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 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

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

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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-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: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes.

-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 http://www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov/ 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: https://smokefree.gov/.

-Heather Kimmel

Cigarretes are a drug?

-AADPDT3,

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: https://teen.smokefree.gov/

-Suzanne Lim

Considering that you consume the "same amount... which drug between marujuana and alcohol does less harm to your body?

-farkas,

Hi farkas
how can one possible consume the "same" amount of two different things? what would you measure?
only zero amount would cause the same negative effect. B smart. B healthy

-Ruben Baler

consuming drugs affects somewhow when you have sex

-el chapo,

Hello. I'm not totally sure what your question is--but here's my best guess. Some drugs can cause you to do things that you wouldn't otherwise do. So using drugs makes you more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, which may lead to diseases or possibly unplanned preganancies. Some drugs also may interfere with your ability to have sex while others may alter the experience. Either way, safety is a concern when combining drugs with sex. The consequences are often unpredictable and may lead to more problems than you expect.

-Aria Crump

COULD a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Every drug a pregnant woman takes also reaches her baby. The ways in which the baby can be affected depends on the drug the mother takes, how much she uses, and when in pregnancy she uses. Babies born to mothers who are addicted can suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms. But the good news is that the sooner a pregnant woman stops using drugs, the better the results for her baby. You can read more at https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/using-drugs-when-pregnant-harms-baby.

-Carlos Blanco

COULD a baby in the womb get high by their mother smoking

-HAMILTON-FVSU4H, Georgia

Hi Hamilton,

It is unclear whether a baby in the womb can get high while in the mother's womb, however, substance use during pregnancy can be risky to the woman's health and that of her children in both the short and long term. Most drugs, including opioids and stimulants, could potentially harm an unborn baby. Use of some substances can increase the risk of miscarriage and can cause migraines, seizures, or high blood pressure in the mother, which may affect her fetus. In addition, the risk of stillbirth is 2 to 3 times greater in women who smoke tobacco or marijuana, take prescription pain relievers, or use illegal drugs during pregnancy. Pregnant women should check with their health care provider before using any medicines or substances.

For more information, check out https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/substance-use-in-women.

-Jinhee Lee

Could constantly drinking alcohol (everyday) cause the person to remember past memories that wished to be kept away?

-pboydmateo01, Oregon

It probably would not help the person remember past memories because drinking too much can damage the areas of the brain that make and recall memories.

-Emily Einstein

could drugs ruin your life

-JP, Montana

Hi Jphillips. Yes, they could. Drug abuse can have many negative consequences. If you are asking about the health effects of drugs, these effects can include brain damage due to lack of oxygen and even death. You can find more information about the health effects of various drugs here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Also, it is important to know that drug abuse can have other kinds of consequences, including family problems, losing a job, and failing in school. Thanks for your question.

-Steve Gust