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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Did you know you cant get addicted to marijuana

-Your MOM,

In fact,marijuana can be addictive and can lead to compulsive use--individuals who are addicted abuse the drug even though it often interferes with family, school, work, and recreational activities.Marijuana can also produce "withdrawal" symptoms when trying to quit, such as difficulty sleeping and anxiety.You can find out more at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html

-David Shurtleff

Do anabolic steroids mess you up at a young age as your body develops?

-Conichiwah,

yes because they interfere with your body's production of hormones which are indispensable for the growth of your body

-Nora Volkow

Do crash victims usually use marijuana?

-Angel_Thinkspink,

Marijuana definitely affects the skills necessary for driving. Recent studies suggest that just as many young people involved in crashes use marijuana as alcohol, so it is definitely a dangerous drug to use while driving. You can find out more about that at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/.

-Steve Gust

do drugaddicts really die from drugs????????????

-Brady,

Absolutely.The drug that causes the most deaths is nicotine, since smoking promotes cancer and heart disease. Morphine kills many addicts who take too much, because it stops their breathing. Cocaine triggers heart attacks. Drugs can also kill by impairing judgement so that a person gets into an accident or does something dangerous that he or she would never do otherwise. For information on drug-related hospital emergency department visits and deaths, go to the Drug Abuse Warning Network https://www.samhsa.gov/data/data-we-collect/dawn-drug-abuse-warning-network

-Steve Grant

Do drugs affect relasionships?

-Eastern 25,

Absolutely, yes, drugs can affect relationships.It isn't possible to list ALL the ways that drugs can affect relationships, but we know that drugs increase risky behavior, and may reduce people's ability to control their behavior. One result of this is that diseases like AIDS are spread among drug users more readily. (See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/viral-infections-hiv-hepatitis-and-drug-use) We also know that sometimes people start using drugs because they are around people who use drugs. And it is often very hard for someone to stop using drugs if the person they are involved with is using drugs.

-Lisa Onken

Do drugs affect the color of your pee?

-Tetra crew,

Although there are some drugs such as pyridium that turn your urine orange, I am not aware of any drugs of abuse that affect the color of urine.

-Steve Gust

do drugs affect you sexually

-Mike,

Drugs definitely influence your judgment and inhibitions around sex, putting you at risk for sexually transmitted diseases as well as sexual violence. Please go to the following link to learn more about the relationship between drug use and HIV infection: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/hivaids

-Liz Robertson

Do drugs affect your driving skills?

-jwphealth,

Most drugs do, Marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, ecstasy and any of the many hallucinogenic drugs are notorious for their ability to impair driving. If you would like to learn more about drugged driving, please visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/Infofacts/driving.html

-Barry Hoffer

Do drugs affect your growth and social life?

-Kay Kay,

Yes, in many ways. People who use drugs tend to socialize mainly with other people who use drugs, so they wind up with a narrower circle of friends and activities.If you think part of growing is doing well in school, setting goals in life, and achieving them, drugs make these things harder. If you're just thinking of growing tall, steroids can keep you shorter than you otherwise would become 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/

-Steve Grant

do drugs affect your memory?

-tcates,

Great question! Several drugs have been shown to affect memory. For example, marijuana has been shown to affect some aspects of memory, as well as methamphetamine, cocaine, alcohol, ecstasy. Also, prescription drug abuse can impair memory and this website provides an overview of this symptom as well as other symptoms: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/PrescripDrugsChart.html.

-Joe Frascella

do drugs change the way you act?

-cs,

Yes, most drugs will affect your brain which in turn will influence the way you behave. For example, marijuana use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts. Still, scientists do not yet know whether using marijuana causes mental illness. Evidence does show that frequent use is linked to psychosis (disturbed perceptions and thoughts) in some people, and can make these symptoms worse in patients who already have schizophrenia. Young users and those who are dependent on marijuana may be especially vulnerable. Research also shows greater rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking in people who smoke a lot. For more, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/parents/.

-Jacques Normand

do drugs harm a baby if your pregnat?

-olsone,

Drugs can harm the baby in many different ways.For example,many drugs (including cigarettes and alcohol) decrease blood flow to the placenta which is the main source of nutrition to the baby. Also, drugs activate proteins in the brain that are involved in the construction of the communication systems between cells thus affecting this process.Drugs can also impact organs other than the brain. For example smoking can increase the risk of obesity in the newborn.

-Nora Volkow

do drugs have anything to do with acne?

-polly,

Acne is one the unintended consequences of anabolic steroid abuse. For more information on the long list of steroids side effects you can visit hhttp://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrsteroids_0.pdf

-Barry Hoffer

does any drug affect your growth

-hockeyplayer15,

yes stimulant sand steriods have been shown to retard your growth

-Nora Volkow

Does chew or smoking affect your body more

-Sal,

This is a really good question! Both chewing and smoking affect your body. Nicotine is the drug in tobacco leaves. Whether someone smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain. Chewing tobacco can cause damage to gum tissue and even loss of teeth. It also reduces a person's ability to taste and smell. Most importantly, smokeless tobacco contains cancer causing-chemicals that can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. This can even happen in very young users of chewing tobacco. In fact, most people who develop these cancers were users of chewing tobacco. While inhaling a cigarette, smokers are pulling more than nicotine into their lungs. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Besides nicotine, the most dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke are tar and carbon monoxide. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems; smokers are at high risk for heart disease. For more information on smoking or tobacco please go to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco

-Ivan Montoya

does crystal meth affect you in any way

-playboy gurl,

Crystal methamphetamine affects you in a lot of ways. The most important is that it can change your brain so that you become addicted. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/ and at http://www.drugabuse.gov/.

-Steve Grant

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

do drugs mess with your brain

-jellybean,

Absolutely. All drugs of abuse increase the release of a neurotransmitter (a brain chemical used to send signals between nerve cells) known as dopamine in the brain's pleasure centers. With continued use the release of dopamine becomes totally out of control. Individuals are then at risk of becoming addicted to this effect and start to take the drug without even thinking about it. Eventually, drugs of abuse can affect your capacity to make good decisions and learn new things. In many cases, the drugs can mess with your brain so much that you can literally lose control of your life.

-Joni Rutter

Do is it easier for a teenage kid to get addicted to a drug then an adult

-McLovin,

Great question! Our latest science shows that the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse. This is partly because the teen brain is a work in progress: It undergoes dramatic changes during adolescence and into adulthood. Drugs interfere with this developmental process and can cause permanent changes in the brain.To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nancy Pilotte

Do our genes contribute to how smart we are?

-SmartGirl,

Genes definitely contribute to how smart we are, but genes aren't the whole story, nor even the biggest part. Intelligence is a very complex thing,in addition to genes we need to consider whether one's childhood has been spent in a rich and stimulating environment, whether the person plays sports, enjoys healthy activities with friends, eats healthy foods, and constantly challenges his or her brain in school and at home. None of this will matter much, however, if somebody expose his/her brain to drugs, Drugs have an uncanny ability to mess up the brain and prevent people from being as smart as they could have been had they stayed away from them in the first place.

-Joni Rutter

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

Does marijuana cause cancer and lung problems?

-mATHLETE996,

Yes! There is a growing body of research showing that smoking marijuana introduces multiple chemicals into the body and can be a risk factor for both cancer and lung problems. You can find a lot of information about the effects of marijuana at http://www.marijuana-info.org/

-Ivan Montoya

does marijuana cause lung cancer?

-Sara,

Great question. Although we know that smoking tobacco is a major cause of lung cancer, we do not have as definitive an answer for marijuana. When you smoke cigarettes, you get a lot of nicotine, but you also ingest a lot of other chemicals that are responsible for the damage to the delicate lining of your lungs. Similarly, when you smoke marijuana, you ingest a lot of other chemicals that you don't think about that can similarly irritate your lungs. It normally takes a long time to develop lung cancer from cigarettes; we do not have the long-term data from smoking marijuana yet, but we think it is reasonable to expect that it will have similar effects. For more information about marijuana, go to http://www.marijuana-info.org/

-Nancy Pilotte

does marijuana cause lung cancer?

-Sara,

Great question. Although we know that smoking tobacco is a major cause of lung cancer, we do not have as definitive an answer for marijuana. When you smoke cigarettes, you get a lot of nicotine, but you also ingest a lot of other chemicals that are responsible for the damage to the delicate lining of your lungs. Similarly, when you smoke marijuana, you ingest a lot of other chemicals that you don't think about that can similarly irritate your lungs. It normally takes a long time to develop lung cancer from cigarettes; we do not have the long-term data from smoking marijuana yet, but we think it is reasonable to expect that it will have similar effects. For more information about marijuana, go to
http://www.marijuana-info.org/

-Nancy Pilotte

does marijuana kill braincells

-mgard,

Great question. Although we do not have evidence that marijuana can kill brain cells, we do know that it makes brain cells work less efficiently. For more information about marijuana, go to http://www.marijuana-info.org/

-Nancy Pilotte