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 juuls better or worse the cigarettes

-AG, New Hampshire

Hi, AG - Many vaping liquids, like those found in Juul, contain nicotine, which is one of the most addictive substances. Using Juuls may cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can then cause cancer. So, while vaping may not expose you to all of the same chemicals that cigarettes do, it's still not safe. However, if someone is vaping to quit using cigarettes, this can reduce the number of toxic chemicals they are exposed to. The goal should be to quit use of all tobacco products! Check out FDA's “The Real Cost” campaign, which provides information about tobacco.

-Heather Kimmel

are juuls better or worse then cigarettes

-AG, New Hampshire

Hi AG.,

There is no safe tobacco product, especially for teens. Both cigarettes and vapes can deliver cancer-causing chemicals into your lungs, and both can also expose you to nicotine, which can disrupt your brain development. According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. Nicotine is harmful to the developing brain because it can change your brain and lead to nicotine addiction. You can get more facts about e-cigarettes by visiting:

-Suzanne Lim

Are juuls more addictive than vapes or traditional cigs?

-dmcnamara, Arizona

Hey there dmcnamara.

We can't state definitively that JUUL is more addictive. But we are really concerned about the very high levels of nicotine in JUUL compared to other vapes. And the reports we've seen of individual teenagers clearly showing signs of addiction are very disturbing.

One thing we're trying to do at FDA is get compelling information into the hands of kids who are walking around thinking e-cigarettes don't carry any risk. Check out our Real Cost E-cigarette campaign at this website:

-Mitch Zeller

Are males or females more apt to drinking to much and getting "sick"?

-SE, Montana

Interesting question! Scientists have found that it really depends. Females tend to be smaller than males and have less water in their bodies. As a result, females tend to get more alcohol into their blood and brains when they drink, which can lead to bigger impairments in memory, balance, etc. More men have alcohol use disorders. But women who have alcohol use disorders tend to get worse more quickly. Females also exhibit more brain damage from drinking, more damage to the liver and other organs, and have a higher chance of developing cancers and other diseases as a result of drinking.

-Steve Gust

are medical drugs made safer or healthier than other drugs

-Who am I, Illinois

Hi Who am I! Medical drugs are tested extensively to ensure that they produce the most benefits to the patient while reducing unwanted side-effects, and are therefore healthier than drugs of abuse, when used as prescribed. However, sometimes drugs can have unintended consequences, like with prescription pain-killers that were intended to treat pain but were found to make people develop substance use disorders. You can find more information on these here.

-Vani Pariyadath

are nicotine and caffeine similar?

-anicola, Illinois

Hey anicola! Nicotine and caffeine are both considered stimulants, or drugs that activate the sympathetic nervous system and cause an increase in heart rate and breathing rate.

-Emily Einstein

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

Are steroids considered a drugs, can they kill you?

-Mohammad, Illinois

Hello Mohammad.
Anabolic steroids are indeed considered drugs, and even though they have legitimate medical uses, some people misuse them long term for various purposes, typically to enhance their performance, seeking more stamina in the gym, pumping more iron, or shortening their recovery time between training sessions. But they do have serious negative effects. anabolic steroids can cause profound hormonal changes, mood changes, uncontrolled rage, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. So, yes, they can kill you.
B smart. B safe.

-Ruben Baler

are sucide drugs are very dangerous ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia


-George Koob

are the chemical's in Juuls just as addictive as weed

-m, Maryland

Thank you for writing in, m! It's difficult to say whether the chemicals in Juul are more or less addictive than those found in marijuana. E-cigarettes are the most common way young adults in the United States use tobacco which contains nicotine. Nicotine is very addictive, and evidence shows that using e-cigarettes may lead young people to try other tobacco products, including cigarettes. Teens may be more sensitive to the effects of nicotine and more likely to become addicted to cigarettes. In addiiton, it is not possible to predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genes and the environment each play a role. The bottom line is that we're all different and unpredictable, so any drug use is risky.

-Heather Kimmel

Are the effects of hookah any better or worse than cigarettes?

-I am Spartacus, Missouri

Hello I am Spartacus. Hookah burns tobacco, the same as cigarettes. Many people think that because the smoke goes through water first, it is safer. But studies have shown that the effects of hookah can actually be worse. The water cools the smoke, which allows the user to inhale more smoke deeper, exposing them to more of the toxins. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, and teens are especially sensitive to the addictive effects of nicotine, especially because their brains are still developing. Click here for more info:

-Kevin Walton

are the side affects from using illegal steroids the same from person to person ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

Someties athletes ask us this question in hopes they can get bigger or stronger from using steroids. The answer is, different people have different results. The side effects can vary from person to person, too, but common ones include high blood pressure, enlarged heart, heart attack or stroke, kidney problems, and severe acne; for males, infertility, developing breasts, and increased risk of prostate cancer; and for females, a deepening voice, growth of facial hair, and male pattern baldness, among others.

You can learn more about anabolic steroids here:

-Meyer Glantz

Are there alternatives for drugs?

-gabrielam, District of Columbia

Hey gabrielam! I will assume that your question is: are there altenatives to the use of drugs. And yes, there are alternatives. Drugs hijack the brain to produce a lot of dopamine. Dopamine is thought to be the brain chemical responsible for the rewarding properties of a drug. But dopamine is also made when you do other things that you really like to do, like exercise and playing sports, playing music, or even reading. So do something that you really like to do to get a dopaimine reward.

-Roger Little

are there any healthy vapes

-JS , Illinois

Hi there James S.!

There is no safe or healthy tobacco product, especially for teens. Vapes can deliver cancer-causing chemicals into your lungs, and most vapes contain nicotine. Even if a label says “nicotine-free,” that label might not be accurate because the ingredients in every vape product haven't been tested and reviewed yet.

Learn about all things vaping by checking out

-Ruben Baler

Are there any long term effects of psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs such as acid, molly, or shrooms.

-Jarvis, Illinois

Hi Jarvis -- Thanks for the good question. There aren't a lot of studies on the long-term affects of hallucinogens. Most of what's been studied is the effects of short-term use; i.e., occasional use and not over a long period of time. The few studies of chronic (long-term) use suggest that they may trigger long-term mental health problems in some people.

-Steve Gust

Are there any mental illnesses associated with drug and alcohol abuse?

-princesspeach, Illinois

Yes. People who are depressed or anxious are more likely to abuse alcohol. And people who abuse alcohol often become more depressed and anxious.

-George Koob

Are there any negative effects to smoking marijuana?

-drugsaren'tgood, Maryland

There certainly are negative effects to smoking marijuana. While you're intoxicated, marijuana can cause anxiety, depression, and cognitive and memory problems. Smoking anything can exacerbate asthma in the short term and cause lots of breathing problems and lung diseases in the long term. Some people who use marijuana regularly can become addicted to it. Marijuana use, when you're young, affects how your brain develops and may raise the risk for brain disorders like schizophrenia. So if I were you, I'd avoid it... just sayin'.

-Joshua Gordon

Are there any neurological consequences when you use drugs or drink alcohol?


Hi mafed3 - thanks for joining the Chat. Virtually, every part of your body is affected by drugs and alcohol! Brain, heart, liver, lungs, or all of the above, depending on the drug. Most importantly, drugs severely affect your brain, and some can go as far as to induce coma or death. Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain lworks. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. Here is a great resource:

-Heather Kimmel

Are there any non-generic (and perhaps even used commonly in areas such as medicine) yet still harmful, drugs that people should know about?


Hi Astaroth!
Good question!! Just because a drug is a named-brand prescription does not mean it is safe. A prime example is opioids. Opioids can be safe and effective treatments from pain when prescribed by a clinician and used with caution and as directed. BUT people also misuse prescrition opioids, and they can become addicted, overdose and die.

-Dave Thomas

Any positive outcomes in smoking marijuana?

-ram508261, Illinois

Smoking anything isn't a good idea for your lungs, but people certainly report positive feelings when they do use it (which is why they keep using marijuana even with its risks). So it kind of depends on your circumstance--if you're young, you're putting your brain at risk; if people in your family have mental health problems (especially psychosis); its also really risky; if you're pregnant, you may be putting the fetus at risk.. I work at NIDA, so we tend to worry about the downsides of drug use, but we do also support research to try to find out if there are health benefits to marijuana or its components, for example, in treating pain.

-Susan Weiss

Aprox, how many elders consume drugs except tobacco and alcohol, what is the percentage?


Hi pip! In 2017, 19.3% of people in the US age 18 or older used illegal drugs.

-Emily Einstein

Are Abortion drugs addictive/ Harmful in anyway?

-IO, Florida

They are not addictive and not usually harmful if used as directed. Probably best to consult a medical professional before use.

-Kristen Huntley



Hi there. We tend to think of drugs as causing harm. All drugs can cause harm if you are taking them in a way that is not advised by your doctor. To read about drugs and your body see:, as well as We hope this is helpful!

-Jacqueline Lloyd

are all drugs made in America or are drugs imported from other countries?

-abby, Maryland

Hey Abby- Illegal drugs sold in the US very frequently come from other countries. The DEA is the part of our government that reports on drug trafficking. Their 2018 report is here.

-Emily Einstein

Are all substances originally from the US, or are some transported from other countries?

-Hun, Maryland

This is a good question Hun,
Many drugs come from other countries outside of the U.S., right now synthetic opioids which are a major cause of opioid overdose deaths in some parts of the United States are from China or South America. Regardless of where they come from they are dangerous as they can cause addiction, toxicity, and compound mental health problems.

-Roger Sorensen