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 here.

Download Full Year

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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana 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 some people be ok with using drugs and others cant handle it as well?

-asia, Pennsylvania

Drugs affect different people in different ways, but anyone can get addicted. Some people get addicted to drugs or alcohol more quickly than others, so it is best not to even take the chance at all. All drugs are potentially harmful and may lead to addiction or have other life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects; another person may be particularly vulnerable and develop addiction...others may overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Dave McCann

Can someone who has only smoked 1 or 3 times become addicted in the future?

-kitty_16, Maryland

Anybody can become addicted if they use drugs on a regular basis. And, if drug use starts early (like during childhood or adolescence) then the risk of addiction increases later in life. So, it is best not to use drugs at all.

-Kevin Conway

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 http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/ 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 http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ 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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco for more information. Keep the questions coming!

-Steve Gust

can marijana kill you

-9458892, Utah

Good question. Your ability to drive or operate equipment under the influence of marijuana is comprised and could cause you to have a fatal accident. Unfortunately, people often think marijuana use isn't as risky as other drugs. However the use of any drugs can impact your brain, impact your behavior, and impair your coordination and physical abilities making all of them unsafe. For more information on effects of marijuana go to: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj2.php#long_term

-Redonna Chandler

Can marijuana be used for medical uses?

-Gary, Virginia

Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately, although it is not currently approved by the FDA for treating any medical illness. There are recognized medical benefits to some of the active ingredients in marijuana, and scientists are making use of their knowledge about those ingredients, and the body systems that they effect, in order to develop new medications for a variety of symptoms and diseases , including pain, obesity, and addiction. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.

-Stephanie Older

can marijuana to more damage then cigarrettes

-ihategomez16, Arizona

Depends...both can be damaging, and both can be addictive. We still don't know or understand about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different and might have different vulnerabilities to particular drugs. The longer someone takes drugs, the more likely that he/she will become addicted and suffer long-term, harmful brain changes. So, there is no real straightforward answer regarding which drug would be more damaging. For general information about drugs, check out http://www.abovetheinfluence.com/ or for information on marijuana and tobacco, check out: http://smoking.drugabuse.gov/ and https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/marijuana

-Joe Frascella

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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drnida/drnida_inhale1.php 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: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

-Ivan Montoya

can pot give u cancer

-mbottom, Michigan

It's hard to know for sure since many people who smoke a lot of pot also smoke cigarettes and use other drugs. But it is known that marijuana smoke contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. But cancer isn't the only health effect to know about-people who smoke marijuana often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette smokers have, such as coughing and wheezing, they tend to have more chest colds than nonusers, and they are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. You can read more about pot at NIDA's website http://www.nida.nih.gov/MarijBroch/teens/.

-Marsha Lopez

can prescription drugs kill you if you take to many of them

-amorton, Pennsylvania

Yes, prescription pain killers can be deadly if you don't take as directed by your physician. Taking too many, or too often or mixing with alcohol can be dangerous, even deadly.

-Cindy Miner

can steroids kill you?

-washingtonrodri, Michigan

Steroidsare safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

-Ruben Baler

can steroids kill you?

-washingtonrodri, Michigan

Steroids are safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

-Ruben Baler

can the drugs cause a person to become mentally ill

-casa grande, Arizona

Great question! Drug abuse and mental illness commonly co-occur (this is referred to as comorbidity). High rates of comorbidity between drug use disorders and other mental illnesses does not mean that one caused the other, even if it appeared first. In fact, establishing this is difficult for several reasons. Some symptoms of a mental disorder may not be recognized until the illness has substantially progressed, and imperfect recollections of when drug use/abuse started can also present timing issues. Still, three scenarios deserve consideration:

Drugs of abuse can cause abusers to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. The increased risk of psychosis in some marijuana abusers has been offered as evidence for this possibility. Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse. Individuals with overt, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia is believed to lessen the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition ('Smoking and Schizophrenia: Self-Medication or Shared Brain Circuitry?'). Both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or trauma.

All three scenarios probably contribute, in varying degrees, to how and whether specific comorbidities manifest themselves.Thanks for the question!

-Kevin Conway

can the smoke of marijuana affect a baby?

-weedhead, Maryland

Hi - and thanks for your question. yes, weed/marijuana smoke can affect the baby. We've got a couple of studies on this - including one that has followed the kids from the prenatal/in utero/pregnancy stage until they were adults. And guess what - these studies have found subtle developmental effects on the baby's ability to think, pay attention, and other brain functions. Plus, people who use pot often smoke tobacco too, and tobacco use can also negatively affect the baby's health. For example, some studies show that babies born to mothers who used tobacco are more likely to use tobacco themselves and become addicted later on. You might be interested in learning more about long-term effects of marijuana: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_mj2.php#long_term. Of course, we recommend pregnant women not use http://www.drugabuse.gov/tib/prenatal.html.

-Nicolette Borek

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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php

-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 http://teens.drugabuse.gov/!

-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: http://www.inhalants.drugabuse.gov/Thanks 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: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=sharpie

-Dave McCann