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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-suryptitious17, Virginia

Cocaineis a powerfully addictive central nervous system stimulant that is snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack is cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been processed to form a rock crystal that is then usually smoked.

Have you seen the Sara Bellum Blog? It has all the latest information on drugs and drug abuse, and you can comment on what's written. Check it out at>

-Kristen Huntley

(sean and drew moore) how is the brain efftected by marijuana?

-ganstersjg, Pennsylvania

Good morning! Great question. Marijuana smoke goes into the lungs, and then the blood, and then the brain. Once marijuana is in the brain, its active ingredient--THC --attaches to proteins called receptors which are located on the surface of brain cells. The normal function of these receptors is to attach to or link with natural chemicals called cannabinoids. In effect, the THC molecules mimic (have similar effects) the actions of cannabinoid molecules, but with one big difference: there are many more THC molecules than cannabinoid molecules, so their effects are much more extreme. They are so extreme that they cause people to get high, but they also disrupt memory--not a good thing for school or life--and can cause addiction. Need more info on marijuana?? Visit Keep the questions coming!

-David Shurtleff


-S.H, Maryland

Yes. This is based on measures of the marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana, and the average amount of THC in marijuana was about 3.5% in the 1980's and is close to 10% in recent years.

-Susan Weiss

a lot of my friends get high. how could i help them??

-shawty, Virginia

Great question...difficult to answer. You you might consider talking with them in a nonconfrontational or nonjudgmental way. You could learn more about the effects of marijuana on brain and behavior to share with them. Let them know that you care enough about them to try to convince them to stop because we do know that the earlier someone starts and the longer he/she takes them, the more likely he/she is to become addicted.Here is some information for you, and also check out our website for other information: you would like a little more information about helping a friend, please visit Good luck.

-Joe Frascella

about how many people die from drinking?

-cochina, New York

About 85,000 people a year.

-Anna Staton

After alcohol, what is the drug most commonly abused by teens?

-Doc, Pennsylvania

Great question! Other than alcohol, some teens abuse tobacco and marijuana. We have a lot of info about drug abuse. For instance, every year researchers at the University of Michigan supported by NIDA ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their attitudes towards - and use of - drugs. This is the Monitoring the Future Survey, and you can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at . You can also check out

-Wilson Compton

after being in rehab and quiting your addiction and be clean for a good couple of months can their be a chance that you go back because your head and body wants it?

-kandy, Maryland

Kandy, Some people do relapse and use drugs even after treatment. Dealing with urges and cravings to use drugs is a standard component of drug treatment. When relapse occurs it doesn't mean treatment failed rather that there is a need for on-going intervention. This is just like my grandmother who is diabetic. Through diet, exercise, and medication her blood sugar was stable. However, when her blood sugar goes up it doesn't mean treatment failed or that future treatment won't work. It is an indicator she needs to be re-evaluated by her doctor and her treatment tailored. This is the exact same with addiciton. Relapse is a sign that there is still a need for additional treatment and the person should seek additional professional help. For more information about relapse and drug addiction see: or to this helps.

-Redonna Chandler

after being in rehab, and being clean, what are the chances that i will go back to doing it again?:/

-pk483303, Maryland

Dear PK483303, Statistically speaking somewhere between 40-60% of those who complete drug treatment relapse. Good addiction treatment recognizes that urges and cravings to use drugs persist beyond treatment and help people prepare for this fact. The good news is that relapse doesn't mean treatment failed or that additional treatment won't be successful. Relapse is an indication that additional treatment is needed. Maybe a new type of intervention needs to be used or additional support from a professional is needed. It's just like my grandmother's diabetes. Her blood sugar can be stable through diet, exercise, and medication. However, that doesn't mean her blood sugar won't ever spike again or that she won't need to see her physician for additional treatment. So, if you or someone else who completes treatment relapses don't give up and get more help.

-Redonna Chandler

Are steroids considered an illegal drug?

-billy, Pennsylvania

Hi there!Well, first of all, we have to define a few things. First, a steroid is a representative of a class of hormones that your own body makes. Steroids you may recognize include cholesterol, estrogen, testosterone, vitamin D, and corticosteroids. Second, each of these kinds of steroids has a special function in your body and is present in very, very small amounts. Misuse of anabolic steroids (which are used to build muscle mass) can result in serious adverse health consequences. Altogether, there are hundreds of anabolic steroids, including many that are manufactured (and not found in nature), and some that are metabolic by-products of androgens. They vary in potency and in side effects. Anabolic steroids are classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) as Schedule III drugs and it is illegal to obtain or use them for the purposes of performance enhancement. So, if you want to get 'pumped up', do it the natural way - through exercise! For more information on anabolic steroids, check them out at

-Nancy Pilotte

are teens more propense to drug addiction

-giggles, Maryland

yes, and we think this is because the adolescent brain is still actively growing and developing.

-Nora Volkow

Are the effects of steroids always true?

-thegirl, Arizona

There are a lot more harmful effects of steroids than most people think. Steroids have very powerful effects on a wide range of bodily functions, including the brain. Doctors prescribe steroids in relatively small amounts to help treat diseases, but people who use them for body building take much larger amounts and for a longer periods of time, and that increases the chances that there will be harmful effects. You can learn more about the consequences of steroida buse by visiting our site:

-Steve Grant

are the use of drugs increasing from all the drug smuggleing in Mexico? and are there more deaths now that theres a drug war

-Halo, Utah

Drug use is increasing for certain age groups whereas in teenagers drug use has gone down. Also drugs like pain killers have gone up whereas drugs like ice have gone down.Your question is more a question about enforcement. We focus on research about drugs of abuse and addiction.

-Nora Volkow

Are there any drugs that can kill you?

-lilmiach, Ohio

Just about any drug taken in a way or amount that is not as prescribed can kill you. Even when the drug is taken correctly, it is possible to have an allergic reaction and get very sick. The bottom line is drugs/medications are safe if taken as prescribed, but when abused any thing can happen including overdose/death.

-Richard Denisco

Are there people who have tried a drug a few times and they were so repelled that they couldn't get addicted?

-jessie, Massachusetts

The initial response to drugs and alcohol varies a lot. Some people really like drugs when they first use them and others do not. While this may relate to why people first use drugs and continue at the start, even people who don't like drugs at first, sometimes keep taking them and become addicted anyway. The only safe approach is to avoid drugs completely. For more info go to

-Wilson Compton

are u a real person or this computer answering r qestion

-mejiaelexis, Michigan

Yes, we are real people - most of us are scientists, all of us are dedicated to get out the facts about drug abuse.

-Gaya Dowling

Are weed brownies as bad as smoking weed?

-muffinslice, New York

Good question. The active component in marijuana is THC. THC gets into the blood differently when MJ is ingested as a brownie or when it is smoked. Brownies are eaten and therefore THC gets into the blood stream (through the stomach and intestinal lining) much more slowly compared to smoking, where the THC is taken up in the lungs and gets into the bloodstream much more quickly. Once the THC gets into the blood, it has its effects in the brain. Both ways gets THC into the brain but at different rates.

-Joe Frascella

alright im a crack addict and i want to know how long till i will get the bad side effects

-yupimbored, New York

Good question! Hard to know when you will see 'bad side effects'. What we know is that all drugs have effects on the brain. It depends on the particular drug and the particular individual the extent of damage to the brain, but we do know that all drugs of affect the brain's dopamine system. This brain system is involved with reward and pleasure. Repeated use of drugs can start to change this system, causing a person to no longer be able to control their drug use. The person becomes 'driven' to take the drug, even when he/she realizes that he/she isn't able to do well in school, isn't able to enjoy the things that used to make him/her happy, and is hurting his/her relationship with friends and family. Bottom line: drugs affect the brain and brain processes (and other systems such as cardiovascular), which in turn, affects behavior. We still don't know or understand about who becomes addicted and 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 someone chooses to use drugs. The longer someone takes drugs, the more likely that he/she will become addicted and suffer long-term, harmful brain changes. So to be honest, there is no real straightforward answer regarding when you might see some negative effects. We also know that the earlier one starts, the greater the likelihood of addiction and problems.For general information about drugs, check out or this helps.

-Joe Frascella

ANSWER MY QUESTIONS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-hrosales, Maryland

Patience, we are getting lots of good questions, we are answering as quickly as we can

-Cindy Miner

Approximately how many questions do you receive during the course of this chat?

-NHGRI, Maryland

Last year we had 11,000 questions. So far today we have over 3600, so we might get even more this year

-Cindy Miner

Are all drugs addictive after excessive use--even 'over the counter's addictive?

-Squishy Camel, New York

Thanks for your question! The list of addictive drugs is long. Even some medications available in pharmacies are abused and can be addictive. The key is that addictive substances are reinforcing (give a 'buzz') and lead to repeated use. Every year researchers at the University of Michigan supported by NIDA ask 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the country about their attitudes towards - and use of - drugs. It's the Monitoring the Future Survey, and they show a lot of information about what drugs are abused. You can look at the results on the NIDA Web site at

-Wilson Compton

Are any drugs okay in moderation

-casa grande, Arizona

Some drugs that can lead to addiction are OK to take under a doctor's supervision. For example, opioids like Oxycontin or Vicodin are powerful pain relievers, and are highly beneficial for people who are in severe pain, such as after an injury or surgery. But it is critical that a person follows the doctor's instructions when taking the drug to avoid the risk of drug abuse and addiction. In 2008, nearly one in ten high school seniors reported the non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin, and one in 20 abused OxyContin. Abuse of these drugs can be associated with overdose and death, especially when they are taken at high doses, in non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), or in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

-Steve Grant

Are children of smokers more likely to have diseases or problems?

-Ilovemi, Maryland

Thanks for your question Einstein! Scientific research has found that if a mom smokes while she is pregnant, her child may be more likely to use tobacco when they become teenagers, and more likely to become addicted. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with several other adverse outcomes for babies developing during pregnancy, including increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), preterm birth, low birth weight, and respiratory problems. Also be aware that during and following smoking, nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition and is associated with behavioral problems in children. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause problems. For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight, premature birth, and a number of other physical health outcomes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory illnesses (asthma, respiratory infections, and bronchitis), ear infections and cavities, and increased medical visits and hospitalizations. Need more information on the consequences of prenatal drug exposure? Visit

-Joni Rutter

Are cigars addictive?

-ballason, Maryland

Good morning Rockville High!Smoking any form of tobacco, including cigars (even if you don't inhale), can cause disease. Did you know that tobacco is linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year? Check out and for more information on tobacco, cigars and smoking!

-Steve Gust

Are cigars worse than cigarettes?

-jed110540, Pennsylvania

Thanks for your question! All tobacco products (cigars, cigarettes, pipes, chew) can be addictive and cause cancer making them unsafe. If you'd like more infocheck out

-Wilson Compton

Are drugs always a bad thing? Is medical use the only excuse?

-Squishy Camel, New York

Pretty much.

-Ruben Baler

Are drugs more common in college or high school?

-BlackRavenWings, New York

Some are. Unfortunately the abuse of stimulants (like ritalin) and other prescription drugs are more common in college. In high school we are still dealing with a high prevalence of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use.

-Ruben Baler

are drugs on the street more dangerous today than they were 20 years ago?

-TeeZy21, Pennsylvania

they've always been dangerous, and they vary over time, plus weird mixtures or components show up--most recently cocaine laced with a veterinary drug called levamisole that can produce a deadly type of blood disease. some drugs are more potent now than they used to be, which means that you could get exposed to higher doses and be more likely to overdose.

-Susan Weiss

are flavored cigars as bad as regular cigars?

-casa grande, Arizona

Yes. They are equally bad. Check out our blog post:

-Ivan Montoya

Are household products really in Meth?

-casa grande, Arizona

Yes. It's really disgusting. In addition to chemicals from over-the-counter cold medicines, anhydrous ammonia (an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant), red phosphorus (used in matches), rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, gasoline, brake cleaner, acetone, among a lot of other harmful chemicals are used to make meth in small clandestine labs.

-Gaya Dowling

Are kid/teens more likey to become addicted to drugs if they try it at an early age?

-sadams, New York

Good morning skaneateles High! That's a great question! We know from scientific research that the earlier you start using drugs, the more likely you are to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences. The reasons for this are complex--first, drugs affect the brain, and the brain is still developing until early adulthood. So, it's possible for drugs to alter the normal developmental pattern--research is still ongoing to help us figure this out. Second, people who use drugs when they are very young often have other problems that led to their drug use in the first place. For example, they may have difficult family situations or problems with depression or anxiety, etc. and attempt to use drugs to help them cope. Unfortunately, drug abuse just makes things worse in the long run, and doesn't address the problems that led to its use. Third, using drugs can interfere with success in school, in sports, and in relationships with friends and family, further creating problems down the road.

So the bottom line is that early drug use can lead to later drug addiction and other problems, and the best advice is to never start. But, if you have started using already, you should know that the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the other harmful consequences associated with it.

For more information, see

-Steve Gust