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 you absorb alcohol through skin?

-barackobama, New York

Yes, but not very well! 

-Aaron White

can you build a tolerance to alcohol?

-mikahakinen147, New York
Yes. Tolerance happens when the brain and the liver learn to function like normal even though a drug is in the body. So, over time, the person has to use more and more of the drug to get the desired effect. As a consequence, when the person stops the drug, their body functions in a way that is the opposite of the desired effects. This is called withdrawal. So, if a drug initially makes you feel good but you have to take more and more to get that feeling, you will likely feel really really bad when you stop. 
You can learn more about the effects of alcohol here:
-Aaron White

Can you build a tolerance to drugs or alchohol?

-official-_sean, Maryland
Hi there official-_sean.  I've gotta ask: is there an "unofficial" sean out there somewhere?  (just kidding!) Your question is important, and the answer is YES, absolutely.  For alcohol and many drugs, tolerance does build up.  That means that a person needs to take more to feel the effect. In fact, that is often when the really big problems start to happen.  A person keeps taking larger amounts of drugs or alcohol and the physical and mental damages keep growing larger!  Its always best not to start at all -- then you won't need to worry about tolerance.  Check out this website for more info:
-Harold Perl

Can you describe rebound symptoms?

-UNIV NorthTexas, Texas

Rebound is when u have worse symptoms after the drug leaves your brain (e.g., depression even though you may have initially taken a drug to make you feel better).

-Nora Volkow

Can you die from doing a drug once?

-Kfitzy28, Massachusetts
Sure. For example, this can definitely happen with opioids like prescription pain medications. If you take too much, it can slow your breathing to the point where it just stops.  It can also happen with cocaine.  For example, a basketball player named Len Bias took cocaine for the first time, had a heart attack and died.  His entire future career was down the drain in an instant.  Now, not every person will die from taking drugs for the first time or over time, but they definitely increase their chances of having a really bad outcome each and every time they use.  Learn more about the effects of drugs on the body and how to live above the influence at -  and
-Dave Thomas

can you die from drinking too much caffine?

-parislover8, New York

If you have heart disease you can die from excessive caffeine consumption, but this is rare.

-Nora Volkow

can you die from excessive tylenol or any other medical drugs, without taking them with the purpose of addiction?

-asdfghjkl, Maryland

Thanks for your question.  Absolutely!  Many drugs can cause overdose and death.  Tylenol can cause liver failure.  Pain killers can cause respiratory depression.  Stimulants can cause heart attacks and strokes.  For more information on the effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs on teens check out

-Steve Gust

can you die from hallucinogens?

-devondonahue, New York
Hey devondonahue!  It's possible.  Not common, but possible.  At high doses, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration drop. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. PCP abusers are often brought to emergency rooms because of overdose or because of the drug’s severe untoward psychological effects. While intoxicated, PCP abusers may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves and others. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Because PCP can also have sedative effects, interactions with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can also lead to coma.
I'd suggest focusing on life and pursuing natural highs like hanging with friends and having fun!  Learn more about hallucinogens using this resource - 
-Joni Rutter

Can you die from prescription drugs? What are the effects?

-Gem, New Jersey

Absolutely you can die from prescription drugs! The effects that the prescription drugs produce vary based on the type of drug that it is. Unfortunately, many people are taking prescription opiates now- oxycontin, hydrocodeine and others that are potent opiates. You can die by taking too much of these prescription opiates just like you could die from too much heroin. In fact, more people die from Prescription drug overdoses every year than from heroin and cocaine combined. More info on prescription drugs here:

-Marilyn Huestis

Can coke knock off your nose completely if you do it for a while?

-yunglean, New Mexico
Well I don't know about that.  It would be upsetting!!!  Snorting cocaine can cause extensive damage to the nasal mucosa (the lining of you nasal passages), which is serious.  However, I do not think your nose will fall off.
-Dave Thomas

can crack eventually kill u

-weed machine, New York

Hello there, WM! Yes, it can. As you might know, crack (which is a form of cocaine) is a highly addictive drug. And even a single usage of cocaine can cause heart attack or stroke, which may result in sudden death. But that's not the only health effect to be concerned about. Cocaine can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well. Snorting cocaine (inhaling through the nose), can lead to loss of the sense of smell; nosebleeds; problems with swallowing; hoarseness; a chronically runny nose; and damage to the nasal tissues. Cocaine abusers can also experience severe paranoia. If you are curious, check out this page:

-Anto Bonci

Can dangerous drugs be modified to become less harmful? What are some effects that vicodin can have on a person? Where do most of the illegal drugs in the United States come from? Could there ever be anyone immune to the effects of harmful drugs?

-eechero, Texas

Hi eechero - thanks for your questions.  Let me try to answer some of them at least.  Your question about modifying drugs to make them less harmful is an excellent question. There has been a lot of research effort to try to develop pain medications, for example, that are less addictive.  Some progress has been made but we have a long way to go.  Vicodin is an opiate drug that reduces pain but is also addictive for some.  If taken in high doses it can cause euphoria, disorientation, and such things as respiratory depression.  Illegal drugs come from many sources, some in the US (marijuana, methamphetamine) and some outside the US (heroin, cocaine, ecstasy).  Your last question is a very good one.  It is true that there are large differences between people in their responses to drugs.  Some people are a lot more susceptible to the euphoric effects and so are much more susceptible to becoming addicted.  However, since all drugs of abuse affect the most basic parts of our brain having to do with reinforcement and reward, it is doubtful that there would ever be total immunity to their effects.

-Steve Gust

Can diseases be inherited ?

-officivl_tjc__, New York

Hey officivl_tjc_--great question!  I'm a geneticist and we've worked very hard to address your question.  

It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents.  For Huntington's Disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's Disease is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also.
Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.
Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: and
Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 
-Joni Rutter

Can diseases from drugs be inherited to that person's children?

-Oreiter, Pennsylvania
Hey Oreiter!  This is my favorite question of the day!  It turns out that even addiction can be inherited.  In some cases this inheritance comes from small changes in the DNA sequence that makes someone more vulnerable to use drugs.  (DNA is the genetic code that has instructions for our body.)  That DNA is, of course, passed on from parent to child--making the child vulnerable, too.  
Recently, one study found something very interesting--Did you know that cocaine has been shown to affect DNA expression in the sperm--it actually affects the the way a protein called BDNF is expressed in the brain. Scientists found that the cocaine changes this protein in the sperm of drug-taking rodents, and is passed onto their male pups (yes, "pups" is how you call baby rodents).  The result of this experiment was that the male sons found cocaine LESS rewarding.  
So, the answer is pretty complicated and depends on the drug, the timing of exposure, and other individual factors.  Scientists are spending their entire careers trying to answer this very question!
Thanks for your question 
-Joni Rutter

can doing drugs lead to mental diseases

-handheldaphid, New York

yes, if you have a genetic or other vulnerability (e.g., exposure to trauma or early stress).  Marijuana has been linked to psychosis in some individuals.

-Nora Volkow

can drinking alcohol at a young age have long term affects on you?

-Donnita Rogers, Louisiana
There are lots of negative long term effects of drinking before age 21. First of all, your brain is still changing and growing, and alcohol can interfere with that development. 
Risks facing anyone who drinks too much include: 
  1. Legal trouble
  2. Car crashes and other accidents
  3. Making bad choices and engaging in risky behavior

Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make the area 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.

Drinking at a young age makes it much more likely a person will develop alcoholism later in life. It's really important to wait as long as possible to drink alcohol, or to avoid it altogether. Check out: -Aaron White

can drinking or smoking give you brain damage? or put you in a comatose state?

-sampugliese, New York
Yes, alcohol can damage the brain and put you in a comatose state, not to mention kill you! The thinking memory, and feeling parts of the brain are all changing when we are teenagers. Alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. 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.

For weeks and months after a teenager stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. It's not clear whether the brain ever fully heals itself. In addition, drinking at a young age makes it more likely to become an alcoholic later in life. So, drinking when we are young could have lots of negative effects on the brain!

-Aaron White

Can drinking orange juice get rid of a hangover?

-friendlyperson1, New York

Really nothing gets rid of a hangover except for time. However, some things, like replacing lost fluids, can help ease the symptoms a little. For some people, toast and coffee is their preferred strategy. For others, it might just be orange juice. It just depends on the person. The best way to deal with hangovers is to avoid them entirely! Just don't drink!

-Aaron White

Can drug withdrawal symptoms like hallucinations cause the former drug user to kill himself/herself?

-sandy20, New York
January greetings - Sandy20. And thank you for your interesting question - and unfortunately, drug withdrawal symptoms can have major adverse effects, including anxiety, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, perspiration, racing heart and palpitations, labored breathing, shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc (I've worked with folks going through this - it's a really horrible experience). I can't say for sure that the hallucinations can cause suicide, but it can be one of many factors that contribute. If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications. Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.
-Denny Pintello

can drugs affect how you age

That is a good question.   I just heard a lecture on this topic.  Clearly drugs can make you look more aged.  Give you wrinkles, make your skin sag, etc.  But is that actually changing your age? I am not sure. But if you don't want to look old when you are not old, staying off drugs will help.   
-Dave Thomas

Can medical drugs be harmful even if used properly.

-atkinsj.19, New York

Yes, in individuals that have genetic vulnerability to their adverse effects.

-Nora Volkow

can medicinal marijuana be abused, because I see many flaws in the system

-weed machine, New York
Hey weed machine,
Great question. Yes "medical marijuana" can be abused, and probably is abused. The best way to deliver marijuana's benefits to people with real health problems will be creating actual medications from the chemicals (called cannabinoids) in marijuana, such as THC and cannabidiol. Scientists are hard at work on this.
Glad you're thinking about this. 
-Eric Wargo

Can misusing prescription drugs be almost as bad as using them without a prescription?

-defaultusername, New York

yes misuse of prescription drugs  is equally dangerous if u have a prescription vs. not having one. 

-Nora Volkow

Can my body build up tolerance for drugs?

-lms611, Massachusetts
Good question.  
Yes, that happens with most drugs.  You take them, and over time, you need more and more to get the same effects. This happens often with individuals who have chronic pain.  It doesn't mean that they are addicted to their pain medications, just means that over time their bodies have become used to the medication and at times can require higher doses to get pain relief.
-Dave Thomas

Can one drink (that has alcohal in it) effect someone who is, say 14, in a threatening way?

-aveson, California

Well, if that one drink was just a single serving, like a beer or a glass of wine, it's unlikely that a person would die but even that small amount is enough to cause small changes in balance and reaction times that could make it more likely to have an accident or get into a car crash and die. More importantly, that one drink at the age of 14 could significantly increase the risk of becoming an alcoholic later in life. Researchers found that the earlier someone has their first drink of alcohol, usually meaning more than a few sips with family, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic. It isn't known whether a few sips is enough to make that happen or if more alcohol is needed. The best bet is to avoid alcohol completely until your brain is done developing in the early 20s. You can learn more about the effects of alcohol on kids at:

-Aaron White

Can our skin absorb drugs

-Student6372, Maryland

Hey Student6372.  You bet our skin can absorb drugs.  For example, you can absorb drugs from "patches" like with nicotine patches, or from creams.

-Joni Rutter

can overdose of tylenol and advil have the same effects on your body as using other drugs that are known as being harmful and bad for your body and brain?

-123456, Maryland

Good morning 123456, thanks for your question!  Everyday medications like Tylenol and Advil, available over the counter, can have bad effects if people take too much or use them longer than recommended. If people take Tylenol at too high a dose or for longer than recommended, they can suffer severe liver damage. Advil can worsen asthma, for example, sometimes fatally. But Tylenol and Advil do not contain psychoactive, or 'mind-altering' ingredients, and do not produce the changes in your brain that lead to addiction. That doesn't mean that they are safe to take for long periods of time or in high doses. Also note that there are other over the counter drugs (like sleep aids) that can have surprising side effects – and need to be taken with extreme care. If you find that you need over the counter medicines frequently, make sure to consult a medical professional about how much is OK to take and what is the best medicine for your needs. Remember, if the proper amount of the drug isn't working – then it's not the right treatment for your health condition.

-Jeff Schulden

Can overdosing on trazodone cause you to be put in a concussion?

-Directioner, New Mexico

Hi Directioner...thanks for the question.  I am guessing that you are asking if overdosing can cause comas.  From what I can find, there have been reports of coma caused by trazodone.

-Joe Frascella

Can people get addicted to nicotine patches when trying to stop smoking?

-sharkesha476584, Massachusetts
Interesting question shark.
When people smoke they become addicted to nicotine, which makes it hard to quit smoking.  Nicotine patches can help people stop smoking because they provide the person nicotine.  When a person uses the patches to quite smoking, they usually will use patches with lower and lower amounts of nicotine until they don't need the patch anymore.  But even if they don't get off the patches, the patches are less dangerous than smoking. But you are right, they are still addicted when just using the patches.
-Dave Thomas

Can I goto rehab because of my flappy bird addiction?

I don't know--do you think you need rehab? Unlike drugs, game addictions can usually be cured by finding another fun activity ... or the next game that comes along 
I cured my Angry Birds addiction with Words With Friends. :-)
Good luck! 
-Eric Wargo