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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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Does vaping have the same effect on you as marijuana?

-benn, Illinois

Good question, benn! Not necessarily. Vaping solutions contain a variety of chemicals that may include some of the chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Because most people who vape do not include those chemicals, they are being exposed to different substances that would not be expected to produce the same physiological effects.

-Michele Rankin

Does vaping liquids without nicotne harm you?


Hi elrabbid, great question. There are a lot of chemicals in the aerosol, or vapor, that comes out of an e-cig. This includes propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavor chemicals. Some of these chemicals are known to be harmful to the lungs, and most have not been shown to be safe for inhaling. Unless someone is trying to stop smoking, people should not start using them. For more info,

-Kevin Walton

does weed have effects on the body such as health problems?

-TY, New Mexico

Marijuana can produce a number of health problems. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, produces adverse effects on the heart, brain and other organs. THC causes increased heart rate and palpitations (i.e., irregular heart beats), which could contribute to serious heart dysfunction. THC leads to impaired thinking and decision making, which could contribute to loss of behavioral control. Long term use of marijuana is associated with an increased risk for psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, a devastatng brain disease. In short, the risks posed by marijuana are substantial.

-Michael Baumann

does weed relax the body?

-TY, New Mexico

Great question. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, can produce different effects on the body, depending upon the dose and each individuals' response. In general, THC increases heart rate and can cause palpitations (i.e., irregular heartbeats). Marijuana can produce anxiety, panic attacks and hallucinations. So, contrary to popular belief, marijuana does not relax the body.

-Michael Baumann

Does wine really help your heart, or does it harm your body?

-4176, Illinois

The latest research suggests that small amounts of alcohol, whether from wine or beer or spirits, could make it less likely someone has a heart attack. But it can increase the chance of cancer, injuries, and other bad outcomes. So it looks like it's not worth it to drink alcohol for health.

-George Koob

Does your sexual performance decrease if you do hard drugs


Yup- long term use of heroin or cocaine is associated with diminished sexual desire and performance.

-Suzanne Lim

Doesn't LSD have positive affects?

-drugsalcohol, Illinois

Hi drugsalcohol,
Good question
There are quite a few reputable researchers that believe so, and there has been sort of a renaissance in the past decade or so in the area of hallucinogenic research in general and LSD and psilocybin in particular. It will take more time to have a clearer picture of the potential therapeutic and spiritual benefits of these drugs, but I think the scientific community is slowly moving in that direction. Stay tuned.

-Steve Grant

Don't psycadelics have some possible positive affects?

-drugsalcohol, Illinois

Thanks for the question. There are some clinical research studies going on that are studying the possible uses of some drugs like MDMA in some limited circumstances. It's important to keep in mind that studies like this are done with a lot of supervision and in very controlled and safe environments. Psychedelics are mostly used for recreational purposes at relatively high doses; doing this can have a lot of unpredictable effects.

-Roger Little

Dr Dave, what drugs are most addictive

-Chungus, Illinois

All drugs of abuse are addictive, and its hard to say which is the most addictive. It depends on a lot of things. For example, people have a real hard time quitting smoking. But a lot of smokers smoke all day long, and that is likely part of why they are hard to quit. For more info, check out the NIDA for teens website on the different kinds of drugs and their affects on the body:

-Steve Grant

Drinking while pregnant can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, and doing drugs while pregnant can lead to an addiction for the baby. What are the effects of smoking marijuana while pregnant? Also, are there any addictive properties in marijuana?

-I am Spartacus, Missouri

Hi, there is evidence that using marijuana while pregnant--whether smoked or injested another way--can be harmful for the fetus. Using marijuana while breastfeeding is also a bad idea. Yes, marijuana is addictive; among those who start at a young age, 17% become addicted. The best thing is to avoind using it!

-Emily Jones

Drugs are bad for my health and me growing? Right?

-chamneess_a, Oregon

Hi Cham,
When you are still growing, you are more vunerable bad effects of drugs. And if these drug effects impact your developemnt, those change could stay with you the rest of your life. We are doing a lot of research on this topic, but we are very concerned about the impact of drug on younger people, as they are still growing and developing.

-Dave Thomas

El Sueve pasa a liguilla?????


no se. vos que pensas?

-Ruben Baler

ELLLOOOOO. Okay so I see stars are very hard to obtain. I get that. Smh. BUT, what effects do drugs have to the body and mind when driving. Do certain ones make you more impaired than others? What do you do if you are in a situation where the driver is on some type of drugs and they are beginning to not be able to drive.

-Georgiana, Illinois

Georgiana - great question! Almost all drugs that are not prescribed by a doctor can affect the brain in ways that make driving unsafe--including marijuana, opioids, cocaine, amphetamine, benzodiazepines, etc. To drive a care safely, your balance, motor skills, coordination, perception, ability to pay attention, reaction time, and judgment must all be in good working order. Drugs may impair all of them, even when taken in small amounts. Don't get in the car with someone who is using a drug. If you are already in the car, see if you can tactfully encourage them to pull over.

-Amy Goldstein

Exactly how many diseases does alcohol cause?

-DS, Florida

The World Health Organization estimates that alcohol causes or contributes to more than 200 diseases and types of injuries. By their calculations, alcohol is responsible for 6 out of every 100 deaths worldwide each year. That adds up to more than 3 million people.

-Dave Thomas

first of all goodmorning, my first question is what happens if you inhale drugs at a young age?


Good morning, wigettaisreal! This is a great question. Drugs are chemicals. When someone puts these chemicals into their body, either by inhaling or smoking, they tap into the brain's communication system and tamper with the way the brain sends, receives, and processes information. Different drugs—because of their chemical structures—work differently. Since the brain is not fully developed until the mid twenties, inhaling chemicals at a young age can negatively affect brain function. Impaired brain function can persist even after the person has stopped using drugs. Here is more information about drugs and brain development Teen Brain, a Work in Progress.

-Katia Howlett

Given that nearly every adult out there, including a current justice of the Supreme Court, drank in high school, are the effects really as big as anti-fun industries want us to believe?

-nico, California

Thanks for your question, Nico.
We have learned a lot about alcohol and how it affects the developing teen brain over the past few decades. We know that the risk of developing a problem with alcohol is higher if people start drinking before the age of 21. We also know that alcohol can disrupt how the brain develops and leads to problems with attention, memory and reasoning. It is just best to wait until at least the legal drinking age of 21 before drinking.

-Marsha Lopez

Good afternoon, I am curious to know how bad is it for a person to start drinking at a young age, such as 16 or 17 years old. Have a nice day.

-4o reich,

Great question. We've learned a lot in the last few years about the risks of drinking at such an age. We know that the risks of developing an alcohol use disorder are much higher if someone starts drinking anytime before the age of 21.
We also know that the brain is still developing at this point in life and that alcohol can disrupt brain development in ways that lead to lingering problems with memory and attention. It's simply best to wait.

-Emily Einstein

Greetings fellow EPIC gamers, is it ok to lotion my body with CBD lotion?

-BigKid459, Illinois

Hi BigKid -- It is very unlikely that CBD lotion will cause any harm, or benefit. The science on CBD suggests that it isn't well-absorbed through the skin. If you're using it for its possible anti-inflammatory purposes, for a rash for example, it could be helpful, since CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. One thing to be cautious about is that many products sold as containing CBD (or other compounds from marijuana) actually contain very little if any of it.

-Kristen Huntley

has anybody ever died by ONLY smoking marijuana?

-g, Illinois

Hey g. Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol or opioids do. Marijuana-related deaths are most likely to be the result of injuries, car accidents, etc.

-Heather Kimmel

Has anyone ever overdosed by smoking only marijuana?

-lyonslions, Illinois

You may have heard that nobody has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. However, a person can certainly overdose on a drug without dying, and marijuana is no exception. If a person uses a large amount of marijuana, perhaps by smoking too much of a high-potency marijuana or eating a lot of food products containing marijuana, they can experience very negative consequences, such as paranoia, severe anxiety, and even psychotic symptoms, which is when a person loses touch with reality. You can learn more about overdoses here:

-Steve Gust

Has marijuana caused any deaths?

-SH , California

Yes--mostly because it increases the risk of fatal car crashes. Its worse when used in combination with alcohol..

-Aaron White

has their ever been a death from weed overdose

-owc12, Illinois

Neither the CDC nor the DEA have reported any fatal marijuana overdoses.

You can learn more here:

Hope this helps, owc12!

-Steve Grant

Have people died from vaping?

-Blackhole, Illinois

Thank you for joining us, Blackhole! I am not aware of anyone dying from vaping itself. However, there have been several cases of people suffering severe injuries from exploding e-cigarette batteries. Vaping liquids often contain nicotine, which is addictive and can lead to the use of regular tobacco products, like cigarettes, which are very harmful and can lead to death. Exposure to drugs, including nicotine, can affect brain development and contribute to a range of problems later in life. While vaping may not expose you to all of the same chemicals that cigarettes do, it's still not safe. However, if someone is vaping to quit using cigarettes, this can reduce the number of toxic chemicals they are exposed to. The goal should be to quit use of all tobacco products! For more information, see:

-Heather Kimmel

Are the effects of hookah any better or worse than cigarettes?

-I am Spartacus, Missouri

Hello I am Spartacus. Hookah burns tobacco, the same as cigarettes. Many people think that because the smoke goes through water first, it is safer. But studies have shown that the effects of hookah can actually be worse. The water cools the smoke, which allows the user to inhale more smoke deeper, exposing them to more of the toxins. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, and teens are especially sensitive to the addictive effects of nicotine, especially because their brains are still developing. Click here for more info:

-Kevin Walton

are the side affects from using illegal steroids the same from person to person ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

Someties athletes ask us this question in hopes they can get bigger or stronger from using steroids. The answer is, different people have different results. The side effects can vary from person to person, too, but common ones include high blood pressure, enlarged heart, heart attack or stroke, kidney problems, and severe acne; for males, infertility, developing breasts, and increased risk of prostate cancer; and for females, a deepening voice, growth of facial hair, and male pattern baldness, among others.

You can learn more about anabolic steroids here:

-Meyer Glantz

Are there alternatives for drugs?

-gabrielam, District of Columbia

Hey gabrielam! I will assume that your question is: are there altenatives to the use of drugs. And yes, there are alternatives. Drugs hijack the brain to produce a lot of dopamine. Dopamine is thought to be the brain chemical responsible for the rewarding properties of a drug. But dopamine is also made when you do other things that you really like to do, like exercise and playing sports, playing music, or even reading. So do something that you really like to do to get a dopaimine reward.

-Roger Little

are there any healthy vapes

-JS , Illinois

Hi there James S.!

There is no safe or healthy tobacco product, especially for teens. Vapes can deliver cancer-causing chemicals into your lungs, and most vapes contain nicotine. Even if a label says “nicotine-free,” that label might not be accurate because the ingredients in every vape product haven't been tested and reviewed yet.

Learn about all things vaping by checking out

-Ruben Baler

Are there any long term effects of psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs such as acid, molly, or shrooms.

-Jarvis, Illinois

Hi Jarvis -- Thanks for the good question. There aren't a lot of studies on the long-term affects of hallucinogens. Most of what's been studied is the effects of short-term use; i.e., occasional use and not over a long period of time. The few studies of chronic (long-term) use suggest that they may trigger long-term mental health problems in some people.

-Steve Gust

Are there any mental illnesses associated with drug and alcohol abuse?

-princesspeach, Illinois

Yes. People who are depressed or anxious are more likely to abuse alcohol. And people who abuse alcohol often become more depressed and anxious.

-George Koob

Are there any negative effects to smoking marijuana?

-drugsaren'tgood, Maryland

There certainly are negative effects to smoking marijuana. While you're intoxicated, marijuana can cause anxiety, depression, and cognitive and memory problems. Smoking anything can exacerbate asthma in the short term and cause lots of breathing problems and lung diseases in the long term. Some people who use marijuana regularly can become addicted to it. Marijuana use, when you're young, affects how your brain develops and may raise the risk for brain disorders like schizophrenia. So if I were you, I'd avoid it... just sayin'.

-Joshua Gordon