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.

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Can robots develop a drug addiction? This is a serious question

-arthur r, New Jersey

Serious answer. At this point in time, robots are electro-mechanical devices, so there is no way to administer a drug to a robot. However, robots can be programmed to seek items in their environment such as a power source. It is theoretically possible to program a robot to repeatedly seek out some item in the evironment because it has a large value to it that also has long-term bad effects on its performance. That would kind of be like addiction. You may want to look at the research of Steve Potter at Georgia Tech Univ (, who is using neurons grown in a dish to act as the 'brain' for robots. Drugs can be given to that 'brain in a dish', so it would be very interesting to see how that would affect the performance of a robot. Maybe you will be the person to does the research to answer that question ! Seriously.

-Steve Grant

can sex become a drug? does it have any negative physical effects in excess?

-starprepacademy, California

I think what you are really asking is whether people can become addicted to sex....clinically there are many people who develop compulsive sexual behaviors that can put them at risk for a number of problems including increased exposure to sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

-Cindy Miner

Can Sharpie Markers actually give you a high sensation, and if so why do so many stores sell sharpies?

-20114650@pjphs, Pennsylvania

Yes, they can. They are part of a class of chemicals called inhalants. This class of drugs is huge, and includes lots of cleaners, glues, gas... It is really not practicle to get rid of all of them. Probably best to work being careful when using any of the inhalants.... For more info, see

-David Thomas

Can sharpies get you high?

-hackettstown, New Jersey

If you sniff them too much, yes. Eating them can be a choking hazard! hehe... Like other inhalants, the solvents in sharpies can rob your brain of oxygen and make one woozy if you sniff them too much. Over the long run, one's brain can shrink from excessive sniffing. There is a whole lot of scientific info on this topic and why it is a seriously bad idea at:

-David Thomas

can sipping on condeine kill you?

-imclean101, Georgia

Codeine is a very weak opiate. Other opiates are morphine and heroin. Sipping, or taking orally, is the safest way to take opiates. However, I would not sip it at all unless a doctor has instructed you to, and you should take it in the amount prescribed. Sipping can add up, and you can overdose if you take a whole lot!

-David Thomas

can smoke affect babies

-anisha, Pennsylvania

Absolutely! A mom smoking while pregnant as well as secondhand smoke in the environment can affect babies before and after birth. Smoking during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for stillbirth, infant mortality, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, preterm birth, and respiratory problems. Carbon monoxide and nicotine from tobacco smoke may interfere with fetal oxygen supply - and because nicotine readily crosses the placenta, it can reach concentrations in the fetus that are much higher than levels in the mother. Nicotine concentrates in fetal blood, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, exposing both fetuses and infants to toxic effects. The more a woman smokes during pregnancy, the more infant birth weight is reduced, and that's not a good thing. Smoking during pregnancy can also affect cognition (learning and understanding) and is associated with behavioral problems. In addition, smoking more than a pack a day during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of the child becoming addicted to tobacco if he or she ever starts smoking. Even second-hand exposure to cigarette smoke can cause problems. For example, strong associations have been found between second-hand smoke and low birth weight and premature birth. Exposure during the postnatal period has been associated with a number of physical health outcomes, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, respiratory illnesses (asthma, respiratory infections, and bronchitis), ear infections and cavities, and increased medical visits and hospitalizations.

-Nicolette Borek

can smoking a joint be a form of birth control

-some guy, Kentucky

I am not aware of any evidence that suggests marijuana would be a viable mode of birth control. thanks for the question.

-Ruben Baler

can smoking marijuana help asthma?

-boilingsprings, Pennsylvania

There some evidence that it relaxes the bronchioles which can help in the short term, but in the long run its likely to be more problematic because of the general negative effects smoking has on the lungs.

-David Shurtleff

Can sniffing markers make you high?

-nats379, Maryland

Hi natz379,Yes, markers such as Sharpies contain volatile solvents--and when inhaled these solvents can produce a 'high.' The effects of inhalants can be similar to those of alcohol, and include slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalants can be very dangerous, particularly in children, some of whom have been known to die after a single session of inhaling chemical fumes. Long-term inhalant use can result in muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending, and talking. These effects are similar to what happens to patients with multiple sclerosis. Inhalants also affect other parts of your body, especially when used repeatedly. They can cause serious harm to vital organs, including the heart, kidneys, and liver. Certain inhalants can also cause the body to produce fewer blood cells, which may result in a condition known as aplastic anemia (in which the bone marrow is unable to produce blood cells). Frequent long-term use of certain inhalants can cause a permanent change or malfunction of peripheral nerves, called polyneuropathy. Not good, huh!?For more information on inhalants, visit:

-Kristen Huntley

can soda be a drug

-rabinj, New York

Non-caffeine free soda contains caffeine. And caffeine is a drug that people can become physically dependent on. But physical dependence is not the same as addiction. It occurs because the body naturally adapts to chronic exposure to a substance (e.g., caffeine or a prescription drug), and when that substance is taken away, symptoms can emerge while the body readjusts to the loss of the substance. Physical dependence can lead to craving for the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. But, that said, if you find yourself unable to stop drinking lots of soda-it's definitely a good idea to ask a trusted adult for help.

-Cheryl Boyce

Can some drugs make you see things

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Depends on the drug. LSD and other hallucinogen drugs like psilocybin (mushrooms), mescaline, DMT, and Salvadorium A (salvia) can produce mild to strong perceptual distortions, which can include changes in colors, or in the shape and size of objects. Sometimes even common objects can look like something entirely different. Other types of drugs, such as stimulants, marijuana, or opioids, don't produce such strong perceptual effects. Here's some more facts on hallucinogens:

-Steve Grant

can some painkillers be considered as drugs


Yes, prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin are part of a class of drugs called opioids, just like heroin. These prescription painkillers can be very helpful to people in pain but when they are abused, that is taken in higher doses, more frequently, or smoked or injected, they can be very dangerous.

-Gaya Dowling

Can someone get high off ADHD or ADD medicine?

-dragonslayer1o1, Kentucky

Good morning dragonslayer. The class of medication most commonly used to treat ADHD/ADD are stimulants. I know - if someone is already 'hyper' why would you give them something to make them more hyper?! Because of the biology of the disorder, the truth is, if someone has ADHD taking stimulants is actually calming. You wouldn't get high from taking the medicine, but the medicine will help with things like attention and concentration. However, just like any other medical condition, you should not take medicine for something you don't have, as the effect on your body would be different than what is expected. Addiction to stimulants can happen if they are taken without medical supervision. Want to know more about ADHD?

And here's some further info on ADHD medications:

-Amy Goldstein

can using k2 kill you ?

-ozmann12, Maryland

Thanks for your question.K2, Spice is a fairly new phenomenon. There is no solid indication that this herbal mixture is lethal. But since this mixtures are not regulated nor standardized different batches from different manufacturers could end up containing dangerous contaminants. Stay healthy and take care.

-Ruben Baler

Can weed be eaten?

-marijuanna, New Jersey

Yes, some people put marijuana in baked goods. The problem with eating marijuana is that it takes a very long time for the drug to take effect--about an hour or more. So it is very easy to take more than you intend (or not even know that you have eaten somethinig containing mariujana) because you may not feel anything right after eating something containing it. So be careful out there ! The only medically approved use for THC, the most psychoactive chemical in marijuana, is Marinol, a capsule containing TCH dissolved in sesame seed oil. Check out for more.

-Steve Grant

Can weed cause death?

-NickP, Maryland

Hi! Interesting question...hard to answer exactly because
marijuanais generally not toxic in the sense that if you smoke it, it is going to kill you. But, if you were to get high and then drive, have unprotected sex, or do something else that could be dangerous, the consequences could be serious...even deadly. Approximately 14% of fatally injured drivers test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs)

-Joe Frascella

Can weed cause death?

-NickP, Maryland

Hi! Interesting question...hard to answer exactly because marijuana is generally not toxic in the sense that if you smoke it, it is going to kill you. But, if you were to get high and then drive, have unprotected sex, or do something else that could be dangerous, the consequences could be serious...even deadly. Approximately 14% of fatally injured drivers test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs)

-Joe Frascella

Can weed cause death? (with regular eat habits)

-PoloBoy, Maryland

The worst thing that can happen to you is getting hurt or killed, not directly from the drug, like the way that alcohol or opioids can stop your breathing, but by getting into a car wreck or having some other consequence of altered judgment and perception from being high. The biggest danger has to do with marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, reaction time....Studies have found that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who were injured or died in traffic crashes tested positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Learn more on the Sara Bellum blog at

-Steve Grant

Can Weed Kill You On Your First Try?

-CoCo&Chanel2012, Maryland

quick answer: no. and probably not on your second either.

-Ruben Baler

Can you abuse prescription marijuana

-mr. jiggleworm, Vermont

Yes, medical marijuana is the same as the marijuana that is abused. Anything that is prescribed for you by a doctor shoud be used as directed by the doctor. Anything else can put you at risk for problems, especially health problems.

-Joe Frascella

can you bare a child if your addicted to drugs

-babels, New York

You can, but the baby can be affected, and for some drugs (like heroin and other opiates like vicodin) the baby can be born addicted, and will be withdrawing the first days of life. Smoking during pregnancy can have dire consequences - it is associated with infant mortality, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome. Also, some states have laws that babies born with drugs in their systems have to be removed from their moms. If you are addicted to drugs and want to have a baby, get some treatment first! This will help you, as a person and as a parent, and it will help you to have a healthy baby. There are some treatment programs designed specifically for pregnant teens and women that can help you. If you need help with an addiction, you can find a substance abuse treatment facility by calling 1-800-662-HELP or go to anytime, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

-Nicolette Borek

can you be born an alcoholic if it runs in your family?

-Kristina, New Jersey

A person can be born with a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic if they have alcoholism in their family. That means that if either of your parents is an alcoholic, your chances of becoming alcohol dependent are higher than someone whose parents are not alcoholics. This is true even if you are raised in a home without the alcoholic parent. However, you can't become an actual alcoholic unless you start drinking alcohol yourself. If you have a family history of alcoholism, it's very important to wait to try alcohol for as long as possible. The earlier a person starts drinking alcohol the greater the chances they will become alcohol dependent. For instance, if a kid with a family history of alcoholism who starts drinking alcohol at age 14-15, he or she has about a 50/50 chance to go on to have a serious alcohol problem. Waiting just a few years lowers the odds significantly! Only 16% of people with a family history of alcoholism develop alcoholism if they wait until age 21 to drink.

-Aaron White

Can you become addicted for life for just one use of drugs


It is difficult to say since it depends on a lot of issues. It can depend on the drug that the person abuses, the biology of that person, the environment in which that person lives. It might also depend on how much of the drug is abused and how that drug is taken (snorting, smoking or injecting drugs since introducing drugs into the body in these ways can be very dangerous). It can also depend on the age of the person. It is thought that teenagers may be more prone to addiction than adults are since their brains are still rapidly developing. Depending on these several issues, a person can begin down a lifelong path to addiction more rapidly. For more info, check out:

-Kris Bough

Can you become addicted to Marijuana??

-nidachat, New Hampshire

Yes. We now know now that long-term use of marijuana can lead to a withdrawal syndrome when you try to stop, which includes irritability and trouble sleeping, among other effects. In addition, continued use of marijuana can lead to decreased school performance and other problems in life. In a recent study, heavy marijuana users said they regretted using marijuana and felt it contributed to them not achieving as much in life as they wanted to do. Read more here:

-Steve Grant

can you comsume more alcohol if youre a guy, or a girl?


That depends on the guy and the girl. However, in general, girls are affected more by alcohol than guys. Girls can feel the immediate effects of alcohol more quickly and for a longer time than guys. Thanks to natural differences in body chemistry and metabolism, girls retain more alcohol in their blood than men do, and also break down and get rid of alcohol more slowly than guys do.

-Aaron White

Can it be good to drink?

-craigb, New York

For adults, one (for females) or up to two (for males) servings of alcohol can help decrease the chances of developing heart disease. However, any more than that increases the risk of developing a host of problems, including liver and pancreas diseases, weakened immune system, and certain kinds of cancers.There are no known benefits of alcohol for teenagers, only negative effects.

-Aaron White

Can marijana be used to help some people?

-15965464, Maryland

Marijuana is not an FDA approved medication at this time--meaning that it has not met the safety and efficacy requirements that all medicines must meet. That said, ingredients in marijuana clearly have an anti-nausea effect; an appetite stimulating effect; and some anti-pain effects. In fact, scientists are very excited and invested in developing medications that work through the same system (the endocannabinoid system) that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, works on. But the hope is to develop medications with less of the side effects associated with marijuana--and one that is not smoked, as this is obviously an unhealthy delivery sysstem.

-Joe Frascella

can marijuana affect sexual activity

-15948967, Maryland

not that I know of.heavy or chronic marijuana could lower a man's sperm count though.

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana really be prescribed as a drug?

-jm, Vermont

Some states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; however, it has never received approval by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which is responsible for making sure that medicines are safe and effective. So states legalizing it have actually bypassed the normal process by which all other medicines are approved. There are definitely medicinal benefits of some of the components in marijuana and scientists are working hard to isolate those and make other compounds that can act on the same system that marijuana acts on (the endocannabinoid system). But smoking is not a good way to deliver a drug, and there are inconsistencies from plant among the ingredients (some 400 or so chemicals); and some of marijuana's risks, including addiction, also make this a cause for concern.

-David Shurtleff

can mary be addictive when used in a BONG?

-wakeNbake, Maryland

MJ can be addictive no matter whether you smoke it in cigarette form, use a bong, or put it in brownies. About 9% of people who use MJ become addicted. Take a look at our fact sheet at

-Jane Lipkin