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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Has anyone here ever smoked an illegal drug like marajuana?


Not hat I know of. I am looking around and no one is smoking anything now!

-Joe Frascella

Do drugs affect the way you socialize

-16312723, Maryland

Yes - taking drugs can change your decision making and lower your inhibitions making it both easier for you to socialize and more likely you will participate in risky behaviors like engaging in unprotected sexual activity or driving under the influence. To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

-Redonna Chandler

do drugs affect your school work?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

Yes, drugs can impact academic achievement negatively. Check out our teen web site for a ton of information.

-Bethany Deeds

Do drugs affect your sports performance?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

Some drugs impair your ability to play a sport by affecting your attention, reaction time, or judgement, while others, like steroids or stimulants, may give you a short-term unfair advantage. That is why competitive sports ban the use of many drugs. There's a reason doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles---it's just too dangerous! Read more at NIDA for Teens,

-Michelle Leff

Do drugs change the color of your tinkle!? PLEAAAASE ANSWER! :)

-LOLLLZZZZ <3, Kentucky

they never do. trust me.

-Ruben Baler

Do drugs effect your poop?

-Hackettstown, New Jersey

New Jersey - I am curious why you are asking this question. Drugs can affect your poop by making you have diarrhea or making you constipated. Drugs are also deposited in your poop. A good example is that when trying to determine if a baby was exposed during pregnancy to drugs, we can measure the drugs in their poop after they are born. Other than this, there's not much more to say ...

-Marilyn Huestis

do drugs make someone spermcells go low


Yes, and they also cause increased portions of the sperm to be mis-shaped. Not only that, but it has been shown that alcohol affects molecules that attach to DNA of the sperm that effect how the DNA is 'read' by the body or the developing fetus. This can cause the resulting babies to have lowered growth or mental capacity even if the mom never did any drugs or alcohol.

-Jim Bjork

do drugs make you do poorly in school?

-nidichat, New Hampshire

Drugs are chemicals that work in the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. This can mess you up. More info is at When you are drunk or high on drugs, you often can't make good decisions. Not to mention, there is a lot we still don't 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. Continued use of drugs changes how your brain functions, impairing your ability to think clearly, to feel OK without drugs, and to control your behaviors. These all contribute to doing poorly in school.

-Marsha Lopez

do drugs make you loose your muscles?

-shane(, Kentucky

Steroids and other 'body building' drugs can have profound effects on your muscle structure. In the short term, they can increase muscle growth, but over the long term, the effects can damage muscles and cause other unpleasant side effects. Other drugs can affect your strength and endurance because you tend not to exercise or eat right. See this video on steroids, featuring NIDA scientist Dr. Ruben Baler:

-Steve Grant


-16976678, Maryland

Along other inhalants like paint and gasoline, the chemical vapors from glue can be very dangerous.Your lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Along with your 'high,' sniffing glue may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). You can get more information from our teen site at

-Jane Lipkin

do hallucinogens really expand your thinking and differ your thought posses for the better?

-purpledubs, Utah

They make you see things that are not there. If you call that expanding, then it does. However, when people talk about the 'mind expanding' effects of halucinigens like LSD, they usually mean to say you have a clearer view of the Universe and human condition when on them. I don't think there is any evidence for that. For more info on drugs, see

-David Thomas

Do I lose more brain cells smoking weed or drinking?

-Paulr, Maryland

It's tough to directly compare the effects of alcohol and marijuana on the brain because they are so different. For teenagers, both drugs interfere with how the brain develops and grows. The brain is changing in very important ways during the teenage years and alcohol can interfere with brain development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the part of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking. Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether.

-Aaron White

Do marijuana affect driving?

-nihao, Maryland

Yes--it affects the skills you need to drive safely--reaction time, motor coordination, and attention; and has been shown in driving simulator and road tests to impair performance. Further, when combined with even a small amount of alcohol, the effects are worse than either drug alone. Approximately 14% of fatally injured drivers in car crashes test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs).

-David Shurtleff

do most people do drugs as an escape or under pressure?

-vitelozi, Maryland

Both. Temporarily, drugs can change the way someone feels. BTW, so can other, healthier behaviors like exercising. You are very perceptive: wouldn't want to become a scientist would you? :) Check out this colorful booklet for more info:

-Bethany Deeds

Do most teens who use drugs stop taking drugs later in life?

-dever, New Jersey

Great question! Research has found that there are patterns of drug use that we can see if we follow development beginning in childhood, through late adolescence and young adulthood. One pattern is what we call the 'early starter' pattern. This pattern refers to beginning to experiment with drugs early in development, which increases the likeliehood of drug use and abuse in adolescence and young adulthood. Another pattern is what we call the 'later starter' pattern. This pattern refers to beginning to use drugs in adolescence but for a shorter period of time--reducing or ending use by late adolescence or young adulthood. These are not the only patterns of drug use. Drug use often relates to other problem behaviors like poor academic progress, delinquency, involvement with the criminal justice system, etc. It can get complicated very quickly--further creating problems down the road. We do know that drug use in childhood and adolescence can lead to later drug abuse and other problems, and it is best to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it. For more information, see

-Belinda Sims

do nicotine patches really work ? they didnt work on my mom and dad

-nidachat, New Hampshire

I'm sorry to hear that nicotine patches did not help your mom or your dad quit smoking. People have different responses to therapy. Some people have been successful using the nicotine patches or nicotine gum. Other people have been successful with prescription medications such as varenicline. Maybe you should suggest to your parents that counseling (along with medication) is the best way to 'kick the habit'!!!Here is more, Good luck to your parents! Tell them to keep trying!

-Michelle Leff

do people commit suicide when they are drunk or on drugs?

-nidichat, New Hampshire

Drugs impact the brain and behavior disrupting decision making and leading people to do things they would not normally do. Unfortunately, this includes committing suicide. Also, sometimes when people have drug problems, they feel hopeless, which could lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Want more information on drugs and information on getting help for someone considering suicide, go to:,

-Redonna Chandler

D u think it's good marijuana is becoming legal in certain places ?

-derek, Maryland

Currently marijuana is not 'legal' anywhere although it is available as a medical treatment for certain conditions in some states. I think it is important for teens to know that marijuana is a serious drug that can have harmful effects on the brain and body. Teens are at a critical period in the development of the brain. All addictive drugs - including marijuana impact the development of the teen brain and can create problems in function including memory, concentration, decision making, and even the development of addiction. Making marijuana legal might increase its availability and make it more accessible for teens. We have seen this with other drugs - including prescription drugs. The rates of teen abuse and addiction to prescription pain killers and other drugs has risen as the number of presriptions have risen. Whether you are for or against 'legalization' of marijuana, increased avilability and use by teens would not be good for their health, development, or brains.

-Redonna Chandler

Describe the type of brain damage drugs can do to you

-green kittens, Kentucky

Great question! Drugs are chemicals and because of their chemical structures they all work differently and affect the brain in different ways by interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, like marijuana or heroin, activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. In fact, these drugs can "fool" receptors, lock onto them, and can activate the nerve cells. The problem is, they don't work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, so the neurons wind up sending abnormal messages through the brain. You can read all about the brain and how different drugs affect it at

-Marsha Lopez

Did cigarette companies eventually start to add harsh chemicals to their food over the years? Or did they start out with chemicals? If they started out with chemicals; what's the point of them there? Why not just tabacco?

-NickP, Maryland

Tobacco companies have worked over the years to create cigarettes that will deliver nicotine in the most efficient way to the smoker to enhance their addictiveness. They have done this by adding flavors like menthol or vanilla or chocolate, and also by adding ventilation holes to the filters.

-Cindy Miner

Did there use to be coke in coca cola

-Connor, Wyoming

yup, there was, and it was green! Fortunately though, you can drink cola without getting any cocaine.For more info, see

-David Thomas

did u ever try any illegal drugs?? lets be honest here, its all in the past anyways

-qwerty123, New Jersey

Hi there! I can honestly say that I have never tried any illegal drugs. Was there pressure, yes, but I had other goals, which didn't involve using illegal drugs. For additional information go to

-Belinda Sims

Do all drugs create addiction?

-Elisabet, Other

No, it is mainly the drugs that impact the reward center in the brain and hijack the 'dopamine' system. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that controls pleasure, habits, and emotional learning. stay healthy and use your dopamine wisely.

-Ruben Baler

Do all illegal drugs plants? If not what is concidered a drug that isnt a plant?

-12345, New Jersey

good question, some drugs, like psilocybicin, come from mushrooms, others like ecstasy or methamphetamine, are made in clandestine (illegal) laboratories. take care.

-Ruben Baler

Do all overdoses of drugs lead to death?

-Giggle monster, Kentucky

hopefully not. Different drugs -- whether legal or illegal -- can always be taken in too high of quantities and ultimate produce toxicity. There is always the possibility that any drug can be taken in dangerous quantities and produce serious adverse events such as death in some - hopefully very rare - instances. To raise visibility on issues of addiction and treatment among adolescents, NIDA has developed a number of useful teen-oriented sites, including:, a Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities.

-Kris Bough

Do alot of people use over the counter drugs when they dont need them

-january baby,

I'm guessing you mean drugstore-bought drugs--which would include prescription medications like vicodin and oxycodone as well as over-the-counter things like antihistamines.The answer, unfortunately, is yes. In 2008, 7.7 percent of youths aged 12-17 reported using prescription drugs that a doctor hadn't directed them to take. Even though that means the vast majority of youths didn't, 1.9 million did. The most commonly misused drugs were pain killers, reported by 6.5 percent of youths, or 1.6 million. In fact, each day an average of 2,000 teenagers age 12 to 17 used a prescription drug without a doctor's guidance for the first time. For more information general information go to: information on how prescription drugs affect the body and common effects, go to:

-Jacqueline Lloyd

do antiseptics,disinfectics ar cleaning products have drugd in them???

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Not really. Some other household products can be abused as inhalants because they have volatile chemicals that can be sniffed and cause a type of high similar to the feeling of being drunk.thanks for the question.

-Ruben Baler

Do any places/schools encourage drugs? If there is, can it be stopped?

-warda, New York

Encourage the use of illicit drugs like LSD or coke?? Not that I'm aware of. They may encourage the use of stimulant medications to treat symptoms associated with ADHD (but only in kids who are diagnosed with ADHD), but for the most school encourage kids to live drug free lives and I know that ALL encourage homework. Thanks for the question!

-Redonna Chandler

do black people have a higher rate of doing drugs?

-cowsrcool, Kentucky

Hi there!No, they don't. In fact, African-American students use most drugs, including legal ones like cigarettes and illegal ones, at substantially lower rates than Whites. Epidemiologists--scientists who study the rates of problems to try to understand what causes them and how to reduce them--report these figures based on an annual Monitoring the Future survey of high school students nationwide: survey, this National Survey of Drug Use and Health, found that smaller percentages of Black adults over age 18 had engaged in alcohol use and binge alcohol use during the past month, compared to the national average (44.3 vs. 55.2 percent and 21.7 vs. 24.5 percent, respectively). The Black adults' rate of use of illegal drugs during the past month was higher than the national average, however (9.5 vs. 7.9 percent).

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Do date rape drugs have long term effects?

-bluewindmagic, Maryland

Chronic use of Rohypnol (one of the most common date rape drugs) can produce tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.

-Kristen Huntley