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 huffing

-cassidyb, Texas

Yes, inhalants can be lethal. Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly cause heart failure within minutes. This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. 

-Maureen Boyle

Can you die from marijuana?

-SCARface, Michigan

Morning SCARface,
Not directly, but marijuana raises your risk of car accidents. People die from marijuana in indirect ways, same as with other drugs.

-Eric Wargo

can you die from smoking

-daquan, Maryland

Hi Daquan!

Yes, you can die from smoking. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. As you can see, its better not to even start smoking!

-Bethany Deeds

can you die from smoking marijuana

-dsaund5400, Maryland

hi dsaund5400,
Not directly, but you can get behind the wheel and have a fatal accident, and do other stupid, dangerous things.

-Eric Wargo

Can different drugs do different things. Does it affect your brain?

-KevinC, Texas

Hi Kevin, Yes and Yes. Some drugs are stimulants (methamphetamine) others are sedatives (heroin) and some are psychoactive (LSD). They affect different cells in the brain, and different brain areas and brain connectivity. What they share in common is the ability to create a sensation of pleasure or reward which reinforces and increases the desire to have more. More information is here:

-Roger Little



TY THE FLYEST- hey there...

Dogs can get high off drugs, but they can also get very sick. Dogs much prefer to be taken out for a walk instead. 


-Joni Rutter

Can doing drugs kill a baby before its born? (Not including being prematurely born)

-BallislifeMD, Maryland

We know that drugs can affect babies before they are born. Drugs are passed from mother to fetus. These include alcohol, stimulants like cocaine, and heroin as babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, stimulant syndrome, and heroin dependence.  We have no data on whether fetuses who die before birth did so because of drug exposure.  But it does not seem fair to expose an innocent human to these drugs.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can doing drugs trigger an underlying mental or personality disorder? And if so, which drugs are most likely to do sotion

-lc, Maryland

lc - great question! We are still sorting out the science of what comes first - mental illness or drug use, yet research is showing us that it is possible that people who develop symptoms of mental illness or disorders start taking drugs in an attempt to medicate themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn't help with the symptoms, and folks end up feeling worse. Whatever symptoms appear first, it's important to treat all mental illnesses at the same time. The best thing to do is go to a doctor who can provide treatment.
Regarding your second question, here's a link to more on which drugs can cause mental health problems:

-Denise Pintello

Can doing drugs, especially alcohol and marijuana, enhance or lead to depression at all?

-lc, Maryland

Hello 'Ic'! Thanks for your great question. Research has suggested that depressive symptoms are linked to the initiation of drug taking in adolescents. Check out this link for some information about it:

-Bethany Deeds

Can drinking underage affect the brain

-sofia12, Florida

Yes, alcohol affects every part of the brain. 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. 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. It can also affect the part of the brain that controls our movement, making it more difficult to walk and focus.Teens who drink too much risk suffering lingering problems with attention and memory. 

-Aaron White

can drug addiction be over come on your own or do you need help?

-BryceR, Texas

Hi BryceR,

You have probably heard that some people who smoke can quit "cold turkey". These people have extremely high will-power. Unfortunately, these poeple are few and far between. Once you become addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is very hard to quit on your own. We are doing  research to develop and improve behaviroal and medicine treatments to help addicted people stop using. A combination of both treatments has been shown to be the best approach for treating addiction.

If you know anyone who wants to quit taking drugs, here is a website that gives information on local treatment programs throughout the Nation:

-Roger Sorenson

can drugs affect my cell division process

-Fallout, Michigan

Hi Fallout - Gold star question!  In general, addiction researchers study effects of drugs on the brain, and mature neurons don't divide.  However, some reports found that a byproduct of cocaine metabolism hinders the development of new nerve cells by interfering with a specific protein, cyclin A, which regulates cell division. More research needs to be done on this question to understand the effects of other drugs of abuse.  I hope you become a scientist, Fallout, and try to help us figure this out!

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect personality?

-Jju, Maryland

Hello Neighbors from Maryland!  As a result of decades of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. Here is an example--Marijauna. Long-term use of this drug can  lead to a series of attitude and personality changes, known as “amotivational syndrome.” This syndrome is characterized by a diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, a sense of apathy, decreased attention to appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate for long periods of time. These changes can also include poor performance in school.
Here's a link for more information:

-Bethany Deeds

Can drugs affect your eye sight?

-AlynaG, Texas

Hi Alyna! Drugs can certainly affect your perception of sight. Hallucinogenic drugs (LSD, peyote, etc) can make you see things that aren't there, for instance. There is also some evidence that cocaine use can contribute to developing glaucoma, an eye disease that affects sight. For instance, one study showed former cocaine users were found to develop glaucoma on average 20 years earlier than non users, even if they no longer took the drug.

-Joseph Frascella

Can medications for animals be taken by people?

-glenelg41, Maryland

Glenegl41, You want to take flea medicine?  If people take their animal's medications, how will the animal get better?  Some medications for animals and people are the same, but they may be administered in different dosing regimens. It is never a good idea to take drugs that are not prescribed by your doctor for a specific ailment.  

-Joni Rutter

Can meth kill you on the first try? Or in that just a myth?

-Tyrone Young, Minnesota

Meth is a way dangerous drug. Since it, as well as many other drugs, are often filled with other chemicals, reactions are often difficult to predict. Unfortunately, this can result is some very scary outcomes including death!

-Gaya Dowling

can mj effect blood flow to the brain?

-thor, Maryland

Hi Thor - YES marijuana can affect affect the contraction and expansion of your blood vessels, so it does affect blow flow to the brain.

-Susan Weiss

Can mushrooms be considered drugs?

-Kearsarge, New Hampshire

Ones with psychoactive components like psilocybin (shrooms) can be...

For more information on hallucinogens (like mushrooms), check out:!

-Nancy Pilotte

Can my body build a tolerance to drugs?

-alicia, Ohio

Fantastic question, Alicia! I assume your talking about drugs that can be abused.  Yes, most people do develop a tolerance to drugs - that means after a person uses a drug for a while, it takes MORE drug for the person to feel the same effect. This is why people who are addicted need more and more of a drug just to feel normal.
Want to know how many teens are using drugs? Check out this infographic:

-Dave Thomas

can my body build up a tolerance to drugs?

-joe45, Maryland

Hi Joe45,
Yes, most people do develop a tolerance to drugs - that means after a person uses a drug for a while, it takes MORE drug for the person to feel the same effect. This is why people who are addicted need more and more of a drug just to feel normal.
Want to know how many teens are using drugs? Check out this infographic:

-Michelle Leff

can Nyquil give you a high or drunk feeling?

-keshawn14, Georgia

Unless you get the non-alcoholic version of Nyquil, it's 10% alcohol. It would most likely put you to sleep (part of its intended effect) before you got drunk on it. If you tried drinking too much of it, you might risk some severe negative side effects of large doses of the other medications in Nyquil.  You would definitely risk alcohol poisoning (not fun...unless you enjoy getting your stomach pumped). The antihistamine in Nyquil might make you feel dizzy, but probably wouldn't really make you feel high...more like disoriented.

-Joseph Frascella

can Nyquil give you a high or drunk feeling?

-keshawn14, Georgia

When taken in a high enough doses cold medicines can be intoxicating. Some teens think “over the counter” cough medicine (which can be bought at a drug store without a prescription) are safer to abuse than illegal drugs. But to get high, they need to take high doses, which can be dangerous.

See the NIDA site for more information:

-Maureen Boyle

can one become immune to their antidepressants like when we have a cold and we fight it off?

-amse0110, Maryland

amse0110: Hello again - another great question! Actually - we can't develop immunity to antidepressants like we can when we contract various infectious diseases, yet we can develop a tolerance to a medication. It is possible that after someone takes a medication for a long time, they might not respond to the medication in the same way that they used to. This is something that someone should talk with your doctor about - they may change the dosage of the meds or select a new antidepressant to try that might be as effective. 

-Denise Pintello

Can one lose weight with cocaine

-sufhsdvk, Maryland

Morning Suf,
Cocaine is a stimulant, and some stimulants are prescribed in weight loss programs.  Cocaine is not.   I suggest diet and excecise.  :)


-Dave Thomas

Can people become allergic to bath salts???

-itsyoGurl, Maryland

Hi againitsyo
people can become allergic to anything.

-Ruben Baler

Can people get drunk off of mouthwash?

-breezywind, Minnesota

Totally depends on the mouthwash. Some mouthwashes contain no alcohol. Others contain alcohol. The amount can vary greatly from product to product. While it's theoretically possible to get drunk off of some mouthwashes, it would probably be disgusting and is not recommended!

-Aaron White

Can people mix drugs with a vape pen without your knowledge.

-MAEGNM, Maryland

Hello MAEGNM--So you put your vape pen down in a room full of pot users.  When you come back, you see them laughing and fear they may have switched your gummy bear cartridge out and put a cartridge with THC or marijuana in.  Possible?  Yes.  Likely without your knowledge--well, certainly not after the first puff.  But it's a good call to always keep your vape pen, and your drink, in your possession--thus it's all on you what you put in your body.

-Lis Davis


-IAMADRUG, Michigan

Yes. How likely depends on your individual tolerance, amount of active ingredient in the brownie, strength of active ingredient, and so forth.

-Nancy Pilotte

can i really become addicted just by smoking one cigarette????

-waka, Maryland

Hi waka.  
Yes. Scientific studies have shown that the brain is significantly affected by the first exposure to all drugs, including nicotine. The first exposure can change your brain and make you want to smoke the second, then the third cigarette, and so on. 
Get the facts at

-Antonello Bonci

Can illegal drugs prevent STDs like HIV or AIDS? Could that be the reason some people use them?

-sami14, Maryland

Hi sami14.  No way!  Actually, using illegal drugs can increase risk for STDs like HIV or AIDS because they affect your brain, they way you think and can lead to poor decision making, like engaging in risky sexual behaviors that increase risk for HIV/AIDS.  Here is some additional information for you to review --  It's great that you are asking this type of question.  You've just shattered a drug fact myth!

-Belinda Sims