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 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

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?


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 drugs make people commit suicide

-IDK WHO AM I, Illinois

Dear IDK---this is an excellent question. They probably do for many reasons. One--people who are addicted are often extremely depressed about their life and their inability to stay off drugs. Sometimes the drugs make their depression worse. They sometimes think their families are better off without them, They are wrong, of course...what families want is for the person to keep trying until they get better. There is help available. Here is a website where you can get help for thoughts of suicide and other serious problems such as drug abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and depression: .If you have questions about substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Carol Krause

do drugs shorten your life spam

-2400269, Illinois

Drugs can most certainly shorten your life span. Drugs can have a wide range of adverse effects from contributing to chronic diseases like cancer, liver disease, and HIV to acute problems like strokes and overdoses that can be fatal. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here:

-Marsha Lopez

do drugss cause cause permanent damage to your body even after you have quit

-whitney-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hey Whitney,
Unfortunately, in some cases, all of the damage to one's body may not be reversed. However, the body does have a remarkable ability to heal, and people do make remarkable recoveries from addiction.

-Dave Thomas

do more people do drugs cus of fameouse people

-AD, Illinois

That is a great question--I am not sure anyone has asked that before. You could be right. Lots of people in the music industry sing or rap about drugs, because it makes them look "edgy" and "cool" and I guess it helps sell their music. Surely that influences people. In a survey done about 10 years ago 1 in 3 popular songs mentioned drugs and/or alcohol, and 3 in 4 rap songs mentioned drug and alcohol. As you know, a lot of those singers and stars end up in rehab over and over again because their drug problems are very difficult to manage. As a teen, you are responsible for your own health---it is up to you to make decisions that will give you a long healthy life.

-Carol Krause

do mushrooms have any long term effects on a person

-Thomas , Illinois

Hey Thomas! Good question! Mushrooms contain hallucinogens. Little is known about the long-term effects of hallucinogens. Short term effects include bad trips, increased heart rate and nausea. Long terms effects that have been reported include spontaneous flash backs and paranoia. More research is need on the long-term consequences of using hallucinogens.

-Roger Sorensen

Do nicotine patches or gum work to help someone quit vaping?

-mary, Illinois

Nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches and gum can help a person reduce the amount of nicotine they are consuming while vaping or smoking traditional cigarettes. Even though they don't produce tobacco smoke like regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not harmless. When you vape, you're inhaling several poisonous chemicals and it's a great idea to try and quit using a treatment method suggested by your health care provider, including nicotine patches or gum. For more information about vaping, see the NIDA Teen site:

-Michelle Jobes

do parents realize their child is doing drug often

-JP, Montana

Hi Again JP, According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 9.5% of 12-17 year olds said they used drugs and around 13% of said they drank alcohol in the month before the survey. Your second question is harder to answer. We don't really know if parents are aware of their children's substance use, but it's important to try and provide parents with all the resources they need to help keep their kids safe--which is really what all parents want to do (despite what it seems like sometimes!). If you or someone you know is having a drug abuse problem call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7 or go to to find information about treatment centers in your area. You can also talk to your school counselor or a teacher, who can help you get help...

-Jinhee Lee

do people dip marijuana blunts in heroin

-teletubbies123, Illinois

While not the most common way to take either marijuana or heroin, it's possible.

-Emily Einstein

can you vape for medical purposes, if so what for

-ben=buttlick, Oregon

Hi ben=buttlick,

Great question, we currently do not have enough research to determine if vaping can be used for medicial purposes. Studies are being done to determine the potential effects of e-cigarettes. Research has found that youth who use a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes, are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products, such as cigarettes. Right now, we don't know how many harmful or potentially harmful chemicals are in e-cigarettes. However, we do know that many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is harmful to developing brains.

-Roger Little

Can your body recover after 20 years plus of smoking?

-Katana, Maryland

Dear Katana - thank you for writing in with such a great question! Yes, your body can recover after 20 years of smoking - once you quit! There are so many health benefits of quitting smoking. Quitting can re-wire your brain and help break the cycle of addiction. The large number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal levels after about a month of being quit. Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease, but quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately and your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.If you or someone you know is trying to quit, check out:

-Heather Kimmel

Cigarretes are a drug?


Hi AADPDT3, cigarettes contain the highly addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that occurs naturally in the tobacco plant. For more information check out:

-Suzanne Lim

Considering that you consume the "same amount... which drug between marujuana and alcohol does less harm to your body?


Hi farkas
how can one possible consume the "same" amount of two different things? what would you measure?
only zero amount would cause the same negative effect. B smart. B healthy

-Ruben Baler

consuming drugs affects somewhow when you have sex

-el chapo,

Hello. I'm not totally sure what your question is--but here's my best guess. Some drugs can cause you to do things that you wouldn't otherwise do. So using drugs makes you more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, which may lead to diseases or possibly unplanned preganancies. Some drugs also may interfere with your ability to have sex while others may alter the experience. Either way, safety is a concern when combining drugs with sex. The consequences are often unpredictable and may lead to more problems than you expect.

-Aria Crump

COULD a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Every drug a pregnant woman takes also reaches her baby. The ways in which the baby can be affected depends on the drug the mother takes, how much she uses, and when in pregnancy she uses. Babies born to mothers who are addicted can suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms. But the good news is that the sooner a pregnant woman stops using drugs, the better the results for her baby. You can read more at

-Carlos Blanco

COULD a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking


Hi Hamilton,

It is unclear whether a baby in the womb can get high while in the mother's womb, however, substance use during pregnancy can be risky to the woman's health and that of her children in both the short and long term. Most drugs, including opioids and stimulants, could potentially harm an unborn baby. Use of some substances can increase the risk of miscarriage and can cause migraines, seizures, or high blood pressure in the mother, which may affect her fetus. In addition, the risk of stillbirth is 2 to 3 times greater in women who smoke tobacco or marijuana, take prescription pain relievers, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy. Pregnant women should check with their health care provider before using any medicines or substances.

For more information, check out

-Jinhee Lee

Could constantly drinking alcohol (everyday) cause the person to remember past memories that wished to be kept away?

-pboydmateo01, Oregon

It probably would not help the person remember past memories because drinking too much can damage the areas of the brain that make and recall memories.

-Emily Einstein

could drugs ruin your life

-JP, Montana

Hi Jphillips. Yes, they could. Drug abuse can have many negative consequences. If you are asking about the health effects of drugs, these effects can include brain damage due to lack of oxygen and even death. You can find more information about the health effects of various drugs here: Also, it is important to know that drug abuse can have other kinds of consequences, including family problems, losing a job, and failing in school. Thanks for your question.

-Steve Gust

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


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

-Jinhee Lee

Could you die faster if you had smoke?


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:


-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?


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:

-Anto Bonci

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

-JE, South Carolina

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.

-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:

-Emily Einstein