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.

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are cigars any healthier that cigarettes?

-firedude311, Pennsylvania

I don't think so.but they smell kind of better, don't they?

-Ruben Baler

are cigars or pipe smoking any healthier than cigarettes?

-firedude311, Pennsylvania

Not that I know of.But cigars and pipe smoking does tend to transfer the risk of cancer from the lungs to the oral cavity. Trust me those cancers do not look pretty.Thanks for your question and stay healthy!

-Ruben Baler

are drugs bad?

-amanda, New Jersey

Hi, Amanda. Thanks for the questions. Not all drugs are bad. Medications prescribed to you by your doctor and taken as instructed are generally not harmful. You need to steer clear of drugs that are illegal and prescription drugs when not prescribed specifically for you, or taken in a way that was not intended.

-David White

are drugs hard to make?


Some drugs like marijuana or coke are much easier to just extract from a plant. Some drugs like meth or ecstasy can be made (or synthesized) quite easily. Which is a problem of course.Thanks for the question.

-Ruben Baler

Are electric cigarettes better for you?

-Snookiewantsmu, New Jersey

Thanks for the great questionThe jury is still out on this one. Recently, the FDA tested some versions and found diethylene glycol and some specific nitrosamines in addition to nicotine. based on these and other findings, the FDA issued a press release discouraging the use of electronic cigarettes and repeating previously stated concerns that electronic cigarettes may be marketed to young people and lack appropriate health warnings.Personally, I'd worry that young people would perceive the e-cigarettes a safer alternative to smoking even though there is no evidence to support that claim.take care.

-Ruben Baler

are energy drinks dangerous

-klagarda=D, Maryland

They could be. Some people may be at risk of serious cardiovascular consequences when exposed to the large amounts of caffeine that some of these drinks pack. thanks and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

Are four loko's going to be made illegal sometime soon?


In fact, this week it was made illegal in Michigan. We'll have to wait and see whether it gets banned in other states.

-Aaron White

are nicotine withdrawls and depression related?

-theblindmonkey, Kentucky

Nope...Many people who stop taking nicotine (tobacco) can experience depressive-like behavior, like depressed mood, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, trouble sleeping, increased weight gain, but it doesn't mean they are clinically depressed.

-David Shurtleff

Are some people not affected by drugs?

-craigb, New York

Some people are more susceptible and others are less susceptible to the effects of drugs. Very few people can use drugs and not be affected. In fact I have never heard of a person who could take drugs and be guaranteed that there would be no heath consequences.

-Joe Frascella

can alcoholism and drug use cause mental disorders?

-genbeloin, Vermont

Hi. This is a bit of a chicken and egg question - it's not clear which comes first, though we know that they are associated. For example, some people with mental health problems use alcohol or other drugs as a way of 'self-medicating,' while use of drugs and alcohol can lead to cognitive impairments, memory loss, depressed mood, and other mental health symptoms. So, no definitive answer on cause - but a great question.

-Amy Goldstein

Can an animal get high?

-rossmand, New Jersey

Yes, drugs affect animals much the same way that drugs affect humans. Research has shown that animals have receptors for drugs in the same parts of the brain as humans. In fact, one way that new drugs are tested to see if they can be abused is to see if animals (typically rats) will press a lever in order to get an injection of a small amount of the drug. The more they press the lever, the more likely the drug will be addictive in humans. This is called 'self-administration'. Animal models of addiction have been very helpful in enhancing our understanding of addiction, leading to better ways to prevent and treat it in humans.

-Steve Grant

can animals get "high"?

-big bird, Kentucky

yes and no - depending on the type of drug, the type of animal, and the quantity of drug the animal consumed. Animals may not react to drugs in the same way that humans do b/c their brains are different from humans' brains in many ways. Because of these differences, they may not 'get high' at all or they may react even more serverely where they end up with more severe behavioral reactions to the drug (such as seizures or maybe even death) depending on the type and quantity of drug the animal consumed...

-Kris Bough

Can animals get drunk?

-hackettstown, New Jersey


-Aaron White

can animals get high?

-big****bandit, Maryland

Probably. They can't say to us, 'Dude, I am really messed up' but there are a lot of similarities between animals and people in how they act when on drugs of abuse. You should see the spiderwebs made by spiders on drugs. Very messed up... For more information see

-David Thomas

Can any drug permanently afffect you?


This is a complicated question with no simple answer, but let me try to answer it.Remember that there are direct and indirect effects of drug use AND there is tremendous variation among people, so each person will react differently to the effects of drugs. One person may be affected by cocaine (for example, developing a heart condition -- a direct effect) and another person might not. There is also huge potential for permanent indirect effects, for example, dying or becoming permanently disabled after a car accident in which you were driving (or be driven by someone) under the influence of alcohol or drugs.Need more information on the effects of drugs? Visit: and

-Michelle Leff

can any medicine become a addictive drug to a person if used to much

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Drugs that directly affect the brain and its chemistry and connections, like meds that affect mood and sleep, can be addictive. Most people who use drugs for a while do not become addicted, but many do, and we still don't understand who will get addicted. This is why it's important not to take the chance. Once someone is addicted, it's VERY hard to treat, and be forever rid of cravings altogether. More info on how drugs impact the brain is on our teen site at

-Jim Bjork

can babbys be addicted to crack when born

-master8675309, Wyoming

Hello Wyoming + thanks for your question! Babies exposed to crack in utero usually aren't born addicted, but there can be other aspects of development that are affected. Early on these babies might have lower birth weights or smaller heads, although this difference can disappear over time. Researchers are following groups of kids who were exposed to cocaine and/or crack in utero (in the womb) and following the same kids through infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. They are finding that these kids are more likely to have attention and behavior problems compared to their non-exposed peers, even those from the same neighborhoods and with similar backgrounds. There are other abused drugs that moms take when pregnant that can result in babies being in withdrawal when they are born, namely opiates --heroin, morphine, oxycotin, vicodin and other opiate based pain relievers. Not all, but many of these infants are born with neonatal abstinence sydrome, a set of symptoms that appear to be uncomfortable for the baby, and they go through withdrawal the first days of life. There are treatments for these infants - behavioral and medicine, that can help with the withdrawal. Here's some more information on prenatal drug exposure.

-Nicolette Borek

can babys be effected by drugs for long term time


It depends, but drug exposure to a baby can cause serious damage. Prenatal exposure can affect a child and affect his or her brain and behavior development . The medical consequences of drug exposure can range depending on many factors. Negative consequences can be short or long term affects on the brain resulting in problems in memory, attention and behavior. If someone is pregnant and using drugs, there are treatment programs designed to help them and their baby. If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Tha

-Cheryl Boyce

can becoming an alcoholic be tied to genetics rather than just an addiction?

-genbeloin, Vermont

Because of genetics, a person can be born with a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic if they have alcoholism in their family. That means that if either of your parents is an alcoholic, your chances of becoming alcohol dependent are higher than someone whose parents are not alcoholics. This is true even if you are raised in a home without the alcoholic parent. If you have a family history of alcoholism, it's very important to wait to try alcohol for as long as possible. The earlier a person starts drinking alcohol the greater the chances they will become alcohol dependent. For instance, if a kid with a family history of alcoholism who starts drinking alcohol at age 14-15, he or she has about a 50/50 chance to go on to have a serious alcohol problem. Waiting just a few years lowers the odds significantly! Only 16% of people with a family history of alcoholism develop alcoholism if they wait until age 21 to drink.

-Aaron White

Can being an addict or alcoholic be hereditary?

-2 cool 4 school,

What a great question.Addiction is a 'complex' disease. That means that part of the risk (about 50%) comes from your genes. So,addiction does run in a family. But it is definitely not a 'sentence'. Because the other half is contributed by the environment (family, friends, school, etc) whose combined power can either block or boost whatever hereditary risk might be lurking in your genes. So, even if your parents handed down to you really high risk gene variants there is always hope and the possibility to avert disaster in a nurturing, loving, positive, and drug free environemnt.good luck

-Ruben Baler

Can breath mints be a drug?

-warda, New York

Probably not. Not counting alcohol, something needs to have molecules in it that fit special molecules on brain cells to give a mood effect to be a real drug. Have you taken the National IQ Challenge? Go to

-Jim Bjork

Can caffeine be addictive? Does it have negative short- or long-term effects? Is there any reason to be concerned for friends who have a lot of it?

-271828, Vermont

Caffeine can cause dependence, as anyone trying to stop drinking his or her two regular morning cups o'joe can tell you. But it is certainly not addictive to the same extent as drugs like cocaine, nicotine, or marijuana. In the amounts that are normally taken the short or long term effects are nothing that I would really worry about.

-Ruben Baler

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

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