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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can roid rage be avoided?

-iNK9, New York

Of course, just stay away from anabolic steroiods! Now, if your rage is not related to steroid abuse I suggest you take up yoga.

-Ruben Baler

can second hand smoke affect you in the long run?

-Fireroy900, Maryland

yes, it can for example affect your pulmonary function. it may also make you more vulnerable to become addicted to nicotine. It may also increase your risk for lung cancer.

-Nora Volkow

Can smoking affect athletics such as football?

-BUZZZ, Arizona

yes smoking affects pulmonary function which you need in order to have physical endurance

-Nora Volkow

can smoking drugs lead you to lung cancer.

-tysheagates, Pennsylvania

Good morning Ludlow!That's a great question. The short answer to that question is yes. Let's take, for example, cigarettes. Studies show that the younger a person starts smoking, the more likely they are to become heavy smokers and develop smoking-related diseases, including cancer. Remember, though, that smoking anything, including marijuana, meth or any other drug, can damage your lungs. For more information go to Again, thanks for your question!

-Steve Gust

Can smoking give you bladder cancer?

-b.radiance, Maryland

Good morning Einstein, welcome to the chat! Hi to all my friends there! We all know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but yes thre is scientific evidence that other types of cancer can be caused by smoking as well.

-Cindy Miner

can smoking pot affect my baby

-BLAH, Oregon

Yes, it can. Research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display responses to visual stimuli that differed from that of babies that weren't exposed, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. During the preschool years, marijuana-exposed children have been observed to perform tasks involving sustained attention and memory more poorly than nonexposed children do. In the school years, these children are more likely to exhibit deficits in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to pay attention.

-Larry Stanford

can u get addicted to meth the first time?

-215451, Washington

Yes, some people take a drug and realize right away that they will not be able to stop using it. The problem is that there is a lot we still don't know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it's a little like playing 'Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it.

-Steve Grant

can u get high from the can of spray that u use to get rid of dust

-manman, Michigan

The cans of spray used to clean dust and other household products if used to get high are called inhalants. These products are not intended to be sniffed and there are lots of warnings on those cans, with good reason. Sniffing these toxic chemicals can lead to problems with walking, talking, and thinking.Regular abuse of inhalants can cause serious harm to vital organs besides the brain, like the heart, kidneys, and liver. And if all that isn't enough-inhalants can be addictive.You can learn more about inhalants including their effects at NIDA's website

-Marsha Lopez

can u get high off a marker

-synthia_craig, Pennsylvania

Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used--and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!For more information about drugs, check out!

-David Shurtleff

can u get high off of a sharpy

-supperstar, Pennsylvania

Yes, there are some volatile substances in the Sharpie pens that some people sniff to get high. Inhalants can be extremely dangerous and can cause very serious damage to brain cells.For some excellent information on inhalants, check out: for the question.

-Joe Frascella

can u get high off sharpiess

-lswimmer617, Michigan

Some markers may give off chemicals that can damage the brain and liver if inhaled. There's a question about sharpies that a teen asked last year, and we posted it on the sara bellum blog--take a look:

-Dave McCann

Can using drug while pregant effect your baby???

-idalisgonzalez, Pennsylvania

Hi Ludlow,Absolutely--and not in a good way! In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol is particularly harmful and opioid drugs (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at

-Joni Rutter

Can using drugs cause depression?

-mathlete_14, Virginia

Great question. Drug abuse and mental illness are related in complex ways. Drugs can make the mood much worse (especially when they wear off) but also being depressed can lead to people taking drugs to feel better. In general, drugs and depression make each other worse. So people with depression have trouble quitting drugs and people who use drugs frequently get really depressed.

-Wilson Compton

Can using drugs lead to body odor?

-zgiddings, Pennsylvania

Hello Ludlow,I have to admit...this is one of the most unusual questions of the day :-)Using drugs can definitely lead to body odor. The main reason is because when you are addicted to drugs, you don't take care of yourself like you should. For example, if you smoke, you have bad breath because your breath smells like an ashtry! Who would want to be around that?? Drugs like meth can cause dry mouth, lip cracking, and tooth rot; some drugs cause your body temperature to rise, making you sweat more. The more you sweat, the more you stink. Things to think about, hunh?!

-Joni Rutter

Can weed affect your appearance?

-jazminjames, Maryland

Perhaps not initially, although the 'stoned' look is not particularly attractive. However, the effects of long term or heavy marijuana use can lead to addiction and other medical consequences which can quickly impact how 'cool' you look.

-Ruben Baler

can weed help cancer

-babyAND1, Maryland

So far there are no studies that suggest this to be the case. One of the main active ingredients in weed--THC--is prescribed in pill form to treat nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. Other ingredients in weed are being studied for their potential therapeutic effects, although marijuana itself is unlikely to become an FDA-approved medication.

-Susan Weiss

Can you be addicted to anything

-1DAman, New York

Anything--well may be not, at least the way we define it--as something you can't stop despite the harms that are occurring to your brain, body, and life. But, there do seem to be alot of things that people get addicted to beyond drugs--videogames, foods. Unfortunately, scientists know less about some of these addictions than others--but we are always looking to learn more.

-Susan Weiss

Can you be addicted to two drugs at the same time.

-catcher#20, West Virginia

Hi there. That is a great question. Years ago, people only focused on problems with one drug at a time but we now know that many people have problems with two or more different drugs all at the same time. For example, someone who abuses a drug like heroin or cocaine may also be addicted to nicotine or drinking too much alcohol. This may make it harder for a person to get his or her life together and quit using drugs. Did you know that drugs can contribute to lots of health problems, including lung and cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and mental disorders? Check out for more information about drug abuse and addiction. Thanks again for signing on to the chat today.

-Harold Perl

can you detox yourself without going to a drug clinic?

-I D 10 T, New York

Some people can stop taking drugs on their own but most people need help. It is safe to confide in your doctor. To find a substance abuse treatment facility locator, call 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

-Dave McCann

can you die from a steriod overdose?

-gio51392, New York

Not likely, although given a high enough dose of anything you can reach a lethal dose. Short of overdose, we do have case reports of individuals who may have comitted suicide as a result of chronic steroid abuse induced depression. We can also hypotesize that some fatal car accidents may have been caused by drivers suffering from 'roid rage'. However reasonable these connections may sound, we don't have hard scientific data that would confirm the mostly anecdotal evidence that suggests that steroid abuse can be the cause of some deaths.

-Ruben Baler

Can you die from chewing tabacco?

-MokeyKing8, New York

Good morning,That's a good question. Tobacco use can lead to serious health problems, including quite a few different cancers. In fact, chewing tobacco, in particular, can cause gum disease and has been linked to pancreatic cancer. See for more information. Keep the questions coming!

-Steve Gust

Can cough medicine get you high?

-Straight_Edge, Maryland

DXM or dextromethorphan is an ingredient in cough medicine, which when taken at very high doses, can produce a 'dissociative state'--a disconnect with yourself and the real world. It can also cause motor impairments, e.g., slurred speech, incoordination, numbness; nausea/vomiting, and sometimes increased heart rate and blood pressure. On rare occasions, brain damage - caused by severe respiratory depression and a lack of oxygen to the brain - can result. This may be due to the combination of DXM with other ingredients (decongestants) also found in cough medicines.

-Susan Weiss

can depression cause death?

-lonelyXdreamer, New York

Good question. is related to death in many ways--by making medical conditions worse or by making someone suicidal. Drugs and alcohol can make this worse and contribute to suicides.

-Wilson Compton

Can dogs become addicted to drugs?

-bloomgirl7, Pennsylvania

I love that question, I have two dogs myself, but I would never give them drugs. Addiction is defined as the compulsive use of drugs despite their negative consequences. So in many ways addiction is unique to people. But if you give any animal a drug repeatedly, they can become dependent upon them, and some animals will seek to repeatedly take addictive drugs, so it does look an awful lot like the addiction you see in people.

-Cindy Miner

Can doing so many drugs turn you mentally unstanble?

-aeiou24, Pennsylvania

Good question. The relationship of drugs and mental illness are complicated. Many mental illnesses are associated with higher rates of drug abuse and using drugs is associated with the development of mental illness, too. We aren't completely sure why depressed people are more likely to have a drug abuse problem. But here's my take on it. Everyone has had the so-called 'mood swings.' If someone feels really bad, they may want to 'ease their mind' with drugs. Unfortunately, that can lead to a second disease - addiction to drugs - and then they feel even worse than they did before. That's what's really bad about comorbid diseases: they can make each other worse! If someone is depressed, it's harder to be motivated to quit using drugs. And if someone is using drugs, it can interfere with their treatment for depression.

-Wilson Compton

Can drinking and taking prescription medicine kill you?

-MLL2, Pennsylvania

Yes. It depends on the drug of course and the amount, but some prescription drugs are 'depressants' (e.g. xanax, valium) or pain relievers, which can slow or stop your breathing. And particularly when combined with alcohol or other prescription meds, they can be very dangerous. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 35,000 unintentional poisonings in the past year--most of these are thought to be due to overdose with prescription pain killers (opiates).

-Susan Weiss

can drugs affect your sperm count

-Seth the beast, Michigan

Yes, there are some drugs we know for sure will reduce your sperm count, like steroids. Guys can experience shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, or development of breasts from steroid use. There also has been some research linking marijuana use to reduced sperm function.

-Marsha Lopez

Can morphine be as addicting and harmful as other drugs?

-Wind River High, Wyoming

yes it can

-Nora Volkow

Can people die by using drugs, even if it is your first time?

-lulu123, Arizona

Yep, for example with inhalants there's a condition called 'sudden sniffing death' which can happen the first time someone abuses inhalants. This happens when the inhalant vapor takes the place of oxygen in the lungs and brain, causing breathing to stop. Deliberately inhaling from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area, for example, greatly increases the chances of suffocation. See for more information.

-Anna Staton

can people grow tired of a drug after using it for years?

-poptart, Texas

Yes. Some people who use drugs for a long time can get tired of them and stop using them. They probaly realize that drugs cause so many medical and psychological problems that it's not worth it anymore. But many negative effects can occur in the meantime--better not to start! Check out our teen website for lots more:

-Ivan Montoya