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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6 beer bottles cant kill someone over 21, I mean what's so bad about it a lot of people stand against it and people hate beer commercials

-akhan, Texas

Well, actually, drinking 6 bottles of beer is enough to make someone too drunk to drive and that leads to more than 10,000 deaths every year.

-Aaron White

9% out of all of the people that actually use pot get addicted isnt even a bad number. Considering the how many use it and abuse it.

-12196, Massachusetts

Hi 12196

I think you are looking at this the wrong way.
Precisely because it's such a large number of users, even a 9% addiction rate represents a huge number of people. Besides, the addiction rate goes up significantly when use starts in adolescence or if use is regular. Finally, addiction is not the only negative effect of marijuana use. Young people who use weed are constantly performing below their peak level, at a time when they should be at the top of their game. So, nothing to sneeze at. 

I would reconsider.

Ruben

-Ruben Baler

a child as young as 8 starts smoking, what is the outcome of there future

-LeeAnn, Massachusetts

Hi LeeAnn,
Well nothing is set in stone, even smoking. People can quit at any age, no matter when they started. But starting in early childhood will make it harder to quit, and also make it more likely that they will try and use other drugs. 

-Eric Wargo

a lot of my family members drink beer and some said there stomachs ache all the time what is this AwNSer

-trumpnation!!!!, Texas

Alcohol increases the amount of acid released in the stomach, which can cause some nausea and upset stomachs.

-Aaron White

Aaron White are you an alcoholic?

-George W Bush, Michigan

I sure hope not! I keep my consumption well within the low-risk guidelines to be safe. For more about the low-risk guidelines visit our webpage:
http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Is-your-drinking-pattern-risky/Whats-Low-Risk-Drinking.aspx

-Aaron White

About how many people die from drug use each year?

-HVasquez, Texas

Hi, HVasquez! When I talk about drug deaths, not only do I think about overdoses, but also all the health conditions as a result of drug use that could shorten an individual's life, so I would say tobacco and alcohol cause the most deaths by far.  If you are asking about other drugs and overdose, the Centers for Disease Control just published a report showing that more than 6 out of every 10 drug overdose deaths involve opioids, which is the class of drugs that includes heroin and many prescription pain relievers, which is a huge increase over just last year!
http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p1218-drug-overdose.html

-Marsha Lopez

Adults who do drugs like marijuana and weed get high easily. Does the same effect happen when children and teens do it?

-mcamacho, Texas

Yes, but it depends on the marijuana and the person's past use of the drug.  There are stronger and weaker varieties which can effect how quickly someone gets high, and a person who uses it regularly may require larger amounts than someone who has never used it before.

-Susan Weiss

After a period of sobriety, does the brain ever return to the way it was before heavy active drug use?

-youth move, Florida

Hello youth move. So, can the brain recover after you stop using drugs? Fortunately, and probably, yes, but that depends on many things, like how young somebody is when they start, and how often they use. We know from scientific research that the earlier you start, the more likely you are to develop addiction and other problems, like bad grades or problems with your family. It is therefore best to never start; however, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it.

-Roger Sorensen

alcohol helps me not feel sad so I drink a lot to feel happy is this bad?

-gabe the boss, Massachusetts

Hi Gabe the Boss. The problem with using alcohol to feel better is that the next day it has worn off and depression may be even worse. Alcohol can worsen depression in the long run and there are better ways to feel happy. This is an important issue for you to discuss with your doctor or school counselor. There are many other ways that work better than alcohol to improve your mood. If you need to talk to a trained counselor who can help you (anonymously), call: 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Someone can help you 24/7.

-Wilson Compton

Are you likely to be an addict, if a family memeber if a family member is?

-mazeem, Texas

Hello Mazeem,  there do seem to be genetic factors that increase a person's risk for becoming addicted but having a family history does not mean that you will be an addict. If you never use a drug you cannot become addicted to it.  If you have family members who have been addicted to drugs you should tell your doctor that before they give you drugs like pain killers.  There is more information about the brain and addiction here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Roger Little

Are you more likely to become an alcoholic if allot of people in your family were alcoholics?

-Anyonomous, Massachusetts

Unfortunately, yes that's true. 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

As scientists, if had the possession of a drug that is not pure. Will you be able to decipher what other chemicals reside in the drug that is not pure?

-Charlize Reyes, Michigan

Hey Charlize Reyes. Yup. Scientists can do that. Your chemistry classes can help you understand how!  

-Joni Rutter

at what age are kids more vulnerable to drugs?

-jimenezC, Massachusetts

Hi jimenezC - all ages! Kids brains don't mature until around mid to late 20's, so the effects of drugs can be all the more harmful.

-Michelle Rankin

at what age do drugs start to effect your body

-Aali, Texas

Hi Aali, Drugs can effect your body at any age. They can even affect children in the womb.

-Maureen Boyle

Austin N. IMS, KS- What is MDMA and what does it do to you? What are the side effects too?

-AMY KARR, Kansas

Good afternoon, AMY KARR. Ecstasy (X, Molly, or MDMA) is a stimulant like amphetamine and cocaine and it can also cause hallucinations. MDMA changes the body in many ways. It even interferes with the body's temperature regulation, which leads to dangerous overheating, called hypothermia. This can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or even death. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly

-Roger Sorensen

Besides alcohol and marijuana, what is the next most-popular addictive drug?

-bob, Illinois

Hi, Bob, good question. Accordng to the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey, certain tobacco products like hookah and small cigars are the next most popular, which is really problematic considering we know that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the US.  After that, non-medical use of stimulant/amphetamine drugs such as Adderall® or Ritalin®, which are often prescribed for ADHD, are the next most popular.  

-Marsha Lopez

Besides marijuana and nicotine what other things do people use for vaping?

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

alcohol, cannabis extracts.

-Nora Volkow

Besides the mental aspects of using marijuana are there any physical side effects?

-cody, Massachusetts

Hi Cody. Marijuana use leads to addiction in 1 out of 6 people who start using in their teens.  Many people have problems with:

  • learning and memory
  • perception (distorted time, touch, sound, etc)
  • poor coordination
  • increased heart rate

Thank you for your question!

-Joni Rutter

Ca E-cigarettes causes as much or more damage than normal?

-Swaggyp, Michigan

Hi Swaggyp, 
There are a lot of misconceptions about vape pens and e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor,that e-cigs and vape pens produce is really made of the specific chemicals in the vape pen, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, THC, chemical flavorings, and others.  Surveys show that many teens don’t even know what chemicals are in their e-cig device. We still don't know all the effects of using vape pens because they are so new. One thing we worry about with e-cigarettes is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. On the other hand, if a cigarette smoker is able to give up regular cigarettes by using e-cigarettes, it’s probably a good thing. About 13 percent of 12th graders have tried e-cigs. Check out these resources on e-cigs – https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Maureen Boyle

Cameron H. IMS, KS- How do drugs make you high?

-AMY KARR, Kansas

Drugs make people high by causing activation of the reward centers of the brain.

-Wilson Compton

are steroids addictive

-tsangosanya, Texas

Frequently Asked Question: Steroids—are they bad for you?
Your own body produces all the steroids it needs. It needs them to regulate your growth, and for reproductive functions. The kind sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height.  It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male).  If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Roger Sorensen

Are steroids addictive ? What is the strongest steroids I can find? I want to be stronger

-Calvin Mires, Michigan

Hi Calvin,
Steroids don't make you big and strong by themselves--you have to work at it with exercise.  And if you do the work, you are getting bigger and stronger by yourself!  Anabolic steroids do help build muscles, but only in specific areas on the body with "androgen receptors", found in places like the neck and shoulders, places that are visible to others.  But no one has actually shown that they can make you stronger or increase your endurance.  And steroids can be dangerous.  In males, they can reduce the size of testicles, cause baldness and cause development of breasts.  In females, they can cause growth of facial hair, baldness similar to men and a deepened voice.  In adolescents, they can cause additional problems because adolescents aren't full grown.  For example, they can cause stunted growth.  You can find more information at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids  

-Nancy Pilotte

Are steroids as equally dangerous as other addictive drugs?

-mbanks, Texas

Hi mbanks, 
Your own body produces all the steroids it needs. It needs them to regulate your growth, and for reproductive functions. The kind sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height.  It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male).  If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Maureen Boyle

Are steroids bad ?

-Calvin Mires, Michigan

Hi Calvin,
Yes, steroids are very bad. They can cause all kinds of damage to your body, including damaging your heart and liver, and they can cause your sex organs to shrink. They also can lead to depression and mood problems like anger. 

-Eric Wargo

are suboxitives less dangerous but still dangerous after doing heroin

-ISmart, New Hampshire

I'm not quite sure of your question, ISmart. But since you mentioned heroin, I'm thinking that you are referring to Suboxone and naloxone (brand name: Narcan). These are medications that are used to save a person dying from an opioid overdose. Suboxone and naloxone block the ability of heroin and other opiates [oxycodone] to produce their effects on the body and brain. Suboxone and naloxone are great life-savers in treating heroin and prescription opiate overdose.

-Roger Sorensen

Are the bad effects from a cig the same as marijuana?

-discovery, Washington

Some of marijuana's effects include panic, anxiety, sensory distortion, lack of coordination, increased heart beat, etc.  Here is some additional info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana/what-are-marijuana-effects.

As to which one is more harmful, I'd say whichever one you are using is. That said, e-cigs and cigarettes are pretty harmful. While e-cigs are often promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes, which deliver nicotine by burning tobacco, little is known yet about the health risks of using these devices. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes. Early studies show that use of e-cigs among teens may increase their risk of smoking: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/08/teens-using-e-cigarettes-may-be-more-likely-to-start-smoking-tobacco.  

-Joni Rutter

Are the national surveys for teens who use drugs very accurate, if at all? Because how do you know if the survey participants are telling the truth about if they do or don't use drugs?

-hugs-notdrugs, Maryland

Hey, hugs-notdrugs!  That's a really good question, and one I hear all the time. We use statistics to estimate how truthful and reliable our surveys are using complex methodologies that are well-tested and verified. There are three major national surveys that look at drug use behavior and attitudes among teens- the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillence, and the Monitoring the Future survey.  All three of these surveys have different methods and look at slightly different populations. So which one to believe, if any at all?  Even though the numbers in each survey may differ, over time they show almost exactly the same trends, which gives us a good picture of drug use.

-Marsha Lopez

Are their drugs that people use that were originally created for animal use?

-SMS, New Jersey

I got another question from you, SMS. The one drug that I can think of is ketamine. Ketamine is used as an animal anesthetic, and it can have adverse consequences in humans. Unfortunately, some people are abusing ketamine.

-Roger Sorensen

Are there any drugs that can cause birth defects?

-HeWasNumberOne, Michigan

Yes, alcohol is one of the most well characterized drugs for this.  Other drugs have more subtle effects or are still being studied.

-Susan Weiss

Are there any long-term effects of taking ecstasy?

-fdadabhoy, Texas

fdadabhoy, here is some information about ecstasy. High levels of Ecstasy in the bloodstream can be life-threatening; they increase the risk of seizures and affect the heart's ability to maintain its normal rhythms. Some people who use MDMA (Ecstasy) might feel so alert and “hyper” that they could keep dancing at a club for hours at a time and lose their sense of time. However, others can experience anxiety, agitation, faintness, sweating, or chills. Ecstasy (X, Molly, or MDMA) changes the body in many ways. It even interferes with the body's temperature regulation, which leads to dangerous overheating, called hypothermia. This can lead to serious heart and kidney problems—or even death. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/mdma-ecstasy-or-molly

-Roger Sorensen

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