During National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® and year round, teens can test their knowledge about drugs, alcohol, and drug abuse by taking the interactive National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge quiz. A new challenge is posted annually during NDAFW.
When marijuana is smoked or vaporized, its effects begin almost immediately and can last from 1 to 3 hours. Decision making, concentration, and memory can suffer for days after use, especially in regular users.2 If marijuana is consumed in foods or beverages, the effects of THC appear later—usually in 30 minutes to 1 hour—but may last for many hours.
Long-term, regular use of marijuana—starting in the teen years—may impair brain development and lower IQ, meaning the brain may not reach its full potential.3,4
Learn more about how the brain works and what happens when a person uses drugs. And, check out how the brain responds to marijuana.
E-cigarettes are fairly new products. They’ve only been around for about a decade. Therefore, researchers are just in the early stage of studying the health effects for people who use these products or who are exposed to the aerosol (vapor) secondhand.
E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine without the other chemicals produced by burning tobacco leaves. Puffing on the mouthpiece of the cartridge activates a battery-powered inhalation device (called a vaporizer). The vaporizer heats the liquid inside the cartridge which contains nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals. The heated liquid turns into an aerosol (vapor) which the user inhales—referred to as “vaping.”
Because they do not burn tobacco, e-cigarettes are not expected to be as harmful to the lungs as other tobacco products. But since they are so new, we do not know for sure. Health experts have raised many questions about the safety of these products, particularly for teens:
- Testing of some e-cigarette products found the aerosol (vapor) to contain known cancer-causing and toxic chemicals, and particles from the vaporizing mechanism that may be harmful. The health effects of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear.
- There is animal research which shows that nicotine exposure may cause changes in the brain that make other drugs more rewarding. If this is true in humans, as some experts believe, it would mean that using nicotine in any form would increase the risk of other drug use and for addiction.
- Some research suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as a “gateway” or introductory product for youth to try other tobacco products, including regular cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to early death. A recent study showed that students who have used e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products within the next year.7
- The liquid in e-cigarettes can cause nicotine poisoning if someone drinks, sniffs, or touches it. Recently there has been a surge of poisoning cases in children under age 5. There is also concern for users changing cartridges and for pets.
Are e-cigarettes regulated?
Yes. The U.S. government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on May 5, 2016 that the FDA will now restrict how and to whom e-cigarettes, as well as hookah tobacco and cigars, can be sold. This means the FDA will now regulate these types of tobacco products in much the same way they regulate cigarettes:
- It is now illegal to sell e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars in person or online to anyone under age 18;
- Buyers have to show their photo ID to purchase e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars, verifying that they are 18 years or older.
- These products cannot be sold in vending machines (unless in an adult-only facility).
- It is illegal to hand out free samples.
FDA regulation also means that the Federal government will now have a lot more information about what is in e-cigarettes, the safety or harms of the ingredients, how they are made, and what risks need to be communicated to the public (for example, on health warnings on the product and in advertisements). They will also be able to stop manufactures from making statements about their products that are not scientifically proven.
Regulation does not mean that e-cigarettes are necessarily safe for all adults to use, or that all of the health claims currently being made in advertisements by manufactures are true. But it does mean that e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars now have to follow the same type of rules cigarette manufacturers have been following since 2009.
When teens drink, alcohol affects their brains in the short-term– but repeated drinking can also impact it down the road, especially as their brains grow and develop.
Short-Term Consequences of Intoxication (being “drunk”):
- An intoxicated person has a harder time making good decisions.
- A person is less aware that his/her behavior may be inappropriate or risky.
- A person may be more likely to engage in risky behavior, including drinking and driving, sexual activity (like unprotected sex) and aggressive or violent behavior.
- A person is less likely to recognize potential danger.
Long-Term Consequences as the Teen Brain Develops:
- Research shows that drinking during the teen years could interfere with normal brain development and change the brain in ways that:
- Have negative effects on information processing and learning.
- Increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug made from morphine, a psychoactive (mind-altering) substance that is extracted from the resin of the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. Heroin’s color and look depend on how it is made and what else it may be mixed with. It can be white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance called “black tar heroin.”
Heroin is part of a class of drugs called opioids. Other opioids include codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin). These drugs are chemically similar to endorphins, which are opioid chemicals that the body makes naturally to relieve pain (such as after exercise).
Because of where opioid receptors are located in the brain, heroin and other opioid drugs also activate the brain’s reward center, causing the “high” that puts the user at risk for addiction. In an overdose, it can also cause a person to stop breathing, which is often fatal.
Heroin use and overdose deaths have dramatically increased over the last decade. This increase is related to the growing number of people misusing prescription opioid pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin; many who become addicted to those drugs switch to heroin because it produces similar effects but is cheaper and easier to get.
In fact, nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin report having first misused prescription opioids.
To learn more about the different types of opioids, visit our Prescription Opioids Drug Facts page.