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.

Download Full Year

440,000 deaths! Wow, that's amazing. How many drugs contain tobacco?


Interesting question. hmmm.....well some people combine marijuana and tobacco and there are many types of tobacco products out there too like clove cigarettes, bidis, and snus. So tobacco can take many forms.

-Anna Staton

A student recently died from Crystal Meth in our school. How did this occur?


The most likely cause is from an arrythmia (heart rhythm problem) but the actual cause for the student would be determined by the medical examiner in your area. This is really hard on the family and friends of the person who died. Perhaps your school can use this sad event to get people to talk about the dangers of drugs.

-Wilson Compton

According to Wilson Compton, he recently answered a question based on the most common highschol drug abuses... Why is alcohol considered a drug?


Great question! alcohol affects the brain in very similar ways to all the illegal drugs. Alcohol is habit forming and addictive the same way as cocaine, heroin, marijuana can be addictive. We see the same kind of family problems, job trouble, and behavior problems with alcohol as with the illegal drugs. Of course, there are some differences but it's important to realize that alcohol and tobacco are drugs, too! See for more info about alcohol.

-Wilson Compton

After how manyt imes of use did you become adicted?


Good question, but it really is hard to specifically answer this. Addiction really depends on the drug that you are taking, how much you are taking, and it depends on your own individual vulnerability to the specific drug. We also know that some people can be more sensitive to a drug's effects and therefore can be more vulnerable to becoming addicted than others. What we do know is that we can become addicted to all drugs of abuse. To learn more about understanding drug abuse and addiction, please see: Thanks for your interest.

-Joe Frascella

are there actually many people who use drugs? i'm very curious because i think its very rare... i dont see any people who uses drugs around me


Congratulations, it is great that you do not see any people around you using drugs. By not using drugs you and your friends not only spare yourself a lot of potential trouble, you set a healthy example for others--and we know that people are less likely to use drugs if the people around them stay away from drugs.Unfortunately not everyone is doing as well as you and your peers. Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults. Each year, a total of approximately 50,000 8th, 10th and 12th grade students are surveyed. In 2007,19 percent of 8th graders, 36% of 10th graders and 47% of 12 graders said that they had used an illicit drug at least once. The good news is that teens are taking better care of themselves. Illicit drug use declined by 24% from 2001 to 2007. To see all the results from the latest Monitoring the Future survey, see

-Eve Reider

Are there any drugs that aren't harmful to the body? if so aren't they only prescription drugs?


Good question! Caffeine may not be harmful to the body--but nearly any drug taken in excess can cause problems--and even caffeine can induce anxiety if you take enough of it. Prescription drugs are only safe for those for whom they are prescribed and if taken as prescribed. If you would like more information check out Thanks for joining us!

-Marsha Lopez

are there any drugs that arent harmful to the body?


Good morning. Well, there are many types prescription drugs that when taken under the care of a doctor can be beneficial to the body.

-Anna Staton

Are there any drugs that don't hurt your body and you can't get addicted to?


Thanks for your question - you might be interested to know that all drugs of abuse have some effect on your brain and body. Given continued use, we do know that all drugs can lead to abuse and addiction. There are a number of factors that can affect addiction, including individual differences to vulnerability to drugs. Be smart before you think about taking 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.

-Joe Frascella

Are there drug problems in other countries or is America the place that uses the most drugs?


Hi, great question! Drug abuse is a worldwide problem in both developed and developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, there are 76.3 million persons with alcohol use disorders worldwide, and at least 15.3 million persons who have drug use disorders. Injecting drug use has been reported in 136 countries, of which 93 report HIV infection among this population. Here is some more information to learn how the rest of the world is being affected by drug use:

-Marsha Lopez

are there medications to get off major drugs?


Yes, a person addicted to opiates like heroin or prescription pain relievers can be treated with medications, including methadone or buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone, and naltrexone. A person addicted to alcohol can be treated with such medications as Antabuse, naltrexone, acamprosate, and tranquilizers ( for withdrawal). Smokers can use nicotine replacement therapy like patches or gum, or medications like Wellbutrin or Chantix to help them quit. For more information see, an illustrated and easy-to-read booklet on different aspects of addiction, including treatment.

-Frank Vocci

Are there rehabs for people who were addicted to prescription dugs and are having problems quitting? and if so what are they called?


Yes, there are treatment centers all over the country. To find a treatment center, use the electronic locator for doctors who prescribe SUBUTEX and SUBOXONE--medications to help people with prescription drug addiction. If you need help, click on the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) link at or 1-800-662-HELP, where you can find private and confidential help 24/7.This link will help you locate doctors in your area who can treat prescription drug addiction with effective medications.

-Frank Vocci

Are you always damaging your body when you're getting high?


It is hard to specifically answer this. There is a lot we still dont know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so its 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. To learn more about understanding drug abuse and addiction, please see:

-Joe Frascella

All my friends try and get me to smoke crack with them and snort herion what should i tell them?


You can tell them "No Way!" I think you need new friends! Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug. Common health effects include heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, and seizures. Large amounts can cause bizarre and violent behavior. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. Heroin is a very addictive drug as well and use of it is associated with fatal overdoses. For more information, take a look at

-Eve Reider

All the things on the inhalents' chart with the exapmles and effects does all of that really happen?


This is a very good question. When you look at charts like that they usually list all the effects that have been observed or reported among a large number of users. Whether or not a specific outcome or effect happens to somebody you know depends on a huge number of factors that include the type of inhalants, dose, frequency of use, age, use of other drugs, etc. To learn more about inhalants, please go to:

-Ruben Baler

Are cigaretts considered drugs?


"Yup...they are addictive and illegal for anyone under 18. Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year? Did you know tobacco smoke causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, blood, lungs, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix? Tobacco products have all kinds of chemical compounds in them including nicotine which makes them very addictive. For more info

-Jan Lipkin

Are cigars good to smoke because you don't inhale the smoke ??


Not really. Cigars can cause cancer of the lips and mouth, even if you don't inhale. See for more info.

-Frank Vocci

are drugs fun


Illicit drugs can make you feel better and that's why many people start using them. Initially all drugs of abuse either directly or indirectly increase the activity of the chemical dopamine in the brain's reward centers, which is what makes people feel good. However, with continued drug use, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more of the drug is needed to achieve that good feeling. This is what causes people to become dependent on the drugs, to feel bad when the drugs are not in their system, and to seek and take the drugs compulsively -- without even thinking about it. Another way drugs change your brain is they affect decision-making, such as being able to judge what is healthy and what is dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the fact of potentiallly devastating consequences is the essence of addiction. Check out our online publication on the science of addiction to learn more about the way drugs can change your brain. Go to

-Jan Lipkin

Are girls more prone to alchohol and drugs or are boys?


Thanks for your question! Girls and boys can have different patterns of drug use, and may be affected by drugs in slightly different ways depending on the drug. For example, boys report more alcohol use and binge drinking than girls, and are more likely to be dependent on alcohol than girls. About the same number of girls and boys smoke cigarettes, although girls sometimes have a harder time quitting than boys once they start. But all teens are at risk of using drugs, and can become addicted if they do - both boys and girls!

-Nicolette Borek

Can babies become addicted to drugs if their mother uses that drug during pregnancy?


That's a good question. Babies born to mothers who use opiate drugs (like heroin, methadone, morphine, and prescription pain killers like vicodin or oxycontin) can be born addicted to that drug and go through a period of withdrawal, what we call neonatal abstinence syndrome. After they withdraw, these babies are often ok. Researchers are looking into whether or not exposure to other drugs before birth can make you more likely to get addicted to drugs when you are older. So far, one researcher has found that if a mother smokes while she is pregnant, her child may be more likely to use tobacco when they become a teenager, and to become addicted to tobacco if they do use it. We recommend that moms not use alcohol and drugs, including cigarettes, during pregnancy. They should let their doctors know if they are, and ask for help if they are having trouble stopping.

-Nicolette Borek

Can brain cells regenerate after they die from drug use?


That is a good question. Taking drugs can have very serious and long-term effects on a person's body and brain. It is possible that neurons, which are nerve cells in the brain, could recover after long-term drug use. This depends on several factors, one of which is if a person is able to stay off drugs for a long period of time. While the nerve cells may be able to regenerate, they may not be able to have their levels restored to what they were before the person began using drugs ("normal" levels). It is also not understood whether these nerve cells are able to respond the same as before the person began taking drugs. If you want more information, click on for more information!

-David Shurtleff

Can certain drugs affect your athletic performance?


There are both performance enhancing drugs that temporarily improve athletic performance but cause health problems in the long run as well as other drugs that cause problems with althetics. Just imagine a person high on drugs trying to play baseball. They couldn't catch a ball as well and would have trouble paying attention to the game. They just wouldn't play very well.Did you know that the human brain is the most complex organ in the body? Treat it well!

-Wilson Compton

can a drug abuser could get impriosonment?

-mr simley,

People can be charged and put in jail for possession of an illicit substance.

-Ruben Baler

Can a person exposed to second hand smoke also be exposed to nicotine?


Yes, a person exposed to second hand smoke will inhale nicotine. Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year? For more, see

-Frank Vocci

Can a woman get addicted more faster to a drug than a man?


It depends on the genetics of the person. Some people inherit genes that make them more vulenrable to addiction than others. We are studying whether women overall are more sensitive to addiciotn than men,but the results are not conclusive.

-Nora Volkow

can alcohol effect your really relationship with friends, family, and boyfriend/girlfriends?


It sure can. Relationships can be one of the casualties of drinking. It's hard to maintain a good relationship if you are not really available - you are wasted or hung over or you are hiding what you are doing. Instead of spending energy on friends/boyfriend/girlfriend and family, you spend that energy/time/money on drinking. Alcohol can devastate family relationships, friendships, romantic relationships. The good news is that there is help available, both for people who are drinking (1-800-662-HELP, or ) and for the people in their lives.

-Nicolette Borek

can steroids cause any problems with your body?


No doubt about it. There is a long list of serious mental and physical effects, some long term and even irreversible, that can occur after abusing anabolic steroids. For a good description of these effects please visit:

-Ruben Baler

can taking steroids really afect your growth of your genital areas


The abuse of steroids can have many serious consequences, which include effects on the reproductive system. In males, long term use of anabolic steroids can shrink the testicles. Health consequences associated with anabolic steroid abuse include:

-Ruben Baler

Can people see things that are not there when they are high??


Hi Denbigh..You bet! There are many drugs that can cause hallucinations. For example, LSD can induce experience delusions and visual hallucinations. These experiences can be extremely frightening and lead to pschotic-like behavior....Not good! Want more information on LSD and other hallucinogens? Click on

-David Shurtleff

Can pot hurt a baby in the womb?


Hey there - yes, pot/marijuana can affect the baby in utero (which means during pregnancy). We have a couple of studies that look at the long-term effects of marijuana exposure during pregnancy - including one that followed babies until they were adults. And yes, these studies have found subtle developmental effects, on attention and thinking and other brain functions. Lots of people who use pot also smoke tobacco, and we also know that tobacco use can affect the developing baby. We recommend that pregnant women not use alcohol, marijuana/weed, tobacco or other drugs during pregnancy and that they talk with their doctors if they do, and ask for help if they are finding it difficult to quit. You can find more info on marijuana at .

-Nicolette Borek

can pot lead up to other drugs? i dont think it does because you just get a little high


Good question. Is marijuana a gateway drug? The gateway concept is one that generates a lot of controversy, is not yet scientifically settled, and could also be applied to nicotine or alcohol. And, while it is true that most people who use other drugs have also used marijuana (and nicotine, alcohol), it is not true that most marijuana users go on to use other drugs. Moreover, it is important to recognize that marijuana itself presents significant health risks, including the risk of addiction.

-Jan Lipkin