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 People Overdose Themselves With Different Type Of Drugs ?

-bill, California

Hi Bill.  This is a very important question.  In a word, yes people can overdose on just about any kind of drug, but some are more dangerous than others and can kill you even if you take them only once. 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. For more information on various drugs and what they can do to your body, see

-Steve Grant

Can pregnant women who smoke put the baby in any danger? If so, what kind of danger?

-GEFRE, New York
Yup, GEFRE, it can be a danger to the baby.  Pregnant women have to be real careful in what they consume or put in their body.  
We know now that babies born to smokers can be smaller than normal when they are born, and some studies show that these babies may have developmental problems and somewhat decreased cognitive abilities (shorter attention spans, inability to focus on a task) that may be related to maternal smoking. Our nicotine research report has a section on smoking and pregnancy at
-Dave Thomas

Can prescription drugs be as harmful as illegal drugs?

-bubbles7977, Maryland
Dear bubbles7977,
Yes, prescription drugs can be as harmful as illegal drugs.  Some prescription drugs are as addictive as illegal drugs if used the wrong way (i.e., not as prescribed).  Here is more information:

There is lots of information on NIDA’s Web site at

Check out the "Students and Young Adults" tab.

-Michelle Leff

Can psychotropic hallucinogens have effects of causing you to have irrational emotions?

-ryan_thorpe, New York

Hi, RT. Yes they do. Hallucinogens produce rapid, intense emotional swings. LSD, peyote, psilocybin, and PCP are drugs that cause hallucinations, which are profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people may see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. LSD, peyote, and psilocybin cause their effects by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. For more info, please go to:  

-Anto Bonci

Can rehab help you get over an addiction to alcohol? How long will it usually take?

-Aveson, California
Absolutely! Rehab certainly can help a person deal with their addiction to alcohol. How long it takes depends on several things, including how serious the problem is and what kind of rehab the person goes to, whether in-patient or out-patient. Most people who treat alcoholism believe that alcoholism is a life-long condition and that a person never really gets over it but, rather, learns to cope with it. 

Here is a link to further information about the signs of alcoholism and suggestions for quitting:


-Aaron White

Can small amounts of alcohol on occasions eventually add up and cause permanent brain damage or memory loss?

-emily_ho, Pennsylvania
Hi Emily. Probably not, but they can produce other kinds of serious problem, such as alcohol addiction or DUI (driving under the influence), which is a major cause of injuries and death. Bottom line, be careful! 
-Anto Bonci

Can smoking help with stress and pain?

-Samniesha, Mississippi

if u are a smoker, smoking will decrease anxiety and might decrease pain; however when u stop smoking the anxiety will be worse and similarly the pain will be exacerbated, which is why smoking is not a good solution 

-Nora Volkow

Can smoking marijuana make you seem to have an all of a sudden hunger issue causing you to constantly eat?

-YOE23, Texas
Marijuana has the properties of an appetite stimulant, which causes an increase in appetite.
Check out the following site for more information on marijuana:
-Joe Frascella

Can smoking tobacco lead to cancer?

-Batman369, New York

Dear Batman...(You would NEVER see Batman smoking) Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It causes many different cancers as well as chronic lung diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis, and heart disease.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking.

Smoking causes many other types of cancer, including cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.

People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Smoking also causes most cases of chronic lung disease.

-Cindy Miner

can smoking weed kill you?

-ilovepandas101, New York
Hi ilovepandas101
thanks for the question.
Not directly. but it can indirectly increase your chances of dying. in case you are curious, more here
hope this makes sense to you.
-Ruben Baler

can snorting kool-aid cause brain damage

-aveson, California
Snorting Kool-Aid...really?!  I don't know that it will cause brain damage, but I know there is high likelihood that it will cause irritation to one's respiratory system! I wouldn't recommend it! 
-Joe Frascella

can some drugs that are considered bad be used for good like treatment in a hospital

-yayme32, Maryland

Yes--there are a number of drugs that have medicinal effects when used properly but can be very dangerous when abused.  The best example is opioids (vicodin, oxycontin), which can be very helpful for treating pain, but can also be very dangerous when not used as prescribed--in fact the number of overdose deaths due to opioid abuse was about 12,000 in 2010.  

-Susan Weiss

Can someone get addicted to an acoholic drink after their first try? even if it is the first time they have ever drank alcohol? is it likely to be zero intolerant to your first drink and get drunk very easily?

-asdfghjkl, Maryland

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

Can steroids affect a girl's period?

-biancaP-p3, Texas

Hi biancaP-p3. Yes, steroids certainly can affect a girl's period. Many steroids are hormones or act like hormones in the body. This is just one way that these dangerous chemicals affect your body.  Thanks for your question!

-Marilyn Huestis

can steroids permanetly make you strong?

-bmorse, New York

no--those effects tend to go away when you stop taking them, but some of the harmful effects can be permanent--e.g., stunted growth, the masculinizing effects in females, such as deepened voice;  and feminizing effects in males.

-Susan Weiss

Can street drugs such as heroin and meth be used recreationally? or are they too addictive?

-SETLAX32, New York

There are people who use drugs occasionally and don't become addicted. In part that depends on their genes and their home/school life.  But that said, there are at least 2 problems with using drugs recreationally--one is that you never know what you are really getting, and whether it might be contaminated with poisonous ingredients.  The second is that some drugs (like heroin and meth) are more addictive than others--depending in part on how they are taken.  Smoking or injecting are among the most dangerous ways because the drugs get to the brain very quickly. And there are other diseases also linked to injecting drugs, such as Hepatitis and AIDS

-Susan Weiss

Can supplements affect growth?

-whiteshoes81, Maryland
Hi whiteshoes.   There is a lot of debate about whether dietary supplements do anything for you.  I have never heard of them making you grow, or stopping growth for that matter.  It's probably better to get everything you need from food! 
-Dave Thomas

Can taking a drug like cocaine or marijuna once potential kill you?

-GEFRE, New York
good question.  My answer is yes, but not necessarily for reasons you might think.  While there are documented cases of people dying from a single exposure to cocaine, there are other indirect ways these and other drugs can have tragic consequences even if you were to just use them once.  Think about it -- drugs impair your judgment, your memory, and how you process information.  If you were to drive a car, or get into a car with a drug-impaired driver, you're seriously increasing your risk of something awful happening.  So it's not just the drug you have to think about -- it's the whole context of the situation and the possible results.  Stay safe and take care!
-Lori Ducharme

Can the effects of drugs, like feeling dizzy or sick to your stomach, last even after you stop doing drugs?

-maryd@aslacadem, New Mexico
Thanks for your thoughtful question.  Most drugs have both short- and long-term harmful effects, although dizziness and nausea are often short-term. However, if the drug has some damaging effects to certain brain areas, long-term dizziness can result. 
You might want to check specific drugs in our teen Drug Facts section: 
-Joe Frascella

can u die from cocaine

-william_yang, New York
Good morning william!
Yes. One can die from the acute effects (intoxication) of cocaine because of its effects on the cardiovascular system: one can suffer heart attacks or strokes, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of the heart stopping (cardiac arrest) followed by an arrest of breathing. In addition, there is an increased risk of death from cocaine due to risk of HIV infection from sharing needles when injecting the drug. Depression during cocaine withdrawal can be dangerous because one can become suicidal. Also important that if you drive, ski or skate under the influence you are increasing your chances of dying or seriously injuring yourself and/or others. In addition to these scenarios, mixing cocaine with alcohol or heroin (or prescription opioids) can also result in death from the additive effects of the drugs. 
Thank you for asking! 
-Geetha Subramaniam

can u die from doing to much Steriods

-mary, California

Hi- thanks for question--Steroid use can result in serious damage to the body including kidney failure, liver damage, and cardiovascular problems. Changes in blood pressure can result in heart attack. Some individuals can also develop serious emotional problems resulting in depression and, in some severe cases, suicide. 

-Jack Stein

can vodka kill you?

-M&M21, Maryland

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. 

If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as "alcohol poisoning."

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

-Aaron White

Are there any positive effects for smoking weed?

-anonymous, California

Great question. Its one that's being debated everywhere. Some states have legalized its use for medical purposed but the FDA has not approved it as medicine. More research is needed though we suspect that some of theTh chemical components of the cannabis plant will be what's most therapeutic. Thanks!

-Jack Stein

Are there any proven negative effects of the coca plant?

-walterjohnson, Maryland

Hey WJ, good question. The answer is yes. Many drugs come from chemicals that exist naturally in plants. Cocaine is derived from coca leaves.  We know that cocaine can produce several short-term adverse effects such as dilated pupils, vasoconstriction, elevated body temperature and increased heart rate. It can even, in rare instances, lead to death.  Find out more about the effects of cocaine and other drugs of abuse at

-Kris Bough

are there any safe drugs that can give you a high

-jd, New York

No safe drugs that we know of, but there are activities you can do that increase dopamine and make you feel good, like going out with friends, exercising, listening to music.  

-Nora Volkow

Are there any substances that people use daily, but don't know they actually contain drugs?

-sandy20, New York

Hi Sandy - this is difficult to answer without knowing the specific substance you are talking about.  However, several possible examples are various herbal products that are available online.  We do not know what many, or most, of these products actually contain.  There are also products out there like bath salts and spice which have drugs sprayed onto them. If you have any doubts or questions the best thing to do is to avoid taking them.  

-Steve Gust

Are there certain drugs that target only certain parts of the brain? For example, cocaine affects dopamine and the limbic system.

-UNIV NorthTexas, Texas

Great question!  The fact that drugs only work on certain parts of the brain (or other parts of the body) is a cornerstone of pharmacology (the study of drugs).   Whether a drugs affects the nerve cells in a certain part of the brain depends on whether the cell contains a protein called a receptor that the drug can attach to.  Receptors have a specific shape and drugs have to have the same shape to fit into the receptor.  Once a drug attaches to a receptor, a sequence of biochemical events are triggered than change the function or even the structure of the nerve cell, and even other nerve cells connected to the initial nerve cell.  So in principle all drug target only certain parts of the brain that contain the proper receptors.  Which parts of brain have those receptors is partly a function of genetics and partly a function of the brain's development and adaptation to events in the environment. Hope this helps.  You can find out more about drugs and receptors at

-Steve Grant

Are there drugs that people take to become less stressed?

-annie, Hawaii

annie: Hello there! Thanks for your question - and the short answer is 'yes.' However, the best answer is to ask you about the source of your stress - school, home, friends. Ideally you want to find solutions to deal with the stress without considering medications. Stress is a normal reaction and sometimes can be beneficial in certain situations. This way, you can solve your way out of many problems on your own, and you might come up with some amazing, creative solutions. If you really think you might benefit from taking medications during a tough time, talk with your parent(s) or a school counselor, who might be able to help link you up with a doctor, who will help you. 

-Denny Pintello

are they going to legalize marijuana

-jackh8, New York
Hey, Jackh8, that's a very complicated question you're asking. Drug laws in the United States--like most laws in our country--can come from different places. There are local, state, and federal laws, and sometimes they're in conflict with each other. Some places--Washington State and Colorado--have made recreational marijuana legal, even though it's still illegal under federal law. There are 20 states and the District of Columbia with medical marijuana laws on the books. Some of these laws were what we call ballot initiatives, where the citizens vote in an election for an issue, and some of them were passed by the state legislatures. Colorado's new marijuana law was passed by the legislature, while Washington's was a ballot initiative.
But the only way for marijuana to become legal in the entire United States is for the US Congress to pass legislation making it so. And they don't currently have any plans to do that.
-Marsha Lopez

Are you guys biased against weed?

-Swankdaddy, California

Maybe--but that's because we understand its harms--especially for young people.

-Susan Weiss