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 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 you die from taking drugs???

-EmmaArcher, Ohio

EmmaArcher, absolutely you can die from taking drugs. Misuse of heroin and prescription opioid drugs is causing many overdose deaths in the United States and worldwide. Just a single use of cocaine can stop your heart and cause death. Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates.

-Roger Sorensen

can you die from vaping

-mynameis, Texas

Hi mynameis,
Great question! If you mean vaping marijuana, then no, it probably isn't more harmful than regular smoking.

-Eric Wargo

Can you die if you try withdraw from a physical dependency on heroine?

-smistry, Texas

Dying from an overdose of heroin is more likely. Withdrawal from heroin can be very difficult, but there are several medications that can help. For more information, check out this site: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-addiction. If you or someone you know is trying to quit using heroin, you should talk with a health care provider about what to expect and how to stop using safely. Make sure to tell the doctor about all of your health history, including drug or alcohol use.

-Joni Rutter

Can you die the first time that you try drugs?

-garciat, Texas

Garciat - yes, you can die the first time you try drugs if you get a high dose or don't know what you are taking. Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long-term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. Other drugs, like meth, can be especially toxic to your brain. And taking drugs, like heroin or cocaine, or misusing prescription drugs, has the potential to cause overdose and death even the first time you use them. It can also lead to addiction. So any drug you use can be the most dangerous drug for you. Please protect your brain and your health, you need them! Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs: http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates.

-Joni Rutter

can you drink to much to make your kids(if pregnant) have problems?

-Jacksepticeye, Massachusetts

Yes, for sure. Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today. Basically, it is never safe to drink any alcohol when you're pregnant, whether its through vodka eyeballing or normal drinking. You can learn more about the dangers of drinking when you're pregnant here:
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FASDFactsheet/FASDfact.htm

-Aaron White

Can you fail a drug test from secondhand smoke?

-MyNamesJeff, Michigan

Hi Jeff,
Good question. No, you can't fail a drug test from secondhand smoke. A lot of the chemical needs to get into your blood, and secondhand smoke will not do it.

-Eric Wargo

can you get a hangover from heroin

-flo2273, Texas

Hello flo2273.
That's an interesting question.
Heroin doesn't cause the kind of hangover that alcohol does. But heroin changes the chemistry in the brain associated with pleasure and pain, so that people who have used it repeatedly may start to feel bad all the time when they are not using it. People who become addicted to heroin and try to stop using it experience withdrawal symptoms, in a way, could be described as a really bad hangover: they include pain, itching, vomiting, and intense craving. Fortunately, we have treatments for people that lessen the withdrawal effects so that they can start living again without heroin.
There is information here:  https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/heroin

-Roger Little

Can you get a sleeping disorder if you smoke normal cigarettes?

-Swaggyp, Michigan

Great question swaggyp - Interestingly, people who have sleep disturbance tend to smoke more. And, when an smoker tries to quit, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms including irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances, increased appetite, and powerful cravings for tobacco. Treatments can help smokers manage these symptoms and improve the likelihood of successfully quitting.

-Joni Rutter

Can you get addicted even though you only do it once in a while?

-TAQUARRIONM, Georgia

though unlikely it can happen in those that are vulnerable

-Nora Volkow

Can you get addicted if the doctor gives you drugs?

-amartineau, New Hampshire

Hi Amartineau
Unfortunately, some medications have the potential to produce addiction. They include stimulants, sedatives and opiates. This is why it is so important that these medications be used under the careful monitoring and supervision of a trained physician and never be used for non-medical purposes.

great question.
Ruben
 

-Ruben Baler

Can you get addicted off medication you are prescribed, even if you take the right dosage?

-Ya Boi, Michigan

Unfortunately yes. We are not sure how likely that is, but it can happen. That is why medication should be used with caution and only as the doctor prescribed.

-Dave Thomas

Can you get addicted to drugs your doctors prescribe?

-Eva, Massachusetts

Hi Eva, yes sometimes you can get addicted to drugs a doctor prescribes, but this usually happens when someone takes another person's prescription that was never meant for them or if the person takes their medication incorrectly. Prescription drugs are safe when taken as the doctor prescribes by the person for whom they are intended. 

-Michelle Rankin

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: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids

-Nancy Pilotte

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: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-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