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

alcohol? does it affect you more if you take pills with it to

-discovery, Washington

It depends on the pills. Anything that makes people feel sleepy is generally very dangerous to combine with alcohol. And alcohol can interfere with antibiotics and some other medicines. If you're under age 21, it's best not to drink alcohol at all. If you're over 21 and take medication, it's best to speak with your doctor about potential effects before combining pills with alcohol. Generally, this is not a good idea.

-Aaron White

Allison M. IMS, KS-How many beers do you have to drink to kill yourself in one day or night?

-AMY KARR, Kansas

Good question. That's something that would depend on how old the person is, their size, whether they are used to drinking alcohol, and other factors. It's important to recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning. Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Hypothermia (low temperature)
  • Bluish skin color
  • Paleness

If you think someone you know may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, make sure to get help immediately. You can call 911.
You can learn more about alcohol poisoning at: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets

 

-Aaron White

Amna Hussain from Reservoir High school Most teenage drug users come from low income families. How can they seek help from rehabs and such if they have no insurance or anything else to pay for help?

-amna, Maryland

Hi Amna, Great question. Drug and alcohol use isn't limited to any income level, but it's true that low-income families and communities are at increased risk. The insurance problem is a terrible one, and it is one of the reasons for new health reform laws that are making it easier for low-income people to be insured and to have medicaid benefits, and also requiring insurance companies to cover drug rehab. Hopefully in the near future it will be easier for low-income people to get drug treatment. Glad you are thinking about this.

-Eric Wargo

Are alcoholism and drug addiction genetically inherited?

-DA, New Jersey

Hi DA

It's not 100%. Your genes are not a death sentence. but genes do contribute (abouot 50% roughly) to your overall risk of using drugs and of becoming addicted. The other 50% of the risk has to do with the environment you live in and the age at which you start using a drug. The earlier you are exposed to a drug of abuse the higher your risk of becoming addicted.

Thanks for the great question.
Ruben
 

-Ruben Baler

Are all drugs bad?

-jasmineb, Georgia

Hey jasmineb -  This depends on what you mean by "bad."  Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long-term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. Many drugs, and alcohol, can impair your coordination and lead to devastating accidents (like drunk driving). Other drugs, like meth, can be especially toxic to your brain. And taking drugs, like heroin or cocaine, or misusing prescription drugs, has the potential to cause overdose and death even the first time you use them. It can also lead to addiction. So any drug you use can be the most dangerous drug for you. Please protect your brain and your health - you need them! Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

-Joni Rutter

ARE ALL PRESCRIBED DRUGS GOOD FOR YOU

-Ethan G, Texas

Prescribed drugs are given to you in limited amounts for limited amounts of time and will hopefully help resolve the medical issue for which they are prescribed.  But if you misuse or abuse them by using them when you no longer have a problem or taking too much of them at one time or using someone else's prescription, they would not be good for you.  In fact, taking too much of the prescription medicine Vicodin or other opiate drugs can result in your death.  For more information on prescription drugs, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs

-Nancy Pilotte

are any steroids used for medical purposes?

-jgarcia, Texas

yes, some steroids are used as anti-inflammatory drugs, for the treatment of allergic reactions and autoimmune disorders.   the most frequently used steroid is cortisol. Androgenic anabolic steroids can also be used medically, to treat hypogonadism, a condition in which the testes do not produce sufficient testosterone for normal growth, development, and sexual functioning. The primary medical uses of these compounds are to treat delayed puberty, some types of impotence, and wasting of the body caused by HIV infection or other diseases.

-Nora Volkow

are brownies a drug and is it addictive

-mike hawk, Massachusetts

Hi Mike,Brownies contain chocolate, which is highly delicious, but not technically addictive.

-Eric Wargo

Are coca plants addictive or do they have to be converted to a drug?

-jthompson, Texas

the coca leaf generates a mild state of dependence. once it is processed into cocaine, then it becomes highly addictive

-Ruben Baler

are drug users losers?

-mary jane, Illinois

Hi mary jane,
Is that your real name? :-)
Everybody is a winner, so no. 
But in the long run, lots of scientific research shows that people who use drugs a lot have more problems in life including mental illness, do worse in school, don't make as much money, and are less happy. 

-Eric Wargo

are drugs and norcotis the same thing

-pizzapoppers, Illinois

Hi pizzapoppers,
"Narcotics" sometimes means all illegal drugs, but sometimes it is used to mean just drugs that make you sleep ("narco" means sleep), such as opioids.
Great question!

-Eric Wargo

are drugs good for you when you need it

-jamecia.T10, Georgia

Hi jamecia.T10,
Prescription drugs can be  good for you if you take them as directed by your doctor. They are mostly dangerous when used instead to get high.
 

-Eric Wargo

Are drugs purchased through the internet (e.g. Silk Road) generally more or less safe than drugs purchased on the 'street level'?

-gaas01, Minnesota

Great question, gaas01,
Both are unsafe. You have no idea who you are buying from, or who your dealer got it from. 

-Eric Wargo

Are drugs worse when smoked or does it not matter?

-choon0949, Michigan

Hey Choon0949--Drugs will get into your system faster if they are smoked. The faster a drug reaches your brain the more addictive it usually is. But drugs are still addictive when taken in other ways.

-Joni Rutter

are E cigarettes healthier than normal cigarette's?

-fabushaban, Texas

HI fabushaban,
There are a lot of misconceptions about vape pens and electronic cigarettes, or 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 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

are e cigaretts adictive

-egamboa, Texas

if they have nicotine then yes if just flavor then no

-Nora Volkow

are e-cigarettes better than real cigarettes

-mary jane, Illinois

hi mary jane
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

-Ruben Baler

Are electronic cigarettes addictive?

-Teagan, Massachusetts

Depends on what is in them. If one inhales an addictive chemical using an e-cig, it is still addictive. Check out our fact sheet for more info: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes.

-Dave Thomas

Are electronic cigarettes bad for you?

-Ace, Massachusetts

Hi Ace.  While electronic cigarettes (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. Because they are not regulated, it's hard to know exactly what is in the liquid vaporized by e-cigs. 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 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

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