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 here.

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IS DRINKING BEER BETTER THAN SMOKING POT

-CODY,

No! Remember, to the brain, beer, wine, and hard liquor all have the same ethyl alcohol molecule that does its thing to the brain. Beer is no safer than Jack Daniels. Many alcoholics who drink beer are under the illusion that they don't have a problem because it;s only beer they are drinking. Laboratory studies in rodents and monkeys show that it is a bit easier to get an animal hooked on giving itself alcohol than to marijuana.Bottom line- trying both drugs holds a risk of getting hooked on them.

-James Bjork

Is Ecstasy commonly combined with any other drugs to make more powerful ones? If so, are their more side affects?

-Jeremiah,

That's a great question. Most of our studies show rates of each drug separately (see www.monitoringthefuture.org) but in real life, people often take multiple drugs at the same time. Combinations are especially dangerous. For example, alcohol combined with drugs can produce unexpected side effects and complications. Ecstasy is often taken in combination with other substances and the results are unpredictable. It's kind of like playing "russian roulette."For more information on Ecstasy, visit www.drugabuse.gov and search "ecstasy/mdma.

-Wilson Compton

Is alochol a type of drug?

-awright,

Survey says - "Yes, alcohol is a drug." It impacts the same brain areas as other drugs of abuse and additionally it's the most commonly abused drug among teens. For more information on alcohol abuse you can visit www.niaaa.nih.gov

-Redonna Chandler

Is beer a drug?

-dora,

Beer contains alcohol and alcohol is a substance of abuse, so in that respect alcohol can be considered a drug

-Nora Volkow

Is caffeine soda addictive?

-igloosRcool,

Caffeine can cause problems--like headaches, jitteriness, anxiety--but it's not really clear whether it is addictive. Some people seem to have trouble controlling their intake of coffee, tea and other sources of caffeine but scientists haven't figured out whether caffeine can really become addictive.

-Wilson Compton

is coffee addictive? o;

-mslice,

Maybe. It contains caffeine, which can withdrawal syndrome consisting of headaches and craving for coffee.

-Frank Vocci

Mary: When is the most dangerous time to drink alcohol or take drugs if you are pregnant? Also, why is alcohol (within limits) consumed safely by humans when methanol, from the same chemical family is extremely poisonous?

-Westglades Midd,

This is still unclear. There are currently NO "safe" guidelines or limits for prenatal alcohol exposure! Bad idea. Period. That said, laboratory rat studies show that rat pups have the most brain and behavior abnormalities when mom rat is given alcohol in the THIRD trimester.Methanol is a smaller molecule than ethanol (about half the size), and in even low amounts destroys the optic nerve between the eyeballs and the occipital lobe in the back of the brain that processes vision and makes sense of images.

-James Bjork

most substances are direected towards some part of your body which substance can direct mostly your brain??

-jonatangaleano,

All drugs of abuse affect the brain reward areas and some drugs affect other brain areas as well. The web site below gives more information on how drugs affect the body. http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joe Frascella

My boyfriend tells me if i do weed then he won't leave me. I love him but i don't want to do them. i guess you can say that if he wants me to do that then hes not being a good boyfriend

-bumxxxchaos,

You'll have to decide for yourself whether your boyfriend is good for you or notBut--good for you for knowing that marijuana, besides being illegal, is a health hazard. There are many negative effects of smoking marijuana. It can cause loss of coordination, and affect memory, judgment, and perception. Under the influence of marijuana, you could fail to remember things you just learned, watch your grade point average drop, or crash a car. Some people may suffer sudden feelings of anxiety and have paranoid thoughtswhich is more likely to happen when higher doses are used or when it is taken orally. Its difficult to tell what the effects of marijuana will be for any given person at any time, because they vary based on the person, their drug history, how much marijuana is taken, and its strength. There's lots more information about marijuana at http://drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

-Eve Reider

my dad has a high chance of dying from alcohol abuse, what should do to make him stop?? please answer, he's arguing with my mom right now

-yhsKevin,

Sounds like you are in a touch spot and dealing with some really difficult stuff. The decision to stop using alcohol is ultimately your father's and you can't make him stop. You might consider having an frank conversation with him and point out that his alcohol abuse has a significant impact on your entire family - especially you. You might consider reaching out to get support yourself during this difficult time. There are groups for people whose family members are struggling with drug addiction like Ala-non - in some areas there are special groups for teens. Regardless of your father's decision don't be afraid to reach out and get the support you need. There are also some phone numbers you should note. By calling 1-800-662-HELP you can get advice about treatment in your area and if you need someone to talk to about what you're going through please call 1-800-273-TALK.

-Redonna Chandler

is weed mentally addicting or physically

-element,

Great question, Yes! About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana become addicted. When they stop, they experience a "withdrawal syndrome"--they are irritable, can't sleep, lose weight, and are anxious, often prompting them to start using again. Whats more--long term marijuanna users themselves report not only poorer educational and job outcomes, but less life satisfaction and worse mental and physical health compared to those who don't use marijuana. Check out http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana for more info. Thanks for joining in on Chat day!

-Marsha Lopez

is smoking weed everyday bad

-party all day,

"Here are some facts, and you can make up your own mind.Marijuana affects memory, judgment, perception, and coordination. Under the influence of marijuana, you study and learn less effectively--not just school things, but anythying. The more you smoke the more of the time you are in this state. Your risk of accidents is elevated more of the time, and the likelihood that the effects will mount up and result in things like a drop in grade point average, or not achieving your potential in sports or other recreational activities.Some people may suffer sudden feelings of anxiety and have paranoid thoughts after smoking marijauan. This is more likely to happen when higher doses are used or when the drug is taken orally. In general, it's hard to tell what marijuana effects a particular person will experience, because the drug's effects vary based on the person, their drug history, how much marijuana is taken, and its potency.Also, since marijuana can affect judgment and decision making, using it can lead to risky sexual behavior, resulting in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For more on marijuana, see http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Marijuana/default.html

-Eve Reider

Is taking pills bad for you if they are someone else's pills?

-laura.duenas,

Great question. Sometimes kids share each other's prescribed medications, which could be a disaster. Medicines prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition are based on the doctor's judgment that the medicine will cause more good than harm FOR THAT PERSON! For example, your friend may not have high blood pressure but you do. If you take one of your friend's pills, your blood pressure could rise to very unsafe levels, causing a stroke. To learn more, see our illustrated booklet at http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-Frank Vocci

Is the nervous system affected if you do drugs?

-tomotuhombre,

Great question! All drugs of abuse affect the nervous system (your brain), and depending on the drug, these affect different systems in the brain. We know that all drugs of abuse affect the "reward systems" in the brain, which leads to an increase of the brain chemical, dopamine. We also know that continued use of drug can change the brain in long-lasting ways. For more information - please check out: http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/.

-Joe Frascella

is it true that before 1914 cocaine was a legal medication for addicts?

-somethingsimple,

Yes, then they realized that people were geting addicted to cocaine and stopped using it for treament of other addictions and made it illegal

-Nora Volkow

is it true that if girls take steroids they grow penis'?

-904373,

No. But, in the female body, anabolic steroids abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head.

-Elisabeth Davis

is it true that if you use acid, that it will stay in your spinal cord for the rest of your life??

-sanbornnnnnn,

Good question. The short answer is, no. Drugs are metabolized in your liver and cleared from you body over time. LSD is no different. Acid can, however, cause unpredictable psychological effects. With large enough doses, users experience delusions and visual hallucinations. Physical effects include dangerously increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; sleeplessness, and loss of appetite. Want more information on acid? Click on www.teens.drugabuse.gov

-David Shurtleff

is it true that smoking speeds up your metabolism?

-yhskristine,

Good morning and good question! It is true. One of the active ingredients in tobacco -- nicotine -- can raise resting metabolic rates two to three times. It is NOT recommended, however, that tobacco products be used as diet aides. Remember, tobacco use, especially long-term tobacco use, can result in very bad results, including cancer. For more information, please consult www.drugabuse.gov

-David Shurtleff

is poking needles in your arm that other people used 4 heroin good 4 you?

-heroinhero(j.t),

Definitely not. Doing heroin, with or without used needles is very bad for you. If you add using needles that someone else has used then you add in the risk of getting a disease such as Hep C and HIV.

-Elisabeth Davis

is salvia bad for you?

-k.renee.14,

Hi River Hill! Salvia is Salvia divinorum, a psychoactive herb which can promote strong feelings of invincibility in people who use it...kind of like PCP and ketamine. Salvia has toxic effects on brain cells and taking salvia use can cause light-headedness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings and erratic behavior ---- not good!

-David Shurtleff

is smoking through a pipe more dangerous than snorting the drugs?

-looprednav,

Yes, smoking through a pipe produces a faster high than and intravenous injection. The lungs have a very large surface area and can absorb a lot of drugs. We know that crack cocaine users become addicted more quickly than people who snort cocaine. Did you know that the younger a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she will progress to more serious drug abuse? For more on the brain and addiction, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Frank Vocci

Is there a good effect of any drug?

-rashid yhs,

This is a great question! In fact, under certain circumstances many illegal substances do offer medical benefits when used properly and under the supervision of a physician. Opiates, for example, include both morphine and other pain relievers, and are used by doctors to provide pain relief to millions of people. Amphetamine (speed) is a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Doctors who prescribe these drugs are well trained to evaluate if and when a person needs a drug and how much of the drug is safe for each person. Prescription medications, when properly use, are invaluable help in the treatment of serious medical conditions but their use becomes dangerous and illegal when not under the supervision of a physician -- even if they are taken for their intended purposes. We have a research report about prescription drugs and their benefits and dangers online. Check out http://www.drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Prescription/Prescription.html

-Jan Lipkin

Is there a way that your body can heal after being damaged from doing drugs?

-Mz.Candy Girl,

Thanks for sending such a great question. We know that drugs can affect many processing in the brain and systems in the body, particularly after chronic use. We are learning that with abstinence and recovery these brain changes may return to normal and that body systems can heal. Take smoking cigarettes, for example - we know that damage to the lungs from chronic smoke exposure can return to how they were to pre-smoking states after quitting. Clearly there is hope for people who have been addicted to drugs. For more info, check out: http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/. Thanks for this question.

-Joe Frascella

is there any cure for drug addiction?

-Ranbir Singh,

Even if a peson has been in treatment and no longer uses drugs, we don' speak of "cures." That's because formerly addicted people have some risk of relapse for the rest of thier lives. The longer a person stays off drugs--known as being abstinent--the less likely they are to relapse. See our illustrated, easy-to-read booklet http://drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/ for more information.

-Frank Vocci

Is there any difference on the danger of smoking under the age of 18 and smoking over the age of 18

-reddie22,

That's an interesting question - we've got a bunch of studies that are looking at how drugs effect the brain and other parts of the body during different stages of development. This developmental research suggests that adolescents may be more susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs, including tobacco, than adults. Did you know the brain doesn't stop developing at age 18? Recent research shows that the brain continues to develop until age 25! The frontal brain - what we call the prefrontal cortex - is that last part to fully develop, and that's the part that has to do with decision making and other complex thinking tasks. We'd recommend staying away from smoking under or over age 18... there are just too many health risks! If you'd like to see an amazing picture and movie created by scientists that shows how the brain develops from age 5-20, with those important decision-making prefrontal areas of the brain developing last, go to: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2004/imaging-study-shows-brain-maturing.shtml

-Nicolette Borek

is tobacco illegal?????????

-sweetin,

It is illegal to purchase tobacco products if you are under 18. But whatever age you are, you should know about the many harmful effects of using tobacco. Check out our tobacco research report online at http://drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/Nicotine/Nicotine.html and also take a look at our teen site information on nicotine at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco

-Jan Lipkin

my name is dorey i do drugs andi finally want to quit but i dont no how to get help were is a good place to get help?

-fransein,

I want to congratulate you since you are aware you want to stop. Your parents can be of great help in a situation like this. If they are not availble then the school may have a person that can direct you towards a proper referal to help you stop using drugs. There are also some resources that are anonymous - for example, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. They don't just talk about suicide; they can help with a lot of issues including drug abuse, and can connect you with a professional close by. There is also a website with information about treatment programs: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ which includes information about programs based on where they located. Please do follow through--treatment can work and can change your life.

-Nora Volkow

OMG MR DR FRANK VOCCI I LOVE PUGS!!!! what are their names??

-ambuhhhxo3,

Ollie and Greycie

-Frank Vocci

On average how many kids die from tobacco each year?

-soccerstar0,

The impacts associated with tobacco are mostly long term. While there are deaths each year due to fires caused by cigarettes most of the 440,000 deaths associated with tobacco are linked to cancer and respiratory illnesses.

-Anna Staton

On average how old are kids who start using drugs?

-soccerstar0,

Often drug use starts in adolescence. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start using drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences. The reasons for this are complex--first, drugs affect the brain, and the brain is still developing until early adulthood. So, it's possible for drugs to alter the normal developmental pattern--research is still ongoing to help us figure this out. Second, people who use drugs when they are very young often have other problems that led to their drug use in the first place. For example, they may have difficult family situations or problems with depression or anxiety, etc. and attempt to use drugs to help them cope. Unfortunately, drug abuse just makes things worse in the long run, and doesn't address the problems that led to its use. Third, using drugs can interfere with success in school, in sports, and in relationships with friends and family, further creating problems down the road. So the bottom line is that early drug use can lead to later drug and other problems, and the best advice is to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it. For more information, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html. So the bottom line is that early drug use can lead to later drug and other problems, and the best advice is to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it.

-Jan Lipkin