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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do you think the number of drugs will increase over the next 5 years?

-nyla-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hey Nyla- This is an interesting question! Something we've noticed recently about the drug supply is that there are many more illegal synthetic (or human-made) drugs than ever before, and new versions with slight tweaks to the chemical structure are popping up all the time. So yes, the number of drugs does seem to be increasing.

-Emily Einstein

Do you think weed should by legalized across the U.S.?

-frog, Oregon

Hi frog -- Thanks for the question. Since the legalization of marijuana will lead to increased use and the problems that go along with that, NIDA does not support legalization. For more information on the negative effects see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Dave Thomas

do you work with all types of drugs or does your group focus on a certain type?

-theboyz, Illinois

Dear theboyz, thanks for asking! At the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we support research on the causes and consequences of drug use overall. This includes tobacco, anabolic steroids, inhalants, pills, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids (like painkillers and heroin), hallucinogens and many other substances. Another agency at the National Institutes of Health works with alcohol--the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For more infomation about these agencies, see: https://www.drugabuse.gov/ and https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Wilson Compton

do Zoloft and alcohol interact in the body?

-aidan, Illinois

Yes they can! Zoloft and alcohol are both drugs, and taking drugs together can increase the risk of negative consequences. Since both Zoloft (sertraline) and alcohol affect the brain, there is a risk of greater side effects like dizziness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, headache, nausea and diarrhea! Alcohol should be avoided in people that take Zoloft.

Learn more about harmful interactions between alcohol and medicines here: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm

-Vijay Ramchandani

Doctor Einstein any relation to Einstien himself

-MS, Illinois

:) my family did come to America from the same part of Germany, but we would be distant relatives at most

-Emily Einstein

Does a mothers cocaine addiction affect the unborn children?

-AB, New Hampshire

Hi, when a pregnant woman uses any substance, including cocaine, this can have harmful effects on the baby. All drug and alcohol use should be avoided when pregnant.

-Emily Jones

Does Alcohol contain THC?

-abauers, Michigan

Nope. not unless someone adds it to the drink. Alcohol is a very small molecule and a universal solvent. .See NIAAA's Rethinking Drinking web site for a ton of great info about alcohol and its effects.

-George Koob

Does alcohol helps you to get warmer?

-elrabidd,

Hi,
That is a good question! Alcohol creates the feeling of warmth because it causes the blood vessels under the skin to dilate or expand. However, this is a temporary effect - alcohol does not increase the body temperature. In fact, alcohol can decrease the body's temperature casuing hypothermia which can be dangerous!
- Vijay

-Vijay Ramchandani

Does alcohol make you live longer

-Trumps123, Maryland

We used to think that small amounts of alcohol could prolong someone's life, mostly by reducing the chances that they have heart attacks, but now we're not sure! The safest choice is not to drink.

-George Koob

Does alcohol or drugs affect women's menstruation?

-SIdV,

Yes, repeated alcohol and/or drug use can disrupt the menstrual cycle.

-Bethany Deeds

does alcohol stunt your growth?

-Ben, Maryland

Definitely! If a woman drinks alcohol while she is pregnant, it can do lots of damage to the developing fetus. During the teenage years, drinking alcohol can stunt a person's emotional growth and the growth of the brain.

-George Koob

Does all vape or dab pens contain nicotine?

-Imanidp, North Carolina

Hi Imandip -
Most vapes contain nicotine. Because e-cigarettes were not regulated until recently, labels that say they are nicotine-free may not be accurate. And just because an e-cigarette might not have nicotine doesn't mean it is safe. 

-Shwe Gyaw

Does any drug amplify or make you have stronger emotions?

-lll,

Hi III
Many drugs can affect your mood or behaviors in that direction, like amplifying your emotions. The ones that are more associated with this effect are MJ, Ecstasy, and other psychedelic drugs.
thanks for a great question.
Be smart and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

does anyone think there will ever be a time when we rid of drugs completely?

-carsonsc , South Carolina

Great question, carsonsc! Some drugs, like fentanyl and other opioids, are used medically, so it is not likely that they will ever disappear from the earth totally. Some people, like people in the last days of their lives with serious illnesses like cancer, need the pain relief that strong opioids bring. But, we can do a lot to reduce misuse of these drugs by educating people about the dangers of drug addiction. Set a good example for your friends by prioritizing your health and staying drug-free! The teen brain is not totally developed, and since your brain is still growing, drugs can be especially harmful.

-Emily Jones

Does beginning to drink alcohol at a younger age lead to an alcohol addiction in the future?

-sco507873, Illinois

Hi sco507873,
Yes, research has shown consistently that starting to drink at an earlier age - before age 21 - increases the risk of developing alcohol problems in the future. The harmful effects of alcohol on our developing brains are well known, and some of the changes caused by alcohol on our brain structure and funtion can lead alcohol use disorder down the road. Check these resources for more info--https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurrin....

Thanks for a great question!
- Vijay.

-Vijay Ramchandani

Does caffeine count as a additive drug?

-Charlie Hartman, California

Sort of, but probably low risk relative to other drugs, except at high doses when people can experience heart or blood pressure problems. Someone who uses caffeine regularly may experience headaches when they stop (but those disappear within a few days). We also don't know enough about how (or whether) caffeine exposure in teens affects their brain development.

-Susan Weiss

does catnip like weed for cats?

-DM, New Hampshire

it is for my 3 cats! (except they eat it and roll around in it instead of smoking)

-Susan Weiss

Does cigarette smoke give you cancer?

-Jimmy John Jr, Illinois

Hi Jimmy John Jr,
Cigarette smoke contains a toxic mix of 7,000+ chemicals, including more than 70 that can cause cancer. In fact every cigarette smoked increases the risk for cancer.
Find out more facts about cancer and smoking by visiting: https://teen.smokefree.gov/

-Suzanne Lim

Does Coca Cola have trace amounts of cocaine in it?

-Superdood, Illinois

Hi superdood.
It used to in the olden days but not any longer

-Emily Einstein

does doing drugs make my pp smaller

-duude, Illinois

Hi duude
In some cases, yes. For example, using anabolic steroids during your teenage years, before your growth spurt, can stunt your growth and leave you with a shorter height.
not good.

-Aaron White

Does drinking alcohol decrease your growth rate?

-jaxgreat8, Maryland

Prenatal alcohol exposure definitely decreases growth and causes many other harmful effects. One would hope that young people were never drinking enough alcohol to slow growth. Given that the legal age is 21, drinking after 21 can cause weight gain but there would likely not be any growth after 21.

-George Koob

does drinking alcohol effect you're brain?

-44332, Illinois

Question: can alchohol cause brain damage or survere brain damage? Answer: Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

-George Koob

Does fentanyl have positive effects?

-Dev, Maryland

Hi Dev,
Sure, fentanyl is used a lot when a person has surgery for pain. It is powerful, and its effects are short lasting. But the fentanyl from the streets is resulting in more overdose deaths than any other drug. It's a REAL problem!!!

-Shwe Gyaw

Does Fortnite have the same addiction power as drugs do?

-Ms. Bartlett, New Hampshire

Great question, Ms. Barlett! We used to think that video games weren't really addictive because they don't directly alter the brain's chemistry and don't cause painful physical withdrawals when you stop, for example. But video games do act on some of the same systems in the brain as addictive drugs. For instance, they produce bursts of the reward neurotransmitter dopamine.

Some people think that using video games a lot might cause problems similar to drug use. Drug addiction causes people to be unable to get satisfaction from other things in life and to continue to use drugs even when it causes them harm. If you experience these kinds of effects related to playing Fortnite, you should talk to someone.

-Shwe Gyaw

Does LSD have positive affects on your brain?

-RD, Illinois

Hello RD

There are no known positive effects of LSD on the brain. Because LSD is made in labs, it can also be mixed with toxic (poisonous) chemicals that cause additional harm to your brain and body. There's more information here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-di...

Thanks,
Roger

-Roger Little

does marihuana really affect your brain?

-remiso76,

Hi remiso76! Yes, marijuana does impact your brain, in many ways. Marijuana especially impacts the teen brain since your brain is not finished with development until you are in your mid-twenties. Plus, 17% of people who start marijuana use at a young age become addicted. More info on marijuana is available here: Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Emily Jones

Does marihuana really affect your brain? I've met people who used to be addicts and nothing seemed to be wrong with them

-remiso76,

Hi remiso76! Marijuana is psychoactive and regular use as a teen may harm the developing brain, making learning and memory worse. In other words, it changes how the brain works. Marijuana affects specific sites in the brain called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors send messages to different nerve cells throughout the nervous system. They affect brain areas that impact learning and memory, appetite, coordination, and pleasure so interfering with these receptors can have significant effects on your body. Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Mary Kautz

Does marihuana really affect your brain? I've met people who used to be addicts and nothing seemed to be wrong with them

-remiso76,

Hi Remiso76 -- It really does affect your brain in many visible and invisible ways. There are hundreds of well-conducted studies that have shown the effects of marijuana on people's brains. The fact that you haven't noticed any apparent changes in a person doesn't mean that their brain hasn't been severely affected. Please see this page to get the info you need to judge for yourself: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts#marij...

-Anto Bonci

Does marihuana really affect your brain? I've met people who used to be addicts and nothing seemed to be wrong with them

-remiso76,

Marijuana definately affects the brain. We are now funding a huge research project on looking at kids brains as they grow up and looking at exactly what happens if they start smoking marijuana. Hope to have more answers soon. But to learn more about marijuana and the brain, go here:

Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Dave Thomas

Does marihuana really affect your brain? I've met people who used to be addicts and nothing seemed to be wrong with them

-remiso76,

Thanks for your question, remiso76. All drugs, marijuana included, affect your brain. In fact, that's how drugs exert their effects on behavior. NIDA-funded research shows that marijuana use, when intiatied during the teen years, is associated with impaired thinking, memory, and learning. Studies suggest that because the teen brain is still developing early use of marijuana may alter the brain's reward system, putting them at higher risk of using other drugs and developing addiction. There is still a lot we don't know about how addiction develops (including who will become addicted and after how much exposure to the drug) and how any particular person will be affected. It's a litle like playing "Russian Roulette". The safest course of action is not to start using marijuana or other drugs in the first place.

-Marsha Lopez