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 die from marijuana?

-Participant, Massachusetts

Hi, it is not likely that someone would die directly from marijuana use. But they can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks) or psychotic reactions (where they lose touch with reality and may become paranoid). And people can and do injure themselves because of marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. For example, marijuana affect the skills you need to drive (e.g., concentration, reaction time) so people can injure themselves and others if they drive while under the influence. For more information on marijuana, see:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana-abuse

-Maureen Boyle

Can you die from overdoses on alcohol?

-Dalexopoulos, Texas

Yes, for sure. You could die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much. Alcohol builds up in your bloodstream and can slow down important body processes like breathing and the gag reflex, which prevents you from choking. Even if you have stopped drinking or pass out, alcohol in the stomach and intestine can continue to enter your blood stream and circulate throughout your body.

Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include:
  • Mental confusion
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Hypothermia, or low temperature
  • Bluish skin color
  • Paleness

If you think someone you know may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, make sure to get help immediately. You can call 911. You can learn more about alcohol poisoning and overdoses at:

http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets

 

-Aaron White

can you die from passive smoking

-eGriswell, Texas

eGriswell

Although we often think of medical consequences that result from direct use of tobacco products, passive or secondary smoke also increases the risk for many diseases. Environmental tobacco smoke is a major source of indoor air contaminants; secondhand smoke is estimated to cause approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among nonsmokers and contributes to more than 35,000 deaths related to cardiovascular disease. Exposure to tobacco smoke in the home is also a risk factor for new cases and increased severity of childhood asthma. Additionally, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, leading to more than 1,000 deaths each year.

-Michelle Leff

can you die from second hand smoking

-J Brungard, Pennsylvania

Hi JB

yes, it has been reported. And there are scientific articles trying to measure thne actual impact of second hand smoking on both disability and global burden of death .

Great question!

-Ruben Baler

can cough liquid drink effect you when you abuse it

-Quak bird, Illinois

Hello Quak b
Yes. Taking more than the recommended dose of cough medicine can cause hallucinations and other unpleasant effects like numbness, loss of coordination, and elevated heart rate. Some cough medicines contain opioids--compounds that are related to morphine and heroin. These can be addictive, and in high doses, can severely depress breathing and the heart. The dangers area compounded when someone takes cough medicine and another opioid--including prescription pain relievers--together.
There is more information here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cough-and-cold-medicine-dxm-and-c...

-Roger Little

can crystal meth kill you? Possibly put you in the hospital?

-aranaa, New Mexico

yes, it can kill you by producing seizures, heart arrhythmias, miocardial infarction or a stroke, 

-Nora Volkow

can different strains of weed get you higher than others?

-coolkid33, Michigan

Hi coolkid33. 
Yes, different strains are bred to have different concentrations of THC, the chemical that makes you high, and different amounts of other chemicals like CBD that act against the THC. So high-THC strains will make a person much higher than low-THC/high-CBD strains.

-Eric Wargo

can drinking offten affect the way you think and act in school?

-aranaa, New Mexico

Yes, it could. Alcohol disrupts sleep, making it hard to pay attention in class. Alcohol produces hangovers, which leave a person feeling sick the next day. Drinking a lot over time can damage the parts of the brain that allow us to pay attention and learn.

-Aaron White

can drugs (marijuana, acid, ecstasy, molly, ect.) effect your mental health?

-LeeAnn, Massachusetts

hi LeeAnn. Thanks for the question.  The short answer is YES! Long-term use of drugs is likely to result in mental illnesses such as psychosis, depression, anxiety and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.

-Amy Goldstein

can drugs affect animals

-jasmineb, Georgia

Hi jasmineb,
Chemicals can have different effects in different animals—like how chocolate is delicious to humans and poisonous to dogs—so even small amounts of a drug could be very harmful for your pet. Alcohol can cause a dog to suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature. They can also have seizures and stop breathing.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, signs may be seen within 3 hours, and include severe depression, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, hyperactivity,  seizures, and vomiting. Also, your pet wouldn’t understand that it had been given a drug, and the sensations that might feel like a high to a human would be a very scary experience for an animal. For more information, check out: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/be-friend-mans-best-friend-keep-marijuana-away-from-your-dog

-Maureen Boyle

Can drugs affect animals?

-autumna, Georgia

hey autumna - yes they can. Chemicals can have different effects in different animals—like how chocolate is delicious to humans and poisonous to dogs—so even small amounts of a drug could be very harmful for your pet. Alcohol can cause a dog to suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature. They can also have seizures and stop breathing.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, signs may be seen within 3 hours, and include severe depression, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, hyperactivity, seizures, and vomiting. Also, your pet wouldn’t understand that it had been given a drug, and the sensations that might feel like a high to a human would be a very scary experience for an animal. For more information, check out: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/be-friend-mans-best-friend-keep-marijuana-away-from-your-dog

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect you eye sight and your hearing?

-SFreeman, Texas

Hey SFreeman - yes.  Drugs can affect your eye sight and hearing.  And more. What is the science of addiction? See Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect you for the rest of your life even if you stop. Luz S. Fieldsotone Middle School

-mnealon, New York

Excellent question mnealon

From the brain's point of view, becoming addicted is very similar to learning something really well, like riding a bike. It is very difficult or close to impossible to "unlearn" how to ride a bike, right? Well, the same goes for addiction. Even if you stop, the brain will always remember. This is why relapse is a constant threat to people in recovery and why they have to keep trying to overcome those deeply ingrained drug experiences with new better, healthier experiences.  
best luck to you

Ruben

-Ruben Baler

CAN DRUGS AFFECT YOUR HEART IN ANY TYPE OF WAY.

-TyreeM201, Georgia

Yes.  And none of them is helpful.  Stimulants like cocaine, amphetamine, and nicotine raise blood pressure and heart rate, and can lead to death by heart attack or stroke.  Anabolic steroids can also impair heart function.  Instead, treat your heart to a healthy environment, with healthful foods and exercise.  And enjoy!  For mor info, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Nancy Pilotte

Can marujuanas cure depression

-MaryJane, Massachusetts

Hi MaryJane.  No..if anything, there is research to suggest that marijuana may cause mental illnesses like depression, not cure them.  Sometimes people with depression use marijuana as a way to make themselves feel better ('self-medicating')  Using drugs to try to treat depression on your own is not a great idea.  It will probably lead to more problems in the long run.  If you or someone you know is depressed, psychotherapy ('talk therapy') along with medications given under the care of a licensed mental health professional would be a better way to go than using marijuana.   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 www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Amy Goldstein

can meth cause birth defects for pregnant women?

-ennisisd, Texas

There is no evidence that methamphetamine causes birth defects such as changes in physical appearance, like cleft palate or other growth disorders.  But the published research suggests that the children of meth users who were exposed to the drug before birth can be more impulsive, engage in more risky behavior, and may not be quite as smart as children whose mothers did not use this stimulant when they were pregnant.  For more info on methamphetamine see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine and http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/mind-over-matter/methamphetamine

-Nancy Pilotte

can meth cause you to do stupid things, just like when you are high?

-Swaggyp, Michigan

Hello Swaggup - meth is a very powerful drug and I imagine it can cause you to do stupid things. 

-Michelle Rankin

can my cat get high?

-ben borglin, Michigan

Hi ben,
Chemicals can have different effects in different animals—like how chocolate is delicious to humans and poisonous to dogs—so even small amounts of a drug could be very harmful for your pet. Alcohol can cause a dog to suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature. They can also have seizures and stop breathing.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, signs may be seen within 3 hours, and include severe depression, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, hyperactivity,  seizures, and vomiting. Also, your pet wouldn’t understand that it had been given a drug, and the sensations that might feel like a high to a human would be a very scary experience for an animal. For more information, check out: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/be-friend-mans-best-friend-keep-marijuana-away-from-your-dog

-Maureen Boyle

Can nicotine kill people?

-demarian r, Georgia

Hey demarian r - check this out:  https://teens.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/tobaccorrsv3.pdf.  Nicotine is one of the most poisonous chemicals: a tablespoon could be enough to kill an adult; half a teaspoon could kill a child.

And, consider these statistics:
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly 90 percent of those deaths. On average, every cigarette takes 11 minutes off of your life. Smokers die at least 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. For each person in the United States who dies because of cigarette use, nearly two youth or young adults become daily smokers. Avoid becoming a statistic, and stay away from tobacco.

-Joni Rutter

CAN NYQUIL GIVE YOU A HIGH FEELING

-TyreeM201, Georgia

It is made up of a cough suppressant and an antihistamine.  The cough suppressant is dextromethorphan.  If you take a lot of this, it can produce PCP- or ketamine-like effects, including halllucinations and dissociative (out of body) experiences.  Thanks for the question!  For more info on drugs, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Nancy Pilotte

can one over dose of cocaine kill you?

-jgarcia, Texas

Hi jgarcia, yes, one overdose on cocaine can be deadly.

-Maureen Boyle

can one time moderate use of cocaine lead to permanent brain damage, lost or memory or any other effects?

-aurorag, New Mexico

It depends on the individual.  We don't know what it is about anyone that makes them prone to or resiliant to developing addiction.  We have no actual evidence that a one-time use has permanent cognitive effects, but we do know that a single use has caused the death of some, including the athlete Len Bias.  That is because the way cocaine works is to block the reuptake of critical chemicals that make our hearts work...and if you have too much of a "good thing,"  it can go bad very quickly.  For more info see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants

-Nancy Pilotte

CAN OTHER FORMS OF POT INTOXICATE YOU OTHER THAN SMOKING?

-jdnehviuehfviuf, Massachusetts

Hi jdnehviuehfviuf,
Yes, vaping can get you high just like smoking. Eating pot in food can get you high for longer, but it takes longer to take effect.

-Eric Wargo

can people make drugs by making a hybrid of two other drugs?

-awesomesauce14, Illinois

Hi awesomesauce14
In theory yes, Although I am not aware of any actual example. Perhaps you'd make a good chemist (?)

best of luck
Ruben
 

-Ruben Baler

can I stop or prevent someone from doing heroin after they've been doing it for countless years

-leeann, Massachusetts

Hi leeann,  One of the best things you can do for a friend with a serious drug problem is let them know you are there to support them. Let them know you are concerned about their drug use, and encourage them to seek help from a trusted adult or their doctor.  You can also help by being a strong positive influence - help them get involved in non-drug-using activities like joining a club, playing music, or playing a sport. However, if your friend is becoming a negative influence in your life you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. If you feel your friend is a danger to him or herself, or to others, it is important a trusted adult right away – it could save their life. To get your friend help go to: http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. NIDA also has great guides: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment

-Maureen Boyle

Can inhalants make the people taking it loose control

-Nmistry, Texas

Hello Nmistry,
Inhalants can cause you to lose conciousness which is dangerous. If you mean lose self-control in a way that you act out, that is less clear.
Inhalants are extremely dangerous because these are often products designed for commercial applications and are not safe for human ingestion.There is a long list of the toxicities associated with this class of drug, including death: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/methamphetamine. Inhalants can also multiply the effects of drugs that depress heart and breathing activity, including opiates, heroin, and prescription pain killers.  

-Roger Little

Can inhaling too much helium addict you so much just like drugs?

-MSwanick, New Hampshire

No.  Helium sort of coats the sacs in your lungs that enable you to breathe and temporarily makes your voice sound higher, but it is not addicting in the way that cocaine, nicotine, or prescription drugs are.  It is also so short-acting and volatile that it is not likely to kill you.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can kids with cancer smoke marijuana like the adults do?

-Yasmine Cowan, Alabama

marijuana smoking, even medical marijuana, is not legal for minors.

-Ruben Baler

can lsd kill you

-NARWHAL, Texas

Not by itself...but because it produces hallucinations, it can make you think you are stronger than you are or that you can do things that you just aren't built to do--like fly without an airplane.  If you try that last one, it might be the last thing you do!  For more info on LSD see:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens

-Nancy Pilotte

can marijuana be good or is it always bad?

-Adam Sanchez, New Mexico

Hi Adam Sanchez, \
Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately. The marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition. There is early research suggesting that some of the active ingredients in marijuana, like THC and cannabidiol (CBD), may potentially help treat things like epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications.   A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.  However, smoked marijuana is unlikely to be an ideal medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs.

-Maureen Boyle