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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Does steroids affect your heart rate and cardiovascular of health?

-AshleyP-P2, Texas

Hey there, AshleyP-P2...great question!  Steroids can have lots of negative health effects, like prematurely stunting one's growth if taken before you've stopped growing. Some of the most dangerous consequences of steroid abuse include kidney impairment or failure; damage to the liver; cardiovascular problems including enlargement of the heart, high blood pressure, and changes in blood cholesterol, which can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack (even in young people).

For more information on steroids, check out:
-Joe Frascella

Does synthetic marijuana, like in the pill marinol that doctors prescribe for nausea resulting from chemotherotherapy, cause harm to you in any way? Wondering if the synthetic THC builds "walls" on your brain cells like real THC?

-Lawrence High, Kansas
Hey there out at Lawrence High...thanks for the question.  Marinol, like any medication or drug, has side effects such as  dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, feeling "high," an exaggerated sense of well-being, light-headedness, nausea, vomiting, or stomach/abdominal pain may occur as the body adjusts to the medication.  But when taken for medical reasons, the therapeutic effects should outweigh the potential side effects.  When drugs are taken recreationally, one subjects oneself to potential negative effects of the drug without any benefit other than to temporarily get high.
As for the question of building "walls" on brain cells by THC, I am not aware of this happening.
-Joe Frascella

does taking drugs actually help you in anyway

-yffjc, New York

Hey yffjc.  Is this a trick question?  It's a good one.  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:

-Joni Rutter

Does the alcohol damage the lungs? If so, how?

-3lo, Hawaii

While it's possible for any body organ to be damaged by alcohol, it's not common for the lungs to be affected. 

-Aaron White

Does the smoke of pot smell different than normal cigarettes? How can you tell?

-bloop, Maryland

Hi bloop, yes, pot does smell different than normal cigarettes. I think you would notice the difference- it has a strong herbal smell.  

-Marilyn Huestis

does tobacco make you age

-18287, Maryland

18287,  Like your question.  Time makes you age but smoking tobacco makes you wrinkle!!  In fact tobacco has lots of negative impacts on the brain and body, and often shortens your life. It  accounts for about one-third of all cancers, including 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Smokeless tobacco (such as chewing tobacco and snuff) also increases the risk of cancer, especially oral cancers. In addition to cancer, smoking causes lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and increases the risk of heart disease, including stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and aneurysm. Smoking has also been linked to leukemia, cataracts, and pneumonia. On average, adults who smoke die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers. For more information see:

-Cindy Miner

Does using chewing tobacco have the same result in doing drugs because isnt tobacco a drug?

-imtyping..., Maryland
Hey Imtyping, so am I!
Tobacco contains nicotine and nicotine is a drug.  Chewing it results in the nicotine getting into the blood and brain.   It is just a different route of administration.  Note though that by this route, the nicotine gets to the brain slower than when one smokes cigarettes..
-Dave Thomas

does weed lower serotonin levels? how about alcohol and LSD?

-walterjohnson, Maryland
Best question of the day so far, walterjohnson!  Marijuana can actually increase serotonin levels in certain areas of the brain that are important for mood and anxiety.  This suggests that repeated exposure to marijuana may be associated with those disorders.  Serotonin is clearly an important neurotransmitter in addiction and contributes to the intoxicating effects of alcohol--and also may be the link to alcohol and depression.  LSD looks a lot like serotonin and the brain mistakes the two chemicals--this means that LSD acts as a neurotransmitter rather than serotonin and that is NOT good. 
You can check out this great webpage on the NIDA for teens site that explains what effect drugs have on the brain:
-Joni Rutter

does weed mess with your driving in any

-umastar 97, Maryland

Hi umastar 97!  YES! Marijuana definitely affects your ability to drive.  Divided attention- being able to notice all the different aspects during driving- other cars, the weather, lights, speed etc, and critical tracking- staying within the lines are some of the ways that Marijuana can affect your driving. Marijuana also affects your estimation of passage of time- things like estimating how long it would take you to stop if you needed to, it reduces your peripheral vision- so you can't see as well objects that might enter the road. Marijuana also affects your decision making and reaction time. So if something unexpected happens, you can't think the process through and make a good decision about swerving to avoid a collision or slamming on your brakes. Marijuana and driving is a very dangerous combination and we have the data to prove it!

-Marilyn Huestis

does your first drink of alcohol affect your body and mind more than the following you take? in other words, how inmune is your system to your first drink?

-asdfghjkl, Maryland

Yes, the first drink is probably the most powerful because the brain hasn't been exposed to alcohol and the person drinking has no prior experience with the effects of alcohol. And, depending on how old the person is when they have their first drink, it could really increase the odds that they become an alcoholic.  Researchers found that the earlier someone has their first drink of alcohol, usually meaning more than a few sips with family, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic. It isn't known whether a few sips is enough to make that happen or if more alcohol is needed. The best bet is to avoid alcohol completely until your brain is done developing in the early 20s. You can learn more about the effects of alcohol on kids at:

-Aaron White

Does your past cause how much you use drugs?

-Cowgirl555, New York

Hi Cowgirl - thanks for your question.  There are many different things that affect a person's likelihood of using drugs.  One thing that is very important is whether or not a person has used drugs in the past.  One of the best things you can do to avoid become addicted to drugs is to not start using them, especially if you are a teen!  Please check out for more information.

-Steve Gust

Dont do drugs

-Angel, Texas

You got it!!!

-Jack Stein

Dose Marijuana make you want to eat food more

-laciek, Connecticut
Yes, it does.   They call it the "munchies."  Marijuana works in a lot of areas of the brain, including the area that makes you feel hungry - the feeding area.  Marijuana can cause hunger even in people who have recently eaten.
Here is some more information on marijuana at:
-Dave Thomas

Dose your race affect how much alcohol you can consume

-sod off it, California

For some people, yes. Approximately 36% of East Asians (Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans) show a characteristic physiological response to drinking alcohol that includes facial flushing (redness), nausea, and rapid heart rate . This so-called alcohol flushing response (also known as "Asian flush" or "Asian glow") is predominantly due to an inherited deficiency in the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2). As a result, a toxic compound called acetaldehyde builds up in the body. 

-Aaron White

Dr. Bethany Deeds, Are generic drugs as effective as brandnamed drugs?

-himallorie2, Pennsylvania
Hello Himallorie2! Thanks so much for asking this fantastic question. The FDA requires that generic drugs are just as same and effective as their brand name counterparts. Here are some facts about generic drugs:  Also, remind your friends never to share the drugs they are prescribed from their doctor (generic or brand name) to prevent substance use!  
It was awesome to get a question from my home state of PA!
-Bethany Deeds

drugs affect your reaction time?, New Jersey

Very good question Tyost. Yes, drugs definitely can affect your reaction times that are so important in sports and driving and other activities. For example, you would not want the person babysitting your little brother or sister to be on drugs. Drugs like marijuana can reduce your peripheral vision too- also slowing down your reaction times and affecting your decision making- deciding what the appropriate thing to do is..For more information on drugged driving---see this:

-Marilyn Huestis

Drugs are just a plant. If people want to use them and ruin their lives, fine. Why are we making such a big deal about this stuff.

-viperstrike, New York
Several reasons--first--they don't always just affect the user.  Think about second hand smoke, for example, which can cause cancer and other lung problems.  Also, pregnant women or parents who use drugs may be hurting their offspring or not taking proper care of their children. Drugs like alcohol (not a plant) or marijuana are linked to car wrecks--which can kill or injure others.  
Second--many people are simply concerned about the well being of others--especially young people who's brains may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of drug since they are still developing. Most people who become addicted to drugs start using during their teens, and even if someone does not become addicted, they still may not reach their potential and that hurts not only the person and their family, but also our society.  
-Susan Weiss

CAN YOU GET ORAL CANCER FROM ALCHOL???????????????????????

-billybob67, New York

Yes, drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth and throat. You can learn more about these risks at:

-Aaron White

Can you go to jail for killing someone for drunk driving?

-CallMeCAT, New York

Oh yes! It happens every day!

-Aaron White

can you inject cleaning products into your bloodstream?

-jamealbrechtsen, New York
Hey jamealbrechtsen....uh....why would you want to inject cleaning products into your blood?  You could do it, but it could kill you... and painfully.
Give me a better question... 
-Joni Rutter

Can you OD from a perscription drug

-skkoollover, New York
Hi skkoollover,
Good question. Yes you can, if you take more of the drug than your doctor prescribed, or if you take it in a different way ... or if you aren't the person it was prescribed for. 
-Eric Wargo

Can you OD from a perscription drug?

-judicorn, Maryland

Hi Juidicorn.  In a word, yes, but it depends on the prescription drug.  Painkillers like oxycotin contain high amounts of a class of drugs called opioids, and one effect of these drugs is they reduce your breathing. If you take too much you simply stop breathing and die.  Other drugs, like amphetamine and stimulants, can cause heart attacks.  Even antibiotics can be dangerous; for example some people are allergic to penicillin. Even non-prescription drugs like Tylenol (acetaminophen) can cause very rare but potentially fatal skin disorders as well as liver damage.  The Food and Drug Administration writes very detailed descriptions of the effects of the drug, both good and bad, that are included with every prescription.  You should always read these labels to find out what the harmful effects are, use them for what they were FDA approved for, and if you have questions talk to your doctor or the pharmacist.

-Steve Grant

can you od on steroids

-lalala, New York
I don't know of many cases of death due to overdose on steriods, but there can be some very serious consequences resulting from the use of steroids.  For example, you can damage your liver and cause blood pressure problems.  Steroid use can also result in other really thrilling effects like breast enhancement, testicle shrinkage and baldness in males (lovely!).  For women, you can get breast shrinkage, deeper voice, facial hair, etc...but who wants that?!  
All in all, you may not necessarily die from use of steroids, but there are so many other unpleasant effects....your best bet is to stay 'steroid free'! 
-Joni Rutter

Can you OD on tylenol?

-skylerisdope, New York

Yes, you can die from a tylenol overdose although the mechanism that kills you (kidney failure) is different from the one associated with OD from drugs like heroin or alcohol (respiratory depression).

-Nora Volkow

Can you overdose on inhalants? And if so, is it easier or harder to overdose on them than other drugs?

-z_oneill, Maryland
You can definitely overdose on inhalants.  It's a misconception that they are harder to overdose on than other drugs.  
Markers, paint, glue, etc, are inhalants and they are relatively easy to get from household items.  Using inhalants is NOT a harmless way to get a buzz.  It is like sucking in toxins directly into your lungs. Sniffing inhalants can also result in 'Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome' which can happen when inhalants cause death by either stopping the heart from beating or preventing the person from getting enough oxygen. All that for a high?  No way.  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 teen website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body:  
-Joni Rutter

can you overdose on marijauna?!?!

-miracow, Maryland
Hi miracow,
Great question. The answer is probably not--overdosing isn't the danger with marijuana. The danger is long-term effects on the brain, when it is used during the teenage years. Those aren't easy to notice (which is why lots of people don't think marijuana is bad for you), but they really are!
-Eric Wargo

Can you overdose on tylenol?

-c322d, California
Yikes, no, but it could make you very very sick.  Plus, overtime it could cause organ failure and that can cause death.   
-Dave Thomas

can you overdose/die from marijuana?

-chomer, New York

u cannot overdose from marijuana.  

-Nora Volkow

can you quit smoking marijuana as easy as it is to quit smoking cigarettes?, New Jersey

Hi Tyost!  I am not sure, but I would imagine both are equally challenging to quit.  The best thing to do is not to start!  For more information on quitting either drug, check out: and

-Bethany Deeds

Can you smoke alcohol???? Asking for a friend

-Peniswrinkle22, New York

No, you can't actually "smoke" alcohol. However, it is possible (although very dangerous) to force the alcohol in a beverage to vaporize (i.e., turn to gas) by using dry ice or high pressure from an air pump. Then the vapor is inhaled. When this is done, the alcohol enters the blood stream faster than when it is consumed. This is a VERY dangerous thing to do as alcohol vapor is highly flammable and it's difficult to control how much alcohol gets into the body. 

-Aaron White