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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:33 > Dear scientists, do any of you play any of the popular games like Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Amnesia, or anything of the sort?

-arsenicCatnip, Texas

I just asked the room and there were at least five people in the room who said yes :)

-Maureen Boyle

:33 > How bad can the hallucinations get when you take hallucinogenic drugs?

-arsenicCatnip, Texas

I am not sure about scientific studies on this, but people report having "bad trips" which can last for many hours and are just not fun.   From the descriptions, they sound awful and once on a "bad trip," the peron is stuck and suffers for a long time.  And the "bad trip" varies from person to person and can even be different for the same person from one use to another.

-Dave Thomas

:33 > Is catnip like marijuana fur cats or purrhaps you do not know the answer to this question?

-arsenicCatnip, Texas

Hey arsenicCatnip- let me paws for thought.... Here's what we know about catnip-- it is not addictive or psychoactive. Catnip (from the plant Nepeta cataria) DOES cause most cats to act strangely: they roll around, shake their heads, rub against things, and try to get the plant all over their bodies. Interestingly, cats are only affected when they smell it - it has NO EFFECT if they eat it. It appears that catnip has little or no psychoactive effects in people.

-Joni Rutter

A friend of mine smokes a lot of weed, and i'm trying to get him to do a lot of activities that produce a natural high in an effort to get him to turn to drugs less often (or not at all). We go rock climbing and snowboarding together, but do you have any other suggestions that you've found or believe to be more effective than any other other activities for producing a natural high?

-lc, Maryland

Hey again 'Ic' What a cool cat you are....a natural high comes from any activity that makes you feel good—but doesn’t involve drugs. So theorectically different acivities would invoke a more pleasurable response based on your own personal interests. By doing things you enjoy natural feel-good chemicals in your brain are released like dopamine, which regulates movement, emotion, motivation, and pleasure. You may want to check out this organization for more information on it:

-Bethany Deeds

a lot of my friends insist that smoking weed isn't at all bad for you. Is that really true? If it was I would think it wouldn't be illegal in many states still.

-tollestudent15, Ohio

No, it is bad for you.  Being legal does not always mean it not bad for you.  For example cigarettes and alcohol are legal but nobody disputes that they are bad for your health.  You can get more info on marijuana at:


-Dave Thomas

A lot of people say that there's a zero nicotine oil you can put in the vape pen. wouldn't that reduce the addiction rate

-Kearsarge, New Hampshire

Hi're quite busy askin the same questions this morning! Some e-cig companies do advertise that they sell e-juice with 0% nicotine, but testing of several different products reveals that that is not necessarily so...e-cigs are not currently regulated by the government, so they don't have to underg testing of its components (that just right now though).  You can't really trust what manufacturers are saying about these products.  With that being said, e-cigs do have the potential to help established adult smokers quit...but again, we don't quite know all of health impacts (whether positive or negative) of e-cigs.  

-Albert Avila

a lot of states are making marijuana legal, do you think that this trend will continue and say in like 20 years do you think that it will be legal in all states

-Red Arrow, Michigan

Hey Red Arrow!
Wow--great question.  You know, there is definitely momentum toward legalization.  What we hope will happen is that the science will help inform future policy decisions.  Some states seem keen on the extra revenue and a lot of voters feel it should be legal--but there are a lot of people that worry legalization will increase use by young people and because the teen brain is still developing and marijuana can have long term effects--it's certainly not a slam dunk decision.  20 years from now--it will certainly be different than today, but how it shapes up is anyone's guess.

-Lis Davis

About how many people die a year from drugs?

-soccergirl20, Illinois

Hi there soccergirl20.The effects of drug use can be far reaching- cardiovascular (think hearts!) disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and lung disease (among others) can impact the life expectancy of users, meaning it can lead to dying sooner than they would have otherwise.  If you're talking about overdose deaths, there were about 43,900 of those in America in 2013. A whopping 35,663 (81.1%) of those were unintentional, which shows how dangerous drugs can be. Our friends over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have good data on this. 

For more info on overdoses, check out:

-Marsha Lopez

About how many people die annually from drug abuse?

-ackbjc4, Massachusetts

Hello ackbjc4. The short answer is way too many! There were about 43,900 drug overdose deaths in America in 2013. A whopping 35,663 (81.1%) of those were unintentional. That's how dangerous drugs can be!  About  22,700 were from prescription drugs, like painkillers. (Over the past few years prescription painkillers (we call them opioids) have caused the most more death than cocaine and heroin, combined!). Our friends over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have good data on this. One kind of shocking fact is that drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in 2012! More than car accidents! So remember that if you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, get help now. It could save a life.

For more info, check out:

-Marsha Lopez

about how many teenagers use drugs in america ?

-robertA, Texas

Hey there robertA. Thanks for your question!  Here's a figure from the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey showing the most commonly used illegal substances among 8th and 12th graders. For 8th graders, that's marijuana, inhalants and synthetic marijuana (yuck!). For 12th graders it's marijuana, Adderall and synthetic marijuana. Alcohol is the most use substance overall, though. You can also check out the National Study of Drug Use and Health for age ranges:


-Marsha Lopez

about how may people die from using heroin each year?

-alexisncm, Maryland

Heyyyyy there Alexisncm. Great question. According to our friends over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,635 died from heroin in 2012 in the 28 states they studied. It's hard to get exact numbers for things like this, so the important thing to note is that the rate of people dying from heroin overdose is on the rise. In fact, it has doubled from 2010 to 2012! Check out their report here:​

-Marsha Lopez

after a while what does weed do to your brain

-drock, Maryland

Here are some facts on marijuana.

Bottom line, looks like it can lower your IQ and change your brain in harmful ways, but we still to do more research to find out the full impact.



-Dave Thomas

After the age 21, can people drive after drinking any alcohol?

-rjin7851, Maryland

Yes, after the age of 21 it is legal to drive with a blood alcohol level up to 0.08%, which represents 3 or 4 drinks in an hour or two for a typical male or female. It is important to note that even just a drink or two, which produces a blood alcohol level of around 0.02% "(well below the legal limit), increases the risk of crashes significantly. 

-Aaron White

Always adults spoiling society rotten and blaming it on the fact that its just the new generation...How many lives could be changed if cigarettes were abolished? It might cause a riot in these days, but if it wasn't started in the first place, imaging how many people would be better off without them?

-Vlindanna, Maryland

Hi Vlindanna,
i know it will be next to impossible to convince you, but we do have your best interest at heart when we try to help you make the right decisions about drugs. Your brain is developing very rapidly right now and it can ill afford to have to deal with the toxic effects of any drug of abuse. you'll be smart to believe me.
best of luck to you.\


-Ruben Baler

Am I more likely to get addicted to drugs if I start using them when I am a teenager?

-StrongMS EDGE, Connecticut

Yes, research suggests that the earlier someone starts using drugs the more likely they are to develop an addiction.

-Gaya Dowling

Are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

-MaNii, Michigan

hi manii, good to hear from you
This is a good question and one we get A LOT. the terms soft and hard drugs are not really scientific terms. So, put this way, this is one of those questions we can't really answer. You see, the effects of a drug are so different for different people that what's benign for one could be extremely dangerous for another. Having said that, some drugs, like meth, heroin and many synthetics which come laced with toxic chemicals are notoriously harmful to your health.
hope this helps.

-Ruben Baler

are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

-vsvsvsvs, Maryland

In general they are but the problem is that there are some people that are more sensitive to harmful effects of the so called "soft drugs" leading them to have adverse reactions.  Also soft drugs trigger addiction and this is more common in young people who use them regularly believing them to be less harmful.  

-Nora Volkow

Are "Hooka Pipes" dangerous to the health and welfare of the human body?

-Authement/Scate, Texas

Hello there- There is a common misconception that smoking hookah isn't bad for you but it is really just another way of smoking tobacco and we all know that is bad for you.  Research suggests that smoking hookah is associated with all sorts of the same health problems associated with smoking cigarettes such as cancers, respiratory illnesses, and addiction.  In fact, early results of current research being conducted is revealing that one session of hookah smoking is like smoking multiple cigarettes!  So yes, it is absolutely bad to use.  Take a look at more info on hookah by clicking on this link

-Albert Avila

are all drugs adictive

-chance, Illinois

all drugs are POTENTIALLY addictive. Some are more so than others but it depends on a bunch of factors in addition to the drug. Since each person's makeup and environment differ, addiction risk varies. 

-Gaya Dowling

Are all drugs bad?

-jdonovan, New Hampshire

Any abused drugs can produce addiction (continuing to take the drug despite harmful health effects, damage to relationships, or legal consequences).  For example, regular marijuana use by teens decreases IQ into the adult years, and research continues to find out how marijuana and other drugs may impact the developing teen brain. And at lower doses, drugs affect people in many different ways. Research shows some stimulant drugs like cocaine 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 produce lung damage, cancer, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and so on. At high doses some drugs can kill you, even after a single exposure. Find out more at

-Antonello Bonci

Are all drugs necessarily bad? Bad drugs can be good to certain people., Pennsylvania

That's a very good point--there are medicines that can be life saving for people with be certain illnesses, but devastating if taken by those for whom they are not prescribed.  Opiate painkillers are a perfect example--they can be very useful for someone following surgery, for example--but can also be highly addictive and even deadly when abused.  Also, people have varying responses to drugs and some are more vulnerable to the bad effects than others--not everyone who drinks alcohol get liver disease.  

-Susan Weiss

Are all over the counter drugs dangerous?

-Vronny, Maryland

Hi Vronny- All over-the-counter drugs carry the risk of hazardous side effects, especially the drugs that fall under any of these categories: painkillers and anti-inflammatories, heartburn and indigestion medication, cough and cold medication. Remember to always follow the instructions on the bottle of over the counter medications when you take them.  Stay safe and have a fantastic day, Vronny!

-Albert Avila

Are all substances with hallucination effects considered illicit drugs?

-X, Maryland

No- not all. There are some medical uses for ketamine, a drug which is also abused when used for non-medidcal purposes.  

-Nancy Pilotte

Are bath salts becoming more popular?

-lauren, North Carolina

Hi, Lauren. Nope! Actually quite the opposite! This family of drugs that contains synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stumulant, have shown declines over the past few years, and the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey reports than 1 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders using them.  Do you want to read more about new drug fads that concern scientists?  See

-Marsha Lopez

Are children born to alcoholic parents more likely to become an alcoholic in the future?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Yes, unfortunately.  The odds of being an alcoholic are much higher if you have alcoholism in your family. For instance, if someone has their first drink of alcohol at age 14-15 and has a family history of alcoholism, their odds of becoming an alcoholic are about 1 in 2, while for those without a family history the odds are about 1 in 3.  

-Aaron White

are dabs bad for you?

-hayballentine, Michigan

Hi hayballentine,
Yes, it's a much more concentrated form of marijuana, so you could have an extreme reaction, which can include vomiting, paranoia, and possibly even hallucinations. Over the long term, it can have the same bad effects, if you use it a lot, that other marijuana can have--like affecting your intelligence.
Thanks for the question!

-Eric Wargo

are dabs or oil concentrates worse for your health than smoking normal weed??

-Willem Sheetz, Maryland

Hey Willem Sheetz - Dabs and oils concentrate the drug into a more potent form. Either method isn't good, but getting high concentrations of a drug into your system is the equivalent of your brain hitting a wall and can be much more dangerous.  

-Joni Rutter

are dabs or oil concentrates worse than regular weed

-Willem Sheetz, Maryland

Dear Willem, 
Oil concentrates of marijuana (hash oil) are more concentrated, resinous forms of the drug. with much higher concentrations of THC (the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana). H
ash oil concentrate THC content has been reported to get close to 80 or even 90 percent THC, a huge amount. This high level of THC is very worrisome in terms of addiction potential and the risk of mental illness.
best of luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

Are drugs allowed in any states?

-smohan, New Hampshire

Hello Smohan from Kingswood Regional Middle School! Thanks for your questions. Yes, drugs are allowed--in fact our country has the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. This is the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids and other chemicals are regulated. There are 5 Schedules (classifications), of substances. Check them out here:

-Bethany Deeds

are drugs bad for you

-password, Ohio

Hi password! All drugs are bad for you and most have similar long-term effects. All drugs interfere with the brain's normal processing and can eventually lead to changes in how well it works. Over time, drug use can lead to addiction, a devastating brain disease in which people can’t stop using drugs even when they really want to and even after it causes terrible consequences to their health and other parts of their lives.  There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

-Ish Amarreh