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

Are there substances that are present in sleep medication and pain killers that are also present in drugs that gives a drug satisfaction


Good question. and the answer is yes.Some people abuse benzos, for example, which are present in some sleep medications. And you probably know already about opioid drugs which are very similar to the active ingredient in pain killers like vicodine or oxycontin.

-Ruben Baler

Are there types or groups of people that are prone to become addicted to certain types of drugs or abusive material?

-jthschorus, New Jersey

Hi Jefferson Township! Great question! Individuals with mental health/ psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, PTSD, depression have a higher rate of use of drugs of abuse and have a higher rate of addiction than individuals that don't have these disorders. Also, exposure to stress can make individuals more susceptible to drug abuse and addiction. Genes also play a role. Scientists estimate that a person's genetic background can account for about 50 percent of a person's risk of becoming addicted. We even have identified particular genes changes that are linked to higher risk of alcoholism, tobacco addiction and other drugs. Hope this answers your question!

-David Shurtleff

are trip c's going to be illegal ever

-Grandma'sboy111, New Jersey

Triple C is a drug slang term which refers to cough medicine, derived from Coricidin Cough and Cold - a common over-the-counter antihistamine medication. When these medications are used under the care of a physician or according to directions, they can effectively treat a cough or common cold. Many states regulate the sale of 'over the counter' medications with pseudoephedrine but I am not aware of the same being true for medications containing antihistamines.

-Redonna Chandler

Are weed brownies healthier than smoking weed?

-pHlevel1, Maryland

Different risks for each. Certainly not smoking is better than smoking as far as your lungs go. But other types of adverse effects can be more likely when you ingest marijuana in foods--including panic, paranoia, or psychotic reactions. Although we don't really know why that is, we suspect that it may be because its harder to control the dose when you take marijuana in food, so even though the effects come on slower, they may hit you all at once and there's very little you can do about it except wait it out.

-Susan Weiss

Are you able to overdose on all over the counter drugs?

-15958503, Maryland

Tough to say completely. Generally, most drugs, whether over the counter or not, if taken at high enough doses can result in overdose--some by directly interfering with critical functions, others by affectingthe liver which is responsible for the breakdown of the medications. Technically, any dosing over the intended medical dose is an overdose

-Joe Frascella

Are you able to overdose on all over the counter drugs?

-15958503, Maryland

Tough to say completely. Generally, most drugs, whether over the counter or not, if taken at high enough doses can result in overdose--some by directly interfering with critical functions, others by affecting the liver which is responsible for the breakdown of the medications. Technically, any dosing over the intended medical dose is an overdose.

-Joe Frascella

Are you being compensated for answering these questions on "Drug Facts Char Day" or are you volunteering?

-sitchmhenk, Pennsylvania

we are all volunteers!

-Cindy Miner

Are you in favor of, or in opposition to, the medical use of MJ for AIDS patients? Do you think it really can help? If so, how?

-justcurious, New Jersey

At this point I'm much more in favor of the use of HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) for AIDS patients--since it actually treats the disease. Marijuana was used by AIDS patients to help reverse the severe wasting (weight loss) that is part of the disease and contributes to its progression, but it did not actually treat the disease. Nevertheless, for people who were dying before the discovery of antiretroviral therapies marijuana may have helped them live long enough to actually benefit from the medicines we now have to treat AIDS.

-Susan Weiss

are you more likely to become addicted to nicotine at a younger age or as an adult

-Waka Flocka, Maryland

Good question - there are some studies that suggest that while nicotine is addictive for both teenagers and adults, teenagers are more susceptible to addiction to nicotine than adults. For more facts about nicotine and other drugs, check out NIDA's new booklet for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths at

-Nicolette Borek

Are you more likley to do drugs if someone in your family does

-I AM MIKE, New Jersey

Great question! Research shows that children with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs are more likely to try alcohol/drugs and develop alcoholism/drug addiction. This occurs for several interrelated reasons. First, children of parents who abuse alcohol and drugs have an increased risk for childhood behavioral problems, which in turn increases the the risk of trying alcohol/drugs. Second, children of parents who abuse alcohol/drugs are exposed to more opportunities to try alcohol/drugs. Third, children of parents who abuse alcohol/drugs may inherit a genetic liability for alcoholism/addiction (from their parent(s)) which places them at increased risk of developing alcoholism/addiction. Of course, most children of parents who abuse alcohol/drugs do not develop alcoholism/addiction themselves, so neither genetics nor environment is 'destiny'. So, the short answer is .... there is an increased risk of developing drug and alcohol problems, but this can be avoided entirely by choosing not to use drugs or alcohol. And if drugs or alcohol have already been tried, then don't use either again. When someone has a drug problem, it's not always easy to know what to do. If someone you know is using drugs, encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with a lot of issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they're feeling or concerns for other family and friends. In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) - offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific need. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to

-Belinda Sims

Aren't drugs made from natural resources? If so , how do "they" ( as in drug manufacturing companies)transform natural resources into an addicting drug?

-16342809, Maryland

That's a really good question! Thanks for asking. It is true that most of our manufactured drugs are based on products that were originally found in plants. But individual plants often have very little of the compound of interest in them--they often taste bad because they are usually used to defend the plant from a natural predator. But these chemicals are also found with lots of other chemicals, some good, some bad, some indifferent. When you use plants or natural products directly, there is no control over the dose you can get, or the side effects (due to the other things found with them). Drug manufacturers make the drugs far more specific, targeting particular proteins called receptors, which limit the adverse side effects. Drugs that are addicting are addicting 'in the wild' too. Although these drugs are addictive, that is not why pharmaceutical companies make them. They make them to treat various conditions, but some of them may also be addictive. That is why it is important to only take prescription medications under the supervision of a physician, who will prescribe them for a specific condition and monitor their effects.

-Nancy Pilotte

as a professional on this topic, have you ever done drugs as a highschooler

-sitchmhenk, Pennsylvania

That's a great question. I didn't do drugs myself, but all of us were kids before and we all remember the pressures. Certainly for some of us our experiences as young people influenced our interest in drug abuse. As we have gotten older we have also seen consequences first hand and may feel even more passionate about understanding addiction.

-Aria Crump

At what levels would caffeine use become a health concern?

-rfer, New Jersey

It would really vary for differen persons, but as a rule of thumb, I would consider excessive and of potential concern, anything that contains above 200 mg caffeine per serving.thanks for the great question.

-Ruben Baler

At what stage are you classified as an alcoholic?

-ihatepink1, Kentucky

According to the National Library of Medicine, alcoholism is classified by the following 4 features:Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get "high" Check this out at:

-Aaron White

bill nye the science guy said that drugs ccan help you. is this true because thats why i started doing acid

-midgettp, New Jersey

Great question! There are lots of drugs--called medications--that can have very good effects on you. Remember, all drugs are not abused drugs--drugs are anything you take into your body for its effects, whether it is for control of pain, control of weight, control of diabetes, or antibiotics. Even drugs that have the potential for abuse have medical uses. Heroin is an abused opiate; but morphine, another opiate, is a medical treatment for pain. Cocaine not only can make you high, it is also a very effective local anesthetic still used today in eye surgery. Whether a drug is good for you or not often depends on dose and what you are using it for!And I don't think you should blame Bill Nye for your actions with LSD. You need to own that activity yourself, and know that treatment works. To get leads on help, go to anytime; they are open 24/7.

-Nancy Pilotte

both are bad but which is worse, smoking weed or making weed brownies?

-957532, Maryland

smoking weed is worse than making weed brownies(unless you eat the brownies too)

-Ruben Baler

By smoking crack cocaine could it affect your brain(life long term) after one time

-fellowhomie, Virginia

Unlikely, but each 'high' that someone experiences when using crack or any other drug affects the brain and increases the potential for addiction. Use of addictive drugs when you are young (about your age) increases the likelihood of permanent changes in the brain. It is also possible to overdose the first time that someone uses crack, as you can't be positive what dose you are getting or you may be an individual who is particularly sensitive to the drug, so it's best not to use crack even once.

-Joe Frascella

California recently voted against legalizing marijuana, how do you feel about the legalization of this drug?

-cvteacher, Pennsylvania

Regardless of personal feelings about the legalization of marijuana, the important thing to remember is that marijuana is a serious drug that can have harmful effects on the brain and body. Teens are at a critical period in the development of the brain. All addictive drugs - including marijuana impact the development of the teen brain and can create problems in function including memory, concentration, decision making, and even the development of addiction. Making marijuana legal might increase its availability and make it more accessible for teens. We have seen this with other drugs - including prescription drugs. The rates of teen abuse and addiction to prescription pain killers and other drugs has risen as the number of presriptions have risen. Whether you are for or against 'legalization' of marijuana increased avilability and use by teens would not be good for their health, development, or brains.

-Redonna Chandler

Can 1 use of any drug make you addicted

-16372550, Maryland

The process of addiction starts as soon as a drug enters your body and brain. But the time it takes to develop a noticeable addiction can vary a lot among people. It really depends on the person, the drug, how and how much you take it, and your genes. The problem is you don't know how prone you are to get addicted or whether you have become addicted until you start and try to stop--and by then, you may have a real problem. So if you have only used something once best not to use anymore. Check out this neat booklet for more:

-Steve Grant

Can a child get harmed by taking an adults prescription medicine?


Absolutely. In fact, even drugs that don't seem fatal or dangerous can harm children (for example, a common cause of unintentional overdose in children is from multi-vitamin's-because of the iron). But for prescription pain killers, children can have serious health issues and even death from accidental ingestion. It's dangerous for anyone to take a prescription medication that isn't prescribed for them-but for children that risk is even greater.

-Carol Krause

Can a person be addicted to fast food? how about video games?

-My Username, Maryland

Looks like it. Addiction is compulsive use despite negative consquences. That fits the bill for compusive eating and gaming. In fact there are clinics for internet addictions. There are some real horror stories of people playing games almost every waking moment, and they stay up most of the time. I mean, I like games but every waking moment....sounds like addiction to me.

-David Thomas

Can a person be arrested, and jailed for taking illegal drugs , or will they just be sent to rehab?

-20142025@PJPHS, Pennsylvania

Hello PA...heard of Lindsey Lohan, right? She's going back to jail for violating the terms of her probation (one of the terms being staying clean). The possession and use of some drugs is illegal. However, if someone wants to stop using drugs there are places to go and get professional help. Treatment programs addressing addiction are confidential places to go and get help to stop using drugs. More information about treatment can be found at:

-Redonna Chandler

Can a person get sick from second hand smoking?

-20142025@PJPHS, Pennsylvania

Yes -- not only can you get sick, and suffer from athasma and other respiratory problems, but second hand smoke can kill you. Of the 444,000 smoking-related deaths each year, 50,000 of these people never smoked a cigarette (i.e., they are the result of exposure to second hand smoke). More informaiton about smoking can be found at:

-Redonna Chandler

can a reptile get drunk


Yes! Although it might need some help drinking it!

-Aaron White

can alcohol affect babies

-johnm, Pennsylvania

Alcohol can affect babies whose mothers drink while they are still pregnant with them. When pregnant mothers drink, their babies can be born with a variety of different problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Babies born with FAS have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today. Babies should never be given alcohol to drink because it can make them very sick. Babies are so small - even a little bit of alcohol can cause problems, and even death.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol affect your ability to have children in the future?

-123, Kentucky

It's not clear whether drinking causes long-term effects on the likelihood of having children in the future. However, drinking while trying to conceive a child can definitely interfere with fertility. In females, drinking can disrupt the menstrual cycle and decrease the odds of conception. For males, alcohol also alters hormone levels and might affect sperm development, interfering with fertility that way. And, of course, it is very dangerous to the baby to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

-Aaron White

can soda be a drug

-rabinj, New York

Non-caffeine free soda contains caffeine. And caffeine is a drug that people can become physically dependent on. But physical dependence is not the same as addiction. It occurs because the body naturally adapts to chronic exposure to a substance (e.g., caffeine or a prescription drug), and when that substance is taken away, symptoms can emerge while the body readjusts to the loss of the substance. Physical dependence can lead to craving for the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. But, that said, if you find yourself unable to stop drinking lots of soda-it's definitely a good idea to ask a trusted adult for help.

-Cheryl Boyce

Can some drugs make you see things

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Depends on the drug. LSD and other hallucinogen drugs like psilocybin (mushrooms), mescaline, DMT, and Salvadorium A (salvia) can produce mild to strong perceptual distortions, which can include changes in colors, or in the shape and size of objects. Sometimes even common objects can look like something entirely different. Other types of drugs, such as stimulants, marijuana, or opioids, don't produce such strong perceptual effects. Here's some more facts on hallucinogens:

-Steve Grant

can some painkillers be considered as drugs


Yes, prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin are part of a class of drugs called opioids, just like heroin. These prescription painkillers can be very helpful to people in pain but when they are abused, that is taken in higher doses, more frequently, or smoked or injected, they can be very dangerous.

-Gaya Dowling

Can someone get high off ADHD or ADD medicine?

-dragonslayer1o1, Kentucky

Good morning dragonslayer. The class of medication most commonly used to treat ADHD/ADD are stimulants. I know - if someone is already 'hyper' why would you give them something to make them more hyper?! Because of the biology of the disorder, the truth is, if someone has ADHD taking stimulants is actually calming. You wouldn't get high from taking the medicine, but the medicine will help with things like attention and concentration. However, just like any other medical condition, you should not take medicine for something you don't have, as the effect on your body would be different than what is expected. Addiction to stimulants can happen if they are taken without medical supervision. Want to know more about ADHD?

And here's some further info on ADHD medications:

-Amy Goldstein