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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Can you predict how drugs will personally affect you?

-mattw,

There is no way to predict how drugs will personally affect you-- at least after the first time of using a drug. It is in a sense like playing russian roulette with your body. However, we can learn from examples of how drugs affect others who have taken them and have ended up losing their jobs, losing their money, and losing control of their life.

-Joni Rutter

Can you repair your lungs after smoking for several years?

-g,

Yes and no. Some changes in cells are probably permanent. However, you can reduce your risk of developing serious lung diseases and other smoking-related disorders by quitting. If you're thinking about quitting see your doctor. There are several medications available that can double your chance of quitting successfully. For more information about smoking, go to: http://www.smoking.drugabuse.gov/Here's a website with resources to help you quit smoking: http://www.smokefree.gov

-Frank Vocci

Can you HiV with a person that doesnt have it?

-BKH,

You cannot get HIV from an uninfected person.However, you should know that even when a person says they are uninfected, they may have HIV.A large majority of people do not know their HIV status.Also, it is possible to test negative for HIV but still be infected, especially the first few weeks after infection.You can find information about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates at https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/hivaids.

-Steve Gust

Can you list some drugs that are depressants?

-Elmo!!,

Sure. Depressants slow down your nervous system. Examples of these include alcohol, valium, xanax, librium, and sleeping pills. For more information see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Prescription/prescription3.html.

-Aria Crump

can you live a healthy normal lifestyle after beinhg addicted for so many years

-georgeypoo,

Yes. There are lots and lots of people who have recovered from using drugs and have gone on to live wonderful lives. Most people find that they need to make some changes in their lifestyle once they stop using drugs, like doing activities that don't involve drugs or hanging out with people who don't use drugs. All in all, there are lots of reasons to stop using drugs!

-Melissa Riddle

Hello, and Thanks - Has drug use risen among teens in the last five years or declined?

-royorb,

Over the past five years, the studies we use to monitor drug use in this country have shown a decline among overall drug use in teens. Some individual drugs show a decline while others do not over a five year period, but most have declined over this time. For the most part, teens are are taking better care of themselves: drug use declined by 23.2% from 2001 to 2006.You can see more about trends and statistics about drugs at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Stats.html

-Marsha Lopez

Hello, i had a question regarding the positive effects of steriods on a devoloping adolscence is someone is kind enough to help

-bmdahmenisdrugfree,

Steroids are actually human-made substances related to male sex hormones. As you probably know, some athletes abuse anabolic steroids to enhance performance by boosting muscle size and reducing body fat .High school athletes,for example, have also been known to use steriods to enhance performance on the field. But the down side is that steroids disrupt the normal production of hormones in the body,and can lead to reduced sperm production and shrinking of the testicles.Other changes include male-pattern baldness and breast development in men-(Yuck!).In the female body, anabolic steroids cause masculinization. This means that females will experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin,and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair(chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. Examples of other effects are increase of the risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Steroid abuse has also been associated with liver tumors and a rare condition called peliosis hepatis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Both the tumors and the cysts can rupture, causing internal bleeding.Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects become irreversible. If you want to know more about steroid abuse, go to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/steroids-anabolic

-David Shurtleff

hey can all drugs make yo mentall ill

-kyle,

This is an excellent and complicated question. Drug abuse in general is associated with higher rates of many mental illnesses, like depression, schizophrenia and manic depressive illness. However, one can look at this from either direction:persons with mental illness may use more drugs than other people and early drug use may lead to later mental illness. The reasons why addiction and other mental disorders coincide so frequently are not fully understood. Children and adolescents with psychiatric conditions (conduct disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and learning disabilities) are at higher risk of abusing drugs than other youth. Also, you might find it interesting to know that there is evidence that drug abuse early in life may increase the risk of psychiatric disorders or accelerate their course. NIDA-supported investigators are using neuroimaging, genotyping, statistical modeling, and other tools to parse the interplay of risk factors in the development of such disorders. For further information see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_notes/NNvol21N2/DirRepVol21N2.html

-Wilson Compton

hey how long do ecstacy effects last

-Mike S,

Right after you take ecstasy you can feel relaxed and very social for several hours, depending on the dose. Sometimes people feel depressed after using it, and if you use it regularly it may have longer lasting effects, including damaging some nerve cells in your brain because ecstasy can raise your body temperature.

-Barry Hoffer

hey how long is this goin on?

-User,

We are going to be doing this for about another hour. But we do plan on answering as many questions that we can over the next few days and posting them to our website next week.....so check back, if you don't see your question answered today, it might get answered next week.....

-Gaya Dowling

Does Marijuana really stunt your growth?

-BoBo,

I'm really short, but I have never used marijuana. I don't think it does stunt your growth, but there are worse harmful effects of marijuana, for example it can impair your ability to form memories and recall events. It can also decrease your reaction time, and cause delusions and hallucinations that can be dangerous.For more information about marijuana, go to http://www.marijuana-info.org/

-Joni Rutter

Does Marijuanna Effect driving?

-Meow mix,

most definitely, Your ability to drive safely is one of the first things to go when somebody is high on marijuana. for more information, http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/driving.html

-Barry Hoffer

Does one need rehab if they only use drugs once in a while?

-rae,

Maybe not. But the determination should be made by a qualified professional. You should see your doctor. He won't tell your parents why you went.For more on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the go to the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

-Frank Vocci

Does rehab really help?

-*.....breanna....*,

Yes, rehab can help. Of course, the word rehab can refer to many different things. If a person has a drug problem, they should look into different treatment options, and choose treatment programs or providers that have good success rates. But the bottom line is that there are many forms of treatment -involving behavioral interventions, and sometimes involving medications, that can be very helpful to people who are addicted to drugs. Sometimes, though, it takes more than one "treatment episode" for a person to be able to stay drug-free for good

-Lisa Onken

Does rehab really help?

-*.....breanna....*,

Yes, rehab can help. Of course, the word rehab can refer to many different things. If a person has a drug problem, they should look into different treatment options, and choose treatment programs or providers that have good success rates. But the bottom line is that there are many forms of treatment -involving behavioral interventions, and sometimes involving medications, that can be very helpful to people who are addicted to drugs. Sometimes, though, it takes more than one "treatment episode" for a person to be able to stay drug-free for good.

-Lisa Onken

does rehab really work?

-taylor,

That's a very good question. "Rehab" can mean a lot of different things, and can involve many different types of drug abuse treatment. But, in general, drug abuse treatment can really work. Of course, whether or not it works depends upon many things. For example, the type of treatment received and the effectiveness of that treatment is important. Once a person is receiving high quality treatment, the longer the person stays in treatment is very much related to whether or not they are successful.Behavioral treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, teach people skills that they can use to avoid drugs and reduce urges to take drugs, and they can be very powerful treatments, but it is important that people do their treatment "homework" to maximize their chances of successful recovery. And medications may be very important, especially in the treatment of heroin addiction. Rehab can involve many different forms of treatment,depending upon the drugs a person is using, but in general, good drug abuse treatment can work very well. Even so, it is important for the person who recovers from drugs to understand that they are vulnerable to relapse, and so keeping their relapse prevention skills sharp - perhaps even with "booster" sessions -may be vital in ensuring long-term success.

-Lisa Onken

for what illnessess do doctor's legally give their patients marijuana or any other drug, and why?

-The Colombian,

The Food and Drug Administration is the organization in the US that approves medicines, and it has not approved marijuana for any medical use.That is because smoking marijuana can cause serious health and social problems, including the risk of addiction. However, the FDA has approved certain medications that contain ingredients found in marijuana. These medications are usually prescribed to relieve symptoms in seriously ill patients, such as those with cancer or AIDS to help patients eat more or to reduce nausea. See http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more information.

-Steve Gust

Getting bumped off every time my students log on for a question

-Bobo,

We have been having some trouble handling the volume of questions that we are receiving this morning. Keep trying, and remember to check back next week, we've received and answered a large amount of great questions today and are responding as fast as we can!

-Moderator

Have most teens used marijuana in their life?

-a,

Although it may seem that everyone is doing it, it is probably way fewer that you guess. In a national school survey last year, about 15% of 8th graders, 32% of 10th graders, and 42% of 12th graders reported having used marijuana in their lifetime.

-Marsha Lopez

Don't some doctors prescribe marijuana if the person has an eating disorder and the drug dosage makes you hungry?

-nelson_z11,

The Food and Drug Administration responsible for ensuring the safety of everything from cosmetics to human and animal medications to our nation's food supply has not approved marijuana to treat any medical illness. That is because smoking marijuana can cause serious health and social problems, including the risk of addiction. However, the FDA has approved certain medications that contain ingredients found in marijuana. These medications are usually prescribed to relieve symptoms in seriously ill patients, such as those with cancer or AIDS to help patients eat more or to reduce nausea. See http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more information.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Dose marijuana make u stupid?

-krodriguez,

Marijuana impairs your memory and judgement. So you can end up acting more stupid than you are.You can find out more about that at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-Steve Grant

Dr. Kevin Conway what's the newest drug on the market?

-jwphealth,

The drug scene is always evolving, so it's hard to provide a direct answer to your question. But recent surveys of teenagers show that prescription drugs are being used more than ever before. This is a concern because many of these drugs are addictive, and they are being used without a doctor's permission. This combination makes us very concerned about how this trend will affect the health of young people and society as a whole. Our website has the latest information on drug abuse and related resources: http://www.drugabuse.gov

-Kevin Conway

does doing drugs affect your sleeping habits?

-peta2,

Great question! Many drugs do, in fact, affect sleeping habits, sleep patterns, and your ability to get a restful sleep. For example, the stimulants (including caffeine) affect sleep, and even the drugs that people often take to help them sleep, such as marijuana or alcohol, actually negatively affect sleep. We also know that one of the leading reasons that people relapse (start using drugs after trying to quit) is because they experience difficulty in getting a restful sleep. For more information on drugs that negatively impact sleep, check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/DrugsofAbuse.html

-Joe Frascella

does drinking at a young age make you more likely to become an alcholic?

-rae,

Alcohol is a drug, and the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse. The teen brain is a work in progress: It undergoes dramatic changes during adolescence and into adulthood.There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted, why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing "Russian Roulette" if you choose to use drugs. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html.

-Marsha Lopez

Does drugs habits run in the family?

-Rashonda,

Drug abuse and alcoholism have strong heriditary components,which means they tend to "run in families." Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted.Many other factors, such as stress levels and family environment also contribute heavily. We even have identified particular gene variants that are linked to higher risk of alcoholism, but even if you have the high risk form of these genes,alcoholism can be entirely avoided if alcohol is not used. Here's NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-Joni Rutter

does smoking weed lead to other drugs?

-john,

Not necessarily. However, marijuana is itself addictive. One out of ten people who smoke marijuana develop an addiction to it. When we look at people who abuse illegal drugs, they tend to have also used marijuana--and nicotine and alcohol. Marijuana can pose other significant health risks. Check out https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana for more information.

-Frank Vocci

does marajuana affect your driving?

-katelynn,

Yes. It does. Marijuana slows everything down which means that it slows your reaction time, your ability to make rapid critical judgments and discriminate shapes--figure out what you are looking at, it impairs perceptual-motor coordination and motor performance (there is a delay between thinking about doing an action, like putting your foot on the brake and actually braking), impaired short-term memory, attention, knowing what color the traffic signal is and it slows your time perception (you think something will take you a few seconds but it actually takes much longer). Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Look at:
http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/driving.htmlfor more information

-Petra Jacobs

does marajuana affect your driving?

-katelynn,

Yes. It does. Marijuana slows everything down which means that it slows your reaction time, your ability to make rapid critical judgments and discriminate shapes--figure out what you are looking at, it impairs perceptual-motor coordination and motor performance (there is a delay between thinking about doing an action, like putting your foot on the brake and actually braking), impaired short-term memory, attention, knowing what color the traffic signal is and it slows your time perception (you think something will take you a few seconds but it actually takes much longer). Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Look at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/driving.html for more information.

-Petra Jacobs

Does marajuana have any bad side affects?

-FreIdzIe,

Thanks for the fantastic question! Scientists have learned a great deal about how one of the key components of marijuana,known as THC, acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to organs throughout the body, including the brain. In the brain, THC connects to specific areas called "cannabinoid receptors" and changes the activity of those cells. Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. The short-term effects of marijuana can include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; difficulty in thinking and problem solving; loss of coordination; and increased heart rate. Research findings for long-term marijuana abuse indicate some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs. One study has indicated that an abuser's risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an effect might occur from marijuana's effects on blood pressure and heart rate and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Even infrequent abuse can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, often accompanied by a heavy cough. Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency to obstructed airways. Smoking marijuana possibly increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck. You might find it interesting that a recent study compared 173 cancer patients to 176 healthy individuals - and the results produced evidence that marijuana smoking doubled or tripled the risk of these cancers, Marijuana abuse also has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because it contains irritants and carcinogens, In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. It also induces high levels of an enzyme that converts certain hydrocarbons into their carcinogenic form levels that may accelerate the changes that ultimately produce malignant cells. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which increases the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. These facts suggest that, puff for puff, smoking marijuana may be more harmful to the lungs than smoking tobacco. Some of marijuana's adverse health effects may occur because THC impairs the immune system's ability to fight disease. In laboratory experiments that exposed animal and human cells to THC or other marijuana ingredients, the normal disease-preventing reactions of many of the key types of immune cells were inhibited. In other studies, mice exposed to THC or related substances were more likely than unexposed mice to develop bacterial infections and tumors. If you would like more information, you might want to check out: http://www.marijuana-info.org/. I hope this information helps!

-Joe Frascella

does marijuana cause cancer

-eva,

This is still an open question that scientists are actively studying. Smoking any drug is problematic because the smoke damages the lungs and many chemicals in smoke can increase the risk of cancer of the lungs and other exposed organs.

-Barry Hoffer