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 there any long term risks of marijuana?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Kearsarge--you are on a roll! Yeah, research shows that it can make you dumber...regular marijuana use as a teen may harm the developing brain, lower IQ, and seriously impair the ability to drive safely, especially when combined with alcohol.  Longer term affects, like cancer and heart disease are certainly possible, too. Here's some more info.:

-Joni Rutter

Are there any medically beneficial effects of marijuana?

-Anonymous, Ohio

we are studying the potential medicinal benefits of marijuana and its chemical components...although some believe there are benefits, more studies are needed to confirm this.

-Maureen Boyle

Are there any negative long-term effects of doing shrooms very infrequently (once or twice a year)?

-person, Maryland

Well...the psychoactive ingredient in mushrooms is psilocybin, which is chemically similar to LSD. The effects you would get would depend on the dose you were taking (and there is no way to know that), with higher being worse.  Psilocybin is known to produce altered states of perception, nervousness and paranoia. Seems to me that even one or twice a year might be too much to maintain good health.  And good health is kind of necessary to keep you active and happy, don't you agree?  You can find more information at NIDA’s teen site here:

-Nancy Pilotte

Are there any particular alcholhols that are the absolute worst for your body ?

-Kaitlin A, Texas

Hi, Kaitlin. There is no "worst" alcohol -- All alcohol can have negative effects for teens. There's an old myth that drinking one type of alcohol before the other is better. In reality, alcohol is alcohol. Whether it comes from liquor, beer or wine, alcohol can shut down various parts of the brain and make it harder to walk, talk, think and make decisions. It can also interfere with the development of your brain. You can learn more about how alcohol affects your body here:

-Aaron White

Always adults spoiling society rotten and blaming it on the fact that its just the new generation...How many lives could be changed if cigarettes were abolished? It might cause a riot in these days, but if it wasn't started in the first place, imaging how many people would be better off without them?

-Vlindanna, Maryland

Hi Vlindanna,
i know it will be next to impossible to convince you, but we do have your best interest at heart when we try to help you make the right decisions about drugs. Your brain is developing very rapidly right now and it can ill afford to have to deal with the toxic effects of any drug of abuse. you'll be smart to believe me.
best of luck to you.\


-Ruben Baler

Am I more likely to get addicted to drugs if I start using them when I am a teenager?

-StrongMS EDGE, Connecticut

Yes, research suggests that the earlier someone starts using drugs the more likely they are to develop an addiction.

-Gaya Dowling

Are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

-MaNii, Michigan

hi manii, good to hear from you
This is a good question and one we get A LOT. the terms soft and hard drugs are not really scientific terms. So, put this way, this is one of those questions we can't really answer. You see, the effects of a drug are so different for different people that what's benign for one could be extremely dangerous for another. Having said that, some drugs, like meth, heroin and many synthetics which come laced with toxic chemicals are notoriously harmful to your health.
hope this helps.

-Ruben Baler

are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

-vsvsvsvs, Maryland

In general they are but the problem is that there are some people that are more sensitive to harmful effects of the so called "soft drugs" leading them to have adverse reactions.  Also soft drugs trigger addiction and this is more common in young people who use them regularly believing them to be less harmful.  

-Nora Volkow

Are "Hooka Pipes" dangerous to the health and welfare of the human body?

-Authement/Scate, Texas

Hello there- There is a common misconception that smoking hookah isn't bad for you but it is really just another way of smoking tobacco and we all know that is bad for you.  Research suggests that smoking hookah is associated with all sorts of the same health problems associated with smoking cigarettes such as cancers, respiratory illnesses, and addiction.  In fact, early results of current research being conducted is revealing that one session of hookah smoking is like smoking multiple cigarettes!  So yes, it is absolutely bad to use.  Take a look at more info on hookah by clicking on this link

-Albert Avila

are all drugs adictive

-chance, Illinois

all drugs are POTENTIALLY addictive. Some are more so than others but it depends on a bunch of factors in addition to the drug. Since each person's makeup and environment differ, addiction risk varies. 

-Gaya Dowling

Are all drugs bad?

-jdonovan, New Hampshire

Any abused drugs can produce addiction (continuing to take the drug despite harmful health effects, damage to relationships, or legal consequences).  For example, regular marijuana use by teens decreases IQ into the adult years, and research continues to find out how marijuana and other drugs may impact the developing teen brain. And at lower doses, drugs affect people in many different ways. Research shows some stimulant drugs like cocaine can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Others produce lung damage, cancer, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and so on. At high doses some drugs can kill you, even after a single exposure. Find out more at

-Antonello Bonci

Are all drugs necessarily bad? Bad drugs can be good to certain people., Pennsylvania

That's a very good point--there are medicines that can be life saving for people with be certain illnesses, but devastating if taken by those for whom they are not prescribed.  Opiate painkillers are a perfect example--they can be very useful for someone following surgery, for example--but can also be highly addictive and even deadly when abused.  Also, people have varying responses to drugs and some are more vulnerable to the bad effects than others--not everyone who drinks alcohol get liver disease.  

-Susan Weiss

Are all over the counter drugs dangerous?

-Vronny, Maryland

Hi Vronny- All over-the-counter drugs carry the risk of hazardous side effects, especially the drugs that fall under any of these categories: painkillers and anti-inflammatories, heartburn and indigestion medication, cough and cold medication. Remember to always follow the instructions on the bottle of over the counter medications when you take them.  Stay safe and have a fantastic day, Vronny!

-Albert Avila

Are all substances with hallucination effects considered illicit drugs?

-X, Maryland

No- not all. There are some medical uses for ketamine, a drug which is also abused when used for non-medidcal purposes.  

-Nancy Pilotte

Are bath salts becoming more popular?

-lauren, North Carolina

Hi, Lauren. Nope! Actually quite the opposite! This family of drugs that contains synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stumulant, have shown declines over the past few years, and the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey reports than 1 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders using them.  Do you want to read more about new drug fads that concern scientists?  See

-Marsha Lopez

Are children born to alcoholic parents more likely to become an alcoholic in the future?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Yes, unfortunately.  The odds of being an alcoholic are much higher if you have alcoholism in your family. For instance, if someone has their first drink of alcohol at age 14-15 and has a family history of alcoholism, their odds of becoming an alcoholic are about 1 in 2, while for those without a family history the odds are about 1 in 3.  

-Aaron White

are dabs bad for you?

-hayballentine, Michigan

Hi hayballentine,
Yes, it's a much more concentrated form of marijuana, so you could have an extreme reaction, which can include vomiting, paranoia, and possibly even hallucinations. Over the long term, it can have the same bad effects, if you use it a lot, that other marijuana can have--like affecting your intelligence.
Thanks for the question!

-Eric Wargo

are dabs or oil concentrates worse for your health than smoking normal weed??

-Willem Sheetz, Maryland

Hey Willem Sheetz - Dabs and oils concentrate the drug into a more potent form. Either method isn't good, but getting high concentrations of a drug into your system is the equivalent of your brain hitting a wall and can be much more dangerous.  

-Joni Rutter

are dabs or oil concentrates worse than regular weed

-Willem Sheetz, Maryland

Dear Willem, 
Oil concentrates of marijuana (hash oil) are more concentrated, resinous forms of the drug. with much higher concentrations of THC (the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana). H
ash oil concentrate THC content has been reported to get close to 80 or even 90 percent THC, a huge amount. This high level of THC is very worrisome in terms of addiction potential and the risk of mental illness.
best of luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

Are drugs allowed in any states?

-smohan, New Hampshire

Hello Smohan from Kingswood Regional Middle School! Thanks for your questions. Yes, drugs are allowed--in fact our country has the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. This is the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids and other chemicals are regulated. There are 5 Schedules (classifications), of substances. Check them out here:

-Bethany Deeds

are drugs bad for you

-password, Ohio

Hi password! All drugs are bad for you and most have similar long-term effects. All drugs interfere with the brain's normal processing and can eventually lead to changes in how well it works. Over time, drug use can lead to addiction, a devastating brain disease in which people can’t stop using drugs even when they really want to and even after it causes terrible consequences to their health and other parts of their lives.  There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

-Ish Amarreh

are drugs bad for you

-The dukes, Ohio

Thanks for the question, The dukes! Yes, drugs are bad for you. In fact, all drugs (unless they are prescription drugs taken as prescribed by a doctor) are bad for you, and most have similar long-term effects. All drugs interfere with the brain's normal processing and can eventually lead to changes in how well the brain operates.  Over time, drug use can lead to addiction. You can find a ton of info about the health effects of drugs here:

-Joseph Frascella

are drugs fun while it lasts

-djosep0284, Maryland

hi josep
for some people yes, for some the experience could be a nasty one. 

-Ruben Baler

Are drugs more addictive than cookies?

-cookie monster, Maryland

Yes, drugs are much more addictive than cookies (even chocolate chip cookies)

-Nora Volkow

are drugs more addictive than REALLY REALLY REALLY good cookies?

-Topples, Ohio

Hi Topples.
Well yeah. Of course they are. Unless, the cookies are laced with a drug (like marijuana), in that case the story changes.

-Ruben Baler

Are drugs more common in teens or adults?

-ThatsCool, Minnesota

Hi, ThatsCool. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of current use of illicit drugs in 2013 was highest in the 18 to 25 year-old age group (21.5%), followed by 12 to 17 year olds (8.8%), then by adults ages 26 or older (7.3%). So college aged students tend to use more drugs than any other age range. You can check out all their results on the NIDA website. Any drug use, however, is not cool (no matter how old you are). Remember no one can make you do drugs--it's your choice to live a healthy, drug-free life. If you need help, though, it's OK ask. Tell a friend, teacher, nurse or counselor if you or someone you know needs help with drug abuse.

-Marsha Lopez

Are drugs okay in small amounts?

-ronaldo, Maryland

That's a really good question--and one that we don't really have a lot of information on.  The problem is that going from occassional to regular use to problematic use can happen very slowly without people noticing that they are losing control over their use.  The other concern I would have for a young person is your developing brain (going strong until your early 20s)--would want to keep that as healthy as possible. 

-Susan Weiss

Are drugs really all that bad?

-ronaldo, Maryland

Drugs are chemicals. When you say drugs, I assume you mean drugs that are illegal and not used or needed to treat diseases of the brain and body. Any chemicals that reach the brain affect affect the way it works.  The brain has nerve cells called neurons to keep it healthy.  Drugs make these cells work in ways that it wasn't "designed" to work.  The brain tries to be "smart" and changes itself because of these drugs. If the brain is not working properly, then therapeutic drugs are needed.  But drugs that are not approved for anything therapeutic can have side effects which are serious consequences for our health. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

-Harold Gordon

Are drugs really legal in Amsterdam?

-Vronny, Maryland

Hi Vronny,
Great question. Actually they are not legal in The Netherlands, just "decriminalized." That means the police look the other way. 

-Eric Wargo

are drugs really that bad? cause people say its not that bad but i disagree

-;sodfghado;fi;g, Texas

We tend to think drugs cause harm vs they are either "good" or "bad". 

-Maureen Boyle