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 doctors give u a personal card to be able to smoke mary jane

-alyssa143, Texas

Hi alyssa143, yes, in some states doctors are permitted to recommend marijuana for medical reasons but most states only allow this for adults.

-Maureen Boyle

Can doing drugs affect your vision permanetley

-AceFlash225, Illinois

Hello AceFlash225 - Interesting question. Most drugs don't effect eyesight or vision. However, cocaine and some other drugs can cause a stroke which may affect eyesight.

-Wilson Compton

Can doing drugs while being pregnant hurt the baby?

-Papa Johns, New York

Hi Papa Johns! because the mother and her growing fetus share the same circulatory system, whatever substances the mother takes also goes to the baby. As you can imagine, the fetus is rapidl,y developing and all of these biological processes can be impacted by the presence of drugs. The severity of birth defects experienced depends on what substances the mother takes, how long, etc.

-Michele Rankin

Can doing inhalants permanently damage your body from doing daily activities?

-imoeez, Texas

Hi Imoeez

YES ! Sniffing glue or other volitile chemicals like gasoline, paint, permanent markers, or other aerosols is extremely dangerous. These drugs damage the brain and lungs, and the damage may be irreversible. Even when you are using a volatile chemical for its intended purpose, you should always wear a protective mask.
There's more info here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/inhalants

-Belinda Sims

Can drinking a sip of alcohol cause you to become addicted to it?

-Vestavia Hills , Alabama

hey Vestavia Hills, No, a single sip is unlikey to get you intoxicated or to initiate an addiction.

-Maureen Boyle

Can drinking affect giving birth?

-GPonce, Texas

We're not sure whether it can affect actually giving birth, but it definitely can effect the development of a fetus in the womb during pregnancy. Alcohol can disrupt fetal development at any stage during a pregnancy – including at the earliest stages and before a woman knows she is pregnant. Research shows that binge drinking, which means consuming four or more drinks per occasion, and regular heavy drinking put an unborn baby at the greatest risk for severe problems.

-Aaron White

can drinking smoking and inhaling things kill you?

-hansley, Texas

Yes, yes and yes. One can overdose from drinking, smoking and inhaling drugs. Plus, taking drugs in these ways can also cause diseases which can cause death in the future. take a look at this resource for a lot of great info:https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science

-Dave Thomas

can drinking to much have long term effects

-n.r.s., Illinois

Long-term effects of alcohol abuse include accidents, injury, alcohol dependence, vulnerability to psychiatric disorders and even brain damage. Chronic alcohol abuse can also cause liver disease and other organ damage, weaken the immune system, and contribute to cancers.

-Aaron White

Can drinking too much alcohol while pregnant effect the baby?

-bill nye, New York

Exposure to alcohol in the womb during pregnancy can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today. Basically, it is never safe to drink any alcohol when you're pregnant. You can learn more about the dangers of drinking while you're pregnant here: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/FASDFactsheet/FASDfact.htm

-Aaron White

can drudgs give you hiv

-erice, Texas

Hey erice, great question! Injecting drugs is a major risk factor for HIV and so are the risky behaviors that tend to go along with drug use - including unprotected sex.

-Maureen Boyle

can drug addiction be genetic?

-gracek, New York

Hi GraceK, great question. Family studies that include identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings suggest that as much as half of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs depends on his or her genetic makeup. Pinning down the biological basis for this risk is an important avenue of research for scientists trying to solve the problem of drug addiction. for more information please take a look at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-ad...

-Anto Bonci

can drugs affect female reproductive organs?

-karlenes1, New York

Hi karlenes1
Yes, they can.
For example, long-time use of heroin or prescription pain pills such as oxycodone can result in irregular menstual cycles and sometime stop periods for long periods of time. This can lead to infertility.
Drug use also leads to impaired decision making that can put people at risk for sexually transmitted infections through unprotected sex. Some of these infections can lead to infertility and irreversible damage to the female reproductive system.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Can drugs affect your breathing?

-eb09, New York

Hey eb09- Drugs can absolutely affect your breathing. The most dangerous example is when opioid drugs, such as heroin or prescription pain relievers, slow down breathing rate so much that it stops completely, which can result in death. Benzodiazepines (such as valium or xanax) and alcohol also slow down breathing rate, so it's especially dangerous to take these drugs in combination.

-Emily Einstein

Can drugs affect your drawing skills?

-wtran, Texas

this has not been studied

-Nora Volkow

can drugs affected you brain cells

-kayla baiely, Texas

Yes depending on the drug you use it can affect some cells more than others. For some of the drugs like nicotine it can activate brain cells while you are smoking but then they become sluggish when you stop.

For other drugs. like cocaine and meth they can damage the cells because they can produce strokes or hemorrhages.

heroin and opaite analgesis cna also damage cells by interfering with breathing and elivery of Oxygen to the brain

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs and alcohol increase your chance of suicidal thoughts and/or depression?

-kphung, Texas

Hi kphung - Yes. People who use drugs, especially those with addiction, are at increased risk for suicide. This is one of the worst parts of drug use.Please see these helpful publications on depression: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml and what to do if yoru teen has problem with drugs: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs.

-Wilson Compton

Can drugs be used as medicine

-Andrew sims, Alabama

Absolutely, medicines are drugs. But some medicines can be abused. Here's some more info on that: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescript....

-Dave Thomas

Can drugs be used for good purposes?

-jbofill, Texas

hey jbofill, yes, many drugs are used as medicines. When a drug is effective for treating medical conditions it is approved by the FDA. If it is also addictive these medicines are regulated by the DEA to try to prevent their misuse.

-Maureen Boyle

Can drugs be used for suicide???

-Jmurray, Texas

Hi Jmurray--yes, but if you or someone you know have any thoughts of suicide, the first thing to do is talk to someone you trust--a parent, friend, teacher, counselor, for example--or call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (or chat: http://chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx)! There is always a way to get help so that someone can feel better.

-Charlotte Armstrong

can drugs effect a woman's pregnancy

-katniss, Texas

Every drug a pregnant woman takes also reaches her baby. The ways in which the baby can be affected depends on the drug the mother takes, how much she uses, and when in pregnancy she uses. For example, research suggests that women who smoke marijuana while pregnant are at higher risk for having a baby born at a lower birth weight. Drug use in pregnancy can also increase the risk of premature birth. But the good news is that the sooner a pregnant woman stops using drugs, the better the results for her baby. You can read more at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby.

-Emily Einstein

Can drugs effect you playing sports

-Genaro@gentryjs, Texas

yes repeated use of drugs interferes with the motor center in the brain that can lead interfere with fast reflexes and good coordination. This is most negative for high level athletes for it can lead to tthem loosing hte edge over their competitors

-Nora Volkow

can drugs get you to death??

-DMM, Illinois

hey DMM, yes, there were over 52,000 drug overdose deaths in 2015.

-Maureen Boyle

can drugs harm your emotions

-Tyrese FVSU 4_H, Georgia

Hi Tyrese,

Yes, drugs have a strong effect on emotions. Dr. Geoge Koob, head of the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism, has called the effects of drugs on emotions "The Dark Side of Addiction". Taking drugs may make you feel good in the short term, but his research indicates that the longer you take drugs, the more you are likely to feel stressed and feel bad when not taking drugs. He has proposed that this dark side of drug use leads to a vicious cycle of taking more drugs to get rid of the stress, which turns into being more stressed out when you are not taking drugs.For more info: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Steve Grant

can drugs increase your chance of contracting an STD/STI?

-Patty, Minnesota

Smart question. I have a simple answer. Absolutely. When you are high, you are not thinking straight and make a lot of poor choices. Other people can take advantage of you.

-Michele Rankin

can drugs lead to cancer?

-Wmills, New Hampshire

Dear Wmills,

Drugs do increase the risk for many types of cancer. Tobacco contains many chemicals, and alcohol is also a risk factor for certain types of cancer, including breast and ovarian cancer. There is no safe drug. All you have to do is not use drugs to avoid the risks. Here is more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/medical-consequences-drug-abuse/cancer,
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer

-Roger Little

can drugs lead to mental health issues

-oscar, Texas

Drugs can of course lead to addiction, which I think of as a mental health issue. Also, many people who are addicted to drugs also have other mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Whether the drugs caused those illnesses can be difficult to figure out. But regardless of whether the drugs caused the mental health issues or not, treatments aimed at both the addiction and the other mental health issues work better than trying to treat either one alone.

-Josh Gordon

can drugs lead to mental health issues?

-hello123, New York

hello hello

yes. For example, long-term marijuana use is associated with impaired intellectual functioning and IQ decline when usage starts during the teen years. This includes a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. However it is not yet clear whether marijuana use directly causes these issues or just makes them worse. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis. Marijuana intoxication can, in rare cases, produce a temporary psychosis, and it may play a role in the development of schizophrenia in some people carrying a certain genetic risk. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or mild mental illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above.

-Ruben Baler

can drugs lead to metal health issues?

-hello123, New York

Hello to hello 123! This is a great question - and many scientists are looking into this as we write. Some recent studies have suggested that marijuana is linked to psychiatric disorders - and here is a link that will provide helpful information: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/there-...

Overall, some drugs can enhance anxiety, sadness, hallucinations - yet this does not mean that the person has a mental illness. Maybe you can become a researcher and help definitively answer this question!

-Denny Pintello

can drugs lead to mistakes

-C.J.S 33, Indiana

Hi C.J.S 33
I believe you can make mistakes without drugs too. Ha ha!
But to answer your question - it increases the chance that you make "mistakes" because drug use negatively affects ones memory, emotion, judgement, etc. When your mind is not clear because you are intoxicated, you are capable of making mistakes you would not make if you were sober.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Can drugs lead to obesity?

-KanekiSenpai <3, Illinois

Not directly in fact many of the drugs decrease your appetite. However once you stop taking them, your risk for gaining weight is higher, in part because people compensate by overeating sweets and other foods high in calories.

-Nora Volkow

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