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 it be painful when you don't do cocaine in a while??

-Sophie Dupree, Texas

Hello Sophie--good question. When you take cocaine for along time, you can become addicted. This means that your body has now adapted to wanting to have cocaine. When you first stop taking cocaine, your body still wants the drug. If you don't take cocaine, your body begins to react. This is known as physical withdrawal. During physical withdrawal your body shows many ailments. This physical withdrawal can be very painful to the person.

-Roger Sorenson

Can LSD be a gateway drug like in the novel "Go Ask Alice"?

-919323, Florida

Hi 919323,
I'd say it's pretty unlikely, because these days LSD is pretty rare--a person would be very unlikely to take it as their first drug before having tried alcohol, marijuana, etc. One thing that makes a "gateway" drug is accessibility.
Great question, though!

-Eric Wargo

Can LSD really be stored in your spine and cause trips in the future?

-Kat, North Carolina

Hi Kat,
No, it's a myth that the LSD stays in your spine or anywhere else in your body. But it is true that you can have a trip in the future (a "flashback"). This is because of changes to the brain caused by the drug. It's your own altered brain causing the trip. (Pretty trippy, right?)

-Eric Wargo

Can Marijuana Be Addictive

-QueenAliyyah, Maryland

Sure, addiction is compulsive use despite harm.  That happens a lot with marijuana,  Here is some more information on marijuana:


-Dave Thomas

Can marijuana be fatal?

-curious Lion, Kansas

There are, to my knowledge, no direct fatalities attributable to marijunana itself. Causality is hard to prove. But people can and do injure themselves and die because of marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. There are reports of people who have died in traffic accidents while under the influence of marijuana because it dramatically slows your reaction time (and you don't respond to danger signals from traffic as quickly as you would without the drug). Also, people can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks) or psychotic reactions (where they lose touch with reality and may become paranoid).  Do you want to know more about drugged driving? Check out

-Nancy Pilotte

Can Marijuana cause paranoia?

-Marie, Maryland

Thanks for your question. Yes, for some people they can become paranoid after taking marijuana, and other drugs also. You can learn more about the effects of marijuana at

-Joseph Frascella

can marijuana change someones personality?

-Catherine Mayer, Ohio

Hi cathy,
i really think so. Anything that changes the brain can affect personality. besides the risk of addiction (which is a dramatic change in personality, associations have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities. 
hope this helps

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana change the way you act and your personality?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Yes--any drug can do that.  Marijuana affects parts of the brain that are important for decision making and judgement, and at high doses or in vulnerable individuals it can make you paranoid or psychotic.  That usually goes way when the effects of the drug wear off, although in people with a pre-existing vulnerability to psychosis--it can contribute to a younger age of onset or more severe course of illness.

-Susan Weiss

Can marijuana enhance any mental disorder?

-JuanV, Texas

Hi Juan.  Good question.  Drugs affect your brain and your behavior whether or not you have a mental disorder. Some research suggests that drugs like marijuana use can increase risk for mental disorders.  We also know that using various drugs can also lead to impulsive behavior or can impair judgement, so using drugs can sometimes interact with symptoms or make mental health problems worse.  It's sort of odd when you think about the fact that we sometimes use drugs to treat mental disorders, but then again, medications to treat mental disorders are prescribed by a doctor under careful monitoring.

-Denise Pintello

can marijuana kill you?

-NateArchibald , Minnesota

Hi NateArchibald – deaths due direct exposure to marijuana are few, but driving under the influence of marijuana is very deadly especially when it is used along with alcohol.

-Susan Weiss

Can Marijuana Kill You?

-gerald jeffries, Maryland

Hi gerald jeffries. Great question! Not directly. Use of marijuana can impair coordination and lead to accidents that kill people.  Also, sometimes people become very anxious and paranoid when they use marijuana and end up hurting themselves.  Find out more on marijuana at

-Wilson Compton

can marijuana lead to other drugs as its called the gateway drug and if so what kinds?

-WBrooks, New Hampshire

Good question, WBrooks.  The research is not yet settled but it suggests that while most people who smoke marijuana do not go on to use other drugs, few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. However, this is also true for alcohol and tobacco. Animal studies suggest that early use of marijuana (or alcohol or tobacco) may impact the brain – which is still developing in adolescents— altering the reward system in ways that affect the likelihood of using other drugs as you get older. In addition, using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who use and sell other drugs. So, a person who uses marijuana may be more likely to be exposed to and urged to try other drugs.

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs make you a lazy shit

-imalazyshit, Maryland

Hi imalazyshit,
It depends on the drug. There's evidence that heavy marijuana use can indeed make you a lazy...person... The technical term we use is "amotivational syndrome." :-)

-Eric Wargo

can drugs make you commit suicide?


Yes, some of the new "fake weed" products and "bath salts" have caused severe psychotic reactions and caused some users to attempt suicide. Definitely stay away from those!

-Eric Wargo

can drugs make you go mentally insane

-bryancornelius, Texas

Dear bryancornelius,

Thank you for your question. Continued drug use has been linked to symptoms of mental illness, and also linked to increase risk of psychosis in marijuana users, as one example. High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users. On the other hand, mental disorders can lead to drug abuse as many people self-medicate. Patients suffering from anxiety or depression may rely on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to temporarily alleviate their symptoms.

Thank again, and best wishes! There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

-Will Aklin

can drugs make you mentally insane

-brianluna, Texas

I'll re-state your question. Do drugs cause mental illness? We know that drugs affect the way your brain functions. This can change a person's personality. Stimulant drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine) can also make people hyper. These drug effects can make it look like the person is "crazy".   There has been research on Marijuana and mental illness: that shows that long-term marijuana use is associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. However it is not yet clear whether marijuana use directly causes or exacerbates these conditions. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis.  Marijuana intoxication can, though rarely does, produce a temporary psychosis, and it may play a role in the development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals especially those with increased genetic risk. 

-Roger Sorenson

can drugs make your blood thin?

-keshawn14, Georgia

The only drugs that I know of that will make your blood thin are pharmaceuticals designed for that purpose and usually given during surgery or to people with heart disease and atherosclerosis. So if anyone tells you that aspirin, Plavix, or heparin has psychoactive properties, they are lying to you.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs make your blood thin?

-abriannamedeari, Georgia

Hi Abriannamedeari,

Interesting question. There are drugs that are prescribed by doctors to "thin" blood, but those drugs don't make you high or aren't drugs you can become addicted to. Aspirin is also a blood thinner, but again aspirin is not considered to be a drug of abuse. To find out which drugs are addictive, and how they effect your body, click on this link:

-Steven Grant

Can drugs make your brain swell?

-Snowfluff102113, Michigan

That's an interesting question. The first thing that I think of is that drugs can trigger an immune response, just like a bacterial infection. This can recruit additional immune cells into the brain, and may promote more fluid into the brain that could cause increased swelling. But in general, I haven't heard that drugs cause that much swelling. Thanks for asking. 

-Roger Sorenson

Can drugs make your penis small?

-Billy, Minnesota

Uh, no, but steroids can shrink your testicles---which is where your testosterone comes from.  That is why abuse of anabolic steroids (steroid molecules based on the structure and pharmacology of testosterone) can lead to impotence. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here:

-Nancy Pilotte

can drugs prescribed by doctors still kill brain cells like other unprescribed drugs?

-tollestudent15, Ohio

Yes, for example, pain killers that contain opiates such as vicodin or oxycontin can lead to respiratory depresssion, which if not taken care of, can kill cells in the brain from lack of oxygen,  

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs weaken your bones?

-Authement/Scate, Texas

Alcohol has been shown to weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis. Not sure if other abused drugs have that effect, but if you would like to learn more about effects that drug have, click here.

-Joseph Frascella

can every drug kill you

-Lions Adv., Texas

Hi Lions
Yes, but in different ways. for example:
inhalants can suffocate and kill you after a single dose
marijuana can impair your driving and get you involved in a fatal crash
heroin can force you to use a contaminated needle and get you AIDS
steroids can make you depressed and suicidal.

as you can see there many ways for drugs to kill you.

better safe than sorry.

-Ruben Baler

can heroin kill you

-cassidyb, Texas

Oh yes, cassidyb, heroin can kill you. If the dose is large enough, it can stop your breathing, leading to death. But even if it doesn't kill you it is dangerous to take.  Taking heroin can change your brain so that you become addicted and don't feel pleasure anymore from things that are usually enjoyable.  Find out more about it here: 

-Dave Thomas

Can hookah pens harm you in any way?

-ChristianMedina, Texas

Hi Christianmedina!H ookah pens are really just one name for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. These are battery-operated devices that many people think are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes...and their use is growing in popularity. E-cigarettes often contain nicotine and produce a flavored aerosol that looks like tobacco smoke but without the tar produced by burning tobacco leaves. While e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, it is still unclear how safe they are. They can still deliver nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, which poses a significant risk for teens to become addicted. Also, the aerosol from some e-cigarette products were shown to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals including formaldehyde. Until more studies are conducted, there is no way of knowing what the short and long-term health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals may be. Want more information on e-cigs? Click on and

-Kevin Walton

can huka become more harmful if you take it alot ?

-1Dmusikluver, Maryland

Hi 1Dmusikluver - Hookah is just another way to smoke tobacco.  Nicotine in tobacco is addictive, so I don' t know if you'll become addicted to hookah, but you can become addicted to nicotine.  Check out more NIDA resources on hookah at -

-Belinda Sims

Can i die from Vape?

-SlayerofSauron, Michigan

Hmmmm... that's a really broad question. I'm assuming you aren't talking about accidently ingesting the e-nicotine liquid (although that has unfortunately happened and resulted in death). Electronic cigarettes are new to the scene and we don't have a lot of scientific data on their safety or effects yet.  While they may be advertised as "safer" than cigarettes, there is a lot we don't know about the health consequences of e-cigarettes.  There have been a few reports of e-cigarettes exploding when people use them causing some serious injuries to their hands and faces. The bottom don't know what you are getting in these products or their health consequences. Best to wait until we get more information---and it could take a few years before we see good research studies on e-cigs.  For more information see:

-Cindy Miner

Can I Drink Wine if I Take Lipitor?

-Walter White, Michigan

For a healthy adult, it is probably okay to have a glass of wine now and then while taking Lipitor, but this is something the person needs to discuss with his/her doctor. Obviously, teens should not be drinking alcohol! 

-Aaron White

can i eat weed?

-EmilyBlue, Maryland

Hello Emily Blue--Yes.  You can also eat dirt, rocks, and worms but why would you?  Yuck. But if you want to know if you can eat it and feel the high, yes, pretty much like people do that eat it when its baked into brownies or candy.  Often there is a time lag between when you eat it and when you feel the effects, which can cause some people to take too much and get very, very ill and feel psychotic.  So--bottom line just because you can, you still shouldn't.

-Lis Davis

Can I get a high off of the mushrooms that grow in the grass?

-kidgarbo, Michigan

There are many different kinds of mushrooms and all of them grow in the grass, on logs, or on the forest floor. Some do contain psylocibin, which can produce a mind-altering experience.  Unless you are an expert, you may find yourself choosing poisonous mushrooms.  I would pick mine at the supermarket.  

-Nancy Pilotte