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 medication meant for depression stop depression? Is it possible to get rid of depression?

-tammiabante, Illinois

Depression medications can certainly do a great job in treating the symptoms of the disorder, but they don't necessarily stop it entirely. However, depressive symptoms can go away or become more manageable, and often medication and/or talk therapy can help this process.

-Susan Borja

can medicine have the same effects as drugs?

-cmorales, Texas

I think you're asking about what you've heard out there about the similarities, or differences, of what people call "drugs" compared to "medicines." There is some overlap, especially in the opioids areas. We have a very large opioid overdose problem in our country. Opioid analgesics (pain medicines) are often life-saving medications that, if not used appropriately, can cause great harm, up to and including death by overdose. see https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescript....

-Dave Thomas

Can meditation help with addiction?

-St Francis 2017, Minnesota

Hi St Francis. Brain scientists have gotten really interested in the effects of meditation on the brain. A recent study of “beginner” meditators by a Harvard researcher found that 8 weeks of training in techniques like mindfulness meditation and yoga increased gray matter in brain regions involved in memory, learning, emotion, breathing, and motor control. Many scientists have been looking at the potential role for meditation in helping to treat addiction and many have reported finding meditation and mindfulness incredibly valuable at helping with drug addiction. One study among smokers found that a short course of training in mindfulness meditation led to significant spontaneous reductions in measures of smoking in a group of young adults. More research is needed, but it's definitely promising! Read more at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/latest-science/meditation-smoking-reduction and https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/art-meditation-focusing-your-brain.

-Jeff Schulden

can mental abuse effect your physical form

-ajstarr02, Texas

Good question! I would have to say yes. But how? There are several ways. First, abuse causes stress; stress causes the release of various hormones, like cortisol, and cortisol can have all sorts of effects on your body, like causing you to gain weight, changing the structure of your brain, changing the way your organs and muscles work. Second, abuse can increase the chances you will develop a mental illness like depression or PTSD. These can have effects on cortisol also, and they can also cause symptoms like changes in sleep or appetite that can affect your body.

-Josh Gordon

Can mixing different drugs kill you?

-vha, Texas

Yes mixing drugs is particualrly dangerous because you unbalance the physiology of your body even more than doing them by themselves. For example, heroin and alcohol both exacerbate respiratory depresssion and their combination can be lethal.

-Nora Volkow

Can mixing drugs kill you?

-ijiwani, Texas

yes and there are some mixtures that are particualrly dangerous

aclohol and cocaine
alcohol and opiates (heroin vicodin)
heroin and benzodiazepines

-Nora Volkow

can molly kill you

-elizabeth123, Massachusetts

Hi Elizabeth123 - actually it can. Molly is a common name for MDMA which can cause problems with the body’s ability to control temperature, particularly when it is used in active, hot settings (like dance parties or concerts). On rare occasions, this can lead to a sharp rise in body temperature (known as hyperthermia), which can cause liver, kidney, or heart failure or even death.

-Michele Rankin

can my dog get second-hand high

-Gage L., Pennsylvania

it certainly can.

-Ruben Baler

can one become addicted to advil

-kristinaz, New York

kristinaz - nope

-Maureen Boyle

Can one get addicted to cough syrup?

-mpalmer, New Hampshire

Hi mpalmer - it is possible. When abused, promethazine-codeine cough syrup presents a high risk of fatal overdose due to its effect of depressing the central nervous system, which can slow or stop the heart and lungs. Mixing with alcohol greatly increases this risk. Promethazine-codeine cough syrup has been linked to the overdose deaths of a few prominent musicians. You can learn more here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cough-cold-medicine-abuse

-Michele Rankin

can one tab of acid kill you

-dorayme, Alabama

Yes. If that tab of acid is actually LSD, the greatest risk of death would be due to injury or accident. Tabs of acid may also contain other synthetic hallucinogens, such as NBOMe, which have been associated with overdose death. For more information about hallucinogens, check out https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens.

-Emily Einstein

Can one-time moderate use of cocaine lead to permanent brain damage, loss of memory or any other effects?

-eadams, Maine

Hi Eadams,
It is possible to suffer negative effects from one-time use of cocaine. Cocaine increases body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Users risk heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, abdominal pain, and nausea. In rare cases, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly afterwards. Check out information on our website about cocaine: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

-Anto Bonci

Can over consumption of alcohol cause hallucinations? Can we also die due to overdrinking of alcohol?

-Yooooooooooo, Maryland

Yes, during severe withdrawal from alcohol people can experience hallucinations. Alcohol certainly can kill if someone drinks too much. Alcohol shuts down vital brain centers that control breathing and other functions, directly causing death.

-George Koob

can over the counter drugs be addictive?

-cookie3, New York

Good morning, cookie3, that is a really good question. There are lots of over the counter products that may not necessarily be addictive but can be habit forming or can be harmful when taken in doses greater than what is directed. One example is cough medicine containing dextromethorphan (DXM) which contains ingredients that can be psychoactive in high doses, but quite often these medicines contain other ingredients that are dangerous in high doses. You can read more about this at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cough-cold-medicine-abuse

-Marsha Lopez

Can overdose of steroids be fatal?

-Summit11363, New Jersey

That would be very rare

-Ruben Baler

can peer pressure kill you

-Tyrese FVSU 4_H, Georgia

Hi Tyrese,
Peer pressure can kill you if your peers are doing stupid and dangerous things, yes! Be a leader, not a follower. :-)

-Eric Wargo

Can people die over the years of second-hand-smoking?

-Russian@BMS, Texas

Dear Russian@BMS - yes, people can get sick from secondhand smoke. More than 41,000 people who don't smoke in the United States die every year from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, even if they themselves dont't smoke. No one should be exposed to secondhand smoke if they can help it!

-Heather Kimmel

Can people get addicted to drugs after one use?

-dmallo, Texas

Hi dmallo - absolutely. An individual's risk for addiction is affected by their genes, their environment, their current health and many other things. Some people are particular vulnerable to the addictive properties of drugs and a single use can send them down this path.

-Michele Rankin

Can people get addicted to drugs once they try it? If yes, then why?

-Brooke B, Pennsylvania

Dear Brooke,
Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can’t predict how many times a person must use a drug before that happens. The only way to be sure that a person will never become addicted to a drug if they don’t use it.

There are many things that influence whether a person will become addicted. Their biology (a person’s genes) and their environment – like whether their friends or family use drugs or if they have positive influences like sports or music – play a role. We also know that the younger someone is when they start to use drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. If you don’t use before your brain is fully developed (in your early 20s), your risk for addiction is MUCH lower!

-Michelle Leff

Can people get overdoes on their medication?Lynn98

-Lynn98, Texas

Hey Lynn98, yes, actually about 16,000 people died in 2015 from overdosing on prescription pain relievers (opioids).

-Maureen Boyle

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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts

-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

can you be addicted to second hand smoke

-Mike Wazowski, New York

Hi Mike, that is a great question. People become addicted to smoking because cigarettes have high levels of nicotine. Usually, someone exposed to secondhand smoke will not get similar amounts of nicotine. Unfortunately, secondhand smoke exposes that person to a lot of the toxins in cigarettes, and can cause many of the same bad health effects. It is best to avoid secondhand smoke, and also to provide quit help for the person who is smoking.

-Kevin Walton

Can you be addicted to vape?

-Summit15794, New Jersey

hey Summit15794, yes, e-cigarettes typically contain nicotine which is highly addictive.

-Maureen Boyle

Can you be in jail if you got into a car crash from a drink and drive incident?

-vcheng, Texas

hey vcheng, yes drunk driving is a crime that can lead to jail time.

-Maureen Boyle

Can you be on every single drug at once

-sammycallahan, New Jersey

Obviously that would be a very bad idea. Some people do use several drugs at one time, for various reasons. The problem is that there are drug interactions, where drugs can have different or exaggerated effects when taken in combinations. These interactions can be really dangerous, producing harm and death. For example, taking opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines together is VERY dangerous.

-Dave Thomas

Can you become addicted to cigarettes it someone around you smokes?

-maggie, New York

Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to cigarette 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. A good rule is to avoid smoking entirely. If possible, see if you can get your friends and family to develop a smoke-free policy so that everybody is protected.

-Kevin Conway

Can you become addicted to cigarettes when someone around you smokes?

-maggie, New York

I've gotten this question before, so here's my answer ... Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to cigarette 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. A good rule is to avoid smoking entirely. If possible, see if you can get your friends and family to develop a smoke-free policy so that everybody is protected. You might find this blog post helpful: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/secondhand-smoke-exposed-more-than-you-think

-Kevin Conway

can you become addicted to medicines that help you become unaddicted to other drugs?

-coras, Pennsylvania

There's a difference between addiction and "physical dependence". Some medications that help you become unaddicted to other drugs (e.g., methadone, suboxone for heroin) do produce physical dependence, but not addiction. Dependence is when your body adapts to the drugs constant presence, and you feel sick if you stop taking it abruptly (withdrawal) This can happen with many drugs that you take regularly--a coffee drinker may experience headaches if they don't get their morning coffee, but that goes away as the body adapts to the new situation (no coffee). Addiction medications work differently than the abused drug--methadone gets into the brain slowly, and stays in the body for a long time. Heroin gets to the brain fast, which produces the high; and then disappears fast, causing the person to crave and seek the drug. With methadone (or suboxone) people can function well. I hope this helps clarify a very complex topic.

-Susan Weiss

Can you become addicted to shots (like as in the alcoholic drinks)?

-Soph, SSMS, Colorado

Well, you can certainly become addicted to alcohol and drink shots as your primary type of beverage. But the drug in shots, beer, wine is all the same -- alcohol.

-Aaron White