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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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Do the benefits of marijuana's ability to alleviate anxiety outweigh the potential detriments to your cognitive abilities and memory?

-Taleen, Ohio

Hi Taleen
This is a very astute question. The research on anxiety relief with cannabis/marijuana use is limited. However there is a lot of anecdotal information mostly put forth by regular marijuana users that it is helpful in relieving anxiety, stress and a whole lot of other negative feelings. Until we have conclusive evidence, we cannot recommend either that marijuana alleviates anxiety or that the benefial effects outweigh the detrimental effects. Especially in youth.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Does marijuana kill your brain cells?

-Ruby, New York

Hi Ruby - there have been studies that have shown that long-term, heavy, consistent marijuana use been linked to lower IQ but more studies are definitely needed.

-Michele Rankin

does marijuana kill your brain cells?

-anon, New York

We don't know. It can affect how your brain works, how efficiently you can process information, whether certain connections are made between different parts of the brain, etc. And in young people, because their brains are still actively developing, some of these effects may be long lasting or even permanent.

-Susan Weiss

Does marijuana lead to the use of other drugs?

-alinaj1, New York

We know that many individuals who use cocaine, opioid drugs, and other "hard" drugs have also used marijuana. Research shows that because the teen brain is still developing, using marijuana may change the brain's reward system, which makes it more likely that a teen will use other drugs. We have many ideas about why this may be the case, but this is a question we need to understand better.

-Aria Crump

Does marijuana make throat hurt?

-aphan, Texas

hey aphan, it can when you smoke it

-Maureen Boyle

does marijuana modifies th DNA of someone?

-RIC, Other

Yes, a recent study (2016) has shown that marijuana can alter the DNA. For more general info about marijuana, please check:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Anto Bonci

Does marijuana use lead to the use of other drugs?

-Molly Look, Colorado

hey Molly Look, The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy. The research is not yet settled but it suggests that while most people who smoke marijuana do not go on to use other drugs, most teens who use other illegal drugs try marijuana first. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. However, this is also true for alcohol and tobacco. Animal studies suggest that ---because the teen brain is still developing---early use of marijuana alcohol or tobacco may alter the brain’s reward system, putting teens at higher risk of using other drugs. In addition, using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who use and sell other drugs, increasing the risk of additional drug use.

-Maureen Boyle

Does marijuana use lead to the use of other drugs?

-Sy'Nai , Texas

Hi, Sy'Nai, great question. The research is not entirely settled on this question but it suggests that while most people who smoke marijuana do not go on to use other drugs, most teens who use other illegal drugs try marijuana first. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. However, this is also true for alcohol and tobacco. Animal studies suggest that ---because the teen brain is still developing---early use of marijuana alcohol or tobacco may alter the brain’s reward system, putting teens at higher risk of using other drugs. In addition, using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who use and sell other drugs, increasing the risk of additional drug use.

-Marsha Lopez

Does meth affect the ages 60-90 more then ages 10-30?

-bhong, Texas

Hey bhong! People at either end of the age spectrum (age 12, over age 65) use meth the least frequently- highest rates of meth use are found in people aged 20-30. Check out the details here: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.htm#tab1-21b.

-Emily Einstein

Does meth kill you?

-eadjutant, New Hampshire
Hi eadjutant from Kingswood Regional Middle School! While there are some people who have indeed died as a result of using methamphetamine, there are other not so pretty effects associated with its use. Over time, some people taking meth feel paranoid, have serious sleep problems, end up damaging their brain and heart...AND get terrible acne and tooth problems (including rooting teeth and teeth falling out). If you want to find out more about Meth, see https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine-meth.
-Ericka Boone

does meth make you violent?

-xlopez, Texas

Hi xlopez,

Yes, it can make you more violent because meth makes it more difficult for your brain to control your behavior. So, if you have more violent thoughts, you are more likely to act on them. Also, if you are addicted to meth and you cannot get it, you may use violence to try to get it. Learn more about meth at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine-meth.

-Carlos Blanco

Does nicotine affect the brain and other organs?

-SVV, Other

Hi SVV, thanks for this question! Nicotine is delivered to your lungs from cigarette smoke and e-cigarette vapor. Because the lungs have many blood capilaries, the nicotine goes from the lungs into the blood vessels and can get to your brain and other organs. Nicotine increases the speed of your heartbeat and your blood pressure. It also affects brain development in teens and can lead to addiction.

-Kevin Walton

does rehab really help you?

-emorejon, Texas

Hey emorejon,
There are medications to help with some addictions including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and opioids (e.g. heroin or pain pills). And there are also behavioral therapies to help people recover. But addiction is often a lasting condition, like heart disease or diabetes; there are treatments that help someone live a healthy, productive life but there is no cure. NIDA scientists are working hard to develop better treatments to treat addictions to all types of drugs. You can learn more about effective treatment programs here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment

-Maureen Boyle

Does rehab really help you?

-nvemuri, Texas

Hi nvemuri

The short answer is Yes. But it depends on a lot of other factors as well. Substance abuse treatment progams also known as "Rehab" can be very effective, especially the ones that provide treatments that are based on research evidence. Another important factor is the motivation of the individual - while the treatment provider can help them increase one's motivation to abstinence and recovery, ultimately, it is the drug user who has to keep the focus, engage in treatment and apply all the recovery skills he/she is taught in treatment. For some substances such as alcohol and opioid use disorders, medical providers can also assist by prescribing medications to control symptoms of withdrawal and prevent relapse.
Treatment works!

-Geetha Subramaniam

Does rehab really work

-jada fvsu 4h, Georgia

Hi jada fvsu,
It does if it uses evidence-based treatment principles (meaning they have been tested scientifically). Unfortunately, a lot of rehab programs do not fit this description, and may be ineffective.
Great question!

-Eric Wargo

Does smocking/chewing tobacco affect your brain in any way?

-Kpaz, Texas

yes, tobacco chewing will lead you to absorbe nicotine which is an addictive drug.

-Nora Volkow

does smoking cause lung cancer

-onyx, Maryland

Yes -- smoking causes lung cancer. Smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in this country.

-Kevin Conway

does smoking make your gums rotten?

-gilberto fvsu 4, Georgia

Dear gilberto fvsu 4 - yes, smoking can harm your gums AND your teeth. Smoking decreases the blood flow to your gums, so they can't fight bacteria and plaque as effectively. This causes an increase in tartar on your teeth, which leads to tooth decay. The grit in tobacco products can also wear away the enamel, the protective coating, on your teeth. Stay in control of your health and don't smoke!

-Heather Kimmel

Does smoking pot stay in ur system for a month beacuse ive smoked about 3g and then about 5 days later i passed a drug test so im pretty sure its not true

-11177 summit, New Jersey

I wouldnt be so sure. A positive detection will depend on the potency (the THC concentration) of whatever it is you smoked and sensitivity of the test, among other things.

-Ruben Baler

Does snorting cocaine affect your brain?

-Dadrian FVSU 4H, Georgia

Hi Dadrian, it sure does. Cocaine is one of the drugs with the most powerful effects on the brain. It stimulates some of the most important brain circuits and can cause a lot of different effects. Stimulants such as cocaine cause the body’s blood vessels to narrow, constricting blood flow, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. The heart might work so hard that it temporarily loses its natural rhythm. This is why people can die suddenly from a heart attack after using cocaine. teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants

-Steve Gust

Does some drugs have the same affect as beer has like not seeing right or not walking straight?

-DayneK, Pennsylvania

Hey DayneK- Alcohol is a drug that can affect your vision and how you move because it acts on the brain circuits responsible for these functions. Other drugs can absolutely cause similar effects. For example, hallucinogens can cause you to see or hear things that aren't even there!

-Emily Einstein

Does spice affects more than weed?

-MFDG, Other

MFDG---good question. Some people call Spice "fake" or “synthetic” marijuana but they are just plant materials sprayed with dangerous chemicals. While Spice products are labeled “not for human consumption” they are marketed to people as herbal alternatives to marijuana. Chemical analyses of seized Spice mixtures have revealed different things---including the presence of synthetic compounds and potentially harmful heavy metal residues. A variety of mood effects have been described, and patients who have been taken to Poison Control Centers report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. So the effects of "Spice" can be stronger and more violent than weed, but both can cause changes in the brain, especailly for teens, whose brains are still developing,

-Carol Krause

Does taking drugs by injecting it with like a shot does it work faster

-carina@gentryR, Texas
When you inject a drug, you do feel the effects faster than if you swallow a drug, for example. This is because the drug enters the bloodstream right away. Drug injection increases the risk of overdose and damage to the brain.
-Mary Kautz

does the amount of alcohol you assume determine how long you're drunk?

-Anise F., Texas

Yes absolutely because alcohol is cleared in the liver and that clearance takes about 1.5 hours per drink. So someone who has 10 drinks will have alcohol in their bodies for much longer than someone who has 1 drink.

-George Koob

Does the brain go back to normal after an addict stops taking drugs

-M.Siddeeque, Texas

Hi. M.Siddeeque,

Great question and one that is at the cutting edge of research. Certainly, some aspects of the brain return to normal once a person stops taking drugs. Some go back to normal relatively quickly (days to weeks), but others take months and maybe even years. But not all drug effects have been studied long enough for us to know about very long-term effecgts. Importantly, we don't know as much as we want is whether taking drugs during periods of rapid brain development, like adolescence, leads to long term or permenant brain changes. The NIDA and some of its sister Institutes have just started a 10-year Adolsecnt Brain and Cognitive Development study that will hopefully provide an answer to this critical question.

-Belinda Sims

Does the cocaine can be used to reduce the drunkenness?

-PVH, Other

Hey PVH- Some people might think that cocaine could reduce drunkenness since cocaine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant. This is such a bad idea, though! When cocaine and alcohol are in your body at the same time, they combine to make another chemical called cocaethylene that is far more dangerous than either alcohol or cocaine alone. Here is more information about the harmful effects of cocaethylene: https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/addiction/health-effects-of-cocaethylene/.

-Emily Einstein

Does the electronic cigarette affect the lungs?

-AVE, Other

Hi, thanks for the question! The majority of ingredients in an e-cigarette were not developed to be inhaled into the lungs. And there have been some scientific studies that show these ingredients can harm the cells that are found in the lungs.

-Kevin Walton

Does the rate of how fast your body metabolize alcohol change when you get older?

-jeff98, Indiana

Hi, Jeff98. This is something that is under study as the population ages. It's not entirely clear, but anecdotal evidence suggests that hangovers -- which are a rough surrogate indicator of the rate of alcohol metabolism -- seem to be worse as one ages.

-George Koob

Does the use of Marijuana lead to the use of other drugs?

-johnf21, New York

Johnf21, Great question. Research indicates that kids who use marijuana often use other drugs, like alcohol or cigarettes. More informaiton on teen drug use and marijuana is available at: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Redonna Chandler

Does todays music have anything to do with people willing to try more drugs?

-aj, Indiana

Hi Size,
Great question. Yes, when pop singers sing about drugs, it glamorizes drug use, and also makes it seem "normal," like everyone is doing it. That can encourage people to try drugs, both because they think everyone else is doing it, and also because they want to be like a musician.

-Eric Wargo