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 hookah pens without nicotine bad for you?

-big bird yellow, New York
Ahhhh, good question big yellow bird (are you the real Big Bird?)
You are talking about electronic cigarettes, and they are becoming quite popular.   They may not be dangerous at all if nicotine or other drugs are not put in them.  However, we are not positive at this point. They just started becoming popular and there is not much research on safety.  We are starting work on that, and will hopefully have your answer soon....
-Dave Thomas

Are hookah's bad for you?

-kittykat406, New York

Hi Kittykat, Thanks for asking this question. There is a common misconception that smoking hookah isn't bad for you, but it is really just another way of smoking tobacco and we all know that is bad for you. They might add some fancy flavors and tell you that the water is filtering out the bad stuff. Don't believe them -- you are still inhaling tobacco smoke and exposing yourself and your lungs to nasty stuff. There are no safe tobacco products -- don't believe the hype out there. Hookahs still deliver the addictive drug nicotine, and research suggests that smoking hookah is associated with all sorts of the same health problems associated with smoking cigarettes, such as cancers, respiratory illnesses, and addiction. In fact, early results of current research being conducted suggests that one session of hookah smoking is like smoking multiple cigarettes!

-Jeff Schulden

are hookah's really that bad? i don't know why i should refrain from doing this? prove me wrong

-mexicanpride5, New York

Good morning MexicanPride5. Awesome question! Hookahs, like cigarettes, are used as nicotine delivery devices. The tobacco is NO less toxic in a hookah pipe, and the water in the hookah DOES NOT filter out the toxic ingredients in the tobacco smoke. Hookah smokers may actually inhale more tobacco smoke than cigarette smokers do because of the large volume of smoke they inhale in one smoking session. Hookah smoke may also contain high levels of tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals. In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers. Like with cigarette smoking, hookah smoking is linked to lung and oral cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Even non-tobacco-based “herbal” shisha smoke contains carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease, and lung disease. Check out for more information. Resist the urge and choose to stay healthy!

-Kris Bough

Are hookahs as harmful as cigarettes, or are they more similar to hookah pens? (Let's say you buy tobacco-less shisha and the nicotine levels haven't affected you in the past).

-kittykat407, New York

Good morning kittykat407. Yes, if smoked through a 'traditional' hookah, it can be as harmful as smoking cigarettes. There is no evidence to suggest that hookahs deliver less toxic chemicals or nicotine than cigarettes. Hookah pens, however, are more like e-cigarettes in that they are more of a nicotine delivery device. These newer products come in many shapes and sizes, and not as much is known about the harm that they can produce - yet. This is the subject of active research!       

-Kris Bough

Are hugs better than drugs?

-spongebob, New York

Hugs and kisses, yo.  XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO  Have a good day, spongebob.  

-Joni Rutter

Are magic mushrooms safe

-pizza, New York
Hey pizza. "Magic mushrooms" generally mean the kind that contain the chemical psilocybin.  The effects of psilocybin are unpredictable, and some people get really paranoid and fearful when high on this drug.  I've seen patients admitted to the emergency room because of a bad reaction to "magic mushrooms," so they definitely are not safe.  
-Wilson Compton

are mostly teenager doing drugs or is adults doing drugs

-Mary, California
Hi, Mary. Thanks for participating in Chat Day!  According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are more than two times as many 18-25 year olds using drugs than 12-17 year olds (21% vs. 9.5%).  So I would definitely say adults, which is better than the other way around, because science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs the more likely s/he is to get addicted and suffer major social and medical problems. To learn more about the health effects of drugs, visit NIDA’s teen site here:

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty” -Marsha Lopez

are mushrooms harmefull

-yungcheifkeef, Maryland

Some mushrooms can be safely eaten - My favorite fungi are oyster mushrooms.  They are a good source of vitamin D.  But the psychedelic mushrooms are definitely harmful.  The active ingredient is psilocybin and it's a hallucinogen.  It can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness and lack of coordination.  You can check out what kind of effects hallucinogens have on the body on the NIDA website's Drug Facts page:  Remember, choose smart and healthy, not gross and impaired! 

-Joni Rutter

Are nose shots harmful?

-hashtagmadswag, New York

Yes!! Very much so. The mucus membranes of the body, such as in the nose, are very sensitive to strong irritants like alcohol. Avoid at all costs. 

-Aaron White

Are nose shots, eye shots, and butt-chugging, potentially more dangerous ways of consuming alcohol?

-joeyAbagahuh, New York

Yes, those routes are SO dangerous. Alcohol is a powerful irritant. Imagine pouring rubbing alcohol onto a cut. It would burn so bad! The mouth, esophagus and stomach are made to withstand, at least for awhile, irritants like alcohol. The delicate membranes of the body in the other areas you mentioned (e.g., eyeball, nose) are super sensitive and not well protected from irritants like alcohol. So, for one, putting alcohol in the body that way can cause pain and inflammation. In addition, alcohol can get into the body a lot faster through some non-stomach routes. That means alcohol can flood the bloodstream and hit the brain even harder than normal. It's simply a very, very, very bad idea to try to get alcohol into the body any other way that through the digestive system and only after you've reached the legal age of 21. 

-Aaron White

Are other drugs beside heroin shot in your arms?

-Rinee3236, Massachusetts
Hi Renee,
Yup, all sorts of drugs can be injected.  All drugs can be administered in different ways.  But no matter which way they are taken, all drugs affect the brain and the body.  Some routes, like smoking and injecting, get the drug to the brain quicker, which can increase the likelihood of addiction. Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain and body and see questions from other teens like yourself at:
-Dave Thomas

Are over-the-counter medicines okay to take during pregnancy?

-yoemen113, Texas

Hi yoemen - some are and some are not.  Be sure to carefully read the label on the medications for information on whether or not it is safe for pregnant women.

-Steve Gust

Are pain killers harmful in the long run?

-Aditya Arun, Maryland
Hey Aditya,
They're harmful if you keep taking them longer than prescribed--yes. But if you just take them for the length of time your doctor prescribed, you should be okay.
-Eric Wargo

Are people able to get addicted to cigaretes that dont contain nicatine.

-atkinsj.19, New York
Good question atkins!!!
You can, but it is less likely. Addiction is defined as "compulsive use despite harm."   If someone smokes these cigarettes a lot, they will produce harm. And although nicotine is the main addictive ingredient, people still might smoke them a lot without nicotine.    
-Dave Thomas

Are people more influenced by family who do drugs or friends who do drugs?

-BlackHeart333, Maryland
Oh Black Heart333! How are you? Awesome and complex question --just like your on-line name ;)
There are a lot of influences that can have have an effect on people to use drugs. Peer pressure, taking drugs for pain/surgery/medical treatment, experimentation, etc. Throughout your life you will be bombarded with so many opinions and voices --it is ultimately up to you to create a positive environment for yourself (by cultivating an awesome support network of family and friends). In the end though, it is always a person's decision to stay above the influence. Stay strong and encourage other to follow your lead!
-Bethany Deeds

Are people that are "high" as alert as as people that are not?

-You Are Fake, New Mexico

Great question- drugs affect the brain which, in turn, affects how they think, feel, and act. Its pretty difficult to be alert while on drugs due to how they impact the brain. 

-Jack Stein

are people who use drugs at a higher risk of cancer

-Derpysquid101, New York
Hi Derpy.. - thanks for the question.  Certainly people who smoke cigarettes or use any form of tobacco are greatly increasing their risk of cancer - and tobacco is a drug.  Also, alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth and digestive tract.  As for other drugs, we don't know a lot about their direct cancer causing effects.  There is a lot of information on the heath effects of drugs at  
-Steve Gust

Are pills a good way to fight against depression or anxiety? - Ginger

-#hella, California

hi Ginger-- the answer is similar for depression and anxiety.  Specific medications that are used to treat depression have also been shown to be useful for treating anxiety among adults and children.  And specific counseling or talk therapies have also been shown to work for depression and anxiety.  Not all treatments are a good match for all people (some people prefer medication or counseling and different treatments work differently for different people).  It is important to talk to a mental health professional (a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed social worker) to work with them to find a good match and see if you need to make adjustments. If you think you might need some help, a good first step is to talk to a trusted adult (parent, relative, counselor) so they can help you connect with help. Here's more on anxiety treatments:

-Joel Sherrill

Are prescribtions drugs like aderol just as dangerous as street drugs?

-George W. Bush, New York
Hey "W"
Good question. They can be, if you don't take them as prescribed, or if you aren't the person they were prescribed for. Adderall can have similar effects to illegal amphetamines or meth, even, if it is abused. 
-Eric Wargo

are prescription drugs bad?

-christopher123, New York
Hi christopher123,
Prescription drugs can be very bad when they are used in a way that was not intended by the prescribing doctor or by someone other than the person for whom it was intended. The specific health problems you can experience by abusing prescription drugs depends on the type of drug. Learn more about the dangers of prescription drug abuse by type of drug here:
-Ruben Baler

can ALL drugs be fatal if consumed improperly?

-bubbles7977, Maryland

Yes, if you consume them at high doses or you are vulnearable because of genetic or medical conditions.

-Nora Volkow

can all drugs kill you?

-23769, Maryland
Hello 23769,
In a way, yes. They indirectly cause harmful effects on the body and brain which increases the odds of illness and death. However, if you are referring to direct effects - drugs such as alcohol, sedative pills, heroin, prescription opioid pills, PCP, bath salts, stimulants such as cocaine, meth, etc. can be lethal in overdose and can kill you! Drugs and alcohol often cause impaired coordination, judgement, memory, concentration, etc. so if you were to drive, skate, ski or operate machines under the influence of these drugs, that could kill you! Then there are other drugs that may cause death indirectly such as tobacco, marijuana, etc. which result in chronic medical illnesses which increases the likelihood of death. It is much safer, i.e. higher likelihood of not dying, if you don't use drugs, even recreationally. 
-Geetha Subramaniam

Can animals become high if they smoke drugs or inhlae second hand smoke

-:), New York

How exactly do animals smoke drugs?  Be nice to your pet....

-Joni Rutter

Can animals get addicted to drugs?

-kuchneat, Pennsylvania

Definitely! Much of what we know about addiction has been learned through studies that often involve animals (like rats!). 

-Jack Stein

Can any drugs kill you with in a day

-chchchase estes, Maryland

Yes, unfortunately.  Many drugs can kill you if you overdose.  For example, pain killers.  Also, certain other drugs used for anxiety.  Inhalants can also kill.  

-Steve Gust

Can any of the bad effects of marijuana, base from the individuals physcological point? Personally, I don't FEEL as though I've been affected in a negative way, aside from self-esteem.

-asian, Maryland
Asian,  You mention a really important negative outcome you are experiencing personally.  If marijuana is making you feel bad about yourself that's a BIG deal.  You might consider not smoking marijuana and replacing it with other activities that provide a natural high like running or indoor rock climbing that build self-esteem.
Remember-Marijuana, like other drugs, have a negative impact on the brain, body, and behavior--including addiction.  Many people think marijuana is not harmful but our evidence suggests otherwise.

If you want to ask about getting substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Redonna Chandler

can anyone become addicted to drugs?

-xoxogossipgirl, Massachusetts

Hello and XOXOGossipGirl! When drugs enter your brain, they can interrupt how it works and actually change how the brain functions and performs its jobs. These changes can lead to someone becoming addicted to drugs. This can happen to anyone. If you’re worried about your own or a friend or family member’s drug use, it’s important to know that help is available. You can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Bethany Deeds

can beer and wine kill you?

-123FOnzy, Maryland

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. 

If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as "alcohol poisoning."

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer. For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out:
To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out:
-Aaron White

Can caffeine affect your judgement?

-#whitegirl, Maryland
Hmmm....hey #whitegirl.  Caffeine (found in foods like energy drinks, coffee, tea, and chocolate) is a stimulant with psychoactive effects.  Caffeine is typically used to help wake people up, but that's about it. Caffeine is generally regarded as a safe drug when taken in moderation because toxic doses are very high.
However, each person has different sensitivity to caffeine, with some people having severe effects on the body.  It's more serious affects are on the heart, where caffeine use can cause your heart to race, and you can get the shakes.  The side effects of using caffeine and also stopping caffeine use may cause you to become cranky, tired, or get headaches, and that might affect your judgement. 
-Joni Rutter

Can cancer develop while intaking alcohol?

-c322d, California

Yes, for sure. Drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth, throat, and breast. You can learn more about these risks at:

-Aaron White