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 here.

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does nicotine have any medical uses?

-mn cashmere, Washington

That is a great question. As you probably know, nicotine is the ingredient in tobacco that makes it so addictive. Some therapeutic drugs make use of low doses of nicotine to help people who are trying to quit smoking. So nicotine is in Nicorette gum and in the nicotine replacement patches that so many smokers wear. These products are designed to wean people off of cigarettes and other tobacco products that have a lot of other toxic products in them. Some of the health risks associated with these other tobacco products range from oral cancers (from chewing tobacco) to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. 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 nicotine, check out http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/.

-Nancy Pilotte

Does overdosing on a drug, neccesarily mean that you are going to die?

-Craig Tress, Pennsylvania

Not everyone who overdoses on a drug dies. On the other hand, some people can die after taking a 'normal' dose of a drug. For example, because of genetic differences, some people have hearts that are extremely sensitive to the effects of http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Dave McCann

does sex feel good or does it hurt?

-Hobbs#59, New Hampshire

Thanks for being willing to ask a sensitive quesiton. Sex should not hurt. Though, it may be uncomfortable. If you are sexually active and experiencing physical pain you should see a physician and discuss this issue. If you are inquiring about mental/emotional pain definitely not - sex should not be an emotionally painful experience. If you are feeling coerced into sex in anyway or experiencing emotional distress, you should reach out to a trusted adult for help. Talk to a teacher, parent of a friend, coach, or school counselor for help if you are being pressured in any way to have sex.

-Redonna Chandler

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 https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana!

-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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

-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
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php!

-Nancy Pilotte

does steroids really make ur penis smaller?

-C Ronoldo Sucks, Maryland

No, but they can make your testicles smaller.

-Nora Volkow

Does drinking effect your althletic ability?

-Spring_Woods=D, Texas

Drinking can leave you dehydrated and it can damage your liver and brain. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/binge-drinking-matters%e2%80%94to-your-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

Has anyone died smoking marijuana?

-banger92, New York

Yes, although its rare. One study found that smoking marijuana increases the risk of a heart attack almost 5 times within the first hour after smoking--which can be lethal if you are vulnerable. But its more likely to be lethal through its role in automobile accidents. Marijuana on its own impairs driving ability, and makes driving under the influence of alcohol even worse. So it can be a causal or contributing factor to fatal motor vehicle accidents.

-Susan Weiss

has anyone's brain fallen out of their heads by doing drugs

-unicorn, New Hampshire

Anyone with a brain doesn't use drugs! Seriously, though, no one's brain has 'fallen out of their heads' by doing drugs, but what does happen is that your brain can get hijacked by the drugs themselves--in other words, you can lose your free will to the drugs you use. Do you want to be a slave to a drug? If you do enough drugs, those drugs physically and structurally change the brain in a way that makes it difficult to make good decisions--like not to use drugs anymore. For more information on facts about drugs see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/index.php

-Joni Rutter

have any of your close friends been addicted to marijuana?

-Holt_01, Washington

Yes, and its a very difficult thing to see happening to a friend. If this is happening to you, encourage your friend to stop, if they can't stop they need to seek help, keep encourageing them to get help from their parents or a trusted adult.

-Cindy Miner

have you ever drank???? did you ever get addicted to it???

-DEJESUS KID, Washington

Yes, I do have a drink now and then. But I know because several people in my family including both my parents had problems with drinking, that I am probably at high risk for alcoholism. So I am very careful...I saw what alcoholism did to several people in my family, it isn't worth it. I can have just as much fun drinking a diet coke!

-Cindy Miner

haver you guys ever done drugs before

-thenry, Michigan

Can't speak for anyone but myself. I have had a drink or two from time to time. In general, I don't want drugs to interfere with my job, family life, music, and other hobbies.For more info on drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

-Joe Frascella

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 http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/

-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 (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana ). 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 weed cause cancer?

-TRIGON, Pennsylvania

We don't know the answer to that. Smoking weed does expose the lungs to many of the same poisons as tobacco--tar, carbon monoxide, and carcinogens. And you don't need to smoke as many joints as you do cigarettes to get the equivalent exposure. But studies in patients have not yet made a direct link to cancer. Also, many long time weed users also smoke cigarettes, and in some countries marijuana joints are laced with tobacco, making it even more difficult to figure this out. Nevertheless, marijuana does cause other respiratory problems--coughing, phlegm production, bronchitis, etc.

-Susan Weiss

does weed cure cancer???

-shawla, Washington

No, there are no data that indicate that marijuana can cure cancer.

-Cindy Miner

does weed kill brain cells

-WEEDISNTGOOD95, Pennsylvania

Hi there! There are many bad things that can happen when someone 'does weed.' When someone smokes marijuana, THC (which is in weed), passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC acts on specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of brain reactions that lead to the "high" that people talk about when they smoke marijuana. Smoking weed can affect your memory, thinking and problem solving skills, as well as coordination. These bad affects can last for days. Keep your brain healthy! Weed is not healthy for your brain cells. Click here to find out more: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Cheryl Boyce

does weed make you feel bettter

-RAIDERNATION24, Maryland

In some people who use it, weed can make them feel better, but this effect is short-lived. Soon thereafter, once the active ingredients in weed leaves their bodies, they may feel even worse than before.

-Nora Volkow

does weed make you stupid

-cg, Utah

Some people who use weed were stupid before they started. But...weed does affect brain function and it can definitely affect learning, memory, and coordination. School grades can be affected. Here's some more on the topic: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Dave McCann

Does weedaffect athletes?

-Valley Vista, Arizona

This is an important, interesting and complex question.In the short term, of course, the marijuanais likely to impair an athlete's coordination, leading to subpar performance. In the longer term, continued use of marijuana can cause impaired respiratory function, again leading to a decrease in performance.For more information on the possible consequences or marijuana use, please see https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.
 

-Larry Stanford

Doing drugs can harm your future but can it harm your loved ones to?

-heyy123, Michigan

They can harm you and your future, and everyone that uses drugs affects about 10 people in a very harmful way. The loved ones suffer the most, the person using drugs is high and does not feel the suffering it causes, but the loved ones go through the pain stone cold sober, and they feel all the pain.

-Richard Denisco

does marijuana affect driving

-batman, Maryland

Yes.
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 https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.

-Nancy Pilotte