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 pot give u cancer

-mbottom, Michigan

It's hard to know for sure since many people who smoke a lot of pot also smoke cigarettes and use other drugs. But it is known that marijuana smoke contains some of the same, and sometimes even more, of the cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. But cancer isn't the only health effect to know about-people who smoke marijuana often develop the same kinds of breathing problems that cigarette smokers have, such as coughing and wheezing, they tend to have more chest colds than nonusers, and they are also at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. You can read more about pot at NIDA's website

-Marsha Lopez

can prescription drugs kill you if you take to many of them

-amorton, Pennsylvania

Yes, prescription pain killers can be deadly if you don't take as directed by your physician. Taking too many, or too often or mixing with alcohol can be dangerous, even deadly.

-Cindy Miner

can roid rage be avoided?

-iNK9, New York

Of course, just stay away from anabolic steroiods! Now, if your rage is not related to steroid abuse I suggest you take up yoga.

-Ruben Baler

can second hand smoke affect you in the long run?

-Fireroy900, Maryland

yes, it can for example affect your pulmonary function. it may also make you more vulnerable to become addicted to nicotine. It may also increase your risk for lung cancer.

-Nora Volkow

Can smoking affect athletics such as football?

-BUZZZ, Arizona

yes smoking affects pulmonary function which you need in order to have physical endurance

-Nora Volkow

can smoking drugs lead you to lung cancer.

-tysheagates, Pennsylvania

Good morning Ludlow!That's a great question. The short answer to that question is yes. Let's take, for example, cigarettes. Studies show that the younger a person starts smoking, the more likely they are to become heavy smokers and develop smoking-related diseases, including cancer. Remember, though, that smoking anything, including marijuana, meth or any other drug, can damage your lungs. For more information go to Again, thanks for your question!

-Steve Gust

Can smoking give you bladder cancer?

-b.radiance, Maryland

Good morning Einstein, welcome to the chat! Hi to all my friends there! We all know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but yes thre is scientific evidence that other types of cancer can be caused by smoking as well.

-Cindy Miner

can smoking pot affect my baby

-BLAH, Oregon

Yes, it can. Research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display responses to visual stimuli that differed from that of babies that weren't exposed, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. During the preschool years, marijuana-exposed children have been observed to perform tasks involving sustained attention and memory more poorly than nonexposed children do. In the school years, these children are more likely to exhibit deficits in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to pay attention.

-Larry Stanford

can some people be ok with using drugs and others cant handle it as well?

-asia, Pennsylvania

Drugs affect different people in different ways, but anyone can get addicted. Some people get addicted to drugs or alcohol more quickly than others, so it is best not to even take the chance at all. All drugs are potentially harmful and may lead to addiction or have other life-threatening consequences--one person may use a drug one or many times and not have bad effects; another person may be particularly vulnerable and develop addiction...others may overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react. Read more about it:

-Dave McCann

Can someone who has only smoked 1 or 3 times become addicted in the future?

-kitty_16, Maryland

Anybody can become addicted if they use drugs on a regular basis. And, if drug use starts early (like during childhood or adolescence) then the risk of addiction increases later in life. So, it is best not to use drugs at all.

-Kevin Conway

can steroids kill you?

-washingtonrodri, Michigan

Steroidsare safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

-Ruben Baler

can steroids kill you?

-washingtonrodri, Michigan

Steroids are safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. However, there have been reports of people that have been driven to commit suicide as a result of depression allegedly caused by chronic abuse of anabolic steroids. This is mostly based on case reports though and there are no studies that can establish a causal relationship between the two. Other types of death, as a result of anabolic steroids, follow a similar story. For example, it would be very hard to pin down a car accident to roid rage, although we can reasonably hypothesize that such cases exist.

-Ruben Baler

can the drugs cause a person to become mentally ill

-casa grande, Arizona

Great question! Drug abuse and mental illness commonly co-occur (this is referred to as comorbidity). High rates of comorbidity between drug use disorders and other mental illnesses does not mean that one caused the other, even if it appeared first. In fact, establishing this is difficult for several reasons. Some symptoms of a mental disorder may not be recognized until the illness has substantially progressed, and imperfect recollections of when drug use/abuse started can also present timing issues. Still, three scenarios deserve consideration:

Drugs of abuse can cause abusers to experience one or more symptoms of another mental illness. The increased risk of psychosis in some marijuana abusers has been offered as evidence for this possibility. Mental illnesses can lead to drug abuse. Individuals with overt, mild, or even subclinical mental disorders may abuse drugs as a form of self-medication. For example, the use of tobacco products by patients with schizophrenia is believed to lessen the symptoms of the disease and improve cognition ('Smoking and Schizophrenia: Self-Medication or Shared Brain Circuitry?'). Both drug use disorders and other mental illnesses are caused by overlapping factors such as underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities, and/or early exposure to stress or trauma.

All three scenarios probably contribute, in varying degrees, to how and whether specific comorbidities manifest themselves.Thanks for the question!

-Kevin Conway

can the smoke of marijuana affect a baby?

-weedhead, Maryland

Hi - and thanks for your question. yes, weed/marijuana smoke can affect the baby. We've got a couple of studies on this - including one that has followed the kids from the prenatal/in utero/pregnancy stage until they were adults. And guess what - these studies have found subtle developmental effects on the baby's ability to think, pay attention, and other brain functions. Plus, people who use pot often smoke tobacco too, and tobacco use can also negatively affect the baby's health. For example, some studies show that babies born to mothers who used tobacco are more likely to use tobacco themselves and become addicted later on. You might be interested in learning more about long-term effects of marijuana: Of course, we recommend pregnant women not use

-Nicolette Borek

can u get addicted to meth the first time?

-215451, Washington

Yes, some people take a drug and realize right away that they will not be able to stop using it. The problem is that 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.

-Steve Grant

can u get high from the can of spray that u use to get rid of dust

-manman, Michigan

The cans of spray used to clean dust and other household products if used to get high are called inhalants. These products are not intended to be sniffed and there are lots of warnings on those cans, with good reason. Sniffing these toxic chemicals can lead to problems with walking, talking, and thinking.Regular abuse of inhalants can cause serious harm to vital organs besides the brain, like the heart, kidneys, and liver. And if all that isn't enough-inhalants can be addictive.You can learn more about inhalants including their effects at NIDA's website

-Marsha Lopez

can u get high off a marker

-synthia_craig, Pennsylvania

Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used--and the high would resemble alcohol intoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!For more information about drugs, check out!

-David Shurtleff

can u get high off of a sharpy

-supperstar, Pennsylvania

Yes, there are some volatile substances in the Sharpie pens that some people sniff to get high. Inhalants can be extremely dangerous and can cause very serious damage to brain cells.For some excellent information on inhalants, check out: for the question.

-Joe Frascella

can u get high off sharpiess

-lswimmer617, Michigan

Some markers may give off chemicals that can damage the brain and liver if inhaled. There's a question about sharpies that a teen asked last year, and we posted it on the sara bellum blog--take a look:

-Dave McCann

Can using drug while pregant effect your baby???

-idalisgonzalez, Pennsylvania

Hi Ludlow,Absolutely--and not in a good way! In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol is particularly harmful and opioid drugs (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at

-Joni Rutter

Can using drugs cause depression?

-mathlete_14, Virginia

Great question. Drug abuse and mental illness are related in complex ways. Drugs can make the mood much worse (especially when they wear off) but also being depressed can lead to people taking drugs to feel better. In general, drugs and depression make each other worse. So people with depression have trouble quitting drugs and people who use drugs frequently get really depressed.

-Wilson Compton

Can using drugs lead to body odor?

-zgiddings, Pennsylvania

Hello Ludlow,I have to admit...this is one of the most unusual questions of the day :-)Using drugs can definitely lead to body odor. The main reason is because when you are addicted to drugs, you don't take care of yourself like you should. For example, if you smoke, you have bad breath because your breath smells like an ashtry! Who would want to be around that?? Drugs like meth can cause dry mouth, lip cracking, and tooth rot; some drugs cause your body temperature to rise, making you sweat more. The more you sweat, the more you stink. Things to think about, hunh?!

-Joni Rutter

Can weed affect your appearance?

-jazminjames, Maryland

Perhaps not initially, although the 'stoned' look is not particularly attractive. However, the effects of long term or heavy marijuana use can lead to addiction and other medical consequences which can quickly impact how 'cool' you look.

-Ruben Baler

can weed help cancer

-babyAND1, Maryland

So far there are no studies that suggest this to be the case. One of the main active ingredients in weed--THC--is prescribed in pill form to treat nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. Other ingredients in weed are being studied for their potential therapeutic effects, although marijuana itself is unlikely to become an FDA-approved medication.

-Susan Weiss

Are there people who have tried a drug a few times and they were so repelled that they couldn't get addicted?

-jessie, Massachusetts

The initial response to drugs and alcohol varies a lot. Some people really like drugs when they first use them and others do not. While this may relate to why people first use drugs and continue at the start, even people who don't like drugs at first, sometimes keep taking them and become addicted anyway. The only safe approach is to avoid drugs completely. For more info go to

-Wilson Compton

are u a real person or this computer answering r qestion

-mejiaelexis, Michigan

Yes, we are real people - most of us are scientists, all of us are dedicated to get out the facts about drug abuse.

-Gaya Dowling

Are weed brownies as bad as smoking weed?

-muffinslice, New York

Good question. The active component in marijuana is THC. THC gets into the blood differently when MJ is ingested as a brownie or when it is smoked. Brownies are eaten and therefore THC gets into the blood stream (through the stomach and intestinal lining) much more slowly compared to smoking, where the THC is taken up in the lungs and gets into the bloodstream much more quickly. Once the THC gets into the blood, it has its effects in the brain. Both ways gets THC into the brain but at different rates.

-Joe Frascella

As a school who has drug testing, do you know how many schools in PA or nationally have drug testing and are there any statistics to support positive outcomes?

-Mrs. Y, Pennsylvania

Hmm, well i found found one stat from 2007 that says 'Since 2003, the Department of Education has awarded more than $36.1 million dollars in multi-year grants to over 80 school districts to support random student drug-testing programs in more than 400 schools.' Some schools have adopted a random student drug testing policy hoping it will: (1) serve as a deterrent and give students a reason to resist peer pressure to take drugs; (2) identify adolescents who have started using drugs so that parents and counselors can intervene early; and (3) identify adolescents who already have drug problems, so they can be referred for treatment. It is not intended to be punitive, but rather to prevent drug use or promote early intervention. The Supreme Court has ruled drug testing as legal for any students participating in extracurricular activities. Currently, there is insufficient research in this area to show whether random drug testing is an effective approach.

-Anna Staton

Avez vous deja trop utilise l'alcol? P.S Aimez vous les patates?

-SClions027, Pennsylvania

pas du tout, je n'aime pas l'alcohol et je n'aime pas les patates

-Nora Volkow

Back in the day..why would they actually put cocaine in the coke a cola products?>

-gruberec, Pennsylvania

Ah, great question! I believe that cocaine was originally put in Coca-cola products for its stimulant properties and for it flavor-enhancing properties?!

-Joe Frascella