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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 alcohol give the affects of another drug?

-sjlowne@lmusd, California

The effects of alcohol are fairly unique. One category of drugs that produce sort of similar effects are the benzodiazepines. This category includes valium, xanax and other similar medications. Because these drugs act in roughly similar ways, combining them can be very dangerous.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol have lasting affects on an under aged drinker?

-zdub, Illinois

Yes, for sure. The brain works by forming networks of brain cells that talk to each other. During adolescence, brain circuits that are important for survival are formed and nurtured while those that aren't used are discarded. Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to form those networks and with the ability of brain cells in those networks to talk to each other. This is bad news for teens because, once of the window of brain development closes in the early 20s, the brain circuits that exist will likely stick around. So, if the opportunity to mold and fine tune brain circuits during adolescence is wasted, it could have a huge impact on future success and quality of life. Similarly, a drinking problem that develops during the teens years can be quite stubborn due to the molding of drinking-related circuits that occurs.

-Aaron White

Can alcohol have lasting affects on an under aged drinker?

-zdub, Illinois

Yes, for sure. The brain works by forming networks of brain cells that talk to each other. During adolescence, brain circuits that are important for survival are formed and nurtured while those that aren't used are discarded. Alcohol interferes with the ability of the brain to form those networks and with the ability of brain cells in those networks to talk to each other. This is bad news for teens because, once of the window of brain development closes in the early 20s, the brain circuits that exist will likely stick around. So, if the opportunity to mold and fine tune brain circuits during adolescence is wasted, it could have a huge impact on future success and quality of life. Similarly, a drinking problem that develops during the teens years can be quite stubborn due to the molding of drinking-related circuits that occurs.

-Aaron White

can the baby get affected if the mother smokes

-AT, Texas

Yes,nicotine exposure during pregnany is harmful for the newborn. It can affect almost every organ in the body, including the brain

-Nora Volkow

Can the use of drugs lead to cancer?

-ashleya2, New York

Hey ashleya- Yes! Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death, in part because it causes cancer. Other drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, and steroids, have also been linked to a higher risk of certain kinds of cancer. Check out https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/medical-consequences-drug-abuse/cancer to find out more.

-Emily Einstein

Can the use of repeated drugs reset the brain's pleasure meter?

-Dadrian FVSU 4H, Georgia

Yes--repeated drug use tends to turn down the reward mechanisms so that what used to make you happy doesn't any more. Even the drug itself becomes less effective, and people try to take more in order to feel the way they used to. Its a vicious cycle--worth avoiding.

-Susan Weiss

Can to much caffeine be bad for you.

-Jairah S, Texas

hey Jairah S, yes it can. having too much coffee or caffeinated drinks can cause anxiety and agitation. Taking higher potency caffeine supplements can even be life threatening if you take too much.

-Maureen Boyle

can to much caffine be bad for you

-jamar, Texas

hey Jairah S, yes it can. having too much coffee or caffeinated drinks can cause anxiety and agitation. Taking higher potency caffeine supplements can even be life threatening if you take too much.

-Maureen Boyle

can u become homless if u do drug

-Cori.c, Texas

Hi Cori - unfortunately yes if a person's substance use interferes with their ability to keep their job.

-Michele Rankin

Can u live with hiv

-Iyanna@gentryjr, Texas

hey Iyanna@gentryjr, yes, there are great anti-retroviral treatments that allow people with HIV to live a long life.

-Maureen Boyle

can u please answer this question what is the difference between smoking and vaping

-brady, Nebraska

Dear brady - thank you for joining us today! Smoking involves burning the tobacco in a cigarette or cigar. Instead of actually burning (combusting) the drug, vaping raises its temperature just enough to create a mist-like vapor. It is probably safer for the lungs, which is why people like it. But vaping can be used for marijuana, nicotine, as well as many other substances. Vaping is NOT a "healthy" alternative to smoking cigarettes. We are just beginning to understand vaping but we have much more to learn. Although many of the toxic chemicals from burning cigarettes may not be present in vaping, other dangers may exist! There are many checmicals in the vaping liquid that were never meant to be inhaled. In addition, many of these liquids contain nicotine, which is very addictive.

Stay in control of your health and don't use any tobacco product!

-Heather Kimmel

can u stop doing drugs by doing more drugs like pills?

-kbloom, Texas

Hi kbloom
In a way. There are various treatments for drug addiction that involve taking medications. It's called Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). But this should be done under medical supervision. check this out: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-dr...

-Dave Thomas

Can underage drinking lead to depression and suicide?

-pizzadoglover49, Illinois

Alcohol definitely contributes to depression and suicide. Whether it can actually cause those things is a tough question.

-Aaron White

can vape harm you like a drug

-nyc.kaylaa, New York

Vaping often includes nicotine, which is an addicitive chemical that comes from tobacco. There are other risk factors too. Check out this article for more info.

-Kevin Conway

can weed harm your lungs the same way cigarettes can?

-stay puft, Texas

We don't know if it causes lung cancer but it does increase the risk of lung infections like bronchitis. Also, increases phlegm production and cough.

-Susan Weiss

Can weed make you deaf?

-pineapple, New York

pineapple - nope

-Maureen Boyle

Can weed take away your brain cells

-Jessie@gentryjr, Texas

it can make your brain cells sick so that they can not communicate properly with one another, making you apathetic, depressed, anxious when you are under its influence

-Nora Volkow

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

Can you compare the harmful effects of teen marijuana use versus adult marijuana use?

-eadams, Maine

So far the research shows that teen marijuana use is more dangerous than adult use. The studies focus on regular users of the drug and found long term (maybe permanent) changes in the brain--this is likely because it is still actively developing in youth up to age 25. Changes include: size of brain structures, the amount of neurons in certain areas, the connections between brain structures, and how the brain gets activated when you are doing different tasks. Long term reductions in IQ have been reported; poorer academic outcomes, higher drop out rates, lower income as adults, increased welfare dependence, increased risk for psychosis (in people with a genetic or other vulnerability) and higher rates of suicidal thinking and attempts. This is not to say that its safe for adults--we just don't have as much information, especially for older adults who may have other physical and mental problems.

-Susan Weiss

Can you control yourself while drunk?

-Dezmond@gentry, Texas

It can be hard to control behavior when drunk. Alcohol disrupts the frontal lobes, which help us think about the future, make decisions and control our impulses. As a result, alcohol increases the chances of taking risks and suffering consequences as a result.

-Aaron White

Can you crush up cheez its and snort them? Can you crush up any sort of food or snack and snort it?

-CC, Indiana

Hi CC,
Nope. That sounds like a crummy idea. :-)

-Eric Wargo