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 drugs have other really bad effects other than overdose?

-Wiley Wildcat, Illinois

Great question Wiley! Some drugs like tobacco can damage you slowly and lead to diseases like cancer. Drugs like alcohol can impair your coordination and lead to devastating accidents like drunk driving. And nearly all can lead to addiction which destroy lives. Why take a chance? For more information on different drugs check out: www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts.

-John Satterlee

Can drugs help calm down people with ocd?

-lc203,

There are several prescription medicines that can be helpful with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Psychotherapy also helps. But there is no evidence that illicit drugs help. So see a doctor for helpful treatments. To learn more about OCD, visit: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd...

-Joshua Gordon

Can drugs help me end my depression?

-kcocdestroyer62,

Hi there kcocdestroyer 62! Hmmm - I am not sure if you are asking about legal drugs or illegal drugs. Legal depression medications can certainly do a great job in treating the symptoms of the disorder, but they don't always reduce the symptoms entirely. However, depressive symptoms can go away or become more manageable, and often medication and/or talk therapy can truly help in treating these symptoms. Always speak with your doctor or mental health professional before beginning new medications. Illegal drugs, unfortunately, can interfere with treatment or recovery from depression. For more info, on treatment and therapies for depression, visit: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml#part_145399

-Denny Pintello

can drugs help with suicidal thoughts and can they help with depression

-wolf333, Oregon

Hi wolf333, Yes, there are many different medicines, called anti-depressants, that a doctor can prescribe to treat suicidal thoughts and depression. But illegal drugs, like marijuana or opioids, for example, can make mental health symptoms worse so please avoid those. If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, the first thing to do is find a trusted adult - like a parent, coach, counselor or teacher - and ask for help. You can also check out these resources: Teen Depression (Brochure): www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml and www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255. This is the SAMHSA mental health helpline and a trained professional will answer your call.

-Kristen Huntley

Can drugs increase your brain capacity?

-Pelooon,

What an interesting question! Drugs can't really make you smarter if that's what you mean. Some medications like adderall can help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) think more clearly and focus, but could cause increased heart rate, fast breathing, and breathlessness in others. Adderall prescriptions are matched to a person's needs, and should only be used as prescribed. Check out these myths about ADHD drugs.

-Michele Rankin

can drugs kill you? Is weed bad for you?

-TY, New Mexico

Hi, TY! Great question! And important too! Yes, drugs can kill you. Many people die from drug overdoses; in 2017, over 70,000 people died in the US.

Marijuana has negative effects on your body and brain, especially for teens, since the brain doesn't finish developing until you are in your mid-20s. More info on marijuana is found here: Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Emily Jones

can drugs make people wanna kill themsekfs

-gianna.may, New Hampshire

Illicit drugs raise the risk of suicide. More than half of people who die by suicide have alcohol or drugs in their blood at the time of death! If you are already depressed or having suicidal thoughts, get help and don't use drugs or alcohol. If you have suicidal thoughts while taking a drug, stop taking the drug, and get help right away from a friend or trusted adult. People having suicidal thoughts can also get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, 24/7 (you'll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area).

-Joshua Gordon

Can drugs make you gay?

-AOV,

Nope.

-Susan Weiss

Can drugs, smoking and vaping be linked with depression?

-122333444455555, Illinois

Some illicit drugs can cause you to feel depressed -- like alcohol when you're intoxicated or cocaine when you're withdrawing. But if you are feeling depressed a lot of the time, for a couple of weeks or more, its probably something else and you should seek help from a doctor or other responsible adult. To learn more about depression in teens, visit: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml

-Joshua Gordon

can easily accessible painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen become addictive and, if so, what damage can they do?

-bear, Oregon

Hello Bear,
These painkillers do not have addiction liability but they can be toxic to your liver if taken at doses beyond those advised on the label or if taken with alcohol, so following recommend doses is very important!

-Roger Little

can eating disorders be linked to drug abuse

-default skin, Illinois

Some people with eating disorders also have problems with drugs. If you have both, you need treatment for both! So it is really important to be open and honest with your doctor and other people you trust in order to make sure you get all the help you need. To learn more about eating disorders, visit: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml.

-Joshua Gordon

Can food be a drug?

-wiskilukan,

Hi there
such a great question. I have even published several papers that explore the overlaps between obesity and addiction. They are not the same but they do have similarities, definitely. If this connection worries you, you should consult your primary physician who would be in the best position to diagnose and treat any mental or physical disorder.
Thanks for the interest and best luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

can huff spray paint and get high and possibly die

-lemur, Illinois

Hi lemur! Unfortunately yes, even after one use, by

  • sudden sniffing death—heart beats quickly and irregularly, and then suddenly stops (cardiac arrest)
  • asphyxiation—toxic fumes replace oxygen in the lungs so that a person stops breathing
  • suffocation—air is blocked from entering the lungs when inhaling fumes from a plastic bag placed over the head
  • convulsions or seizures—abnormal electrical discharges in the brain
  • coma—the brain shuts down all but the most vital functions
  • choking—inhaling vomit after inhalant use
  • injuries—accidents, including driving, while intoxicated
-Michele Rankin

can i be too much of a gamer and suffer acholoholism

-assEater420, Oregon

It's possible for anyone to develop alcoholism. People who have other addictions are sometimes more likely to develop alcoholism. Being aware of one's possible risk for alcohol use disorder is an important first step in avoiding it.

-Aaron White

can i die from eating too much chocolate because of all the endorphins in it

-AW, Montana

No

-Ruben Baler

Can I die from smoking weed

-bfost123, Maryland

Hi bfost123: Most drugs can cause overdose and death if taken in high enough quantities. They can also cause death from accidents as a result of driving while being high -see this link for more information -- https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving. Marijuana can also cause a variety of health effects, including learning, attention and memory problems, increased heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, and even psychosis in some cases.

-Bethany Deeds

Can I eat nicotine?

-Dr. Mudbone, Illinois

Thank you for joining us, Dr. Mudbone! We would not recommend eating nicotine, as it is toxic, and can cause nausea and vomiting. Quick facts about tobacco, nicotine and e-cigarettes: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes.

-Mary Rooney

can I get high off zoloft and/or prozac and if so should I be scared when my psychiatrist bumps up my dose

-meemee sugar, Oregon

Hello,

No. With prescription drugs like Zoloft and/or Prozac, the dose often has to be increased gradually to a dose that works best for your body. This might go on for weeks until an optimal dose is reached. The dose and response to the medicine will be different for everyone, so try not to compare your dose with others. If you are unsure about how much your doctor is going to raise your dose, or concerned the dose is too high, it's a good idea to ask them or your pharmacist. Also, don't stop taking the drug suddenly either, since medicines like Zoloft and/or Prozac have to be tapered off gradually as well to avoide adverse reactions.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can i have consecuences after quiting smoking or alcohol?

-AADPDT3,

Long term health effects may persist even after someone quits smoking or drinking alcohol, but in general, outcomes are better the sooner someone quits and the longer they refrain from smoking or drinking.

-Emily Einstein

can I inject marijuana?

-Blueface Baby, Washington

Hi Blueface -- Thanks for the question. Since marijuana is a plant, there is no way it could be injected. Marijuana is usually smoked, or sometimes vaped or put into food or beverages. For more information on the negative effects, see our booklet, Marijuana: Facts for Teens: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Aaron White

can I over dose on gummy vitamins

-BB, Montana

Hi B,
Had to Google this one. Apparently you can. For example, too much vitamin A may result in toxicity and could cause serious problems. Some of the symptoms that have been reported with high doses of vitamin A include drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and fatigue.

Thanks for the question. I learned something!

-Roger Little

Can I swallow an entire bottle of ibuprofen?

-Jeff, Illinois

Not a good idea Jeff!!! Will make you sick and could cause acute organ failure. If you are seeking pain from serious pain, I would go to a doctor...

-Vani Pariyadath

can kids get additive to drug if they take i one time?

-samari-fvsu4h, Georgia

Hi Samari
This is a great question. A common principle is to avoid using addictive or habit forming substances even once, to reduce the risk of becoming addicted. There are some drugs that have a high addiction potential - e.g. nicotine/cigarettes, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin or other opioids where the risk of liking the drug a lot and wanting to use it again/repeatedly is quite high. This then develops into a habit.

All the best!

-Geetha Subramaniam

Can love actually be like a drug?

-Anon, Illinois

Hi Anon,
Great question. Never thought abouot this before quite this way.
But I guess love CAN be like a drug. We need to remember though that drugs can be good or bad. So, I think that healthy "love" can be like a good drug (like a medication that makes you stronger or a vaccine that prevents disease). But other forms of what some might call "love" can include psychological or physical abuse, mistreatment, and even dependence. This type of love (the one that involves toxic relationships) is more similar to a heroin or meth addiction.
B smart B healthy.

-Ruben Baler

can marijuana alcohol vape or heroine cause autism

-wave check 1, Illinois

No.

-Eric Murphy

Can marijuana be an addictive drug? and is it bad for you? and if it is bad for you then why do hospitals and doctors prescribe it for patients? or like why is there a green card?

-XG, Montana

Hello! Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately. The marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition. There is early research suggesting that some of the active ingredients in marijuana, like THC and cannabidiol (CBD), may potentially help treat things like 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 or weight loss in patients with AIDS. Also, FDA approved a CBD-based liquid medication for the treatment of two forms of severe childhood epilepsy However, smoked marijuana is unlikely to be an ideal medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of misuse and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs.

-Heather Kimmel

can marijuana kill you?

-Natalie , New Hampshire

Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol or opioids do.

-Emily Einstein

Can marijuana really affect your brain and school productivity as people say ?

-Lxam10, Maryland

Yes, there are a lot of studies showing that marijuana can affect your brain. The good news is that if you stop using marijuana, your brain may recover, but remember that the teen brain is especially vulnverable because it is still developing, and drugs and alcohol can case permanent harm to the developing brain. See this easy-to-read booklet about the effects of marijuana on teen health. Marijuana: Facts for Teens booklet: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/letter-to-teens

-Carlos Blanco

Can marijuana shrink cancer cells?

-theboyz, Illinois

Hi theboyz -- Thanks for the question. There are a couple studies of cancer cells in a dish that suggest that some components of cannabis might stop cancer-cell growth. However, I'm not aware of any well-controlled studies in cancer patients that suggest marijuana use can shrink cancer cells or cure cancer.

-Steve Gust

Can marijuana treat aids?

-Chungus, Illinois

That's a really interesting question. There are medicines made with some of the same chemicals we see in marijuana that help with their nausea and severe weight loss. . However, we are also interested in whether marijuana (or some of its ingredients) might have an effect on the disease, because it does act on the immune system which is the target of the HIV virus. But until we know more, it is important for teens to stay away fro marijuana because of affects on the developing brain.

-Susan Weiss