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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Does marihuana really affect your brain? I've seen people who where addicts and don't seem to be affected


Absolutely! When marijuana is inhaled, THC (the chemical in marijuana that causes the "high.") quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries it throughout the body and brain. As it enters the brain, THC attaches to cells, or neurons, with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors. Normally, these receptors are activated by chemicals similar to THC that occur naturally in the body. They are part of a communication network in the brain called the endocannabinoid system. Most of the cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. Marijuana activates the endocannabinoid system, which causes the "high" and stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain's reward centers, reinforcing the behavior. Other effects include changes in mood, lack of coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.

-Michele Rankin

Does marijuana "really" lead to other drugs? What studies suggest it is actually a "gateway drug"?

-tfworldlit, California

Excellent question tf
It can, but so can nicotine and alcohol. There is nothing special about marijuana in this regard. Many addictive drugs change the reward system in the brain so that it becomes more sensitive to the effects of other drugs. So, at your age, I'd stay away from every drug of abuse.
B smart, respect ur brain

-Ruben Baler

Does marijuana cause an bad affect on people to make them look bad ? Does it helps people with cancer ? Is marijuana the most bad smoking type?

-SM, South Carolina

Lots of good questions! Regular marijuana smokers have red, bleary eyes and often smell bad from all the marijuana smoke. The marijuana plant has not been approved by the federal government for the treatment of any medical condition. Some resesarch suggests that some of the active ingredients in marijuana, like THC and cannabidiol (CBD), may help treat some of the symptoms of epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications. A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. However, smoked marijuana is unlikely to be an ideal medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs. There are studies showing that it can affect the developing teen brain, and teens should not use it.

-Carol Krause

Does marijuana destroy brain cells and restrict a person from thinking at times ?

-JE, South Carolina

Hi JE -- Many studies have shown that marijuana produces long-term negative effects on your brain. And yes, it can also produce mental health problems such as increased psychosis, lower IQ, and trouble thinking clearly, just to name a few. Here's a link so you can draw your own conclusions:

-Anto Bonci

Does marijuana give you anxiety, stress, and mood swings, or less feelings of happiness

-LB, Illinois

Hi there - great question Yes it can. There are reports of marijuana users seeking treatment in emergency rooms, reporting unease and shaking, anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations, and in rare cases, extreme psychotic reactions. Marijuana use can also increase risks for accidents and injuries.

-Michele Rankin

Does marijuana help in some cases for adolescents?

-Eline, Illinois

Hi Eline
There is a chemical derived from the cannabis plant called "cannabidiol." This has been found to be effective in treating some rare childhood seizures. Most of the commonly available cannabis/marijuana contains THC, which is addictive and causes a high and has limited health benefit to adolescents or adults.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Does Marijuana make you depressed

-LB, Illinois

Hi LB,
Addiction in general can lead to depression, and yes, this includes marijuana.

To learn more about marijuana's effects, see: Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet:

-Dave Thomas


-Garfield , Illinois

Yes--if you drive while high. Probably not from an overdose, but you are likely to experience other negative effects on mood or your thinking ability.

-Susan Weiss

can you die from using heroin one time

-AshAlk, Maryland

Heroin is a dangerous drug for lots of reasons. In particular, too much heroin can cause an overdose and make you stop breathing. That can happen even if it is your first time using heroin.

-Joshua Gordon

can you die from vaping

-gabi, New Hampshire

Vaping is used for different substances, and there are also dangerous chemicals included in the vaping liquid. Also, vape pens can explode and couse life-threatening injuries! There has been one death attributed to an exploding vape pen: a man in Florida dies in May 2018 from projectiles that entered his head fom an exploding vape pen. It's not worth the risk!

-Emily Jones

can you die if you vape?


Hi there. Thanks for your question. From vaping, probably not. However, directly drinking the liquids in e-cigs can be very dangerous. Someone who vapes, or uses e-cigs, gets exposed to a lot of chemicals, such as nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavor chemicals. Nicotine is addictive, and taking too much nicotine, which are in e-cigs, can make you very sick. Some of the chemicals are known to be harmful, and the safety of most of the others is not known. Unless you are using e-cigs to help you stop smoking, e-cig use should be avoided, especially in teens when their brains are still developing.Check out this link for more info:

-Kevin Walton


-Javares-FVSU4h, Georgia

Yes--depends on the drug, but many of them slow or stop your breathing (e.g., opioids like heroin or fentanyl, alcohol, sedatives like valium).

-Susan Weiss

can you eat weed and is it bad for you

-horse, Oregon

Hi horse,
Any way that you consume marijuana can be harmful to your brain and your body, whether you eat it, smoke it, or vape it. You can get more information here: Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet:

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can you eat weed to get high?

-Superdood, Illinois


-Bethany Deeds

Can you eat weed to get high?

-Superdood, Illinois

Hello SD,
Indeed edible sources of marijuana are increasing available and yes, they do produce a high. These products have been associated with an increase in overdoses in children and pets that get access to them. And, because it is possible to eat these in a short period of time and there is a delay in the onset of the effects, it may be possible to overdose or overuse these products and experience undesirable effects.

-Emily Einstein

Can you forget you forget problems when you are high'


Sure, people may forget about their problems when they're high. Those problems are definitely still there, though, and may feel even worse afterward (they also may actually get worse as a result of using drugs).

-Emily Einstein

can you get addicted to a drug if you have tried it just once?


Thanks for the question, Chachi! Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before that happens. The only way to be sure that a person will never become addicted to a drug if they don't use it.

There are many things that influence whether a person will become addicted. Their biology (a person's genes) and their environment – like whether their friends or family use drugs or positive influences like sports or music – play a role. We also know that the younger someone is when they start to use drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. If you don't use before your brain is fully developed (in your mid 20's) your risk for addiction is MUCH lower!

-Marsha Lopez

Can you get addicted to ADHD medicine

-soup, Oregon

Hi Soup. Do you like soup? The anwser is "Yes.' ADHD medications include amphetamine (Adderall), methamphetamine, and methylphenidate (Ritalin). All of these drugs increase the activity of the dopamine system that is involved in reward and reinforcement. All of these drugs are also considered to have high abuse liability by the Food and Drug Administration. For more information on ADHD clickon this link:

-Dave Thomas

can you get addicted to adhd meds?

-EM, New Hampshire

Hi ella
what a great question.
our research shows that if you have been properly diagnoised with ADHD, you are not more or less likely than the general population to become addicted to the medication. However, if you are using the meds w/o a prescription, your risk of becoming addicted to it go up significantly.
b smart and stay healthy

-Ruben Baler

Can you get addicted to anxiety/adhd meds

-Foxtrot15, Illinois

Hi Foxtrot15 - Many medications for anxiety and ADHD have only a small risk of addiction as long as they are taken as they were prescribed - so it's always important to follow instructions from your doctor. If you're worried about becoming addicted there are some ADHD medications with very low (almost no) addiction risk (like Vyvanse or Strattera). Overall though, research shows that teens with ADHD who are prescribed effective medication for ADHD and take it properly actually have a lower risk of ever becoming addicted to any drugs than teens with ADHD who never receive ADHD treatment.

-Roger Sorensen

can you get addicted to cold medicine

-CardiBeenKnown, Illinois

Hi CardiBeenKnown: Soooooo, cough and cold medicines should be taken as directed on the label. They can safely treat symptoms caused by colds and flu. If they are taken in higher quantities or when such symptoms aren't present, they may affect the brain in ways very similar to illegal drugs, and can even lead to addiction.

BTW, Best of luck on your grammy nomiation this year CardiB

-Ruben Baler

Can you get addicted to smoking marijuana?

-Jovia, California

Hi Jovia,
This is a great question. YES. Cannabis products (marijuana, oils, waxes) can be addictive. When people get addicted to cannabis, they end up spending a lot of time using cannabis, keep using it even if it causes health problems (like a bad cough or asthma), need to increase the amount they use to get high and may have withdrawal symptoms when they stop or cut down on cannabis. This means that when they try to quit or reduce their usage, they may have trouble sleeping or concentrating, have a bad mood, or have trouble sleeping, and may have major cravings to use again. Here's a link to some information about cannabis that you may find helpful.

-Wilson Compton

can you get addicted to vape if you only try it?


Thanks for your question! We have seen lots of questions about vaping! We still don't know all the effects of vaping because they haven't been around as long as "combustible" cigarettes. One thing we worry about with vaping is that they may lead to nicotine addiction and this might cause some people to start using regular cigarettes, which can cause cancer. Check out these resources on e-cigs – 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.

-Mary Kautz

Can you get addicted to Vaping?

-Wiley Wildcat, Illinois

Hi again Wiley Wildcat. The answer to your question is Possibly. Most e-cigs contain nicotine, and often they are able to deliver as much nicotine to the person who vapes as someone would get from smoking a cigarette. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical, so the e-cig user could become addicted. Unless the person who vapes is using e-cigs to help them stop their smoking habit, e-cigs should be avoided. The teen years are critical for brain development, which continues into young adulthood. Nicotine affects the development of the brain's reward system, so continued e-cigarette use can lead to nicotine addiction.

-Kevin Walton

Can you get effects from second-hand inhaling juuls

-favianberganza, North Carolina

Thank you for joining us, favianberganza! Many of the chemicals, such as propylene glycol, glycerin, nicotine, chemical flavorings, and others, in the Juul liquid are still present in the vapor. If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, inhaling the secondhand vapor may make your symptoms worse. Use this opportunity to talk to the people around you about protecting their health AND yours by quitting using Juuls. To learn more about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigs, see

-Aaron White

can you get hi on salvia?


Great question!

The effects of salvia are not well studied. You can learn more about what we do know about Salvia here:

-Vani Pariyadath

can you get high from eating weed if so will it make your breath smell bad

-GW, Maryland

Hi GW! This is an interesting question. In states that have legalized marijuana, there are stores that sell "edibles" which can come in all types of candies and baked goods. Eating these products do cause a high, however, it is easy to eat too much, because it takes longer to feel the effects. That has put a lot of people into the emergency room with bad symptoms, especially children. There has been at least one death of a toddler reported because the parents left edibles around the house, and the toddler ate them. "high". Smoking marijuana probably causes your breath to smell worse than edible marijuana.

-Michelle Leff

Can you get high off of elmer's glue?

-Chapoopoo, Illinois

Hi Chapoopoo
I think that elmer's is water based. so i think it's unlikely. The closer to an industrial strength glue you get the more dangerous it is. It is a bad idea to huff any volatile solvent.

stay healthy

-Ruben Baler

Can you get high off of huffing gasoline?

-Superdood, Illinois

Thanks for your question Superdood. Gasoline is a household item that can be aubused by hudding/sniffing. It can produce hallucinatory effects and (not to mention hazardous effects too) on your brain and body. Here is link to learn more about inhallants:

-Steve Gust

can you get high off of huffing paint?

-wave check 1, Illinois

Hi Wave,
Yes, Huffing paint can deprive your brain of oxygen and can damage your brain, but can also make you light headed which some call a "high."

-Dave Thomas