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 peoplee that do drugs are stupid

-JM, Montana

Hi - this is a great question. People use drugs for lots of different reasons, such as peer pressure, boredom, rebellion, curiosity, and so on. 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:

There is also a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here:

-Kristen Huntley

Are plant based drugs better than chemically made drugs?

-Captain Obama , Illinois

Hi Captain Obama! Nope, nothing special about plants versus synthesized drugs. Depends on the drug and not where the drug came from.

-Suzanne Lim

Are psilocybin mushrooms really the safest drug?

-sssssssssssssss, Illinois

Hi sssssssssssss
There really are no safe drugs. It is true that psilocybin like most hallucinogens is not powerfully habit forming and, almost by definition, a non-addictive drug. It belongs to class of drugs that do not interact with the dopamine or reward (pleasure) system in the brain. However, this does not mean that it is a safe drug; psilocybin can cause nervousness, paranoia, and panic attacks. It's a bad idea to introduce any psychoactive drug in a devloping brain, its effects are really unpredictable.
Be smart and stay healthy.

-Aaron White

Are psychedelics harmful?

-shmo, Illinois

Hi shmo - I'm glad that you're thinking about this and thanks for asking. Psychedelic drugs can cause you to have terrifying thoughts, elevated stress and out of control scary feelings. You can become dizzy and have trouble sleeping. You may feel paranoid and lose control of yourself! Psychedelics, or any kind of illegial drug, can hijack your brain from working normally. Check out this fact sheet for more info:

-Kris Bough

Are some people have more risk of drugs and alcohol than others?


Great question about risk for drugs and alcohol. There are multiple factors that can increase a person's risk for using drugs and alcohol. Research has shown that some of the factors can be biological, psychological, behavioral, or environmental. Often it is not one particular factor, but we do know that early experimentation with substances can increase risk for later use. A number of prevention interventions have been developed to prevent initation of substance use and prevent those who've experimented with drugs to progress from use to misuse.

Here's a great resource that talks about what makes some more likely to use drugs:

-Belinda Sims

Are some people more at risk of addiction to drugs and alcohol than others?

-Julia, Maryland

Hello Julia,

Yes, they are. The problem is, we don't have a way to know who's at risk for having a problem with different types of drugs. All illegal drugs and many others (like prescription drugs) have the potential for addiction and they can all alter the way your brain functions -- which puts you at risk of injury or injuring others. Check out this information about addiction and the brain:


-Roger Little

Can an overdose of drugs lead to suicide?

-chamness_a, Oregon

Illicit drugs raise the risk of suicide, and it doesn't take an overdose for this to happen. More than half of people who die by suicide have alcohol or drugs in their blood at the time of death! If you are already depressed or having suicidal thoughts, get help and don't use drugs or alcohol. If you have suicidal thoughts while taking a drug, stop taking the drug, and get help right away from a friend or trusted adult. People having suicidal thoughts can also get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, 24/7 (you'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area).

-Joshua Gordon


-chamness_a, Oregon

Yes, anybody can fall into peer pressure, especially teens who are more vulnerable to peer influences. It is important to have friends and peers who support your healthy behavior, especially when others pressure you into unhealthy behaviors.

-Carlos Blanco

can anyone fall into peer pressure?

-chamness_a, Oregon

Yes, anybody can fall into peer pressure, especially teens who are more vulnerable to peer influences. It is important to have friends and peers who support your healthy behavior, especially when others pressure you into unhealthy behaviors.

-Carlos Blanco

Can babies get addicted to drugs?


Hey Rag!
No, not really. Babies cannot get addicted. Addiction is compulsive use despite harm. Babies to not compulsively use drugs. However, if babies are born to mothers that use opioids, they can be born with dependence on opioids, meaning they will go through physical withdraw without opioids. This is a very sad situation, and we are trying to find ways to help these babies.

-Dave Thomas

Can being fat be somehow related to adictions?

-El Chamaco,

Hi Chamaco
such a great question. I have even published several papers that explore the overlaps between obesity and addiction. they are not the same but they do have similarities. If this connection worries you, you should consult your primary physician who would be in the best position to diagnose and treat any mental or physical disorder.
Thanks for the interest and best luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

can certain drugs enhance human abilities

-default skin, Illinois

Hi default
great question. the answer is yes. But as you know, there is no free lunch. Anabolic steroids, for example, can shorten the recovery time between training sessions, but they can also stunt your growth and shrink your testicles. Some stimulants may allow you to cram for an exam but they will also reduce your creativity. So, it is important to become informed and ask the right questions.
Thanks for your interest
Use your superpower, choose smartly.

-Ruben Baler

can cigarettes cause popcorn lung too?

-JS, Illinois

Thank you for joining us, James!. "Popcorn lung" is another name for a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which makes you cough and feel short of breath. Workers at a popcorn factory were found to have this disease more than other people, and it turned out that the cause was a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical is also present in many vaping liquids, which is a cause for concern. The contents in vaping devices are not regulated, so it's impossible for a user to know what he or she is vaping. Although this chemical is also present in cigarette smoke, it's not clear whether it can cause popcorn lung, though cigarette smoke has been linked to COPD and lung cancer. Check out these resources on tobacco:

-Dave Thomas

Can a person's mental and physical state of mind change because of drug abuse?

-Chili's, Illinois

Yes, for sure! It is common for people who abuse alcohol and other drugs to become depressed, anxious, and hyper focused on getting and using the drugs. It is not a fun way to live.

-George Koob

Can alcohol actually cause memory loss?

-Icarus, Illinois

Yes. Alcohol intoxication at a high dose can block the laying down of memories of what transpired while intoxicated. That is called a blackout. Chronic moderate to severe alcohol use disorder, particularly with nutritional deficiences, can permanently impair the ability to consolidate new memories. This is called Wernickes/Korsakoff's disorder. We do not know if alcohol facilitates normal aging dementias.

-George Koob

Can alcohol take years off your life?

-e, Illinois

Yes it can! Long-term alcohol misuse has been shown to decrease life expectancy. Alcohol has many harmful effects (see Alcohol Effects on the Body) that can shorten a person's life-span.

-Vijay Ramchandani

At what age is the most addictive age to do drugs?

-Adam , Illinois

Hello Adam: Excellent question. Most people who use drugs start during their teenage years. Scientists believe that the developing brain is more susceptible to the effects of drug use. .If you start using drugs while you are young---as a teen---you are more likely to get addicted. What is the science of addiction? See Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction:

-Aria Crump

Be completely real, have any of you guys smoked weed before?

-shmo, Illinois

Hmm, there are a lot of people in the room from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and beyond. I will ask the group and see who raises their hands....nope, no hands, LOL.Honestly, I am sure there are folks in this room who have, but marajuana is a whole lot stronger now and we do know alot more about its harm. I hope this is helpful to you.

-Dave Thomas

Besides actual drugs, what else can you get high off of?

-nyla-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hi, nyla-fvsu4h! Great question! Exercise is known to improve mood. So grab a friend and take a long walk! Or join a sports team. Being part of a group, like the group putting on your school play, can also make you happy. Or do whatever you enjoy!

-Emily Jones

besides its addictive properties, is nicotine that bad?

-JS , Illinois

Dear James - thank you for joining us! You are correct in that nicotine is very addictive. Nicotine is also toxic and its ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin or eyes can result in vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation. Annual e-cigarette calls to poison centers increased from 238 in 2011 to 3,692 in 2014 – an increase of greater than 1400 percent, and this is related to the increase in e-cigarette use, which contains nicotine. Quick facts about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigarettes:

-Dave Thomas

Between cigars and cigarettes which is more dangerous?


Hey there BTR 0077 - Both cigarettes and cigars burn tobacco, and the smoke is inhaled. Even though some people who smoke cigars say they are safer because the smoke only goes into their mouths and is not inhaled to their lungs, the smoke from cigars is just as harmful as cigarette smoke. The thousands of chemicals from cigarette or cigar smoke are absorbed into the body and can cause nicotine addiction, lung disease, heart disease, or have other harmful effects throughout the body. For more info:

-Kevin Walton

are you more tired in the morning if you smoke kush the night before

-Anonymous, Illinois

Hi you
It depends what else is going on in your life. But I can tell you that even if you feel good after using kush, you are shortchanging the health of your brain in the long run. B smarter!

-Ruben Baler

At what age do most people start abusing drugs?

-rnelson, Montana

Thanks, rnelson. Most people begin using drugs in their teens.

-Marsha Lopez

can sniffing natural products like glue give you and instant rush and if so will it really damage your body?

-Aybrian-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi Aybrian,
Yes, definately! Sniffing glue to the point where you get a rush, means your brain is not getting enough oxygen. Your brain needs lots of oxygen. And a lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage.

-Dave Thomas

can someone become addicted to marijuana after trying it one time


Hi ML! While this seems unlikely, marijuana use can cause other side effects that are equally serious.There are reports of marijuana users seeking treatment in emergency rooms, reporting unease and shaking, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations, and in rare cases, extreme psychotic reactions. Marijuana use can also increase risks for accidents and injuries.

-Michele Rankin

can someone get arrested for heroine? asking for a friend.

-applesaucetoast, Illinois

Absolutely. Heroin is an illegal drug, and a very harmful one at that!

But getting arrested isn't really the worst thing that can happen to you when you use heroin. Much of the heroin AND prescription opioids (e.g., Oxycontin, Percocet, etc.) that people buy on the street are laced with a powerful drug called fentanyl. Fentanyl, even in very small doses, can be deadly. Fentanyl is sadly very common in the drug supply right now, and people usually don't even know that's what they are getting. I beg your friend not to risk their life.

-Roger Little

can someone get high if some one near them is smoking marijuana?

-Keira H, Michigan

Hi Keira,
Generally being near someone who is smoking marijuana can be annoying and disturbing because the smoke is bothersome. But it rarely causes someone to get high, unless it is a really small space with a lot of smoke. Here's some information about secondhand marijuana exposure that you may find helpful:

-Wilson Compton

can someone please explain bath salts for my friend who chooses to stay anonymous

-dash, Illinois

Hello Dash,
Bath salts are chemicals related to cathinones which are found in a plant that grows in Africa. These may be mixed with other chemicals and produce different effects on the user. These can be dangerous since they are mixed with other drugs/chemicals. You can find more information here:

-Steve Grant

Can stores limit people from buying too much alcohol? If so, when can they do this?

-Kai, Maryland

There might not be limits to how much someone can purchase at a liquor store, but there are limits to how much someone can buy at a restaurant or bar. Specifically, servers are trained to stop serving patrons if they appear to be intoxicated.

-Steve Grant

Can substance abuse cause depression, anxiety, or any other form of mental illness...Other than addiction?

-Spicy Memelord, Montana

Tricky question. For the most part, illicit drugs do not usually cause mental illnesses. However, illicit drugs can reveal or unmask illnesses. For example, someone may not know they have depression or bipolar disorder until they have a strong reaction to a drug. Also, there is some evidence that smoking marijuana, especially when you're a child or teenager, can raise the risk of developing schizophrenia -- a very serious mental illness. We're not 100% sure about this connection but the data so far are concerning.

-Joshua Gordon