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 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:

-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

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 you be addicted to tylonol

-Holden McGroin, Maryland

I don't think you can become addicted to Tylenol in the same way you can become addicted to drugs like cocaine or alcohol. But regular use of Tylenol for pain can be a problem. Tylenol can cause liver damage and other health problems when used at high doses and/or for long periods of time. If you've been using Tylenol regularly, talk to a doctor or a trusted adult about why you're using it. They may be able to help you find safer alternatives.

-Joshua Gordon

can you be alergic to marihuana??


Hi betis
what a great question!!!!
The answer is a definte YES. Allergies to marijuana have been described. The symptoms range from simple rhinoconjunctivitis to anaphylactic-type reactions, some of which can be severe and even fatal.
thanks for the interest. stay smart. stay safe

-Ruben Baler

can you be allergic to alcohol or drugs?

-annie cedros ,

Hi annie -- If you mean do some people have bad reactions to drugs, the answer is yes. For example, some people smoke marijuana and react with a horrible psychosis, where they hallucinate (see things that are not there). It can be very upsetting to the person. In general, the worst risk of using drugs is addiction, not allergies. In that sense, people should act as if they are allergic, and stay away from them.

-Meyer Glantz

Can you cancel out the effect of one drug by taking another-upper vs. downers

-nico, California

Hello Nico,
Mixing drugs is even more dangerous than taking them singly. Sometimes the combined effects are not predictable, and, rather than canceling each other out, as you suggest, they might be synergistic multiplying each other's effects. This can happen with alcohol and opioids, or alcohol and benzodiazepines. It is best to not mix any drugs.

-Steve Gust

Can you cancel out the effect of one drug taking another? Uppers and downers at the same time?

-JR, California

Hi Jaime,
Not really... You can get some crazy interactions. For example, some people drink coffee to overcome being drunk, but you do not get sober from coffee. You mostly get a more alert drunk person. Where you do get an opposite effect is with an antagonist like naloxone (aka Narcan). Naloxone can reverse the effects of opioids. That is why it is used to reverse opioid overdoses.

-Marsha Lopez

Can you cure depression without using drugs?


Yes, some people respond very well to certain types of "talk therapy" or even to other less conventional approaches like exercise. But if you have a serious problem, its important to see a professional to determine what's most appropriate for you.

-Susan Weiss

Can you die from consuming too much marihuana?


Hi Tripode! This is a good question. In general, people will not die from marijuana overdose. However, if someone is smoking marijuana for a prolonged period, there could be bad lung effects from marijuana use. Marijauna can also affect learning and memory especially in young users whose brains aren't fully developed. Hope this information helps!

-Michelle Leff

can you die from heroine?

-TH , Montana

Hi tharrington - great question. You can definitely die from heroin (overdose). Heroin is one of many chemicals that are known as opioids. Heroin is made from morphine, a compound taken from the poppy plant. Heroin can have very serious effects on the body. For the first several hours after taking heroin, people want to sleep, and their heart rate and breathing slow down. If you take more, your heart rate and breathing further slow down. You could go into a coma or die from an overdose. For more information, see

-Emily Einstein

can you die from nicotine

-spoodey, Illinois

Hi spoodey! Nicotine is the addictive component of cigarettes and e-cigs. Yes, you can die of smoking. In fact, smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths, or 1,300 deaths every day. This is personally an important question to me because I lost my mother and one of my sisters due to their lung cancer caused by being a lifetime tobacco smoker. So, if you haven't started, don't, and if you do smoke, stop. If you've tried and can't stop, check out some resources here. Help is just a text away! Sign up at or text “QUIT” to “iQUIT” (47848) and provide the date you smoked last.

-Heather Kimmel

can you die from smoking too much weed

-wonder woman, Illinois

Hi wonder woman - While it's unlikely you would die from just smoking weed, you could get behind the wheel intoxicated and be injured or killed in an accident. See this link for more information -- 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.

-Suzanne Lim


-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