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 it be hereditary for a drinking or drug problem?

-IMS706, Louisiana

Yes, genetics plays an important role in vulnerability to addiction

-Nora Volkow

Can large amounts of serotonin lead to schizophrenia?

-acynicalchicken, Pennsylvania

hi acynicalchicken: This is a good but complicated question: We don't really know all of the causes of schizophrenia. What we do know is that there are probably many contributing factors, including biological factors (including genetic factors, brain chemistry and functioning) and environmental influences, some that operate very early in life, that together lead to risk for schizophrenia. Scientists think that an imbalance in the complex, interrelated chemical reactions of the brain involving the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate, and possibly others, plays a role in schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters are substances that allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Current theories do not point to serotonin specifically, but scientists are learning more about brain chemistry and its link to schizophrenia. The most commonly used antidepressant medications involve serotonin (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs), since the serotonin system is part of current theories of depression. But taking SSRIs correctly, such as when they are prescribed for depression and/or anxiety, has not been found to lead to schizophrenia.for more information about shcizophrenia and possible causes....for more information about antidepressant treatments....

-Joel Sherrill

can lsd kill you?

-emendoza, Texas

You bet. You can overdose, or it can cause you to do something stupid that could get you killed. It has unpredictable psychological effects. People can experience delusions and visual hallucinations that can be frightening. In fact, 'bad trips' can include terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety and despair that include fears of insanity, death, or losing control. For more information about LSD, visit NIDA's website at end content

-Joni Rutter

Can many of the prescription drugs kill you?

-J Nguyen, Texas

Most of the prescription opioids can. They are strong pain killers, but the can also kill you if you take too much or in a way they are not suppose to be taken. Always follow your doctor's instructions!

-Dave Thomas

can marihuana kill you ?

-jamie22, Ohio

Marijuana overdose is really unlikely--you're more likely to fall asleep before you can ingest enough marijuana. However, marijuana contributes to lethality in other ways--including car crashes--approximately 14% of people in fatal crashes test positive for marijuana (sometimes in combination with other drugs). In particular, marijuana and alcohol together are worse than either one alone with respect to auto accidents! And MJ can be addicting--about 9% of users, 1 in 6 of those who start young, and 25-50% of daily users become addicted. Smoking marjuana can also increase a person's risk of developing respiratory infections, chronic coughing and more. Want more information about marijuana? Click on:

-David Shurtleff

Can marijuana affect pregnancy?

-yamomma, Maine

hi yamommathanks for the question!Animal research suggests that the body's endocannabinoid system plays a role in the control of brain maturation, particularly in the development of emotional responses. It is conceivable that even low concentrations of THC, when administered during pregnancy, could have profound and long-lasting consequences for both brain and behavior. Research has shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies display altered responses to visual stimuli, increased tremulousness, and a high-pitched cry, which could indicate problems with neurological development. In school, marijuana-exposed children are more likely to show gaps in problem solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive. But this type of research is very difficult to interpret because it is never perfectly controlled. Thus, more research is needed to disentangle the drug-specific factors from the environmental ones.Hope this helpsAll the best to you.

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana be put in a drink and have the same effects?

-harry.h, Texas

Ingesting marijuana still produces a 'high' as with smoking. However, it takes longer to get into your system and since you don't know how much you're getting, it could ultimately be more dangerous and cause more paranoia and psychosis, as some emergency room reports have indicated.

-Dave White

can marijuana have medical use?

-adison_s, Pennsylvania

The FDA, which approves all therapeutic drugs in the US has not approved marijuana for the treatment of any disease or condition. That's because it hasn't been proven safe and effective in carefully controlled studies with patients. Marijuana is not likely to become a medicine for several reasons--its a plant that contains many chemicals (over 400), some with unknown health effects; the ingredients vary from plant to plant--medicines need to be able to have precisely controlled ingredients--so doctors know how much to prescribe and side effects can be prevented; marijuana's effects on your ability to think and remember make it not ideal; and finally, anything thats smoked is bad for the lungs. Scientists are however interested in some of marijuana's ingredients that may have possibilities as medicines but with less risks than marijuana itself. See

-Christine Colvis

Can Marijuna effect your memory?

-eigwe, Texas

It definitely can! Marijuana use impairs a person's ability to form new memories and to shift focus. THC a known psychoactive ingredient in MJ causes memory impairment by altering how information is processed in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for memory formation, THC also disrupts coordination and balance by binding to receptors in the cerebellum and basal ganglia—parts of the brain that regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time. Therefore, learning, doing complicated tasks, participating in athletics, and driving are also affected. Research has shown that marijuana's negative effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. So, unfortunately, someone who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time. Not surprisingly, evidence suggests that, compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school. MJ use is associated consistently with reduced educational attainment (e.g., grades and chances of graduating).

-David Shurtleff

can markers make you high?

-nakoma225, Iowa

Yes, they are considered inhalants and make you high in a way similar to alcohol.

-Nora Volkow

can mountain dew be a form of

-big_dawg30, Arkansas

hi.intriguing question, i wonder why you ask.mountain dew is mountain dewsteroids are steroidsno overlap between the two whatsoever

-Ruben Baler

can mountain dew be a form of steroids?

-big_dawg30, Arkansas

hi.intriguing question, i wonder why you ask.mountain dew is mountain dewsteroids are steroidsno overlap between the two whatsoever.

-Ruben Baler

Can Oxycontin have any really bad long term effects

-KimC, Pennsylvania

Oxycontin is an opioid that is used to help millions of adults and teens manage pain. Abuse of prescription medications like OxyContin is a big problem, not only for adults, but also for teens. In fact, in 2010, 1 out of 20 10th and 12th grade students have used OxyContin for non-medical reasons in the past year. Using these drugs for reasons, other than a doctor prescribes, can lead to bad consequences, like addiction. Misuse or abuse of OxyContin can lead to drug addiction, overdose and death (more than 12,000 unintentional opioid overdose deaths total in the U.S. in 2007) -- not good!! Need more information about prescription drugs? Click on:

-David Shurtleff

Can pain killers affect your health?

-jmontenegro, Texas

Yes they can. Opioids (such as the pain relievers OxyContin and Vicodin), central nervous system depressants, are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Did you know that in 2006, prescription pain medications, like Vicodin, were involved in more overdose deaths that heroin and cocaine? For more facts about drugs, read NIDA’s booklet made for teens---called Drugs: Shatter the Myths. You can find it (and even order it for free) at Explore what happens when teens use prescription drugs such as pain killers here:

-Joe Frascella

Can painkillers be addictive?

-Ilovesoccer, Pennsylvania

Absolutely. Addiction to pain killers is common among people who use them without a prescription or in amounts not ordered by a doctor. The risk for addiction is much less when pain killers are used as specified by a doctor.

-Dave Thomas

Can parents, older brothers or sisters help to a person who is on drugs?


Definitely - family members are an important source of support to someone who has a drug abuse problem. You can always listen to what your family member has to say about why they use drugs. You can also encourage them to learn more about how drug use negatively affects his body, brain, and life by visiting NIDA's website ( Even though they may not want treatment you can always tell them their health and well being are important to you and encourage them to talk with a doctor, therapist, or teacher to find help. Because talking with someone about their drug use can be difficult, you may want to seek the support for yourself. Remember, you can't make your loved one stop using drugs - you can only provide them with support and let him know you care.

-Redonna Chandler

Can peer pressure get a person off drugs?

-Erin, Ohio

This is a great question! I think that peer pressure is effective in helping someone who needs to get off drugs. It depends on how serious the problem is, the drug used, etc. Certainly 'peer pressure' and good friendships are a great start (and great support for recovery), but the person may need a medical evaluation and treatment, too.

-Michelle Leff

Can peer pressure lead to drinking and doing other drugs? What can teens do to avoid peer pressure?

-selg2011, Virginia

Yes. But it doesn't have to. One thing that teens can do to avoid peer pressure is to get involved with peers focused on positive activities that don't include drinking and drug use. Talking to a trusted adult who can help to support a teen's decision not to use drugs can be helpful as well. Getting the facts about how alcohol and drug use can affect a teen and the consequences that a teen could experience if they get involved with alcohol and drugs, can also help a person decide not to use drugs. Also, it is good to learn skills for how to refuse offers to use alcohol and drugs. There are prevention programs that teach youth these skills. For more information, take a look at these resources:

-Belinda Sims

Can people be hallucinated when taking hallucinogens?

-J Nguyen, Texas

Dude, what does hallucinated mean? Here's some information on how to learn more about hallucinogens: Research shows that, for example, 'shrooms have a substance called psilocybin in them, which is an hallucinogen. These hallucinogens have been linked to negative physical and psychological consequences. The physical effects appear about 20 minutes after ingestion and last about 6 hours. These effects include nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, drowsiness, and lack of coordination. People say that the hallucinations they experience are indistinguishable from reality. They usually have panic attacks and psychosis...doesn't sound good to me!Some hallucinogens come from plants. Mescaline comes from a cactus called peyote. And certain mushrooms, also known as “magic” mushrooms, are hallucinogens. But many hallucinogens are chemicals that don’t occur in nature. Some examples are: LSD, also called acid MDA, also called the “love drug,” related to the stimulant amphetamine MDMA, known as ecstasy, also related to amphetamine PCP, often called angel dust

-Joni Rutter

can people become immune to the affects drugscan do to your body?

-larryeast, Oklahoma

Good morning! Maybe not immune but a person's body can become tolerant to the effects of drugs. So, what is tolerance? That happens when a person takes a drug and over time their body no longer responds to it in the way it did at first and they need more to get the same effects they used to. Stated another way, it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response achieved initially. Tolerance can be a big problem with drugs, like opioids like morphine and heroin (just as an example). Over time and with repeated use, the person uses higher and higher doses to get the same 'high'.

-David Shurtleff

Can people who suffer from non-prescription drug addiction be prescribed to prescription drugs?

-maddiec, Wisconsin

Yes--but they may require additional medical monitoring. People who are in chronic pain for example may need to be treated with opioid medications, however they would need to also be in treatment for their substance abuse problem and would need additional monitoring by their prescribing physician to prevent a worsening the patient's condition. Also, people may need other types of (non-addictive) prescription drugs to help them recover from their addiction--e.g., drugs to treat a co-occurring mental disorder, like depression.

-Susan Weiss

can prescription drugs kill you?

-aescobar, Texas

Certain ones, absolutely. For example, certain anti-anxiety drugs, when taken in large doses, especially in combination with alcohol can depress the brain's circuit telling the body to breathe, causing death.

-Jim Bjork

Can swallowing a gallon of

-Thisman12, Maryland

Less than a drop of
nicotinewill kill you on the spot. It is one of the most toxic substances known! For more information, see:

-Joni Rutter

Can swallowing a gallon of nicotine kill you ?

-Thisman12, Maryland

Less than a drop of nicotine will kill you on the spot. It is one of the most toxic substances known! For more information, see:

-Joni Rutter

Can tabacco chewing give you gum cancer? How easily?

-peguinlover99, Michigan

Both chewing and smoking tobacco can negatively affect your body. It's hard to say which will affect your body more, because so much has to do with each person's biology and the amount they smoke or chew. But we do know the more someone uses tobacco (in any form) the greater the effects can be on their body. Overall, chewing tobacco can cause damage to gum tissue and even loss of teeth. It also reduces a person's ability to taste and smell. Most importantly, smokeless tobacco contains cancer causing-chemicals that can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. This can even happen in very young users who chew tobacco. In fact, most people who develop these cancers used to chew tobacco. Inhaling cigarette smoke pulls more than 4,000 chemicals into a person's lungs. The most dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke are tar and carbon monoxide. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems; smokers are at high risk for heart disease. Whether someone smokes, chews, or sniffs tobacco, he or she is delivering nicotine to the brain and increasing their chances of becoming addicted. Once addicted, it is very difficult to quit, in spite of the severe health consequences. For more information on smoking or tobacco please go to:

-Joni Rutter

Can the effects of drugs last your whole life?

-2341, Iowa

All drugs of abuse can have long-lasting effects on the body and brain. But, if a person is able to quit, these effects can gradually begin to return to normal over a period of several weeks to months. The damage done to the body or brain depends on the drug of abuse and how long and/or frequently a person may have taken that drug. Drugs can affect the way the brain functions and how brain cells send and receives messages. A person that is dependent on cocaine for example can have abnormal brain function for several months before the brain can slowly recover ( and there is evidence that long-term cocaine use can result in impaired heart function ( Also, hallucinogens can cause people to have flashbacks, without warning, well after using them (sometimes up to a year or more after)!

-Kris Bough

Can the THC be removed from

-Zombie Man!, Vermont

Hello Zombie Man. THC is the primary active compound in marijuana. It can be removed by extracting the drugs with organic solvents (with chemicals in a lab). We actually do this in our experiments where we study the effects of drugs in drug users to learn about what a drug does. In our studies, we use placebo marijuana (marijuana where the drug has been removed) as a control in our experiments. So it can be done! Thanks for asking

-Marilyn Huestis

Can the THC be removed from marijuana?

-Zombie Man!, Vermont

Hello Zombie Man. THC is the primary active compound in marijuana. It can be removed by extracting the drugs with organic solvents (with chemicals in a lab). We actually do this in our experiments where we study the effects of drugs in drug users to learn about what a drug does. In our studies, we use placebo marijuana (marijuana where the drug has been removed) as a control in our experiments. So it can be done! Thanks for asking.

-Marilyn Huestis

can u die from multiple drugs

-wreaves, Texas

Yes! Interactions between alcohol drinking and popping certain painkillers combined can cause the brain to stop telling the heart to beat! Micheal Jackson died from an interaction of a sedative and a painkiller. Of course too much of a single drug can kill you too, like a cocaine-caused heart attack.

-Jim Bjork

can u get addictive to pain killers, if u take one like every day nd yout love it so much you cant stop taking it can u die?? thanks, Awoods:)

-Awoods, Texas

Ouch! Who would want to do that? Yes you could die if you do that! You might feel a 'high' but then you have to take more and more just to get the same high and then your whole life is dominated by running around trying to find enough drugs---what a mess! And then you take too many pills because you are desperate for the high and then you overdose. Did you know that more people die every year from painkiller overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined? Painkiller abuse is no joke.

-Carol Krause