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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Are some prescription medicines harmful to your body?

-echan, Texas

Yes, most drugs have side effects that could cause a lot of problems to the body, or even kill if taken in large amounts. Even Tylenol could permanently damage the liver if overdosed. Also anti-cancer drugs can have severe side effects, such that the only reason people take them is that they will die from the cancer otherwise!The other risk in all this is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it.

-Jim Bjork

Are teens today having more problems with drug addictions than in the past?

-larlhamc, Ohio

I would say that the answer to this question is, 'Yes.' While people may state that we have better ways to collect information about use (about everything!) and better means of publicizing that information, it is also true that availability of different prescription drugs (used for non-medical purposes), and illicit substances has increased; and the types of 'drugs' abused has increased.

-Michelle Leff

Are there any countries that allow weed? And why?

-Que?, New York

Hello Skaneateles High School! Thanks for the thoughtful question....The legality of cannabis (aka, weed) has been the subject of debate for many decades and in different societies. Different societies decide to control drugs through varied ways (how is supplied/cultivated, how it can be possessed or not, how it can be sold, etc.). Some countries that have decided to decriminalize cannabis--an example is the Netherlands. However, in the majority of countries cannabis remains illegal. For more information on marijuanahere is a link to our teen web pages: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

-Bethany Deeds

Almost half of my family smokes,is it hereditary?

-Saparicio, Texas

yes

-Nora Volkow

Approximately how much

-DjChop, Pennsylvania

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. For a 140 lb female, that would be about 10 drinks in 2 hours, and much less alcohol for someone lighter. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.For more information on safe drinking limits for adults, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Aaron White

Approximately how much alcohol would it take for an individual of average BMI to fataly overdose?

-DjChop, Pennsylvania

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. For a 140 lb female, that would be about 10 drinks in 2 hours, and much less alcohol for someone lighter. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.For more information on safe drinking limits for adults, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Aaron White

are all drugs addictive

-theos sethj, Pennsylvania

Most drugs of abuse like cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, amphetamine can be addictive because they directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good! You can check out NIDA’s Web site to learn more at:http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-David Shurtleff

are all drugs additive

-natalie14, Ohio

Yes, they all are. The timing changes from person to person, but all of them are equally dangerous and can lead to addiction. Read our colorful Science of Addiction booklet to learn more: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/

-Anto Bonci

Are all drugs babd for you bro?

-ims306, Louisiana

Drugs that are prescribed to you by your doctor and taken as instructed are generally safe and helpful. The same drugs taken without a doctor's prescription, or differently from the way they were prescribed, can be dangerous. Illegal drugs are all dangerous--that's the main reason why they're illegal.

-Dave White

are all drugs sold on the streets clean

-etinoco, Illinois

It is always a big gamble to buy drugs on the street. You really cannot be sure what you are getting. Very often they are not what sellers say they are or are contaminated with other chemicals. Dosage is also an unkown: for example, there are many reports of people getting sick or dying from heroin doses that were stronger than they could tolerate.

-Dave Thomas

Are amphetamines addictive?

-cohen, Vermont

Hi Middlebury!Yep! Amphetamines, like most other drugs of abuse increases the brain chemical dopamine, leading to high levels of the chemical in the brain. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Amphetamine’s ability to release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria, or “rush,” that many users feel taking the drug. And with repeated use the brain can 'crave' the drug leading to compulsive drug use- addiction!-yikes! Learn more about amphetamines by clicking here: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php, http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html

-David Shurtleff

Are certain drugs used more in certain areas of the country? for example - midwest finds more teens using and abusing BLANK drug?

-dpicot, Michigan

Great question! Yes, some drugs are more commonly used in certain areas of the country. Methamphetamine, for example, is common in the west and midwest areas of the country, perhaps because methamphetamine labs are more common in the west and midwest (thereby increasing the production of meth in those areas). Prescription drugs are abused everwhere, but this problem is especially severe in Florida, where the supply of prescription drugs is high. Some drugs, however, are really common everwhere -- like marijuana.

-Kevin Conway

Are crack and

-awesomedude99, Maryland

Hello awesome dude. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. If you stay away from it you will remain an awesome dude. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov

-Carol Krause

Are crack and cocaine the same thing?

-awesomedude99, Maryland

Hello awesome dude. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. If you stay away from it you will remain an awesome dude. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov.

-Carol Krause

Are drugs fun?

-TheIronSquanto7, Michigan

Hey Rochester Adams HS, MI! Thanks for your question. People say they use drugs because they think it will be 'fun.' In fact, drugs have a very clever way of hijacking your brain mechanisms to make you think they are pleasurable: they cause the brain to release a substance called dopamine. But these feelings are short-lived. Dopamine--one of many known brain neurotransmitters--is intimately involved in important aspects of brain function, which makes it a key player in drug abuse and addiction. Dopamine is present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, thought, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. In fact, when you have a nice meal or listen to your favorite music, dopamine signals your brain that something important has happened that needs to be remembered--prompting you to repeat the behavior. Drugs can cause a much more powerful release of dopamine so that such natural pleasures can no longer compete, because they cannot produce the same 'high' that drug abusers remember and seek to repeat. Eventually, people become focused on obtaining and using drugs at every opportunity--although recreating the initial high becomes nearly impossible. Dopamine is also involved in other brain disorders that have nothing to do with drug abuse: the tremors and other symptoms that characterize Parkinson's disease, for example, are the direct result of the loss of neurons that make dopamine. Addiction is a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction. I'd say drugs are definitely NOT fun.

-Joni Rutter

are drugs illegal?

-catch22, Maryland

Hi catch22---Some are and some aren't. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana are generally illegal. Prescription drugs are legal if prescribed by a doctor, but it is illegal to abuse them---taking them without a proper prescription. Some states allow marijuana to be taken for symptom relief when recommended by a doctor, but the federal government has not approved it as a safe medication. Confused? It is important to know that when there are drugs, there are often legal consequences. Anywhere from 50-70% of people in our country' prisons and jails can benefit from some sort of drug treatment. They are often in prison for selling drugs, stealing things to get money to pay for drugs, or being violent and commiting crimes while high on drugs.

-Carol Krause

Are drugs like

-jimmmmmy, Indiana

They can produce addiction, although it may be a little different from some other drugs like
cocaine,
alcohol. But it can be hard to quit steroids, and stopping has been associated with depression and suicidal thinking

-Nora Volkow

Are drugs like steroids addictive?

-jimmmmmy, Indiana

They can produce addiction, although it may be a little different from some other drugs like cocaine, alcohol. But it can be hard to quit steroids, and stopping has been associated with depression and suicidal thinking.

-Nora Volkow

Can a beer a day cause

-Kelso C, Arkansas

Very unlikely. Your liver gets rid of one serving of alcohol, like a can of beer, in about 1.5 hours. Alcohol poisoning is caused when your body builds up a very high level of alcohol. Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much. You cannot get alcohol poisoning from drinking a little bit over a long time. However, it is important to know that drinking alcohol during the teen years, presumably even just a serving per day, seriously increases the chances of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life

-Aaron White

Can a beer a day cause alcohol poison over 10 years?

-Kelso C, Arkansas

Very unlikely. Your liver gets rid of one serving of alcohol, like a can of beer, in about 1.5 hours. Alcohol poisoning is caused when your body builds up a very high level of alcohol. Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much. You cannot get alcohol poisoning from drinking a little bit over a long time. However, it is important to know that drinking alcohol during the teen years, presumably even just a serving per day, seriously increases the chances of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life.

-Aaron White

can a food be a drug?

-princess torie, Maryland

Ahh, great question! Some people refer to food as being as addicting as say, cocaine. For some people, they exhibit behaviors that are similar to those of someone addicted to drugs. That is, uncontrolled seeking of food and consumption.Here are some of the characteristics of addiction, can you see why some people can consider a food a drug (substitute the word 'food' for 'drug' below)?Taking the drug more often or in larger amounts than intended. Unsuccessful attempts to quit; persistent desire, craving. Excessive time spent in drug seeking. Feeling intoxicated at inappropriate times, or feeling withdrawal symptoms from a drug at such times. Giving up other things for it. Continued use, despite knowledge of harm to oneself and others. Marked tolerance in which the amount needed to satisfy increases at first before leveling off. Characteristic withdrawal symptoms for particular drugs. Taking the drug to relieve or avoid withdrawal. Hope this helps.

-Joe Frascella

Can a New Born be Dependent on a Drug right away?

-leprechaun, Iowa

Yes. Unfortunately. Exposure during pregnancy to any number of drugs (e.g., alcohol, nicotine, opioids) can have a variety of profound and/or subtle physiological effects on a new-born baby. http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html

-Kris Bough

Can a person become addicted to a drug after only one use?

-Bourque, Louisiana

That is a good question. When you take an illegal drug, it affects your brain. Being addicted to a drug means that changes have taken place in the brain that prevent someone from being able to control their urge to seek and use the drug. Everyone's brain and natural brain chemistry are a little different, and while it is unlikely addiction would occur after a single use, the effects you feel could prompt you to want to use again, and from there it would be a very slippery slope. It's hard to say at what point you would become addicted, but we no for sure you can't get addicted if you never take the drug. Really...there are better ways to have a good time.

-Christine Colvis

can a small sip of

-peruman50, Maryland

It really depends. Research shows that having even a few sips of alcohol at a young age can increase the chances of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life. We still do not know why and it is likely that some people are at greater risk than others. So, it's possible

-Aaron White

can a small sip of alcohol make me addicted?

-peruman50, Maryland

It really depends. Research shows that having even a few sips of alcohol at a young age can increase the chances of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life. We still do not know why and it is likely that some people are at greater risk than others. So, it's possible.

-Aaron White

Can abused prescription drugs give you cancer?

-Hank H, New York

not that i am aware of. pretty much everything in high enough of a dose can give you cancer. But you would die of an overdose much sooner...

-Ruben Baler

Can acohol kill you if you drink two bottles?

-joseph, Ohio

If it is two bottles of wine or two bottles of liquor, then yes for sure. If it is two bottles of beer then probably not.

-Aaron White

Can alchohol effect your growth?

-Brian, Ohio

It's possible. Alcohol could affect growth in several ways. Alcohol alters hormone levels in the body, including levels of testosterone, which play an important role in muscle growth and in the physical changes that males go through during puberty. In females, the hormone changes can disrupt the menstrual cycle. Alcohol interferes with sleep (some people think it helps them sleep but it actually doesn't!). Because it interferes with sleep cycles, alcohol reduces the release of something called growth hormone, which plays a very big role in growth and development throughout the body.Alcohol also interferes with brain growth and development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the part of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

-Aaron White

Can Alcohal be more dangerous than some of the bigger drugs?

-Nate5, Ohio

Hmmm...more dangerous? It can be, since it's may be easy to get, it can harm the developing brain (which yours is), and like other drugs, alcohol affects the way you think, which means you might do some pretty stupid things when you are under the influence that you wouldn't do otherwise--like driving drunk or getting into a car with someone else who is drunk--about 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from injuries caused by underage drinking, nearly 40 percent (1,900) in car crashes

-Christine Colvis

can alcohol make you sleepy?

-monkey413, Maryland

Yes, for sure. Alcohol is considered a 'central nervous system depressant', meaning it slows down brain activity. As a result, it can make a person feel very sleepy.Interestingly, while alcohol makes people sleepy and might even make them fall asleep faster than normal, alcohol actually disrupts sleep. People who sleep after drinking alcohol do not sleep as long or as deeply as people who do not have alcohol before going to sleep. So, while alcohol does make people sleepy, it is not good for sleep.

-Aaron White