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 here.

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Are drugs more affective if you are young?

-sprinkle sparki, Texas

If you start using drugs while you are young---as a teen---you are more likely to get addicted.

-Michele Rankin

Are drugs more popular in male or females

-James , New York

Hi, James, thanks for your question. Generally the percentage of males who report using drugs is higher than females. According the the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12.5% of males had reported using drugs in the month prior to the survey, compared to nearly 8% of females. Here's a chart comparing gender differences regarding prescription drugs - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-dru...

-Marsha Lopez

Are E-Cigarettes as bad as regular cigarettes?

-jnguyen, Texas
We are just beginning to understand vaping but we have much more to learn including what kinds of chemicals may be inhaled. So, although many of the toxic chemicals from burning cigarettes may not be present in vaping, other dangers may exist! There are many checmicals in the vaping liquid that were never meant to be inhaled. In addition, many of these liquids contain nicotine, which is very addictive. So, while we don't know the answer to this question, we do know that vaping OR smoking is bad for you. Stay in control of your health and don't use any tobacco product!
-Heather Kimmel

Are e-cigs actually safer than regular cigs?

-AceFlash225, Illinois

Overall yes, but they themselves can have toxicity, and because they deliver nicotine they are also addictive

-Nora Volkow

Are E-cigs worse than regular cigarettes?

-PacePinellas, Florida

Good question and one that lots of others are asking in today's chat. The research is very clear that cigarettes are really, REALLY bad -- you should never smoke them. For vaping (e-cigs), the research is still ongoing but we are learning vaping involves risk to your health, especially because it invovles heating liquid (juice) and other products and inhaling them into your lungs. And, e-cigs can also contain nicotine, which is the chemical that makes tobacco so addictive. The same general answer applies to marijuana -- vaping is a risky business.

-Kevin Conway

Are electric cigarettes or cigarettes more used?

-ntruong, Texas

Hi, ntruong, thanks for your question. Right now there are more teenagers reporting use of electronic cigarettes than regular cigarettes. According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future survey, 12.5% of high school seniors, 11% of 10th graders, and 6% of 8th graders reported they had used electronic cigarettes in the month prior to the survey compared to 10.5% of 12th, 5% of 10th, and less than 3% of 8th graders reporting use of regular cigarettes. Want more data? Check out www.monitoringthefuture.org

-Marsha Lopez

Are electronic cigarettes better for you than normal cigarettes?

-K Perry, New Hampshire

hey K Perry, Although they do not produce tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and recent research suggests nicotine exposure may also prime the brain to become addicted to other substances. Also, testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.

-Maureen Boyle

Are hallucinogens classified as dangerous like drugs?

-kphung, Texas

Hi kphung,

Hallucinogens ARE drugs, and so they are dangerous and bad for your health. Read more at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.

-Carlos Blanco

Are hallucinogens damaging to your internal orientation of the body? Like can it have the same effects as Vertigo?

-wellhellothere, Maryland

Dear wellhellothere,

I am not sure that it can cause permanent vertigo, but there are reports of it being associated with psychosis and schizophrenia. Some forms (LSD) are synthetic drugs, so they are made with no regulation of the process or chemicals used. Also, there may be other toxic chemicals mixed in that can be dangerous, and these may vary from one batch to another. The LSD itself causes brain circuits to become desynchonized and chaotic, and we believe this leads to the hallucinations that it can cause. So you may see or hear things that are not there. In addition to the harm that LSD might do to brain cells, your reactions and responses while under the influence may endanger you. People on LSD may be more likely to get injured or die in accidents. You can find more information here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/hallucinogens

-Roger Little

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

Can alcohol change someone behavior permanently?

-MMH, Other

Chronic, heavy drinking can damage the brain and affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Whether these changes are permanent is unknown.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol give the affects of another drug?

-sjlowne@lmusd, California

The effects of alcohol are fairly unique. One category of drugs that produce sort of similar effects are the benzodiazepines. This category includes valium, xanax and other similar medications. Because these drugs act in roughly similar ways, combining them can be very dangerous.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol have lasting affects on an under aged drinker?

-zdub, Illinois

Yes, for sure. The brain works by forming networks of brain cells that talk to each other. During adolescence, brain circuits that are important for survival are formed and nurtured while those that aren't used are discarded. Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to form those networks and with the ability of brain cells in those networks to talk to each other. This is bad news for teens because, once of the window of brain development closes in the early 20s, the brain circuits that exist will likely stick around. So, if the opportunity to mold and fine tune brain circuits during adolescence is wasted, it could have a huge impact on future success and quality of life. Similarly, a drinking problem that develops during the teens years can be quite stubborn due to the molding of drinking-related circuits that occurs.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol have lasting affects on an under aged drinker?

-zdub, Illinois

Yes, for sure. The brain works by forming networks of brain cells that talk to each other. During adolescence, brain circuits that are important for survival are formed and nurtured while those that aren't used are discarded. Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to form those networks and with the ability of brain cells in those networks to talk to each other. This is bad news for teens because, once of the window of brain development closes in the early 20s, the brain circuits that exist will likely stick around. So, if the opportunity to mold and fine tune brain circuits during adolescence is wasted, it could have a huge impact on future success and quality of life. Similarly, a drinking problem that develops during the teens years can be quite stubborn due to the molding of drinking-related circuits that occurs.

-Aaron White

Can alcoholism and drug addiction be inherited?

-J_Blasian04, California

This is an important question. We know that genetics do affect people's risk for addiction. People who have a family history of drug or alcohol addiction are at greater risk. Environment is also very important--stress and other negative environmental factors can increase addiction risk, but having good friendships and family support can protect people who are at risk. Also having a stimulating environment, like having lots of hobbies and interests, can reduce your risk. The safest thing is to never try drugs. https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/, https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/does-addiction-run-families

-Roger Little

Can an anxiety medication, such as fluoxetine, become addictive? What if you feel withdrawls from such drugs? Personally, I get bad and frequent panic attacks if taken off my meds for over 4 days

-efogg, New Hampshire

When people take medications like antidepressants and anti anxiety drugs their brains do adjust to the medication. If you stop taking them abruptly, you may feel symtoms since your body has gotten used to having the medication. It is important to take medications as prescribed and not discontinue abruptly unless that is what your doctor says to do. Typically a doctor would slowly raise your dose as you start until your symptoms are better, and will gradually reduce the dose when it is time to discontinue.

-Susan Borja

Can animals ever get high or drunk?

-adang, Texas

Yes, adang. We have similar brains to non-human mammals and drugs and alcohol tend to have similar effects on all of us.

-Dave Thomas

can animals get sick or even die if the happen to eat drugs

-hunter101, Texas

Hi hunter101,
Yes, animals can get sick or die from eating drugs. It goes for prescription and over-the-counter drugs too.

-Eric Wargo

can any drugs make you lose hearing'????

-Lunakitty, Texas

Hi Lunakitty - actually yes. Some antibiotics can cause hearing loss as well as some drugs used to treat cancer particularly those containing platinum (cisplatin and carboplatin).

-Michele Rankin

can babies be born addicted to drugs?

-poohbear1, Texas
Yes, babies can be born addicted to drugs. It is very important for a mother-to-be to tell her doctor she is using drugs, so that the baby can be treated as quickly as possible. Treatment can reduce the chance that the child will have developmental problems as he or she grows.
There is more information here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby.
-Albert Avila

can beer kill you

-laci , Texas

laci - if you drink enough of it yes

-Maureen Boyle

Can being addicted to drugs and alcohol be genetic?

-fdavid, Illinois

hey fdavid, yes genetic factors do play a role in addiction to drugs and alcohol. It is estimated that about half the risk is genetic and half environmental (social support, access to drugs, stress, etc.)

-Maureen Boyle

Can being depressed lead to any physical health problems?

-kblair, Illinois

Depression left untreated is associated with several physical health problems including pain, diabetes, sleep and appetite problems. Good news, there are treatments for depression available.

-Susan Borja

Can certain illegal drugs, like ecstasy, be beneficial to the body in regulated doses?

-mmullen7, California

Hi mmullen7,
Possibly. Ecstasy (MDMA) is currently being studied for its possible benefitsuse in treating conditions like PTSD. Same with marijuana--although people make wild claims for it, there may be some truth to claims that it can be helpful for people with pain, nausea, and a few other conditions.
Great question!

-Eric Wargo