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

-0002577,

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: http://wwwdasis.samhsa.gov/webt/information.htm . 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???

-Katelynn,

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: http://international.drugabuse.gov/

-Wilson Compton

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 https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.

-Kevin Conway

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

-kp,

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 http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Joe Frascella

Are there any medical benefits of illegal drugs

-cnagel,

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?

-barry,

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 https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/hivaids.

-Steve Gust

are you a computer?

-SuperDude!,

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

-Moderator

are you able to get lung cancer from smoking marijuana?

-EricVon,

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??

-sweet_cuppin_cakes,

We are answering as fast as we can!

-Moderator

Are you police officers?

-I-AM-ME!!!,

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!

-Moderator

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

-luvsmusic4life,

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?

-Janine,

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 http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/understand.html

-Ivan Montoya

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

-peterson,

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

Are some drugs more addicting than others?

-michaelandrew,

yes some are more addicting than others. drugs like methamphetamine are believed to be among the most, but more people are addicted to nicotine than any other drug To learn more, check out "The Science of Addiction" at http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/

-Nora Volkow

Are some drugs more addicting/harmful than others? If so, which ones are worst? Which ones are least addictive?

-Addie (Is.:.Awesome), North Carolina

Well, many drugs are addictive, and nearly all can be harmful. We do know that nicotine (the drug in cigarettes) is very addictive -- perhaps more so than any other drug. But crack cocaine is also highly addictive. Even marijuana can be addictive. So, it is dangerous to start using drugs of any kind because use could quickly become an addiction.We also know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to become addicted and have other problems, such as in school or with your family. 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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html.

-Kevin Conway

are steroids really bad for your body

-bleach,

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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Steroids.html

-Barry Hoffer

Are drugs the leading cause of death?

-dg,

That is a complicated question because not all drug deaths are identified as drug deaths. Intentional misuse of hazardous materials, for example, like sniffing glue, results in a lot of poisoning deaths and they may not be recognized. In general about 17,000 deaths a year are from use of illicit drugs. In addition, 440,000 die from tobacco related illnesses and 50,000 from alcohol every year.

-Wilson Compton

are girls more likely to get addicted to drugs than boys?

-terrica,

That is an excellent and important question and one that research is just beginning to address. We have learned that girls develop symptoms of nicotine dependence much faster than boys. In one study, symptoms of nicotine dependence in boys occurred after 6 months of use, but in girls, symptoms occurred after 3 WEEKS of use. In another study of girls of boys who used cocaine, girls were 3-4 times more likely to become addicted than boys. For more information about females and drug abuse and male-female differences in drug abuse, you may find this site helpful: http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/offices/office-nida-director-od/women-sexgender-differences-research-program.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can babys get addicted to drugs while a parent is addicted, and when in birth

-Dokurai,

yes for some drugs they can. in particular heroin can produce severe dependence in the newborn baby that if not attended to can lead to drug withdrawal

-Nora Volkow

are all drugs addctive

-briyah,

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

-briyah,

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 any drugs okay in moderation?

-dg,

It is very hard to say for several reasons. First, it depends on your individual body. Everyone is different and we don't know who will become addicted at what level of drug use. We do know that the brain is not fully developed until the mid-20's so any drug use is assumed to have the potential to affect your brain development. In adulthood light and moderate alcohol use is assumed to be harmless, but this again depends on the particular person and their life situation -for example, someone who has a very stressful life and starts out drinking occasionally can move on to higher levels of use as a way to self medicate.

-Liz Robertson

are boys or girls more likely to use drugs?

-jcr180,

Thank you for your question. You might be interested to know that data from the very large National Survey on Drug Use or Health shows that girls and boys in the age group 12-17 are equally likely to have used illicit drugs.Findings from that study also indicate that girls are more likely than boys to be first-time users of marijuana,cigarette, and alcohol, and that girls are more likely than boys to misuse prescription drugs. When it comes to dependence, we are learning the girls and boys may not be equally likely to become dependent. For example, research shows that girls develop symptoms of nicotine dependence much faster than boys. In one study, symptoms of nicotine dependence in boys occurred after 6 months of use, but in girls, symptoms occurred after 3 WEEKS of use. In another study of girls of boys who used cocaine, girls were 3-4 times more likely to become addicted than boys. For more information about females and drug abuse and male-female differences in drug abuse, you may find this site helpful: http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/offices/office-nida-director-od/women-sexgender-differences-research-program.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Are certain drugs worse for you than others?

-SmartGirl,

Different drugs can effect the body in different ways so in some ways it depends on what part of your body or brain you are talking about...heroin has different effects than alcohol or cocaine and all can be harmful to the body. For more info, check back at www.drugabuse.gov.

-Nicolette Borek

Are drug addictions all over the world?

-angelgurl_194,

Thanks for your interesting question - and yes,drug addiction is an international problem. I have visited countries all over the world to learn about their problems with drug abuse. Every country has people with drug problems. On the other hand, the rates of drug abuse vary a lot from country to country. Even in the U.S. problems with drug abuse vary in different cities and regions. NIDA has an international program that you may be interested in learning more about: http://international.drugabuse.gov/

-Wilson Compton

Can cough drops hurt you?

-robster,

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?

-pyro8818,

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 http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/addiction.html.

-Eve Reider

can doing drugs make you crazy and possibly dangerous?

-jonasbrothers,

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: http://www.drugabuse.gov

-Nora Volkow

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

-muranok,

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: www.drugabuse.gov .

-Frank Vocci

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