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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at what age is good to start drinking a little of alcohol?

-ACGP, Other

21!

-Aaron White

baby that have mothers that used drugs while they were in the mothers stomach, can they get addicted to drugs when their born

-D.yemane, Texas

Hey D.yemane, we typically say that the babies are born 'dependent' on the drugs. Addiction involves compulsively seeking out drugs even though you know they are harming your health and your life. A baby can't seek them our or even understand what they are experiencing.

-Maureen Boyle

because your parents smoke does that mean you you smoke

-erice, Texas

Dear erice - thank you for asking such an important question. No, just because your parents smoke, that doesn't mean that you will automatically smoke. However, children that are exposed to smokers, particularly within their own households, are more likely to start smoking themselvves. Even if they don't smoke, they will be exposed to secondhand smoke, which has negative consequesnces on the child's health.

Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted.
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/
-Heather Kimmel

Besides Marijuana what other drugs can be used for medical purposes?

-Davey Schwartz, New York

Well of course opioids are abused and have a medical purpose. Ritalin is abused and also used for ADHD. Ketamine is abused but used therapeutically. And amphetamine is a stimulant that is abused and has several medical uses. There are other examples too. Check this out regarding medicinal use of marijuana: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine

-Dave Thomas

Besides peer pressure, what else influences one to take drugs?

-Mith, Illinois

Mith, what a good question to ask! People use drugs for lots of different reasons. One is peer pressure. Others reasons may include boredom, rebellion, curiosity, etc. (See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-why-take-drugs for some more reasons). People can know drugs are bad for them, but they may still choose to take the risk, while others may not be aware of all the risks. Then, once they’re hooked, it can be very difficult to stop. Check out one of NIDA's Drug and Health Blog posts about peer pressure here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/i-wish-that-i-could-be-like-the-cool-kids. Take care Woodland Middle School!

-Bethany Deeds

Ca I beat the drug test?

-Keller Hairline, Maryland

You can try, and many have, but it's not likely to work. Drug testing technology is rapidly developing and can detect even the smallest quantities in blood or urine. Good luck, Keller Hairline!!!

-Ericka Boone

Can a baby be born addicted to a drug if the mother is addicted and taking drugs when she was pregnant?

-Melissa, New York

Hi Melissa
When a pregnant woman uses tobacco, alcohol, or another substance, the fetus in her womb is exposed to the substance. When the fetus is born, it may exhibit symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). That is, it may experience withdrawal sickness because its body has adapted to having the drug present, and now will need to re-adapt to not having the drug present. Forturnately, doctors in hospitals can treat NAS effectively, keeping the newborn alive and reducing their distress
Here is some additional info
https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/...

-Geetha Subramaniam

can a baby get affected if you drink a lot

-bguerrero, Texas
Alcohol can seriously affect a baby's development during pregnancy. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today. Basically, it is never safe to drink any alcohol when you're pregnant. You can learn more about the dangers of drinking when you're pregnant here:
https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FASDFactsheet/FASDfact.htm
-Aaron White

Can a baby get drunk if it drinks alcohol.

-ack, Massachusetts

Yes. Each year there are several cases of babies dying or being taken to the emergency room due to alcohol poisoning.

-Aaron White

Are inhalants as prevalent now as before? Are they more popular than the weed, or less?

-Rin2Deep4U, Massachusetts

Hello. Inhalants are extremely dangerous and fortunately inhalant use decreased among 8th graders this year compared with last year, and overall inhalant use has been decreasing over time. Marijuana use is more prevalent among youth than inhalant use. For more information on youth use of inhalants, marijuana and other drugs, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-fu...

-Jacqueline Lloyd

are inhalants more dangerous than smoking?

-ACarpenter, Texas

Inhalants can kill you from a respiratory or cardiac complication right away while you are using it. Tobacco can kill you after many years of use because of cancer other other pulmonary or cardiac negative effects.

-Nora Volkow

Are injections the most harmful way to take drugs?

-Dab On It, Maryland

Injecting a drug is the fastest way to get it to the body. It can be considered the most dangerous in some ways because it is easier to overdose (as opposed to a pill which is a carefully measured amount) People who inject drugs are also at high risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). This is because these diseases are transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, which can occur when sharing needles or other injection drug use equipment. (HCV is the most common blood-borne infection in the Unites States.)
But every person's biology is different, and each oerson responds to drug delivery systems differently.

-Michele Rankin

Are kids more likely to die from Drugs/Alcohol than adults?

-Mnehls, Texas

It depends on the dose. The body of a child is more vulnerable than the body of an adult, so if they take similar amounts, children are more likely to die or have other negative consequences than adults.

-Carlos Blanco

Are kids more likely to try drugs if their imbecilic health teacher makes up incorrect drug facts and they realize they're lying?

-Juan, Pennsylvania

Hi Juan,
Yes, "alternative facts" are not helpful, and will always backfire. Everyone should tell the truth. Sometimes authorities exaggerate drug dangers as a scare tactic, but kids are pretty smart, I think. At NIDA, we try to be honest about what we know and what we don't know about drugs.
But one thing that probably sounds like a bogus scare tactic but is actually true, based on real scientific studies, is that drugs are especially harmful for teens. Here's why: Since your brain is still developing (until you are about 25), it is more vulnerable to being altered by drugs like alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. You are much more likely to develop an addiction, for example, if you start using drugs in your teens than if you wait until you try them as an adult.
Take care, stay healthy.

-Eric Wargo

are marijuana candys bad

-ert, Other

Well even if you put marijuana in candy, it's still marijuana. Here are some info on marijuana:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

-Dave Thomas

Are men more susceptible to do drugs than women? Or is it the other way around

-Dylan@gentryjs, Texas

It not one or the other.. It really depends on the drug. There are certain drugs for which men are more susceptible to addiction and some for which women are more susceptible. For some, men become addicted more quickly, for others women become addicted more quickly.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

are over the counter drugs addictive if you use them the wrong way?

-Ryleigh D., Pennsylvania

Hey Ryleigh- even over the counter drugs can be dangerous if they're not used properly, so you should always follow the instructions on the package. Most over the counter drugs do not have a high risk of addiction, however, with the exception of nicotine-containing products.

-Emily Einstein

are painkillers damaging to the nervous system?

-Juliagelston, Maine

Opioids do not directly cause brain damage. Some people, though, suffer nonfatal overdoses and then suffer from hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), which if prolonged can cause substantial brain damage.

-Dave Thomas

Are people taking drugs more today than in the 1900s?

-awalker, New Hampshire

Good morning awalker, Good question! Well, in fact overall drug use among youth has been decreasing over the past 40 years. This is really good news! Check out NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey for more information.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Are problems with alcohol hereditary?

-maggie, New York

Yes. People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop a problem with alcohol themselves.
Having alcoholism in your family greatly increases the chances you'll develop a problem, too.

Researchers believe a person's risk increases if he or she is in a family with the following difficulties:

  • an alcoholic parent is depressed or has other psychological problems;

  • both parents abuse alcohol and other drugs;

  • the parents' alcohol abuse is severe; and

  • conflicts lead to aggression and violence in the family.

    You can learn more about the genetics of alcoholism here:
    https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FamilyHistory/famhist.htm

-Aaron White

are some drugs legal in some states

-trase A, Texas

Hello to you trase A from Lake Olympia Middle School. Depends which drugs you are talking about. Some substances (like the ones we use for medicine) can be legal in the U.S. This is a link to the controlled substances schedule that lists all the drugs that doctors can legally prescribe in the U.S:http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/index.htmlutm_source=Pharmaceutical+Tips+%7C+Storage+%7C+Disposal+%7C+Abuse+Prevention&utm_campaign=Pharmaceutical+Tips&utm_medium=email For marijuana--28 states and Washington, DC have passed laws allowing smoked marijuana to be used for a variety of medical conditions. In addition, voters in 8 states and Washington, DC also passed initiatives legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older under state law. However, there are things teens should know about marijuana's effect on the developing brain. Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Bethany Deeds

Are steroids addictive?

-Jonathan R, Pennsylvania

An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. If left untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs.

-Ruben Baler

Are steroids good for you?

-AGUA, Iowa

If you mean anabolic steroids, then the abuse of anabolic steroids, that are widely used by athletes and non-atheletes, is associated with significant and serious adverse health consequences. See a recent article by Pope, Khalsa and Bhasin in JAMA (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2592911) for more.

-Jag Khalsa

are students allowed to buy energy drinks that consist of alcohol

-nharrison , Texas

As far as we know, there aren't any energy drinks with alcohol currently for sale in the United States.

When alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, a popular practice among young people, the caffeine in these drinks can mask the depressant effects of alcohol. At the same time, caffeine has no effect on the metabolism of alcohol by the liver and thus does not reduce breath alcohol concentrations or reduce the risk of alcohol-attributable harms. Drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink (based on breath alcohol levels) than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks.

-Aaron White

Are teenagers at greater risk for drug addiction?

-sv42, New York

Hi sv42,
Yes, teens are at greater risk because their brains are still developing. Brain development isn't complete until the early to mid-20s. Most people who develop an addiction started using drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs) during their teens years.

-Maureen Boyle

Are teens more likely to do drugs if their parents are smokers?

-Anthony G, New York

Hi Anthony - there are many complicated factors that can increase a person's risk for addiction like a person's genes, current health conditions, and what you mentioned here - their environment. For some people, being in environment where other people use substances does increase the likelihood that they will use drugs, but not for everyone. You can learn more about risk factors for addiction here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science

-Michele Rankin

Are the effects worse when smoking cannabis oil from a weed pen?

-pineapple, New York

HI Pineapplte - by "worse effects" I'm assuming you mean harmful. It's hard to say because how harmful a substance is depends on how much of the substance you ingest and how you ingest it and many other factors including your own individual health conditions, etc. Also, it's hard to know the concentration of the substances in various forms.

-Michele Rankin

Are there any drugs that kill the consumer easily? What consequences does it cause? Mention at least one?

-SVV, Other

Hey SVV! Many drugs can be deadly in different ways- for example, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death! By far, the most drug overdose deaths are caused by opioid drugs, such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. These drugs slow down breathing and can sometimes cause it to stop entirely; the risk of this is even greater if opioids are taken at the same time as benzodiazepines or alcohol. Even if a person doesn't die, prolonged oxygen deprivation can result in permanent brain damage. The drug naloxone can be administered to reverse an opioid overdose and restore breathing. For more information on naloxone, visit: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/naloxone.

-Emily Einstein

Are there any drugs that you can overdose your first time using it?

-CLongo, New Hampshire

hey CLongo, yes, you can die the first time you use drugs such as opioids (heroin or prescription pain relievers), cocaine, or methamphetamine if you take too much and overdose.

-Maureen Boyle

are there any drugs the behave alike but have different chemical make ups?

-the10doctor, Maryland

Absolutely! For example there are a lot of types of opioids, and they have very similar actions in the brain by working at opioid "mu" receptors.

-Dave Thomas