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.

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Can alchohol effect your growth?

-Brian, Ohio

It's possible. Alcohol could affect growth in several ways. Alcohol alters hormone levels in the body, including levels of testosterone, which play an important role in muscle growth and in the physical changes that males go through during puberty. In females, the hormone changes can disrupt the menstrual cycle. Alcohol interferes with sleep (some people think it helps them sleep but it actually doesn't!). Because it interferes with sleep cycles, alcohol reduces the release of something called growth hormone, which plays a very big role in growth and development throughout the body.Alcohol also interferes with brain growth and development. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the part of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things and pay attention. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember things. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

-Aaron White

Can Alcohal be more dangerous than some of the bigger drugs?

-Nate5, Ohio

Hmmm...more dangerous? It can be, since it's may be easy to get, it can harm the developing brain (which yours is), and like other drugs, alcohol affects the way you think, which means you might do some pretty stupid things when you are under the influence that you wouldn't do otherwise--like driving drunk or getting into a car with someone else who is drunk--about 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from injuries caused by underage drinking, nearly 40 percent (1,900) in car crashes

-Christine Colvis

can scientists come up with a cure for trying to get people to stop all the drugs in the world?

-IMS716, Louisiana

We are funding researchers to try to do this. One strategy we are excited about is the development of vaccines--these will keep the drug from entering the brain, and interfere with the drug's rewarding and addictive properties. However there is still lots of work that needs to be done before we succeed.

-Nora Volkow

can sharpie markers get you high?

-proudtobeastone, Pennsylvania

Sharpies---or any permanent markers...can be dangerous if sniffed. The chemicals in these markers are considered 'inhalants.' Most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication. If sufficient amounts are inhaled, nearly all solvents and gases produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness. Irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). The sad thing about inhalants is that the 'high' does not last very long but the side effects can last forever.

-Carol Krause

can sleeping pills hurt your brain if used more than 1 year?

-n,

Some sleeping pills are more dangerous than others. This is why it is very important to use them under a doctor's supervision. If you have concerns about this, or are using sleeping pills recreationally, stop. If you have sleep problems, it is important to consult a specialist like a neurologist, who might prescribe an overnight observation and monitoring of your sleep.

-Jim Bjork

can smoking

-creed 101, New York

The FDA, which approves all therpeutic drugs in the US, has not approved marijuana for the treatment of any disease or condition. I know that some think marijuana isn't addictive, but in fact someone who uses a lot can find themselves not able to give it up even when they want to and realize its messing up their schoolwork or their family relationships. What are your chances of becoming addicted?--about 1 in 6 if you start as a teen, and 1 in 4 if you use every day or nearly every day. see
http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/for more info!

-Christine Colvis

can smoking alone cause all kinds of cancer

-IMS716, Louisiana

Yep. Cigarette smoking causes cancers of the lung, oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, uterine cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. Aren't those good reasons to never pick up a cigarette?

-Carol Krause

Can smoking anything be harmful?

-fort settlement, Texas

Yes, smoking anything can be harmful. When you burn something, many chemicals are released into the air and if you breathe in those chemicals, some can be harmful to your lungs.

-Steve Grant

can smoking marijuana be good for you?

-creed 101, New York

The FDA, which approves all therpeutic drugs in the US, has not approved marijuana for the treatment of any disease or condition. I know that some think marijuana isn't addictive, but in fact someone who uses a lot can find themselves not able to give it up even when they want to and realize its messing up their schoolwork or their family relationships. What are your chances of becoming addicted?--about 1 in 6 if you start as a teen, and 1 in 4 if you use every day or nearly every day. see http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more info!

-Christine Colvis

Can smoking weed help your ADHD? a few of my friend's claim it can, but I don't necessarily believe them...and I do have ADHD

-LittlePeep218, Michigan

Don't believe them. Some people like smoking marijuana and say many untrue things to convince other people to use. Marijuana does not make people with ADHD perform any better. Of course, scientists are looking for better treatments for ADHD and we hope to have ways to help people concentrate better and be able to control their hyperactivity better, too.

-Wilson Compton

Can sniffing glue get you high? If so why?

-Mpanther, Iowa

Yes it acts in a similar way to alcohol by disrupting the membrane of the neurons in your brain. It can affect how these brain cells function, including those in the reward centers in the brain.

-Nora Volkow

Can some drugs be perscribed to people as a medicine?

-Cortlynn32, Ohio

Yes. For example, there are prescription pain-killers (opioids) that are very commonly prescribed for chronic, long-lasting pain.

-Kris Bough

can some one die of nicoteen use

-tyler h, California

Absolutely. Nicotine is what makes cigarettes so addictive. And cigarettes kill 440,000 people a year in this country alone! Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and almost 50,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Cigarettes and chew tobacco are illegal substances in most U.S. states for those under 18; a handful of states have raised the age to 19. Nicotine is highly addictive. The tar in cigarettes increases a smoker's risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases. Pregnant smokers have a higher risk of miscarriage or low birthweight babies. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children.

-Carol Krause

Can some prescription drugs kill you?

-zpacker, Texas

Hi and thanks for the question. Yes, prescription medications can be dangerous if not taken as directed. In fact, more people died in the US of prescription drugs than died in car accidents in 2009. Please take a look at the information available at our site: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/the-facts.

-Richard Denisco

Can someone be addicted to a drug yet not show any signs of addiction?

-acdude14, Minnesota

If by that you mean that the person is addicted (the person is constantly on the lookout to get their next 'fix' of the drug or takes way too much and can't stop) but this preoccupation with getting and using the drug is kept a secret from family members and friends, then 'yes'. There are a lot of 'functional alcoholics' out there for example, that can stay sober enough to get through a work-day, and seem normal by all appearances, but are truly hooked on alcohol. These addictions don't usually stay hidden for very long, though.

-Jim Bjork

Can someone die from smoking pot?

-A,

Hi A-bird,Very unlikely, unless you are driving while stoned or something like that, the fact is that marijuana can't kill you. But you'd be wrong to think marijuana is a benign drug that can only hurt you when mixed with other drugs. In fact, marijuana can acutely and severely impair how your brain functions, things like memory and learning that can in the long run really derail your academic achievement and long term plans for your life. Besides these significant cognitive deficits there is a significant number of regular users who will become addicted. So, all in all, pot is not a good deal, when you really think about what you get in exchange.

-Ruben Baler

can someone tell me the risks of takeing the drug called acid

-pjacobs, Texas

Acid is one of the street names for LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), which can distort perceptions of reality and produce hallucinations; the effects can be frightening and cause panic. It is sold as tablets, capsules, liquid, or on absorbent paper. LSD is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. We don't have much evidence of addiction. The risk with hallucinogens is more about their unpredictability. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. These drugs can also produce rapid, intense emotional swings and result in fear and anxiety, which can be terrifying to people! LSD can also cause psychosis (visions or illusions) or flashbacks (sudden memories) even a while after the drug is taken. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug.Learn more about hallucinogens at http://drugabuse.gov/infofacts/hallucinogens.html.

-Joe Frascella

Can someone who has been on a drug for too long not be able to break an addiction because they are too dependent on the drug? If this happens, do they have to remain on the drug in some way for the rest of their life? Is there another way?

-gingenthron, Vermont

Hey Vermont, Yes - people who have been addicted to drugs for some time are able to quit. Many times they need drug treatment to help them. Drug treatment helps people learn to live without drugs. There are different types of treatment. Medication can help some people with their drug problem. Behavioral treatments help people learn new skills to cope with stress and problems, deal with urges and cravings to use drugs, develop a support system of people who don't use drugs, and increase their motivation to stop using drugs. For specific information about treatment approaches, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/Treatmeth.html. For assistance locating treatment programs in your area see: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. .

-Redonna Chandler

Can someone with an extremely low

-acdude14, Minnesota

Yes, they can. There really isn't a specific amount of alcohol a person has to drink to become addicted, and only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure whether they are addicted. In general, a teenager is more likely to become addicted to alcohol if they have a family history of alcoholism (meaning they have parents or siblings with alcohol problems), start drinking at younger ages or have problems with depression or anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues: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' These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids and how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out:
http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

-Aaron White

Can someone with an extremely low alcohol tolerance (throws up after 1 beer glass) become addicted?

-acdude14, Minnesota

Yes, they can. There really isn't a specific amount of alcohol a person has to drink to become addicted, and only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure whether they are addicted. In general, a teenager is more likely to become addicted to alcohol if they have a family history of alcoholism (meaning they have parents or siblings with alcohol problems), start drinking at younger ages or have problems with depression or anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues: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' These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids and how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

-Aaron White

Can you be addicted to

-noahsark, Indiana

Yes! Absolutely. Only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure whether they are addicted. In general, a teenager is more likely to become addicted to alcohol if they have a family history of alcoholism (meaning they have parents or siblings with alcohol problems), start drinking at younger ages or have problems with depression or anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues: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' These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.If you know someone who might have any of these characteristics, it's important to tell an adult you trust so they can get help. To learn more, check out:
http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

-Aaron White

Can you be addicted to alcohol at age 15?

-noahsark, Indiana

Yes! Absolutely. Only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure whether they are addicted. In general, a teenager is more likely to become addicted to alcohol if they have a family history of alcoholism (meaning they have parents or siblings with alcohol problems), start drinking at younger ages or have problems with depression or anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues: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' These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.If you know someone who might have any of these characteristics, it's important to tell an adult you trust so they can get help. To learn more, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/real_life2.asp

-Aaron White

can you be addicted to pain killers that are over the counter

-mhernandez, Texas

Hi and thanks for the question. None of the pain medications sold over the counter in the US are addictive. They can cause other problems if not taken as directed. Some countries sell weak codiene pills which can be addictive--but these are not sold in the US.NIDA's teen prescription drug site might be interesting: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx.

-Richard Denisco

Can you become blind or deaf with an overdose of drugs?

-fc bobcats, Texas

Overdoses of drugs taken to get 'high' don't cause blindness or deafness, but more typically produce death by supppressing breathing, or by causing heart attacks or stroke. Some medications that are used to treat diseases can produce hearing and vision impairments, but physicians are trained to manage those risks.

-Steve Grant

can you break a habitt by yourself

-tyreec, Oklahoma

Well maybe ... but most people need support from somewhere - either treatment, family, friends, a coach, or teacher. Drug treatment helps people learn to live without drugs. There are different types of treatment. Medication can help some people with their drug problem. Behavioral treatments help people learn new skills to cope with stress and problems, deal with urges and cravings to use drugs, develop a support system of people who don't use drugs, and increase their motivation to stop using drugs. For specific information about treatment approaches, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/Treatmeth.html. For assistance locating treatment programs in your area see: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. .

-Redonna Chandler

Can you by the 'magic' mushrooms at the grocery store?

-pwillis, Texas

Nope. The mushrooms that contain psilocybin are not found in grocery stores. Sorry!

-Jim Bjork

Can you die after one time of smoking

-molly22, Iowa

Yes, heroin can make you pass out, plus it suppresses the breathing reflex, and also can cause nausea and vomiting. If you have never taken heroin before you are particular at risk for taking to much which can cause serious problems, including death. Your brain will be very sensitive to the effects of heroin and you can pass out, stop breathing, and even choke on your own vomit. This is the way a lot of celebraties have died

-Steve Grant

Can you die after one time of smoking heroin?

-molly22, Iowa

Yes, heroin can make you pass out, plus it suppresses the breathing reflex, and also can cause nausea and vomiting. If you have never taken heroin before you are particular at risk for taking to much which can cause serious problems, including death. Your brain will be very sensitive to the effects of heroin and you can pass out, stop breathing, and even choke on your own vomit. This is the way a lot of celebraties have died.

-Steve Grant

can you die from doing pot?

-ims623, Louisiana

Yes, indeed drivers inotxicated with pot are at higher risk of accidents, which can have fatal consequences (especially when combined with alcohol--even small amounts).

-Nora Volkow

can inhalants kill you?

-jen5858, Maryland

Inhalants can cause brain problems at least from what we can tell-- such as by how people who huff show problems in their thinking. This suggest that brain cells are at least being changed and messed with. In fact, huffing (inhaling household products and other chemicals on purpose) is one of the more dangerous 'drugs' in terms of the mental problems it causes while people are doing it. It can also target other body organs and yes, can even kill outright. This is also a problem for people who work in industries with chemicals in the air, who are exposed all the time.See this webpage for more information on inhalants: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/?s=sharpie.

-Jim Bjork