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.

Download Full Year

Do drugs make people violent

-#FreeBieber, New York

Some drugs make people violent.  For example, bath salts (which are synthetic stimulants), cocaine and alcohol can make people violent when they are intoxicated. Indeed many violent crimes are committed under the infleunce of drugs

-Nora Volkow

do drugs make the user have more of a sex drive?!?

-bmorse, New York
Not really.  But drugs of abuse do typically impair a person in many ways.  For more information on drugs see http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse
Dave 
-Dave Thomas

do drugs make you happy

-RALF_WEINER, New York

Hi again, ralf-weiner.  People say that they take drugs to make them happy, but the happiness is short-lived and for a very high price. Aren't there other and better ways to make you happy?  I like to read, hike, and hang out with friends.  What makes you happy?  Live above the influence !!!  http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/

-Joni Rutter

do drugs really kill your brain cells?

-tamara francois, New York
Drugs can change your brain, never mind damage or kill brain cells!  
 
Some examples of drugs that damage brain cells: 
Meth not only damages endings of dopamine-containing nerve cells, it also kills other nerve cells in additional brain pathways.  Inhalants prevent the necessary oxygen from reaching the brain, which can damage brain cells.
To learn more about how drugs make changes to your brain, check out this Sara Bellum blog on
-Joni Rutter

Do electric cigarettes have any drugs in them?

-gallarda.19, New York

Hi...thanks for question. E-cigs have liquid nicotine in them along with other chemicals to create the "smoke" (or vapor) produced. Check out drugabuse.gov for more info about them.

-Jack Stein

Do heroin increase or decrease reaction time?

-felisa.holden, Virginia

Hello again felisa,holden! Thanks for all of your great questions. Heroin is a depressant and could definitely decrease your reaction time while you are under the influence. It would affect many more aspects of your performance too- like your coordination.

-Marilyn Huestis

do hookah pens ruin your lungs? do they cause you to get high?

-jenny, Maryland
Good morning, Jenny! My first question of the day and its a great one! Hookah pens, like many related e-cigarette products, are new products. There are many, many types of these pen-sized products and it is the subject of active research right now! The worst health consequences that we know about associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion. Since we don't know much about the consequences of using e-cigarettes, we don't know if the nicotine or flavorings that they contain will ruin your lungs... We do know that nicotine (the active ingredient for these products) is a stimulant drug that can have pleasurable, reinforcing and addictive properties, which makes it hard to quit! Check out our pub on e-cigarettes if you have more questions: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-...  
-Kris Bough

Do I have more of a chance to do drugs of any sort if i have family members who do? How and why?

-Aveson, California
Great question, Aveson!  
Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, so if you have relatives who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that it can be passed on from parents), but the amount of heritable can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
 
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.
 
 
Aveson, make sure to use the links above to get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 

 

-Joni Rutter

do most people try drugs once in their life

-leone21157, Maryland

Most people try drugs in their lifetime, since alcohol and tobacco are both drugs

-Nora Volkow

Do parts of the brain begin to shutdown after prolonged drug use?

-eechero, Texas

Hello eechero! This is a really good question. So saying the brain is shutting down is another way of describing the many effects prolonged drug use have on the brain.  For instance, one difference between humans and animals is the large cortex we have in our brains. The cortex is responsible for taking in information, evaluating this information and making good decisions. When someone becomes addicted to a drug, the brain can become rewired to bypass this "control" process and go directly to the reward areas of the brain- where the answer is always "YES take the drug", rather than considering all the negative effects the drug can have on your life and health. 

-Marilyn Huestis

do people do drugs because of bullying or peer pressure

-Deal888, Maryland
Deal888 -- You've asked two good, tough questions. First, I don't think people do drugs because of bullying, but maybe to try to cope with bullying. Bullying can effect someone in lots of ways, including having negative thoughts about themselves, and negative feelings in general. This can be the case for people who do the bullying and those who are the victims. Do people do drugs because of peer pressure? Sometimes. Resisting peer pressure takes skills. Sometimes you can avoid situations where you know you'll be pressured. But, it's best to have a plan for what you will do if you are faced with this situation--to prevent it from happening.  
 
 
-Belinda Sims

can your heart explode if you smoke too much meth

-icecreamswirl5, Maryland
Hey icecreamswirl5!
YEP,  Meth can kill.  Here's how:  An overdose of meth can result in heart failure. Long-term physical effects such as liver, kidney, and lung damage may also kill you.  And, if it doesn't kill you, it will do terrible transformations to your mouth! (see this image of "meth mouth" from the department of justice website)  YUCK!!  There's an article, too, on meth mouth on the Sara Bellum blog: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/meth-mouth-and-crank-bugs-meth-morphosis.
 
Be smart and stay away from meth!
 
-Joni Rutter

Cant poeple who have anorexia take cocaine to avoid feeling hungry?

-gk22, New York
Hey gk22--If someone has anorexia one of the last things they want to do is start abusing drugs, especially one like cocaine.  People with anorexia can develop heart problems and cocaine also effects your heart by making it beat faster--combining the two could be deadly.  While cocaine can reduce appetite, it can also, cause stomach aches, shakes, make you throw up and pass out.  Abuse it regularly and you can also become addicted.  Definitely a bad call.
 
The trained counselors at the crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7 can help people struggling with anorexia and other mental health issues.  If you know someone who needs help--give them this number.
-Lis Davis

Cigarettes kill thousands of people in the US every year, yet they are legal. Marijuana has produced no deaths, yet they are illegal. Why is this?

-DynamoDude2801, Maryland
Hey DynamoDude2801,
You ask a really interesting question. There are lots of reasons. History and greed are two of the reasons: Tobacco was an important part of American society and our economy even before we were a nation, and by the time we found out how harmful it was (in the 1950s), lots of Americans were hooked, and the companies that made cigarettes weren't about to give up a big money-maker--so they have fought hard to keep people using their products. Although marijuana has been used for a long time, even in early America, it hasn't been as important in our society, so it was easier to make it illegal when its dangers became apparent. It's dangers are very different from those of tobacco though: It affects intelligence, motivation, and other mental factors, especially when used by young people.
I'm glad you're thinking about this--it's an important question! 
-Eric Wargo

Colorado legalized marijuana, what do you think of other states future

-scarey, Pennsylvania

Hello Scarey! Great question. Currently, Colorado and Washington have passed ballots for recreational marijuana (commonly called legalization) for adults. Alaska may be considering a ballot in the future as well. Please be aware that although all this policy activity is happening at the state level, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S.

-Bethany Deeds

Could alcohol be in the food that we eat? Can that be another way kids get drunk?

-Luma, New York

Yes, there are foods and beverages that contain small amounts of alcohol, though probably not enough to make people intoxicated. Legally, non-alcohol products are allowed to contain up to 0.5% alcohol, which is about the amount that might be present in fruit juice as a result of natural fermentation. A standard beer contains 5% alcohol, ten times the amount that can be present in non-alcoholic beverages. 

-Aaron White

Could drug addictions be passed down to the baby?

-:), New York

Hey :)--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.
 
 
Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
 

 

-Joni Rutter

could drugs be breathed in and get intoxicated through the air?

-green59, Maryland

Hey Green 59! Good question. The answer is: yes. Drugs can be breathed in and you can get intoxicated by inhaling from a drug product directly - or even indirectly, e.g., from other people smoking in the room! 

-Kris Bough

could mixing viagra and beer kill you

-sean, New York

It's possible if you take enough!

-Aaron White

could steroids be considered drugs

-softball37, Maryland

They are and can produce addiction

-Nora Volkow

dave thomas youve got a lot of balls kudos bro

-snailpenis, Maryland

TY sir!

-Dave Thomas

David from WJ what happens to kids that have ADHD when they smoke.

-david, Maryland

hi David.  Well, smoking isn't good for anyone, of course!  In addition to all the health problems associated with smoking in general, cigarettes include nicotine, which is a drug with it's own effects.  Some people think smoking is calming, but Nicotine can be a stimulant that can affect people differently.  Adding it to the mix with ADD/ADHD and the medications that are used to treat ADD/ADHD can just make things more complicated.  

-Joel Sherrill

Did meth become more popular after Breaking Bad?

-marijuanakills, New York

Hi, marijuanakills, what a great question! Nationally we haven't seen an increase in the popularity of meth since Breaking Bad debuted in 2008. If anything we have seen a slight continued downward trending in use since that time.  Our most timely report of emerging trends comes from a network of City and State researchers, law enforcement, treatment and other health officials who report regularly on what emerging drugs they're seeing in their local communities, so it remains to be seen what will happen in the upcoming months and years. If you want to learn about the heath effects of meth and other drugs, check out NIDA's website: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty” http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/

-Marsha Lopez

Diffrence between acid and mushrooms?

-tmac316, Maryland

Well one is synthesized in the lab and the other is a mushroom.  That is one difference.  But both are hallucinogens.  The hallmark of these drugs, which include LSD, MDMA  (methlyenedioxymethamphetamine, Ecstasy), and PCP (phencyclidine) is causing distorted perceptions and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there).

For more info, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens-lsd-peyote-psilocybin-pcp

-Dave Thomas

Do all drugs and alcohol cause hallucinations and epilepsy?

-felisa.holden, Virginia
Hi Felisa.
thanks for the question!
 
The answer is no: specific drugs have specific effects. you can visit these sites to find out what drugs have specific neurological and mental health effects.
 
all the best.
ruben 
-Ruben Baler

Do all drugs come from mexico?

-DuckDynasty, Maryland

Great question, DuckDynasty. Quack on! To answer you, no, all drugs don't come from Mexico. Much of America's cocaine comes from South America (particularly countries like Colombia, Peru and Venezuela). And a lot of the world's heroine comes from Central and South-Eastern Asia. But let's not forget the United States itself is a major source for drug abuse. Here in America we prescribe more pain medications than any other country in the world. According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Study, 15 percent of high school seniors used a prescription drug for a reason other than what their doctor intended. Plus, according to the 2010  National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 12 million American teens and adults reported using prescription painkillers to get “high” or for other nonmedical reasons. But regardless of where they come from, drugs can cause really serious harm to those who use them and the people around them. So if you or anyone you know is struggling with drug abuse, check out this site to see how you can get help: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment-research/if-teen-or-young-adult-has-drug-abuse-problem

-Marsha Lopez

Do all drugs effect the body.

-Marissa Roybal, New Mexico

 The impact of addiction can be far reaching. Cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and lung disease can all be affected by drug abuse. Some of these effects occur when drugs are used at high doses or after prolonged use, however, some may occur after just one use. Check out drugabuse.gov for more info.

-Jack Stein

Do all drugs have a similar effect?

-ashley.bowling, Kentucky

All drugs increase dopamine in brain reward regions which is why people take them and why they are addictive. But each drug does it by a different mechanism.

-Nora Volkow

Do any countries see drugs as a good think for econmic reasons? Does Russia?

-VladimirPutin, New York
Hi Vladimir - you should know! haha
 
Actually, most countries do not see any economic benefits from drugs, but rather there are economic costs, mostly from the damage done to individuals lives, their productivity, their health, and from the law enforcement costs related to preventing drugs from coming into the country and being sold and distributed.
-Steve Gust

do bath salts give you the urge to eat faces

-icecreamswirl5, Maryland
Hi IceCream!
Bath salts won't make you necessarily want to eat someone's face or act like a cannibal (probably)! Some violent and cannibalistic attacks reported in the news last year were attributed to bath salts by the media before the facts were known, and those drugs turned out not to be involved. The 'face eater' in Miami turned out only to have marijuana in his system when his blood was tested.
But bath salts (technically called synthetic cathinones) have powerful stimulant and hallucinogenic properties--they can cause hyperactivity and delirium and even violent psychosis in a minority of users.
 
-Dave Thomas