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 affect someone's mental illness? i.e depression, schizophrenia, BPD, bipolar.

-16165, New Jersey

Hi 16165,
Yes, drugs can definitely affect someone's mental illness. I assume you are asking about illegal or street drugs, which are often used by individuals with mental health issues because they can temporarily reduce some of the negative feelings that their illness causes. Unfortunately, using these drugs can often make the symptoms of these disorders worse over time, as they teach the brain to respond the wrong way to these feelings. However, it is worth noting that properly prescribed medications for these disorders are also drugs, but ones that are specifically designed to help people with mental illnesses. To learn about mental health medications, visit:

-Eric Murphy

can drugs affect your nervous system?

-dj nini,

Hi DJ - Yes, absolutely. While some medicines affect different parts of the body, pretty much all drugs of abuse affect the nervous system, and by that I mean the brain! For some additional information, you might want to check out "Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction":

-Steve Gust

Can morphine used for medical first aid, be considered a drug, and if so what are the effects it holds?


Yes, morphine is a drug. It can be misused, but for first aid, it can be a powerful pain treatment. I got it years ago when I blew out my knee. Helped alot with the initial pain.

-Dave Thomas

Can mushrooms become addicting?

-DW, Washington

Hi, dwatckins@masd20! We still do not know the degree to which mushroons and hallucinogens are additive. However, we do know that mushrooms have harmful effects such as hallucinations, panic attackes, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Long-term consequences of mushroom use can be risk of flashbacks and memory problems. And remember, there is the risk of poisoning if you eat the wrong mushroom. Thanks for the question!

-Roger Sorensen

Can my penis have an erection while on the effects on drugs?


Interesting question elrabidd. Drugs like alcohol can interfere with erections and impair coordination leading to devastating accidents like drunk driving. Tobacco can damage you slowly and lead to cancer. Heroin, cocaine or misused prescription drugs can cause overdose and death even the first time you use them. And nearly all can lead to addiction which destroy lives. Why take a chance?

-John Satterlee

Can my penis size decrease by the use of drugs?


Hi Kcocdestroyer62, Thanks for your question. Many different lifestyle choices can affect the size of a penis--weight gain, aging, or side effects of some medications your doctor may prescribe. Anabolic steroids have been shown to reduce breast growth and cause shrinking of testicles and there has been some data that indicate that smokers had shorter erect penises, compared to men who did not smoke. Researchers believe this is because smoking inhibits blood flow, preventing the penis from stretching, which might reduce penis length. See for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben's video:

-Bethany Deeds

can my phone b a drug

-BMS, Oklahoma

This is an excellent question. There is a lot of debate about cellphone usage and whether people can be "addicted" to their phones. If you feel that you are on your phone much more than you should be, and that it affects your quality of life (like your grades are affected or your friends are getting tired of you being on your phone all the time) and that you use your phone even in dangerous situations because you can't stop (like having to look at your phone or texting while driving), then you may have a problem. Some people, if they think they are using their phones too much, make specific times when they do not look at their phones (like 4-6pm every day). Hope this helps!

-Michelle Leff

can Nyquil give you a high or drunk feeling

-whitney-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi whitney-FVSU4H, thanks for the question! There are some things in the medicine cabinet at home, or available without a prescription at the drugstore, that can impact your brain. Nyquil is a cold reliever and sleep medicine and it might make you tired. It is not wise to misuse any drug--even those that might be found in your medicine cabinet. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure you are getting enough exercise during the day.

-Emily Jones

can over the counter painkillers make you high

-wolf333, Oregon

Hello Wolf333,
No, but they can be toxic. Take all prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) medicine as directed on the label or by a doctor.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can people get a mental illness from drugs? -Grace

-gracecollins, New Jersey

Tricky question. For the most part, illicit drugs do not usually cause mental illnesses. However, illicit drugs can reveal or unmask illnesses. For example, someone may not know they have depression or bipolar disorder until they have a strong reaction to a drug. Also, there is some evidence that smoking marijuana, especially when you're a child or teenager, can raise the risk of developing schizophrenia -- a very serious mental illness. We're not 100% sure about this connection but the data so far are concerning.

-Joshua Gordon

can people go without herion for a day or is it a getaway drug ?

-Demerius-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi De.
if someone is addicted to a drug, it would be very difficult for him/her to go a day w/o the drug. Any drug, under some circumstance can work as a gateway drug.

-Ruben Baler

can drugs cause aggression and anger

-default skin, Illinois

Hello default skin! Absolutely..this is one of the more difficult side effects of drugs. Of course, people are different and react differently to drugs. Often, the agression and anger comes when the drug is wearing off and their bodies are screaming for more drugs; this is the worst part of addiction. Sometimes the agression comes after a person has used a drug for a long time (like with steroids -- you've heard of "roid rage"). See information on different drugs here:

-Meyer Glantz

can drugs cause aggression and anger

-Fishhsticks1231, Illinois

Hey Fishhsticks1231! Yes they can. Drug use can alter or change how a person acts. All drugs change the normal function of the brain. For some people, these changes cause them to become very aggressive and show increased anger after taking drugs.

-Tisha Wiley

can drugs cause depression :(

-teletubbies123, 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:

-Joshua Gordon

Can drugs cause depression?

-Memo Hérdez,

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:

-Joshua Gordon

can drugs cause internal bleeding?

-Mikaela-FVBSU4H, Georgia

The category of abused drugs does not usually have this as a side effect. They do damage your brain. Internal bleeding is more prone to occur in people who are taking certain prescribed medications such as aspirin, NSAIDs for pain and coumadin (warfarin) or other blood-thinning agents that are usually recommended only for people who have serious heart disease. Internal bleeding can occur in those who had liver damaged after longtime heavy drinking.

-Shwe Gyaw

can drugs effect your stress?

-Joey, Illinois

Hi Joey. Great question. People sometimes use drugs because they are trying to deal with anxiety or stress. Unfortunately, drugs are often counterproductive and end up causing you even more stress. Some drugs can actually cause increased anxiety and stress when you take them. Not only that, when you use drugs, you run the risk of becoming addicted. If you are addicted, you might begin to prioritize the drug over other things in your life, and in the process make choices that cause you even more stress--for example spending all of your money on drugs or alienating the people who love you. See information on different drugs here:

-Suzanne Lim

can drugs effect your stress? (make it worse)

-Aybrian-FVSU4H, Georgia

Great question! Stimulants (like cocaine, nicotine, and even caffeine) can increase anxiety and stress. With other drugs, sometimes it depends -- the drug can worsen or reduce stress depending on the person using it and the circumstances under which the drug is being used. Some drugs that can provide short-term relief of stress can have the opposite long-term effect when used chronically. You can find more information on the effects of stimulants here:

-Vani Pariyadath

Can drugs elevate your IQ?


Hey Pelooon. Nope, drugs won't elevate your IQ- that pill in the show Limitless is fictional :)

-Emily Einstein

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:

-John Satterlee

Can drugs help calm down people with ocd?


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:

-Joshua Gordon

Can drugs help me end my depression?


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:

-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): and 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?


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:

-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?



-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:

-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:

-Joshua Gordon