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 food be a drug?


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


-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 -- 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:

-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


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?


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:

-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


-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:

-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

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: .If you have questions about substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Carol Krause

do drugs shorten your life spam

-2400269, Illinois

Drugs can most certainly shorten your life span. Drugs can have a wide range of adverse effects from contributing to chronic diseases like cancer, liver disease, and HIV to acute problems like strokes and overdoses that can be fatal. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA's teen site here:

-Marsha Lopez

do drugss cause cause permanent damage to your body even after you have quit

-whitney-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hey Whitney,
Unfortunately, in some cases, all of the damage to one's body may not be reversed. However, the body does have a remarkable ability to heal, and people do make remarkable recoveries from addiction.

-Dave Thomas

do more people do drugs cus of fameouse people

-AD, Illinois

That is a great question--I am not sure anyone has asked that before. You could be right. Lots of people in the music industry sing or rap about drugs, because it makes them look "edgy" and "cool" and I guess it helps sell their music. Surely that influences people. In a survey done about 10 years ago 1 in 3 popular songs mentioned drugs and/or alcohol, and 3 in 4 rap songs mentioned drug and alcohol. As you know, a lot of those singers and stars end up in rehab over and over again because their drug problems are very difficult to manage. As a teen, you are responsible for your own health---it is up to you to make decisions that will give you a long healthy life.

-Carol Krause

do mushrooms have any long term effects on a person

-Thomas , Illinois

Hey Thomas! Good question! Mushrooms contain hallucinogens. Little is known about the long-term effects of hallucinogens. Short term effects include bad trips, increased heart rate and nausea. Long terms effects that have been reported include spontaneous flash backs and paranoia. More research is need on the long-term consequences of using hallucinogens.

-Roger Sorensen

Do nicotine patches or gum work to help someone quit vaping?

-mary, Illinois

Nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches and gum can help a person reduce the amount of nicotine they are consuming while vaping or smoking traditional cigarettes. Even though they don't produce tobacco smoke like regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not harmless. When you vape, you're inhaling several poisonous chemicals and it's a great idea to try and quit using a treatment method suggested by your health care provider, including nicotine patches or gum. For more information about vaping, see the NIDA Teen site:

-Michelle Jobes

do parents realize their child is doing drug often

-JP, Montana

Hi Again JP, According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health about 9.5% of 12-17 year olds said they used drugs and around 13% of said they drank alcohol in the month before the survey. Your second question is harder to answer. We don't really know if parents are aware of their children's substance use, but it's important to try and provide parents with all the resources they need to help keep their kids safe--which is really what all parents want to do (despite what it seems like sometimes!). If you or someone you know is having a drug abuse problem call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7 or go to to find information about treatment centers in your area. You can also talk to your school counselor or a teacher, who can help you get help...

-Jinhee Lee

do people dip marijuana blunts in heroin

-teletubbies123, Illinois

While not the most common way to take either marijuana or heroin, it's possible.

-Emily Einstein

can you vape for medical purposes, if so what for

-ben=buttlick, Oregon

Hi ben=buttlick,

Great question, we currently do not have enough research to determine if vaping can be used for medicial purposes. Studies are being done to determine the potential effects of e-cigarettes. Research has found that youth who use a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes, are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products, such as cigarettes. Right now, we don't know how many harmful or potentially harmful chemicals are in e-cigarettes. However, we do know that many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is harmful to developing brains.

-Roger Little

Can your body recover after 20 years plus of smoking?

-Katana, Maryland

Dear Katana - thank you for writing in with such a great question! Yes, your body can recover after 20 years of smoking - once you quit! There are so many health benefits of quitting smoking. Quitting can re-wire your brain and help break the cycle of addiction. The large number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal levels after about a month of being quit. Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease, but quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately and your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.If you or someone you know is trying to quit, check out:

-Heather Kimmel

Cigarretes are a drug?


Hi AADPDT3, cigarettes contain the highly addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that occurs naturally in the tobacco plant. For more information check out:

-Suzanne Lim