Test Your IQ: Drug Use and Addiction

Even moderate use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs can be harmful to your health.

By Ginny Greene, Editor

Drug addiction and abuse is a serious problem in America. Some people believe addiction is all about willpower. However, much research has shown that addiction is a brain disease.

Early experimentation with illicit drugs, nicotine and alcohol may be voluntary. But using or abusing these drugs can change the way our brains work. This, in turn, causes changes in our social behavior, judgment and relationships. Our actions can become centered on getting more of the drug we crave.

Drug abuse and addiction can affect heart and liver disease, lung disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, federal health officials say. Some of these physical effects occur over time. Some may occur with just a single use.

Let’s test your drug IQ. See how many of these questions you can answer correctly.

1. Abuse of alcohol, nicotine and illegal substances costs Americans a lot of money. The yearly cost of their combined medical, economic, criminal and social impact is estimated at:

  1. $500 million
  2. $1 billion
  3. $100 billion
  4. $500 billion

Answer: d. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says half a trillion dollars is spent on these areas related to alcohol and drug abuse.

2. Every year, abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol contributes to the death of how many Americans?

  1. 50,000
  2. 100,000
  3. 200,000
  4. 250,000

Answer: b. Add to this an estimated 440,000 deaths linked to tobacco use to get the total tragic picture: more than half a million preventable deaths due to addiction and chemical abuse.

3. Moderate drinking for an adult male is considered to be how much per day?

  1. The equivalent of a six-pack of beer
  2. The equivalent of two 4-ounce alcoholic drinks
  3. The equivalent of three 5-ounce. glasses of wine

Answer: b. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 say moderate drinking is up to two drinks a day for men and up to one drink a day for women. This refers to the amount consumed on any single day. It’s not an average over several days. In fact, certain people should not consume alcohol. These include minors, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, people on certain medications and those with certain health conditions. Those with a history of alcoholism or addiction to another substance should avoid alcohol. Check with your doctor if you feel you could be in a risk group.

4. What do we mean by abuse of prescription drugs?

  1. Taking a prescription drug that is not prescribed for you
  2. Taking a prescription drug in a dosage other than what is prescribed
  3. Using a prescription drug for a reason other than how it was prescribed
  4. All of the above

Answer: d. Pain medications, anxiety medications and stimulants are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs.

5. Occasionally smoking a cigarette or two is harmless. True or false?
False. Health experts stress that there is no safe level of tobacco use. Just being around smokers is bad for your health. Secondhand smoke causes as many as 49,000 deaths a year. Tobacco use is linked to one in five deaths in America.

6. What is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States?

  1. Methamphetamine, or meth
  2. Marijuana
  3. Cocaine
  4. Ecstasy

Answer: b. Marijuana use is especially popular among high school students and young adults. Government health officials surveyed 9th through 12th graders in 2011 and found that almost 40 percent admitted having tried marijuana one or more times.

7. Alcohol is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. True or false?
Answer: False. Nicotine in tobacco is the most common drug dependency. While it’s legal for adult use, nicotine is as addictive as cocaine, heroin and alcohol, studies show.

8. What is the leading cause of death from injuries in America?

  1. Traffic accidents
  2. Suicides
  3. Poisoning

Answer: c. As of 2008, poisoning was the leading cause of injury death. Drugs caused nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths.

9. Drug poisoning deaths are most common among adults under age 35. True or false?
Answer: False. Drug poisoning deaths are more common among those ages 45-54 than in other age groups.

10. It’s considered OK to drive after having no more than one alcoholic drink. True or false?
Answer: False. Even one drink of alcohol impairs reaction time and judgment. You should not drink and drive, ever.