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 here.

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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: http://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: http://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 people use drugs as a medicine?

-JLe, Texas

Sure. Just because a drug might be abused, does not mean it never can also be used as a medicine. But care is needed when a doctor prescribes these drugs and the patient also needs to be careful. Prescrition opioids are a prime example. They can help some people in pain, but they are also abused.

-Dave Thomas

Can prescription drugs taken for anxiety or depression become addictive ?

-blancoisd8, Texas

yes,they can produce addiction in those who are vulnerable.

-Nora Volkow

Can pro football players abuse steroids if they have been using it their whole career...or will it harm them in any way?

-mbanks, Texas

Hi mbanks,
Your own body produces all the steroids it needs. It needs them to regulate your growth, and for reproductive functions. The kind sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height.  It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male).  If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Maureen Boyle

Can rehab help a person who is really addicted to tobacco stop?

-PPham, Texas

Yes, PPham, we want all people to quit smoking. A combination of medications and behavioral rehab is the best approach to help stop smoking. There are medications to help with some addictions including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and opioids (e.g. heroin or pain pills). And there are also behavioral therapies to help people recover. NIDA scientists are working hard to develop better treatments to treat addictions to all types of drugs. You can learn more about effective treatment programs here:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment

-Roger Sorensen

Can steroids increase a mans sex drive?

-(), Michigan
 
Anabolic steroids can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as infertility, delayed puberty, as well as for diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS.  But most people naturally produce all the steroidsthey need in exactly the amounts needed to maintain good health.  And although steriods are important for normal functioning, there can be too much of a good thing.  When people take steroids in doses of 100 times or more than they need, their own steroid production shuts down because it senses there are already enough out there. The high doses of steroids can have numerous negative effects, including negatively affecting the ability to get and maintain an erection...and sperm production shuts down too.  Fortunately, these effects can be reversed with quitting.  For more information, see http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids
-Nancy Pilotte

Can steroids kill you ?

-jsanchez, Texas

yes by producing heart insufficiency

-Nora Volkow

can tar from cigarettes cause cancer?

-klebbie, Texas

The short answer is yes.  But I should explain what the word "tar" really means when we talk about cigarettes.  In this context tar is not the stuff used to pave the roads!  When researchers study cigarette smoke they use the big smoking machines that collect all the chemicals on a piece of filter paper that would be inhaled by a smoker.  All those chemicals look like a big black gooey gob so they actually kind of look like tar....  There are lots of chemicals in tobacco smoke that have been shown to cause cancer....so yes the "tar" in cigarette can cause cancer

-Cindy Miner

can tar from cigarettes cause cancer?

-klebbie, Texas

yes.  For more info on tobacco and cigarettes, visit: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Nancy Pilotte

Can tar give you cancer?

-ahernandez, Texas

Hi ahernandez, yes, several chemicals in cigarettes can lead to cancer, including tar. Here is a wiki page on it:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_%28tobacco_residue%29. 

-Joni Rutter

Can teens get drunk faster than adults?

-atekrouri, Texas

Often times yes simply because we tend to be smaller than adults when we're teens. Smaller bodies mean more alcohol gets to the brain. Learn more about how drinking affects teens

-Aaron White

Can the amount of drugs affect the sperm to the reproductive system?

-PSwidrak, New Hampshire

Yes, especially the use of anabolic androgenic steroids like testosterone.  Mega-doses that most people use to build muscle actually decrease sperm production and testicular size.  For more info see: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids

-Nancy Pilotte

Can the baby of a pregnant woman be born addicted if the mother was addicted to drugs?

-Cookie P. JR, Illinois

Hi Cookie P.JR.  Yes, sadly this can happen. You might have heard of "crack babies" or babies born with "neonatal abstinence syndrome."  These are caused by the mother using cocaine or heroin, respectively. You can learn more in our Substance Use in Women DrugFacts and our Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome infographic. 

-Joni Rutter

Can therapy help you stop doings drugs ?

-MTrevino, Texas

Hi MTrevino:

Yes!

There are medications to help with some addictions including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and opioids (e.g. heroin or pain pills). And there are also behavioral therapies to help people recover. But addiction is often a lasting condition, like heart disease or diabetes; there are treatments that help someone live a healthy, productive life but there is no cure. NIDA scientists are working hard to develop better treatments to treat addictions to all types of drugs. You can learn more about effective treatment programs here:  http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment

-Michelle Leff

can tobacco affect any part of the body on the outside? (skin, hair, etc.)

-jle, Texas

Absolutely. Tobacco affects many parts of the body. Skin is less elastic and becomes more wrinkled when someone smokes and the lustre of hair diminishes. It's amazing that tobacco harms not just the lungs but MANY parts of the body.

-Wilson Compton

Can tobacco kill ???

-704496, Texas

Hey, 704496, what do you think? Here are the facts: Tobacco is among the top killers worldwide. 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 TOBACCO KILL PEOPLE

-john, New Mexico

Good question john! Tobacco causes nearly 500,000 deaths every year in the United States. It is estimated that 1 BILLION lives will be lost around the globe from tobacco use in the 21st Century. And all of these deaths are preventable--if tobacco is avoided. Here's some more information from our teen site: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes.

-Wilson Compton

Can too much drinking result in a shutdown in your body and kill you?

-CXDYLANXC, Illinois

Hi CXDYLANXC, Yes, you can overdose on alcohol and it can lead to death. Check out this information from NIAAA: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdose...

-Maureen Boyle

can u die from weed

-ItsFrosticles , Massachusetts

Deaths from weed are related to things people do under its influence--driving, for example, since it increases the risk of accidents.  Also, there have been a few reported incidents where people became psychotic (they see things that aren't there) and paranoid (they think people are out to get them) and injure (or kill) either themselves or others.  

-Susan Weiss

can u get addictive to spray paint

-NARWHAL, Texas

What up, NARWHAL? You can become mentally addicted to abusing the chemicals found in spray paint. These chemicals are known as inhalants because you breathe them into your body. If you use inhalants long enough, your body begins to expect that you will continue to use inhalants. Largely because it is easy to get inhalants [paint thinner, gasoline, shapies], inhalants are among the first drugs that preteens or teens abuse. In fact, they are one of the few types of substances that are abused more by younger teens than older ones. Inhalant abuse, if continued, can become a real problem in adulthood. Some common household products used as inhalants to get high can have permanent effects including hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, bone marrow damage, and possibly death from heart failure or suffocation.

-Roger Sorensen

can u have a hart attack if u smoke marijuana?

-mayla clardy, New Mexico

Hi mayla,
Good question. Marijuana raises heart rate and blood pressure. Someone with heart disease or a weak heart might be at higher risk of having a heart attack after smoking. But for most people, it would be unlikely. 

-Eric Wargo

can u kill your self in one day for having to many drugs in one day...????

-704496, Texas

HI 704496,
In 2014, over 47,000 Americans died of drug overdoses. That’s 129 people dying every day. Their deaths are felt by countless mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family, and friends. What do you think we can together do to help save lives and prevent more suffering?

-Maureen Boyle

can u really get addicted to all the drugs that u take

-Abigaila, New Mexico

Hmmm, all drugs?  Not sure. Certainly all drugs that are abused. The definition of addiction is "compulsive use despite harm." Lot's of people do lots of things that fit this definition, and it goes way beyond addiction to drugs.

-Dave Thomas

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