver impairment cannot detect acute marijuana impairment for more than a couple of hours. The THC in the marijuana (the chemical ingredient that causes the high) can stay in the body much longer, but the impairment lasts only a few hours for the most part.

-Ruben Baler

How can safe usage of LSD help or harm somebody that struggles with social anxiety?

-drugsarebad420, Maryland

That's a really good question. There is no evidence that LSD use (safe or otherwise) can help with social anxiety. However, research is being conducted to examine whether some related chemicals might be used safely to treat mental illnesses. For now, you should know that there are several safe and effective treatments for social anxiety -- including some types of antidepressants, and group and individual psychotherapy. See a doctor or talk to a responsible, trusted adult and you can get the help you need! To learn more about social anxiety, visit:

-Joshua Gordon

how can someone stop there addiction????

-Eagla, Maryland

Good morning, Eagla. Someone who is addicted can stop using drugs with the help of a trained healthcare professional. Most of the treatments that work for substance use disorders involve changing one's behavior through counseling and behavioral and family interventions and, in some cases, treatment may involve medications. Here are a couple of sources of information about treatment:

If you have questions about substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. You can also go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

See NIDA's Step-by-Step Guides to determine if you or a loved one has a problem with drugs:

-Belinda Sims

How can someone's behavior change after use of cocaine?

-chamness_a, Oregon

Hi chamness_a, thanks for your question. Cocaine is a stimulant and generally causes an increase in activity in the body and the brain -- faster speech, hyperactive behavior, racing thoughts, overly optimistic thinking, and physical symptoms like higher blood pressure and rapid heart rate. In overdose, it can cause severely irregular heart rhythms and even a brain stroke. Here's some more info from our website:

-Wilson Compton

How can teens get help if they need it to stop vaping nicotine?

-DBRAD, California

The best way you can quit vaping is to talk with a doctor about help for the problem. There are effective methods to help vapers quit, including counseling and medications. Having support and encouragement from family/friends also helps. For more information about treatment,

-Roger Little