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 you get your parents to stop smoking?

-alenamaggie,

I can relate to this, because when I was young, I wanted to get my mother to stop smoking! In those days, there wasn't much available in terms of effective treatments to help stop smoking. Now, there is so much help available!Smoking involves addiction to nicotine, but it also involves breaking strong habits. People get very used to smoking at certain times of day, in certain situations.Behavioral treatments help people learn to break the habit of smoking, and medications can help with the nicotine addiction. So combined behavioral treatment and medication can be very effective. For more information about how to stop smoking, take a look at this website: www.smokefree.gov. Perhaps if you let your parents know that you're concerned,and that there are effective treatments available, they might be willing to try to stop. If they're not quite ready, or if they fail, you can let them know that many people fail, or even fail repeatedly before they succeed, but that success is possible. Good luck!

-Lisa Onken

How do you help someone who uses drugs stop?

-Sloane,

The best way for someone to stop using drugs is to get treatment from a doctor, therapist or support group. The sooner they get treatment the better are their hopes for recovery. For more on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. Because talking with someone about their drug use can be uncomfortable, it might be helpful to ask someone to help you, like a trusted family member, teacher or coach.

-Melissa Riddle

how do i encourage a friend to stop taking drugs

-gracie343,

This is a very important question. The first thing you can do is listen to what they have to say, about their drug use and about why they are using. If they don't know about the negative health effects of using drugs on their body, brain and life, visit NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov) and there is a lot of information you can share with him/her. If they are already aware of most of the negative consequences their drug taking has on their health, school, family, etc and they may be prepared to make a change. If that is a case, you can help him to find a treatment that is suitable for him/her by going on to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. If they are not ready to get help, don't give up on them. Find times to reach out and hopefully some day soon they will be ready. Helping them to go through the process of getting in to treatment, keeping in touch with them while they are in treatment and then supporting and encouraging them when they are in recovery are the best things you can do for your friend struggling with addiction.

-Petra Jacobs

how do medicines work differantly than drugs?

-13salar,

all drugs of abuse increase dopamine in the brain which is a chemical involved with pleasure. Very few medications increase dopamine but there are some that do. When a medication increases dopamine it can also produce addiction.

-Nora Volkow

How do people get addicted to drugs?

-XxhoundgirlxX, Texas

Thanks to scientific advances, we know quite a lot about how different drugs act on the brain. 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.This is why we say that drug addiction is a brain disease, and stopping drug abuse after you start is hardly a simple a matter of will power. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joni Rutter

how do u feel when you don't have your drugs for a long period of time?

-sonia,

Interesting question! What you feel depends on the type of drug. When a person does'nt have addictive drugs for a long time they can experience what is called a Withdrawal Syndrome. The syndrome is often characterized by overactivity of the bodily functions that are suppressed by the drug and/or depression of the functions that are stimulated by the drug. Usually, this syndrome is characterized by signs and symptoms that make the person look like he/she is really sick and sometimes the person has no choice other than to use the addictive drug seeking relief of the syndrome and that way he/she relapses. For more information please go to https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction Thanks for your question!

-Ivan Montoya

hOW DO U GET SOMEONE ADDICTED TO A DRUG OFF THAT DRUG

-Trackstar,

science has shown that you can do this voluntarily or involuntarily. voluntarily, the person needs to be motivated to stop taking the drug and seek treatment. involuntary treatment also works as when individuals are ordered into treatment by the court system. in this case they are assigned to a treatment program and monitored very carefully. during treatment it is very helpful to have the family involved in the process and supporting the person while they go through the treatment process.

-Nora Volkow

how does the cocaine make you feel?

-aniah,

Cocaine usually makes one feel euphoric, energetic,hyperstimulatized, and mentally alert.It can also increase sensitivity to touch, sight, and sound. Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability and anxiety. The short term physical effects include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased heart rate and blood pressure. Large amounts can lead to violent behavior and users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, and paranoia. The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Increased use can reduce the period of time a user feels high, and once the 'high' is over, users can feel very tired and depressed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug, while it can make you feel good the first couple of times, addiction is a very real feeling and is a very high risk when taking this drug of abuse. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/Cocaine.html for more information.

-Petra Jacobs

How does your body get addicted to drugs?

-jessica,

drugs change the way neurons connect with one another strengthening pathways involved in memory and habits. over time, this can lead to automatic behaviors that make the person take the drugs in a reflexive way. drugs also affect reward and motivation, and can make natural rewards such as food less pleasurable. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

How does cocaine affect boys and girls differently?

-Daley:],

What a great question. Unfortunately, at this time we have very little information on whether cocaine affects girls and boys differently, but there is evidence that girls may be much more vulnerable to developing addiction to cocaine than boys. For more information on cocaine, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/Cocaine.html

-Gaya Dowling

How does crack kiil you?

-weviston,

Smoking crack or injecting cocaine can directly affect your heart, producing an abnormal heartbeat. In some people this can make the heart stop. If that happens, death is just minutes away. Now, even if the person is lucky enough to get CPR and get resuscitated, that person is still at risk for brain damage.Seizures and stroke can also result from cocaine abuse.

-Barry Hoffer

how does diping give you gum and lip kansur

-dm5003,

There are many cancer causing substances in tobacco and having them in contact with your gums over time can cause cancer.Tobacco is also addictive.Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year?For more information about tobacco, go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine.html.

-Steve Gust

how does drugs cause weight loss?

-DAVID_DUDE,

stimulant drugs make you lose weight because they decrease your appetite-nicotine helps you lose weight also because it decreases your appetite and increases energy utilization by your cells

-Nora Volkow

How does marijuana effect the male reproductive system?

-267951,

we're still not really sure. in fact this is an area that we are currently researching.

-Nora Volkow

how does marijuana get you high?

-west hill, Maryland

Smoking marijauna delivers a chemical to the brain called THC, which binds to specific targets on nerve cells (called receptors)triggering the release of signals that cause the sensation of high or euphoria. This brain systems affected by marijuana are normally involved in motivation, pleasure in response to things like sex and food, memory, etc. Drugs like marijuana take over this system and override the normal mechanisms of control.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Barry Hoffer

how effective is drug treatment? why do celebrities go back to rehab again and again?

-plbaby, Maryland

There are lots of different kinds of treatments for drug abuse, and some work better than others. Research has shown some treatments work well, helping people stop using drugs and helping them with other problems that tend to go along with drug use. It's hard to say why celebs like Britney and Lindsay keep going back to rehab. What we do know is that people who finish the entire treatment tend to do better getting off drugs. And people who find friends who aren't involved with drugs tend to do better. Living drug-free often means changing where you hang out and who you hang out with...if people aren't willing to make those changes they can easily fall back into using drugs.

-Melissa Riddle

How else do drugs affect your body other then your health

-Eastern 25,

Drugs primarily impact the brain which therefore influences the way you behave. So, while under the influence of drugs people do things they would not normally do. For, example they may take chances by engaging in risky behaviors that may harm them.

-Jacques Normand

how fast can drugs effect you?

-nomoredrugies,

depends on the drug and the way you take it. if you smoke drugs they get into your brain faster and you can perceive the effects in 30 seconds. Injecting drugs into a vein or snorting them also gets them very rapidly to the brain.You can find out more about that at: http://www.drugabuse.gov

-Nora Volkow

How hereditary is alcohol abuse?

-iosdbhb,

Alcoholism is indeed heriditary,which means that the disease tends to "run in families." Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person's vulnerability to addiction.Social factors in alcoholic families also play a role, such as stress levels and the amount of drinking that goes on.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

-Kevin Conway

how is marijuana addictive?

-Biggizzle93,

There is quite a lot of evidence that regular use of marijuana can cause addiction-that is, you feel an overwhelming urge to use in spite of knowing deep down that it is harmful to you. In fact, more teens in drug treatment are there for using marijuana vs. any other drugs of abuse.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Barry Hoffer

how is marijuana addictive?

-Biggizzle93, Pennsylvania

There is quite a lot of evidence that regular use of marijuana can cause addiction-that is, you feel an overwhelming urge to use in spite of knowing deep down that it is harmful to you. In fact, more teens in drug treatment are there for using marijuana vs. any other drugs of abuse.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Barry Hoffer

how is weed harmful?

-50cent,

There are many long-term effects of smoking marijuana. The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and,contrary to popular belief,it can be addictive. Marijuana smoke, like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and also distort perception. Marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It also may weaken the immune system and possibly increase a user's likelihood of developing cancer.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Kevin Conway

how is weed harmful?

-50cent,

There are many long-term effects of smoking marijuana. The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and,contrary to popular belief,it can be addictive. Marijuana smoke, like cigarette smoke, can harm the lungs. The use of marijuana can impair short-term memory, verbal skills, and judgment, and also distort perception. Marijuana has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It also may weaken the immune system and possibly increase a user's likelihood of developing cancer.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Kevin Conway

How long do drugs stay in your body?

-Amanda,

Good question! It really depends on which drug you are talking about. Some stay in the body relatively short times while others can stay around for many days. Did you have any specific drugs in mind?

-Joe Frascella

How long do you think the average person can live if they smoke cigarettes?

-Tim,

The lifetime of a person depends on many factors but what is known is that a person who smokes cigarettes has a lower life expectancy. That is, because of all the medical complications associated with smoking, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, etc., a person who smokes has a chance of a shorter life. For more information about smoking go to: www.smoking.drugabuse.gov

-Ivan Montoya

how many times do you have to use a drug to abuse it?

-sara,

Good question! There isn't a set cutoff in the number of times. In fact, it takes one use to run the risk of abusing a drug. Some drugs, for example heroin, can cause addiction in users very quickly. There is still a lot we do not know about who becomes addicted and 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. If you do, the earlier you stop the more likely you will avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information on addiction please go to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Ivan Montoya

How many young people are addicted to drugs?

-Zou,

There are a couple different ways we figure out how many teens are using drugs in the US. One of the national surveys we use to come up with this number is the Monitoring the Future study, which reported about 15% of teens were current drug users in 2006, meaning they had used in the past month. 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. To read more about the patterns of drug use go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Stats.html.

-Marsha Lopez

How meny teenagers in the US do drugs?

-alyssajane,

If you're talking about illicit drug use 17% of 10th graders have used any illicit drug in the past month. This includes marijuana, cocaine, opiates, etc., but does not include smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.

-Aria Crump

How long would you smoke crack to get high even a little

-johnk,

you can smoke for 30 seconds and that will make someone very high but it can also harm their brain and heart

-Nora Volkow

How many brain cells do we have?

-SK8TER,

The human brain holds about 100 billion nerve cells

-Nora Volkow