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 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 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: www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

-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: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml.

-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: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml...

-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: www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts

-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: http://www.scholastic.com/smp/pdfs/nida/NIDA_YR11-Stu_Comp.pdf.

-Vani Pariyadath

Can drugs elevate your IQ?

-Pelooon,

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: 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 doing drugs stunt your growth?

-Noah H, New Jersey

Hi Noah
Yes, anabolic steroids are well known for this effect. High hormone levels coming from steroids signal to the body to stop bone growth too early. AS use in teens can also stunt height if use happens before the growth spurt
thanks for a great question
b smart. b safe

-Ruben Baler

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: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications/index.s...

-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": www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface

-Steve Gust

do drugs make people commit suicide

-IDK WHO AM I, Illinois

Dear IDK---this is an excellent question. They probably do for many reasons. One--people who are addicted are often extremely depressed about their life and their inability to stay off drugs. Sometimes the drugs make their depression worse. They sometimes think their families are better off without them, They are wrong, of course...what families want is for the person to keep trying until they get better. There is help available. Here is a website where you can get help for thoughts of suicide and other serious problems such as drug abuse, physical or verbal abuse, and depression: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ .If you have questions about substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Carol Krause