Note: There is no transcript for CHAT DAY 2018, which was cancelled due to the Government Shutdown initiated on January 20, 2018.

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 here.

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Can using drug while pregant effect your baby???

-idalisgonzalez, Pennsylvania

Hi Ludlow,Absolutely--and not in a good way! In general, the earlier in pregnancy you take a drug, and the longer you keep taking drugs the more your baby will be affected. Alcohol is particularly harmful and opioid drugs (heroin, oxycotin and other prescription pain killers) might lead your baby to have withdrawal symptoms after birth. To learn more, check out 'The Science of Addiction' at For more information on alcohol abuse, go to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism at

-Joni Rutter

Can using drugs cause depression?

-mathlete_14, Virginia

Great question. Drug abuse and mental illness are related in complex ways. Drugs can make the mood much worse (especially when they wear off) but also being depressed can lead to people taking drugs to feel better. In general, drugs and depression make each other worse. So people with depression have trouble quitting drugs and people who use drugs frequently get really depressed.

-Wilson Compton

Can you die from steroids, even if you take in only once every 2 months?

-lbuffs_32, Virginia

Steroids are only safe if used for a medical condition and under a doctor's supervision. No level of drug abuse is safe, and this is also true for steroid abuse. You should know that steroid abuse can lead to steroid addiction as well as addiction to other drugs. As you can see, even once every two months is a slippery slope. Check out: (that's me by the way!)

-Ruben Baler

Can you die from steroids?

-joshviar, Michigan

We do have case reports of individuals who may have comitted suicide as a result of chronic steroid abuse induced depression. We can also hypotesize that some fatal car accidents may have been caused by drivers suffering from 'roid rage'. However reasonable these connections may sound, we don't have hard scientific data that would confirm the mostly anecdotal evidence that suggests that steroid abuse can be the cause of some deaths.

-Ruben Baler

Can you die if you use too much alcohol

-bratnever, Maryland

Absolutely. Overdoses and death from alcohol happen pretty often. Especially when people drink large quantities of hard liquor quickly they can overdose and die. I've worked in emergency rooms in the past and we saw a lot of teenagers who were nearly dead from alcohol overdose.

-Wilson Compton

can you die the first time using any type of drug?

-jazz, Washington

Yes--although, fortunately its a rare event. But you can die from a drug overdose--in which a drug causes a heart attack, stops your breathing, or causes your body to overheat. Also you can die because drugs affect your judgment and cause you to do something stupid--like driving while drunk or high. The Center for Disease Control reports about 35,000 deaths last year due to unintentional poisonings--which is usually drug overdose, and often related to prescription pain relievers.

-Susan Weiss

can you died from steroids when using ones a day??

-luis, Texas

Hi there! Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetically produced variants of the naturally occurring male sex hormone testosterone. "Anabolic" refers to muscle-building, and "androgenic" refers to increased male sexual characteristics. "Steroids" refers to the class of drugs. These drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency (for example, delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS). Some people, both athletes and non-athletes, abuse AAS in an attempt to enhance performance and/or improve their physical appearance. Steroid abuse can lead to serious, even irreversible health problems. Some of the most dangerous among these include liver damage; jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of skin, tissues, and body fluids); fluid retention; high blood pressure; increases in LDL ("bad" cholesterol); and decreases in HDL ("good" cholesterol). Other reported effects include renal failure, severe acne, and trembling. For adolescents - stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation and accelerated puberty changes; risk of not reaching expected height if AAS is taken before the typical adolescent growth spurt. In addition, people who inject AAS run the added risk of contracting or transmitting HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, which causes serious damage to the liver and in the case of HIV/AIDS can lead to death.For additional information on AAS, go to:

-Jacqueline Lloyd

Can you get addicted to a drog after on try?

-Tisa, Maryland

Another excellent question. You hear people say that they were addicted after just one use, that the effects of that drug was so powerful, they felt they were immediately hooked. What we find from research is that there are vast individuals differences which is influenced by an individuals genetic makeup. Some people are particularly vulnerable to becoming addicted quickly, others don't seem to be as vulnerable, and may not become addicted right away...but if you keep taking drugs chronically, its highly likely you will eventually become addicted.

-Cindy Miner

can you get addicted to a drug just by bein around it a lot even if your not doin it?

-heylo, Pennsylvania

Interesting question. Keep in mind that if you are around people who are using drugs, you can get into trouble with the law even if you are not using them yourself. If you are driving a car and somone in the car with you has drugs, you can get into a lot of trouble, just by being there. It is best to avoid drugs and to avoid people who are using them!!! Go to our website for teens to get more of your questions answered, to read 'real stories' of people's experiences, and to check out our blog. Leave a comment!

-Dave McCann

can drugs mess your body up so bad that you lose your private parts?

-browe, Michigan

There are some drugs we know for sure mess up your gear down there, like steroids. Guys can experience shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, development of breasts; girls can experience changes in or cessation of the menstrual cycle, enlargement of the clitoris, and additional hair growth. Most drug research focuses on the brain, but to answer your question-physical loss of private parts is not one of the effects of drug abuse (unless you get so messed up that you have an unfortunate accident).

-Marsha Lopez

can drugs slow your ageing?

-lbpdd, Pennsylvania

Good question. For the most part, drugs can make memory worse and can contribute to more problems as people age.For example, nicotine increases blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration (breathing) and regular users of Ecstacy (MDMA) can experience memory loss.

-Wilson Compton

can ecstasy be provided in such amount that can cause the body to collapsed??

-casa grande mb, Arizona

Oh yeah... ecstasy overdose is a serious medical emergency. People who overdose with ecstasy can not only collapse but also can die from it. It is known that the overdose is associated with increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), rapid heartbeat, hypertension, heart attacks, brain toxicity, etc. So, that is why the treatment of ecstasy overdose is usually in the emergency room.

-Ivan Montoya

Can Ecstasy really kill you the first time you try it.?

-sclions019, Pennsylvania

Yes--although its a rare event. This can happen for various reasons: 1) MDMA is often associated with vigorous physical activity for extended periods, which can lead to a marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia), that can in turn it lead to muscle breakdown and kidney failure. In addition, dehydration, high blood pressure, and heart failure may occur in susceptible individuals; 2) MDMA is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, but once in the body, MDMA metabolites interfere with the body's ability break down the drug. As a result, if someone takes additional doses when the effects start to wear off, they can achieve unexpectedly high blood levels, which could worsen the cardiovascular and other toxic effects of this drug; 3) you don't really know what you're getting when you take an ecstasy pill--it can contain other ingredients that are toxic and life threatening; and finally 4) people often mix drugs--which can have unpredictable and sometimes deadly outcomes.

-Susan Weiss

Can I get pregnant if I abuse drugs?

-casa grande, Arizona

Did you know that the part of the brain that helps you make good decisions is the last to develop? The prefrontal cortex - the front of the brain - doesn't fully mature until you are in your 20's. Drugs affect parts of the brain that are still developing - so treat your brain well, and reach your full potential. Teens who are intoxicated can make bad decisions that lead to unsafe sex - and that puts them at risk for an unwanted pregnancy or getting sexually transmitted diseases, even HIV. For more information about how abusing drugs can affect your helath and behavior, check out our teen web site:

-Brian Marquis

can drugs affect your sperm count

-Seth the beast, Michigan

Yes, there are some drugs we know for sure will reduce your sperm count, like steroids. Guys can experience shrinking of the testicles, reduced sperm count, infertility, or development of breasts from steroid use. There also has been some research linking marijuana use to reduced sperm function.

-Marsha Lopez

can drugs deprss you

-skyler13, Michigan

Yes. Sometimes the drugs themselves can make you depressed--alcohol sometimes does this; and sometimes its the aftereffects of using drugs that can make you depressed. This can also happen with alcohol, ecstasy, stimulants (like cocaine) and others. If you are depressed, there are treatments that can help, and it's important to take this seriously and talk to an appropriate medical professional or a trusted adult. Depression often begins in adolescence -- whether it is drug induced, drug related, or something else.

-Susan Weiss

Can drugs have a much worse effect on someone who is depressed when they start abusing them than on someone who is depressed but started before they became depressed?

-taraz7, Massachusetts

Well this is an excellent and complicated question. This is the famous which came first - the chicken or the egg question. This speaks to the essence of why people use drugs and how drugs complicate treatment of mental health conditions like depression. Regarding why people use drugs; we know that people use drugs for lots of reasons - because they want to experience something new and exciting and/or because they feel terrible and use drugs to feel better. Depression is a mental health condition that can make people feel lousy and sometimes they try drugs to feel better. Also, sometimes after repeated drug use the brain is changed in fundamental ways and not taking the drug can make people feel bad and depressed. Regardless, taking drugs is no cure for depression. The best way to address depression is through treatment from a medical or mental health professional. Medications and behavioral therapies offer the best way to deal with depression. So, using drugs is no solution and because of the way they impact the brain, body, and behavior only complicate treatment for depression.Hope this is helpful.

-Redonna Chandler

Can you get addicted to smoking if you've only done it 1 or 3 times?

-kitty_16, Maryland

Hi Einstein, you guys have lots of great question this morning!Research has shown that, for most people, it takes smoking several cigarettes to become addicted to the active ingredient - tobacco. Whether a person will become addicted to nicotine also depends on your genes (for example, changes in your genes that make you metabolize nicotine more slowly or rapidly), your age (the earlier a person begins smoking, the more likely they are to become a regular smoker), and your environment (do you have friends and family that smoke?). In my opinion, you shouldn't play roulette with your health and future by trying to smoke just enough cigarettes to NOT become addicted. It is really dependent on the individual. Good luck! For more information on tobacco, visit and

-David Shurtleff

Can you get addicted to steroids?

-sangrey84, Pennsylvania

The short answer is yes. But, the mechanism of androgenic anabolic steroid (AAS) addiction is different from the mechanisms that cause people to become addicted to other drugs of abuse. That is, the main effects of AAS do not work through the pleasure neurotransmitter dopamine as with other drugs.However, Animal studies have shown that AAS are reinforcing - that is, animals will self-administer AAS when given the opportunity, just as they do with other addictive drugs. This is more difficult to demonstrate in humans, but the potential for AAS abusers to become addicted is consistent with their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drug: this is another indication of addiction. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking AAS - these include mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings, all of which may contribute to continued abuse. One of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms is depression - when persistent, it can sometimes lead to suicide attempts. Importantly, research also indicates that some users might turn to other drugs to alleviate some of the negative effects of AAS.

-Ruben Baler

Can you get addictive after the first try?

-jose#70, Maryland

Although we know what happens to the brain when someone becomes addicted, we can't predict how many times a person must use a drug before becoming addicted. A person's genetic makeup, the genes that make each of us who we are, and the environment each play a role. What we do know is that a person who uses drugs risks becoming addicted, craving the drug despite its potentially devastating consequences.A person may start out taking drugs voluntarily, but as time passes and drug use continues, something happens that makes a person go from being a voluntary drug user to a compulsive drug user. Why? Because the continued use of drugs changes how your brain functions. It impairs your ability to think clearly, to feel OK without drugs, and to control your behaviors. These all contribute to the compulsive drug seeking and use that is addiction.

-Redonna Chandler

Can you get an overdose when taking ecstasy?

-karim09bait, Maryland

Yes- ecstasy (also known as MDMA) is often taken during periods of physical activity. This can lead to a marked rise in body temperature (hyperthermia). Treatment of hyperthermia requires prompt medical attention, as it can rapidly lead to muscle breakdown, which can in turn result in kidney failure. In addition, dehydration, hypertension, and heart failure may occur in susceptible individuals. MDMA can also reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart, which is of particular concern during periods of increased physical activity.For more information about ecstacy, check out

-David Shurtleff

can you get high from caffine

-MonsterRules, Michigan

Well I'm certainly buzzed from the 2 cups I have had this morning! But 'high'-nah, not in the commonly used sense. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world and its popularity is probably due to effects, such as enhanced alertness and stimulation. Yet there are large differences in how individuals respond to caffeine, with some people experiencing increased stimulation and others much less desirable effects such as anxiety.

-Marsha Lopez

Can you get high off glue sticks?

-Mayra, Maryland

What's up, Einstein?Sniffing glue tends to produce a 'high' because of the chemicals that are used to make the glue. While folks often report feeling 'high' after sniffing glue, the problem is that some of these chemical are toxic-they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness in taken in high concentration! How's that happen? By displacing air in the lungs, to learn more about sniffing glue and why it is a terrible idea (I mean, you like your brain, right?).

-David Shurtleff

can you get high off of glue? and if so why?


yes, soemone can get high by sniffing glue. its effect can be somehwat similar to those of intoxication with alcohol. However, it does this at the expense of damaging the material that covers (insulates) nerve fibers in your body such that sniffing glue can result in impaired ability to feel sensations (touch) as well cause significant brain damage.You can learn more about inhalants by visiting:

-Nora Volkow

Can you get high off of markers?

-lacey123, Pennsylvania

The vapor that comes off a Sharpie belongs to a class of abused drugs we call inhalants. Unfortunately, some kids sniff these to try and get a buzz similar to the one you get after drinking alcohol. But abusing any type of inhalant is extremely dangerous because they are toxic substances that dissolve in fatty tissues and can spread through the entire brain very quickly. Inhalants are one of the few types of drugs that can kill instantly and after a single use!

-Ruben Baler

can you get high off of pixie sticks if you snort it?

-m.nino, Michigan


-Ruben Baler

can you get high off of pural hand sanitizer???

-alexad, Massachusetts

I have heard of people drinking hand sanitizer because of the alcohol in it, but clearly, that is not a good idea! Thanks for the question.

-Joe Frascella

Can you get high off of sharpies

-brijbanerji, Michigan

Yep, in fact we recently wrote a blog entry about this issue. Check out the blog and the comments we've received from teens at inhalants " It states 'permanent markers contain chemicals called solvents. When inhaled, these solvents can produce a 'high.' Like alcohol, inhalants (including Sharpies) can cause slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Unfortunately, the chemicals that cause these effects can also make you sick, kill your brain cells, and damage your nerves."

-Anna Staton

can you get high off of sharpies and whiffs of spray paint bottles

-WEEDISNTGOOD95, Pennsylvania

Yes, there are some volatile substances in the Sharpie pens and spray paint cans that some people sniff to get high. Inhalants can be extremely dangerous and can cause very serious damage to brain cells.For some excellent information on inhalants, check out: for the question.

-Joe Frascella

Can you get high off of sharpies?

-SaldanaHope, Michigan

Some can make you 'high' depending on the chemical used--and the high wouldresemble
alcoholintoxication. The problem is that some of these chemicals are toxic--they can produce a loss of sensation, and even unconsciousness if taken in high concentrations! With repeated use they can irreversibly result in hearing loss, limb spasms, and brain or bone marrow damage. Sniffing high concentrations of
inhalantsmay result in death from heart failure or suffocation (inhalants displace oxygen in the lungs)-not good!

For more information about drugs, check out!

-David Shurtleff