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 alcohol poising affect your lungs

-justinC, Texas

Yes. If a person drinks enough alcohol to suffer alcohol poisoning, small areas in the lower part of the brain can be shut down. One of these areas is supposed to make us gag if something blocks the airway. If the person is suffering alcohol poisoning, they might vomit and then inhale some of it. Some people simply drown in the vomit and die. Others live but then die a week or more later due to aspiration pneumonia, a bacterial infection in the lungs caused by inhaling vomit. 

-Aaron White

Can alcohol signal any type of cancer?

-VanekB, Texas
Drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth, throat, and breast. You can learn more about these risks at:
-Aaron White

can alcoholism occur because of someone's personal choices and bad decisions over a period of time?

-jjones, Georgia

Alcoholism, and addiction in general, is a disease. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs and alcohol work in the brain than ever, and we also know that addiction can be successfully treated to help people live fulfilling lives. 

More here:

-Aaron White

Can animals be addicted to drugs?

-SerenaVW, Minnesota
Hi SerenaVW - Drugs can definitely affect animals. In fact, a lot of the research we support uses animals to examine the effects of drugs because animal brains are a good model for human brains. 

You should also check out this great blog by our very own Dr. Joe Frascella on drugs being "discovered" first by animals!

-Joni Rutter

Can animals get drugged?

-LaChabrah, Florida

Sure, their brains are a lot like ours. Drugs will impact thier brains much like ours.   The big difference is that animals can't choose to take drugs.

-Dave Thomas

can animals get high

-0137583, Florida

Hey this is a favorite question from you guys at Studies Prep Academy. Yes! In fact, most of the research done on drugs to help us understand how they work is done using animals that self-administer drugs of abuse.

-Joni Rutter

can animals get high?

-0206346, Florida

Hi 0206346/Internat. Studies Prep Academy. Yes! In fact, most of the research done on drugs to help us understand how they work is done using animals that self-administer drugs of abuse. 

-Joni Rutter

Can antidepressants be addicting?

-erisrael17, Minnesota

Hi Erisrael

Typical antidepressants work on the serotonin system and have little crossover to the dopamine system, which regulates pleasure. This is why antidepressants won't give you a high. as a consequence they are considered to have very low if any addiction potential.

thanks for the question and best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Can any drugs make you go into a comma?

-lazysparkle, Maryland

Hey Sparkie.  
Depends on the drug, but sure, many can if one overdoses but survives.  It's better to stay away from drugs!   

-Dave Thomas

Can any of these drugs have the same or similar effect in other animals besides humans and rats?

-Sidney, Maryland

Yes Sidney, drugs have effects on all sorts of animals. We study humans, rats, mice, monkeys, voles, birds, worms, bees and flies, to name a few. The human brain is the most advanced, but we see similar effects of drugs across animal species.  

-Joni Rutter

Can anything other than booze get you drunk?

-DMassey, New Hampshire

Drunk is a term that generally only applies the effects of alcohol. 

-Aaron White

can beer get rid of body worms?

-makala2212, Georgia

There is plenty of speculation about this on the Internet but no studies have been done. 

-Aaron White

Can beer kill tapeworms in humans and dogs?

-Zemontiaaa, Georgia

I had never heard this one?! A quick search shows that there have not been any actual studies on this but some people swear that a very tiny amount of beer can kill tapeworms in dogs. It's best not to risk it, however, as alcohol can be toxic to pets. 

-Aaron White

can being around drugs for years affect you in the future.

-Dadrian14, Georgia

Hi Dadrian
probably not from second hand exposure, but being around drug users all the time has to have some negative effects in your life. Can you think of any?

thanks for a great question

-Ruben Baler

Can caffeine cause heart problems?

-Zohn, Maryland

Severe caffeine overdose can cause fast and erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation—these extreme symptoms are more often caused by using caffeine powder than from drinking too much coffee or tea or consuming too many sodas or energy drinks.

-Maureen Boyle

Can caffeine stimulate weight loss? If you took pure polyphenols (the substance in green tea for slimming effect), would you start having a faster/enhanced metabolism or lose weight? Lastly, why are some drugs-like tobacco and caffeine- acceptable in society where marijuana (a gateway drug but nevertheless still popularly used) is considered illegal and harmful as a substance (while coffee and cigarettes are considered normal, daily fare)?

-Lanthirey, Maryland

Give it up for Lanthirey!  Awesome question.  There is no good evidence that caffeine leads to significant weight loss.  It may suppress your appetite for a time, but over a period of time, its not enough to actually cause your body to drop some serious pounds.   There are, however, good ways to lose weight that actually work.  As for our society's approach to drugs?  Well-not all drugs are equally harmful.  People don't commit crimes, lose everything they ever worked for, hurt their families, cause accidents or generally bring down the quality of life for themselves or others because of caffeine.  As for marijuana/cigarettes--it does seem like cigarettes are going out of style (thank goodness!) and marijuana is more popular.  But normal?  It all depends on who you hang with--but for lots of Americans, marijuana is not normal or OK or acceptable--they just don't get the media attention.  

-Lis Davis

Can catnip get you high?

-imalazyshit, Maryland

No, catnip is not addictive or psychoactive. Catnip (from the plant Nepeta cataria) DOES cause most cats to act strangely: they roll around, shake their heads, rub against things, and try to get the plant all over their bodies. Interestingly, cats are only affected when they smell it - it has NO EFFECT if they eat it. It appears that catnip has little or no psychoactive effects in people.

-Joni Rutter

Always adults spoiling society rotten and blaming it on the fact that its just the new generation...How many lives could be changed if cigarettes were abolished? It might cause a riot in these days, but if it wasn't started in the first place, imaging how many people would be better off without them?

-Vlindanna, Maryland

Hi Vlindanna,
i know it will be next to impossible to convince you, but we do have your best interest at heart when we try to help you make the right decisions about drugs. Your brain is developing very rapidly right now and it can ill afford to have to deal with the toxic effects of any drug of abuse. you'll be smart to believe me.
best of luck to you.\


-Ruben Baler

Am I more likely to get addicted to drugs if I start using them when I am a teenager?

-StrongMS EDGE, Connecticut

Yes, research suggests that the earlier someone starts using drugs the more likely they are to develop an addiction.

-Gaya Dowling

Are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

-MaNii, Michigan

hi manii, good to hear from you
This is a good question and one we get A LOT. the terms soft and hard drugs are not really scientific terms. So, put this way, this is one of those questions we can't really answer. You see, the effects of a drug are so different for different people that what's benign for one could be extremely dangerous for another. Having said that, some drugs, like meth, heroin and many synthetics which come laced with toxic chemicals are notoriously harmful to your health.
hope this helps.

-Ruben Baler

are 'soft' drugs less harmful than 'hard' drugs?

-vsvsvsvs, Maryland

In general they are but the problem is that there are some people that are more sensitive to harmful effects of the so called "soft drugs" leading them to have adverse reactions.  Also soft drugs trigger addiction and this is more common in young people who use them regularly believing them to be less harmful.  

-Nora Volkow

Are "Hooka Pipes" dangerous to the health and welfare of the human body?

-Authement/Scate, Texas

Hello there- There is a common misconception that smoking hookah isn't bad for you but it is really just another way of smoking tobacco and we all know that is bad for you.  Research suggests that smoking hookah is associated with all sorts of the same health problems associated with smoking cigarettes such as cancers, respiratory illnesses, and addiction.  In fact, early results of current research being conducted is revealing that one session of hookah smoking is like smoking multiple cigarettes!  So yes, it is absolutely bad to use.  Take a look at more info on hookah by clicking on this link

-Albert Avila

are all drugs adictive

-chance, Illinois

all drugs are POTENTIALLY addictive. Some are more so than others but it depends on a bunch of factors in addition to the drug. Since each person's makeup and environment differ, addiction risk varies. 

-Gaya Dowling

Are all drugs bad?

-jdonovan, New Hampshire

Any abused drugs can produce addiction (continuing to take the drug despite harmful health effects, damage to relationships, or legal consequences).  For example, regular marijuana use by teens decreases IQ into the adult years, and research continues to find out how marijuana and other drugs may impact the developing teen brain. And at lower doses, drugs affect people in many different ways. Research shows some stimulant drugs like cocaine can produce a blood flow reduction and stroke, while other drugs can shrink the number of brain cells by activating brain chemicals that cause brain cell death. Others produce lung damage, cancer, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and so on. At high doses some drugs can kill you, even after a single exposure. Find out more at

-Antonello Bonci

Are all drugs necessarily bad? Bad drugs can be good to certain people., Pennsylvania

That's a very good point--there are medicines that can be life saving for people with be certain illnesses, but devastating if taken by those for whom they are not prescribed.  Opiate painkillers are a perfect example--they can be very useful for someone following surgery, for example--but can also be highly addictive and even deadly when abused.  Also, people have varying responses to drugs and some are more vulnerable to the bad effects than others--not everyone who drinks alcohol get liver disease.  

-Susan Weiss

Are all over the counter drugs dangerous?

-Vronny, Maryland

Hi Vronny- All over-the-counter drugs carry the risk of hazardous side effects, especially the drugs that fall under any of these categories: painkillers and anti-inflammatories, heartburn and indigestion medication, cough and cold medication. Remember to always follow the instructions on the bottle of over the counter medications when you take them.  Stay safe and have a fantastic day, Vronny!

-Albert Avila

Are all substances with hallucination effects considered illicit drugs?

-X, Maryland

No- not all. There are some medical uses for ketamine, a drug which is also abused when used for non-medidcal purposes.  

-Nancy Pilotte

Are bath salts becoming more popular?

-lauren, North Carolina

Hi, Lauren. Nope! Actually quite the opposite! This family of drugs that contains synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stumulant, have shown declines over the past few years, and the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey reports than 1 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders using them.  Do you want to read more about new drug fads that concern scientists?  See

-Marsha Lopez

Are children born to alcoholic parents more likely to become an alcoholic in the future?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Yes, unfortunately.  The odds of being an alcoholic are much higher if you have alcoholism in your family. For instance, if someone has their first drink of alcohol at age 14-15 and has a family history of alcoholism, their odds of becoming an alcoholic are about 1 in 2, while for those without a family history the odds are about 1 in 3.  

-Aaron White

are dabs bad for you?

-hayballentine, Michigan

Hi hayballentine,
Yes, it's a much more concentrated form of marijuana, so you could have an extreme reaction, which can include vomiting, paranoia, and possibly even hallucinations. Over the long term, it can have the same bad effects, if you use it a lot, that other marijuana can have--like affecting your intelligence.
Thanks for the question!

-Eric Wargo