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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A lot of musicians smoke and do drugs. When listening to their music, I notice how raspy their voices sound. Is this a result of doing drugs? If so, how does doing drugs affect your vocal chords?

-88l8chai, Maryland

It is is really unlikely that the drugs affect the vocal chords directly, but how people take them has a huge effect. Passing smoke over the vocal chords on the way to the lungs, whether it comes from tobacco or other smoked drugs like marijuana or cocaine, is never a good idea because these contain a lot of other contaminants, which can lead to the raspiness. We just don't know what all of them are yet. The best thing to do is to avoid smoking--the smart decision.

-Nancy Pilotte

A lot of people say when you drink alcohol, you come addicted to it. I don't think thats nessecaryly true. It does cause effect(s) and can really hurt people. But if people know what alcohol does to you, why do you think they keep doing it?

-Redneck lover<3, North Carolina

It's hard to say exactly why people do things they know are bad for them. First of all, alcohol can be addicting. It affects a part of the brain called 'the reward system.' All drugs, alcohol included, turn this part of the brain on and make people feel good for a little while. Some people keep going back to alcohol to get that feeling. Over time, their brains lose the ability to feel good without alcohol and they become addicted to it, meaning they just can't stop thinking about it or using it.Also, the earlier in life you try alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted. That is why it is sooo important to find healthy things to turn on the reward system on and make you feel good. For some people, this can be sports, laughing with friends, or even playing an instrument. Even when people know that drinking too much can have bad consequences, they may still do it. Some people may get messages from movies, TV, and our general culture that drinking can make you feel 'cool.' Others may feel that they can escape problems in their life by drinking. But they cannot - drinking only makes any problems you already have much worse. And there's nothing cool about throwing up in a garbage can or wrecking a car.

-Shuly Babitz

About how many cigarettes do people buy a year?

-SLENDERMAN, Maryland

Hey Slenderman....check out these numbers from CDC: In 2010 in the U.S.: More than 303 billion cigarettes were purchased Approximately 122.6 million pounds of smokeless tobacco were purchased And, about 13.3 billion cigars (i.e., 12.3 billion large cigars and cigarillos; 1 billion little cigars) were purchased Those are some pretty big numbers!

-Cindy Miner

About how many people are sent to the emergemcy room because of drugs each year?

-IMS706cc, Louisiana

Great question! There were about 2.3 million drug-related emergency department visits in the US in 2010.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

About how many people die a year from drugs??????

-maguilera, Texas

According to the CDC, over 38,000 people died in 2010 due to drug overdose.

-Bethany Deeds

about how many people die from car accidents by drinking

-cquiroz, Texas

The CDC reports that in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

That includes about 1,900 deaths of young people under age 21.

You can learn more statistics like these at:

http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

-Shuly Babitz

About how many people die on cars accidents by drinking alcohol?

-cquiroz, Texas

The CDC reports that in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That includes about 1,900 deaths of young people under age 21. You can learn more statistics like these at: http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html http://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/underage-drinking

-Shuly Babitz

about how many people do drugs in a day?

-fhafford, New Hampshire

Nice to meet you Kingswood Regional Middle School! In 2011, among people age 12 or older, about 22.5 million used an illicit drug, 68 million used a tobacco product, and over 133 million used alcohol in the past month. For more information check out the NSDUH site.

-Bethany Deeds

about how many people do drugs in the U.S.A

-killerchef, Maryland

Hey there killerchef, thanks for your question. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 22.6 million people over the age of 12 reported they used drugs in the month prior to being asked. 

-Marsha Lopez

About how much alcohol does it take to get drunk?

-Regina.c, Texas

That's hard to say because alcohol affects different people in different ways. Here are some of the factors that affect how quickly people get drunk:

How much alcohol you drink and how fast you drink it

Whether you have food in your stomach to slow how quickly alcohol gets into the body

How much you weigh

Whether you are male or female - girls tend to be affected more by alcohol than boys

-Shuly Babitz

about what percentage of people do drugs

-sarah_ravens39, Maryland

It depends on age. There are 2 major substance abuse studies that track the percentage of people who use drugs. The Monitoring the Future study tracks drug use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders around the US. The National Household Study of Drug Use and Health tracks drug use among youth beginning at age 12 and continues into old age. Both of these studies produce yearly reports by age on a wide variety of drugs of abuse. here are the links to those 2 studies: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/ http://www.samhsa.gov

-Lis Robertson

According to a recent report, A-rod was found guilty of using another banned substance by the MLB. Why do athletes feel a need to use performance enhancers?

-El Diablo, Pennsylvania

Dear El Diablo (great name) Athletes sometimes take drugs because they think it will improve their performance (steroids, for example). And in fact they can improve some types of performance -- in the short run, but at a big cost. Not only is it cheating--as I'm sure you've heard a lot about lately, especially since Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance enhancers throughout his cycling career--but there are also serious health risks associated with taking these drugs. With steroids, they have to be taken at very high doses, which can put people at risk for heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. Also, because steroids are similar to the male sex hormone testosterone, they can wreak havoc on your body's sexual characteristics. In females, steroids can lower their voice, cause hair growth in places you wouldn't want it, and produce severe acne. In males, they can actually be feminizing; and in all youth it can't stunt your growth. And that's just the short list. Liz

-Lis Robertson

According to my mom, my dad is a drug addict and that's part of the reason they broke up. Should I feel ashamed? People say I should but for some reason I don't

-MangoAndGrape, Illinois

Dear MangoAndGrape, I agree with you - you should not feel ashamed about your dad's drug addiction. You are not responsible for your father's behavior or his condition. Good luck.

-Michelle Leff

adhd and add are the same thing so then why do they catagorize the drugs seperatly???

-Jelly2013, Texas

Hi Jelly2013. ADD stands for 'attention deficit disorder' and ADHD stands for 'attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.' the terms are used pretty much interchangeably. ADHD essentially has 2 general sets of signs or symptoms. The first set involves inattention--like trouble paying attention, concentrating or staying focused. The other set involves behavior, or hyperactivity-- like trouble sitting still or feeling unusually fidgety and sometimes impulsive. In general, whether a person has more trouble with attention or with hyperactivity, the drugs that are used are essentially the same. Most are drugs from the 'stimulant' type, but some other types of drugs are also used. Just as not all individuals experience the same symptoms, not all individuals have the same response to the same drug. So it is important to see a health professional first to determine whether you have ADHD/ADD and then to explore treatment options. For more on ADHD/ADD, visit: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml.

-Joel Sherrill

All drugs are dangerous in some way shape or form but which would be the most harmful to teenagers in our generation

-Jelly2013, Texas

It's a great question. It really depends on the dose, because some drugs at high dose can kill you. Even after a single exposure. For example, stimulants like amphetamines or cocaine can cause sudden death by causing strokes or heart attacks in teenagers. Get the facts on drugs here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-Anto Bonci

are all drugs addictive?

-brookep, Oklahoma

No, but most of them are. LSD and PCP are not addictive.

-Nora Volkow

Are bath salts bad?

-111kl, Louisiana

Not the legal kind you put in your bathtub. But the illegal ones, yes, very bad. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can cause paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium in some people; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts

-Jen Katt

Are bath salts bought at Bath Body works???

-sarajo1313, North Carolina

The synthetic products marketed as “bath salts” to evade detection by authorities should not be confused with products such as Epsom salts that are sold to improve the experience of bathing. The latter have no psychoactive (drug-like) properties.

-Jack Stein

Are bathsalts and meth similar?

-cheezburgar12, North Carolina

Hi cheezburgar12, They are chemically similar, and both have stimulant properties. The energizing and often agitating effects reported in people who have taken bath salts are consistent with other drugs like meth and cocaine that raise the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in brain circuits regulating reward and movement. A surge in dopamine in these circuits causes feelings of euphoria and increased activity. Eric

-Eric Wargo

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

-purple2016, North Carolina

Yes. Males are more likely than females to abuse and become addicted to drugs. According to the current National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NSDUH)-an annual survey of more than 25,000 respondents, over 10% of males and about 6% of females age 12 or older were classified with substance abuse or dependence (illicit drugs or alcohol).

-Bethany Deeds

Are cancer patients allowed to use medical marijuana? If yes, are there certain types of cancer patients that are allowed?

-abc, Pennsylvania

Marijuana has been used to counter the nausea associated with chemotherapy used for treating cancer. However, marijuana is not actually an FDA - approved medicine for any use (and is not legal according to the Federal Government). It has not gone through the process required for all medicines to be approved--carefully controlled studies that show its safety and effectiveness. In addition to marijuana being smoked (which is not good for the lungs), the plant has thousands of ingredients, most of which have not been identified, and which vary from plant to plant. Medicines are supposed to have precisely controlled ingredients so that a physician can prescribe them appropriately to their patients. On the other hand, one of the active ingredients in marijuana (THC) is approved as a treatment for nausea and for severe weight loss associated with AIDS.

-Susan Weiss

Are certain drugs okay or good for you in moderation?

-Archie, Iowa

Hi Archie, There are some reports that a glass of red wine on an occasional basis may have some health benefits. I have not seen any similar data for crack, heroin, marijuana or any other drugs of abuse. Further, moderate use of drugs of abuse can hurts one's health and lead to heavy drug use. Here are some drug facts if you want some more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse. Dave

-Dave Thomas

Are club drugs used more by teens or young adults?

-waterbug31, Illinois

Hi waterbug31, I'm going to give you one example of a drug in the 'club drug' group and to answer your question I turn to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study. In 2011, just over 2% of high school seniors reported they were current users of MDMA/ecstasy as opposed to 0.7% of college students/young adults. You can see similar stats for a whole bunch of other drugs at http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-vol2_2011.pdf

-Marsha Lopez

Are drug abuse and suicide linked together?

-MeGustaElDulces, Illinois

Hi MeGustaELDulces. Drug abuse and suicide can be linked in a couple different ways. Sometimes, when people are depressed or suicidal, they might turn to drugs to try to feel better. The problem is, using drugs that are not from a doctor to feel better doesn't provide a good solution and makes things worse or leads to more problems. Other times, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol do things they wouldn't normally do-- sometimes they become more depressed or impulsive and can harm themselves or become suicidal. The bottom line is if anyone is using drugs OR feeling suicidal, it's very important to get help. A good first step can be to talk to a trusted adult (for example a parent, teach, counselor, or doctor); if it becomes a crisis, help is available by phone 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.

-Joel Sherrill

are drugs bad

-My Name Is, Maryland

Drugs are bad in many different ways. It really depends on the drug taken. For example, some drugs like cocaine or stimulants can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Others can damage your liver, lungs, or cause coma and death - even with a single dose. The one thing that abused drugs have in common is that they can produce addiction. This is continuing to take the drug despite harmful health effects, damage to relationships, or legal consequences. You can find more information on the health effects of various drugs here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-Anto Bonci

Are drugs painful?

-IMolina, Texas

Don't know what you mean by painful but drugs have a powerful impact on your body and brain. Over time drug users may become addicted. Prolonged drug abuse can cause medical problems -- lung cancer, heart disease, liver disease, and addiction. Drug use can also cause personal problems, poor school performance, and even arrest. See http://www.drugabuse.gov/consequences/ for more information related to the medical consequences of drug use. Sometimes people don't realize how serious their drug use is and deny the negative impact.

-Redonna Chandler

are drugs really addicted ?????

-aruiz, Texas

Drugs are addictive. Addiction means that people can't stop using them even though they know the drug is harming their life.

-Dave Thomas

Are electronic cigarrettes harmful?

-superstar7, Iowa

Electronic cigarettes are so new to the scene that we don't have a lot of scientific data on their effects yet and we don't even know that much about what's in all of them. The ones that have been tested contain varying amounts of nicotine (in fact some e-cigs say they have nicotine but don't). The nicotine is dissolved in another chemical so that it can be heated usually by a small battery in the e-cig. There have been a few reports of e-cigarettes exploding when people use them causing some serious injuries to their hands and faces. The bottom line....you don't know what you are getting in these products...so don't believe the hype, hype usually means they want your money. Personally, I want to keep my money to spend on fun things, like treats for my dogs...or going to a University of Maryland basketball game!

-Cindy Miner

are energy drinks bad for you?

-*DN*, North Carolina

hi DN, We are still investigating this question. It appears, so far that, in moderation, the dangers might be modest, but we are nevertheless concerned about the high caffeine content in some drinks that could cause serious damage to some people that may be at higher risk for dangerous health effects, particularly if they have, for example, some cardiovascular vulnerability. Another problem of energy drinks is that the manufacturers don't even have to list all the ingredients in the drinks. hope this helps thanks for the question. ruben

-Ruben Baler

are hallucinegens kind of like texturepacks for real life?

-oh_mah_gerd, Maryland

Hi oh_man_gerd, Interesting question. I suppose you could partly think of hallucinogens that way, but they do much more than alter the way things look -- they can change or distort all aspects of perception but also cause hallucinations and other distortions of reality. (And unlike with a game, you can't just turn them off when you are done.) Eric

-Eric Wargo

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