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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Can coke knock off your nose completely if you do it for a while?

-yunglean, New Mexico
Well I don't know about that.  It would be upsetting!!!  Snorting cocaine can cause extensive damage to the nasal mucosa (the lining of you nasal passages), which is serious.  However, I do not think your nose will fall off.
 
Dave 
-Dave Thomas

can crack eventually kill u

-weed machine, New York

Hello there, WM! Yes, it can. As you might know, crack (which is a form of cocaine) is a highly addictive drug. And even a single usage of cocaine can cause heart attack or stroke, which may result in sudden death. But that's not the only health effect to be concerned about. Cocaine can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well. Snorting cocaine (inhaling through the nose), can lead to loss of the sense of smell; nosebleeds; problems with swallowing; hoarseness; a chronically runny nose; and damage to the nasal tissues. Cocaine abusers can also experience severe paranoia. If you are curious, check out this page: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine

-Anto Bonci

Can dangerous drugs be modified to become less harmful? What are some effects that vicodin can have on a person? Where do most of the illegal drugs in the United States come from? Could there ever be anyone immune to the effects of harmful drugs?

-eechero, Texas

Hi eechero - thanks for your questions.  Let me try to answer some of them at least.  Your question about modifying drugs to make them less harmful is an excellent question. There has been a lot of research effort to try to develop pain medications, for example, that are less addictive.  Some progress has been made but we have a long way to go.  Vicodin is an opiate drug that reduces pain but is also addictive for some.  If taken in high doses it can cause euphoria, disorientation, and such things as respiratory depression.  Illegal drugs come from many sources, some in the US (marijuana, methamphetamine) and some outside the US (heroin, cocaine, ecstasy).  Your last question is a very good one.  It is true that there are large differences between people in their responses to drugs.  Some people are a lot more susceptible to the euphoric effects and so are much more susceptible to becoming addicted.  However, since all drugs of abuse affect the most basic parts of our brain having to do with reinforcement and reward, it is doubtful that there would ever be total immunity to their effects.

-Steve Gust

Can diseases be inherited ?

-officivl_tjc__, New York

Hey officivl_tjc_--great question!  I'm a geneticist and we've worked very hard to address your question.  

It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents.  For Huntington's Disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's Disease is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also.
 
Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
 
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/
 
Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
 
-Joni Rutter

Can diseases from drugs be inherited to that person's children?

-Oreiter, Pennsylvania
Hey Oreiter!  This is my favorite question of the day!  It turns out that even addiction can be inherited.  In some cases this inheritance comes from small changes in the DNA sequence that makes someone more vulnerable to use drugs.  (DNA is the genetic code that has instructions for our body.)  That DNA is, of course, passed on from parent to child--making the child vulnerable, too.  
 
Recently, one study found something very interesting--Did you know that cocaine has been shown to affect DNA expression in the sperm--it actually affects the the way a protein called BDNF is expressed in the brain. Scientists found that the cocaine changes this protein in the sperm of drug-taking rodents, and is passed onto their male pups (yes, "pups" is how you call baby rodents).  The result of this experiment was that the male sons found cocaine LESS rewarding.  
 
So, the answer is pretty complicated and depends on the drug, the timing of exposure, and other individual factors.  Scientists are spending their entire careers trying to answer this very question!
 
Thanks for your question 
 
-Joni Rutter

can doing drugs lead to mental diseases

-handheldaphid, New York

yes, if you have a genetic or other vulnerability (e.g., exposure to trauma or early stress).  Marijuana has been linked to psychosis in some individuals.

-Nora Volkow

can drinking alcohol at a young age have long term affects on you?

-Donnita Rogers, Louisiana
There are lots of negative long term effects of drinking before age 21. First of all, your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development. 
 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior

Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area 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. Check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/ -Aaron White

can drinking or smoking give you brain damage? or put you in a comatose state?

-sampugliese, New York
Yes, alcohol can damage the brain and put you in a comatose state, not to mention kill you! The thinking memory, and feeling parts of the brain are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. 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.

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!

-Aaron White

Can drinking orange juice get rid of a hangover?

-friendlyperson1, New York

Really nothing gets rid of a hangover except for time. However, some things, like replacing lost fluids, can help ease the symptoms a little. For some people, toast and coffee is their preferred strategy. For others, it might just be orange juice. It just depends on the person. The best way to deal with hangovers is to avoid them entirely! Just don't drink!

-Aaron White

Can drug withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations cause the former drug user to kill himself/herself?

-sandy20, New York
January greetings - Sandy20. And thank you for your interesting question - and unfortunately, drug withdrawal symptoms can have major adverse effects, including anxiety, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, perspiration, racing heart and palpitations, labored breathing, shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc (I've worked with folks going through this - it's a really horrible experience). I can't say for sure that the hallucinations can cause suicide, but it can be one of many factors that contribute. If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications. Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.
-Denny Pintello

can drugs affect how you age

-RALF_WEINER, New York
Ralf,
That is a good question.   I just heard a lecture on this topic.  Clearly drugs can make you look more aged.  Give you wrinkles, make your skin sag, etc.  But is that actually changing your age? I am not sure. But if you don't want to look old when you are not old, staying off drugs will help.   
Dave 
-Dave Thomas

do people do drugs because they think its cool and so they can show off

-haleyb-p6, Texas

Hi haleyb-p6. This is an important question to ask. Some people probably do try drugs because they think it's "cool" and a mature, glamorous thing to do because of how drugs are portrayed in the media and popular culture. In fact, drugs are NOT cool and can have devastating health consequences. Check out this page to see just how "uncool" drugs are.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Do people get bath salts from stores? Like actual bath salts?

-gk22, New York
Hey gk22,
Bath salts (the drugs) are mostly illegal, so you shouldn't be able to get them in stores. But the people who make them are always inventing new chemicals to put in them, to get around the laws.  
There's no resemblance to actual bath salts though.
 
-Eric Wargo

do people get many heart problems after drugs?

-leone21157, Maryland

yes, particularly if they smoke and use stimulant drugs like cocaine or meth.

-Nora Volkow

Do people go to jail when they're caught to drive after they drug?if yes, how many yrs?

-infinityNBeyond, Massachusetts
Hello Mount Alvernia HS! Yes they can go to jail and the term length (and other penalites) vary. All 50 states and the District of Columbia laws that target drugged drivers. Additionally, 1/3 states have adopted a "per se standard."  Per se refers to any detectable amount of a controlled substance, other than a medicine prescribed by a doctor for the driver, found in the driver's body fluids and constitutes evidence of a "drugged driving" violation. This is a fact sheet about the problem of drugged driving: [link removed]
-Bethany Deeds

Do people take drugs to be cool or do they think they actually need them?

-imtyping..., Maryland

Well hello imtyping! Some people may think that using drugs is an "adult" and "cool" thing to do. IN FACT using drug is not cool at all. Using drugs can cause all types of health problems as well as problems at home, with the law, with friends, at school, etc.  Also drug use can lead to addiction which makes it difficult to stop use once people start. This can make people feel that they actually "need" to keep using and use even more to get the same effects. Not cool at all.  

-Jacqueline Lloyd

do people's lives change when they take drugs..... ^_^

-puddytat02, Maryland
Hi Puddytat02!
That is a great question. If someone starts to abuse drugs, you may see them spend a lot of time thinking about getting the drug, using the drug, and recovering from the effects.  This might mean dropping out of sports or activities, skipping classes, and even spending more time alone - or with a different group of friends.  It could also mean making poor decisions, even dangerous decision.  Some of these changes could be temporary, and some of the changes could affect the person for the rest of his/her life. 
 
Using drugs during teen years can affect development.  Here are some websites that explain more!
 

MENTAL HEALTH LINKS

The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-still-under-construction/index.shtml

Video: Development of the Young Brain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeIvtx6HHLg&list=PL6E78F0F3DFD5F044&index=12

-Michelle Leff

Do some drugs have similar symptons then others?

-WalterJohnsonH, Massachusetts

Hi WalterJohnsonH!  Yes, some drugs have similar effects.  The main reason is that even though there are different drugs, they can affect the same brain regions.  For example, drugs can affect the limbic system--this brain region controls our emotional responses, such as feelings of pleasure when eating chocolate.  Learn more about the effects of drugs at - https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Joni Rutter

Do some Junk foods have similar properties as drugs,

-Student 6, New York
Great question, Student 6!  Some very recent research in animals has shown that junk food can be highly addicting.  We know that combinations of fat, sugar, and salt can make foods highly irresistible...and therefore, hard to say no to!  Research has shown similar brain responses to these foods as to drugs of abuse.
 Thanks for such a thoughtful question!!! 
-Joe Frascella

Do steroids make you skinny?

-drugsr4thugs, New York
Hey there. 
 
Anabolic steroids do a lot of things to people, but I have never heard about them making you skinny.  They are used to promote muscle growth, but they do a lot of other nasty things.  They are especially bad for growing bodies.  You can read about it at the attached link.
Dave
 
-Dave Thomas

Do steroids make your testicles swell?

-zdiddy, Maryland
Hey Zdiddy- they can do the opposite- SHRINKAGE (called testicular atrophy)!! Check out drugabuse.gov for more info.
 
-Jack Stein

Do teens start using drugs more in early, middle, or late teen years?

-YouthSource, Washington
Hey, YouthSource, great question! Thankfully most teens don't start using drugs at all, but if they do the percentage of teens starting to use drugs increases as they get older.  For example, among those who hadn't used before, nearly 12% of 16-17 year olds started using drugs in 2012, compared to 3% of 12-13 year olds. Science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs the more likely s/he is to get addicted and suffer major social and medical problems, so while we don't want any teens to start using drugs, it's more harmful if they do when they're younger. To learn more about the health effects of drugs, visit NIDA’s teen site here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-fact 
-Marsha Lopez

do the effects of drugs affect family members?

-student 007, Maryland
Hey Spy Guy - Drug abuse and addiction can definitely affect a drug user's family.  Usually the effects have to do with the drug user's time spent getting intoxicated or recovering from the intoxication.  A family's resources may be diverted to support the drug user's habit.  Often times addiction also causes poor decision-making, erratic mood swings, and other irresponsible behavior that can definitely affect a family's well-being and stability.  These effects can be temporary or long-lasting.
Thanks for asking this important question.  Here are some resources:
 

If you want to ask about getting substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Michelle Leff

do weed effect your teeth

-flygirlniya, Maryland
Hi flygirlniya,
Interesting question. I suppose if you smoke enough, it might turn your teeth yellow like cigarettes do. And it might make you less motivated to brush! 
-Eric Wargo

Do you answer questions from around the world?

-Student6372, Maryland

Most of our questions come from the good ol' USA but right now some of our scientists are answering questions from American students in Rome,Italy! 

-Ruben Baler

Do you consider alcohol a drug?

-SquishyMuffins, Massachusetts

Yes for sure. A drug is a substance that alters how we think, feel, function and behave. Alcohol is a very powerful drug. 

-Aaron White

Do you drink beer before liquor or liquor before beer; and what are the effects of each?

-mchammy, Maryland
There's an old myth that drinking one type of alcohol before the other is better. In reality, alcohol is alcohol. Whether it comes from liquor, beer or wine, alcohol shuts down various parts of the brain and makes it harder to walk, talk, think and make decisions. You can learn more about how alcohol affects your body here: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm
-Aaron White

Do you feel that it is more dangerous to... Drive buzzed/Drive wile texting/or drive high? I know that they are all bad, but as a SADD member trying to impact teen students, which is the worst?

-Dave-C, Pennsylvania

sorry--i don't know how to rank those--you're right--they are all dangerous and cause accidents.  One other point to make is that combining alcohol and marijuana is worse than either one alone.  In general, alcohol is the most common substance found in drivers who are in accidents, but that's probably because it's most commonly used, and texting may be more difficult to identify as a cause.

-Susan Weiss

Do you forget things after using marijuana the same way you do when you're drunk?

-Not a Drug Guy, California
Hey Not a Drug Guy - I like that - be smart and keep it that way!  Way to go!
 
Marijuana has clear effects on memory; alcohol also can affect one's memory when drunk.
 
If you would like to learn more about marijuana's effects, go to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana 
-Joe Frascella

do you get diaria from weed

-RALF_WEINER, New York
HI Ralf - I haven't heard of that being a specific effect of marijuana, but it does have lots of bad effects. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can cause anxiety and confusion. It can cause impaired thinking that can lead to traffic and other accidents. Please take a look at this website for a more comprehensive overview of the effects of marijuana: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
-Steve Gust