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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Can cough drops hurt you?


any medication taken in excessive can have harmful effects but in general, when taken as directed, cough drops should not hurt someone.

-Nora Volkow

Can doing drugs at a young age screw up your life?


There is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted, why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing "Russian Roulette" if you choose to use drugs. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it. For more information, see

-Eve Reider

can doing drugs make you crazy and possibly dangerous?


some drugs can make a person psychotic such as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, LSD. when a person is psychotic they can become dangerous if they believe someone is trying to hurt them.You can find out more about that at:

-Nora Volkow

Can doing more than one drug screw up your life more than doing just one kind of drug a lot??


It depends on which drugs you do and how much. Using more than one drug is actually a fairly common pattern of use. People with this pattern of use can become addicted to multiple drugs. They are often difficult to treat. Using one kind of drug a lot is bad also. You can become addicted to a drug and waste a lot of time when you're high. Some drugs can produce permanent damage to your brain, heart, and other internal organs. For more information about particular drugs and what they do, see NIDA's website: .

-Frank Vocci

Can drepresion be a reason to use drugs????


People who are depressed may turn to using illicit drugs to feel better, but that's a bad solution.Illicit drugs can make you feel high for a little while after you take them, but when they leave your body you won't feel any better--and maybe worse--than before you took them. With continued use, the period of feeling good grows shorter and the subsequent bad feelings worse. If you or someone you know feels depressed, talk to a doctor. There are many treatments for depression. There are medications that have been tested and approved by the FDA, and there are many treatments that do not involve taking medications.

-Steve Grant

can drugs affect your athletisism or will you stay the same


steroids can strengthen muscles and improve performance but in the long term, steroids can deteriorate your performance. drugs that are smoked like nicotine and marijuana can interfere with pulmonary function and thus deteriorate your performance.If you want to know more about steroid abuse, go to:

-Nora Volkow

can drugs break dow organs in the body???


some drugs can since they decrease blood to the organs which can damage them

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs cause disases such as A.D.D or A.D.H.D, if so, Why?


The relationship between drugs and mental or psychiatric disorders such as ADHD can be complex...we're still learning how they are related. Some drugs can effect attention which is also effected by ADHD.

-Nicolette Borek

can drugs cause short-term memory


i assume you mean can drugs cause short-term memory loss. Yes, some drugs do weaken memory. For example, marijuana impairs short term memory while you are under its influence. People who use marijuana regularly also have impairments in memory for a week or so after they stop.However, if they refrain from using marijuana for about a month, then their memory abilities recover. You can find out more about that at:

-Steve Grant

Can drugs make people violent


Drugs can lead to violence in several ways, depending on the type of drug and the individual circumstances. Certain drugs, such as PCP, have been reported to induce aggressive and violent behavior. Also, some addicts who experience withdrawal (the feelings that occur when addicts crave drugs but don't have any to use) can become very agitated and hostile, which can trigger violence. Finally, violence is also a common secondary effect of addiction, since many addicts will sometimes engage in criminal activities in order to get their next fix.

-Joni Rutter
-MorganG, Maryland

Hi Morgan. It's a name for a water pipe. The water cools the smoke so that it doesn't burn the smoker's throat as much. They are commonly used in the middle east, often to smoke flavored tobacco. However, they are also used to smoke various drugs of abuse.

-Dave Thomas

1.How many people under 14 are addicted to drugs?


We don't know exactly. There is a data set that tells how many kids are treatment but the problem with those data is that they only capture the kids in treatment and who may or may not be addicted. In addition there are no doubt teens who are addicted but are not in treatment. The link for that data set is: . We know that, in 2006, of kids aged 12, 34,000 were diagnosed with substance dependence or abuse. For age 13 it was 67,000and 14 years 153,000.

-Liz Robertson

About how many people in the world do drugs???


Thanks for your question. The truth is that we don't know about the use of drugs in all of the countries throughout the world. In my travels while visiting countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, South America and Asia, I've learned that the rates of drug abuse vary from country to country. Opiates (like heroin)are common in some countries and stimulants are common in others. Also - you might be interested to know that including alcohol and tobacco, many people in all countries use drugs. NIDA has an International Program and you can visit the website at:

-Wilson Compton

Are you police officers?


No we aren't. Right now I have about 20 of my colleagues from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health,here with me helping to answer the over 30,000 questions that have come in. Most of us are research scientists with Ph.D.'s in a variety of fields, biology, chemistry, psychology and other sciences. There are also public health professionals, science writers and communications specialists here....all of us working together to try to answer as many questions as we can!


At what ages does our brain develop or does it come developed once were born?


Brain development is a very hot topic right now. We've learned a lot in the past few years about when the brain develops....and have learned that the brain keeps developing up through age 25! The part of the brain that handles decision making, planning, and other complex cognitive abilities develops last. Pretty amazing!

-Nicolette Borek

At what point does drug use become drug abuse?


Although initial drug use might be voluntary, drugs of abuse have been shown to alter the brain, which in turn affect human behavior. Addiction develops when these brain changes interfere with an individual's ability to make voluntary decisions, leading to compulsive drug craving, seeking and use. More information can be found at

-Ivan Montoya

Ater you have been smoking how long does it take before the smoking affects your body?


it depends on your genetics and age- some people are more vulnerable to the effects of smoking also some effects occur faster . for example, smoking affects your skin wrinkling it before it increases your risk for cancer. in between, it can affect the function of your lungs decreasing your athletic capacity even when you are young

-Nora Volkow

Both of my parents smoke am I at risk of lung cancer?


That's a very good question. That both of your parents smoke probably means that you are being exposed to what is termed as "second-hand smoke" and there is some scientific evidence that such exposure can lead to health problems in the people that are exposed. How serious those problems might be,are going to depend on a lot of things, though, including how much exposure there might be and for how long, For more information about smoking and its health effects, you might want to look at

-Larry Stanford

Can a baby be born with HIV if the father has it, but not the mother?


The key for transmission seems to be the mother-child transmission whether in the womb, during delivery, or while breastfeeding. Even if the mom has HIV, there are medications to prevent transmission to the child.

-Nicolette Borek

are steroids really bad for your body


Yes, they are. In fact, many professional athletes who have taken steroids to enhance their performance have died from heart failure, liver failure and cancers like lymphomas. Teenagers who abuse anabolic steroids might never grow as tall as they would have, and may experience emotional problems and suicidal thoughts. if you want to learn more about steroid abuse please visit

-Barry Hoffer

Are there any bad side affects to marijuana

-FreezIe BabII,

Marijuana affects memory, judgment and perception. The drug can make you mess up in school, in sports or clubs, or with your friends. If you're high on marijuana, you are more likely to make mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you. If you use marijuana a lot, you could start to lose interest in how you look and how you're getting along at school or work. Athletes could find their performance is off; timing, movements, and coordination are all affected by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Also, since marijuana can affect judgment and decisionmaking, its use can lead to risky sexual behavior, resulting in exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For more information about marijuana, go to

-Kevin Conway

Are there any drugs that you can't get addicted to?


Terrific question! Most, if not all,drugs of abuse have been shown to be addictive. If you would like to read more about addiction, you might want to check out: "The Science of Addiction" at

-Joe Frascella

Are there any medical benefits of illegal drugs


Yes, some drugs can be both legal and illegal, and have medical uses. Opiates include both heroin,and pain relievers--used by physicians to provide relief for millions of people. A doctor who prescribes these drugs are trained to evaluate when a person needs them for pain relief. Also, amphetamine (speed) and methylphenidate (Ritalin) are legitimate treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. These drugs can also be illegal when abused for non-medical reasons, such as to get high.

-Frank Vocci

Are there any symptoms for HIV?


HIV infection itself may or may not have symptoms.The main thing about HIV infection is that the virus can be in your system for a while before there are any measurable symptoms.The usual first symptoms are flu-like symptoms, headache, fever, fatigue, etc. After some time, HIV infection can develop into AIDS. AIDS is really several different diseases, but all are caused by HIV. You can find information for young people, parents and teachers about the link between drug abuse and HIV infection, with links to the latest research findings and news updates at

-Steve Gust

are you a computer?


No, we are not computers....we are a room full of very fun people, who happen to also be scientists!


are you able to get lung cancer from smoking marijuana?


smoking is bad for the lungs and we are still studying Mj's effects on lung cancer

-Nora Volkow

Are you going to answer my question soon??


We are answering as fast as we can!


are all drugs addctive


drugs that increase dopamine in your brain are addictive this includes alcohol, nicotine, marihuana, cocaine, heroin, methampethamine, ecstasy and some prescription medications like stimulants and pain killers

-Nora Volkow

are all drugs addctive


drugs that increase dopamine in your brain are addictive this includes alcohol, nicotine, marihuana, cocaine, heroin, methampethamine, ecstasy and some prescription medications like stimulants and pain killers

-Nora Volkow