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 and alcohol increase your chance of suicidal thoughts and/or depression?

-kphung, Texas

Hi kphung - Yes. People who use drugs, especially those with addiction, are at increased risk for suicide. This is one of the worst parts of drug use.Please see these helpful publications on depression: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/teen-depression/index.shtml and what to do if yoru teen has problem with drugs: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs.

-Wilson Compton

Can drugs be used as medicine

-Andrew sims, Alabama

Absolutely, medicines are drugs. But some medicines can be abused. Here's some more info on that: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescript....

-Dave Thomas

Can drugs be used for good purposes?

-jbofill, Texas

hey jbofill, yes, many drugs are used as medicines. When a drug is effective for treating medical conditions it is approved by the FDA. If it is also addictive these medicines are regulated by the DEA to try to prevent their misuse.

-Maureen Boyle

Can drugs be used for suicide???

-Jmurray, Texas

Hi Jmurray--yes, but if you or someone you know have any thoughts of suicide, the first thing to do is talk to someone you trust--a parent, friend, teacher, counselor, for example--or call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (or chat: http://chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx)! There is always a way to get help so that someone can feel better.

-Charlotte Armstrong

can drugs effect a woman's pregnancy

-katniss, Texas

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. For example, research suggests that women who smoke marijuana while pregnant are at higher risk for having a baby born at a lower birth weight. Drug use in pregnancy can also increase the risk of premature birth. 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.

-Emily Einstein

Can drugs effect you playing sports

-Genaro@gentryjs, Texas

yes repeated use of drugs interferes with the motor center in the brain that can lead interfere with fast reflexes and good coordination. This is most negative for high level athletes for it can lead to tthem loosing hte edge over their competitors

-Nora Volkow

can drugs get you to death??

-DMM, Illinois

hey DMM, yes, there were over 52,000 drug overdose deaths in 2015.

-Maureen Boyle

can drugs harm your emotions

-Tyrese FVSU 4_H, Georgia

Hi Tyrese,

Yes, drugs have a strong effect on emotions. Dr. Geoge Koob, head of the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcoholism, has called the effects of drugs on emotions "The Dark Side of Addiction". Taking drugs may make you feel good in the short term, but his research indicates that the longer you take drugs, the more you are likely to feel stressed and feel bad when not taking drugs. He has proposed that this dark side of drug use leads to a vicious cycle of taking more drugs to get rid of the stress, which turns into being more stressed out when you are not taking drugs.For more info: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/brain-and-addiction

-Steve Grant

can drugs increase your chance of contracting an STD/STI?

-Patty, Minnesota

Smart question. I have a simple answer. Absolutely. When you are high, you are not thinking straight and make a lot of poor choices. Other people can take advantage of you.

-Michele Rankin

can drugs lead to cancer?

-Wmills, New Hampshire

Dear Wmills,

Drugs do increase the risk for many types of cancer. Tobacco contains many chemicals, and alcohol is also a risk factor for certain types of cancer, including breast and ovarian cancer. There is no safe drug. All you have to do is not use drugs to avoid the risks. Here is more information: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/medical-consequences-drug-abuse/cancer,
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/alcohol-use-and-cancer

-Roger Little

can drugs lead to mental health issues

-oscar, Texas

Drugs can of course lead to addiction, which I think of as a mental health issue. Also, many people who are addicted to drugs also have other mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Whether the drugs caused those illnesses can be difficult to figure out. But regardless of whether the drugs caused the mental health issues or not, treatments aimed at both the addiction and the other mental health issues work better than trying to treat either one alone.

-Josh Gordon

can drugs lead to mental health issues?

-hello123, New York

hello hello

yes. For example, long-term marijuana use is associated with impaired intellectual functioning and IQ decline when usage starts during the teen years. This includes 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 these issues or just makes them worse. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis. Marijuana intoxication can, in rare cases, produce a temporary psychosis, and it may play a role in the development of schizophrenia in some people carrying a certain genetic risk. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or mild mental illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above.

-Ruben Baler

can drugs lead to metal health issues?

-hello123, New York

Hello to hello 123! This is a great question - and many scientists are looking into this as we write. Some recent studies have suggested that marijuana is linked to psychiatric disorders - and here is a link that will provide helpful information: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/there-...

Overall, some drugs can enhance anxiety, sadness, hallucinations - yet this does not mean that the person has a mental illness. Maybe you can become a researcher and help definitively answer this question!

-Denny Pintello

can drugs lead to mistakes

-C.J.S 33, Indiana

Hi C.J.S 33
I believe you can make mistakes without drugs too. Ha ha!
But to answer your question - it increases the chance that you make "mistakes" because drug use negatively affects ones memory, emotion, judgement, etc. When your mind is not clear because you are intoxicated, you are capable of making mistakes you would not make if you were sober.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Can drugs lead to obesity?

-KanekiSenpai <3, Illinois

Not directly in fact many of the drugs decrease your appetite. However once you stop taking them, your risk for gaining weight is higher, in part because people compensate by overeating sweets and other foods high in calories.

-Nora Volkow

Can Drugs lead to prostitution?

-e7321, Maryland

Hi e7321,
Fantastic question. Sometimes people who become addicted to drugs will do anything to get more. When they run out of money (which is very quick), they might resort to trading sex for drugs.Drugs also harm a person's ability to make wise decisions, so that can lead to making harmful decisions about sex and life in general.

-Eric Wargo

can drugs make mentally ill?

-pigbru, Texas

Drugs can of course lead to addiction, which I think of as a mental illness. Also, many people who are addicted to drugs also have other mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Whether the drugs caused those illnesses can be difficult to figure out. But regardless of whether the drugs caused the mental health issues or not, treatments aimed at both the addiction and the other mental health issues work better than trying to treat either one alone.

-Josh Gordon

Can drugs make you act different with others

-Caden@gentryjr, Texas

Absolutely, drugs can make you act different with others. Depending on the drug and the person, drugs can make people become more social, less social / very quiet, or very agressive.. Some may become more pleasant, some become dangerous to others. It is not worth it to try to see the effect it may have on you. Remember that using drugs can put you at risk for addiction and put you at risk for engaging in high risk behavior with other people.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can drugs make you age faster?

-adang, Texas

Hello Adang,

This is a very perceptive question. We don't know exactly the answer, but there is certainly some evidence that drugs, especially ampetamines, may have some effects on the body that can cause or mimic rapid aging. There are so many negative effects that drugs can have on your brain and body that rapid aging is one of very many reasons not to try them. There is more information here: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/

-Roger Little

can drugs make you age faster?

-dbrown, Texas

Hi dbrown--
Just go online and seach for pictures of people's faces who have smoked for many years. The wrinkes are very obvious and especially around the mouth. But, the more important thing that can happen is that smoking can put your health at risk, as you get older, for heart disease and lung disease, both of which can cut years or decades off your life.

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can drugs make you age faster?

-Landon S., Pennsylvania

Hi Landon - some substance use can alter your body in ways that make you appear older than you are. Long term tobacco smoking is a good example.

-Michele Rankin

can drugs make you become sterile?

-pnj, Other

Great question! Drug use can result in any number of health problems depending on the drug, dose taken, how frequently, and how taken. Some drugs, like anabolic steroids, can affect reproductive organs in both males and females. Check out the NIDA website at drugabuse.gov to learn more about the health consequences of drug use!

Thanks!!!

-Michele Rankin

Can drugs make you feel depressed forever even after you stop using them?

-Jimena@GJS, Texas

It depends in part on your genetics and how long have u been taking them. Most people can recover when stopping drugs but some who have a vulnearibility to depression might have a hard time even when they stop using them.

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs make you more impulsive?

-bluecloud75, New York
Hi bluecloud75! Drug and alcohol use are related to impulsivity. Alcohol and drug use can decrease the function of the frontal cortex of your brain. The frontal cortex allows us to exert control over our actions and emotions. So -- decreased function can result in riskier and more impulsive behaviors.

Here are some resources to explore:

Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface
The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction: www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-still-under-construction/index.shtml

Thanks for participating in Chat Day!

-Belinda Sims

Can drugs make you suicidal

-Osorio@gentryjs, Texas

There aren't really any drugs that would make someone who had no intention of committing suicide become suicidal. However, there is certainly a relationship between drugs and suicide. Many drugs affect your decision-making abilities, so someone who might have had suicidal thoughts in the past but didn't act on them when sober might make a worse decision when they are high. For more about suicide prevention, check out https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/nimh-answers-questions-abou...

-Susan Borja

can drugs make your blood thin

-sshelander, Texas

Some drugs can. Thin blood is what scientists call "Thrombocytopenia" or low platelet count. Boith cocaine and alcohol can cause this condition.

-Ruben Baler

Can drugs make your blood thin if so how

-tyree mcghee, Georgia

Not to my knowledge

-Susan Weiss

Can drugs temp you to say things you regret?

-hannah@gentryjs, Texas

Hi hannah,
Yes, it's very common -- when people are drunk or high, they easily can say and do things they later wish they hadn't. It's a good way to lose friends!

-Eric Wargo

can drugs turn you into a crimenal

-brian, Texas

Hi brian. Drug use can be related to crime through the effects they have on the behavior of users and through violence and other illegal activity related to drug-tracking. It is important to know that alcohol and drug use and drug related activities are illegal for youth.

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Can hallucinogens really make your skin burn up?

-Juliagelston, Maine

Hi Windham Middle School! Not literally, but figuratively -- yes. It can can produce hallucinations that can recur even months after you stop taking it. A hallucinogen like LSD produces its effects by acting on specific proteins in the central nervous system. These proteins are on brain cells (neurons) that make serotonin. Some LSD users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings of despair, fear of losing control, or fear of insanity and death while using LSD. More here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens. Thanks for the interesting question Juliagelston.

-Bethany Deeds