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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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

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

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

can the drug K2 kill you?

-lohan362, Pennsylvania

Thanks for your question.K2, Spice is a fairly new phenomenon. There is no solid indication that this herbal mixture is lethal. But since this mixtures are not regulated nor standardized different batches from different manufacturers could end up containing dangerous contaminants. Stay healthy and take care.

-Ruben Baler

can prescription drugs be addictive too?

-blackrulezmore, Kentucky

Absolutely! Opiates are the same whether you obtain them as heroin or as Vicodin or Oxycontin. When they are prescribed, they are given in known amounts for a certain length of time (until they are no longer needed). Many people think that if a doctor prescribes something for pain that they cannot become addicted, but that is not true. The chemicals in pain killers do not know if they are prescribed or not and they behave the same way regardless of how you get them. Did you know that in 2006, prescription pain medications, like Vicodin, were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine COMBINED? For more facts about drugs, read NIDA's new booklet made for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths. You can find it (and even order it for free) at

-Nancy Pilotte

Can robots develop a drug addiction? This is a serious question

-arthur r, New Jersey

Serious answer. At this point in time, robots are electro-mechanical devices, so there is no way to administer a drug to a robot. However, robots can be programmed to seek items in their environment such as a power source. It is theoretically possible to program a robot to repeatedly seek out some item in the evironment because it has a large value to it that also has long-term bad effects on its performance. That would kind of be like addiction. You may want to look at the research of Steve Potter at Georgia Tech Univ (, who is using neurons grown in a dish to act as the 'brain' for robots. Drugs can be given to that 'brain in a dish', so it would be very interesting to see how that would affect the performance of a robot. Maybe you will be the person to does the research to answer that question ! Seriously.

-Steve Grant

can sex become a drug? does it have any negative physical effects in excess?

-starprepacademy, California

I think what you are really asking is whether people can become addicted to sex....clinically there are many people who develop compulsive sexual behaviors that can put them at risk for a number of problems including increased exposure to sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

-Cindy Miner

Can Sharpie Markers actually give you a high sensation, and if so why do so many stores sell sharpies?

-20114650@pjphs, Pennsylvania

Yes, they can. They are part of a class of chemicals called inhalants. This class of drugs is huge, and includes lots of cleaners, glues, gas... It is really not practicle to get rid of all of them. Probably best to work being careful when using any of the inhalants.... For more info, see

-David Thomas

Can sharpies get you high?

-hackettstown, New Jersey

If you sniff them too much, yes. Eating them can be a choking hazard! hehe... Like other inhalants, the solvents in sharpies can rob your brain of oxygen and make one woozy if you sniff them too much. Over the long run, one's brain can shrink from excessive sniffing. There is a whole lot of scientific info on this topic and why it is a seriously bad idea at:

-David Thomas

can sipping on condeine kill you?

-imclean101, Georgia

Codeine is a very weak opiate. Other opiates are morphine and heroin. Sipping, or taking orally, is the safest way to take opiates. However, I would not sip it at all unless a doctor has instructed you to, and you should take it in the amount prescribed. Sipping can add up, and you can overdose if you take a whole lot!

-David Thomas

can smoke affect babies

-anisha, Pennsylvania

Absolutely! A mom smoking while pregnant as well as secondhand smoke in the environment can affect babies before and after birth. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, preterm birth, and respiratory problems. Carbon monoxide and nicotine from tobacco smoke may interfere with fetal oxygen supply - and because nicotine readily crosses the placenta, it can reach concentrations in the fetus that are much higher than levels in the mother. Nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects. The more a woman smokes during pregnancy, the more infant birth weight is reduced, and that's not a good thing. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition (learning and understanding) and is associated with behavioral problems. In addition, smoking more than a pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of the child becoming addicted to tobacco if he or she ever starts smoking. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause problems. For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight and premature birth. Exposure during the postnatal period has been associated with a number of physical health outcomes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory illnesses (asthma, respiratory infections, and bronchitis), ear infections and cavities, and increased medical visits and hospitalizations.

-Nicolette Borek

can smoking a joint be a form of birth control

-some guy, Kentucky

I am not aware of any evidence that suggests marijuana would be a viable mode of birth control. thanks for the question.

-Ruben Baler

can smoking marijuana help asthma?

-boilingsprings, Pennsylvania

There some evidence that it relaxes the bronchioles which can help in the short term, but in the long run its likely to be more problematic because of the general negative effects smoking has on the lungs.

-David Shurtleff

Can sniffing markers make you high?

-nats379, Maryland

Hi natz379,Yes, markers such as Sharpies contain volatile solvents--and when inhaled these solvents can produce a 'high.' The effects of inhalants can be similar to those of alcohol, and include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalants can be very dangerous, particularly in children, some of whom have been known to die after a single session of inhaling chemical fumes. Long-term inhalant use can result in muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis. Inhalants also affect other parts of your body, especially when used repeatedly. They can cause serious harm to vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. Certain inhalants can also cause the body to produce fewer blood cells, which may result in a condition known as aplastic anemia (in which the bone marrow is unable to produce blood cells). Frequent long-term use of certain inhalants can cause a permanent change or malfunction of peripheral nerves, called polyneuropathy. Not good, huh!?For more information on inhalants, visit:

-Kristen Huntley

Can toothpaste be a drug?

-craigb, 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. So brush every day and be sure to floss!

-Jim Bjork

Can types of weed make you have hallucinations or see things that aren't there?

-i<3bubbles, Kentucky

Yes, there are some weeds that are very hallucinogenic. For example, gypsum weed (common names -- jimson weed, devil's trumpet, devil's weed, thorn apple, tolguacha, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, datura, pricklyburr, devil's cucumber, hell's bells, moonflower) can cause very severe hallucinations. That said, one has to be very careful with such hallucinogens as they can be extremely potent, like with gypsum weed. People have gone into comas, convulsions, and have died from very small amounts.Hope this helps.

-Joe Frascella

can u eat weed?

-Xavier, Maryland

Yes, people do eat weed (marijuana) and get high from it. For more information about marijuana and the dangers of addiction, see

-Joe Frascella

can u get high off of dry erse markers

-sttbrown29, Pennsylvania

Yup. These markers have volatile organic solvents in them. We call solvents like acetone, toluene and ethyl acetate 'inhalants' and they are sequestered by (and dissolve) lipids. The organs in your body with the most lipid are your brain and your liver. 'Huffing' these solvents can also kill you.

-Nancy Pilotte