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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why is vaping without nicotiene bad??

-its me,

Hi its me! There are a lot of misconceptions about vaping and electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor, that is produced by vaping is really made of the specific chemicals in the liquid, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, chemical flavorings and others. Surveys show that many teens don't even know what chemicals are in their vaping device. We still don't know all the effects of vaping because they are so new, but even without nicotine, these vapors may be dangerous.

-Dave Thomas

Why is vomiting a symptom of alcohol overdose?

-person, Illinois

Thanks for your question!
The brain monitors the contents of the blood to check for toxins. If it detects high levels of a toxin, like alcohol, it initiates vomiting in an effort to purge the body of the toxin. Unfortunately, vomiting does not get rid of alcohol that is already in the body and so it won't sober someone up or prevent them from overdosing. It only gets rid of alcohol still in the stomach waiting to be absorbed. Vomiting is the body's way of saying that it is being poisoned by the alcohol.
For more facts about alcohol overdose see
https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdos...

-Aaron White

Why is weed a drug if it is a plant?

-Charlie Hartman, California

Hi Charlie
It is a great myth that plant based products are safe or benign - case in point - cannabis. There are several substances that are derived from plants that can be dangerous/poisonous or addictive. Tobacco, opium derived from the flowers of poppy plants, and cocaine derived from leaves of the coca plant (commonly grown in South America) are all examples of drugs (i.e. addictive substances) derived from plants and are addictive and can be harmful. So plant based products are not necessarily safe.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Why is weed considered a dangerous drug if you can not die from it

-Anelson22, Oregon

Hi Anfelson22 -- There are many dangerous drugs that have a low or minimal risk for overdose. As for marijuana, it's often said that no one has OD'ed on it, but that isn't completely true. Many people have ended up in the hospital with side effects after using marijuana with high THC levels. Marijuana does not cause respiratory depression, which is what kills people using heroin, but it does cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and there are some reports of deaths in marijuana users from these effects, although it is hard to know if marijuana was a direct cause. Also a person can OD on marijuana and not die, but have serious psychological effects such as paranoia. You can learn more about marijuana here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Jinhee Lee

why not ban juuls

-k, Illinois

Hi k.

FDA can't ban tobacco products.

But we can regulate them.

And when it comes to JUUL we have concerns because of how incredibly popular the product is with teens.

We're trying to educate at-risk teens about the dangers of vaping. Check out our website: https://therealcost.betobaccofree.hhs.gov/gm/hacked-ends.html

And we're working hard to enforce the law that makes it illegal to sell JUUL, or any vape product, to teens.

-Mitch Zeller

why not ban tobacco

-health, Illinois

Hi Health, this is a VERY good question! While the government has not banned the use of tobacco products, they are being heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means that certain types of usage in the future may be banned, but it also means that use will be more tightly controlled (for example, kids can't buy cigarettes). Keep the questions coming!!!

-Marsha Lopez

Why should you not use drugs or alcohol as a teenager?

-DW, Washington

Hi! Thanks for participating in Chat Day! Research shows that brain development continues into a person's twenties. Alcohol and drugs can affect this development and contribute to a range of problems later in life. Also, 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. 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. Also, check out how drugs and alcohol impact the teenage brain: Publication: The Teen Brain: 6 Things to Know https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-6-things-to-know/index.shtml
-Kristen

-Susan Weiss

Why were drugs created in the first place?

-AH, New Hampshire

Interesting question! Most illicit drugs were created by nature -- marijuana, heroin, and alcohol are plant products and/or the result of natural processes like fermentation. People learned from ingesting them that they cause them to feel "high," and used them for this purpose. Only later did we learn that many people who use these drugs experience adverse consequences, like addiction or other physical harms.

-Joshua Gordon

Why were drugs even invented?

-cmjones0304, Arizona

Hi CM,
A lot of drugs were not invented, they were discovered. They already existed. For example, opium (an opioid) comes from the poppy plant and was used thousands of years ago. Centuries later, chemists synthesized other opioids in the lab.

-Dave Thomas

why were e-cigarettes promoted for people who want to quit smoking if they have so much nicotine?

-keyboard, Illinois

Hi keyboard,

That's a really good question. If we're talking about someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day and completely switches to vapes then that person is reducing their risk compared to continuing to smoke.

But if we're talking about a teen thinking about trying an e-cigarette then the answer is different. A teen who experiments with a vape product is more likely to go on to try a regular cigarette. And the nicotine in that vape can be addictive.

Studies are being done to determine the potential effects of e-cigarettes. Right now, we don't know how many harmful or potentially harmful chemicals are in e-cigarettes. We do know there is no safe tobacco product, especially for teens, who's brains are still devleloping.

-Suzanne Lim

why would perscreption drugs be so addictive? why would they give them out if they could end up with something bad?

-Aybrian-FVSU4H, Georgia

Dear Aybrian-FVSU4H
Good question!
I would start by saying that not all prescription medications are addictive. In fact, only a small proportion of the prescribed medications are potentially addictive - e.g. those prescribed for pain management that contain opioids, certain ADHD and anxiety/sleep medications.
Another point to consider is that these medications are potentially addictive, which means lots of patients take these medications as prescribed, receive good benefit and don't abuse them. On the other hand, there are persons, especially who are already either smoking cigarettes or misusing alcohol, cannabis, or other illegal drugs, who are at high risk of becoming addicted to the prescription meds I have mentioned above. In those cases, the physician is expected to carefully assess the patient's condition and consider alternate treatments that are not habit forming or addictive.
Thanks for asking!

-Geetha Subramaniam

why would they give out Rx and they be adiciting and act like bad drugs but at the same time they help you?

-Aybrian-FVSU4H, Georgia

They are prescription drugs for a reason. A clinician can help understand how to use such drugs and how not to use them. If used as directed and prescribed, they can help people some with moderate to severe pain. However, if misused, they can be VERY dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that in past years, some clinicians have inappropriately prescribed or have prescribed too much, was has also contributed to our opioid crisis. Educating doctors has improved this as of late and we hope we will continue to see improvements.

-Dave Thomas

wich mental illness are related to alcohol or drug abuse?

-lc203,

Depends on the drug: alcohol--depression is common; marijuana--psychosis (if you have a family history), maybe depression and suicidal ideation; stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine: anxiety, panic, paranoia, psychosis

-Susan Weiss

will a kid die if a kid smokes at a low age

-Javares-FVSU4h, Georgia

Hello Javares
This is a challenging but a great question to answer. The short answer is yes!
Tobacco smoking is linked to premature death. If someone starts smoking at a young age and continues into adulthood, they are likely to die in adulthood before their peers, who do not smoke (visit https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products.)
It maybe worth noting that young persons using certain drugs such as opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines may die from it within a short period of beginning to use it, if it was taken in large amounts. In the case of teenagers/youth, especially those who have not used drugs before, youth are at higher risk of overdose, e.g. from opioids since their system has not been exposed to it before.
Also, drugged driving may lead to motor vehicle accidents (MVA). MVA is one of the leading cause of death among youth.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Will drug addicts get addicted all the drugs that they use more than 5 times?

-usernameS, Maryland

No, not everybody who uses drugs more than 5 times will get addicted. However, the more people use them, the more likely they are to get addicted to them. And most people do not realize they are getting addicted to a drug until they are really hooked and having bad consequences. If someone uses a drug even one time, they are at greater risk of addiction than someone who has never tried! Why Do Some People Get Addicted? See the Swiss Cheese Model of Drug Addiction: www.drugabuse.gov/videos/swiss-cheese-model-drug-addiction

-Carlos Blanco

WiLl I DiE If I SmOke OnCe

-itiscooltojuul, Maryland

Hate to break it to you, but we're all gonna die eventually!

-Emily Einstein

Will Krokodil become popularized in the coming years? It's really catching on in Eastern Europe and I'm scared that Krokodil isn't being talked about as much as it really should be.

-OfficerJohnHamm, Maryland

Hi Officer Hamm,

Very good question. It's difficult to predict which drugs will become popular. Krokodil was featured in U.S. news reports in 2013, but we have not been informed of any current emerging alerts or trends involving krokodil since then. We suggest subscribing to NIDA's National Drug Early Warning System, which monitors emerging drug use and trends, to learn of any new cases. https://ndews.umd.edu/

-Jinhee Lee

Will marijuana eventually become illegal in the United States?

-Bra, Maryland

Actually marijuana is still technically illegal in the United States. It's still a federal crime to possess or use it. Many states have passed laws to make it legal, but those do not cancel out the federal prohibitions.

-Dave Thomas

Will smoking any type of drug affect a baby?

-KO, Maryland

Thanks for the fantastic question KO! The answer is--Yes. Substance use during pregnancy can be risky to the woman's health and that of her child. Use of some drugs can increase the risk of miscarriage. Also, the risk of stillbirth is 2-3 times greater in women who smoke tobacco or marijuana, take prescription pain relievers, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy. If a woman uses drugs during pregnancy, the baby can go through withdrawal after birth. They may have difficulties in eating, seeing, hearing and they may not like to be touched. Here is a link to learn more: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women

-Bethany Deeds

will smoking weed once ruin my life

-cool, Illinois

Hi cool -- It's hard to say. Most people, but not all, do not fall into the trap of addiction after a single use of any drug, but there are huge differences between how people respond to different drugs. Before using any drugs, you should try to get all the information you can about the possible effects. For marijuana, you might check out this page: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Steve Gust

Will there ever be a "good drug?" or one that wont have any negative health effects?

-manny, Illinois

Hi Manny -- Unfortunately, all drugs can have serious side effects, as you may know. However, some people say they are "addicted" to music, as players or listeners; some others say they're "addicted' to sports; and usually those "addictions" don't have serious side effects (unless somebody overexercises). Anyway, read more and judge for yourself:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

-Anto Bonci

Will they make vape smoke colorful?

-JH, New Hampshire

Honestly, there isn't much more that can be done to make vape products even MORE attractive to teens than they already are.

Vapes are by far the most popular product with teens...more popular than even cigarettes.

In fact, from 2017 to 2018 use of e-cigarettes by high schoolers increased by almost 80 percent.

We're working hard to try to stop teens from starting to use e-cigarettes. You can get more info from our website: https://therealcost.betobaccofree.hhs.gov/gm/hacked-ends.html

-Mitch Zeller

will vaping affect my ability to play sports?

-hehexd, Illinois

Vaping nicotine can lead to nicotine addiction, which is a very difficuld addiction to break. People addicted to nicotine often find that they need to keep taking the drug to avoid experiencing the negative effects associated with withdrawal (irritability, restlessnes, attention and memory deficits, anxiety, depress, and increased appetite). It's not hard to see how these effects could impact your experience in sports. Vape products (even those without nicotine) also contain other chemicals and because these products are so new little is known about the short- and long term effects of exposure to the aerosol. Some resarch shows that some of the chemicals in e-cigarette liquid, propylene glycol and glycerol, cause throat irritation and coughing. In addition, vapor exposure may be linked with impaired lung function. Other studies show that many teens switch to regular cigarettes, which will really hurt your breathing and stamina for sports.

-Emily Einstein

will you answer all the questions?

-MR,

We try to! But we get THOUSANDS of questions so often have to select ones that are most pressing. Thanks for asking!

-Jack Stein

with all the different types of marijuana out on the streets and supposedly there are different types and effects,is anyone aware of the additional make of marijuana besides THC

-Javares-FVSU4h, Georgia

Hi Javres -- There are many different strains of marijuana being sold out there these days. It is important to remember that essentially all of them contain THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high. Other components of marijuana (like CBD) might change the effects of THC, but there is little scientific evidence that is the case. Learn more here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Steve Gust

With the government partial shut down, does this affect the research of new drugs from the FDA? Do they put all research on hold?

-drug education, Illinois

FDA is doing the best it can during this partial shut down.

Research already funded should not be affected by what's going on with the shut down.

Thanks for your question.

-Mitch Zeller

With which drug athletes use to power up himself?

-betisdsdlacuna,

Great question.
Some athletes use anabolic steroids or stimulant-type drugs to enhance performance. Anabolic steroids are synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of testosterone, a male hormone that increases muscle mass. Unfortunately, anabolic steroids can cause adverse effects including aggression and sexual dysfunction.
Some athletes use stimulant-type drugs, like amphetamine, that produce increased energy and faster reaction times. Unfortunately, stimulants can cause adverse effects including heart attacks and paranoid thinking.
Many sports ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs and will disqualify users from competing.
In short, it is better to engage in athletic activities without using drugs.

-Michael Baumann

Would Aderrall pose a high health/addictivity risk to students in college or high school?

-beanutbutter, Maryland

Hi Beanutbutter! Thanks for the very good question. I think the short answer is "it depends." Certainly adderall is well-known for its usefulness for people with ADD/ADHD. If taken as prescribed, there is little or no risk of becoming addicted. However, people have abused adderall, and have taken it in much higher doses than prescribed or through routes not prescribed (for example, instead of taking a pill orally, some may crush pills to snort intranasally). In those cases it can be a high health risk.

-Michelle Leff

Would it be accurate to say that since the THC levels in marijuana have significantly increased over the years that it is reasonable to conclude that chronic users of marijuana have a greater chance of using harder more illicit( illegal) drugs due to the fact it is still a gateway drug

-Mrs. Conlon, Illinois

The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy. The research suggests that while most people who smoke marijuana do not go on to use other drugs, most teens who use other illegal drugs try marijuana first. The risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. Unfortunately, at this point, we don't know if higher THC content increases this response. Animal studies suggest that ---because the teen brain is still developing---early use of marijuana alcohol or tobacco may alter the brain's reward system, putting teens at higher risk of using other drugs. In addition, using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who use and sell other drugs, increasing the risk of additional drug use. It's important to remeber that research shows that marijuana can harm the developing teen brain.

-Kurt Rasmussen

Would it be bad to legalize Marihuana in Mexico?

-lll,

The arguments for and against legalizing marijuana are the same anywhere. While there may be short term benefits to the economy (for some), there are also long term costs to the populations. Marijuana is especially risky for young people, pregnant women, people with mental health problems, and others. Did you know that young people are more likely to become addicted to drugs (any drugs) than adults. Businesses trying to sell products know this and they try to get young people to use them so that they will become lifelong users, regardless of the health consequences to the person (tobacco is the perfect example). Much better to find other ways to boost the economy and protect the public's health.

-Susan Weiss