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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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Are there any neurological consequences when you use drugs or drink alcohol?


Hi mafed3 - thanks for joining the Chat. Virtually, every part of your body is affected by drugs and alcohol! Brain, heart, liver, lungs, or all of the above, depending on the drug. Most importantly, drugs severely affect your brain, and some can go as far as to induce coma or death. Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain lworks. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. Here is a great resource:

-Heather Kimmel

Are there any non-generic (and perhaps even used commonly in areas such as medicine) yet still harmful, drugs that people should know about?


Hi Astaroth!
Good question!! Just because a drug is a named-brand prescription does not mean it is safe. A prime example is opioids. Opioids can be safe and effective treatments from pain when prescribed by a clinician and used with caution and as directed. BUT people also misuse prescrition opioids, and they can become addicted, overdose and die.

-Dave Thomas

Are there any side effects of acid, what are they?

-JR, California

Thanks for your question, Jaime Rich. LSD is one of the most powerful mood changing hallucinogenic drugs. Like other hallucinogens, it can alter perception and cause users to experience sensations (sights, sounds, etc) that are real. Users may also experience intensified feelings, anxiety, nausea, and distorted perception of time. LSD also produces tolerance, meaning that users need to take more and more of the drug to get the same effect.

-Aaron White

Are there currently any FREE vaping cessation programs for schools?

-mpapa, New Jersey

Hi mpapa. Thanks for your question. Vaping, and using ecigs, can expose teens to the same levels of nicotine that comes from cigarettes. Many teens have reported becoming addicted to ecigs and this is a real concern. While there are not cessation programs that focus on quitting ecigs, many of the programs that have been successful for cigarettes may work for ecigs. Check out some options here: and

-Kevin Walton

Are there damaging effects to long term marijuana use?

-Lan507756, Illinois

Absolutely! Long-term use of marijuana can result in addiction and increases the risk of psychosis in some individuals. Research also shows that marijuana can harm the developing teen brain. Consistent use of marijuana can also result in poor school performance, use of other drugs, decreased satisfaction with life, increased risk of accidents, and severe nausea and vomiting.

-Michele Rankin

Are there different effects between Crystal meth and Plain Meth

-CK, New Hampshire

Hi Cameron -- The effects are similar and equally dangerous. Both of them can produce anxiety, confusion, insomnia (trouble sleeping), mood problems, violent behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), and intense itching leading to skin sores from scratching -- just to name the most common effects. Here's more information:

-Anto Bonci

Are there some circumstances where somebody can be immune or somewhat immune to a drug in a way they don't get high or as high as others would if they were using that drug?

-CC, New Hampshire

Great question! Lots of things can cause a person to react faster or slower to drugs. For example alcohol often "hits" lighter people faster than heavier people because it takes more alcohol to get the same effect. Everyone's body metabolizes (breaks down) drugs at different rates too. So if your body breaks down a drug slower than someone else, you might react to the drug more quickly. Whether or not you are a man or woman can also lead to differences in reaction to drugs because of differences in weight and muscle mass.

-John Satterlee

Are there specific areas in the U.S where drug use is noticably higher or lower.

-Liam, Maryland

Good question Liam! Yes, the use of certain drugs is higher in some areas of the country than others. For example, the opioid epidemic has had a particularly negative impact on northeastern United States, the central Appalachian region, and the Southwest. West Virgina, New Hampshire, and Ohio are the states with the highest level of opioid-related overdose deaths. We have a great map that shows the problem areas state by state at . But even one death is too many.

-Marsha Lopez

Are vapes with 0 nicotine juice still dangerous??

-Ye'07, Illinois

Hey Ye! Vapes haven't been around long enough for us to be sure how dangerous they are- even without nicotine, vaping can expose your lungs to harmful substances. Also, the most popular vapes aren't available without nicotine, so people who think they're vaping just flavoring may be wrong! Check out this link for more info on vaping:

-Emily Einstein

Are video games as addictive as drugs? eeee

-LY , New Hampshire

Hi Landon
we don't have all the research we'd like to answer your question, but some video games appear to be quite addictive and trigger compulsive behaviors that are similar to those seen with addictive drugs. If you think you are in trouble, seek professional help before it gets out of hand.
Best of luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

Are video games more addictive than drugs

-KL, Montana

Not typically, not. But some games can be quite addcitive; it depends on the circumstances.
B smart and B healthy

-Dave Thomas

Are video games more addictive than drugs?


Hola Cacho
great question.
We are only beginning to study the addictive properties of video games and other online activities. But I would venture that, for some people, video games could be as addictive as drugs of abuse.
B smart and protect your brain. It's the only one you have, make it last.
best of luck 2 u

-Ruben Baler

Are video games more addictive than drugs?

-Student, Illinois

Hmmm, interesting question. My guess is no, but I don't know of any studies making this comparision.

-Dave Thomas

are videogames a type of drug

-el chapo,

Hi el chapo!,
Nope, videogames are not drugs. BUT addiction is defined as "compulsive use despite harm" and some people spend WAY too much time playing video games, so in a sense, one can become addicted to these games. But again, its a game and not a drug.

-Dave Thomas

are videos games considered a drug and or tv

-unknown...., California

Videogames or TV are not considered drugs, but there is research showing that they can also be addictive. Other things, like gambling, that are not drugs, can also be addictive.

-Carlos Blanco

are vitamins considered drugs

-sssssssssssssss, Illinois


Vitamins are considered drugs. A drug is a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body. Vitamins are essential nutrients that contribute to a healthy life. Although most people get all the vitamins they need from the foods they eat, millions of people worldwide take supplemental vitamins as part of their health regimen.

For more information, check out

-Jinhee Lee

Are weed brownies dangerous because I've heard from a friends story that you can consume more than expected and have a very scary experience?

-milk, Illinois

Hey milk- you're totally right that people can have very scary experiences as a result of edibles like weed brownies! When people eat marijuana, the effects of the drug are slowed down by the digestive process. This can lead people to consume way more drug than they realize. High doses of marijuana can cause things like paranoia, anxiety, and even hallucinations.

-Emily Einstein

Are whippets or nitrous oxide dangerous?

-DS, Illinois

Hi DonnyS, great question. Nitrous oxide can cause people to pass out if they overdose or don't breathe enough oxygen while inhaling these substances. Also, the nitrous products may contain other chemicals that can be quite dangerous, too. Here's some information on our website about inhalants in general that you may find useful:

-Wilson Compton

are you certified scientists

-firebreather65, Illinois

Yes! We are very smart :)

-Jack Stein

are you more tired in the morning if you smoke kush the night before

-Anonymous, Illinois

Hi you
It depends what else is going on in your life. But I can tell you that even if you feel good after using kush, you are shortchanging the health of your brain in the long run. B smarter!

-Ruben Baler

At what age do most people start abusing drugs?

-rnelson, Montana

Thanks, rnelson. Most people begin using drugs in their teens.

-Marsha Lopez

At what age is the most addictive age to do drugs?

-Adam , Illinois

Hello Adam: Excellent question. Most people who use drugs start during their teenage years. Scientists believe that the developing brain is more susceptible to the effects of drug use. .If you start using drugs while you are young---as a teen---you are more likely to get addicted. What is the science of addiction? See Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction:

-Aria Crump

Be completely real, have any of you guys smoked weed before?

-shmo, Illinois

Hmm, there are a lot of people in the room from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and beyond. I will ask the group and see who raises their hands....nope, no hands, LOL.Honestly, I am sure there are folks in this room who have, but marajuana is a whole lot stronger now and we do know alot more about its harm. I hope this is helpful to you.

-Dave Thomas

Besides actual drugs, what else can you get high off of?

-nyla-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hi, nyla-fvsu4h! Great question! Exercise is known to improve mood. So grab a friend and take a long walk! Or join a sports team. Being part of a group, like the group putting on your school play, can also make you happy. Or do whatever you enjoy!

-Emily Jones

besides its addictive properties, is nicotine that bad?

-JS , Illinois

Dear James - thank you for joining us! You are correct in that nicotine is very addictive. Nicotine is also toxic and its ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin or eyes can result in vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation. Annual e-cigarette calls to poison centers increased from 238 in 2011 to 3,692 in 2014 – an increase of greater than 1400 percent, and this is related to the increase in e-cigarette use, which contains nicotine. Quick facts about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigarettes:

-Dave Thomas

Between cigars and cigarettes which is more dangerous?


Hey there BTR 0077 - Both cigarettes and cigars burn tobacco, and the smoke is inhaled. Even though some people who smoke cigars say they are safer because the smoke only goes into their mouths and is not inhaled to their lungs, the smoke from cigars is just as harmful as cigarette smoke. The thousands of chemicals from cigarette or cigar smoke are absorbed into the body and can cause nicotine addiction, lung disease, heart disease, or have other harmful effects throughout the body. For more info:

-Kevin Walton

Can a person's mental and physical state of mind change because of drug abuse?

-Chili's, Illinois

Yes, for sure! It is common for people who abuse alcohol and other drugs to become depressed, anxious, and hyper focused on getting and using the drugs. It is not a fun way to live.

-George Koob

Can alcohol actually cause memory loss?

-Icarus, Illinois

Yes. Alcohol intoxication at a high dose can block the laying down of memories of what transpired while intoxicated. That is called a blackout. Chronic moderate to severe alcohol use disorder, particularly with nutritional deficiences, can permanently impair the ability to consolidate new memories. This is called Wernickes/Korsakoff's disorder. We do not know if alcohol facilitates normal aging dementias.

-George Koob

can thc cartridges be laced with other drugs/chemicals other than just weed?

-.., Illinois

Good question! The aerosol, also called vapor, that is produced by vaping devices is really made of the specific chemicals in the liquid, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, THC, chemical flavorings, and others. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to tell what chemicals are in the vapor produced by a particular device/liquid and surveys show that many teens don't know what chemicals are in their vaping device. Because vaping devices are so new, we still don't know what effects these chemicals have on health. Best to stay away from them!

-Marsha Lopez

can topical drugs be addictive?

-bear, Oregon

Hello bear,
The only abused drugs that i can think of the top of my head can been applied (for purposes other than recreational) are anabolic steroid and cannabis gels. I don't thing these formulations would be particularly addictive.
hope this helps

-Mary Rooney