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.

Download Full Year

have scientists found the antidote for drugs yet

-alazo, Texas

We have an antidote to reverse opiate overdoses (named naloxone or narcan) but there are no antidotes for long term effects yet

-Nora Volkow

Have there been any new drugs discovered in 2017

-Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Hi, Vestavia Hills, this question is a moving target because new drugs tend to burst onto the scene rapidly (and sometimes disappear just as rapidly). We have a National Drug Early Warning System which includes a virtual community of scientists, government officials, public health experts, law enforcement representatives, who share information from their local communities about emerging drug problems or changes in drug use trends. Check it out!

-Marsha Lopez

Have you ever been high?

-NBG, Other

I am high on life every day!

-Carol Krause

have you ever drank to much

-Leslie FVSU 4_H, Georgia

Yes, indeed. I have. And I paid a terrible price for it :(

-Aaron White

Have you guys ever been impacted by alcohol?

-SymmetraMain69, New York

Yes for sure. My family has several alcoholics in it. I watched someone almost die from an alcohol overdose when I was a teenager. Alcohol can be a very dangerous drug.

-Aaron White

Hello again Roger Little, How does drinking and smoking affect a woman's pregnancy? -JArdsley, Ardsley High School

-JArdsley, New York

Dear JArdsley,

This is a great question. Drugs can have significant effects on a developing fetus. A lot of research has been done about this. It is important for a woman's doctor to know if she has used any drug during pregnancy so that the baby can receive the proper care. There is a lot of good information about drug use during and after pregnancy here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby.

-Roger Little

Hello I was wondering, what would happen if someone snort cocaine what would the effects be?

-SVG, Other

Cocaine binds to receptors in the brain regions that are involved in how we experience reward. It makes you feel good and you want to keep feeling that way, so you crave more cocaine. The more you use, though, the fewer of the receptors your brain makes, so you need more of the drug to get the same feeling. Eventually, no matter how much of the drug you take, you can reproduce the feeling, but you can't stop the urge to take it. It is a vicious cycle. Also, cocaine affects many other organs in the body, including the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. So there are many severe consequenses to cocaine use, including high blood pressure, damage to your lungs, and even heart attack and strokes. There is a lot more information here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/cocaine

-Roger Little

Hello maureen boyle can you answer my question of is weed worse than cigarettes

-maythelordbewit, Maryland

Hey maythelordbewit - that depends on how much you use and how you use it. They can both be damaging to your health. While cigarettes pose a greater risk for cancers, marijuana has profound effects on learning and memory. Neither are good for you.

- Maureen

-Gaya Dowling

Hello Michele Rankin:), why do people start so young if they aren't depressed and nothings wrong, want to do drugs if they know the could get hurt?

-PHolden, Texas

Hi PHolden - that's a tough question. Peer pressure can influence people to use drugs while others may turn to drugs to help them manage stress and other complicated life challenges. It's important to listen carefully to our friends and family and help them through difficult times before they turn to drugs.

-Michele Rankin

hello why does alcohol effect your behavior

-Dont Do Drugs25, Texas

Alcohol affects every part of the brain. In the short-term, alcohol interferes with the frontal lobes, which leads to risky choices, the amygdala, which makes us less aware when we're in danger, the cerebellum, which makes us lose our balance, and the hippocampus, which leads to memory gaps ("blackouts").

Neurons, or brain cells, talk to each other using chemicals called 'neurotransmitters.' Alcohol interferes with the ability of neurons to talk to each other using neurotransmitters. When it affects neurons involved in thinking and making good choices, the person has trouble with those tasks. When it affects memory areas in the brain, the person has trouble making memories. It can also affect the part of the brain that controls our movement, making it more difficult to walk and focus.

Teens who drink too much also risk suffering lingering problems with attention and memory.

-Aaron White

Hello! What would be the most common drug that people use

-Jmurray, Texas

Thank you for your question Jmurray. Alcohol is the most common drug used by both teens and adults. In fact, more than 80% of persons aged 12 or older used alcohol in 2015, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Hello, and thanks for giving us this opportunity to learn the risks of drugs and acohol! My Question is, how does Alcohol "Burn" neurons? and also, is there any way to reverse it?

-Skyrain Hyakuya, Other

Alcohol does not burn neurons but at high doses alcohol can cause neurons to malfunction and even die. It's unclear how much recovery happens in the brain if someone drinks enough to actually kill neurons.

-George Koob

Hello, Is being addicted to drugs hereditary, or does it stop at the first person.

-Logan W., Pennsylvania

Hello Logan W.,

This is a great question. This area of science is rapidly developing. There is evidence that cocaine can change the grandchildren of men who use it. Scientists are finding a broad array of effects, such as how anxious a person is, their sleep/wake cycle, risk of obesity, and cardiovascular disease. This science is called epigenomics, and if you google epigenomic transgenerational drug effects, you will see all of the science in this area. Yet another reason not to try drugs.

-Roger Little

Hello. What are steroids that cause your performance to enhance

-jonahcalebfvsu4, Georgia

Anabolic steroids are widely used by athletes and non-athletes - but, their use is associated with significant and serious adverse health consequences including severe depression, suicide attempts, heart failure, kidney failure and even deaths. Check out https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more information.

-Jag Khalsa

help, my friend is using drugs, how do i stop them

-loll, Massachusetts

Your friend is lucky to have such a caring friend. One of the best things you can do is let him/her know you are there to support them and encourage them to seek help from a trusted adult—perhaps a teacher, coach, parent, or counselor. You can also help by being a strong positive influence - help them get involved in non-drug-using activities like joining a club, playing music, or playing a sport. However, if your friend is becoming a negative influence in your life you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. If you feel your friend is a danger to him or herself, or to others, it is important to tell a trusted adult right away – it could save their life. See our Step-by-Step Guides: www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment

-Carol Krause

hey Eric Wargo thanks for answeing me i luv u have a wonderful day

-apricotjam, Maryland

You're welcome apricotjam! :-)

-Eric Wargo

hey Marsha what is the difference between the effects of heroine and mj

-n.r.s., Illinois

Hi, n.r.s., thanks for asking! Heroin and marijuana are actually quite different from each other in many ways. Heroin comes from a class of drugs called opioids, and is synthesized from morphine which is extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, and contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds. They act upon different receptors and areas of the brain, producing different immediate effects plus have dramatically different risks for long term impacts like infectious disease and overdose. For more info check out our website at https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/heroin and https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana.

-Marsha Lopez

Hey marsha, what age group is most suseptable to drugs?

-jeff98, Indiana

Hi, jeff98, that's a really great question but one that isn't easy to answer. Susceptibility to using drugs depends on a combination of risk and protective factors that are tied to your biology, environment, and development. I can, however, tell you some information about the age when people start using according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which surveys people 12 and older. The average age to start drinking was 18, however if we look at just underage drinkers, meaning kids who started drinking before the age of 21, the average age is around 16. The average age of marijuana initiation is16 if we look at just people who started using marijuana before age 21. However looking at everyone over the age of 12, the average is around 19 years old. Here's some more info for you on understanding drug use and addiction.

-Marsha Lopez

hey Marsha, why does drug addiction make you look older?

-Cash Me Ousside, California

Hi, Cash Me Ousside, thanks for your question. Many drugs have vascular effects, which means they impact how vessels supply blood and oxygen to the skin and other tissues. Others, like tobacco smoke for example, degrade collagen which is the structural protein that makes up the skin. The actual physical act of using, like puckering to smoke or the heat contact involved with smoking, can cause wrinkles, any loss of facial fat from malnourishment can make you look older, plus increased oral decay is often seen in individuals who are addicted to drugs -- all of these factors contribute to looking older than you should.

-Marsha Lopez

Hey! If someone became clean but fell back in drugs and alcohol abuse, is it harder to become clean again? How can you help him/her to get out of this problem?

-FLU, Other

FLU - The truth is that relapse (using drugs again after treatment) is often a part of someone's recovery from drug addiction. Relapse might indicate someone needs additional treatment, a different type of treatment, medication in addition to behavioral counseling, etc. Relapse does not mean treatment does not work or that the person with addiction should give up. Friends and family can provide ongoing support and help the person continue seeking help. Patience, kindness, and listening are almost always helpful!

More information on drug use and addiction can be found at: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/

More information on treatment is available at:
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/have-a-drug-problem-need-help

-Redonna Chandler

Hey, how fast can i get drunk if it´s the first time i drink alcohol?

-1010, Other

Dear 1010, It's definitely not a good idea to even think about getting drunk at your age. But, to answer your question, it takes about 30-60 minutes for alcohol to get completely absorbed into the body. How fast a person could get drunk depends on how much and how fast they drink.

-Aaron White

Hi all , where do drugs come from?

-Leslie4-H FVSU, Georgia

Depends on the drug. Some are made from plant products (marijuana) while others are synthetically manufactured (LSD).

-Jack Stein

Hi Eric Wargo, Even though people use steroids to make themselves look better, what happens if an athlete takes too much steroids? ~JArdsley, Ardsley High School

-JArdsley, New York

Hi again JArdsley,
Great question. Side effects of steroid use include developing opposite-sex characteristics -- if you're a male, it means you can develop "breasts" (called gynecomastia) and your testicles can shrink. It also causes dangerous conditions like heart disease and liver disease, even in young people who wouldn't otherwise be at risk.

-Eric Wargo

hi how how do you loose your coordination from using marijuana

-D.yemane, Texas

There are marijuana receptors in the areas of the brain responsible for motor cooridnation that are directly affected.

-Nora Volkow

Hi I have question about drug addiction, What is the most common way become addicted?

-brevin, Ohio

There are a lot of pathways to addiction. Of course it starts with taking drugs, for what ever reason. And typically one would take them over time, and taking the drugs becomes more and more compulsive regardless of the consequences -- and about needing the drugs to not feel bad. Take a look at this resource for more detailed information:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-add...

-Dave Thomas

hi is vapor bad for lungs how bad

-blanco123, Texas

Vaping often includes nicotine, which is an addicitive chemical that comes from tobacco. Vaping also involves other risks -- including inhaling various chemicals that result from the heating the "juice" so that it can be vaporized. These chemicals can be bad for the lungs. Here's a blog post that addresses the unknowns of vaping...especially among teens: https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2015/02/knowns-unknowns-about-e-cigarettes-teens.

-Kevin Conway

Hi Ruben Baler, How many people do you think become addicted to drugs and alcohol? It's fine if you don't know. From, JArdsley, Ardsley High School

-JArdsley, New York

hey JArdsley, Ruben had to leave but there are currently about 22.5 million people in the U.S. with a substance use disorder.

-Maureen Boyle

Hi! i have a dude about the complications that a baby can have in the future because of the consume of drugs when the mother is pregnant. Why did that happen? How could that influence in his/her genetic or DNA?

-AMRL, Other

Dear AMRL,
Illicit drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes can harm a developing fetus. Birth defects and stunted development may result. Brain development can be slowed too, and the baby can be born addicted to drugs (neo-natal abstinence syndrome). Dealing with this requires a doctor's care because stopping the drug if the baby is addicted can be harmful or even fatal. There is no safe way to use drugs during pregnancy, and even prescription drugs can be damaging to a fetus and should only be used under a doctor's supervision. Babies born addicted to drugs can have a whole range of outcomes. It is very important for a mother-to-be to tell her doctor she is using drugs so that the baby can be treated. Treatment can reduce the chance that the child will experience developmental problems as he or she grows.

-Roger Little

Hi! Thank you for hosting this event! :) Can you tell us about your education? AP Psychology Miami Palmetto Senior High First Period

-aschaffer, Florida

Hi, aschaffer, what a great question for my first of the day! I started off as a chemistry major in college but eventually switched and graduated with an undergraduate degree in psychology. I had always planned to go to medical school but wanted to work for a couple of years so I got a fellowship with NIDA in preclinical behavioral pharmacology of all things (I worked on cocaine research). During that time I realized that perhaps medical school wasn't what I really wanted and looked into what other heath related options would appeal to me and stumbled into epidemiology/public health. I started with a Masters in Health Science in public mental health and liked it enough to go on to a PhD with a focus in drug and alcohol dependence epidemiology. And years later here I am!

-Marsha Lopez

Hi, Can I be a coffee addict? Im desperate, please answer!

-MARKITOS ESCOB, Other

hey MARKITOS ESCOB, yes caffeine is addictive and about 9% of people who use caffeine develop an addiction.

-Maureen Boyle

Pages