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 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. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby

-Roger Little

Can you get addicted to marijuana after one time of smoking it?

-hi123, Michigan

That's very unlikely, although everyone is different and you may like it so much that you will want more and more, and then eventually become addicted.

-Susan Weiss

can you get addicted to pills or medicine

-axel, Massachusetts

Hey axel:

Many medications are potentially addictive, particularly those called "opioids" (precription pain relievers). There is a lot we still don’t know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it’s a little like playing “Russian Roulette” if you choose to use drugs.  But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful brain changes that lead to it.

Thanks for writing,

Dr. J

-Michelle Leff

Can you get drunk when you are pregnant

-KVachon, New Hampshire

Yes, a person can get drunk while pregnant but it 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. 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 get high off of fabreeze?

-hondogutierrez, New Mexico

Thanks for the refreshing question, hondogutierrez. Some household items can contain solvents that can make you high, even fabreeze. Using inhalants is not a harmless way to get a buzz. You are literally sucking in toxins directly into your lungs. The feeling of a high comes from the lack of oxygen to your brain. One of the little known long-term effects of inhalants is that they can break down myelin, the substance that protects your nerve cells. This can cause muscle spasms, tremors, and even affect the ability to walk. Remember, once you use drugs, it can be tough to reverse the damage.  
Visit the NIDA for Teens website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Joni Rutter

can you get high off of the fumes of gasoline?

-allee, Texas

Some people use gasoline and other drugs to get high but it is remarkably dangerous. I've seen patients with serious brain damage from huffing gasoline and other solvents.  And they can even die. Here's some more info. from our teen site: http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants.

-Wilson Compton

Can you get high on cat pee like on South Park?

-Senpai, Washington

Hi Senpai,
Unfortunately, no, you can't. Too bad, because with my two cats, I could make a fortune as a dealer! :-)

-Eric Wargo

Can you get high on sharpies?

-ennisisd, Texas

Hey ennisisd - By sharpies, I assume you mean all sorts of markers, paint, glue, etc, which are types of inhalants. Using inhalants is not a harmless way to get a buzz. You are literally sucking in toxins directly into your lungs. One of the little known long-term effects of inhalants is that they can break down myelin, the substance that protects your nerve cells, a lot of which are in your brain. If that happens, it can cause muscle spasms, tremors, and even affect the ability to walk. Remember, once you use drugs, it can be tough to reverse the damage.  
Visit the NIDA for Teens website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants. Stay sharp, don't try sharpies!  You'll be marked for life.

-Joni Rutter

do drugs effect your emotions

-Aali, Texas

Hi Aali - absolutely!

-Michelle Rankin

Do drugs ever benefit u?

-ihatedrugs101, New Jersey

There are drugs that can be good for you--they are the ones that your physician prescribes!! Your physician knows which drugs at what dose will help you with an illness or health condition. They are usually safe for you when used properly!  But used improperly, they can become very dangerous. You might take a peek at this Prescription Drugs Fact page for more info: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs.
 

-Joni Rutter

Do drugs have medicine that can help you please answer???

-gg2248, Illinois

Some drugs of abuse have medicinal value, sure... Opioids can fight pain but can be addictive and produce harm. Benzodiazepines can reduce anxiety but can be addictive. It is not simple in either situation. But we do want to get the message out that just because a drug is a medicine, that does not make it safe and non-addictive.

-Dave Thomas

do drugs increase the chance of you having sex?

-TheWaffle, Michigan

They may--because they can decrease your inhibitions.  And for the same reasons, they may cause you to do things you regre (including sex)t. 

-Susan Weiss

Do drugs make me feel good inside?

-anonymous, Massachusetts

Many drugs of abuse activate the reward system of the brain, including opioids/narcotics. The reward system is an area of the brain that makes us feel good, which makes some people want to do the drugs again, and again...  But over time, the user feels worse and worse in general, and takes more and more drug not to feel high--but just to feel normal. 

-Dave Thomas

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 – http://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 you overdose on weed

-Spontaniouse G., New Jersey

Hi Spontaniouse G, If you mean can they overdose and die from marijuana—the answer is no, its not very likely. But they can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks) or psychotic reactions (where they lose touch with reality and may become paranoid). And people can and do injure themselves because of marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. For example, marijuana affects the skills you need to drive (e.g., concentration, reaction time) so people can injure themselves and others if they drive while under the influence. For more information on marijuana, see:http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana-abuse

-Maureen Boyle

Can you please tell me about the emerging drugs and why they are becoming so popular?

-rbartlett, New Hampshire

Hi rbarlett,
As much as we would like to think we can predict the future, it is really hard to answer this without knowing which drug concerns you.  Can you be specific?  There are some that seem to be emerging, but many of these are either new names for drugs that we are already familiar with or variations on old drugs. Some of these claim to be a certain type of drug when they are really something else and they are very dangerous.  You can get more information on this at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/emerging-trends. Thanks! 

-Nancy Pilotte

can you smoke bath salts?

-even poonover, Massachusetts

Hey, even poonover. Unfortunately, people will try anything. The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. The synthetic cathinones in bath salts can produce euphoria and increased sociability and sex drive, but some users experience paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium; some even display psychotic and violent behavior, and deaths have been reported in several instances. For more information, visit: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/bath-salts.
 

-Roger Sorensen

Can you stop taking prescription drugs?

-jasmine s, Texas

Hey jasmine s - I'm not sure what you mean here. If your doctor has given you prescription drugs, you should take them as directed. You might be confused by the fact that some people abuse prescription drugs--that is, they take drugs that are not prescribed to them, take them for reasons other than prescribed, or take higher amounts than prescribed. You might take a peek at this Prescription Drugs page for more info: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/prescription-drugs.

-Joni Rutter

Can you tell me what the percentages of middle school teens in the U.S. that are using alcohol or marijuana? Aren't the majority NOT using these substances?

-jojo, Massachusetts

Hi, jojo, great question and you are correct!  The majority of teens are not using alcohol, marijuana, or drugs of any kind.  Between 60 and 70% of 8th graders haven't ever used alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs, according to the national Monitoring the Future survey. If we're talking about using in the month prior to the survey, that number jumps to 80-90%.  The same study reported 6.5% of 8th graders reported using marijuana and almost 10% had consumed alcohol in the past month.  For more stats, go to www.monitoringthefuture.org
 

-Marsha Lopez

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 http://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

could a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-NikeriaT125, Georgia

Hi NikeriaT125,
Every drug a pregnant woman takes also reaches her baby. The ways in which the baby can be affected depends on the drug the mother takes, how much she uses, and when in pregnancy she uses. But the good news is that the sooner a pregnant woman stops using drugs, the better the results for her baby. You can read more at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby.

-Maureen Boyle