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 hallucinogens classified as dangerous like drugs?

-kphung, Texas

Hi kphung,

Hallucinogens ARE drugs, and so they are dangerous and bad for your health. Read more at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.

-Carlos Blanco

Are hallucinogens damaging to your internal orientation of the body? Like can it have the same effects as Vertigo?

-wellhellothere, Maryland

Dear wellhellothere,

I am not sure that it can cause permanent vertigo, but there are reports of it being associated with psychosis and schizophrenia. Some forms (LSD) are synthetic drugs, so they are made with no regulation of the process or chemicals used. Also, there may be other toxic chemicals mixed in that can be dangerous, and these may vary from one batch to another. The LSD itself causes brain circuits to become desynchonized and chaotic, and we believe this leads to the hallucinations that it can cause. So you may see or hear things that are not there. In addition to the harm that LSD might do to brain cells, your reactions and responses while under the influence may endanger you. People on LSD may be more likely to get injured or die in accidents. You can find more information here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/hallucinogens

-Roger Little

Can a baby still be affected when the mother stops drugs before she got pregnant?

-aluo, Texas

Hey aluo- Great question! If a mother stops using drugs before she gets pregnant, the baby will not be exposed to them during development and will have a much lower risk of developing problems than if the drugs were present. Drug use can, however, cause changes to a mother's (or father's) genes that can be passed along to the baby. For more information about epigenetics, visit: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-addiction.

-Emily Einstein

can a baby still have withdraw symptoms when the mother only used drugs for the last week?

-ACarpenter, Texas

Yes, that is possible. Take a look at this: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/...

-Dave Thomas

can a child get easly drunk when drinking alchol?

-brian, Texas

Yes, any organism can get drunk. How much alcohol it takes depends mainly on body weight and sex. So smaller adults generally require less alcohol to become intoxicated that larger adults. Children should never be given alcohol.

-George Koob

can a drug guarantee the gender of a conceived child?

-yo boi, Nebraska

Dear Yo Boi,

There is no drug that can determine the gender of a child, and it is very dangerous to take drugs, even prescription drugs, when a woman is pregnant. There is more information here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/substance-use-while-pregnant-breastfeeding, https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/substanceuseinwomenrr_final_09162016.pdf

-Roger Little

Can a drug make you sexually active?

-1221, Other

not too many drugs do that directly. but many drugs (like alcohol or marijuana) will lower your inhibition or self control. There is one class of drugs that is purportedly used as a sexual enhancer. that is nirtrites, aka poppers.

-Ruben Baler

can a girl smoke cigarettes while she is pregnant

-ApPlEsLiCe, Texas

NO!!! This is extremely dangerous to both the mother and the child. If you know someone who is pregnant and smoking, there are some immediate actions you can take to help! First, you should tell her that you are worried about her health (and her baby's) and that you want her to quit. Second, you can also ask her to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), a national toll-free number that can help people get the information they need to quit smoking. Third, sit down with her and go over the resources that can help herquit (www.smokefree.gov). Don't give up!

-Kevin Conway

can a kid at the age 12 get a faster overdose if taking drugs or a teenager?

-corey, Texas

Hi Corey,
Your risk of overdose depends a lot on your body size, so a 12-year-old might be more likely to overdose than an 18-year-old.

-Eric Wargo

can a kid die from drinking beer?

-JesusGalvan, Texas

JesusGalvan- yes, if they drink enough of it.

-Maureen Boyle

Can a person be too old to become addicted to alcohol and drugs?

-Jack Meoff, New York

Jack Meoff - No one is immune to addiction. Everyone has their own particular risk factors, but no one is immune from addiction.

-Michele Rankin

Can a person be too young to be addicted to drugs?

-mscharf, Texas

HI mscharf, you can get addicted at any age but your risk of addiction is higher if you start use before your brain is fully developed - which happens in your early to mid-20s

-Maureen Boyle

Can a person be too young to become addicted to alcohol and drugs?

-Jack Meoff, New York

hey Jack Meoff, no, actually the risk of addiction is highest when you are younger.

-Maureen Boyle

Can a person be too young to become addicted to alcohol and drugs?

-Denisb, New York

No, not at all. In fact, the earlier someone has their first drink of alcohol the more likely they are to develop a problem with alcohol at some point in their lives.

-Aaron White

Can a person who weight less get drunk faster and easier than someone who doesn't?

-Sunny, Pennsylvania

Yes, for sure. In general, the less someone weighs the more alcohol they'll have in their bloodstream after each drink. That means it takes less alcohol to affect a smaller person than someone bigger.

-Aaron White

can a pregnant woman who is taking drugs make the baby an addict right from birth

-robledobleafish, Texas

They can make a baby that experiences withdrawal from the drug at birth. This can be very serious and life threatening. Prenatal exposure may also increase the offspring to become addicted to drugs as teeenagers.

-Nora Volkow

can a pregnant women have a miscarriage if she does drugs?

-la guerra #2, California

hey la guerra #2, yes there are a number of drugs that increase the risk of miscarriage including cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids.

-Maureen Boyle

can a pregnant women have a miscarriage if she does drugs?

-ally, New York

it depends on the drug, but it can definitely happen with cocaine. It can also be one of the risks of regular alcohol drinking (5 or more per weeks)

-Ruben Baler

can a tendency towards addiction be hereditary?

-E, Colorado

hey E, yes about 50% of the risk for addiction is genetic.

-Maureen Boyle

Can addiction to a drug be caused by a mental health disorder?

-twizzlers, New York

Great question, and we don't know the answer for sure. However, we do know that a lot of people who have addictions also have other mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety disorders or PTSD. And we know that it is a lot harder to treat the addiction if we don't also treat the other disorders.

Another thing we know is that some people with a mental illness start out using an addictive drug -- like alcohol, for example -- because at first it helps them feel better; they then can become addicted later. Again, treating both the addiction and the mental illness together works better than treating either one alone.

-Josh Gordon

Can addiction to drugs pass on genitically?

-summit14020, New Jersey

Dear Summit14020,

This is a great question. We know that genetics do affect people's risk for addiction. People who have a family history of drug or alcohol addiction are at greater risk. Environment is also very important--stress and other negative environmental factors can increase addiction risk, but having good friendships and family support can protect people who are at risk. Also having a stimulating environment, like having lots of hobbies and interests, can reduce your risk. The safest thing is to never try drugs. https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/, https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/does-addiction-run-families

-Roger Little

can alchohol cause brain damage or survere brain damage?

-705377, Texas

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. 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. 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.

-George Koob

Can alchol be cause you stress, depression, and suicidal ?

-tnguyen, Texas

Yes, for sure. Some people begin drinking because they feel like it reduces their stress. Over time, though, problems related to drinking can increase stress and depression. Alcohol often plays a role in suicides. Some estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 4 people who commit suicide were drinking at the time.

-Aaron White

can alchol make you insane

-MAR, Other

Insane is a legal term that really doesn't apply to alcohol. Long-term chronic alcohol use can lead to a form of dementia. And alcohol use disorders can co-occur with most mental disorders and can make one vulnerable to those mental disorders and worsen them. For example, individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder often develop alcohol use disorders.

-Aaron White

can alcohol cause brain damage or suvere brain damage?

-705377, Texas

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. 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. 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.

-George Koob

Can alcohol change someone behavior permanently?

-MMH, Other

Chronic, heavy drinking can damage the brain and affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Whether these changes are permanent is unknown.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol give the affects of another drug?

-sjlowne@lmusd, California

The effects of alcohol are fairly unique. One category of drugs that produce sort of similar effects are the benzodiazepines. This category includes valium, xanax and other similar medications. Because these drugs act in roughly similar ways, combining them can be very dangerous.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol have lasting affects on an under aged drinker?

-zdub, Illinois

Yes, for sure. The brain works by forming networks of brain cells that talk to each other. During adolescence, brain circuits that are important for survival are formed and nurtured while those that aren't used are discarded. Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to form those networks and with the ability of brain cells in those networks to talk to each other. This is bad news for teens because, once of the window of brain development closes in the early 20s, the brain circuits that exist will likely stick around. So, if the opportunity to mold and fine tune brain circuits during adolescence is wasted, it could have a huge impact on future success and quality of life. Similarly, a drinking problem that develops during the teens years can be quite stubborn due to the molding of drinking-related circuits that occurs.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol have lasting affects on an under aged drinker?

-zdub, Illinois

Yes, for sure. The brain works by forming networks of brain cells that talk to each other. During adolescence, brain circuits that are important for survival are formed and nurtured while those that aren't used are discarded. Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to form those networks and with the ability of brain cells in those networks to talk to each other. This is bad news for teens because, once of the window of brain development closes in the early 20s, the brain circuits that exist will likely stick around. So, if the opportunity to mold and fine tune brain circuits during adolescence is wasted, it could have a huge impact on future success and quality of life. Similarly, a drinking problem that develops during the teens years can be quite stubborn due to the molding of drinking-related circuits that occurs.

-Aaron White

Can alcoholism and drug addiction be inherited?

-J_Blasian04, California

This is an important question. We know that genetics do affect people's risk for addiction. People who have a family history of drug or alcohol addiction are at greater risk. Environment is also very important--stress and other negative environmental factors can increase addiction risk, but having good friendships and family support can protect people who are at risk. Also having a stimulating environment, like having lots of hobbies and interests, can reduce your risk. The safest thing is to never try drugs. https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/, https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/does-addiction-run-families

-Roger Little