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 nose shots, eye shots, and butt-chugging, potentially more dangerous ways of consuming alcohol?

-joeyAbagahuh, New York

Yes, those routes are SO dangerous. Alcohol is a powerful irritant. Imagine pouring rubbing alcohol onto a cut. It would burn so bad! The mouth, esophagus and stomach are made to withstand, at least for awhile, irritants like alcohol. The delicate membranes of the body in the other areas you mentioned (e.g., eyeball, nose) are super sensitive and not well protected from irritants like alcohol. So, for one, putting alcohol in the body that way can cause pain and inflammation. In addition, alcohol can get into the body a lot faster through some non-stomach routes. That means alcohol can flood the bloodstream and hit the brain even harder than normal. It's simply a very, very, very bad idea to try to get alcohol into the body any other way that through the digestive system and only after you've reached the legal age of 21. 

-Aaron White

Are other drugs beside heroin shot in your arms?

-Rinee3236, Massachusetts
Hi Renee,
Yup, all sorts of drugs can be injected.  All drugs can be administered in different ways.  But no matter which way they are taken, all drugs affect the brain and the body.  Some routes, like smoking and injecting, get the drug to the brain quicker, which can increase the likelihood of addiction. Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain and body and see questions from other teens like yourself at:
Dave 
-Dave Thomas

Are over-the-counter medicines okay to take during pregnancy?

-yoemen113, Texas

Hi yoemen - some are and some are not.  Be sure to carefully read the label on the medications for information on whether or not it is safe for pregnant women.

-Steve Gust

Are pain killers harmful in the long run?

-Aditya Arun, Maryland
Hey Aditya,
They're harmful if you keep taking them longer than prescribed--yes. But if you just take them for the length of time your doctor prescribed, you should be okay.
-Eric Wargo

Are people able to get addicted to cigaretes that dont contain nicatine.

-atkinsj.19, New York
Good question atkins!!!
 
You can, but it is less likely. Addiction is defined as "compulsive use despite harm."   If someone smokes these cigarettes a lot, they will produce harm. And although nicotine is the main addictive ingredient, people still might smoke them a lot without nicotine.    
 
Dave 
-Dave Thomas

Are people more influenced by family who do drugs or friends who do drugs?

-BlackHeart333, Maryland
Oh Black Heart333! How are you? Awesome and complex question --just like your on-line name ;)
 
There are a lot of influences that can have have an effect on people to use drugs. Peer pressure, taking drugs for pain/surgery/medical treatment, experimentation, etc. Throughout your life you will be bombarded with so many opinions and voices --it is ultimately up to you to create a positive environment for yourself (by cultivating an awesome support network of family and friends). In the end though, it is always a person's decision to stay above the influence. Stay strong and encourage other to follow your lead!
-Bethany Deeds

Are people that are "high" as alert as as people that are not?

-You Are Fake, New Mexico

Great question- drugs affect the brain which, in turn, affects how they think, feel, and act. Its pretty difficult to be alert while on drugs due to how they impact the brain. 

-Jack Stein

are people who use drugs at a higher risk of cancer

-Derpysquid101, New York
Hi Derpy.. - thanks for the question.  Certainly people who smoke cigarettes or use any form of tobacco are greatly increasing their risk of cancer - and tobacco is a drug.  Also, alcohol has been linked to cancers of the mouth and digestive tract.  As for other drugs, we don't know a lot about their direct cancer causing effects.  There is a lot of information on the heath effects of drugs at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.  
 
 
-Steve Gust

Are pills a good way to fight against depression or anxiety? - Ginger

-#hella, California

hi Ginger-- the answer is similar for depression and anxiety.  Specific medications that are used to treat depression have also been shown to be useful for treating anxiety among adults and children.  And specific counseling or talk therapies have also been shown to work for depression and anxiety.  Not all treatments are a good match for all people (some people prefer medication or counseling and different treatments work differently for different people).  It is important to talk to a mental health professional (a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed social worker) to work with them to find a good match and see if you need to make adjustments. If you think you might need some help, a good first step is to talk to a trusted adult (parent, relative, counselor) so they can help you connect with help. Here's more on anxiety treatments: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/generalized-anxiety-disorder...

-Joel Sherrill

Are prescribtions drugs like aderol just as dangerous as street drugs?

-George W. Bush, New York
Hey "W"
Good question. They can be, if you don't take them as prescribed, or if you aren't the person they were prescribed for. Adderall can have similar effects to illegal amphetamines or meth, even, if it is abused. 
-Eric Wargo

are prescription drugs bad?

-christopher123, New York
Hi christopher123,
Prescription drugs can be very bad when they are used in a way that was not intended by the prescribing doctor or by someone other than the person for whom it was intended. The specific health problems you can experience by abusing prescription drugs depends on the type of drug. Learn more about the dangers of prescription drug abuse by type of drug here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs
-Ruben Baler

can ALL drugs be fatal if consumed improperly?

-bubbles7977, Maryland

Yes, if you consume them at high doses or you are vulnearable because of genetic or medical conditions.

-Nora Volkow

can all drugs kill you?

-23769, Maryland
Hello 23769,
In a way, yes. They indirectly cause harmful effects on the body and brain which increases the odds of illness and death. However, if you are referring to direct effects - drugs such as alcohol, sedative pills, heroin, prescription opioid pills, PCP, bath salts, stimulants such as cocaine, meth, etc. can be lethal in overdose and can kill you! Drugs and alcohol often cause impaired coordination, judgement, memory, concentration, etc. so if you were to drive, skate, ski or operate machines under the influence of these drugs, that could kill you! Then there are other drugs that may cause death indirectly such as tobacco, marijuana, etc. which result in chronic medical illnesses which increases the likelihood of death. It is much safer, i.e. higher likelihood of not dying, if you don't use drugs, even recreationally. 
-Geetha Subramaniam

Can animals become high if they smoke drugs or inhlae second hand smoke

-:), New York

How exactly do animals smoke drugs?  Be nice to your pet....

-Joni Rutter

Can animals get addicted to drugs?

-kuchneat, Pennsylvania

Definitely! Much of what we know about addiction has been learned through studies that often involve animals (like rats!). 

-Jack Stein

Can any drugs kill you with in a day

-chchchase estes, Maryland

Yes, unfortunately.  Many drugs can kill you if you overdose.  For example, pain killers.  Also, certain other drugs used for anxiety.  Inhalants can also kill.  

-Steve Gust

Can any of the bad effects of marijuana, base from the individuals physcological point? Personally, I don't FEEL as though I've been affected in a negative way, aside from self-esteem.

-asian, Maryland
Asian,  You mention a really important negative outcome you are experiencing personally.  If marijuana is making you feel bad about yourself that's a BIG deal.  You might consider not smoking marijuana and replacing it with other activities that provide a natural high like running or indoor rock climbing that build self-esteem.
 
Remember-Marijuana, like other drugs, have a negative impact on the brain, body, and behavior--including addiction.  Many people think marijuana is not harmful but our evidence suggests otherwise.
 

If you want to ask about getting substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Redonna Chandler

can anyone become addicted to drugs?

-xoxogossipgirl, Massachusetts

Hello and XOXOGossipGirl! When drugs enter your brain, they can interrupt how it works and actually change how the brain functions and performs its jobs. These changes can lead to someone becoming addicted to drugs. This can happen to anyone. If you’re worried about your own or a friend or family member’s drug use, it’s important to know that help is available. You can go to http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Bethany Deeds

can beer and wine kill you?

-123FOnzy, Maryland

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. 

If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as "alcohol poisoning."

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer. For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm
 
To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
 
 
-Aaron White

Can caffeine affect your judgement?

-#whitegirl, Maryland
Hmmm....hey #whitegirl.  Caffeine (found in foods like energy drinks, coffee, tea, and chocolate) is a stimulant with psychoactive effects.  Caffeine is typically used to help wake people up, but that's about it. Caffeine is generally regarded as a safe drug when taken in moderation because toxic doses are very high.
 
However, each person has different sensitivity to caffeine, with some people having severe effects on the body.  It's more serious affects are on the heart, where caffeine use can cause your heart to race, and you can get the shakes.  The side effects of using caffeine and also stopping caffeine use may cause you to become cranky, tired, or get headaches, and that might affect your judgement. 
-Joni Rutter

Can cancer develop while intaking alcohol?

-c322d, California

Yes, for sure. Drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth, throat, and breast. You can learn more about these risks at:http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm#cha...

-Aaron White

Can cigarettes affect your eyesight?

-iloveny210, New York
Great question! Short answer: yes. Long answer - health consequences causally related to smoking include blindness, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. Check out the summary of the just released Surgeon General's report on tobacco for more information on these and other health consequences. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf
 
-Cindy Miner

can a person die from mariijuana?

-$QuAd98, Maryland

Hey $quad!  Good question.  Marijuana can lead to tragic outcomes, but perhaps not in the way you're thinking about.  Marijuana affects judgment and decision making, so using it can cause you to do things you might not do when you're thinking straight -- like engaging in risky sexual behavior, which can expose you to HIV and other diseases, or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking, or trying to drive your own car yourself while high. All of those situations could end pretty badly, right?  As for a straight-up answer to your question, it's hard to know how marijuana will affect a specific person at any given time, because its effects vary based on individual factors -- a person's genetics, whether they've used marijuana or any other drugs before, and how much marijuana they consume.  And the effects can be even more unpredictable when marijuana is used in combination with other drugs.  Thanks for your question!

-Lori Ducharme

Can addictions to drugs be genetic?

-Kim Jong Un, New York

Most definitely! In fact, genetics plays a very significant role in determining if a person will ultimately develop a drug problem. However, other factors contribute as well, including one's environment in which they grow up and peer influences. 

-Jack Stein

Can alcohol cause cancer when drinking to much

-laylay11, California

Yes, for sure. Drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth, throat, and breast. You can learn more about these risks at:http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm#cha...

-Aaron White

can alcohol destroy your body?

-faithchim, Maryland
Yes, alcohol can do lots of damage to the body.
As you drink more and you have more alcohol in your bloodstream, you can experience impaired judgment and difficulty making good choices. You may also have difficulty controlling urges, making it more likely that you will do something dangerous. You can also experience impaired memory -- waking up the next day and not being able to remember what you did while you were drinking.
Still more alcohol can cause potentially fatal side effects, including difficulty breathing, low heart rate, and loss of consciousness.

 

Drinking too much can also cause some cancers. It causes many kinds of stomach problems. It causes the liver to swell up and develop lots of scar tissue. It also interferes with the immune system and can make it harder for the body to fight off infections. It also damages the brain and interferes with how the brain grows and develops. You can learn more about these effects at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm.
 
 
 
-Aaron White

can alcohol kill you

-tate, New York

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. 

If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as "alcohol poisoning."

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can contribute to problems with your liver, pancreas, and heart, can impact your immune system, and can increase your risk for certain types of cancer. For more information on how alcohol can impact your health, check out: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.htm
 
To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids, how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/
 
 
-Aaron White

Can alcohol worsen a teens depression?

-Faith Watkins, Texas

hi Faith.  Good question, and one that we hear a lot. The short answer is yes.  But the relationship between alcohol and depression is complicated.  Some people turn to alcohol when they are depressed. The problem is, alcohol isn't a good way to cope with problems, and it is a depressant drug that can make things worse.  If you or a teen you know is feeling depressed or using alcohol, talk to a trusted adult (parent, relative, counselor) about connecting with some help to assess the problem and see if treatment might help.

-Joel Sherrill

At what BAL are people considered "leagally drunk"?

-amanda_foo, New York
People aged 21 and older are considered legally drunk at a BAC of 0.08%, which happens after 4-5 drinks for most adults. Because it's illegal for people under 21 to drink, there isn't a legal definition of underage drunkenness. For instance, for people under 21, it is illegal to drive a car with any alcohol in the body whatsoever. 
 
-Aaron White

At what point in history did they find out smoking was bad for you

-Ceila Phantom, New York

The tobacco companies knew that smoking was bad in the 50's, but the first surgeon general report came out in the 60s stating that smoking was harmful--which has had a dramatic effect in this country--finally reversing a growing trend.

-Nora Volkow