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 many teens today are smoking?


Thanks for the question. According to NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey in 2007 14% of 10th graders and 22% of 12th graders had used cigarettes within the month prior to the survey. For more info please visit

-Anna Staton

how many time do you have to take a drug before you are abusing


Good question Alverto, but hard to answer specifically. There is a lot we still dont know about when abuse results in addiction and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so its a little like playing Russian Roulette if you choose to use drugs. For more information about understanding drug abuse, check out: Thanks for your question.

-Joe Frascella

if marijuana is addicting why do doctors prescribe it to their patients


Thanks for your question. Actually according to federal law marijuana use is illegal. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for ensuring the safety of everything from cosmetics to human and animal medications to our nation's food supply has not approved marijuana to treat any medical illness. That is because smoking marijuana has not been shown in rigorously conducted clinical trials to have medical benefits that exceed its risks--the same standard used to approve any medication. However, the FDA has approved certain medications that contain ingredients found in marijuana. These medications are usually prescribed to relieve symptoms in seriously ill patients, such as reducing nausea for cancer patients on chemotherapy or helping AIDS patients to eat more. Also, there is some new and exciting research looking at the biology of cannabinoids, the general class of molecules related to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. This research suggests new ways of treating pain and other illnesses without the dangers of becoming addicted or the health liabilities linked to smoking marijuana. For more information on the impact of marijuana please visit

-Anna Staton

If marijuana is being used for medical purposes, then can the person still be arrested for posession?


I am not aware of marijuana being used legally to treat medical conditions for adolescents. That being said, the medical use of marijuana is based on state laws which vary. Currently at the federal level there is no sanctioned use of marijuana for the treatment of any medical conditions.

-Redonna Chandler

If my sister is cranky all the time and is subject to frequent moodswings, is often violent, and participates in strange behavior, would it be possible that she is taking drugs? If so, which ones?


It coudl be possible but it could also be possible that she has a psychological problem. This sounds like it deserves a proper medical evaluation to make sure that she receives the proper treamtent--whether it is for taking drugs or from the psychological problem, or both.

-Nora Volkow

if you are above the age of 90 is it safe to do cocaine


Intersting question. Using cocaine at any age is not a good idea. It can have serious medical consequences such as cardiovascular complications that elderly people may be particularly vulnerable to. In addition, although you don't often see a lot of 90 year old cocaine addicts, in reality, no age group is immune to possible addiction.

-Jan Lipkin

I was wondering if marajuana has any health benifits and if so what are they


Marijuana acts by activating cannabinoid receptors in your brain. These cannabinoid receptors affect many fucntions including memory, pain , movement. They are also involved in the immune response which is what helps your body defend itself from bacteria and viruses. This has led to the development of medications that aim to copy some of the effects of marijuana while decreasing the addictiveness and other negative health effects of marijuana.

-Nora Volkow

If a child has an addicted paarent, will that child be more at risk of becoming addicted?


VERY interesting question! A person that has a parent that is addicted to drugs IS NOT DOOMED to become an addict also. On the other hand, having an addicted parent could raise a person's risk for addiction because the risk for drug addiction can be inherited. About 40-60% of the risk for drug addiction comes from the genes a person inherited from their parents. There are other factors such as taking drugs themselves and a person's age that can contribute to their risk for addiction. Want more information on addiction? Check out NIDA's website:

-David Shurtleff

If a person is around drugs as a child and teenager in what ways can they exclude themselves from the wrong situation and put there selfs in the right one,without involving outside forces?


This is a good and important question. When someone asks it, it means they know that drugs are unhealthy, and this knowledge is already a good protective factor.One of the best strategies for avoiding drugs is to get involved with adults who are good role models and other people of one's age who don't use drugs. And, get involved in activities that interest you and don't involve people using drugs--sports, theatre, art, debate, chess, etc. etc. The more someone hangs out with people who are not using drugs the easier it will be for them to avoid using drugs.I'm not sure what you mean by "outside forces." Are you concerned about the person's privacy. If that's it, maybe there still is someone he or she trusts enough to talke with about the issue.

-Eve Reider

if i ask a stupid question will you answer it???


There are no stupid questions. Fire away!

-Gaya Dowling

If i smoke marijuana right before a football game are my chances of injury increased?


Hmmm....interesting question. Yes! Smoking marijuana not only affects memory, judgement, and perception, but also your timing, movements, and coordination. You are more likely to be injured if you smoke marijuana right before playing in a football game. Taking drugs such as marijuana will prevent your body from performing at its top physical condition, so if iyou'd like to perform at your full athletic potential steer clear of the drugs. For more informations check out

-Marsha Lopez

if you inhale a sharpie is it the equivalence to taking/doing a drug??


Absolutely, there are dangerous volatile compounds in a sharpie that can quickly reach your brain and alter its chemistry. Just like with other drugs of abuse, the effects of inhaling sharpies or any other inhalant can be really serious, irreversible, and even lethal. To learn more about the dangers of inhalant abuse please visit:

-Ruben Baler

if you know someone who is trying to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco, what can you do to help?


If you can talk them into getting a medicine to quit it will double their chances of quitting. A physician can prescribe smoking cessation medications. To find a wealth of research and facts on the science of addiction and treatment, please go to:

-Frank Vocci

if people use beer or any alchohol substance to flavorize their food can you get drunk off of it


Probably not. It would require enough alcohol to make the food taste funny!

-James Bjork

If you are drunk at a party, and you get drunk and fall asleep, is it possible for someone to force you to have sex with them?


Absolutely, because you could be in a sleep that would be very difficult to wake up from. This is NOT a situation you want to be in!!!

-James Bjork

if you are gonna have a child and you are using drugs will it cause you child to have a mental problem?


This is an important question, because when you are talking about drug use during pregnancy, you are talking about two people who could both be hurt by drugs. We do know that babies who are exposed to drugs before birth are at risk for problems later, but what kind of problem depends on what kind of drug the mother uses. For example, some of our research shows that boys whose mothers smoked while pregnant are at greater risk for disruptive behavior when they are toddlers, and delinquent behavior when they are teens. Children of mothers who smoked while pregnant are also are more likely to use tobacco when they are teens, and to become addicted if they do use it. Isn't it amazing that something you are exposed to before you are even born could still affect you when you are a teenager? We have some more studies looking at conditions like depression and anxiety as well, and we don't have the answers yet. But the only way to be sure your child is not hurt by drugs is not to use drugs.

-Nicolette Borek

if you are once a drug addict, will you always be?

-Britt & Shorty,

Absolutely not. Many people are able to quit using drugs on their own while others need treatment. We know that treatment works and teaches people the skills they need to stop using drugs, resist urges to use drugs, deal with stress, and get support for their recovery. For more information check out

-Redonna Chandler

If you do drugs at a young age, how will it affect my body when i get older?


Hi and thanks for your question. There's a bunch of research on the long term effects of drug use on the body, including the brain. Drugs can affect many systems of the body. Let's take tobacco - it can affect the brain, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys. If you do drugs at a young age, by the time you reach 30 you've been doing drugs for a long time - lots of time for damage to accumulate. Also, did you know the brain continues to develop until 25??! So, when you do drugs at a young age your brain is still developing and the drug use has the potential to change the trajectory of brain development! We have studies that are looking specifically at this using high tech tools such as neuroimaging (taking pictures of your brain). Some research indicates that using drugs when you are younger may mean you are more vulnerable to becoming addicted. We don't recommend drug use at any age, but when you're younger, it can really affect you. If you are using, stopping can help your brain recover.

-Nicolette Borek

if you took out the nicotine in tobacco, would a cigarette still have the same effect on your body? would it still be a cigarette?


Actually yes, A recent study found that de-ninicotinized cigarettes (containing a very low amount of nicotine) still saturate nearly all the brain's nicotine receptors, so they still produce an effect that can make them addictive. And by the way, "light" cigarettes aren't really light. You still get a lot of nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals in your system. To find out more, visit our website:

-Frank Vocci

If your mom/dad smoke a lot and drink beer a lot and they have kids will the kids be affected with drugs


Hi there and thanks for your question. We have lots of studies that are looking at how exposure to alcohol and tobacco or other drugs during pregnancy can affect a kid's development. These studies have found that there are some subtle effects on behavior, attention, and thinking for some kids. One study found that kids who were exposed to tobacco smoke when their moms were pregnant were more likely to smoke and be dependent on cigarettes when they were teenagers. Also, kids whose mom or dad or other family members drink or smoke a lot may may have a tendency to want to smoke and drink a lot too. We don't recommend that kids ever drink or smoke, but for kids who were exposed to alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, or had lots of smoking and/or drinking in their family, it is especially important to stay away!

-Nicolette Borek

If yoy all ready have a disease, do drugs harm you more than a normal person??


Great question! The answer is not simple or straightforward in that it really depends on the disease that one might have and then how drugs of abuse might affect that disease. We know that all drugs of abuse affect the body and brain in specific ways. We also know that many, if not all drugs of abuse, affect the immune system in a negative way, so in general, combining drugs of abuse with an existing disease can be pretty harmful. Take epilepsy/seizure disorder, for example, the use of many abused drugs can increase seizures. Of course, there are many drugs that are used as medications that can treat and cure many diseases when they are taken as prescribed by a doctor.Thanks for this thoughtful question.

-Joe Frascella

im around my aunt alot and we are really close and shes always different and her teeth are gross and her moods change frequently and she seems like she hides things a lot i think shes using drugs but i dont know what to do

-x dark angel x,

Sounds like you know your aunt really well and if your gut is telling you she is using drugs you are probably right. The physical and mood changes you describe are often associated with drug use. If it is true that she is using drugs, there are plenty of things you can do. You can express your concerns to her. You can educate yourself about drugs and treatment options ( and be ready with that information when you have a chance to talk about this. And, you can tell her you love her and want to help. To talk to someone about the situation further you can call 1-800-273-TALK or to get info on treatment options in your area you can call 1-800-662-HELP.

-Redonna Chandler

is it posible for a crack abuser to get good grades in school

-fabian searfoss,

Possible....but very unlikely. . People often think that they perform better under the influence of stimulants like cocaine but the research actually shows that this just isn't the case. Plus the risk of addiction is especially high for crack. For more info check out Cocaine: Abuse and Addiction [Revised 2004]

-Jan Lipkin

is it possible taht you do so much drugs, that your brain can chagne into the size of a pea?


Drugs of abuse can change the structure and functioning of the brain. Brain cells can be damaged or killed by certain drugs, and certain brain areas have been to be shown to be changed in size in some individuals addicted to drugs. These changes can have serious consequenses and are permanent; however, no drugs will cause the brain to change as drastically as you describe.thanks for the question.

-Joe Frascella

is it true that if girls take steroids they grow penis'?


No. But, in the female body, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head.

-Elisabeth Davis

is it true that if you use acid, that it will stay in your spinal cord for the rest of your life??


Good question. The short answer is, no. Drugs are metabolized in your liver and cleared from you body over time. LSD is no different. Acid can, however, cause unpredictable psychological effects. With large enough doses, users experience delusions and visual hallucinations. Physical effects include dangerously increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; sleeplessness, and loss of appetite. Want more information on acid? Click on

-David Shurtleff

is it true that smoking speeds up your metabolism?


Good morning and good question! It is true. One of the active ingredients in tobacco -- nicotine -- can raise resting metabolic rates two to three times. It is NOT recommended, however, that tobacco products be used as diet aides. Remember, tobacco use, especially long-term tobacco use, can result in very bad results, including cancer. For more information, please consult

-David Shurtleff

in your opinion why do kids do drugs?


Alot of people want to know why do kids do drugs. Kids take drugs for different reasons. Some take drugs because they have are hanging out with other kids who do drugs, some kids take drugs to feel good, some to take their minds off problems, and some because they think they will have more friends. Even though it isn't true, some kids take drugs because they think alot of other kids their age are using drugs.

-Eve Reider

In your opinion, which is worse: alcohol or marijuana? ANSWER ME NOWWW!! OH EM GEE


The effects of alcohol and marijuana vary and BOTH can be dangerous. Some people are surprised that marijuana is addictive but i've seen many patients who are addicted to marijuana and need help to quit. I've also worked with a lot of alcholics. The response to each of these drugs depends on the individual.

-Wilson Compton

Inhalants are a type of drug right?, What is in a marker that makes you high?


Indeed, many people do not think of household products as drugs because they were never meant to be used to achieve an intoxicating effect, but they definitely are and can have serious health consequences like addiction and even death. Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Markers are a good example of a product that can become dangerous when somebody chooses to inhale its vapors which contain highly toxic volatile organic compounds. For more information go to

-Ruben Baler