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 on drugs kill a whole town in cold blood?

-CC, Indiana

Hi CC,
Hopefully not. But some drugs can increase people's risk of violence or aggression. Alcohol is one such drug, and violent or suicidal behavior has been reported in people on "bath salts" (synthetic cathinones) and K2/Spice products (synthetic cannabinoids).

-Eric Wargo

can people vape weed? and why are drugs illegal?

-Matthew G, Texas

Yes, extracts of marijuana or high THC concentrates can raplace nicotine in an e-cigarette be vaped.
The question of drug legality is a complex one. Different countries handle this question differently, but i think it is fair to say that policy makers are mostly concerned with promoting and preserving the health of the public, particularly the most vulnerable or at risk populations., like adolescents, the elderly, and mentally ill or decision impaired individuals.

-Ruben Baler

Can people who are addicted not be addicted after awhile?

-Natalie, Texas

Yes, if someone is addicted to a drug they can get treatment and eventually stop using the drug. But it's better not to start using! For more info on drug abuse and treatment, see:https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-you-hav...

-Will Aklin

can perks make you lose eyesight

-11147, New Jersey

Good question.

Common side effects of opioid administration include sedation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, tolerance, and respiratory depression. Physical dependence and addiction are clinical concerns that may prevent proper prescribing and in turn inadequate pain management. Less common side effects may include delayed gastric emptying, hyperalgesia, immunologic and hormonal dysfunction, muscle rigidity, and myoclonus. The most common side effects of opioid usage are constipation (which has a very high incidence) and nausea. Pain Physician 2008; 11:S105-S120

-Dave Thomas

Can pot effect brain developement???

-lawlerc, Minnesota

yes because it interferes with the cannabinoid receptors in your brain that are invovled in how brain cells get connected with one another and form circuits,

-Nora Volkow

Can prescribed drugs cause depression or death?

-tammiabante, Illinois

Yes, opiate analgesics can cause death by overdose (stops your breathing).

Prescribed drugs, if used at higehr quanitities and frequency than prescribed medically, can lead to addiction and make you vulnerable to depression or what we calll the dark side of addiction.

-Nora Volkow

Can prescription drugs ever be addictive?

-meep, New York

Hi meep, yes, prescription drugs, including opioids (oxycontin, vicodin, etc), stimulants (adderall, modafinil, etc), and sedatives (Xanax, etc) can be just as addictive as street drugs. You should only take these when prescribed by a doctor and follow your doctors instructions on how to take them.

-Maureen Boyle

Can prescription drugs kill you ?

-cperez, Texas

Hey anarvaez, prescription drugs, including opioids (oxycontin, vicodin, etc), stimulants (adderall, modafinil, etc), and sedatives (Xanax, etc) can be just as addictive as street drugs and early 30,000 people died in 2015 from overdosing on prescription medications.

-Maureen Boyle

Can second hand smoking kill you.

-Jonathan R, Pennsylvania

Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to 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. You might find this blog post helpful (it gives statistics for the number of people who die from effects of secondhand smoke): https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/secondhand-smoke-exposed-more-than-you-think

-Kevin Walton

can second-hand smoking increase the chances of someone else getting addicted?

-anguyen, Texas

This is a very interesting question, anguyen. We know that exposure to second-hand tobacco increases health problems like lung cancer and emphysema, but the link to addiction is not so clear. It's hard to know if the reason someone becomes addicted may be because of their genetic risk or the risks from second-hand exposure in the home. For other drugs (like marijuana smoke), we need more information about the effects of second hand smoke.

-Wilson Compton

can second-hand smoking make someone also get addicted to smoking?

-anguyen, Texas

Dear anguyen, when you are exposed to secondhand smoke, you are not exposed to nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco products. However, it's important to remember that more than 41,000 people who don't smoke in the United States die every year from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Try not to be around others who are smoking and keep control of your health!

-Heather Kimmel

can second-hand smoking make someone also get addicted to smoking?

-anguyen, Texas

Hi Anguyen,

Yes, you can get addicted (and also develop cancer) from secondhand smoke. That is why it is very important to avoid secondhand smoke and to make sure that other people do not get exposed to secondhand smoke.

-Carlos Blanco

Can small amounts of alcohol, specifically red wine, actually have beneficial effects on your body?

-loooooogan, New York

Hi, Looooooogan. Yes, some studies have shown beneficial effects of moderate alcohol use on stroke, heart disease and diabetes. More studies are under way. Other dietary factors may also contribute to the health benefits associated with moderate consumption of red wine. It's possible that the health benefits are just from the alcohol and not some other component of the wine.

-Aaron White

can smoking make you stop breathing for good eventually

-dgarza, Texas

Hello dgarza,
Absolutely, cigarette smoking can make you stop breathing for "good." That's what will happen when years of smoking causes death from lung cancer. It is very sad to see that happen to someone, especially a family member or friend. I lost my brother-in-law to lung cancer a few months ago. He'd smoked for many many years and the cancer spread from his lungs to many parts of his body. In his last few weeks of life, it was so sad to see the horrible effects smoking on his body and his life.. I also lost my mother and sister to lung cancer due to smoking several years ago. Please do not start smoking. You will never regret not smoking. But if you do start smoking, then you could live to regret it and then die from it,

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can social anxiety take over your life? And if so how do you deal with it?

-kudeh, Texas

Social anxiety can definitely disrupt how you do in school, with friends, and really most aspects of life since other people are everywhere. Learn more here: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-mor...

-Susan Borja

Can some drugs be used for medicine?

-Ailed@gentryjs, Texas

Yes, many medicines can be, unfortunately, misused. Pain medication for example can be very effective in treating pain. They are often made up of powerful substances (opioids) that can be addictive. If not used as prescribed, major problems can arise.

Thanks for asking!

Dr. J

-Jack Stein

can some people be more prone to addiction and alcoholism?

-nikkinikkilo, Maryland

Yup, there is a certain portion of addiction that is genetically mediated. One is not born as a person with substance use disorder, but there are people that are more prone to addiction. The good news is that one can defeat this genetic predisposition by not starting!

-Dave Thomas

Can someone be immune to the side affects of drugs?

-aluo, Texas

Based on the genetics, many people are naturally immune to certain bacteria and viruses. But in the case of drugs, some people are more resistant or tolerant to the side effects than others.

-Jag Khalsa

can someone become addicted to secondhand smoke ?

-melissa, Ohio

Great question Melissa! While you can't get addicted to smoke secondhand, secondhand smoke exposes people to the dangerous chemicals found in inhaled smoke: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/secondhand-smoke-exposed-more-than-you-think

-Kevin Walton

Can steroids give you achne?

-chill, Texas

most definitely, but see my video for more adverse effects :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Ruben Baler

Can steroids kil you?

-NBG, Other

Hey NBG- Recreational use of steroids can kill you, though the risk is very small. Other risks of steroid use are far more common. The steroids sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height. It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male). If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Emily Einstein

Can steroids kill you at some point.

-Cmorrissey, New Hampshire

Hey Cmorrissey- Recreational use of steroids can kill you, though the risk is very small. Other risks of steroid use are far more common. The steroids sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height. It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male). If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Ynf2kPNIc.

-Emily Einstein

can steroids lead to abuse?

-ashleyvelasquez, California

Yes, you can become addicted to steroids when you use it outside medical indications

-Nora Volkow

Can steroids shrink parts of your body

-Billy Bob Joe, Illinois

Hey Billy Bob Joe; thanks for the question. Yes, taking anabolic steroids can enlarge muscles, but the drug can also cause a number of unwanted side effects, including increased breast size and decreased penis/scrotum size. I've attached a web link that gives information related to steroid misuse. Check it out here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/anabolic-steroids.

-Michael Baumann

can teenagers die from smoking

-gilberto fvsu 4, Georgia

Dear gilberto fvsu 4 - thank you for writing. Absolutely! Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death of people of ALL ages. If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today.

-Heather Kimmel

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

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