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Are there any physical or mental effects that inhalants have on your body? And if so, what are they?

-briannaf, Pennsylvania

There sure are! Some people die after a single use of inhalants, because the effects are so rapid and there is no antidote other than oxygen. The lungs rapidly absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream, quickly spreading them throughout the body, including the brain. Within minutes of inhalation, users can feel a 'buzz' or 'high.' The effects are similar to those produced by alcohol and may include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant users may also experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions. The high usually lasts only a few minutes. But with repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. The most important effects occur in your brain. Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others can remain for a long time, because they stick to fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers (axons). Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their electric messages to and from the brain. Damage to myelin can slow down communication between nerve fibers. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can result in muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis--a disease that also affects myelin. Check out our teen site at for more information.

-Nancy Pilotte

Are there any specific social groups associated with certain drugs?

-jeffreyk, Pennsylvania

Hi, jeffreyk, that's a complicated question to answer. If by social groups you mean certain ethnic or gender groups you can find out all sorts of information from the University of Michigan's annual Monitoring the Future Study (look at Appendix D), which has specific drug information for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders broken down by gender, race/ethnicity, and parental education among others. If you mean social groups like boy scouts or kickball leagues, sorry I can't help you.

-Marsha Lopez

Can all of the drugs that we know of affect us negatively in some way?

-leapfrog33, Pennsylvania

Thanks for the question!By definition, all drugs of abuse can create problems in the lives of their user - marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, prescription drugs, alcohol (and others) all can, can impair you ability to think and learn, lead you to make really bad decisions that could influence your health and safety (e.g., increase risk of accidents, injury, STDs and more), and can lead to addiction. Want to learn more about what teens are thinking about drugs and how drugs impact the body? Click on -,

-David Shurtleff

Can caffine actually damage you?

-tsheehan, New Hampshire

caffeine is a drug that can cause dependence but it is a very mildly addictive drug with generally no major ill effects, except for the withdrawal symptoms that many dependent people experience when they miss their caffeine fix.thanks!

-Ruben Baler

are there natural highs?

-adison_s, Pennsylvania

Absolutely, and that's why it is so silly to seek artifical ones that can and do harm your brain and overall health.The active ingredient in any basic receipe for a natural high is this (are you ready?): find out what you are really passionate about (whatever it is, except drugs, of course), nurture that passion and then follow it to wherever it takes you. It works every time, and you will never regret it.

-Ruben Baler

are you more likely to do drugs if you go to public school or are home schooled but do a lot of outside activities?

-isheahan, New Hampshire

This is a little complicated. I don't think that we have research to answer this question one way or the other. You could speculate that a person in a regular school setting may be exposed to more opportunities for getting pressured by peers to use drugs or to have access to drugs than a person in a home school setting where a parent is present throughout the day. But there are a lot of adults monitoring what goes on during the school day and parents are often monitoring after school so it could go either way.

-Belinda Sims

are you most likely to get a disease(cancer and other things) if you start to drink at a young age , lets say 13 or 14?

-acastro, Texas

That's a tough one and we really don't know the answer yet. However, we do know that heavy drinking during the adult years increases the chances of getting cancers of various types, particularly for women, and that starting to drink at a young age, like 13 or 14, is associated with a much higher risk of drinking heavily during the adult years. So, if you look at it this way, getting started young could indirectly increase your odds of developing cancer at some point in life.

-Aaron White

As a health teacher. What things do you feel are the most important to address with the middle school aged students to help them learn to make informed decisions about not using drugs?

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

Hello. Thanks for this very good question. It is important to make sure that youth receive information that is developmentally appropriate. It is important for youth to know that drug use is not the norm (everyone is NOT doing it). It is important for youth to know the effects of drugs on the brain and body and how drugs effect their decisions and behaviors. It is important for youth to acquire skills to be able to make good healthy decisions about drug use and other risk behaviors (e.g., communication, decision making and drug refusal skills). Following are some key principles for prevention programs in schools: Programs should focus on children’s social and academic skills, including enhancing peer relationships, self-control, coping, and drug-refusal skills. If possible, school-based prevention programs should be integrated into the school’s academic program, because school failure is strongly associated with drug abuse. Integrated programs strengthen students’ bonding to school and reduce their likelihood of dropping out. Other types of interventions include school-wide programs that affect the school environment as a whole. All of these activities can serve to strengthen protective factors against drug abuse. (See examples of school-based programs in Examples of Research-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Programs.)For information on priniciples of prevention in Drug Abuse Prevention Programs, see: In addition, a fun curriculum for teachers to use with middle school students can be found here: Other information for teachers generally may be found here:

-Jacqueline Lloyd

can 1 beer decrease your smartness

-ZaCh!, Ohio

It is possible that it could for at least a few minutes. In some lab tests, we have detected memory and other impairments in people who have very low blood alcohol concentrations - maybe the result of just one beer.

-Aaron White

can a small sip of

-peruman50, Maryland

It really depends. Research shows that having even a few sips of alcohol at a young age can increase the chances of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life. We still do not know why and it is likely that some people are at greater risk than others. So, it's possible

-Aaron White

can alcohol make you sleepy?

-monkey413, Maryland

Yes, for sure. Alcohol is considered a 'central nervous system depressant', meaning it slows down brain activity. As a result, it can make a person feel very sleepy.Interestingly, while alcohol makes people sleepy and might even make them fall asleep faster than normal, alcohol actually disrupts sleep. People who sleep after drinking alcohol do not sleep as long or as deeply as people who do not have alcohol before going to sleep. So, while alcohol does make people sleepy, it is not good for sleep.

-Aaron White

are all drugs additive

-natalie14, Ohio

Yes, they all are. The timing changes from person to person, but all of them are equally dangerous and can lead to addiction. Read our colorful Science of Addiction booklet to learn more:

-Anto Bonci

Are amphetamines addictive?

-cohen, Vermont

Hi Middlebury!Yep! Amphetamines, like most other drugs of abuse increases the brain chemical dopamine, leading to high levels of the chemical in the brain. Dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, the experience of pleasure, and motor function. Amphetamine’s ability to release dopamine rapidly in reward regions of the brain produces the intense euphoria, or “rush,” that many users feel taking the drug. And with repeated use the brain can 'crave' the drug leading to compulsive drug use- addiction!-yikes! Learn more about amphetamines by clicking here:,

-David Shurtleff

Are crack and

-awesomedude99, Maryland

Hello awesome dude. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected. Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Basically it can be considered the same thing. If you stay away from it you will remain an awesome dude. Check out

-Carol Krause

are drugs illegal?

-catch22, Maryland

Hi catch22---Some are and some aren't. Drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana are generally illegal. Prescription drugs are legal if prescribed by a doctor, but it is illegal to abuse them---taking them without a proper prescription. Some states allow marijuana to be taken for symptom relief when recommended by a doctor, but the federal government has not approved it as a safe medication. Confused? It is important to know that when there are drugs, there are often legal consequences. Anywhere from 50-70% of people in our country' prisons and jails can benefit from some sort of drug treatment. They are often in prison for selling drugs, stealing things to get money to pay for drugs, or being violent and commiting crimes while high on drugs.

-Carol Krause

about how many childeren use alchol or drugs?????

-harry.h, Texas

The Monitoring the Future Study is a survey conducted by the University of Michigan every year where they ask 8th, 10th, and 12th graders about their drug use behavior and attitudes. In 2010, around 20% of 8th graders, 32% of 10th graders, and 39% of high school seniors reported they had used some type of drug in the past year (includes any use of marijuana, inhalants, LSD, other hallucinogens, crack, other cocaine, heroin, narcotics other than heroin, amphetamines, sedatives (barbiturates), or tranquilizers not under a doctor’s orders). In the same study 29% of 8th graders, 52% of 10th graders, and 65% of high school seniors reported having used alcohol at some point in the past year and about 12% of 8th, 30% of 10th, and 44% of 12th graders reported they had been drunk in the past year.

-Marsha Lopez

Are more teens likely to take drugs if there parents are telling them constantly not to take drugs or are they more likely to take drugs if there parents don't bring it up?

-Bethanne C, Iowa

Howdie Bethanne--thanks for submitting a terrific question.Parents can have a tremendous positive influence on teens’ decisions to not drink and use drugs by communicating risks of drugs/alcohol, role-playing how to avoid peer pressure, encouraging their children to participate in extra-curriular acivities, etc. It isn't always easy to talk about serious subjects, so sometimes parents and kids might be uncomfortable. It helps to get the facts and we have great resources online. Go to for science-based information that parents can share too. There are teacher and parent resources on our main website as well:

-Bethany Deeds

are only some drugs addictive?

-mhernandez, Texas

Addiction is when someone uses a drug compulsively despite knowing that it is harming them or their quality of life. All abused drugs can produce this effect in some people. Of course, many medications, such as aspirin, antibiotics that you take for a fever, or asthma medications are not addictive.

-Dave Thomas

can drinking a lot of alcohol put in a comma

-jcarson, Illinois

Yes, it certainly can. Alcohol has powerful effects on the brain and dramatically slows brain functioning. If you drink enough alcohol, your brain can shut down as a result, sending you into a deep, coma-like state. Alcohol can also shut off vital centers in the brain we need to keep us alive, and even cause death.

-Aaron White

Approximately how much

-DjChop, Pennsylvania

That can be hard to predict exactly. In general, a blood alcohol level above 0.30% is considered potentially fatal. For a 140 lb female, that would be about 10 drinks in 2 hours, and much less alcohol for someone lighter. Here are some of the factors that influence how fast people get drunk: How much alcohol they drink and how fast they drink it Whether there is food in the stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body How much they weigh Whether they are male or female -- females tend to be affected more by alcohol than males Getting drunk faster also makes drinking more dangerous. Drinking quickly can turn off the brain's memory centers and cause 'blackouts', or an inability to remember what you did while drinking. Getting drunk faster can make it more likely that the vital centers in the brain will be shut off.For more information on safe drinking limits for adults, and how much alcohol is contained in single drink, please check out:

-Aaron White

could a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-wramirez, Illinois

Hey Golder College Prep HS. You've asked a really interesting question, one for which we do not have an answer. We do not know if a baby in the womb gets high when the mom smokes marijuana, but we do know that the active ingredient in marijuana do get into the baby's brain where it can affect the baby and later during childhood and longer. Illegal drugs used during pregnancy, such as
cocaineand marijuana, have been associated with a variety of adverse effects, though more research is needed to draw causal connections. Effects may be subtle and generally range from low birth weight to developmental deficits affecting behavior and cognition. For example, impaired attention, language, and learning skills, as well as behavioral problems, have been seen in children exposed to cocaine and marijuana, all of which can affect success in school. So, although we do not know whether a baby gets high when the mom uses illegal drugs during pregnancy and when she smokes during pregancy, the baby is at risk for unwanted outcomes during development. Here's a link that talks about risks of prenatal drug exposure:

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Could your brain actually be slowly disintegrated? Cuz everyone says drugs kill brain cells

-egrimes, Texas

Some drugs do kill brain cells, such as volitile chemicals found in glue and other inhalants, but the bigger problem is that drugs that people take to get high can lead to long term changes in the the way that brain cells function. Recent research has found that there can be profound changes to the structure and function of the brain cells, including changes in the expression of genes. We don't know how long these changes last when you stop taking drugs or even what all of these changes do to overall brain function. So while drugs may not kill brain cells, they do change brain cells and probably not for the better.

-Steve Grant

Cynthia-From Kenmore: What makesdrugs addicting?

-pdoug, Virginia

What's up Kenmore!!The short answer is Dopamine!! Most drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain's reward system by flooding the brain with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, feelings of pleasure and addiction. When a person takes drugs, brain circuits that use dopamine are over stimulated (over stimulated in fact) and is what a person feels is the 'rush' associated with taking drugs. This 'rush' is what makes people repeat the behavior (drug use) and over time, this abnormal stimulation of the brain can lead to 're-wiring' the brain in a way that leads to addiction-not good!

-David Shurtleff

darric from kenmore: Is there a medical need for drugs like

-pdoug, Virginia

There is certainly a medical need, especially for the treatment of pain. However, marijuana is not a good medicine, even if it is not smoked, for several reasons--its a
plantthat contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from
plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See

-Susan Weiss

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded

-Jim Bjork

DMS, Sugar land, TX- Is it ture that you can have flashbacks ten years after taking LSD? (Explain)

-harry.h, Texas

There are several case reports and small studies in the medical literature that suggest this, but this is really controversial. Part of the problem is that these occurrances aren't carefully recorded.

-Jim Bjork

Can you die after one time of smoking

-molly22, Iowa

Yes, heroin can make you pass out, plus it suppresses the breathing reflex, and also can cause nausea and vomiting. If you have never taken heroin before you are particular at risk for taking to much which can cause serious problems, including death. Your brain will be very sensitive to the effects of heroin and you can pass out, stop breathing, and even choke on your own vomit. This is the way a lot of celebraties have died

-Steve Grant

Can you die after one time of smoking heroin?

-molly22, Iowa

Yes, heroin can make you pass out, plus it suppresses the breathing reflex, and also can cause nausea and vomiting. If you have never taken heroin before you are particular at risk for taking to much which can cause serious problems, including death. Your brain will be very sensitive to the effects of heroin and you can pass out, stop breathing, and even choke on your own vomit. This is the way a lot of celebraties have died.

-Steve Grant

Can you die if you smoke

-1234, Iowa

It is unhealthy to smoke marijuana, and the more you smoke the more unhealthy it is. The smoke in


has many of the same chemicals present in

smoke. In terms of composition it is comparably dangerous and hazardous to your respiratory health

-Dave Thomas

Can you die insanly with heroin?

-J Nguyen, Texas

You can definitely die from heroin if you take a high dose. For more information on heroin, go here:

-Joni Rutter