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.

Download Full Year

Can people who suffer from non-prescription drug addiction be prescribed to prescription drugs?

-maddiec, Wisconsin

Yes--but they may require additional medical monitoring. People who are in chronic pain for example may need to be treated with opioid medications, however they would need to also be in treatment for their substance abuse problem and would need additional monitoring by their prescribing physician to prevent a worsening the patient's condition. Also, people may need other types of (non-addictive) prescription drugs to help them recover from their addiction--e.g., drugs to treat a co-occurring mental disorder, like depression.

-Susan Weiss

can prescription drugs kill you?

-aescobar, Texas

Certain ones, absolutely. For example, certain anti-anxiety drugs, when taken in large doses, especially in combination with alcohol can depress the brain's circuit telling the body to breathe, causing death.

-Jim Bjork

can scientists come up with a cure for trying to get people to stop all the drugs in the world?

-IMS716, Louisiana

We are funding researchers to try to do this. One strategy we are excited about is the development of vaccines--these will keep the drug from entering the brain, and interfere with the drug's rewarding and addictive properties. However there is still lots of work that needs to be done before we succeed.

-Nora Volkow

can sharpie markers get you high?

-proudtobeastone, Pennsylvania

Sharpies---or any permanent markers...can be dangerous if sniffed. The chemicals in these markers are considered 'inhalants.' Most inhalants produce a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication. If sufficient amounts are inhaled, nearly all solvents and gases produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness. Irreversible effects can be hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of inhalants may result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs). The sad thing about inhalants is that the 'high' does not last very long but the side effects can last forever.

-Carol Krause

can sleeping pills hurt your brain if used more than 1 year?

-n,

Some sleeping pills are more dangerous than others. This is why it is very important to use them under a doctor's supervision. If you have concerns about this, or are using sleeping pills recreationally, stop. If you have sleep problems, it is important to consult a specialist like a neurologist, who might prescribe an overnight observation and monitoring of your sleep.

-Jim Bjork

can smoking

-creed 101, New York

The FDA, which approves all therpeutic drugs in the US, has not approved marijuana for the treatment of any disease or condition. I know that some think marijuana isn't addictive, but in fact someone who uses a lot can find themselves not able to give it up even when they want to and realize its messing up their schoolwork or their family relationships. What are your chances of becoming addicted?--about 1 in 6 if you start as a teen, and 1 in 4 if you use every day or nearly every day. see
http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/for more info!

-Christine Colvis

can smoking alone cause all kinds of cancer

-IMS716, Louisiana

Yep. Cigarette smoking causes cancers of the lung, oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, stomach, uterine cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. Aren't those good reasons to never pick up a cigarette?

-Carol Krause

Can smoking anything be harmful?

-fort settlement, Texas

Yes, smoking anything can be harmful. When you burn something, many chemicals are released into the air and if you breathe in those chemicals, some can be harmful to your lungs.

-Steve Grant

can smoking marijuana be good for you?

-creed 101, New York

The FDA, which approves all therpeutic drugs in the US, has not approved marijuana for the treatment of any disease or condition. I know that some think marijuana isn't addictive, but in fact someone who uses a lot can find themselves not able to give it up even when they want to and realize its messing up their schoolwork or their family relationships. What are your chances of becoming addicted?--about 1 in 6 if you start as a teen, and 1 in 4 if you use every day or nearly every day. see http://www.drugabuse.gov/MarijBroch/teens/ for more info!

-Christine Colvis

Can smoking weed help your ADHD? a few of my friend's claim it can, but I don't necessarily believe them...and I do have ADHD

-LittlePeep218, Michigan

Don't believe them. Some people like smoking marijuana and say many untrue things to convince other people to use. Marijuana does not make people with ADHD perform any better. Of course, scientists are looking for better treatments for ADHD and we hope to have ways to help people concentrate better and be able to control their hyperactivity better, too.

-Wilson Compton

Can sniffing glue get you high? If so why?

-Mpanther, Iowa

Yes it acts in a similar way to alcohol by disrupting the membrane of the neurons in your brain. It can affect how these brain cells function, including those in the reward centers in the brain.

-Nora Volkow

Can some drugs be perscribed to people as a medicine?

-Cortlynn32, Ohio

Yes. For example, there are prescription pain-killers (opioids) that are very commonly prescribed for chronic, long-lasting pain.

-Kris Bough

can some one die of nicoteen use

-tyler h, California

Absolutely. Nicotine is what makes cigarettes so addictive. And cigarettes kill 440,000 people a year in this country alone! Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and almost 50,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Cigarettes and chew tobacco are illegal substances in most U.S. states for those under 18; a handful of states have raised the age to 19. Nicotine is highly addictive. The tar in cigarettes increases a smoker's risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases. Pregnant smokers have a higher risk of miscarriage or low birthweight babies. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children.

-Carol Krause

Can some prescription drugs kill you?

-zpacker, Texas

Hi and thanks for the question. Yes, prescription medications can be dangerous if not taken as directed. In fact, more people died in the US of prescription drugs than died in car accidents in 2009. Please take a look at the information available at our site: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx/the-facts.

-Richard Denisco

Can someone be addicted to a drug yet not show any signs of addiction?

-acdude14, Minnesota

If by that you mean that the person is addicted (the person is constantly on the lookout to get their next 'fix' of the drug or takes way too much and can't stop) but this preoccupation with getting and using the drug is kept a secret from family members and friends, then 'yes'. There are a lot of 'functional alcoholics' out there for example, that can stay sober enough to get through a work-day, and seem normal by all appearances, but are truly hooked on alcohol. These addictions don't usually stay hidden for very long, though.

-Jim Bjork

Can someone die from smoking pot?

-A,

Hi A-bird,Very unlikely, unless you are driving while stoned or something like that, the fact is that marijuana can't kill you. But you'd be wrong to think marijuana is a benign drug that can only hurt you when mixed with other drugs. In fact, marijuana can acutely and severely impair how your brain functions, things like memory and learning that can in the long run really derail your academic achievement and long term plans for your life. Besides these significant cognitive deficits there is a significant number of regular users who will become addicted. So, all in all, pot is not a good deal, when you really think about what you get in exchange.

-Ruben Baler

can someone tell me the risks of takeing the drug called acid

-pjacobs, Texas

Acid is one of the street names for LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), which can distort perceptions of reality and produce hallucinations; the effects can be frightening and cause panic. It is sold as tablets, capsules, liquid, or on absorbent paper. LSD is one of the most potent mood-changing chemicals. It was discovered in 1938 and is manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. We don't have much evidence of addiction. The risk with hallucinogens is more about their unpredictability. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. These drugs can also produce rapid, intense emotional swings and result in fear and anxiety, which can be terrifying to people! LSD can also cause psychosis (visions or illusions) or flashbacks (sudden memories) even a while after the drug is taken. Hallucinogens cause their effects by disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. The effect can last as little as several hours and and as long as days, months, or years after taking the drug.Learn more about hallucinogens at http://drugabuse.gov/infofacts/hallucinogens.html.

-Joe Frascella

Can someone who has been on a drug for too long not be able to break an addiction because they are too dependent on the drug? If this happens, do they have to remain on the drug in some way for the rest of their life? Is there another way?

-gingenthron, Vermont

Hey Vermont, Yes - people who have been addicted to drugs for some time are able to quit. Many times they need drug treatment to help them. Drug treatment helps people learn to live without drugs. There are different types of treatment. Medication can help some people with their drug problem. Behavioral treatments help people learn new skills to cope with stress and problems, deal with urges and cravings to use drugs, develop a support system of people who don't use drugs, and increase their motivation to stop using drugs. For specific information about treatment approaches, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/Treatmeth.html. For assistance locating treatment programs in your area see: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. .

-Redonna Chandler

Can someone with an extremely low

-acdude14, Minnesota

Yes, they can. There really isn't a specific amount of alcohol a person has to drink to become addicted, and only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure whether they are addicted. In general, a teenager is more likely to become addicted to alcohol if they have a family history of alcoholism (meaning they have parents or siblings with alcohol problems), start drinking at younger ages or have problems with depression or anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues:Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get 'high' These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids and how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out:
http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

-Aaron White

Can someone with an extremely low alcohol tolerance (throws up after 1 beer glass) become addicted?

-acdude14, Minnesota

Yes, they can. There really isn't a specific amount of alcohol a person has to drink to become addicted, and only someone trained to evaluate a person's drinking habits can tell for sure whether they are addicted. In general, a teenager is more likely to become addicted to alcohol if they have a family history of alcoholism (meaning they have parents or siblings with alcohol problems), start drinking at younger ages or have problems with depression or anxiety. According to the National Library of Medicine, people who are addicted to alcohol tend to have the following issues:Craving - a strong need to drink Loss of control - not being able to stop drinking once you've begun Physical dependence - withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking Tolerance - the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get 'high' These problems and behaviors can cause tremendous difficulties for individuals and families.To learn more about how alcohol can affect kids and how to learn to say NO to kids who offer it to you, check out: http://www.thecoolspot.gov/

-Aaron White

Can swallowing a gallon of

-Thisman12, Maryland

Less than a drop of
nicotinewill kill you on the spot. It is one of the most toxic substances known! For more information, see:
http://drugabuse.gov/researchreports/nicotine/consequences.html

-Joni Rutter

Can swallowing a gallon of nicotine kill you ?

-Thisman12, Maryland

Less than a drop of nicotine will kill you on the spot. It is one of the most toxic substances known! For more information, see: http://drugabuse.gov/researchreports/nicotine/consequences.html.

-Joni Rutter

Can tabacco chewing give you gum cancer? How easily?

-peguinlover99, Michigan

Both chewing and smoking tobacco can negatively affect your body. It's hard to say which will affect your body more, because so much has to do with each person's biology and the amount they smoke or chew. But we do know the more someone uses tobacco (in any form) the greater the effects can be on their body. Overall, chewing tobacco can cause damage to gum tissue and even loss of teeth. It also reduces a person's ability to taste and smell. Most importantly, smokeless tobacco contains cancer causing-chemicals that can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. This can even happen in very young users who chew tobacco. In fact, most people who develop these cancers used to chew tobacco. Inhaling cigarette smoke pulls more than 4,000 chemicals into a person's lungs. The most dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke are tar and carbon monoxide. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems; smokers are at high risk for heart disease. Whether someone smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain and increasing their chances of becoming addicted. Once addicted, it is very difficult to quit, in spite of the severe health consequences. For more information on smoking or tobacco please go to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes.

-Joni Rutter

Can the effects of drugs last your whole life?

-2341, Iowa

All drugs of abuse can have long-lasting effects on the body and brain. But, if a person is able to quit, these effects can gradually begin to return to normal over a period of several weeks to months. The damage done to the body or brain depends on the drug of abuse and how long and/or frequently a person may have taken that drug. Drugs can affect the way the brain functions and how brain cells send and receives messages. A person that is dependent on cocaine for example can have abnormal brain function for several months before the brain can slowly recover (http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/sciofaddiction.pdf) and there is evidence that long-term cocaine use can result in impaired heart function (http://www.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_notes/NNvol21N5/RIB.html). Also, hallucinogens can cause people to have flashbacks, without warning, well after using them (sometimes up to a year or more after)!

-Kris Bough

Can the THC be removed from

-Zombie Man!, Vermont

Hello Zombie Man. THC is the primary active compound in marijuana. It can be removed by extracting the drugs with organic solvents (with chemicals in a lab). We actually do this in our experiments where we study the effects of drugs in drug users to learn about what a drug does. In our studies, we use placebo marijuana (marijuana where the drug has been removed) as a control in our experiments. So it can be done! Thanks for asking

-Marilyn Huestis

Can the THC be removed from marijuana?

-Zombie Man!, Vermont

Hello Zombie Man. THC is the primary active compound in marijuana. It can be removed by extracting the drugs with organic solvents (with chemicals in a lab). We actually do this in our experiments where we study the effects of drugs in drug users to learn about what a drug does. In our studies, we use placebo marijuana (marijuana where the drug has been removed) as a control in our experiments. So it can be done! Thanks for asking.

-Marilyn Huestis

can u die from multiple drugs

-wreaves, Texas

Yes! Interactions between alcohol drinking and popping certain painkillers combined can cause the brain to stop telling the heart to beat! Micheal Jackson died from an interaction of a sedative and a painkiller. Of course too much of a single drug can kill you too, like a cocaine-caused heart attack.

-Jim Bjork

can u get addictive to pain killers, if u take one like every day nd yout love it so much you cant stop taking it can u die?? thanks, Awoods:)

-Awoods, Texas

Ouch! Who would want to do that? Yes you could die if you do that! You might feel a 'high' but then you have to take more and more just to get the same high and then your whole life is dominated by running around trying to find enough drugs---what a mess! And then you take too many pills because you are desperate for the high and then you overdose. Did you know that more people die every year from painkiller overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined? Painkiller abuse is no joke.

-Carol Krause

Are there any physical or mental effects that

-briannaf, Pennsylvania

There sure are! Some people die after a single use of inhalants, because the effects are so rapid and there is no antidote other than oxygen. The lungs rapidly absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream, quickly spreading them throughout the body, including the brain. Within minutes of inhalation, users can feel a 'buzz' or 'high.' The effects are similar to those produced by
alcoholand may include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant users may also experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions. The high usually lasts only a few minutes. But with repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. The most important effects occur in your brain. Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others can remain for a long time, because they stick to fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers (axons). Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their electric messages to and from the brain. Damage to myelin can slow down communication between nerve fibers. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can result in muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis--a disease that also affects myelin. Check out our teen site at
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.phpfor more information

-Nancy Pilotte

Are there any physical or mental effects that inhalants have on your body? And if so, what are they?

-briannaf, Pennsylvania

There sure are! Some people die after a single use of inhalants, because the effects are so rapid and there is no antidote other than oxygen. The lungs rapidly absorb inhaled chemicals into the bloodstream, quickly spreading them throughout the body, including the brain. Within minutes of inhalation, users can feel a 'buzz' or 'high.' The effects are similar to those produced by alcohol and may include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant users may also experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions. The high usually lasts only a few minutes. But with repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache. The most important effects occur in your brain. Inhalants often contain more than one chemical. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, but others can remain for a long time, because they stick to fatty tissues in the brain and central nervous system. One of these fatty tissues is myelin, a protective cover that surrounds many of the body's nerve fibers (axons). Myelin helps nerve fibers carry their electric messages to and from the brain. Damage to myelin can slow down communication between nerve fibers. Long-term inhalant use can break down myelin. When this happens, nerve cells are not able to transmit messages as efficiently, which can result in muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis--a disease that also affects myelin. Check out our teen site at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_inhale1.php for more information.

-Nancy Pilotte

Pages