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 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:
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-add...

-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: https://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-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

How do drugs effect you badly?

-BGCN-Nowata, Oklahoma

Different drugs have different effects on the brain and body. All addictive drugs 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 at: https://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm.

-Heather Kimmel

how do drugs effect your physical health.

-mtiemann20, Oregon

Drugs can affect your health in many ways, they have different toxic effects, but they can also affect your mental health, motivation, level of achievement, and ability to tolerate stress. With addiction, people continue to take the drug despite bad outcomes which makes addiction even more dangerous. For detailed information about how different drugs affect health look here:https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Roger Little

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 https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Aria Crump

Hello Which are the worst consequences of drug use?

-Xime,

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: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/mariju...

-Anto Bonci

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

-MU,

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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need

-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 www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ 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: www.dea.gov

thx!

-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?

-Xime,

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?

-mj,

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

Hello, Im from Mexico. What are the main consecuences in consumig a lot of drugs?

-lll,

Hello! Thanks for writing in from Mexico. There are many consequences related to drug use (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, other drugs), such as effects on your health and development -- including brain development. Consuming large quantities of drugs can increase risk for overdose, too. Also, using drugs and alcohol can increase your risk for developing a substance use disorder, and there can be consequences on school performance and other areas of your life, like relationships with family and friends. Here is some additional information you may find helpful below.
Publication: The Teen Brain: 6 Things to Know https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-6-things-to-know/index.shtml
Video: Development of the Young Brain: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeIvtx6HHLg&list=PL6E78F0F3DFD5F044&index=12
There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
Hope this is helpful!

-Belinda Sims

Hey guys. I'm 16 and I've been severely caffeine addicted for over 3 years. My question is: Why do I still need sleep? Frankly, I'm both shocked and disappointed that my brain and body haven't adapted to run solely on coffee

-JustAPotato, Illinois

Hi Justapotato
Interesting question
You shouldn't be so disappointed. Sleeping is not extra, it's a basic unavoidable function, like eating or breathing. You need it to cleanse the brain from the daily debris. It is not an optional. Also, you are not addicted to caffeine (no one is), you are just caffeine dependent, try to cut down a little if you can.
best of luck

-Roger Sorensen

Hey rueben! If all my friends are into smoking, should I do it too?

-chamness_a, Oregon

HI Chamness
I think you can actually do an interesting experiment here, in your situation:
1) Think hard what it is that YOU want to do (re: smoking).
2) If smoking is what you WANT to do, then there is no problem (except for your brain and your lungs)
3) If you are not interested in smoking then just don't.
4) Keep an eye on how your friends react to YOUR decision.
5) If they keep doing their thing and don't care about your smoking or not, that's cool.
6) But if they exert any pressure for you to become a smoker like them, maybe they are not friends worth keeping.
IMHO
best luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

Hey thanks for taking the time to answer. I once heard that the more you use a drug the less it "hits you after". Does it apply to all drugs, even medicine.

-Farkas,

Hey Farkas! That is both correct and incorrect. As people continue to use illicit drugs or misuse prescription drugs, they typically need higher doses to experience the experiences they originally sought from the drug. At the same time, the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal can get worse, so that quitting becomes harder. This is not true, though, of most medicines

Anto

-Anto Bonci

Hey there, I was wondering if eating cocaine has any major effects on your body, and why.

-tommy, Montana

Hi tommy - Ingesting (eating) cocaine will result in the same effects as if taken by other routes of administration (click on this link for more on effects- https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine). But, typically, when ingested this way, it takes longer for the drug to reach the brain as it must be absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach and digestive system. You will still receive the stimulant effects of the drug, but these might be longer lasting. However, it can be an irritant to your system.

-Roger Sorensen

Hey, is there a reason that weed is safer than cocaine and heroin even though they are both grown from plants?

-Evan4477, Illinois

Many things are derived from plants - some useful, some toxic. I wouldn't say that weed is safe, as chronic use can lead to a number of undesired consequences, especially with respect to school performance. But certainly, cocaine and heroin are much more dangerous because in addition to their effects on the brain and higher addiction potential, these drugs damage other organs in the body like the heart and liver, and overdoses can be fatal.

-Steve Grant

Hey, whats worse, cigarettes or vape with a really low percentage of nicotine?

-blue,

Hi blue,
Studies are being done to determine the potential effects of e-cigarettes. Research has found that youth who use a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes, are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products, such as cigarettes. Right now, we don't know how many harmful or potentially harmful chemicals are in e-cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes were not regulated until recently, labels that say they are nicotine-free may not be accurate. Bottom line is: there are no safe tobacco products. You can learn more information about how to stay tobacco-free by checking out https://teen.smokefree.gov/.

-Ruben Baler

hi dr dave s pot a good pain killer

-kermit the frog, Illinois

Hi, Kermit the frog. Some researchers have reported that cannabis has analgesic (pain killing) effects, but cannabis is not always effective long term to treat pain, nor is it a FDA-approved option. Please consult your doctor for safe and effective pain treatments.

-Dave Thomas

Hi i waned to know what makes alcohol and drugs so adictive for people, why isn't it easy to stop drinking when you are adicted to it

-Doina,

Hi Doina,
Thanks for a great question!
Alcohol is like most other addictive drugs.It causes 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 in the brain—like turning down the volume on the reward signal. This can mean that the person starts to consume more alcohol leading to addiction. Ultimately, alcohol use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits, which result in addiction. Learn more at: https://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm. And on this link to find out how drugs affect your body: https://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/.

For more info on the science of addiction google Drugs, Brains and Behavior-The Science ofAddiction. />- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

hi my doubt is that if you consme drugs does it affect your reproducting system?

-elrabidd,

Hi El,
Yes, some drugs do impact the reproductive system. For example, steriods can have a profound effect. For more on steriods, check this out:
for more on this, https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Dave Thomas

Hi what are the most common medicinal drugs ?

-Mateo ,

Not sure Mateo.
I know more about the misuse of drugs and alcohol. The most common substance used by teens is alcohol. Roughly 30 percent of high school seniors reported using alcohol in the past month. The most common illicit drug used by teens is marijuana. Both alcohol and marijuana can have negative effects on teenage brains that are still developing, especially when they are used heavily or often, so that's a big concern. Here are the latest rates of teen drug use from our Monitoring the Future Survey (of 8th, 10th and 12th graders): https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future

-Dave Thomas

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?

-willyrex,

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) :)

-marifornitekill,

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