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 marijuana cause cancer

-particapant , Massachusetts

Hi participant
There is no clear evidence that marijuana smoking causes lung cancer. However, a few studies have shown a clear link between marijuana use in adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer that predominantly strikes young adult males. (ouch)
best of luck
Ruben
 

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana kill you?

-Me, New Jersey

Is this Me, or You? Marijuana effects: NIDA funded research shows that long-term marijuana use is associated with impaired intellectual functioning and IQ decline when usage starts during the teen years. This includes a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. However it is not yet clear whether marijuana use directly causes these issues or just makes them worse.  Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis.  Marijuana intoxication can, in rare cases, produce a temporary psychosis, and it may play a role in the development of schizophrenia in some people carrying a certain genetic risk. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or mild mental illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above.

-Roger Sorensen

can marijuana lead to killing yourself ?

-habdul, Texas

in some people marijuana can lead to psychosis and, as a result of this, some people might end up killing themselves.  

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs make you age faster?

-atekrouri, Texas

yes, because they accelerate the damage to the organs in your body that occurs normally, but that is also triggered by drugs of abuse.

-Nora Volkow

can drugs make your blood thin

-warem, Georgia

not directly but some drugs, by interfering with your nutrition, can lead to anemia

-Nora Volkow

Can Drugs permanently damage your nervous system so badly that you can no longer feel pain?

-VictorP, Texas

Hi Victor,
They certainly can dull one's senses, but I have never heard of them eliminating all pain.  In fact, some drugs (e.g. opioids) when abused can actually produce a state of over-sensitivity to pain.   

-Dave Thomas

Can drugs stump your growth?

-AnnaJahn, Ohio

Hi AnnaJahn,
The most commonly used drug that can stunt your growth is testosterone, an anabolic androgen.  In normal growth of boys and girls, steroids like testosterone and estrogen tell your bones to stop growing by hastening the closure of the ends ("epiphyseal cartilage") of long bones in your legs (and arms).  Once this cartilage is closed, you have reached your final adult height.  Normally you produce very small amounts of these hormones;  if you take more than is physiologically necessary, you are sending this stop signal too early and you stop getting taller.  More info is at:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs stunt your growth process ?

-yfeghali, Texas

Hi yfeghali, 
The most commonly used drug that can stunt your growth is testosterone, an anabolic androgen.  In normal growth, steroids like testosterone and estrogen tell your bones to stop growing by hastening the closure of the ends ("epiphyseal cartilage") of long bones in your legs (and arms).  Once this cartilage is closed, you have reached your final adult height.  Normally you produce very small amounts of these hormones;  if you take more than is physiologically necessary, you are sending this stop signal too early and you stop getting taller.  More info is at:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/anabolic-steroids

-Nancy Pilotte

Can eletric cigarettes kill you?

-Becky, Massachusetts

Hi Becky, Long term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. However, since e-cigarettes are so new we don't yet know what the long term health consequences will be. 

-Maureen Boyle

can i die from taking steriods

-anonymous, Massachusetts

Not very likely, but they can damage your heart and your liver.  And if someone on steroids becomes aggressive towards you, well, I would run in the other direction.  Aggressive behavior often leads to bad outcomes.  For more info, see: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids

-Nancy Pilotte

Can Drugs be combined To make a Harm-fuller drug?

-Aarash.a, Texas

Hi Aarash.a,
That's a great question. The answer is YES. Combining different drugs is always a bad idea (much worse than taking either of them individually), because the substances can interact in all kinds of dangerous and unpredictable ways. 

-Eric Wargo

can drugs cause corroading of your tongue?

-Mertumbim, Michigan

Hey Mertumbin - this is an interesting question.  I don't know about corroding, but check out this paper and the image on page 2. http://www.cda-adc.ca/jcda/vol-71/issue-10/759.pdf.  YUCK!

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs cause you to do things you don't want to do?

-autumna, Georgia

Hi autumna,
Great question! Drugs can't make you do things you don't want to do, but they can sometimes make you want to do things you wouldn't otherwise want to do, and do those things. Does that make sense? For instance alcohol can make some activities (and people) more attractive than they would otherwise be, and people behave differently when drinking then when sober. And they often regret their actions the next day. Other drugs can also remove normal inhibitions, which is why the dangers of drugs include things like risky sex and sexually transmitted diseases. 

-Eric Wargo

can drugs change your brain to act like your always on them slightly

-ennisisd, Texas

Hi ennisisd,
Different drugs act on the brain in different ways, but they all cause release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's reward area, which is what causes the high.  After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. Brain cells (neurons) make less dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brain—like turning down the volume on the reward signal. This can mean that the person starts to find natural rewards – like food, relationships, or sex – less pleasurable, a sign of addiction.

Some drugs are toxic to the brain and cause some brain cells to die. Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits, which result in addiction. Learn more at:  http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm. And on this link to find out how drugs affect your body: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/.

-Maureen Boyle

Can drugs destroy your brain

-jquezada, Texas

Sometimes drugs cause major brain damage. All drugs cause measurable changes in the brain and, sometimes, damage can be severe--strokes from cocaine, damage to the movement centers of the brain from synthetic drugs. Even alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage when taken in large quantitities over a long period of time. Check out this video for some more info on how drugs affect your brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV6zKmt7S5E. 

-Wilson Compton

can drugs effect your mental health?

-baconman, Massachusetts

Hi baconman

There is little doubt that drugs of abuse can cause or at least make a mental health much worse. And this makes sense: a healthy brain depends on the optimal flow of information between different parts of the brain. This is precisely the process that drugs of abuse interfere with. So, we shouldnt be surprised to find such strong associations between drug use and mental illness.

hope this helps

Ruben

-Ruben Baler

Can drugs harm how your body systems work?

-AXia, Texas

hi again AXia
that is in fact what drugs do: the harm multiple systems in your brain and body.
ruben
 

-Ruben Baler

Can drugs hurt your future?

-Yasmine Cowan, Alabama

Hi Yasmine:

Great question. Drugs can have significant impacts on one's future health. Most importantly because they act on the brain, something that continues to develop well into the 20s. Dfferent drugs act on the brain in different ways. Some drugs are toxic to the brain and cause some brain cells to die. Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits, which result in addiction. In some cases, researchers have observed long-term effects on IQ levels, work productivity, etc. Learn more at:  http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm. And on this link to find out how drugs affect your body: http://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/.'

 

-Michelle Leff

can drugs kill a baby in the mothers uterus? could the baby be deformed? What could you do to prevent it?

-ArtisticPainter, Texas

Hello ArtisticPainter,

Illicit drugs or alcohol or cigarettes can harm a developing fetus.  Deformities while possible are not as likely as stunted development (they don't grow as fast as they should as they should).  Brain development can be slowed too and they can be born addicted to drugs, neo-natal abstinence syndrome.  Dealing with this requires a doctor's care because stopping the drug if the baby is addicted can be harmful.  The best thing is to never abuse drugs during pregnancy and use prescription drugs only as advised by a doctor.  Babies born addicted to drugs can have a whole range of outcomes. It is very important for a mother-to-be to tell her doctor she is using drugs, so that the baby can be treated as quickly as possible. Treatment can reduce the chance that the child will experience developmental problems as it grows. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby

-Roger Little

do drugs make you become a cannibal

-xx_s4l_xx, Illinois

Hi xx_s41_xx,
Nope, you probably cannot become a cannibal by taking a drug. Some drugs can cause people to behave in very violent ways, though. 
You are probably remembering the guy in Miami a few years ago who acted like a cannibal and the media said he'd been taking bath salts (synthetic cathinones). It turned out the only drug he had taken was marijuana ... but cannibalistic behavior is not a usual effect of marijuana either.

-Eric Wargo

do drugs make you look older?

-create101, Illinois

Yes some do.  Smoking for example. The nicotine in cigarettes can promote the visual signs of aging, like making your skin have more wrinkles. Now I am not sure if it is aging, but methamphetamine can produce meth mouth, which looks GROSS... 

-Dave Thomas

do e-cigarettes really work?

-tsangosanya, Texas

Hi tsangosanya,
There are a lot of misconceptions about vape pens and electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. The aerosol, also called vapor,that e-cigs and vape pens produce is really made of the specific chemicals in the vape pen, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, THC, chemical flavorings, and others.  Surveys show that many teens don’t even know what chemicals are in their e-cig device. We still don't know all the effects of using vape pens because they are so new. One thing we worry about with e-cigarettes is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. On the other hand, if a cigarette smoker is able to give up cigarettes by using e-cigarettes, it’s probably a good thing. About 13 percent of 12th graders have tried e-cigs. Check out these resources on e-cigs – https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes

-Maureen Boyle

Do evaporation cigarettes have less chemicals or are they deadly too ?

-dgildon, Texas

Hi dgildon,
That's a great question. Unfortunately, we still don't know the answer to how safe e-cigarettes and vape pens are. They don't produce the cancer-causing tar that regular cigarettes produce, so they are probably a bit safer. However, there may be other harmful chemicals in the flavorings, and we just don't know what the effects will be. Also, if they contain nicotine, then that can get a person addicted and maybe even lead them to use regular cigarettes--we don't know for sure, but it's a possibility. 
 

-Eric Wargo

do hallucinogens have longterm effects

-AMolina, Texas

Hi AMolina.
Good question. There is a phenomenon called "flashbacks" that can occur after hallucinogen use--the technical term is hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). It is unknown how often this occurs, or exactly why it occurs.

-Eric Wargo

Do most celebrities use drugs? If they don't, why wouldn't they encourage their fans not to use drugs?

-PPham, Texas

That's a really great question, and I don't really know the answer.  But it's something that we and others in the drug abuse field are trying to convey--celebrities can be role models, and presenting health-promoting messages is really important. TV and movies that don't glamorize drug use, but show its consequences in a person's life are some ways of making a difference in our struggle to decrease drug use in our Country. I'm glad you noticed--and there are some celebrities who take this seriously--often because of tragedies in their own or their loved one's lives.

-Susan Weiss

Can your kids get problems if you smoke weed then have a kid?

-con bon , New Jersey

Hey con bon -- Not to get too much into the weeds, but yes!  If mom or dad has used drugs, the kid may be more vulnerable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches.  Want more information on genes, addiction, and teens? Check out: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/genetics and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary/

-Joni Rutter

can your teeth fall when you smoke a lot?

-ahernandez, Texas

Hello ahernandez
No, it will only make them turn yellow. It will also oyour chances of getting many different cancers, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung conditions.
There is more information here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes
 

-Roger Little

cheapest drug? most expensive drug?

-tmoorf6930, Michigan

Hey there tmoorf6930. Great question, but it's a tough one to answer. It depends on a lot of different variables like, what country are we talking about? how is the drug made? how far does the drug need to travel to get to a user? what are the local drug laws? The Canadian Website O.Canada has rounded up data from the United Nations, the White House, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to create "http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2014/10/drugprices_ig.jpg" to give you some answers. There's also an interactive map, "http://o.canada.com/business/interactive-what-illegal-drugs-cost-on-the-..."

-Marsha Lopez

Chris N. IMS, KS- How can beer make you fall over?

-AMY KARR, Kansas

Alcohol interferes with a brain area called the cerebellum, which normally helpes us maintain good balance and posture.

-Aaron White

Christian Sims-Calera High School: How many drinks does it take for you to get alcohol poisoning?

-gniven, Alabama

Good question. That's something that would depend on how old the person is, their size, whether they are used to drinking alcohol, and other factors. It's important to recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning. Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Hypothermia (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 at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdose...

 

-Aaron White