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.

Download Full Year

can the baby get affected if the mother smokes

-AT, Texas

Yes,nicotine exposure during pregnany is harmful for the newborn. It can affect almost every organ in the body, including the brain

-Nora Volkow

Can the use of drugs lead to cancer?

-ashleya2, New York

Hey ashleya- Yes! Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death, in part because it causes cancer. Other drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, and steroids, have also been linked to a higher risk of certain kinds of cancer. Check out to find out more.

-Emily Einstein

Can the use of repeated drugs reset the brain's pleasure meter?

-Dadrian FVSU 4H, Georgia

Yes--repeated drug use tends to turn down the reward mechanisms so that what used to make you happy doesn't any more. Even the drug itself becomes less effective, and people try to take more in order to feel the way they used to. Its a vicious cycle--worth avoiding.

-Susan Weiss

Can to much caffeine be bad for you.

-Jairah S, Texas

hey Jairah S, yes it can. having too much coffee or caffeinated drinks can cause anxiety and agitation. Taking higher potency caffeine supplements can even be life threatening if you take too much.

-Maureen Boyle

can to much caffine be bad for you

-jamar, Texas

hey Jairah S, yes it can. having too much coffee or caffeinated drinks can cause anxiety and agitation. Taking higher potency caffeine supplements can even be life threatening if you take too much.

-Maureen Boyle

Can people on drugs kill a whole town in cold blood?

-CC, Indiana

Hi CC,
Hopefully not. But some drugs can increase people's risk of violence or aggression. Alcohol is one such drug, and violent or suicidal behavior has been reported in people on "bath salts" (synthetic cathinones) and K2/Spice products (synthetic cannabinoids).

-Eric Wargo

can people vape weed? and why are drugs illegal?

-Matthew G, Texas

Yes, extracts of marijuana or high THC concentrates can raplace nicotine in an e-cigarette be vaped.
The question of drug legality is a complex one. Different countries handle this question differently, but i think it is fair to say that policy makers are mostly concerned with promoting and preserving the health of the public, particularly the most vulnerable or at risk populations., like adolescents, the elderly, and mentally ill or decision impaired individuals.

-Ruben Baler

Can people who are addicted not be addicted after awhile?

-Natalie, Texas

Yes, if someone is addicted to a drug they can get treatment and eventually stop using the drug. But it's better not to start using! For more info on drug abuse and treatment, see:

-Will Aklin

can perks make you lose eyesight

-11147, New Jersey

Good question.

Common side effects of opioid administration include sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, tolerance, and respiratory depression. Physical dependence and addiction are clinical concerns that may prevent proper prescribing and in turn inadequate pain management. Less common side effects may include delayed gastric emptying, hyperalgesia, immunologic and hormonal dysfunction, muscle rigidity, and myoclonus. The most common side effects of opioid usage are constipation (which has a very high incidence) and nausea. Pain Physician 2008; 11:S105-S120

-Dave Thomas

Can pot effect brain developement???

-lawlerc, Minnesota

yes because it interferes with the cannabinoid receptors in your brain that are invovled in how brain cells get connected with one another and form circuits,

-Nora Volkow

Can prescribed drugs cause depression or death?

-tammiabante, Illinois

Yes, opiate analgesics can cause death by overdose (stops your breathing).

Prescribed drugs, if used at higehr quanitities and frequency than prescribed medically, can lead to addiction and make you vulnerable to depression or what we calll the dark side of addiction.

-Nora Volkow

Can prescription drugs ever be addictive?

-meep, New York

Hi meep, yes, prescription drugs, including opioids (oxycontin, vicodin, etc), stimulants (adderall, modafinil, etc), and sedatives (Xanax, etc) can be just as addictive as street drugs. You should only take these when prescribed by a doctor and follow your doctors instructions on how to take them.

-Maureen Boyle

Can prescription drugs kill you ?

-cperez, Texas

Hey anarvaez, prescription drugs, including opioids (oxycontin, vicodin, etc), stimulants (adderall, modafinil, etc), and sedatives (Xanax, etc) can be just as addictive as street drugs and early 30,000 people died in 2015 from overdosing on prescription medications.

-Maureen Boyle

Can second hand smoking kill you.

-Jonathan R, Pennsylvania

Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to smoke and lots of the dangerous chemicals that get released when tobacco is smoked. Research also shows that kids who live with adult smokers are at increased risk of smoking themselves. You might find this blog post helpful (it gives statistics for the number of people who die from effects of secondhand smoke):

-Kevin Walton

can second-hand smoking increase the chances of someone else getting addicted?

-anguyen, Texas

This is a very interesting question, anguyen. We know that exposure to second-hand tobacco increases health problems like lung cancer and emphysema, but the link to addiction is not so clear. It's hard to know if the reason someone becomes addicted may be because of their genetic risk or the risks from second-hand exposure in the home. For other drugs (like marijuana smoke), we need more information about the effects of second hand smoke.

-Wilson Compton

can second-hand smoking make someone also get addicted to smoking?

-anguyen, Texas

Dear anguyen, when you are exposed to secondhand smoke, you are not exposed to nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco products. However, it's important to remember that more than 41,000 people who don't smoke in the United States die every year from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Try not to be around others who are smoking and keep control of your health!

-Heather Kimmel

can second-hand smoking make someone also get addicted to smoking?

-anguyen, Texas

Hi Anguyen,

Yes, you can get addicted (and also develop cancer) from secondhand smoke. That is why it is very important to avoid secondhand smoke and to make sure that other people do not get exposed to secondhand smoke.

-Carlos Blanco

Can small amounts of alcohol, specifically red wine, actually have beneficial effects on your body?

-loooooogan, New York

Hi, Looooooogan. Yes, some studies have shown beneficial effects of moderate alcohol use on stroke, heart disease and diabetes. More studies are under way. Other dietary factors may also contribute to the health benefits associated with moderate consumption of red wine. It's possible that the health benefits are just from the alcohol and not some other component of the wine.

-Aaron White

can smoking make you stop breathing for good eventually

-dgarza, Texas

Hello dgarza,
Absolutely, cigarette smoking can make you stop breathing for "good." That's what will happen when years of smoking causes death from lung cancer. It is very sad to see that happen to someone, especially a family member or friend. I lost my brother-in-law to lung cancer a few months ago. He'd smoked for many many years and the cancer spread from his lungs to many parts of his body. In his last few weeks of life, it was so sad to see the horrible effects smoking on his body and his life.. I also lost my mother and sister to lung cancer due to smoking several years ago. Please do not start smoking. You will never regret not smoking. But if you do start smoking, then you could live to regret it and then die from it,

-Cora Lee Wetherington

can u become homless if u do drug

-Cori.c, Texas

Hi Cori - unfortunately yes if a person's substance use interferes with their ability to keep their job.

-Michele Rankin

Can u live with hiv

-Iyanna@gentryjr, Texas

hey Iyanna@gentryjr, yes, there are great anti-retroviral treatments that allow people with HIV to live a long life.

-Maureen Boyle

can u please answer this question what is the difference between smoking and vaping

-brady, Nebraska

Dear brady - thank you for joining us today! Smoking involves burning the tobacco in a cigarette or cigar. Instead of actually burning (combusting) the drug, vaping raises its temperature just enough to create a mist-like vapor. It is probably safer for the lungs, which is why people like it. But vaping can be used for marijuana, nicotine, as well as many other substances. Vaping is NOT a "healthy" alternative to smoking cigarettes. We are just beginning to understand vaping but we have much more to learn. Although many of the toxic chemicals from burning cigarettes may not be present in vaping, other dangers may exist! There are many checmicals in the vaping liquid that were never meant to be inhaled. In addition, many of these liquids contain nicotine, which is very addictive.

Stay in control of your health and don't use any tobacco product!

-Heather Kimmel

can u stop doing drugs by doing more drugs like pills?

-kbloom, Texas

Hi kbloom
In a way. There are various treatments for drug addiction that involve taking medications. It's called Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). But this should be done under medical supervision. check this out:

-Dave Thomas

Can underage drinking lead to depression and suicide?

-pizzadoglover49, Illinois

Alcohol definitely contributes to depression and suicide. Whether it can actually cause those things is a tough question.

-Aaron White

can vape harm you like a drug

-nyc.kaylaa, New York

Vaping often includes nicotine, which is an addicitive chemical that comes from tobacco. There are other risk factors too. Check out this article for more info.

-Kevin Conway

can weed harm your lungs the same way cigarettes can?

-stay puft, Texas

We don't know if it causes lung cancer but it does increase the risk of lung infections like bronchitis. Also, increases phlegm production and cough.

-Susan Weiss

Can weed make you deaf?

-pineapple, New York

pineapple - nope

-Maureen Boyle

Can weed take away your brain cells

-Jessie@gentryjr, Texas

it can make your brain cells sick so that they can not communicate properly with one another, making you apathetic, depressed, anxious when you are under its influence

-Nora Volkow

Can you actually become a "zombie" from bath salts?

-Soph, SSMS, Colorado

Hi Soph, SSMS - Not really a "zombie", but bath salts do have significant effects. Bath salts are a name (and I think it's a very strange name since we don't use them for an actual bath) for a drug that usually contains a cathinone chemical. This is a chemical that is a stimulant and can produce psychosis. It both causes an increase in heart rate as well as hallucinations and paranoia in some people. See other drug facts about bath salts here:

-Wilson Compton

can you actually get drunk by "drinking" alcohol by the anus?

-YZY, Other

Yes, but it is extremely dangerous. Getting alcohol into the body this way can lead to very rapid increases in the amount of alcohol in your blood and can kill you.

-Aaron White