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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Do steroids eventually killl you over time?

-Jim Bob N, Pennsylvania

Hi Jim Bob. This is a tough question because we don't really have the answer yet. Some investigators believe that steroids cause cancer, but there is actually little proof of this. Steroids can clearly mess up your development, especially when used during the teen years when sexual maturation is taking place. Also, you know that aggression is a major issue with steroid use - this can result in risky behavior that could endanger you. But if I had to give an answer right now, I think most people would say that steroids don't directly kill you over time, but why risk your life if all the answers aren't in yet?

-Marilyn Huestis

do steroids have the same effect as drugs if very addicted

-golfer50, Nebraska

Hi Nebraska,Drugs have different effects on the body, but drug dependence or addiction may be similar in an individual's behavior around the time they spend getting and using the drug, and alienating family, friends, and colleagues. When addicted, an individual loses control over their drug habit - it takes over their life and becomes the most important goal, over other aspects that used to be important to them. So yes, they can have this same effect, but the areas of the brain that the drug works on and the acute and long-term effects on the body can be different. Steroids definitely can produce dependence and addiction. You can find more info on steroids and its effects on the body and brain at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_ster1.php. Thanks for your question!

-Marilyn Huestis

do teens smoke more in highschool or in college?

-master, Michigan

Hi, what a good question! According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study, about 19% of high school seniors and 16% of college students report they are current smokers. So overall they're pretty similar---most people who smoke start in high school so if you can avoid it in high school it would be a smart heath strategy!

-Marsha Lopez

Do teens start smoking weed because they think its cool?

-WhoIsThis, Indiana

Teenagers start using marijuana for many reasons, including trying to 'fit in' or 'be cool'. In fact, one of the biggest risk factors for using marijuana is having friends who use marijuana. Peer pressure to use drugs can be strong among youth, but standing up against peers who use drugs can help prevent the onset of drug use. Also, hanging out with a different group of friends who do NOT use drugs can be a really smart alternative. Thanks for your question!

-Kevin Conway

Do we know what kind of drug the Viking berserkers used in the middle ages, and is there a drug like that nowadays?

-InquisitiveMind, Massachusetts

Thanks for teh intersting question.you are in luck becauise i am also an expert on ancient drugs of war (just kidding) The berserks were the most feared and vicious fighters among the Vikings. They were really 'out there' when it came deviant behaviors, and lived well beyond what was accepted norm among Viking-tribes. For example, whenever there was a fight at hand, they would get themselves into this wild frenzy, partly by self-hypnosis but also partly by consuming wild berries and other toxicological plants. As a result, they would reportedly cause the 'berserks' run right at the front of the war-mobs, only dressed in a few loose pieces of fur, besmeared with dirt and blood, sometimes donning animal-masks. I can imagine they were a really frightening sight to any soldier standing on the other side of the warline. Unfortunately, we don't have any reliable information about the active ingredients in the potions that these Viking potions contained, but some berries do have psychoactive properties.

-Ruben Baler

Do you believe that drug use is more effected by genetics or lifestyle? in other words, nature versus nurture?

-95golfer, New York

Hey, 95golfer...this is a great question. The answer is that it is both nature AND nurture. Research has shown that drug use is about 50% genetic and 50% environmental and other factors. For more information, see: www.drugabuse.gov/tib/genetics.html and http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/.

-Joni Rutter

Do you change when you take drugs, like do you act different?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yep, a change in behavior and personality are common among individuals that are doing drugs. For example, they can stop participating in activities they used to enjoy, start hanginng around different friends, become mood and more. Also, drugs can make people behave in erratic ways, for example, PCP use can lead to really erractic behavior, rapid speech, aggression or intense sweating. Want to know more about the effects of drugs? Go to our site! There's lots of good info! http://www.nida.nih.gov/drugpages/; http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

-David Shurtleff

Do you experience withdrawl from

-Ashton, Indiana

That is a great question. Yes, in fact you can experience withdrawal which makes it very hard to quit. The signs of withdrawal are irritability, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and importantly--strong cravings for the drug, which is what can make it hard to stop. The symptoms are worst the first week after you stop

-Christine Colvis

Do you experience withdrawl from marijuana?

-Ashton, Indiana

That is a great question. Yes, in fact you can experience withdrawal which makes it very hard to quit. The signs of withdrawal are irritability, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and importantly--strong cravings for the drug, which is what can make it hard to stop. The symptoms are worst the first week after you stop.

-Christine Colvis

Could someone get high off of second-hand smoke?

-Batman, Pennsylvania

Do you mean a 'contact high' from second hand marijuana smoke?? If so... the answer is yep! If you breath enough of the second hand smoke, the active ingredients of MJ like THC get to the lung and to the brain. It can also get into your hair, etc. So...don't hang around folks that are smoking...especially if you have to take a pee test any time soon!!!

-David Shurtleff

could you die from drinking alchohol?

-aromero, Texas

Yes. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, your heart will stop beating and you can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. You can also die from injuries sustained while doing dangerous things while drinking.

-Aaron White

could you say childern useing useing illegal drugs is just from bad parenting?

-Mr.flopicuse, New York

Unfortunately, there's no simple answer to your question. Kids use drugs for lots of reasons. Parenting has a big impact on the risk of drug use in kids but it's not the only reason. For example, parents can model (or not) drug use behavior and they can carefully (or not) supervise their kids' activities. Another major risk factor for drug use in kids is having friends who use drugs. So, it is likely that both parenting and peer influence play significant roles in drug use among kids.

-Kevin Conway

Could your brain actually be slowly disintegrated? Cuz everyone says drugs kill brain cells

-egrimes, Texas

Some drugs do kill brain cells, such as volitile chemicals found in glue and other inhalants, but the bigger problem is that drugs that people take to get high can lead to long term changes in the the way that brain cells function. Recent research has found that there can be profound changes to the structure and function of the brain cells, including changes in the expression of genes. We don't know how long these changes last when you stop taking drugs or even what all of these changes do to overall brain function. So while drugs may not kill brain cells, they do change brain cells and probably not for the better.

-Steve Grant

couldn't you blame the government for bringing wide spread drug use tot he united states? amphetamines were given to fighter pilots on long bombing runs, and MKULTRA brought

-saltybeefstick, Pennsylvania

i don't think so

-Ruben Baler

Cynthia-From Kenmore: What makesdrugs addicting?

-pdoug, Virginia

What's up Kenmore!!The short answer is Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good!

-David Shurtleff

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a
plantthat contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from
plantto
plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See
http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Susan Weiss

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like marijuana? Is there a way other than smoking it it that it can be taken?

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a plant that contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from plant to plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/

-Susan Weiss

define mushrooms

-gracem, Pennsylvania

Hi Grace,Mushrooms are fungi that grow on the ground or on tree bark. But you probably already knew that! Some mushrooms are good to eat, some are poisonous and can kill you, and some have a psychoactive compound called psylocibin in them. When people talk abut using 'shrooms, those are the ones they are using.

-Nancy Pilotte

Depending how much you smoke, can it affect how long you live?

-naynay25, Iowa

Yes! About 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases related to smoking.

-Dave Thomas

Did they use to put some kind of drug in Coca Cola

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Yes, but that was more than a century ago. When Coca Cola was first invented, part of the formula included leaves of the coca plant which contains cocaine. But when people realized how harmful cocaine is, Coca Cola changed the way it was made so now it doesn't contain cocaine....just lots and lots of sugar. Here's a fun experiment, put a nail in a glass of cola and see what happens over the next day or so.

-Steve Grant

DMS Sugar Land, TX -Are some people more prone to become alcoholics than others? Please explain

-harry.h, Texas

Yes, absolutely. Here are the key risk factors:Having a family history - Both the genes related to having a family history of alcohol use and being raised in a home where you see others drinking increases your risk for alcohol problems. Starting to drink early - Someone who has their first drink at age 14 is around twice as likely to become an alcoholic at some point in life as someone who starts drinking at 18.

-Aaron White

DMS Sugar Land, TX Is crystal meth injected or smoked?

-harry.h, Texas

Both. It can also be taken by mouth, but the hit to the brain is much faster when injected and smoked, and it is thought that the faster a drug gets to the brain, the more likely the user is to become addicted to it.

-Jim Bjork

DMS Sugar Land, TX- What is the difference between crack

-harry.h, Texas

Hello Sugar Land-They are essentially the same thing, but crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov

-Carol Krause

DMS Sugar Land, TX- What is the difference between crack cocaine and cocaine?

-harry.h, Texas

Hello Sugar Land-They are essentially the same thing, but crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. Check out teens.drugabuse.gov.

-Carol Krause

DMS, Sugar Land Middle Is it illegal for a parent to give their child

-harry.h, Texas

The laws vary greatly from state to state, but in most states, this is illegal. There are about 16 states that do allow parents to serve alcohol to their underage children. Check out this map to learn more about the laws in your state:
http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/Furnishing_Alcohol_to_Minors.html

-Aaron White

DMS, Sugar Land Middle Is it illegal for a parent to give their child alcohol?

-harry.h, Texas

The laws vary greatly from state to state, but in most states, this is illegal. There are about 16 states that do allow parents to serve alcohol to their underage children. Check out this map to learn more about the laws in your state:http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/Furnishing_Alcohol_to_Minors.html

-Aaron White

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded

-Jim Bjork

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking LSD? (Explain)

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded.

-Jim Bjork

DMS, Sugar Land, TX-Is the

-harry.h, Texas

Yes--its stronger. The amount of THC (its active ingredient) in the marijuana plant has been going up over time from about 3-4% in the 80s to about 10% now. This means that people can get exposed to higher doses more easily with unpredictable effects--especially in a new user

-Susan Weiss

DMS, Sugar Land, TX-Is the marijuana today different from the marijuana people used in the sixties? (Exaplain)

-harry.h, Texas

Yes--its stronger. The amount of THC (its active ingredient) in the marijuana plant has been going up over time from about 3-4% in the 80s to about 10% now. This means that people can get exposed to higher doses more easily with unpredictable effects--especially in a new user.

-Susan Weiss