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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When you call alcohol a drug it makes it sound really bad how bad can it be

-Who am I, Illinois

It turns out that alcohol causes more deaths around the world than all other drugs combined. About 3 million people die from alcohol each year!

-Aaron White

When you drink Alcohol and you are in a terrible accident, why don't feel pain that much.

-squid502, Illinois

Alcohol is an analgesic (relieves pain) but acute stress also causes acute pain relief because it is thought to involve the release of brain endorphins -- compounds that make you feel good.

-George Koob

When you overdose on prescripted medicines, can something bad like death or something less harmful happen to you? If it causes death, does the process hurt?


Hi joseline! Oxycodone is a prescription opiate that when taken properly, can relieve pain. However, any opiate when taken in large amounts can cause respiratory depression. This means the person will stop breathing and die if they don't get help immediately. As the person stops breathing, they will feel helpless and gasp for air. This is one reason why the opioid crisis is so bad. As people take opioids they become tolerant to the pain-relieving actions of opioids and they need more and more to get the same affect. But if they take too much, enough to get pain relief, they may end up having respiratory depression and death.

-Mary Rooney

When you take drugs, do you become more and more stupid?

-squid502, Illinois

Hi squid502,
That is a great question, although I might change your question just a bit. There are lots of effects that different drugs can have on the brain that may make the user seem...not quite with it. Some drugs can make people impulsive, doing things that they wouldn't normally do and making decisions that they might normally think better of. Some drugs can slow your physical and mental processing speed, which means that it can be more difficult to keep complicated thoughts straight in your mind -- not to mention doing complicated multi-tasking like driving. Over time, drug use can impair these abilities in the brain even when people aren't actively using the drugs.

-Eric Murphy

When your someone in your family is an alcoholic what is the best you can do?


Hi Topo,
Alcohol use disorder does have a hereditary risk. That means that having a family history of alcohol problems increases the person's own risk of developing alcohol problems. It is important to understand this risk, and educate the person on the harmful effects of alcohol not just on the individual but also to their families. It would probably best for the person not to start drinking as the misuse of alcohol can increase the risk of the person themself developing an alcohol problem.
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

what will happen if I take 97 sleeping pills

-JC, Illinois

Hi jesus christ - You will unlikely not wake up again. Sleeping pills can kill you. Sleeping pills are in the class of drugs known as sedatives. These drugs depress the function of the brain and nervous system. Thus, when prescribed by a doctor, they can relax you to help you sleep. But taking too many sleeping pills can depress your nervous system too much. In particular you may stop breathing, so a very dangerous idea.

-Marsha Lopez

What will happen if I used drugs for 5 years straight ?

-FshhhDog9999999, Illinois

Hello FshhhDog9999999! Different drugs act on the brain in different ways, but they all cause the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's reward area, which is what causes the pleasurable sensation (the high). After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. Brain cells (neurons) make less dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain—like turning down the volume on the reward signal. This can mean that the person starts to find natural rewards – like food, relationships, or sex – less pleasurable, one of the signs of addiction.

Some drugs are toxic to the brain and cause some brain cells to die. Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits, which result in addiction. Learn more at:

-Kristen Huntley

What will happen if you give a animal a drug

-Inde-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hi Inde-fvsu4h! Just like with people, drug use in animals can cause severe and possibly fatal side affects. The pet poison hotline has seen a 200% increase in calls related to pets eating marijuana. A recent study in Colorado showed that 4 times as many dogs were treated for marijuana poisoning in 2010 than in 2005. Sadly, two dogs identified in that study died. No substance should be given to an animal without discussing it with your veternarian.

-Michele Rankin

What will happen to me if I took two puffs of a vape?

-Chapoopoo, Illinois

Hi, Chapoopoo - if you took only one or two puffs of a vape, it's unlikely you would notice any harmful effects right away. However, the contents in vaping devices are not regulated, so it's impossible for a user to know what he or she is vaping. The liquid could contain a combination of propylene glycol, glycerin, chemical flavorings, and/or other chemicals in addition to nicotine. Nicotine is addictive, so when someone becomes addicted to nicotine, they will seek it out even if it interferes with their normal activities. Exposure to drugs, including nicotine, can affect brain development and contribute to a range of problems later in life. Vaping can make the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions worse. We do know that kids who vape are at greater risk for using other tobacco products, including cigarettes. Check out this link for more info:

-Heather Kimmel

what would happen if someone ate a juul pod

-owc12, Illinois

Dear owc12 - If someone ate a Juul pod, they would be exposed to the liquid in the pod. The nicotine in the pod is toxic, and can cause nausea and vomiting. The contents in vaping devices are not regulated, so it's impossible for a user to know what is actually in the liquid, but it could contain propylene glycol, glycerin, chemical flavorings, and/or other chemicals. We recommend keeping the pods in a safe place so that children or pets cannot be accidentally exposed to them or to the liquids they contain. If there is an accidental expsoure, call your local poison control center. Quick facts about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigarettes:

-Jinhee Lee

what would happen if someone drank vape juice

-GM , New Hampshire

Thank you for joining us, gianna.may! Nicotine is toxic and its ingestion can result in vomiting and nausea. Quick facts about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigarettes:

-Heather Kimmel

What would happen if someone were to do every drug at once?

-EM , Illinois

Hi Emma

-Heather Kimmel

What would happen if you take more that 1 type of drug?

-IronNuggetz550, Illinois

Hello IRonNugget,
Combining drugs makes them even more dangerous than they are on their own. For example, using opioids and alcohol together can cause you to stop breathing more easily than using either one alone. Combining stimulants can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, and can potentially cause more damage than a single drug. It's best not to take any illegal drug and to be careful when using others. Even prescription drugs can be dangerous when they're combined with other drugs, and your doctor needs to know what drugs you're taking when they prescribe a new one.

-Aaron White

what would happen if you were to drink the E-Juice? like is it way worse for you

-woah, Illinois

Yeah, along with being an addictive substance, nicotine is pretty poisonous. Drinking e-juice could cause nicotine poisoning.

-Aaron White

What would you recomend for a teenager that will have a baby soon?


Hi BTR0077. Congratulations! The health of the mother and baby are very important! Find a place to go for prenatal care that will follow you with checkups, answer your questions, and give you advice on good nutrition and other issues that may affect your own and your baby's health. Remember that it will be harder to give your baby the quality of care that you want to unless you are healthy and drug-free. Find friends and family who will provide positive role models and support. Best wishes and stay strong!

-Aria Crump

What would you say is worse, Vape or cigarettes?

-Kylie-FVSU4h, Georgia

Hi, Kylie-FVSU4h! Ingesting nicotine is harmful, whether in a combustible cigarette or in a vape pen. Avoiding the smoke that cigarettes give off is good, but vape pens also have harmful chemicals. It's better to not use either! More information on quitting is here:

-Emily Jones

What's a dab?

-Chapoopoo, Illinois

Thanks for the question, Chapoopoo! Dabs are various forms of high grade hash (marijuana), usually made with a process involving butane, and concentrated into a smokable oil. The amount of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) in a dab is highliy concentrated and very strong. You can find out more about marijuana and addiction here:

-Tisha Wiley

What's an illicit drug

-KS, Montana

Hi! "Illicit drug" is another phrase for illegal drug. Drugs like prescription medications, nicotine (for people over 18) and alcohol (for people over 21) are legal.

-Kristen Huntley

What's considered more dangerous... cigars or a vape?


Hi, joseline! Cigars and vapes contain nicotine, so both of these tobacco products are potentially addictive. Studies show that nicotine acts on brain reward pathways—the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure. Nicotine increases levels of dopamine in these reward circuits. If you use nicotine for a long time, you may become addicted to it. When this happens, you will continue to seek out sources of nicotine even though you know it's harmful. You can experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using nicotine. It is not possible to predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genes and the environment each play a role. The bottom line is that we're all different and unpredictable, so any drug use is risky. For more information about nicotine, see:

-Aaron White

What's in heroin?

-GC, Illinois

Hi Grant,

Heroin is a type of opioid like prescription pain relievers.Heroin is chemically similar to prescription opioids and can produce similar effects. It is made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. It can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. Other common names for heroin include big H, horse, hell dust, and smack.

For more information, check out our Teen Drug Facts at

-Jinhee Lee

What's so bad about smoking/vaping if its legal in a lot of states

-Gremlin Man , Illinois

Hi Gremlin Man,
Thats a great question. FDA doesn't have the authority to ban tobacco products. The agency's role, as defined by Congress, is to regulate them. Part of that work includes reducing youth access to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Like other tobacco products, using e-cigarettes with nicotine may lead to addiction. Teens are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction because their brains are still developing. You can find out more about FDA's role by checking out

-Aaron White

what's the best way to stop using street drugs?

-Molly, Illinois

Hey Molly, in some cases people can make a decision and stop using drugs. However, if they have a more serious problem they may need drug treatment. Drug treatment can help people understand and address the reasons they use drugs, develop new non-drug using friends, learn new skills for dealing with stress and craving. More information on drug use and treatment is available at:

-Redonna Chandler

what's the difference between coke cocaine and coca cola?

-laxgod, Illinois

Cocaine is a chemical that comes from the coca plant leaves and is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Coca Cola is a beverage. When Coca Cola was first made, more than a century ago, cocaine was one of the ingredients. But when cocaine was made illegal, Coca Cola stopped using cocaine and used caffeine (the stimulant in coffee) instead. Coca Cola still uses the coca plant leaves as an ingredient, but all the cocaine gets removed beforehand.

-Roger Little

What's the difference between marijuana and dab pens?

-Bryan G, Illinois

Hi Bryan. Thanks for the question. Marijuana typically refers to the dried marijuana plant, whereas "dabbing" refers to smoking marijuana extracts, which are concentrated oils from the marijuana plant. These extracts, sometimes called "hash oil" are a lot stronger than the dried plant material. On average, regular marijuana has a THC (the chemical in pot that makers users feel high) of 12-13%. But the average marijuana extract has a THC content of more than 50 percent and some are as much as 80 percent THC. In addition to the dangers associated with the increase potency of marijuana extracts, the method for extracting the oils can be dangerous. "Dabbing" involves forcing butane (a flammable chemical often found in lighter fluid) through a marijuana packed pike. This process can lead to an explosion and serious burns. For more information on dabbing, see:

-Marsha Lopez

What's the difference between natural THC and synthetic THC?

-Josh, Illinois

Nothing Josh. THC is THC. However, there is "synthetic marijuana" on the street that could be a lot of things and really is not marijuana.

-Dave Thomas

What's the harm in using marijuana?

-CC, Illinois

For one--it messes with your memory, which is quite important when you are trying to do well in school. Also, some people become addicted to it--especially those who use it a lot. It can also put you at risk for mental health problems, especially if you have a family history of them. And, it is absolutely not OK to drive after using marijuana--you risk causing (or being in) an accident since you are slower to react to unexpected things that can happen on the road. Thanks for asking

-Susan Weiss

What's the worst drug?

-KH, Maine

Dear KH,

This is sort of like asking what the worst weapon is! Drugs, when used or (for prescription drugs) misused, are all bad. The harm they can do varies based on how they act on the body, but they all can damage your brain, which is very sensitive to drugs. So the best thing, and the easiest way to avoid these bad outcomes, is to not try drugs -- and, if a doctor prescribes drugs for you, to follow the directions.


-Roger Little

What's worse Dabing or smoking gas?

-C, Washington

Hello C
thanks for the question, it's an impoirtant one.
You are in the middle of programming your brain! You will be using this brain for the rest of your life and you are really doing it a disservice by just considering these options. Let your brain develop free of drugs for as long as you can. B Strong. B Smart!!! you do have the power
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Whats a great alternative to smoking or drinking to have 'fun' ?

-smallboy, Illinois

Hang out with friends, listen to music, read a great book, find a hobby, fall in love.

-Tisha Wiley

Whats acid?

-giraffe neck, Illinois

Acid is a potent hallucinogen called LSD, which is an abbreviation for lysergic acid diethylamine. You might wonder why the abbreviation isn't LAD. The reason is LSD was originally made in Switzerland where the word "acid" is "sauer". So, in Swiss, the name is lysergic sauer diethylamine, hence LSD. Now you know. You're welcome.

-Steve Grant