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

How many people die a year from drugs?

-jbert,

That is a complicated question because not all drug deaths are specifically identified as such. Intentional misuse of hazardous materials, for example, results in a lot of poisoning deaths and they may not be recognized. In general about 17,000 deaths a year are from use of illicit drugs. In addition, 440,000 die from tobacco related illnesses and 50,000 from alcohol every year

-Marsha Lopez

how many people die from drug overdoses a year?

-mclovin:-)342,

That is a complicated question because not all drug deaths are identified as drug deaths. Intentional misuse of hazardous materials, for example, results in a lot of poisoning deaths and they may not be recognized. In general about 17,000 deaths a year are from use of illicit drugs. In addition, 440,000 die from tobacco related illnesses and 50,000 from alcohol every year.According to a recent report, deaths from accidental overdoses increased to 19,838 in 2004, from 11,155 in 1999, which was based on death certificate information (which does not detail which drugs were used). However, researchers believe the increasing misuse of prescription drugs by those ages 15 to 24 accounts for the majority of the statistic. I hope you find this helpful.

-Wilson Compton

How many people die from drugs ever year?

-scott,

That is a complicated question because not all drug deaths are specifically identified as such. Intentional misuse of hazardous materials, for example, results in a lot of poisoning deaths and they may not be recognized. In general about 17,000 deaths a year are from use of illicit drugs. In addition, 440,000 die from tobacco related illnesses and 50,000 from alcohol every year.

-Marsha Lopez

How many people die from marijuana use a year?

-zstadler,

Although about 17,000 deaths a year are from use of illicit drugs,the number of these attributable solely to marijuana abuse is likely very, very small. BUT, marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in drugged driving incidents - in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crashes.Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively impact a driver's attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained through past experiences. NIDA's Monitoring the Future survey indicated that in 2004, 12.7 percent of high school seniors reported driving under the influence of marijuana, and 13.2 percent reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the two weeks prior to completing the survey. In addition the buying and using of drugs, including marijuana, can put you in situations and environments that are very real hazards to your safety.

-Marsha Lopez

How many people end up in hospitals because of drugs?

-multipule sports and people,

A lot:, these date are from the Drug Abuse Warning Network -- this is the emergency room data from across the USA. You can access the entire data set at the Dawn Website Illicit drugs in ED visits For 2005, DAWN estimates that 816,696 (CI: 666,947 to 966,446) ED visits involved an illicit drug. Thus, over half (56%) of all the drug misuse/abuse ED visits during the year involved an illicit drug either alone or in combination with another drug type. DAWN estimates that: Cocaine was involved in 448,481 ED visits (CI: 327,639 to 569,322), Marijuana was involved in 242,200 ED visits (CI: 203,395 to 281,006), Heroin was involved in 164,572 ED visits (CI: 123,613 to 205,531), Stimulants, including amphetamines and methamphetamine, were involved in 138,950 ED visits (CI: 86,163 to 191,737), and Other illicit drugs, such as PCP, Ecstasy, and GHB, were much less frequent than any of the above. Taking the margin of error into account, the stimulants (amphetamines and methamphetamine) may be as frequent as heroin in drug-related ED visits, but the stimulants are less frequent than cocaine or marijuana. After taking population size and the margin of error into account: The rates of ED visits involving cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were higher for males than females, but the rates for stimulants did not differ by gender, For cocaine, the rates for patients aged 18 to 54 were similar,2 with lower rates for younger and older patients, For heroin, the rates were highest for patients aged 21 to 44, For marijuana, the rates were highest for patients aged 18 to 24, and For stimulants, the rates were highest for patients aged 18 to 44.

-Liz Robertson

how many people in highschool use drugs in 2007?

-brittany,

According to the Monitoring the Future study 48.2% of 12th graders, 36.1% of 10th graders and 20.9% of 8th graders have used drugs at some time in their life.

-Wilson Compton

How many People in the U.S are on drugs?

-Antonelli,

The way we determine how many people in the U.S are on drugs is by doing big national surveys where we ask people to report whether or not they have used drugs. In 2006, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated 20.4 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. This represents about 8.3 percent of the population 12 years old or older. Now this estimate is among people in HOUSEHOLDS, so it doesn't include the homeless or people in prison, among whom drug use is much more common than in the general population.

-Marsha Lopez

How many people under 14 are addicted to drugs?

-0002577,

Well, statistics on drug abuse generally begin at age 12. What we can tell you is that in 2006, 254,000 teens from ages 12 through 14 met the criteria for "substance dependence or abuse." That is, 34,000 12-yr olds, 67,000 13-yr olds, and 153,000 14-yr olds. [From http://www.samhsa.gov/data/population-data-nsduh)

-Marsha Lopez

I once saw on a show that if a kiss someone on the cheek or hug them you can't get HIV from them. Is that true?

-luvsmusic4life,

In order for HIV to be transmitted there needs to be the exchange of bodily fluid. It is not possible to spread HIV through casual contact like hugging or kissing on the cheek, as long as blood, saliva, or other bodily fluids are not shared. For more information on HIV, visit https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/hivaids.

-Steve Gust

I think my friend is on drugs ... he won't talk to me. What do I do?

-Shanequa,

It's hard to be in this situation, seeing a friend and not being sure what you can do.It can be helpful for your friend to know that someone cares about him. You can let them know you are concerned and let them know that there are people he can talk with. There are some resources for him that are anonymous - for example the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide but about a lot of issues and can connect him with a person close by). There is also a website to learn about treatment programs where you live http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. You may want to talk with an adult you trust about this too.

-Nicolette Borek

If 5 out of 8 my dad's siblings are alcoholics but my dad isn't, would i be more likely to be an alcoholic too

-jwphealth,

Wow, you have lots of aunts and uncles!! This is a tricky question. We know that alcoholism runs in families. Since your dad is not an alcoholic, your risk may be somewhat reduced, but the science would suggest that your risk is not zero. There are many factors that play a role in alcoholism, so it would be smart in your case not to start using alcohol.For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Joni Rutter

If one parent does drugs, will the child of the couple become addicted?

-amber,

Drug abuse is indeed heriditary,which means that the disease tends to "run in families." Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person's vulnerability to addiction.Social factors in families of drug abusers also play a role, such as stress levels and the amount of drinking that goes on.So, to answer your question as directly as possible, children of addicts are at increased risk of developing addiction themselves -- but this can be avoided entirely if the child never uses drugs. Here's NIDA's Website for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-Kevin Conway

If pot is legal in Canada, and used for some medical purposes, why is it illegal in the US?

-Bullet-Hog,

Marijuana is not legal in Canada. In some countries, there are reduced penalties for illegal marijuana use and even some small legal programs for medical use, but these are experimental and not the national law.

-Steve Gust

If someone did drugs for about 2 to 3 years and still does them how do I help them?

-chellzee,

Routine use can lead to drug abuse and addiction. You can help someone you know by recommending they get help for this problem. Drug abuse treatment is the most effective way to help someone deal with their addiction.For more information on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

-Eve Reider

If someone did drugs for about 2 to 3 years and still does them how do I help them?

-chellzee,

Routine use can lead to drug abuse and addiction. You can help someone you know by recommending they get help for this problem. Drug abuse treatment is the most effective way to help someone deal with their addiction.For more information on treatment and where you can find it, you can call the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator at 1-800-662-HELP or go to their website at
http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

-Eve Reider

If someone has done them for abut 2 to 3 years and still does them how do I help them?

-chelsea,

This is a very interesting question. There is a lot you can do to help a person who is becoming addicted to drugs. The advice from a good friend is very important and sometimes can have better results than coming from parents or therapists. You can help that person by listening to his/her problems, provide support, invite them to participate in activities that help them stay away from drugs, and, if necessary, encourage the person to seek professional help. There is a lot of information about the medical and psychiatric consequences of drugs that you can offer to the person to see if that helps them to consider seeking help. For more information on how drugs affect your brain and treatment go tohttps://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction Thanks for your question!

-Ivan Montoya

If someone i know is using cocaine and she says that she can go with or with out it does that make her an addict?

-rae,

Good question! Well... it sounds like the person is showing one of the signs of becoming addicted. When a person can't stay without using a drug for a long time it's possible that their brain is being affected by the drugs and is unable to stop using. Researchers are discovering the mechanisms in the brain that may explain how a person becomes addicted.You can find more information at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction. Thanks for your question!

-Ivan Montoya

If someone in your family has had problems with drugs, how do you talk to them about it? He is a great kid and I wish I could help

-soccerman,

It is hard to watch someone you care about in this situation - Many people wonder what they can do.It might help at first just to listen to this family member. It can be helpful for him just to know that someone cares. It can also be helpful to let them know that you are concerned about the ways in which this might be harmful to him. For more information about the harmful effects of drugs,you can look at www.drugabuse.gov, and you can let him know about this website too. If he's interested in getting some help to quit,you can find out about treatment programs near where you live at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov. If things don't change, it could be helpful to talk to an adult you trust.In any case, please don't get discouraged - there is help available.

-Lisa Onken

If someone takes drugs when they have bipolar disorder do the effects differ?

-alec,

Definitely ! Drugs that might otherwise have minor effects could have very strong and long-lasting bad effects if you have bipolar disorder. If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder, go to a doctor to find out about the many treatments that are available. Don't try to treat it yourself by taking drugs. You can find out more about that at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-Steve Grant

If someone threatened you to take a drug, but you say no what should you do?

-bader_s11,

That is a difficult situation. It is good that you say no to taking drugs and care about your health. No one wants to be threatened in anyway, and think talking to an adult that you trust would be helpful.

-Eve Reider

If you are an alcoholic but you stop drinking because you are pregnant, will it still affect the baby?

-george,

if you drink during pregnancy it will affect the baby. if you do not drink then it will not have any effect since the fetus will not be exposed to alcohol

-Nora Volkow

If you are healthy and play sports and you smoke weed will you have a better chance to passing out while your playing your sport?

-Kylan,

One of the effects of marijuana is that it increases heart rate. In a sport like football, this could definitely cause light headedness and possibly fainting.For more information about marijuana, go to https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Steve Gust

If you are older are you more or less able to be affected by drugs?

-Daley:],

A very good, and very important,question. How much you might be affected by drugs is dependent on many, many factors, and your age is one of them. There is a lot of evidence that the earlier that a person begins to use drugs the more likely that they are to abuse them later on.This might very well reflect the harmful effects that drugs can have on the developing brain - an area of research that the National Institute on Drug Abuse is very interested in and in which a number of NIDA scientists are actively working. We know that the developing brain can be more affected by drugs. Since your brain does to fully develop until you are a young adult, drugs can have a greater affect on you than on someone who is older. For more information, please see To learn more,please take a look at"The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Larry Stanford

if you do drugs everyday when would you die??

-KiRRRAAA,

It depends on the drug. Cigarettes reduce your life expectancy by as much as 20 years, depending on when you start and how much you smoke. Alcohol addiction can reduce your life expectancy by 15-20 years. Heroin addicts often die young, often before age 50. To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Frank Vocci

If a parent used drugs when they were a teen whould you be more likely to use as a teen?

-R.Pierce,

It's possible, and we know that your genes can influence the chances of becoming addicted to drugs. But there are lots of other reasons that teens would use drugs. That's why we are using the chat day to try to educate teens on the dangers of trying drugs. here's a good website to check out for teens with information on the science behind drug abuse, facts on drugs, questions and answers, real stories and interactive activities. http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

-Joni Rutter

If a person has smoked about 7 years and they decide to quit, do their lung(s) still look bad but are getting better or do they stay the same as if they were still smoking but don't get worse?

-BLAH....BLAH.....BLAH,

they get better

-Nora Volkow

If I was interested in this career, what would be some of the things that are required?

-Tweety101,

I'm assuming you are referring to what's required to become a scientist. I am a geneticist by training and I took biology, chemistry, computer sciences, and statistics courses. Most scientists start with very general courses in college and then go on to graduate school for an additional period of more intense training in a particular area, such as genetics (or some other area you might be interested in). After graduate school, most scientists continue with their training. I spent another 4 years "in training" to do research on my own.It's a long, hard process, but it is incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun.Imagine the moment just after you make a discovery when you know you are the only person in the world that actually knows about it!!! and then you get to use that information to help people.It's a really wonderful feeling. Now I have a great job and I get to talk to smart students like you on drug facts chat day! Here is a website that you might find helpful: http://nihlifeworks.org/feature/index.htm

-Joni Rutter

If you were once addicted to a drug and then stopped will you always have the urge to go back to that drug again? or does the urge go away?

-JWP health,

Not everyone has the same feelings after stopping drugs, but many say that they have an urge to use, especially in the early days after quitting. One of the things that treatment does is help people to deal with any urges to use, and over time, urges to use become less bothersome.

-Melissa Riddle

im on drugs ....................... what shuld i do?

-kkkkkkkkkkkkkk,

From the sound of your question, it sounds like you want to stop, but aren't sure how? If this is the case, it can help to know that treatment for drug abuse can be very helpful- that people can and do stop using drugs. If you need to speak with someone immediately, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (they don't just talk about suicide, they cover a lot of issues and will help put you in touch with someone close by). If you'd like to find out about treatment programs that are close to where you live, please look at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.I wish you the best of luck!

-Lisa Onken

in what ways can you help yourself recover from an addiction without your family knowing anything or helping you?

-sam,

it's always helpful to have the support of your family. however if you don't want them to know it would be important to have someone that will help you through the process. this could be a therapist or a mentor from a group treatment program.

-Nora Volkow