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 drink nicotine?

-lalapickel, Massachusetts

Hi ! Nicotine does come in a liquid form which is used in e-cigarettes. However, it is highly dangerous and considered poisonous so beware!

-Jack Stein

can you eat marijuana

-ninja6963, New York
Hi ninja6963,
You can. It affects the body less swiftly when it is eaten in food, although it can actually be more dangerous this way, because it is easy to consume too much before you know it, and have a very bad reaction (such as terrible anxiety).
Great question! 
-Eric Wargo

can you get a headache from smoking to much

-Dwyane, New York

Hi Dwyane...thanks for the question.  Yes, given nicotine effects on one's vascular system (blood vessels) and its stimulant properties, smoking too much certainly can result in headaches.  There are many other negative health effects from smoking, I am sure you already know about.  If you are smoking now, you might consider trying to quit, as it gets harder to quit the longer you smoke. For more information on smoking, check out:

-Joe Frascella

Can you get addicted to drugs the first time that you use them?

-CFPC, New Jersey

Hi CFPC.  For some people the first use of a drug can lead to an overwhelming urge to use again, which can often lead to addiction.  While a true diagnosis of addiction is probably impossible after a single use, there is no doubt that some individuals are more prone to developing addictive patterns after initial exposure.

-Steve Gust

can you get addicted to mental health medication? and ig you get the wrong diagnosis for a mental health issue and you take medicine for it can that drug do something really bad for your body?

-skpmb, Maryland

Hey SKPMB.  Wow great and complicated question about mental health problems.  First, certain prescription medications used to treat certain mental and physical health conditions can be addictive.  Medications like opiates to treat pain and some of the stimulants used to treat ADHD can be addictive.  The key is to ONLY take medications prescribed for you, take those medications ONLY as prescribed by the physician, and to REMAIN under the care of a reputable physician.  Regarding question two:  treating mental health problems, like treating physical health conditions, requires an accurate diagnosis.  Mental health professions should provide an assessment to  determine the type and severity mental health problem. Sometimes,  medications are prescribed as part of treatment by psychiatrists or physicians.  You are on the right track though - an accurate diagnosis is key to successful treatment.  For more information on prescription medications see:

-Redonna Chandler

can drugs cause a traumatic effect on someone?

-BirthdaYCakE, New York

Hey Cake -- absolutely!  Drugs can have both direct and indirect consequences that can be traumatic.  By direct consequences I mean the direct effect of the drug itself -- if you have an overdose, or a bad interaction between two drugs, for instance, it can land you in the hospital with some serious health consequences.  Indirect effects would be other kinds of things that the drug causes -- for example, driving while high or intoxicated can lead to traumatic and tragic consequences!

-Lori Ducharme

can drugs cause extreme hallucinations?

-sampugliese, New York
Hey there sampugliese! Thanks for this great question!  Yes, some drugs do cause hallucinations, and some drugs cause very intense extreme ones.  They can be very very frightening to experience and very confusing to a person. Check out this website for more info:
-Harold Perl

Can drugs cause people to not care for others

-lj12, New York

Yes since the damage areas of the brain necessary for awareness, so they can make someone less sensitive to others

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs cause trauma?

-Cowgirl555, New York

HI Cowgirl - yes, many drugs can cause serious psychological damage.  Some people who take hallucinogens or stimulants, for example, can have very bad reactions to them.  These can include hallucinations, panic, anxiety, and depression.  It is important to remember that drugs have many different effects and many of these effects are harmful.  For more information on how drugs affect teens please check out

-Steve Gust

Can drugs change how you think of things?

-baseballguy03, Pennsylvania
The short answer is yep!  Drugs affect the way the brain cells communicate and relays that information to the body.  Drugs can also have a very important effect on a teen's ability to learn, their relationships and also their outlook on life...mostly in a negative way.  You don't see too many happy-looking regular drug users do you? A teen's best bet is to stay drug free! Learn more about the effects of drugs on the brain and body and see questions from other teens like you!
-Dave Thomas

can drugs effect your brain

-trouscus, New York

Hi Trouscus.  Yes, drugs can affect your brain, and that is the reason people take drugs.  But not all drugs can enter the brain because the brain is protected by cells that wrap tightly around blood vessels (called a blood-brain barrier) and only let certain specifics things enter the brain.  Whether or not a drug enters the brain depends on the chemical structure of the drug.  But if someone is taking a drug to get high, you can be pretty sure that the drug is getting into the brain and changing the way the brain is working.  The real issue is whether the changes in the brain caused by a drug lasts a short time, a long time, or ends in permanent changes in the brain.

-Steve Grant

Can drugs kill you

-spongebob, New York

Hi Spongebob.  How's life at the bottom of the ocean ?  All kidding aside, some drugs are very dangerous and can kill you even if you take them only once.  Painkillers like oxycotin contain high amounts of a class of drugs called opioids, and one effect of these drugs is they reduce your breathing. If you take too much you simply stop breathing and die. Other drugs, like amphetamine and stimulants, can cause heart attacks. Even antibiotics can be dangerous; for example some people are allergic to penicillin. Even non-prescription drugs like Tylenol (acetaminophen) can cause very rare but potentially fatal skin disorders as well as liver damage. The Food and Drug Administration writes very detailed descriptions of the effects of the drug, both good and bad, that are included with every prescription. You should always read these labels to find out what the harmful effects are, use them for what they were FDA approved for, and if you have questions talk to your doctor or the pharmacist.

-Steve Grant

Can Drugs kill you?

-maryd@aslacadem, New Mexico

some can...and do. Either directly (like overdosing from heroin) or indirectly (like driving while drunk or stoned). Worth the risk??

-Jack Stein

Can drugs kill you???

-WHITEBOY101, New York

Yes, WHITEBOY101, drugs can kill you. they can kill you quickly- as in a drug overdose, or slowly, as in cancer from tobacco smoking. Your health and life are not worth experimenting with drugs. 

-Marilyn Huestis

can drugs lower your focus in school

-spongebob, New York
Hey Spongebob,
Absolutely!!!! Good question.  Drugs affect the brain and central nervous system.  During the teen years and up to about age 25 the brain in a very rapid period of development.  Doing anything that hinders the maximum development of the brain is harmful to cognitive functioning. Recent research suggests that marijuana, for example, can actually lower your IQ if you start using as a teen. Below are some links that give you more specific information.

There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

And try this brand new “e-poster”---“Drugs and the Body: It Isn’t Pretty” -Lis Robertson

can drugs mess up your whole body

-prettygirl13, New York

Yes, but the effects will depend on the type of drug u use, the doses, and for how long

-Nora Volkow

can drugs really affect your body??

-YOLO!!!, New York
The short answer is "Yes."
The exact impact on you depends on the drug, how it is taken, and a lot of other factors.  
There is a whole lot of info on our website:
-Dave Thomas

Can drugs weeken the body? Say if an active teen around 13 who plays 3 sports can they get affecfted? xoxox billybob :)

-billybob67, New York

Absolutely billybob67! At 13 the body is still developing rapidly and drugs can interfere with normal development. Depending upon the drug, it may certainly affect training and performance in sports. For instance, some drugs may affect your ability to react correctly to different situations, slow you down, affect your vision and speed. And these are only the affects of drugs on your performance- they also affect your health!

-Marilyn Huestis

Can ecstasy kill you?

-amanda_foo, New York

Hey Amanda_foo--yep ecstasy can kill.

The geeky term for ecstasy is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine).  It can cause the body to get rid of water and this can cause the body to overheat - called heat stroke.  The body's inability to regulate temperature is just one of the bad side-effects of ecstasy.  This is even worse and deadlier when people take ecstasy and drink alcohol at the same time, like while partying. 
Find out more on ecstasy here:
-Joni Rutter

can elderly people get addicted to cocaine?

-friendlyperson1, New York
Hey there friendlyperson1. Great user name! The short answer is YES -- elderly people can be addicted to cocaine or any other harmful and illegal drug. In fact, elderly people may even be more likely than younger adults to be harmed by many drugs. For example, the elderly may be less able to absorb and break down medications and drugs as easily as it used to (so drugs may stay in the body longer, which can increase their effects). Aging brains are also different than young ones and may be at greater risk for harmful drug effects (on memory or coordination, for example). And the elderly could be on medications for medical conditions, and these medications could interact with abused drugs in dangerous ways.
Here's some other information on cocaine if you're interested:
-Harold Perl

Can hallucinogens be placed inside an aerosol can and become weaponized? If so, is there any way we can defend ourselves against them?

-ThleduinAlkara, Pennsylvania

ThleduinAlkara, hey!  What an interesting questions.  Hallucinogens would probably dissipate or be inactivated by heat reactions before having any effects, but I don't know of any data that addresses this question.  How do you defend against this possibility?  Read more.  Do well in school.  Study science.

-Joni Rutter

Can herion kill someone once they inject it?

-alyssaskyglace, Pennsylvania

Yes- heroin use is extremely dangerous. It can result in an overdose resulting in death. Check out for more info about heroin and other drugs of abuse.

-Jack Stein

can heroin be smoked

-marshmallow, Maryland
Hello again marshmallow-- 
Quick answer. Heroin can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. It also can be smoked or snorted up the nose.
-Roger Sorensen

Can homemade cigarettes have the same effect that cigarettes sold in stores

-lj12, New York


-Cindy Miner

<span style="font-size: 0.9em;">what is the difference between chewing tobacco and smoking/ do they doth cause the same problems</span>

-24468, Maryland
Each day in the United States, more than 1,200 youth under age 18 use smokeless tobacco for the first time (including chewing tobacco or snuff). More than 1,200 people die each day in the United States because of cigarette use – that is nearly 1 person every minute!  Each contain poisonous chemicals and can cause similar problems, such as cancer.  
  • Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 carcinogens (cancer–causing agents).
  • Smokeless tobacco increases the risk for cancer of the oral cavity, which can include cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth.
  • Other effects include oral leukoplakia (white mouth lesions that can become cancerous), gum disease, and gum recession (when the gum pulls away from the teeth).
  • Possible increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive problems are being studied.
-Joni Rutter

a realy close friend of mine OD on Heroine and i was wondering how Heroine kills.

-JMCBowers, Maryland
I am sorry to hear that JMC,
It is a real tragically that occurs way too often.  I hope you are doing ok.
Heroin affects regions of the brain that regulate breathing.  When a person takes too much, it can slow their breathing to the point where it just stops.  Basically, they go to sleep, breath less and less, until they stop breathing and die.   Again, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend.  Here's more information on heroin at -
-Dave Thomas

a student wants to know...How can you tell if people smoke weed?

-c322d, California

Well--there's a distinctive smell to the smoke if you happen to be around the person shortly after they've smoked, but if not-- they may be acting silly, have trouble remembering what they just said or did, have slowed reaction time or poorer coordination (in sports, for example). 

-Susan Weiss

About how many people die from drug related causes?

-HappyCows42, Massachusetts

Hey HappyCows42. Hope you're staying warm up there in Newton! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38,329 Americans died from overdoses in 2010. About 60 percent of those (22,134) involved prescription drugs, and 3/4 of those were opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. (Opioids are painkillers made from the same stuff as heroin.) For Massachusetts, the overdose death rate for prescription drugs was between 9.5 and 12.3 persons per every 100,000 people in 2008. It's important to remember that overdose deaths can be prevented. If you're around someone who might be experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. But you don't have to wait until then to get help. 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 to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Marsha Lopez

about how many people do drugs

-midnight, Maryland
Hi there midnight! Good question! There are several national surveys that are done annually to determine how many folks use drugs. For example, the Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey collects information from 8th, 10th and 12 graders. According to this survey, approximately 28% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders combined used an illicit substance in the past year. Another survey, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), surveys persons aged 12 or older. According to NSDUH, about 24 million people (or about 12% of adults) aged 26 or older, used an illicit drug in the past year.  I hope this helps! 
-Geetha Subramaniam

about how many smoke in the world

-ANDREW2001, Maryland

Hey there ANDREW2001. The short answer is too many! Estimates now put the number at about 1 billion (with a B!). But it's hard to figure out just how many people are smoking--or using any other harmful tobacco products, like hookahs and cigars. But we do know what the consequences look like. According to the World Health Organization, upwards of 6 million people die every year because of tobacco use. That's more than the entire population of Maryland, where you're writing from! Here in the United States, about 43 million people smoke (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and close to 440,000 Americans die every year because of tobacco use. Around 15 percent of American high school seniors reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days, too (according to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Study). So if you're a smoker or if you use other tobacco products regularly (like chew, skoal, cigars, or hookah), or if you know someone who is, consider quitting! It could save your life.  Information about smoking and prevention can be found at, or FDA:

-Marsha Lopez