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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drugs were poular in the 60s and the hippie style is realy in so are more people doing drugs now then in the 90s

-larkinsalexis, Michigan

Great question! Every year NIDA supported researchers at the University of Michigan ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their use of drugs. They have shown that drug use in 2008 is higher than it was in 1990, but lower than it was when it peaked in the mid-90's. You can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at

-Marsha Lopez

does smoking pot prevent getting the H1N1 virus?

-itstooearly8, Vermont

Hey up there in Vermont! There is no evidence to suggest that smoking pot will prevent the H1N1 virus--but we do know that drugs of abuse can actually reduce our body's immune function.

For more information about marijuana, check out!

-Joe Frascella

Does smoking weed have long term effects?

-eddie747, Pennsylvania

Great question. Yes, in general marijuana has been shown to have long-term effects. Its use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia (psychosis), depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. What we know is that the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis. Marijuana intoxication can, though rarely, produce a reversible psychosis, and it may be a causal agent in development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals. Data on causality are weak, although many studies have found an association present in certain groups: young users, frequent users, those with cannabis dependence, etc. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or sub-clinical illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above. Hope this helps.

-Joe Frascella

does sniffing scented erasers for an extended period of time cause a loss of brain cells?

-ZayJ34, Ohio

That depends on what they are scented with. Potpourri usually does not cause loss of brain cells but chemicals like toluene could. For more information about inhalants, check out!

-Nancy Pilotte

does sniffing scented erasers for an extended period of time cause a loss of brain cells?

-ZayJ34, Ohio

That depends on what they are scented with. Potpourri usually does not cause loss of brain cells but chemicals like toluene could.

For more information about
inhalants, check out!

-Nancy Pilotte

does steroids really make ur penis smaller?

-C Ronoldo Sucks, Maryland

No, but they can make your testicles smaller.

-Nora Volkow

Does the meth cause schizopherinia?

-LovelessWedding, Virginia

Methamphetamine use has been associated with a number of mental conditions, including psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation or attempts. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between methamphetamine and psychosis. Meth intoxication produce a reversible psychosis (paranoia and hallucinations), and it may be a causal agent in development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals.

-Wilson Compton

does the use of drugs cause A.I.D.S. or H.I.V.?

-whatitcalled, Georgia

Using drugs can put you at risk for getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. One reason is that drug and alcohol abuse can harm your judgment. People who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for getting HIV. Also, people who inject drugs can transmit the virus through shared needles or other injection equipment. To Learn the Link between drug abuse and HIV check out

-Gaya Dowling

does weed affect athletes?

-The dog, Ohio

Weed can affect anyone who takes it. It is a drug and even those who may be healthy because they are athletes can suffer from its effects--like losing their coordination ( ). Some people feel nothing at all when they smoke marijuana. Others may feel relaxed or high. Sometimes marijuana makes users feel thirsty and suddenly hungry. Some users can get bad effects from marijuana. They may have sudden feelings of anxiety and paranoid thoughts. It does not matter whether you are an athlete or not, weed can affect your brain and behavior. So keep your brain healthy!

-Cheryl Boyce

Does doing drugs while you have HIV or AIDS speed up the process of dying?

-Treanna21, Georgia

it will certainly not slow it down!

-Ruben Baler

Does drinking effect your althletic ability?

-Spring_Woods=D, Texas

Drinking can leave you dehydrated and it can damage your liver and brain. The dehydration might affect athletic ability right away. The other effects are more likely to occur over time.

-Dave McCann

does drugs make you slow at anything?

-Tiarra, Virginia

It really depends on the drug- drugs like marijuana, heroin, or alcohol can slow you down but nicotine and other stimulants have the opposite effect on your system.

-Nora Volkow

Does ecstacy intensify sex and what are long term effects of ecstacy usage?

-CandiiKiddxo, Maryland

Ecstasy (or MDMA) is a mild hallucinogenic. Its effects on the brain and behavior are complex. On one hand, Ecstasy is associated with many serious medical consequences, but, as you probably know, it is reportedly associated in popular culture with positive sexual effects. However, this latter effect is controversial and hard to prove in the lab, perhaps because the drug affects both the serotonin and dopamine systems, so the complex effects are quite variable depending on the person and the circumstances.

But ecstasy can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure - which present risks of particular concern for people with circulatory problems or heart disease--and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.

In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature. On rare but unpredictable occasions, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can result in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body), therefore potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time.

-Ruben Baler

Does ecstasy have any medical use?

-S.A.WhiteTiger, Washington

There are studies that are exploring this with cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and for end-of-life patients. All of these studies administer the drugs under controlled situations with medical supervision. The results of these studies are not yet out.

-Stephanie Older

does marijuana affect driving

-batman, Maryland

marijuanaaffects perception, reaction time, and coordination-all of which are necessary for being a safe driver. some people claim they can compensate for its effects, but in an emergency situation, where you have to react quickly, marijuana is not going to serve you well. Also, the combination of marijuana and
alcoholis worse than either one alone on driving performance.

-Susan Weiss

does marijuana affect driving

-batman, Maryland

Yes. marijuana affects perception, reaction time, and coordination-all of which are necessary for being a safe driver. some people claim they can compensate for its effects, but in an emergency situation, where you have to react quickly, marijuana is not going to serve you well. Also, the combination of marijuana and alcohol is worse than either one alone on driving performance.

-Susan Weiss

does marijuana effect your driving abilities?

-aolinger, Oregon

What a great question! That is one of the aspects of using marijuana that has been studied a lot, and we can say definitively that the answer is 'YES.' NIDA research indicates that in 2006, more than 10 percent of high school seniors admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the two weeks prior to the survey. Drugs can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination and other faculties needed for safe driving. Did you know that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24? Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.For more information about marijuana, check out

-Nancy Pilotte

Does marijuana have any long term effects to the body?

-smokvica, Pennsylvania

Yes- it can affect the brain leading to addiction. Smoking marijuana can also lead to cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs. Research has shown that smoking marijuana increases the likelihood of developing cancer of the head or neck, and that the more marijuana is smoked, the greater the risk.For more information about drugs, please visit

-David Shurtleff

Does being under the influence of drugs have an affect on your ability to concieve?

-girarkay13, Maine

Wow! That is an interesting question. Some drugs, like marijuana, may lower sperm counts in males, but this too depends on how much and how often it is used. All drugs, for males, can influence your ability to 'follow-through' (if you know what I mean). In females, abuse of stimulants like cocaine and amphetamine may make you cycle irregularly, affecting your ability to become pregnant. So it is not an easy answer--your chances depend on your behavior.

-Nancy Pilotte

Hi guys.. why do teens become involved in smoking

-GEORGE, Virginia

Hi! A lot of the movies and TV shows portray smoking as hip or cool and this may be one thing that significantly effects why teens start smoking. Also, many other reasons could influence why teens might start doing something bad for them even after all of the health information they have been exposed to shows that smoking is bad for health. For example, difficult family situations, depression, anxiety, stress, or problems in school could lead to teens making harmful choices. Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at

-Kristen Huntley

Hi there, If you take drugs at a young age what is the percentage that you will still use in your adult years?

-wookiesBiffel10, Pennsylvania

Hi, great question! You would think this should be a really easy question to answer, but to find the answer (or estimate the percentage of risk) researchers would have to do a study that followed people from a young age, before they start using drugs, through the time when they start to use and then through adulthood to be able to see who is still using. That's a long and complicated study! What we do know is that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to have drug and other problems, for example, in school or with your family. And we know that different people have different risks for long term use. Better never to start! But if you do-the earlier you stop the more you can avoid addiction.

-Marsha Lopez

Hi! Do all drugs affect harmfully to the body because i hard that some doctors prescribe cocaine or such to patients for their diesease??

-11797229, Maryland

Hey Rockville High, great question! Many drugs that are abused are actually used very effectively and safely as medications - for example, morphine, prescription opioids/pain killers, ketamine, benzodiazepines, etc. When used properly, these drugs/medications pose very little danger and are quite useful for many medical reasons. That said, medications, such as prescription medications, can be used for nonmedical purposes, and when used this way, they can be abused and can lead to addiction. Cocaine is still used as a local anesthetic.Check out this site for further discussion of the science of addiction, and thanks for your question:

-Joe Frascella

hi- if you've smoked for about 20 years is your lung dark and black?

-11797229, Maryland

The answer to that question depends on how often you've smoked during those 20 years, and what you smoked. The longer and more frequent the use, the more likely that there is damage. You physician or treatment provider may be able to assess how well your lungs work and can make suggestions to help you stop smoking. The good news is that quitting (or cutting down significantly) can allow your lungs to recover. And when you recover, you can breathe better, things will smell better to you, your breath will smell better, and food will be tastier. You will also reduce your risk of getting lung cancer, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Did you know that teens are smoking less than they used to? In fact, NIDA's Monitoring the Future Survey has found that cigarette smoking rates among youth are at historically low levels. Smoking by 12th graders in the month prior to the survey fell by 30% between 2001 and 2008. For more information about smoking, check out

-Nancy Pilotte

How can you get someone help for an addiction if they are not willing to undergo treatment?

-agalenkamp, Vermont

Agalenkamp, Great question. The reality is that you can't make anyone go to treatment. You can express your concern about their drug use and let them know the impact it has on you and how you see it negatively impacting them. You can also provide them with information about where to find help if they change their mind and decide to seek treatment. For more information on where to find treatment see: . Finally, make sure you take care of yourself. Supporting someone who needs but is unwilling to enter drug treatment is difficult. Talk to a trusted adult - parent, teacher, coach, guidance counselor, parent of a friend - about the situation and get the emotional support you need while going through this process. Hope this helps.

-Redonna Chandler

how can you get someone to quit smoking cigarettes

-wookie73, Pennsylvania

First, they need to want to quit. Explaining the risk of developing cancer may help. Once they want to quit, medications are available to help. Seeing a doctor is a good idea. Here are some good reasons on our blog to not smoke: Check it out and leave a comment.

-Dave McCann

How can you help an alcoholic?

-chiaverinis, New Jersey

That's not easy. You might let the person know that you are concerned about his or her health, and wish they would seek help. They may be willing to speak to a trusted indivicual--for example, a teacher (if the person is a student) or minister. They may find help in locating a treatment facility at or 1-800-662-HELP, where private and confidential help is available 24/7.Alcoholism is a very difficult problem for people close to alcoholics as well as for alcoholics themselves. If that's your situation, it would be a good idea for you to talk to an adult who can support you as you try to help your friend or relative.

-Kristen Huntley

How can you help children whose mother was an alchoholic or smoked tobacco while she was pregnant?

-jessie, Massachusetts

That is a tough question. Effects of alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy can range from severe to minimal, depending on how much alcohol or tobacco was used and also when during the course of the pregnancy they were used. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can cause, at the worst, fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition whose signs and symptoms include particular facial features and mental retardation. The worst effects of tobacco include lowered ability to process sounds and increased risk of personality disorders and becoming a smoker.There are things that can be done, but first the children have to be evaluated medically and the steps taken need to match the kinds of problems that are found. The link below has some great information about alcohol and pregnancy

-Mark Greene

how can you help people that use drugs

-skyler13, Michigan

You can help get them into treatment. Behavioral therapy (like 'talk' therapy) can help someone addicted to drugs. It teaches important skills for avoiding drug use. Medications are also available to help people quit using some drugs of abuse. To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

-Dave McCann

how can you learn from others drug mistakes?

-me73, Maryland

I think there are many lessons to be learned from the drug mistakes of others. It would be great to understand how people ended up in these situations and what could have been done to prevent the situation from occurring. The best thing you can do is learn the facts about drug abuse and addiction. Our teen web site has some stories about teens who have become dependent or addicted to drugs along with videos, quizzes and information about specific drugs of abuse. Go to Connect and Interact. Free downloads and cool videos about drugs.

-Eve Reider

how can you prevent your boyfriend from doing drugs?

-lil_one22, Maryland

You cannot prevent him from not using drugs but you can HELP him not to use drugs. This will require that you are able to discuss with him your concerns about his drug use and why he might be using it. Many times kids use drugs because they are feeling blue and they want to escape their reality. So it is improtant to recognize if your boyfriend has an emotional problem or a difficult situation at home that may be driving his behavior. You should also make him aware that you are concerned about his drug use and that you want to help him stop using them. If you think he is in danger you also should speak to a trusted adult regarding your concerns. In an actual crisis you can always call the SAMHSA hotline at 1800 273 TALK.

-Nora Volkow