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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How do steroids affect a person's mood?


Very good question! It is possible that some steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continuing to take steroids in spite of physical problems, negative effects on social relations, or nervousness and irritability. Also, they spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs and experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and the desire to take more steroids. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. Untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs. If you want to learn more about steroid abuse, please go to:

-Ruben Baler

how do u know so much about drugs


In one word: Research. Twenty five years of it. You would be amazed about the amount of information we've been able to obtain through studyng the brain and the effects that different drugs can have on it.You can learn much more about what addiction research has taught us by visiting

-Ruben Baler

How does cocaine affect the body?


I appreciate your interest - cocaine is a stimulant that has most of its effects on the brain, as do all drugs of abuse. Cocaine leads to an increase in the brain chemical, dopamine, in the brain synapses, and continued use can change the way your brain works. As for effects on the body, cocaine can increase your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, and can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It definitely "pushes" your cardiovascular system. Thanks again for the question.

-Joe Frascella

How does Cocaine effect teenagers?

-RockerGirl 101,

Cocaine is a stimulant that can make a person paranoid especially with repeated use, and it can produce addiction

-Nora Volkow

How does consuming drugs during pregnancy affect the fetus?


Thanks for writing in. Drugs can harm the developing fetus in many different ways. We have research that looks at prenatal exposure to marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and the research shows that drugs cause all kinds of problems with growth (low birth weight), paying attention, thinking, language, and behavior. How exactly the fetus is affected depends on the drug. For example, alcohol use during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, a very serious condition (see this website for lots of detail on FAS: ) And tobacco use during pregnancy has been linked to behavior problems in kids. We recommend moms not use alcohol and drugs, including tobacco, during pregnancy and talk with their doctors if they do to make sure they and their babies are healthy!

-Nicolette Borek

how does drugs affect your mind


Good question. All drugs affect the brain, and therefore can affect the way you think and feel. One part of the brain affected by drugs is the "reward system" where a brain chemical called dopamine is released. Sudden surges of dopamine in the brain is what causes the feelings of rush and high that can then lead individuals to continued use, abuse, and then addiction. But if you continue to use the drugs, the amount of dopamine in the brain decreases so you end up feeling bad from using the drugs. You list different classes of drugs, and the specifics of each can be found at: www.teens.drugabuse.govThanks for this question.

-Joe Frascella

How does drugs Effect your brain more than any other place on the Body?

-RockerGirl 101,

All drugs of abuse affect the brain reward areas and some drugs affect other brain areas as well. The web site below gives more information on how drugs affect the body.

-Joe Frascella

how do drugs affect brain functions in teens?


Drugs not only affect mood and behavior in teens like they do in adults, there is a special ADDED risk when using drugs as a teen. This is because YOUR BRAIN IS STILL IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING and finishing off how it connects with itself- it is like riding a bike over the sidewalk while the cement is still wet-- you're left with a rut that can endure! Adolescent rats exposed to drugs show lifelong altered responsiveness to drugs of abuse in laboratory behavior tests! For more comprehensive information on the brain and addiction, see

-James Bjork

how do drugs affect your body and brain


Good question! When you take a drug of abuse like cocaine, it affects your brain and every organ system in your body. In the brain it attaches to brain receptors and can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters). It can also disrupt or even prevent other normal activities of the brain cells. This disruption utimately affects the ability of our brain cells to be able to communicate with each other. The difference in effect can be described as the difference between someone whispering into your ear and someone shouting into a microphone. Drugs can also affect the body. Cocaine, for example, has also been found to trigger chaotic heart rhythms, called ventricular fibrillation; accelerate heartbeat and breathing; and increase blood pressure and body temperature. Check out NIDA's website for more information!

-David Shurtleff

How do drugs affect your body? Physically,Mentally, and Socialy? l


Drugs have a powerful impact on your entire body but particularly your brain. Initially, all drugs of abuse, either directly or indirectly, increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction.

-Redonna Chandler

how do drugs affect your mental health?


Depends on the drug, your age, and your genes. Smoking cigarrettes in young adolescent increases their risk of anxiety and use of marijuana in sensitive individuals can result in psychosis. Repeated use of cocaine or methamphetamine can also produce paranoia. Steroids can produce depression and increase the risk of suicide. Alcohol can facilitate aggressive behaviors in some poeple, All drugs of abuse can produce addiction.

-Nora Volkow

how many kids use steroids each year


According to NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey (which surveys 8th, 10th, and 12th graders) in 2007 1.1% of 10th graders and 1.4% of 12th graders had used steroids within the past year.

-Anna Staton

How many minors get caught with drugs in the US? And what are the charges on them?


Federal statistics estimate 1.9 million people were convicted of drug related offenses in the U.S in 2006. The charges vary from driving under the influence to dealilng drugs. The severity of punishment also varies with the crime but can result in spending time in prison or jail. For kids under 18, probation, time in a juvenile detention center, or an option to participate in drug treatment are common consequences. No one wants to live with the consequences of conviction for any type of crime hanging over their head. In some cases you can loose your drivers license, your right to vote, ability to apply for college and financial assistance, not to mention the stigma which could make it difficult to get a job.

-Redonna Chandler

How many people die each year from drug usage?

-HogueAndAzn, Louisiana

Thanks for the question. About 570,000: 440,000 due to tobacco, 85,000 due to alcohol, and 20,000 due to prescription drug abuse.

-Anna Staton

how many people die from drug use average a year?


Hi there. On average over 500,000 people die from drug abuse each year. Most of those are due to tobacco (440,000), then alcohol (about 85,000), and then illicit drugs (about 20,000).

-Anna Staton

how many people die from smoking?


In the United States, 440,000 people die from tobacco each year. Check out our teen website for additional information about nicotine and its affect on your brain and your body. Go to and click on Nicotine in the drop down menu called Facts on Drugs. The teen site also has some neat quizzes and interactives you may like.

-Jan Lipkin

How does smoking contribute to lo lung cancer?


The lung is lined with cells that normally die after a certain period of time. Smoking causes changes in the cells lining the lungs. The DNA of these cells is damaged. Some of these changes are irreversible, causing the cells to someimes become "immortal". The lung cells that don't die become cancer. See for more info.

-Frank Vocci

How does the young kids get started with drugs?


Hi and thanks for your question - one of the big influences for kids starting drugs is being around kids who use drugs. The people you hang out with can really influence what you do - especially when you are a kid.

-Nicolette Borek

how does using drugs affect your acedemic life?


As a student, it's important that you get good grades, right? And you need your brain to work properly in order to study, learn, pay attention, right? So when you take drugs it makes it very hard to focus and stay motivated to do what you have to do. When you take drugs they become more important than anything using drugs is really bad for your academic life, not to mention life in general.

-Elisabeth Davis

How does marinol affect the body? If it is prescribed, can you drive or are you considered to be under the influence


Marinol is the active ingredient in marijuana. A person taking Marinol should not drive, as they would be impaired.

-Frank Vocci

how does meth affect your body?


Great question. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that has it main effects in the brain. The effects of meth on the brain can lead to memory loss, learning impairment, movement disorders, and addiction. Use of meth can lead to cardiac (heart) and neurological damage. Behaviorally, meth can lead to aggression, violence, and psychotic behavior. For more information, please visit:

-Joe Frascella

How does people get addicted to drugs?????


People get addicted by using drugs repeatedly, which changes their brain in such a way that they now need the drug just as you need water when thirsty or food when hungry.

-Nora Volkow

how does self esteem affect your body?


If your self esteeem is very low this can be stressful which can make you anxious and more vulenrable to feeling depressed, and using drugs.

-Nora Volkow

how long do drugs in general stay in your system?and can they have long term affects if if used once?


Hi! How long a particular drug stays in your system depends on the drug itself. Drugs of abuse are excreted from the body over time. Use of drugs can definitely lead to long-term changes in the brain and body and can lead to addiction and other adverse consequences and problems. For more information on the long-term effects of drugs, clilck on

-David Shurtleff

how long do you have to use a drug to become addicted?


Hi, that's a great question! It depends on the drug, on how you take it (smoked, orally, intravenously), how much of it you take, and it also depends on you. Some people are more vulnerable than others. If you have a family history of drug problems--that's a big red flag, but even if you don't you may have other risk factors that make you vulnerable. There is a lot we still dont know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so its a little like playing Russian Roulette if you choose to use drugs. The teen brain is a work in progress, undergoing dramatic changes during adolescence and into adulthood. We also know that the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse, and that risk of drug abuse increases during times of transition, such as changing schools, moving, or divorce. 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 go to

-Marsha Lopez

How long do you stay drunk when you drink


In a heathy, non-alcoholic person, the body clears away the equivalent of about one drink an hour. Also, the body and brain get "acute tolerance" to the alcohol within a single drinking session, where it adapts to the chemical assault to maintain its normal function as best it can, and this reduces the effective duration of drunkenness. In other words, if your breathylizer reads .06 while you're consuming drinks and getting more intoxicated, you will likely not feel as drunk when your BAC is .06 on the way back down.

-James Bjork

how long do you think it will take for somebody who is extremely addicted to drugs to become drugfree?


Depends on the drug and how long they have taken them The longer a person has taken the drug in general the longer it will take them to be drug free. However another factor that affects the process is the support system that the person has. For those with strong support from family and friends the process may be faster.

-Nora Volkow

How long does any drug take for you to die?


Good question. Deepending on the drug, an individual can die from a single use. For example sniffing chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes of sniffing. This syndrome, known as "sudden sniffing death," can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. For more information on inhalants, click on:

-David Shurtleff

how long does it take for date rape drugs to take effect?


Date rape is unwanted sexual contact from someone you know, may have just met, and/or thought you could trust. A number of drugs have been used in date rape because they can be slipped into someone's drink and have no taste or smell; these include ketamine, rohypnol and gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). These drugs can sedate a person and make them forget what happens to them. Rohypnol and GHB are predominantly central nervous system depressants and can be very dangerous, even fatal, because of their effects on the respiratory system.To learn more about the side effects and medical consequences of these drugs, visit: If you have experienced any sexual assault report the attack by calling 911. You can also call 1-800-656-4673 to speak with a counselor at any time. More information can be found at If you have experienced any sexual assault report the attack by calling 911. You can also call 1-800-656-4673 to speak with a counselor at any time. More information can be found at

-Jan Lipkin

How long does it take for the effects of chewing tobacco to take affect?

-rashid yhs,

It's fairly rapid, in a minute or two. Chewing tobacco can cause gum disease and has been linked o pancreatic cancer. See for more.

-Frank Vocci