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 maryguana make canser on you

-15379633, Maryland

Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increase the lungs' exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana smokers show poorly regulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer; however, a recent study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unproven at this time. We do know marijuana smoking can cause other problems in your lungs, especially if you smoke it regularly.You can find a lot of information on marijuana at

-Nicolette Borek

Can monkeys get drunk like humans?

-Special K,

Special K- I don't know if monkeys get drunk like humans, but I'm guessing that physiologically, then can. In terms of other aspects of getting drunk, scientists have found that it isn't just the alcohol that can affect a person's behavior-- the social environment can have a big effect. If 'Monkey see -Monkey do' has any validity, this could be true for monkeys too. :-)

-Lisa Onken

Can Naloxone counteract opiates?

-abed_nadir, Pennsylvania

Great question, Abed! Naloxone and a simliar compound naltrexone both block the effects of opiates and opioids (like heroin, morphine, OxyContin). They are called antagonists because they block the receptors (called opioid receptors) in the brain where these drugs would typically act. In fact, both Naloxone and naltrexone can be used as parts of opioid medications to prevent inappropriate use and consumption. You can find more about opiates like heroin here:

-David White

Can one time moderate use of cocaine lead to permanent brain damage memory problems and cognitive impairment?

-keith, Maryland

Hi Keith, thanks for the question. The simple answer is that one-time moderate use of cocaine most likely will not lead to permanent brain damage and cognitive problems. But quite honestly, there is not yet any way to predict how a drug, no matter the dose or frequency of use, will do to the brain. Wonder why celebrities go in and out of rehab so much? Because it takes time to recover from addiction - and time to find the right treatment. Learn more by reading NIDA's new booklet for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths, at

-Joe Frascella

Can pain killers affect you just as much as marijuna?

-Special K,

thanks for the question.Absolutely, if not more. You can actually die from overdosing on pain killers. Opiod analgesics are very addictive powerful drugs that should only be used under close medical supervision and for very specific medical conditions.Take care and stay healthy.

-Ruben Baler

can pain killers hurt your body

-google, Maryland

Yes, even though pain killers can be helpful when when you have an injury, narcotic opioid drugs have a lot of bad effects, including potential addiction. These drugs suppress the immune system and slow your breathing. When people take too much of these drugs they can stop breathing and die. It's a growing problem in this country: treatment admissions for opiates other than heroin rose from 19,870 in 1998 to 111,251 in 2008, over a 450-percent increase. Also, the number of fatal poisonings involving prescription pain medications more than tripled from 1999 through 2006, outnumbering total deaths involving heroin and cocaine.

-Steve Grant

can pcp cause medical death

-TaiBenz187, Maryland

Yes, it can cause cardiac complications, especially if used at the same time as other drugs. Check out our fact sheet on hallucinogens at

-Jim Bjork

can people die if they smoke weed

-BC, New Jersey

Yes, people can die because marijuana can affect their judgement and perception, so they are more likely to get into a car accident, get hit by a car, fall down stairs, or even walk off a cliff. However, one would be probably pass out before you could smoke enough marijuana to stop your heart or breathing. The biggest danger has to do with the effects on judgment, perception, reaction time....Studies have found that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who were injured or died in traffic crashes tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Learn more on the Sara Bellum blog at

-Steve Grant

can i get super high off hand senitizer?

-patrick, Maryland

While some hand sanitizers do contain ethyl alcohol, the kind of alcohol in alcohol that you drink, they contain lots of other ingredients as well. These other ingredients could make you really sick if you drink them.

-Aaron White

Can it be good to drink?

-craigb, New York

For adults, one (for females) or up to two (for males) servings of alcohol can help decrease the chances of developing heart disease. However, any more than that increases the risk of developing a host of problems, including liver and pancreas diseases, weakened immune system, and certain kinds of cancers.There are no known benefits of alcohol for teenagers, only negative effects.

-Aaron White

Can marijana be used to help some people?

-15965464, Maryland

Marijuana is not an FDA approved medication at this time--meaning that it has not met the safety and efficacy requirements that all medicines must meet. That said, ingredients in marijuana clearly have an anti-nausea effect; an appetite stimulating effect; and some anti-pain effects. In fact, scientists are very excited and invested in developing medications that work through the same system (the endocannabinoid system) that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, works on. But the hope is to develop medications with less of the side effects associated with marijuana--and one that is not smoked, as this is obviously an unhealthy delivery sysstem.

-Joe Frascella

can marijuana affect sexual activity

-15948967, Maryland

not that I know of.heavy or chronic marijuana could lower a man's sperm count though.

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana really be prescribed as a drug?

-jm, Vermont

Some states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; however, it has never received approval by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which is responsible for making sure that medicines are safe and effective. So states legalizing it have actually bypassed the normal process by which all other medicines are approved. There are definitely medicinal benefits of some of the components in marijuana and scientists are working hard to isolate those and make other compounds that can act on the same system that marijuana acts on (the endocannabinoid system). But smoking is not a good way to deliver a drug, and there are inconsistencies from plant among the ingredients (some 400 or so chemicals); and some of marijuana's risks, including addiction, also make this a cause for concern.

-David Shurtleff

can drugs mess up your teeth if you dont brush them

-zandra_baby, Pennsylvania

You may have seen posters or pictures of people who use methamphetamine and their teeth are particularly unattractive. We often don't think about it, but teeth and gums depend on a healthy blood supply and enough saliva to remain in good health. Methamphetamine does not really do anything to teeth, but it has profound effects on your gums and the blood that gets there. Methamphetamine is a vasoconstrictor, that is, it makes your capillaries and blood vessels smaller, decreasing the blood (and oxygen supply) to your gums. When teeth and gums don't have enough, the gums dry and don't hold the teeth in properly anymore. Without adequate saliva, your teeth are more prone to decay and you are more apt to get periodontal disease, a particularly nasty gum condition--never a pretty picture.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs with impurities be more dangerous?

-271828, Vermont

Vermont - You are asking a very good question. Yes, this is true. Sometimes the impurities are more dangerous than the drug itself. A good example is 'paraquat' - which is often present in pot. Paraquat is an insecticide that is used in growing pot marijuana. This can produce respiratory failure if the concentrations are high and exposure heavy. Another good example is a terrible problem that happened in the 1990s. Meperidine, a potent opiate-type drug, was being synthesized in a clandestine laboratory. The synthesis inadvertently produced MPTP, a chemical that produced parkinsonism, a serious disease that Michael J. Fox has, in the young people who took the drug. They were permanently affected by taking this drug. Another more recent example that young people need to be aware of is the drug Spice or K2. These drugs are sold as legal pot or marijuana, but they are also chemicals that are produced in clandestine laboratories with no quality control. The chemicals have not yet been tested in humans to test their safety. When you smoke K2 or spice, you are experimenting on yourself. You don't know what you are taking, how much you are taking- these drugs can be up to 100 times more potent than pot, and you don't know what other impurities may be present. I hope this information is helpful.

-Marilyn Huestis

can drugz mest up your life

-amitchell, Pennsylvania

Can drugs mess up your life? You betcha!! Drugs have a very powerful impact on the body, brain, and behavior. Effects of prolonged drug exposure on the body include lung cancer, liver and kidney disease, stroke, increased risk of contracting an infections disease like HIV, and addiction - just to name a few. Exposure to drugs can profoundly affect the brain impacting memory, concentration, attention, the ability to learn new things, and ability to make good decisions. Social consequences include poor school and academic performance, strained family relationships, and even arrest. Mor information regarding the medical consequences of drug use is available at:

-Redonna Chandler

can every drug kill u after a while and can u overdose on painpills

-nidachat, New Hampshire

You can overdose on most every drug of abuse. Yes you can overdose on 'painpills'. they are typically opiates and in high doses opiates depress breathing, thus, overdose can be fatal!

-David Shurtleff

can every drug kill you for a fact?

-love_fletcher, Kentucky

Anything in enough quantity can kill you. Drinking too much water can kill you. Breathing pure oxygen can kill you. Overdosing on aspirin is a leading cause of emergency room admissions and death. Every drug has good and bad effects. That is why you should only take drugs under a doctor's supervision and stay away from illegal drugs.

-Steve Grant

Can everyday items make you high?

-nats379, Maryland

Yep - there are a bunch of simple household chemicals that can be used as 'inhalants' to make you high. But this is extremely risky. Sniffing gas or solvents can have really bad health consequences- and can even hurt your brain. Since teen brains are still in development, inhalants can really cause some damage. Check out the NIDA website for information on inhalants at

-Nicolette Borek

Can excessive drug (not alcohol) use damage important organs like the liver and kidney?

-josh9994, New Jersey

Good question, Josh. Excessive use of a number of different drugs of abuse (cocaine, methamphetamine, Ecstacy, marijuana) aside from alcohol can definitely cause organ damage. Check this out:

-David White


-big****bandit, Maryland

Absolutely. Not a scare tactic. Take opioids like prescription pain killers for example. If a first time user snorts these pills (after crushing them), they'll get a big dose of the pain killers in the blood very quickly. Since they never took opioids before, his/her body has not adapted to opioids, so a dose that would not kill a pain patient (for whom they are prescribed to take in pill form orally), kills them on the spot. Other drugs, different story, same result. Maybe they smoke marijuana and then decide to drive home-one car accident ends their life. However, drug addiction tends to be a slow killer...Check out for more information.

-David Thomas

Can helpful antibiotics be created from methamphetamine or Acid?

-Genifore, Georgia

Not that I know of. In fact, there is some evidence that methamphetamine impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infection, especially HIV.

-Steve Grant

can herion make you commit crimes you never would have done sober

-11gb, Kentucky

Yes - the use of all drugs can cause you to do things you would not do when sober including committing crimes. Drugs have a significant impact on the brain. One of the many things that happens to the brain under the influence of drugs is that decision making is significantly impaired. It is also difficult to control impluses, and people will often do things they would not normally do.

-Redonna Chandler

can huffing air duster hurt you

-chatgoboom, Georgia

Huffing any inhalant can be very dangerous. The lungs absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream very quickly, sending them throughout the brain and body. Within minutes of inhalation, users feel 'high.' But huffing may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). You can get more information from our teen site at

-Jane Lipkin

can i get addicted if i only smoke once a year

-dreamer, Georgia

Hi dreamer!You ask a question that is difficult to answer. Each cigarette contains about 10 milligrams of nicotine. Because smokers inhale only some of the smoke from a cigarette, everyone inhales different amounts, and not all of each puff is absorbed in the lungs, a smoker gets about 1 to 2 milligrams of the drug from each cigarette. Although that may not seem like much, it is enough to make someone addicted. It is hard to say how many puffs will lead to addiction and once a person becomes addicted, it is extremely difficult to quit. People who start smoking before the age of 21 have the hardest time quitting, and fewer than 1 in 10 people who try to quit smoking succeed. For more facts about nicotine and other drugs, check out NIDA's new booklet for teens, Drugs: Shatter the Myths at Thanks for your question!

-Marsha Lopez

Can drugs be processed into food and drinks without anyone knowing?

-2 cool 4 school,

Yes--the addition of rohypnol (roofies) to drinks is a perfect example.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs cause an allergic reaction?


That's an interesting question that requires a little discussion of biology and an undertanding of what a drug is. First, many drugs, whether they are prescription drugs or vitamins, are manufactured in pill form with other, inactive ingredients to make them hold together. Allergic reactions to these are usually to the inactive ingredients or some other contaminant. In order to provoke an allergic reaction, the provoking substance must be relatively large or a protein. Most drugs of abuse are very small molecules, not large enough to excite an immune response. So it is very unlikely that you would get an allergic reaction from the drug itself. But often these drugs are manufactured under dirty conditions (someone's garage) or are cut with an inactive substance of the same color/texture (like lactate) and the contaminants (which you can't identify) may lead to an undesired reaction.

-Nancy Pilotte

can drugs get animals hii

-man cody, Wyoming

Probably. They can't say to us, 'Dude, I am really messed up' but there are a lot of similarities between animals and people in how they act when on drugs of abuse. You should see the spiderwebs made by spiders on drugs. Very messed up... For more information see

-David Thomas

can drugs help you with everyday stress? and can they help you perform in sports?

-bigseltz, New Jersey

Hi there,If you have a level of stress that affects your daily life then you may want to talk to your doctor, maybe he can prescribe a medication (or behavioral intervention) to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with your condition. Regarding sports, there are many (ergogenic) substances that are either known or reported to enhance your athletic performance. Anabolic steroids, erythropoietin, Growth hormone, come to mind, but they are all banned substances with adverse effects.Thanks for the good question and take care

-Ruben Baler

Can drugs lead to diseases or death?

-warda, New York

absolutely. Go to to learn more...

-David Thomas