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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'Bath salts' have just been banned for a year in the United States. What can these chemicals do to the human body and brain?

-shannonl, Ohio

Good question.Unfortunately people are ingesting bath salts searching for a high, but many are finding serious consequences! Bath salts contain chemicals similar to ectascy, amphetamine and cocaine, which are associated with bad side effects like dangerously elevated blood pressure and heart rates, there have been reports of people becoming so agitated that their muscles started to break down, releasing chemicals that led to kidney failure. So, while it seems like bath salts woudn't pose any harm, used in the wrong way, it can be seriously dangerous stuff!

-David Shurtleff

1. What is the percentage of people who overdose on drugs per month? 2. Can prescription drugs cause hallucinations? 3. What percentage of teens use prescription drugs?

-koster, Iowa

Over a thousand people die each month in the US from prescrition pain killer overdoses. Halucinations are rare from prescription opioids. NIDA puts out a publication that answers a lot of questions about teen drug use. Check it out! http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-overview2010.pdf

-Dave Thomas

a good place to begin is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Web site, www.samhsa.gov

-substance abuse prevention and treatment,

Web site, www.samhsa.gov.

-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s

a lot of people need mental help right?

-cnunez, Texas

hi cnunez: It's true: mental disorders are pretty common, and over their lifetime, many people struggle with these problems and need help. In fact, mental illnesses are not as rare of some people think. About 20% of youth will have at least one type of mental illness in their lifetime. But the good news is that we have good treatments for the mental health problems that affect children, teens, and adults. Depending on the person and the problem, these treatments can include specific talk therapies (psychotherapies), medications, or a combination of treatments. So when someone is struggling, it's important for them to talk to a professional as early as possible to get help. Mental illnesses are real and can be treated. They are not often something a person can just snap out of. Some people do not get help because they are embarrassed or afraid to. However, getting help for mental issues is really no different than seeking help for a medical condition like diabetes. If you or someone you know needs help go to http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/getting-help-locate-services/index.shtml for information on who to talk to and how to find help in your area. 

-Joel Sherrill

A question was asked 'Is

-ImNotAPanda, Pennsylvania

Yes, for teenagers, even moderate consumption of alcohol appears to be harmful. Research shows that having alcohol during the teen years increases the odds of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life. This happens even if you drink at home with your parents. In fact, research in Europe, the US and Australia indicates that teens who are allowed to drink at home even while being supervised by parents are more likely to binge drink (drink enough over about 2 hours to get very drunk) outside of the home. It isn't clear how much alcohol is needed to directly damage the brain during the teen years, but it is probably more than the amount of alcohol considered to be moderate for adults (no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 for men). Even if the brain is spared from being damaged by moderate consumption during the teen years, the risk of becoming an alcoholic is increased significantly

-Aaron White

A question was asked 'Is Alcohol Bad For You.' and your responce didnt fully explain everything. Does alcohol bad for you even in moderation?

-ImNotAPanda, Pennsylvania

Yes, for teenagers, even moderate consumption of alcohol appears to be harmful. Research shows that having alcohol during the teen years increases the odds of becoming an alcoholic at some point in life. This happens even if you drink at home with your parents. In fact, research in Europe, the US and Australia indicates that teens who are allowed to drink at home even while being supervised by parents are more likely to binge drink (drink enough over about 2 hours to get very drunk) outside of the home. It isn't clear how much alcohol is needed to directly damage the brain during the teen years, but it is probably more than the amount of alcohol considered to be moderate for adults (no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 for men). Even if the brain is spared from being damaged by moderate consumption during the teen years, the risk of becoming an alcoholic is increased significantly.

-Aaron White

About how long does it take to quit and recover from using drugs?

-cthompson, Pennsylvania

It depends on what they are addicted to. If marijuana users quit, it's often in their twenties after starting in their teens (so 10+ years to get around to quitting). Older age and marriage are predictive of quitting. But plenty of people remain addicted or frequent users of marijuana into older adulthood. Very few seek formal treatment. Stimulant and heroin users quit later and often heroin users remain on methadone (a treatment medication) or go back to using heroin. It can be a lifelong battle. Technically, it takes only one day to quit cold turkey, but fixing all the damage to relationships, employment history, and educational history can take a very long time and in some cases be insurmountable. Some people remain in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) type groups their entire lives or cycle through patterns of recovery and relapse. Most people who quit drugs do it without formal treatment but these people usually have less severe and shorter use histories.

-Jim Bjork

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

About how many years does it take for you to stop taking a drug?

-jvu, Texas

Hi, jvu. Many people struggle with drug addiction, but with proper treatment, quitting is an achievable goal. How long it takes will depend on a number of factors, including what drugs someone is taking, how much they're taking, and for how long. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/scienceofaddiction/index.html for more info.

-Dave White

after you snort

-ZaCh!, Ohio

Hey ZaCH! Not only may you experience loss of smell, but also a chronically runny nose, nosebleeds, hoarseness, and problems swallowing. Also, chronic users of cocaine can become malnourished due to the drug's ability to decrease appetite. But I wouldn't ingest cocaine -- period. It could cause severe bowel gangrene due to a reduction in the flow of blood to the intestines. That's nasty! If someone were to inject it, they could experience severe allergic reactions, increased risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases. For more information on cocaine, see:
www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Cocaine.html

-Joni Rutter

after you snort cocaine can you smell anymore?

-ZaCh!, Ohio

Hey ZaCH! Not only may you experience loss of smell, but also a chronically runny nose, nosebleeds, hoarseness, and problems swallowing. Also, chronic users of cocaine can become malnourished due to the drug's ability to decrease appetite. But I wouldn't ingest cocaine -- period. It could cause severe bowel gangrene due to a reduction in the flow of blood to the intestines. That's nasty! If someone were to inject it, they could experience severe allergic reactions, increased risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases. For more information on cocaine, see: www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Cocaine.html.

-Joni Rutter

agood placeto beginis the

-substance abuse prevention and treatment,

Web site, www.samhsa.gov

-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s

Aisha kenmore do the drug laws differ from state to state and if so, why?

-pdoug, Virginia

Hello - and thanks for your question. I Don't know that I can really answer the question about 'why' the laws regarding illicit drugs differ from state to state. What I do know is that the legal consequences for posession of drugs differs by type of drug, amount, and where you are when you get caught. Here are the Federal penalities for cocaine and for marijuana https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/factsheets.shtml. My advice - don't possess or use drugs and then you don't need to worry about legalities.

-Redonna Chandler

Alcohol kills more people than any other drug...why is it legal?

-DjChop, Pennsylvania

That's a complicated question. In the early 20th century, alcohol was banned all together. While that strategy (called 'Prohibition') did save some lives, it wasn't considered a success in general and alcohol was made legal again. In addition, many people use alcohol responsibly and enjoy it for a wide range of purposes, including celebrations and religious ceremonies. The government can regulate - but not prevent - people from using alcohol in those ways. The exception is the legal drinking age of 21. Making it illegal for people under 21 to drink alcohol has proven to be important for reducing alcohol-related deaths, including from traffic crashes, in young people.

-Aaron White

Almost half of my family smokes,is it hereditary?

-Saparicio, Texas

yes

-Nora Volkow

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:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Aaron White

Approximately how much alcohol would it take for an individual of average BMI to fataly overdose?

-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: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

-Aaron White

are all drugs addictive

-theos sethj, Pennsylvania

Most drugs of abuse like cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, amphetamine can be addictive because they 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! You can check out NIDA’s Web site to learn more at:http://www.drugabuse.gov/

-David Shurtleff

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: http://www.drugabuse.gov/ScienceofAddiction/

-Anto Bonci

Are all drugs babd for you bro?

-ims306, Louisiana

Drugs that are prescribed to you by your doctor and taken as instructed are generally safe and helpful. The same drugs taken without a doctor's prescription, or differently from the way they were prescribed, can be dangerous. Illegal drugs are all dangerous--that's the main reason why they're illegal.

-Dave White

are all drugs sold on the streets clean

-etinoco, Illinois

It is always a big gamble to buy drugs on the street. You really cannot be sure what you are getting. Very often they are not what sellers say they are or are contaminated with other chemicals. Dosage is also an unkown: for example, there are many reports of people getting sick or dying from heroin doses that were stronger than they could tolerate.

-Dave Thomas

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: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_stim1.php, http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/Methamphetamine.html

-David Shurtleff

Are certain drugs used more in certain areas of the country? for example - midwest finds more teens using and abusing BLANK drug?

-dpicot, Michigan

Great question! Yes, some drugs are more commonly used in certain areas of the country. Methamphetamine, for example, is common in the west and midwest areas of the country, perhaps because methamphetamine labs are more common in the west and midwest (thereby increasing the production of meth in those areas). Prescription drugs are abused everwhere, but this problem is especially severe in Florida, where the supply of prescription drugs is high. Some drugs, however, are really common everwhere -- like marijuana.

-Kevin Conway

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 teens.drugabuse.gov

-Carol Krause

Are crack and cocaine the same thing?

-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 teens.drugabuse.gov.

-Carol Krause

Are drugs fun?

-TheIronSquanto7, Michigan

Hey Rochester Adams HS, MI! Thanks for your question. People say they use drugs because they think it will be 'fun.' In fact, drugs have a very clever way of hijacking your brain mechanisms to make you think they are pleasurable: they cause the brain to release a substance called dopamine. But these feelings are short-lived. Dopamine--one of many known brain neurotransmitters--is intimately involved in important aspects of brain function, which makes it a key player in drug abuse and addiction. Dopamine is present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, thought, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. In fact, when you have a nice meal or listen to your favorite music, dopamine signals your brain that something important has happened that needs to be remembered--prompting you to repeat the behavior. Drugs can cause a much more powerful release of dopamine so that such natural pleasures can no longer compete, because they cannot produce the same 'high' that drug abusers remember and seek to repeat. Eventually, people become focused on obtaining and using drugs at every opportunity--although recreating the initial high becomes nearly impossible. Dopamine is also involved in other brain disorders that have nothing to do with drug abuse: the tremors and other symptoms that characterize Parkinson's disease, for example, are the direct result of the loss of neurons that make dopamine. Addiction is a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug craving, drug seeking, and drug use that persist even in the face of extremely negative consequences, such as losing your job, doing poorly in school, getting arrested, or getting sick. Addiction develops because of changes to the brain caused by drug use. 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 and excessive activation of dopamine neurons, the brain starts to adapt to the good feeling, so more drug is needed to achieve it. This causes people to become dependent on the drug, to feel bad when it is not in their system, and to seek and take the drug compulsively--without even thinking about it. Another way that drugs change the brain is to affect the ability to make decisions, such as judging what's important, what's healthy, and what's dangerous. The compulsive seeking and using of drugs even in the face of potentially devastating consequences is the essence of addiction. I'd say drugs are definitely NOT fun.

-Joni Rutter

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

Are drugs like

-jimmmmmy, Indiana

They can produce addiction, although it may be a little different from some other drugs like
cocaine,
alcohol. But it can be hard to quit steroids, and stopping has been associated with depression and suicidal thinking

-Nora Volkow

Are drugs like steroids addictive?

-jimmmmmy, Indiana

They can produce addiction, although it may be a little different from some other drugs like cocaine, alcohol. But it can be hard to quit steroids, and stopping has been associated with depression and suicidal thinking.

-Nora Volkow

Are teens today having more problems with drug addictions than in the past?

-larlhamc, Ohio

I would say that the answer to this question is, 'Yes.' While people may state that we have better ways to collect information about use (about everything!) and better means of publicizing that information, it is also true that availability of different prescription drugs (used for non-medical purposes), and illicit substances has increased; and the types of 'drugs' abused has increased.

-Michelle Leff

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