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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 did you learn about background of drugs and many causes from them

-whitney-FVSU4H, Georgia

I learned about drugs and their effects on the brain and body when I went to school to get my PhD in neuroscience.

-Emily Einstein

HOW did you learn about the background of drugs and many cause form them

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi Angela
I am glad you asked that.
we have different ways for investigating the effects of drugs. Some studies are done on single cells (this are called basic research). Other studies (preclinical) use animals; these allow us to test the effects of drugs on behavior and physiology in highly controlled environments and ask questions that would be impossible to ask in humans. Other studies (so called clinical) studies can be done directly in humans. These are more constrained because of safety and ethical considerations and because there are so many variables that we cannot control, but these are closer to reality and extremely useful, particularly for the development of effective addiction treatments.
hope this helps.

-Ruben Baler

How do "addiction" and "dependence" relate to each other?

-Brendan, Illinois

Hi Brendan! Addiction happens when a person feels compelled to take a drug, despite bad things happening physically, emotionally, or socially to them when they use it. Dependence refers to when a person experiences withdrawal when they stop taking a drug. It is possible to be dependent on a drug, but not be addicted. (If one is addicted, they are most likely dependent as well.) For example, a person may be treated with the opiate morphine long-term if they have terminal cancer. They may become dependent on it even when taking it as prescribed. However, when it's time to stop, they would feel withdrawal symptoms, but not feel compelled to take the drug. They are dependent, not addicted. Finally, people treated with morphine in the hospital for pain after surgery may feel some euphoria, but pain relief and sedating effects prevail - no compulsive use and prescribed use is short-lived.

-Michelle Jobes

How do criminals obtain such dangerous substances without being caught by our Nation's Justice system?

-Jac, Maryland

Great question! Our country's law enforcement professionals all work very hard to try to catch people who produce and distribute drugs in this country. But their job is really hard! Some very dangerous drugs like fentanyl are very potent and thus come in very small packages that can be hard to find. People who buy and sell drugs are very motivated to keep these activities concealed from law enforcement.

-Susan Weiss

How do dealers get access to large amounts of drugs like fentanyl and or other prescription drugs if they are only available by prescription or at the hospital?

-Kat, Maryland

Hello Kat,

Great question!
Most of the illegal fentanyl that is distributed by drug dealers are not pharmaceutical grade (i.e., they are not made by pharmaceutical companies). They make this fentanyl in their own labs and it can be mixed with heroin or cocaine, which markedly amplifies its potency and potential dangers. For more information, check out

-Aaron White

How do different drugs affect you when mixed with alcohol.

-alewine01, Oregon

Alcohol interacts with a wide range of drugs. It is particualrly dangerous to combine alcohol with other drugs that are sedating, or make people feel sleepy. Such drugs include the opioids and the benzodiazepines, like valium or xanax. Combining alcohol with these drugs can suppress the brainstem and cause death. Other drugs, like stimulants, can allow people to stay awake and drink more, reaching potentially deadly levels of consumption.

-Steve Gust

How do different drugs effect pregnant women?

-alewine01, Oregon

Hello alewine01,
This is a very complicated question. Drugs can powerfully affect the development of a fetus and they can also affect the woman that is taking them. They can either interfere with natural signaling that is telling the baby how to grow and develop or have toxic effects that harm the baby. Even some prescription drugs can have negative effects on a baby during development. There are more details in at this link:

-Ruben Baler

How do drugs affect a teens brain and body?

-Experiment 626, Illinois

Hi there! Rainy day here.
Really important question. Drugs affect your brain in a number of ways and that is the reason why people take and continue to use drugs. The way the a drug affects the brain depneds on the chemical struture of the drug. When people take drugs, usually the drug is getting into the brain and changing the way the brain is working. For an explanation of how different drugs affect the teen brain and body see the links below:

-Jacqueline Lloyd

How do drugs affect someone who plays sports?

-Dan, Maryland

Hello Dan,
Drugs cause alterations in the way the body and brain functions that are detrimental in almost every way. So, someone who wants to perform at their peak level would probably not want to use them. The use of performance enhancing steroids, while adding muscle, have psychological effects and alters body chemistry and brain function in ways that most likely impair cognition (thinking), planning, and other high-level brain functioning.

-Aaron White

How do drugs affect your brain?

-CM, Montana

Hi cristina - Different drugs act on the brain in different ways, but they all cause the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's reward area, which is what causes the pleasurable sensation (the high). After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. Brain cells (neurons) make less dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain—like turning down the volume on the reward signal. This can mean that the person starts to find natural rewards – like food, relationships, or sex – less pleasurable, one of the signs of addiction. Some drugs are toxic to the brain and cause some brain cells to die. Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits, which result in addiction. Learn more about how drugs affect your body:

-Shwe Gyaw

how do drugs affect your diet?

-fishsticks33, Illinois

Great question! Medications prescribed for treatment can affect how foods taste and will definitely affect how much food a person eats. Some stimulants can decrease appetite, while other drugs, like marijuana, can cause people to increase how much food they eat. It really depends on the drug and a particular person reacts to it. Not everyone reacts the same way to drugs.

-Michele Rankin



Hey daniberry- nope, I've never vaped.

-Emily Einstein

hay una droga que haga que te sientas atraido por a gente de tu mismo sexo

-soprise ,

Hola soprise,
Una pregunta muy interesante. No conozco una droga que tenga ese efecto especificamente. Sin embargo, se me ocurre que hay muchas drogas que tienen la capacidad de desinhibir tu conducta, y podrian, en forma indirecta y en algunas personas, inducirlas a estar mas dispuestas a experimentar sexualmente con una persona del mismo sexo.

Tiene sentido? Gracias por tu pregunta.

-Ruben Baler

helllo which drug is the most addictive?


Hello AMLO! Thank you for this important question. There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted, why they become addicted, and after how much drug exposure they become addicted. We do know that each person is different and each drug can affect each person differently. It's a little like playing “Russian Roulette” to pick which drug is most addictive. All drugs can result in addiction and any drug can be dangerous. There are many things that influence whether a person will become addicted. We know that the younger someone is when they start to use drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. If you use before your brain is fully developed (in your mid 20's) your risk for addiction is MUCH higher!

-Katia Howlett

Hello boys and girls, friends of all ages! I have a certain inquiry about the effects of prolonged exposure to e-cigarettes and vaping in general.

-Spicy Memelord, Montana

Hi Spicy Memelord.

We're still studying the long-term effects of exposure to the aerosol in vaping products.

What we know now in the short term is that no teen should be experimenting with vapes. We do know from our own research that a lot of teens think it's OK to vape because they think the product is harmless. It isn't. These products are likely to contain nicotine, which can be addictive. And a teen who experiments with a vape is more likely to try a regular cigarette.

-Mitch Zeller

hello can i die from energy drinks

-yobama, Oregon

Hello yobama,
The dose makes the poison (Paracelsus). So probably not, but people have died from caffeine overdose. If you have a heart condition you don't know about, this could make you more sensitive to the effects of high doses of caffeine. Using products that have high doses of caffeine, such as energy drinks, is probably not a good idea. For more information about how caffeine affects your brain and body, see:

-Steve Gust

Hello fellow gamers! Is there household items that can cause an accidental high?

-KW, Illinois

Hi Kevinowrth: The anwser would be yes. I am thinking about taking presciption drugs for reasons that were not medically pescribed. Also, inhalants around home come to mind, household cleaners that people "huff" to get high...these can be very dangerous. Here are some links where you can read more about this topics.

-Bethany Deeds

Hello fellow gamers, is it ok to take adderall for positive reasons, such as gaming (to get those victory royales) or school?

-BigKid459, Illinois

Hello BK459,
There is no conclusive evidence that Adderall enhances cognition, while it may improve focus this does not mean it improves other important aspects of brain function, such as long-term memory for example. Amphetamines can be addictive and have toxicity if taken at high enough doses or for long enough. No drug is without some side-effect or negative effects. All prescription drugs should be used as prescribed by the person they were prescribed for according to the instructions from the prescribing doctor.

-Steve Gust

hello i am from mexico how does drugs were discovered and whow

-el chapo,

Well hola el Chapo,
Different drugs were discovered different ways. For example, opium comes from the poppy plant. Its known to have been used for over 6 thousand years. Nobody know who first ate the goo from the poppy plant that contains opium, but they did and the rest is history...

-Dave Thomas

hello I was wondering this for a while cause when a random kid tried to get me to vape and when I denied him of course I would never vape I thought why do people that vape try to get other kids to vape with them.

-Cassie p, Illinois

Cassie p, that is a really good question! People are social beings. We tend to want to do things with others and may build bonds around things we do together. Sadly, many teens who begin to vape are getting hooked. It's an expensive habit and long term health effects are unknown.

-Aria Crump

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

Hello, I am from Mexico Do some of the medicines for mental health have drugs?


I wonder if you're asking two different questions. (1) Is there evidence that illicit drugs might help people with mental illness? The answer to this is not really. While some people are doing research to find out whether some illicit drugs might be useful for people with mental illnesses, there are no definitive studies demonstrating that they work -- and there are lots of great treatments that do work. (2) Are some meds used to treat mental illnesses also drugs of abuse? Here the answer is yes -- some people do abuse medications, and this can be dangerous.

-Joshua Gordon

Hello, i am from Mexico, where it is unfortunately common for girls to get raped or for people to be kidnapped by being drugged. How do you know if a drink is adultered?


Hello mj,
You bring up a very serious issue. There is no reliable way to know if someone has spiked your drink with alcohol. Sometimes, adding alcohol can change the taste or smell of the drink, but in many cases you can never be sure. One way to help prevent getting an altered drink is to not accept anything from someone you don't know or trust. Also remember, in the U.S., it is not legal for children and teenagers under 21 to drink alcohol, and in many countries, it is also illegal to serve alcohol to minors.
Hope this helps!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani