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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Do different drugs affect you differently?

-Lemons1018, Pennsylvania

Hey Lemons1018.  Most definitely.  Here's why:  Each person has individual differences that impact how they respond to a drug. People are different, and addiction has many sides to it that make a person more or less likely to become addicted to a drug, such as genetics (e.g., genes that metabolize drugs can be different across people), environment (e.g., drug availability; parents using drugs/tobacco/alcohol) and development (e.g., age--the younger you are when you try a drug, the more likely you are to abuse it), all of which play important and changing roles in determining how a person becomes addicted.

No matter what, all drugs of abuse are bad for your body! 
Get accurate facts on drugs so you can make healthy decisions for your brain and body. See:
Keep up the good work and "Just Say Know!"
-Joni Rutter

Do drugs affect hearing?

-hzuber, New York
Not to make a joke, but I have not heard of that.   Some drugs may, but it is not a common problem.  There are plenty of other things though that drugs do that are harmful.
-Dave Thomas

Do drugs affect you more mentally or physically?

-iloveschool77, Pennsylvania
Hey iloveschool77,
I loved school too!
The answer to your question is "it depends." Most illegal drugs are taken for the effects they have on the brain, making a person feel differently. But sometimes they can have physical effects too. Stimulants raise heart rate and blood pressure; opioids slow your breathing (dangerously) and even cause constipation (yuck!); marijuana has physical effects too, like making your heart race. On the other hand some drugs like steroids mainly affect you physically.
Good question! 
-Eric Wargo

Do drugs affect your lifestlye or nahhhhh? no this is not joannah

-#Toomuchswag4u, New York
Oh yeah!  Once someone becomes addicted, they tend to spend much of their lives focused on getting and using drugs.  They neglect family and friends, their performance at work and/or school gets diminished.   They may have legal or financial troubles.   Drugs do much more than cause health issues, they cause life issues.
-Dave Thomas

Do drugs and alcohol have long term effects on the brain?

-HI, New York
Alcohol can for sure.  The teenage years are a very important time for brain development. The thinking memory, and feeling parts are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!

-Aaron White

Do drugs cause physical harm?

-Kim Jong Un, New York
That is easy.  Yes, they do.  The harm depends on the drug, but abusing drugs can cause disease and death.   Here is more information about various drugs and the impact they can have if they are abused.
-Dave Thomas

Do drugs come in different flavors?

-gec731, New York

Hi gec731. Sometimes companies try to make drugs more appealing by adding flavors such as menthol to cigarettes. Other times users themselves can add them to different substances such as flavored alcohol (spiced rum), etc. Don't fall for that trap and steer clear. It's better to enjoy healthy items that taste good.

-Ruben Baler

Do drugs eat the inside of your body out?

-Agenst abuse, Arizona

No, what drugs can do is decrease delivery of blood to your organs, which then will damage them.

-Nora Volkow

Do drugs effect boys differently than girls?

-felisa.holden, Virginia

Another great question! In general, both males and females respond to drugs in similar ways.  The brain is affected in very similar ways.  BUT there are some ways that males and females respond to drugs in different ways.  Females may progress into addiction more rapidly and may respond to drugs in slightly different ways, depending on their menstrual cycle.  Scientists are looking into these differences.

-Wilson Compton

Do drugs effect the people around the people that are doing the drugs

-xPreparationz, Pennsylvania
Hi x...z. I bicycle in Bellefonte when I visit my relatives.
Absolutely doing drugs affects the people around them, in many ways. Drunk and drugged driving can harm and kill pedestrians and passengers in the car. Drugs and alcohol might change a person's personality, which can lead to conducting violent acts. If it's a friend doing the drugs, you will worry about your friend. You will worry whether your friend who is taking the drugs will harm himself, do something stupid that your friend wouldn't normally do, or have medical consequences or overdose and you will have to get them medical help quickly. You and your friends can have much more fun doing something other than drugs. Don't ruin your fun by taking drugs.


-Roger Sorensen

Do drugs have a different affects on people with ADD/ADHD versus someone without them? - A

-Aveson, California

hi there-- They sure do!  The drugs that are used to treat ADD/ADHD target brain functioning in a very specific way and they impact the body in other ways, too.  Many of the medications that are used for ADD/ADHD are 'psychostimulants" that help people with ADD/ADHD who often have trouble focusing stay more focused.  People who don't have ADD/ADHD can experience the drug effects very differently and they don't get the intended benefit of the drug but they might experience some of the side effects or problems.  As with all drugs, it's very important not to "share" medications that are prescribed for a specific person.  Learn more about ADHD/ADD here:

-Joel Sherrill

Do drugs have the same intoxicating abilities as alcohol?

-RrRrRayG, Maryland
HhHhHey RrRrRayG
Thanks for asking.
Drugs and alcohol both intoxicate--basically,"intoxicate" means "poison". Intoxication from drugs and alcohol are the same in some ways--for example, both cause a chemical called dopamine to build up in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, and both alter thinking and memory. In other ways, each drug produces intoxication effects of its own.  
-Roger Sorensen

Do drugs help increase the consideration and the commitment of suicide?

-Gingerale, Maryland
Important question. Yes - studies suggest there may be a link between use of certain drugs and increased risk for suicide. For example, people who use opiates, cocaine, and sedatives may have a higher risk of suicide than those who use other drugs. Among those with an alcohol use disorder, a greater severity of recent drinking is associated with an increased likelihood of suicide attempt and death by suicide. And combining alcohol with drugs - or using more than one drug - may increase risk of suicide even more. Bottom line: stay away from drugs!

Here is a Web site for more information on suicide prevention as well as information on other serious problems like drug abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and depression. -Anto Bonci

do people do drugs because they think its cool and so they can show off

-haleyb-p6, Texas

Hi haleyb-p6. This is an important question to ask. Some people probably do try drugs because they think it's "cool" and a mature, glamorous thing to do because of how drugs are portrayed in the media and popular culture. In fact, drugs are NOT cool and can have devastating health consequences. Check out this page to see just how "uncool" drugs are.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Do people get bath salts from stores? Like actual bath salts?

-gk22, New York
Hey gk22,
Bath salts (the drugs) are mostly illegal, so you shouldn't be able to get them in stores. But the people who make them are always inventing new chemicals to put in them, to get around the laws.  
There's no resemblance to actual bath salts though.
-Eric Wargo

do people get many heart problems after drugs?

-leone21157, Maryland

yes, particularly if they smoke and use stimulant drugs like cocaine or meth.

-Nora Volkow

Do people go to jail when they're caught to drive after they drug?if yes, how many yrs?

-infinityNBeyond, Massachusetts
Hello Mount Alvernia HS! Yes they can go to jail and the term length (and other penalites) vary. All 50 states and the District of Columbia laws that target drugged drivers. Additionally, 1/3 states have adopted a "per se standard."  Per se refers to any detectable amount of a controlled substance, other than a medicine prescribed by a doctor for the driver, found in the driver's body fluids and constitutes evidence of a "drugged driving" violation. This is a fact sheet about the problem of drugged driving: [link removed]
-Bethany Deeds

Do people take drugs to be cool or do they think they actually need them?

-imtyping..., Maryland

Well hello imtyping! Some people may think that using drugs is an "adult" and "cool" thing to do. IN FACT using drug is not cool at all. Using drugs can cause all types of health problems as well as problems at home, with the law, with friends, at school, etc.  Also drug use can lead to addiction which makes it difficult to stop use once people start. This can make people feel that they actually "need" to keep using and use even more to get the same effects. Not cool at all.  

-Jacqueline Lloyd

do people's lives change when they take drugs..... ^_^

-puddytat02, Maryland
Hi Puddytat02!
That is a great question. If someone starts to abuse drugs, you may see them spend a lot of time thinking about getting the drug, using the drug, and recovering from the effects.  This might mean dropping out of sports or activities, skipping classes, and even spending more time alone - or with a different group of friends.  It could also mean making poor decisions, even dangerous decision.  Some of these changes could be temporary, and some of the changes could affect the person for the rest of his/her life. 
Using drugs during teen years can affect development.  Here are some websites that explain more!


The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.

Video: Development of the Young Brain:

-Michelle Leff

Do some drugs have similar symptons then others?

-WalterJohnsonH, Massachusetts

Hi WalterJohnsonH!  Yes, some drugs have similar effects.  The main reason is that even though there are different drugs, they can affect the same brain regions.  For example, drugs can affect the limbic system--this brain region controls our emotional responses, such as feelings of pleasure when eating chocolate.  Learn more about the effects of drugs at -

-Joni Rutter

Do some Junk foods have similar properties as drugs,

-Student 6, New York
Great question, Student 6!  Some very recent research in animals has shown that junk food can be highly addicting.  We know that combinations of fat, sugar, and salt can make foods highly irresistible...and therefore, hard to say no to!  Research has shown similar brain responses to these foods as to drugs of abuse.
 Thanks for such a thoughtful question!!! 
-Joe Frascella

Do steroids make you skinny?

-drugsr4thugs, New York
Hey there. 
Anabolic steroids do a lot of things to people, but I have never heard about them making you skinny.  They are used to promote muscle growth, but they do a lot of other nasty things.  They are especially bad for growing bodies.  You can read about it at the attached link.
-Dave Thomas

Can you overdose on inhalants? And if so, is it easier or harder to overdose on them than other drugs?

-z_oneill, Maryland
You can definitely overdose on inhalants.  It's a misconception that they are harder to overdose on than other drugs.  
Markers, paint, glue, etc, are inhalants and they are relatively easy to get from household items.  Using inhalants is NOT a harmless way to get a buzz.  It is like sucking in toxins directly into your lungs. Sniffing inhalants can also result in 'Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome' which can happen when inhalants cause death by either stopping the heart from beating or preventing the person from getting enough oxygen. All that for a high?  No way.  One of the little known long-term effects of inhalants is that they can break down myelin, the substance that protects your nerve cells, a lot of which are in your brain.  If that happens, it can cause muscle spasms, tremors, and even affect the ability to walk.
Remember, once you use drugs, it can be tough to reverse the damage.  
Visit the NIDA for teen website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body:  
-Joni Rutter

can you overdose on marijauna?!?!

-miracow, Maryland
Hi miracow,
Great question. The answer is probably not--overdosing isn't the danger with marijuana. The danger is long-term effects on the brain, when it is used during the teenage years. Those aren't easy to notice (which is why lots of people don't think marijuana is bad for you), but they really are!
-Eric Wargo

Can you overdose on tylenol?

-c322d, California
Yikes, no, but it could make you very very sick.  Plus, overtime it could cause organ failure and that can cause death.   
-Dave Thomas

can you overdose/die from marijuana?

-chomer, New York

u cannot overdose from marijuana.  

-Nora Volkow

can you quit smoking marijuana as easy as it is to quit smoking cigarettes?, New Jersey

Hi Tyost!  I am not sure, but I would imagine both are equally challenging to quit.  The best thing to do is not to start!  For more information on quitting either drug, check out: and

-Bethany Deeds

Can you smoke alcohol???? Asking for a friend

-Peniswrinkle22, New York

No, you can't actually "smoke" alcohol. However, it is possible (although very dangerous) to force the alcohol in a beverage to vaporize (i.e., turn to gas) by using dry ice or high pressure from an air pump. Then the vapor is inhaled. When this is done, the alcohol enters the blood stream faster than when it is consumed. This is a VERY dangerous thing to do as alcohol vapor is highly flammable and it's difficult to control how much alcohol gets into the body. 

-Aaron White

Can you smoke bath salts?

-felisa.holden, Virginia
Hi felisa,
Good question. Bath salts are usually inhaled, snorted, or injected, not smoked. For more info on bath salts, you can check out our fact sheet: 
-Eric Wargo

Can you smoke the leaves that fall from trees?

-GodIsMyInfluenc, Massachusetts
Hi GodIsMyInfluen
Of course.
YouTube is full of this and other silly behaviors!!
-Ruben Baler