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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-golfer50, Nebraska

Hi Nebraska,Drugs have different effects on the body, but drug dependence or addiction may be similar in an individual's behavior around the time they spend getting and using the drug, and alienating family, friends, and colleagues. When addicted, an individual loses control over their drug habit - it takes over their life and becomes the most important goal, over other aspects that used to be important to them. So yes, they can have this same effect, but the areas of the brain that the drug works on and the acute and long-term effects on the body can be different. Steroids definitely can produce dependence and addiction. You can find more info on steroids and its effects on the body and brain at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids. Thanks for your question!

-Marilyn Huestis

Do all drugs have a chance to kill you?

-kaiwen, Ohio

Some drugs have essentially zero history of people actually dying from an acute overdose. Cocaine, heroin, and alcohol though (just to name a few, and especially in combination) are particularly deadly culprits.Consider too, though that people can still indirectly die from drug use if they're driving while drunk or high or otherwise doing stupid, dangerous Darwin Award stuff....

-Jim Bjork

Do all types of drugs affect the body in the same way?

-fc bobcats, Texas

Yes and no...while drugs have different side effects, most drugs of abuse target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction.

-David Shurtleff

Do antidepressants have any negative side effects?

-cbanda, Texas

HI Cbanda: Good question! Antidepressants, like all medications, have positive effects, but there can be some side effects, as well. On the positive side, they help people manage their depression or anxiety and feel better, in general. But sometimes people experience various side effects; different people have different experiences with side effects, even if they take the same medication. So if you are on antidepressants or are considering starting treatment, it is important to have an open conversation about different possible side effects with your doctor. If you experience side effects that are hard to tolerate, you can have a conversation with your doctor about whether a different medication might be a better fit for you.For more information about antidepressant medications, including information about positive effects and potential side effects,see this NIMH publication: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/mental-health-medications/index.shtml. For lots more more information about depression, go to http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

-Joel Sherrill

Do brain cells truly die forever and can be 'fried'?

-B,

Ahh, interesting question! Yes, brain cells do die, and yes, drugs of abuse can cause brain cells to die. For more information check out this website https://teens.drugabuse.gov/

-Joe Frascella

do children with

-jbarajas, Illinois

Hi Golder Prep HS. We do not know if marijuana-addicted parents are more likely to hurt their chilren, but we do have scientific evidence to suggest that effective parenting could be impaired in marijuana-addicted parents. For example, we know that marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that in people who've used for a long time, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the short-term effects of the drug wear off. As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a sub-optimal intellectual level. So, if you know someone whose parents are addicted to marijuana, encourage them to talk to another trusted adult (a coach, a teacher, a clergyman, another adult relative) to get guidance about how to help the parents. We have a lot of general information about marijuana abuse and addiction. Start with our teen site at
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

-Cora Lee Wetherington

do children with marijuana addicted parents ever get hurt by them ?

-jbarajas, Illinois

Hi Golder Prep HS. We do not know if marijuana-addicted parents are more likely to hurt their chilren, but we do have scientific evidence to suggest that effective parenting could be impaired in marijuana-addicted parents. For example, we know that marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that in people who've used for a long time, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the short-term effects of the drug wear off. As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a sub-optimal intellectual level. So, if you know someone whose parents are addicted to marijuana, encourage them to talk to another trusted adult (a coach, a teacher, a clergyman, another adult relative) to get guidance about how to help the parents. We have a lot of general information about marijuana abuse and addiction. Start with our teen site at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj1.php

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Do drugs affect different ages more than others?

-fort settlement, Texas

Evidence seems to suggest that the earlier one starts abusing drugs, the more likely one is to become addicted to the drugs. Of course, there are lots of individual variability with respect to ease of becoming addicted, but kids are particularly vulnerable to the addicting effects of drugs. Clearly, the teen brain is still developing, changing, making new connections, etc. Drugs at this age can effect all of these processes and affect normal brain and cognitive development.If you are interested in learning more about this topic and other related issues, please check out: http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joe Frascella

do drugs affect driving

-DustyB, Pennsylvania

Hi DustyB, thanks for your question! Yes, absolutely. Drugs can seriously impair driving. Driving is a fairly difficult task to begin with, and it requires a lot of concentration. Distractions and lapses in judgment can be deadly behind the wheel. When you add drugs to the equation, the risk of accidents increases markedly, especially the risk of fatal accidents.

-Kevin Conway

Do drugs affect your performance in sports?

-fc bobcats, Texas

Yes, mostly in a bad way. Cigarettes affect your breathing which can make it harder to most sports; marijuana messes with your coordination and reaction time; and other drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamine, can hurt your heart and put you at risk for a heart attack.

-Susan Weiss

Do drugs cause permanent damage to your body even after you have quit?

-iwhite, Illinois

iwhite, this is an important question. The use of some drugs can definitely cause long-term health problems and permanent damage to your body. For example, using inhalants chronically can cause serious damage to vital organs including the heart, kidneys, and liver. They can also cause a permanent change or malfunction of the perihperal nerves, called polyneuropathy (see https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/word-of-day-polyneuropathy/). Stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine can damage brain cells, sometimes permanently (see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/index.html). My advice is to avoid using drugs in the first place!

-Dave White

Do drugs change your personality after you do drugs?

-mackenziem32, Iowa

They can. To start with they can make you secretive and paranoid. Also certain drugs make you mello and withdrawn; other drugs can make you more aggressive

-Nora Volkow

do drugs effect mentally ill people any different from mentally healthy people? if yes; in what way?

-zcooper, Vermont

Drugs can have the same effects on everyone--making them intoxicated or high and causing problems like overdose, accidents and mood swings. But people with mental illnesses may be especially vulnerable to problems from drugs. They seem to be more likely to become addicted when they start using and many find that their mental illness symptoms get much worse with drug use. As a psychiatrist, I saw many patients with this problem and the most important thing they could do for their health was to quit using drugs.

-Wilson Compton

Do drugs effect your brain?

-Julie, Ohio

Yep. Drugs of abuse are molecules that bind or cling to certain molecules on the surface of brain cells (or inside cells), like a key might fit snugly into a lock. They tend to fit because they happen to be shaped like molecules our brains normally have floating around. Many of these drug molecules have a positive effect, like relieving pain, by interfering with the pain system of the brain, or can improve attention in focus for people whose brains aren't 'tuned' well. Most drugs and certainly alcohol, actually changes the structure and shape of parts of the brain, and can even shrink them! Recent data using brain scans of long-time users shows that heroin actually shrinks parts of your brain-- especially the gray matter! It also can effect the white matter in the brain that connects cells together, though the white matter might recover a bit once people stop using. The other serious risk is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it. Over time, the brain can form powerful associations between things we see in the environment that lead to experiencing drugs and alcohol, and ultimately the high. In addition, the brain gets used to the molecules, and makes adjustments, that might require more and more drug over time to get the same high. This is especially true for nicotine in cigarettes or heroin. The body suffers too, as people stop taking care of themselves in other areas (like diet) as their lives become all about getting the next hit of drug or alcohol. Most people who regularly use drugs or alcohol can stop themselves at some point and walk away from it. However, depending on the drug, a fraction of people who use it repeatedly will ultimately lose control and get addicted, and it will truly wreck their life- either permanently, or the drugs will leave people in a useless fog for many years, until they can get themselves together. This happened to some close relatives of mine. Not worth the risk, I say!

-Jim Bjork

do drugs have any good affects

-IMS301, Louisiana

Yes, especially prescription medications that were developed to treat conditions like severe pain. The issue is, that a certain proportion of people who use a mind-affecting drug will lose control over it (get addicted), making it risky. If you're one of those who ends up getting addicted, it could really affect your life, and depending on the drug, pattern of use and luck, could do some physiological damage.

-Jim Bjork

do drugs have the same chemical structure as the neurons in your brain? how do they affect your brain

-yes, Iowa

yes indeed. Drugs of abuse are molecules that bind or cling to certain molecules on the surface of brain cells (or inside cells), like a key might fit snugly into a lock. They tend to fit because they happen to be shaped like molecules our brains normally have floating around. Many of these drug molecules have a positive effect, like relieving pain, by interfering with the pain system of the brain, or can improve attention in focus for people whose brains aren't 'tuned' well. Some drugs, like cocaine or methamphetamine or other strong 'stimulants' can increase heart rate suddenly, however, putting the user at risk of heart attack or stroke. The other serious risk is ADDICTION, where someone who uses drugs for fun or to treat pain loses control over the drug, and can't keep himself or herself from stopping looking to get the drug and use it. Over time, the brain can form powerful associations between things we see in the environment that lead to experiencing drugs and alcohol, and ultimately the high. This is especially true for nicotine in cigarettes or heroin. The body suffers too, as people stop taking care of themselves in other areas (like diet) as their lives become all about getting the next hit of drug or alcohol. Most people who regularly use drugs or alcohol can stop themselves at some point and walk away from it. However, depending on the drug, a fraction of people who use it repeatedly will ultimately lose control, and it will truly wreck their life- either permanently, or the drugs will leave people in a useless fog for many years, until they can get themselves together. This happened to some close relatives of mine. Not worth the risk, I say!

-Jim Bjork

do drugs heart your hart

-bloody guns, Iowa

Yes, many do. The ones that are most damaging to your heart are cocaine and methamphetamine.

-Nora Volkow

Do people have the same feeling of highness or are there different types?

-BBradford, Illinois

very important question.there are huge individual differences among the experiences that different people will derive from using the same drug. THis includes both differences in the desired effects (high) as well as differences in the adverse effects. stay smart, stay clean

-Ruben Baler

Do people use pain killers to relieve themselves from emotional pain instead of physical pain?

-vmartinez, Texas

Interesting question!!! We have not figured out all the connections between physical and emotional pain and are working to figure them out. We do know, however, that opioid medications that are directed mainly at physical pain have some positive effects on emotional pain, and antidepressant medications that are directed mainly at emotional pain can lessen physical pain.That said, in most cases, one type of pain or the other is predominant, and the right medication is the one that is directed at that type of pain. A doctor is the best person to determine this. Someone who decides on his own to take a medication for either type of pain is making a mistake. The dangers are not getting the best relief, and other potential adverse consequences.

-Dave Thomas

Do perscription drugs kill faster then ones you get off the street?

-785773, Pennsylvania

Prescription pain killers can cause addiction and death if they are used inappropriately, for example without a prescription or in quantities not ordered by a doctor. So can some street drugs. Whether one would kill a person faster than the other depends on which specific drugs the person takes, how much, and his or her specific personal vulnerabilities.

-Dave Thomas

Do poppy seeds register on drug tests?

-Rorschach, Arkansas

They can. Poppy seeds do contain morphine (an opiate) at very low levels so you can come up positive for morphine if you just ate a lot of pastries that contained poppy seeds. The level for opiate testing was raised in part for this reason, so it unusual now for this type of case.

-Gaya Dowling

do rehab treatments raeally work

-sfelder, Texas

In addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. Unfortunately, when relapse occurs many deem treatment a failure. This is not the case: successful treatment for addiction typically requires continual evaluation and modification as appropriate, similar to the approach taken for other chronic diseases. For the addicted patient, lapses to drug abuse do not indicate failure—rather, they signify that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed.For more information, see www.drugabuse.gov/PODAT/faqs.html#faq3.

-Joni Rutter

Do some drugs have positive side-effects? I mean stuff like

-B,

hi bi-dizzleWhen drugs are abused the net effects of the side effects are always bad effects. But all kidding aside, sure, many drugs have active ingredients that serve important medicinal purposes: examples are opiates in pain analgesics, marijuana's THC for nausea and wasting syndrome, amphetamines for ADHD, and on and on. But the important thing is that any positive effect can only be taken advantage of with the help and under the supervision of a doctor. PLease remember that

-Ruben Baler

Do some drugs have positive side-effects? I mean stuff like Marijuana

-B,

hi bi-dizzleWhen drugs are abused the net effects of the side effects are always bad effects. But all kidding aside, sure, many drugs have active ingredients that serve important medicinal purposes: examples are opiates in pain analgesics, marijuana's THC for nausea and wasting syndrome, amphetamines for ADHD, and on and on. But the important thing is that any positive effect can only be taken advantage of with the help and under the supervision of a doctor. PLease remember that.

-Ruben Baler

do stariods make you short tempored

-kyle, Ohio

Nice to hear from you Kyle! I'm guessing you are talking about anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) which are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone...These drugs are legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency (like delayed puberty), as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass but are sometimes abused to enhance athletic performance and/or improve physical appearance. You are correct that many users while on anabolic steroids have reported extreme mood swings and irritability. For other health consequences go to https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids and here's a short video about steroids from Dr. Ruben Baler, one of our scientists: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/interactives-and-videos

-Bethany Deeds

do steroids cause a big CHANGE in your life in the future?

-37516, California

it surely does in some people who became dangerously aggressive or depressed as a result of their chronic anabolic steroid abuse.

-Ruben Baler

Do steroids eventually killl you over time?

-Jim Bob N, Pennsylvania

Hi Jim Bob. This is a tough question because we don't really have the answer yet. Some investigators believe that steroids cause cancer, but there is actually little proof of this. Steroids can clearly mess up your development, especially when used during the teen years when sexual maturation is taking place. Also, you know that aggression is a major issue with steroid use - this can result in risky behavior that could endanger you. But if I had to give an answer right now, I think most people would say that steroids don't directly kill you over time, but why risk your life if all the answers aren't in yet?

-Marilyn Huestis

do steroids have the same effect as drugs if very addicted

-golfer50, Nebraska

Hi Nebraska,Drugs have different effects on the body, but drug dependence or addiction may be similar in an individual's behavior around the time they spend getting and using the drug, and alienating family, friends, and colleagues. When addicted, an individual loses control over their drug habit - it takes over their life and becomes the most important goal, over other aspects that used to be important to them. So yes, they can have this same effect, but the areas of the brain that the drug works on and the acute and long-term effects on the body can be different. Steroids definitely can produce dependence and addiction. You can find more info on steroids and its effects on the body and brain at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids. Thanks for your question!

-Marilyn Huestis

can you overdose on steriods

-alex, Ohio

Good question, Alex. Steroids can have negative or adverse effects and you can become addicted or dependent on steroids, but people don't really overdose on steroids. It doesn't affect your respiratory system to stop breathing and doesn't cause your heart to stop beating. But it can really affect the way in which your body functions. Thanks for asking!

-Marilyn Huestis

can you please answer this qustion in the next 5 minutes/how can people die from getting drunk

-Jvarughese, Texas

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. Here's an example: In the last month, several teenagers, mostly college students, died from alcohol poisoning with blood alcohol levels around 0.35%. For a healthy, 140 pound female, reaching this level would require around 10 drinks in a 2 hour period, or around 13 drinks in 2 hours for a 160 pound male. It is important to point out than having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings or car crashes. If you drink enough alcohol, it can shut down parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive. If those areas are shut down, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off.Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.

-Aaron White