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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how can people get off of drugs if they are mentally addicted to it?

-wierd123, Pennsylvania

Medications and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, can be very helpful for people who want to stop taking drugs. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for long-term success. Sometimes, as with other chronic conditions, episodes of relapse may require a return to treatment.

Medications offer help in suppressing withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. However, medically assisted detoxification is not in itself 'treatment' - it is only the first step in the treatment process. Patients who go through medically assisted withdrawal but do not receive behavioral or other therapy show drug abuse patterns similar to those who were never treated. In behavioral therapy, typically, patients learn strategies to control urges to take drugs and avoid situations that make them want to take drugs.

Medications can be used to help re-establish normal brain function and to prevent relapse and diminish cravings. Currently, we have medications for opioids (heroin, morphine), tobacco (nicotine), and alcohol addiction and are developing others for treating stimulant (cocaine, methamphetamine) and cannabis (marijuana) addiction. Most people with severe addiction problems, however, are polydrug users (users of more than one drug) and will require treatment for all of the substances that they abuse.

Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/

Also, did you know you can send us questions about drugs anytime of the day on our Teen Web site? https://teens.drugabuse.gov/. It might take a few days, because our scientists are pretty busy - but real questions will get real answers!

-Kristen Huntley

How can taking ritalin affect you if you have not been prescribed ritalin?

-freeman,

Dear Freeman-Jones,Yes, Ritalin affects the brain and behavior and should only be taken while under the care of a physician. Ritalin is a stimulant prescribed for people with ADHD. As seen with amphetamines, including Adderall, numerous studies have shown its effectiveness when used as prescribed. When it is abused, however, methylphenidate can lead to many of the same problems seen with other stimulants. More information about prescription drug abuse can be found at http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/prescription.html. More information about the consequences of stimulant abuse can be found at:https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php .Hope this helps and thanks for your question.

-Redonna Chandler

How can teens support a friend who has gone through drug/alcohol rehabilitation?

-sclionsteach, Pennsylvania

There are lots of ways that you can support your friend. The fact that you're asking this question shows me that you are a caring friend, and that is probably the most important way you can support him/her. Another way is to help your friend avoid situations where there's a possibility that the friend could relapse and go back to using-like going with your friend to places that are as drug- and alcohol- free rather than to parties where drugs will likely be. Good luck to you and your friend.

-Lisa Onken

How can I continue to be friends with teens that do drugs and alcohol, but not get involved? I love my friends when they're sober, but they won't stop just because of one friend

-csaluti22, Pennsylvania

This can be a very painful situation. People sometimes choose drugs and alcohol instead of their families or friends. Letting your friends know about your concern can help but it's really important that you take care of yourself.

-Wilson Compton

how can i get my best friend to atop smokeing weed/

-Casa Grande, Arizona

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. You can encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).Also, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide.

-Richard Denisco

How can i get my dad too stop smoking?

-lmsballer44 (, Michigan

Now that is a tough one. I had the same question when I was a kid...we tried unsuccessfully for many years to get my father to stop smoking, but fortunately, he made the decision to stop on his own (it is hard to know how much we influenced the decision). Understand that he is dealing with one of the most difficult addictions. He cannot just easily stop or easily just say no to smoking. His brain is changed and he is driven to smoke. There are lots of places to seek information and help, and there are actually some very good treatments now for smoking. Try to convince him that you love him and care about him, and that is why you would like him to stop.Here is some information on smoking: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/. Good luck.

-Joe Frascella

How can I help a teenager quit smoking marajuana?

-karen, Maryland

Researchers are testing different ways to help marijuana users quit. Currently, no medications exist for treating marijuana addiction. Treatment programs focus on behavioral therapies. A number of programs are designed specifically to help teenagers who are abusers.

When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using marijuana, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) .

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends.

In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.Best of luck!

-Kevin Conway

How can i help my cousin if hes taking drugs and drinking ad hes out of school and lives by himself and i am the only one in my family that cares about him?

-Four,

First keep the lines of communication with him open and convey to him that you are worried about this drug use and that you would like to help him to stop using drugs. Second seek the help of a grown up who cares for him since they may be able to bring him to treatment and help him stop taking drugs. You can also find some treatment resources at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7. Good luck!

-Nora Volkow

How can i prevent my cousin from doing drugs Dr.Baler?

-lexxie, Maryland

Hello. Great question. First I think it is great that you care enough to ask this question and want to help your cousin. If your cousin is currently using drugs, I think it is important to let him or her know that you care and that you are concerned about the harmful effects that drugs can have on a person. Please go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/ to find out about different drugs and their harmful effects. It is also important to encourage your cousin to get help. You could encourage him or her to talk to a teacher, guidance counselor or other professional to find out where to get help. Other resources for help include the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7. Or you or he could call 1-800-273-TALK if there's a crisis and need to talk to someone immediately. Good luck with this.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

how can i tell is some is an alcoholic?

-pancakesssss, Pennsylvania

Good question. When someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. But sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.

-Wilson Compton

How are Club drugs made?

-chancemeister94, Maine

Street drugs - such as club drugs - are sometimes made in filthy conditions by people who know very little about chemistry. Keep in mind that when drugs are bought on the street (or from 'friends'), they could contain anything.Some contaminants can be worse than any club drug.In one case, a contaminant in street pills that was supposed to contain an opiate actually contained a toxic chemical (MPTP) that kills dopamine neurons.People who bought the pills ended up with permanent drug-induced Parkinson's disease. You can read more about club drugs here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_xtc1.php

-Dave McCann

how bad is a monster energy drink for you?

-mers, Oregon

Energy drinks generally contain the same amount of caffeine as a strong cup of coffee (or expresso coffee). Very high amounts of caffeine can produce anxiety and even heart problems. So think of an energy drink as just a different form of coffee.

-Steve Grant

how bad is the drug addiction in the united states?

-brianna, Virginia

In 2008, an estimated 22.2 million persons aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse (meaning they were addicted to a substance) in the past year. That's about 8.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older.

-Anna Staton

How can cocain kill you

-BabyGurl, Maryland

Thanks for your question. Cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric and energetic, but also increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. You can find more info about cocaine on our web pages. Go to http://www.drugabuse.gov/, click on the Drugs of Abuse drop down menu and select cocaine.

-Brian Marquis

how can drugs effect physical activity in sports?

-joshmcfather, Georgia

Great question! It depends on the type of drug used. But, for many commonly abused drugs, research shows that regular drug use can interfere with sports by decreasing concentration, increasing fatigue, decreasing or increasing appetite, and reducing reaction time. Plus, the use of drugs can result in other complications (poor school performance, trouble with police, family strain) that can interfere with your ability engage in sports. It's better to avoid using any drugs!For more information see:http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/

-Kevin Conway

have any of your close friends been addicted to marijuana?

-Holt_01, Washington

Yes, and its a very difficult thing to see happening to a friend. If this is happening to you, encourage your friend to stop, if they can't stop they need to seek help, keep encourageing them to get help from their parents or a trusted adult.

-Cindy Miner

have you ever drank???? did you ever get addicted to it???

-DEJESUS KID, Washington

Yes, I do have a drink now and then. But I know because several people in my family including both my parents had problems with drinking, that I am probably at high risk for alcoholism. So I am very careful...I saw what alcoholism did to several people in my family, it isn't worth it. I can have just as much fun drinking a diet coke!

-Cindy Miner

haver you guys ever done drugs before

-thenry, Michigan

Can't speak for anyone but myself. I have had a drink or two from time to time. In general, I don't want drugs to interfere with my job, family life, music, and other hobbies.For more info on drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/!

-Joe Frascella

Hello :) How can i tell if my friends are using drugs or alcohol?

-WAFFLLLLLESSSSS, Pennsylvania

Good question. When someone is really intoxicated, it may be pretty obvious they are using. They may smell of alcohol, have blood-shot eyes or have really slurred speech. But sometimes it is really hard to tell if someone is using drugs or alcohol. They may have mood changes (such as becoming irritable and angry for no reason). One way to find out is to ask them.

-Wilson Compton

hey Dr. Joseph what can you play on the guitar

-friedchicken747, Pennsylvania

Hi friedchicken747, thanks for the question. I generally play blues and some jazz, but I have been known to play anything. I love playing...it's my 'drug of choice!'

-Joe Frascella

hey Dr.joe! what are date drugs and what do they do to you?

-Jasmine, Maryland

Hi Jasmine! Thanks for your question. Date drugs like rohypnol or GHB are generally considered club drugs. They are named club drugs because they tend to be abused at nightclubs, bars, raves, or trance scenes. Ketamine, ecstasy, and meth are other examples of club drugs. Here is some detailed information that I pulled up for you on these drugs. Hope this helps! How are Club Drugs Abused?

Raves and trance events are generally night-long dances, often held in warehouses. Many who attend raves and trances do not use club drugs, but those who do may be attracted to their generally low cost and the intoxicating highs that are said to deepen the rave or trance experience.

Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be ground up and snorted. GHB and Rohypnol have both been used to facilitate date rape (also known as "drug rape," "acquaintance rape," or "drug-assisted" assault). They can be colorless, tasteless, and odorless, and can be added to beverages and ingested unbeknownst to the victim. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. GHB also has anabolic effects (it stimulates protein synthesis) and has been sought by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building. Ketamine is usually snorted or injected intramuscularly. How do Club Drugs Affect the Brain? GHB acts on at least two sites in the brain: the GABAB receptor and a specific GHB binding site. At high doses, GHB's sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death. Rohypnol, like other benzodiazepines, acts at the GABAA receptor. It can produce anterograde amnesia, in which individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the influence of the drug. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, so called because it distorts perceptions of sight and sound and produces feelings of detachment from the environment and self. Ketamine acts on a type of glutamate receptor (NMDA receptor) to produce its effects, similar to those of the drug PCP.1 Low-dose intoxication results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. At higher doses, ketamine can cause dreamlike states and hallucinations; and at higher doses still, ketamine can cause delirium and amnesia.

Addictive Potential

Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported among patients presenting from an overdose of GHB or related compounds, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.2 Like other benzodiazepines, chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance and dependence. There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, a behavior that is similar to that seen in some 3 What Other Adverse Effects do Club Drugs Have on Health?

Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity and associated medical consequences.

Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and1,4 butanediol (BD), have been involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths. Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants. Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

-Joe Frascella

Hey i have a question i would like answered if you are getting someone off of heroine what is the easiest and most effective way.

-will, Utah

Hi. Thanks for asking a great question. there are 2 different medications that help people quit heroin: methadone and buprenorphine (also known as 'bup'). each is taken once per day to help reduce the cravings for heroin that a person might feel. but getting counseling or therapy is just as important as the medication in beating an addiction to heroin. that will help a person keep clean. For more information about bup, go to archives.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/buprenorphine.html. thanks again and keep those questions rolling in.

-Harold Perl

hey i need to know, what is the safest way to quite heroine

-will, Utah

Hi. Thanks for coming to chat day and asking a great question. There are 2 different medications that help people quit heroin: methadone and buprenorphine (also known as 'bup'). Each is taken once per day to help reduce the cravings for heroin that a person might feel. But getting counseling or therapy is just as important as the medication in beating an addiction to heroin. The combination of meds and therapy will help a person keep clean. For more information about bup, go to https://archives.drugabuse.gov/buprenorphine (Archives). Did you know you can send us questions about drugs anytime of the day on our Teen Web site? https://teens.drugabuse.gov/. It might take a few days, because our scientists are pretty busy - but real questions will get real answers! Thanks again and be sure to send us more of your questions.

-Harold Perl

Hhat is the worst drug out there and why is it the worst drug?

-Tiaa [[, Utah

its hard to specifically say one drug is worse than others since one drug aybe really bad for some people but not for others, this would depend to a large extent on genetic factors. However, overall its recognized that methampehtmine is among the most addictive and most toxic. But heroin is also highly addicitve and accounts from more death from overdoses than any of the other illicit substances.

-Nora Volkow

hello im kenzie and i have had a bad day! what is vicodin

-kenzie&skyler<3, Arizona

sorry you're having a bad day.... things will get betterseveral people have asked what is vicodin today. Vicodin is a medication that is prescribed to relieve severe pain. When taken asked prescribed it can be very effective in relieveing pain and helping people recover from medical procedures for example. But it can be very dangerous if used to party, or get high...it can be deadly.

-Cindy Miner

HELLO!!!!!! HI I HAVE A QUESTION AND THAT WOULD BE WHAT CAN I DO TO SHOW MY FRIEND THAT DRUGS WILL HURT HER

-jugelett,

Have your friend visit this website: http://www.drugabuse.gov/consequences/.Good luck!

-Lisa Onken

How do you know if you have a drug addiction?

-debbie, Pennsylvania

Great question. The key feature of drug addiction is the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs. It all starts with use of these substances. Once someone uses, they may find they use more and more often. They may start organizing their lives around their use of substances. They may find that they use even though it causes them problems. They spend more time on substances and have trouble quitting or cutting down on.

-Wilson Compton

How do you know so much about drugs and alcohol?

-kathryn+hailey, Tennessee

Well, I am a scientist who studies drug abuse. Part of my job requires that I read scientific papers about drug abuse, and so I learn from reading those papers. The science of drug abuse is a really fascinating field and it includes learning about how the brain functions, which is fascinating. Because drug abuse affects nearly everybody in one way or another, becoming a drug abuse researcher is a highly rewarding profession. Maybe you will consider it!

-Kevin Conway

how do you know so much about drugs and things related?

-shark, Utah

hey shark, thanks for the question. Working at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we are exposed to lots of very exciting research findings each day...so we get to learn new things about drugs all the time!

-Joe Frascella

how do you know when someone is doing drugs

-jessica, Virginia

That can be difficult--some people are better at concealing it than others. But certainly if you see major changes in a persons attitudes and behaviors, with respect to their relationships, their performance at school or in outside activities, their moods--these are good indicators that you should be concerned and asking questions. They may also be signs of mental illness, which often begins in adolescence. If you suspect a problem, it is always a good idea to encourage the to person to confide and seek advice from a trusted adult. There is also a lot of information you can share with the person about drug abuse, which can be found on NIDA's website (www.drugabuse.gov). The person may already be aware of the negative consequences drugs are having, and may be prepared to make a change and seek treatment. In that case, you can help him/her find a doctor, therapist, support group or treatment program by visiting the website www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov, or calling 1-800-662-HELP. If your friend is not ready yet to get help, don't give up. Keep reaching out, and hopefully some day soon he/she will be ready.

-Susan Weiss