Drug Q&A

Test your knowledge on drugs and drug abuse by taking the 2013 National Drug IQ Challenge




1. An opioid is a mind-altering chemical that can come from a plant (the opium poppy) or be man-made. Which of these drugs is NOT an opioid?

A. Vicodin
B. Morphine
C. Heroin
D. Cocaine

A: D. Vicodin, morphine and heroin are opioids, which can slow down most bodily functions, including your breathing and heartbeat. While some opioids—like Vicodin and morphine— are powerful prescription pain relievers, they are sometimes abused and not taken as prescribed by a doctor. Cocaine, however, is a central nervous system stimulant—a class of drugs that can produce feelings of energy, power and intense concentration. Both stimulants and opioids can produce a “high” but can also be dangerous, addictive, and in cases of overdose, result in death. Click here to learn more.

2. What percentage of people who smoke marijuana every day become addicted?

A. 5-10% 
B. 80-90% 
C. 25-50% 
D. 60-75% 

A: C. It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens) and to 25-50 percent among daily users. Click here to learn more.

3. For several years, there have been more deaths from prescription pain reliever overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined. The deaths usually result from: 

A. Damage to the brain, causing a stroke 
B. Heart valve collapse 
C. Respiratory failure (breathing stops) 
D. Choking 

A: C. Taken as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain safely and effectively. However, when abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Click here to learn more.

4. People who take drugs can develop tolerance over time. This means: 

A. They become nicer, calmer people. 
B. They easily get sick to their stomach. 
C. They need to take more of a drug to get the same effect. 
D. They get physically stronger. 

A: C. When some drugs of abuse are taken, they can release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do. The brain adjusts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less of it, so a drug abuser must keep taking drugs just to bring the dopamine function back up to normal. And, they must take larger amounts of the drug than they first did to create the dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance. Click here to learn more.

5. Sharing ADHD medications is: 

A. Okay because a doctor prescribes them. 
B. Prescription drug abuse. 
C. Only abuse if used to get high. 
D. Legal. 

A: B. Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction. Click here to learn more.

6. What is NOT true about “bath salts": 

A. They can cause intense cravings similar to what methamphetamine users experience. 
B. They usually contain some type of stimulant drug along with other unknown ingredients. 
C. They are really only dangerous if snorted or injected. 
D. They have sent hundreds of people to the emergency room.

A: C. “Bath salts” often contain amphetamine-like chemicals including mephedrone, which can put users at risk for an overdose. While snorting or injecting bath salts are linked to the most serious health problems, including death, taking them orally can also be dangerous. These synthetic stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions. Click here to learn more.

7. K2 or Spice is a mixture of chemicals and herbs sometimes called “fake marijuana.” What do smokers inhale? 

A. Natural materials that come from eucalyptus leaves. 
B. Incense approved by the FDA. 
C. Powerful chemicals similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, but much stronger and untested in humans. 
D. Dried wildflowers.

A: C. “Spice” abusers who have needed emergency care report symptoms that include rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. Spice can also raise blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart, and in a few cases it has been associated with heart attacks. Regular users may experience withdrawal and addiction symptoms. Click here to learn more.

8. Taking drugs can lead to HIV—either through shared needles or risky sexual behaviors. About how many people in the US become infected with HIV each year? 

A. 7,000 
B. 12,000 
C. 50,000 
D. 110,000 

A: C. Drug and alcohol intoxication affects judgment and can lead to risky sexual behavior that puts participants at risk of contracting or transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, drug use and abuse can facilitate the progress of HIV infection by further compromising the immune system. Click here to learn more.

9. What is the worst thing that can happen to you if you “sniff” an inhalant? 

A. You can pass out. 
B. You can die. 
C. You can start coughing uncontrollably. 
D. You can get serious muscle spasms. 

A: B. Most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication. Possible irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, and bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). Click here to learn more.

10. Which best describes a good drug treatment program: 

A. Never uses medicines to treat addiction. 
B. Tailors treatment to each patient. 
C. Doesn’t drag on past 2 or 3 weeks. 
D. Expels anyone who relapses while in treatment. 

A: B. Scientific research has shown the value of behavioral counseling or counseling combined with medication to treat addiction. In addition, follow up care and attention to other medical or mental health problems are important. Click here to learn more.

11. What do all drugs of abuse have in common when it comes to the brain? 

A. They disrupt a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, which influences thirst, appetite, and body temperature. 
B. They overstimulate the cerebellum, the part of the brain that helps us coordinate movements. 
C. They cause a spike in dopamine levels, which makes us feel pleasure and want to repeat the experience. 
D. They increase the grey matter in the cerebral cortex, making us more aware and alert. 

A: C. Most drugs of abuse target the brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine—a neurotransmitter in parts of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and which teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Click here to learn more.

12. Which drugs work by mimicking a chemical naturally found in the brain? 

A. Heroin 
B. Marijuana 
C. Nicotine 
D. Alcohol 
E. All of the above 
F. A, B, and C

A: F. These drugs are chemicals. They work in the brain by tapping into the brain’s communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Although these drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don’t activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the brain’s network. Click here to learn more.