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.

Download Full Year

could someone be allergic to alcohol

-WpasstheJ, Maryland

Sort of. About half of people with Asian ancestory have a gene that makes it hard to metabolize alcohol. If they drink, a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde builds up in their bodies and causes the release of a molecule called histamine, which is what happens when people have allergies. The histamine causes the skin to get warm, red and blotchy, and the person can feel quite sick.

-George Koob

Could taking drugs in moderation be good for your body and could the same be said for alcohol?

-pboydmateo01, Oregon

Hi,

That's a great question!
Taking any drug without a prescription and taken in a way not prescribed by your doctor is not a good idea. Drug-drug interactions, adverse effects, drug-disease interactions, etc are some of the things you should be wary of. The same can be said for alcohol, especially if you are under 21. The parts of the brain that control judgment and decision-making do not fully develop until people are in their early or mid-20s. Because the brain is still developing, using drugs at this age has more potential to disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behavior control.

For more information, check out our Science of Addiction publication at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-add....

-Jinhee Lee

Could you die faster if you had smoke?

-LC,

Hey there luisa cedros.

People who smoke cigarettes regularly and for a long period of time do die earlier than people who never smoked. On average they can lose 10 or more years of life if they smoke for a long time compared to folks who never smoked.

Thanks for your question!

-Mitch Zeller

Could you die from marijuana, not an accident related to pot like driving while high, but is an overdose possible?

-V, Illinois

Hello V,
You can overdose on any drug. In the sixth century, a scientist named Paracelsus stated that "the dose makes the poison." In other words, any substance can be poisonous in a large enough dose. Now that marijuana is being sold in so many forms (as extracts, edibles, etc.), it's easier than ever to overdose. And the increased availability of marijuana products has led to an increase in accidental poisoning of young children. Here's more information: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

Thanks

-Roger Little

Could you use drugs to alleviate dysphoria?

-Icarus, Illinois

What kind of drugs, Icarus? Dysphoria -- another word for depression -- can be treated by medications and psychotherapy. Illicit drugs may make you feel better for short time, but they aren't safe in the long-term and they aren't as effective as meds your doctor can prescribe.

-Joshua Gordon

cual es la droga que menos daño te hace? which is the drog that make less damage to me?

-El Patròn,

Hi El Patròn, That's an interesting question. Prescribed medications or drugs, can be useful when used as prescribed by health professionals. But honestly, there's no drug that people use for fun that I can recommend. Each one has risks that, in my opinion, outweigh the benefits. Check out our NIDA Teen Website for more information.

-Aria Crump

depending on the subject's physical condition, do drugs have a different effect on them?

-Salia,

Hi Salia -- Yes, the subjects' physical condition does play a role in the effects of drugs. For example, people who suffer from anxiety as teenagers have a higher chance of developing severe anxiety problems, psychosis, and/or other serious mental health problems. Learn more here:
https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

-Anto Bonci

do tactile drugs exist

-Maite,

Hi Maite,
Several recreational drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, narcotics and (more famously) magic mushrooms have been reported to cause tactile hallucinations (the false perception of tactile sensory input that creates a hallucinatory sensation of physical contact with an imaginary object). These types of hallucinations can also be caused by neurologic disorders like Schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
Thanks for the great question. Respect your brain and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

DO teens smoke more in high school or in college

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi Angela! About 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18, and 98% first tried smoking by age 26 so both high school and college as prime times where smoking starts. More Information about smoking and prevention can be found at www.smokefree.gov.

-Steve Grant

do the people who play video games produce the same brainn waves as when someone is using cocaine.

-SB, Montana

hi s b
good question.
Brain waves could be useful but may not be all that informative in this context. Dopamine on the other hand tells a more interesting story: the dopamine releases people display in their brain reward centers during video gaming or online social interactions can be very similar to those that happen in the course of a drug experience. This is one of the reasons we think that some video games could be actually quite addictive.
Thanks for your interest.
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Do u get worse when combining different types of alcohol

-romina ,

Thank you for your question! All of the forms of alcoholic beverages that people drink contain a type of alcohol called ethanol. It's the only type of alcohol that is even remotely safe to drink.
In terms of the different types of beverages -- wine, beer, distilled spirits -- they all contain the same drug, ethanol. Whether a person drinks beer, wine, spirits or all of the above, they're taking the same drug. It's not the combination, it's the amount of alcohol that causes harm.

-Heather Kimmel

Do you believe marijuana should be Legal?

-#VapeNation, Illinois

Hi -- Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA hopes that good science will inform decisions about legalization. Whatever happens, we do not want more teens to use marijuana, because of the potential impact on the developing brain (whcih does not stop developing until you are in your mid-20s.) For more information on the negative effects of marijuana, see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Steve Gust

Do you believe Marijuana should be used for medical purposes?

-Chungus, Illinois

There has been a lot in the news lately about medical marijuana. While the marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition, there is early research suggesting that some of compounds in marijuana may potentially help treat things like epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS. Smoked marijuana isn't an ideal medication due to its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Tisha Wiley

do you guys feel using scare tactics is the best way to prevent kids from using drugs ya yeet

-dash, Illinois

Hi Dash--I perfer being honest. For instance, we know that the earlier that kids try drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. we also don't know the long-term ways drugs can affect the growing brain and if you can recover from these changes. You get only 1 shot a growing a FABULOUS brain--why risk it? I should also mention that just knowing the facts and that drugs are harmful might not prevent people from using drugs, so we recommend creating a positive environment for yourself (by cultivating an awesome support network of family and friends) so that you don't go down that road. Here is a link to learn more about preventing drug abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents. Thanks for the great question!

-Ruben Baler

Did you know that the average dosage of marijuana can cause hormonal changes within minutes of consuming this drug?

-JE, South Carolina

Hi JE
Thanks for the info. I knew that there are hormonal and pharmacological mechanisms that may explain some of the sex differences in the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids but I didnt know that marijuana could affect hormonal changes within minutes. Will certainly look into that.
thanks

-Ruben Baler

difference between thc and cbd and do they show up on drug tests?

-big chungus, Illinois

THC and CBD are two different components of marijuana. Some drug tests would be positive for both of them. Learn more abot marijuana here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana

-Emily Einstein

Do all drugs alter your physical appearance in a bad way?

-HWP4Y , Oregon

Hi Hwilson,
Yup, depends on the drug but they can do all sorts of things to you brain and body, including your physical appearance. One very disturbing example is "meth mouth." If you haven't ever seen a picture of that, trust me, it is awful!!!

-Eric Murphy

Do all people have a reaction to drugs

-DB, California

Hi DebB - hope you are enjoying the Chat. Yes. Drugs are chemicals that will act on various systems in the human body to have effects or reactions. All drugs of abuse can lead to addiction and have different health impacts--it's a tough question to answer because it all depends on the particular drug and the individual misusing it.Here's a list of commonly abused drugs with the health consequences of each: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts/common....

-Roger Little

Do all vaping devices cause popcorn lung?

-Jimmy, Illinois

Hi Jimmy - this is a great question. "Popcorn lung" is another name for a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, which makes you cough and feel short of breath. Workers at a popcorn factory were found to have this disease more than other people, and it turned out that the cause was a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical is also present in many vaping liquids, which is a cause for concern. The contents in vaping devices are not regulated, so it's impossible for a user to know what he or she is vaping. Check out these resources on e-cigs - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e...

-Heather Kimmel

Do any studies actually prove that medicinal marijuana works, if so by who?

-Ben the dog, Oregon

This is a great question, Ben the dog, but we don't have a good answer yet. So far, we do not have enough large-scale clinical studies that show that the benefits of the marijuana plant outweigh its risks in patients it's meant to treat. You can find some examples of studies on medical use of marijuana here and here.

The purified version of CBD (extracted from the plant) has been approved by the FDA to treat seizures and to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy . Use of the whole plant will not necessarily provide the same benefits because the plant has so many more chemicals in it that can cause other problems. More research is needed on this topic!

-Vani Pariyadath

do certain drugs effect animals too?

-BS, Montana

Yes, drugs have similar, if not identical, effects in animals as they do in humans. Of course, animals can't describe the subjective effects of drugs, but the effects on their brain and behavior is usually the same and is a good indication of their effects in humans. Animals will self-administer nearly every drug of abuse that humans do. So, animal studies are commonly used to test whether a new drug is likely to have abuse liability in humans.

-Steve Gust

do different drug require different specialized treatment plans for rehab

-spence_5644, South Carolina

Great question! Actually, each PERSON in treatment requires a specialized treatment plan tailored specifically to that person. This includes addressing the drug(s) being used as well as multiple other factors including family dynamics etc. This is why treatment plans are SO important.

Thanks for asking!

-Jack Stein

Do drugs affect lifespan

-nicole, Maryland

Hi Nicole! Thanks for your question. There are a few ways to look at drugs affecting lifespan. Some drugs can cause overdose and death (heroin, opioids like fentanyl) ,some drugs when abused can cause health issues (cocaine can cause cardiac problems), and certainly if people are under the influence they may make bad decisions (like driving while drunk or drugged) which could result in a life-threatening situation. In general, it really would depend on the drug, how often it is used (frequency and also length of use), etc.

-Michelle Leff

Do drugs and alcohol actually affect intelligence?

-WP, Texas

Probably,
For example, some studies show that marijuana users tend to have lower IQs compared to non-users, but others don't. However, more research is needed to show this for sure and for other drugs. But I think it is clear that drugs do not make a person smarter and likely negatively impacts intelligence, and it does affect grades in a negative way... Something to think about.

-Dave Thomas

Do drugs can improve your athletic ability?

-Pelooon,

Hello, Pelooon! Great question. There is a lot of misinformation about the effects of drugs on athletic ability. Your own body produces all the resources it needs to be a great athlete. The kinds of drug sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids or stimulants. Adults and teens who use these drugs increase the risk for high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, irregular heart rate, heart attack, stroke, dangerously high body temperatures, and intense anger or paranoia. Far from a winning combination! For more information check out this resource.

-Katia Howlett

Do drugs have a taste?

-Mr. Man, Illinois

Sure. They do not taste good, but they do have a flavor. Typically, drugs are acidic or bitter. Marijuana is being sold in some states as "edibles" where it is included in such things as cookies that cover up the marijuana flavor. The issue here is that these cookies are sometimes eaten by mistake (a child just thinks its a cookie). Not a good thing.

-Dave Thomas

do people get energy drinks as a drug just like steroids is it ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

People may take energy drinks for different reasons but is quite possible that some people take them because they can be addictive. Many energy drinks have caffeine, which provides a short-term boost of energy, but can be addictive.

-Carlos Blanco

Do people like vaping more than smoking pot in the world.

-JH, New Hampshire

The most recent data show that there are similar rates of vaping and marijuana use in high school seniors.

-Emily Einstein

Do shrooms help cure depression?

-LTHS2019, Illinois

Shrooms (psychedelic mushrooms) do not cure depression. However, some of the chemicals in shrooms are under study for possible effects in mental health conditions. So stay tuned -- someday we may have new treatments based on this research, but for now, don't look to shrooms for help. See a doctor or talk to a trusted adult.

-Joshua Gordon

do some teens vape to be considered "cool"?

-g, Illinois

Hi g from LTHS! People vape and use drugs for lots of different reasons. One is wanting to be 'cool' for fitting in (peer pressure). Other reasons may include boredom, rebellion, curiosity, and the list goes onnnnnnnn...... Check out this link for more reasons: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-why-take-drugs FYI: People can know drugs are bad for them, but they may still choose to take the risk, while others may not be aware of all the risks. Then, once they're hooked, it can be very difficult to stop. Check out one of NIDA's Drug and Health Blog posts about peer pressure here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/i-wish-that-i-could-be-like-the-cool-kids. Thanks for the terrific question.

-Jinhee Lee