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 you be addicted to weed?

-IMS619mm, Louisiana

Actually,you can be. Research shows that about 1 in 11 people who try marijuana get addicted. If you start as a teen, this number goes up--to about 1 in 6. For young people who smoke it daily as teens, 25%-50% get addicted. Moreover, among young people in drug abuse treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions: 61 percent of those under age 15 and 56 percent of those 15-19.

-Jen Katt

Can you become addicted to Marijuana?

-Dustin A, Alabama

Yep. Research shows that about 1 in 11 people who try marijuana get addicted. If you start as a teen, this number goes up--to about 1 in 6. For young people who smoke it daily as teens, 25%-50% get addicted. Moreover, among young people in drug abuse treatment, marijuana accounts for the largest percentage of admissions: 61 percent of those under age 15 and 56 percent of those 15-19.

-Jen Katt

Can you catch a disease by doing drugs?

-IMS701wb, Louisiana

Yes, you sure can. First, you can get addicted to drugs, which is a disease. But beyond that, getting other diseases is common. One very notable one is AIDS. AIDS can be easily spread with injection drug use. There are many diseases on can get from smoking, including cancer, heart and lung diseases, to name a few. Alcohol can cause liver disease. The list does on and on...

-Dave Thomas

Can you develop mental disorders from taking drugs?

-Rosie Rose, Utah

Hi Rosie Rose. This is not an easy question to answer! There is some research to suggest that marijuana plays a role in psychosis, but the direction of the relationship is unclear. For example, in one study, teens who used marijuana were more likely to experience hallucinations when they were older, while younger teens who had hallucinations were more likely to use marijuana later on. The important thing to realize is that people who have mental illness often use drugs as a way to 'self medicate' or make themselves feel better. Using drugs is a short term and risky solution to dealing with a mental illness. If you need more help or treatment call 1-800-662-4357.

-Amy Goldstein

Can I try drugs just once and not become addicted?


Great question. The exact factors that lead an individual to become addicted to the drug are not well known. Some individuals are highly susceptible to drugs' addictive properties, whereas others are highly resistant. It depends on the specific drug, one's biology and genetic make up, as well as other factors. For more information go to: My advice, keep your brain and body safe, and stay away. Joe

-Joe Frascella

can marijuana be a prescription drug

-sparky, Maryland

Some states have legalized medical marijuana, and doctors in those states can qualify patients to get marijuana, although this is not the same as what normally happens in prescribing a medication. Prescriptions mean that you get a specific amount of a medicine, at a specific dosage, with clear instructions on how to take it and what to watch out for. Also, note that marijuana is not considered medicine by the Federal government since it has not gone through the formal approval process by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which evaluates the results of carefully controlled studies that measure the safety and effectiveness of a medication and decides if its benefits outweigh its risks.

-Susan Weiss

Can marijuana be addictive?

-622tp, Louisiana

The short answer is 'yes.' About 1 in 11 people using marijuana will become dependent. This risk increases in teens (1 in 6) and in daily marijuana users (25-50%). Research has shown that marijuana has short- and long-term effects on learning and memory, and these effects last even after someone stops using marijuana. For example, a recent study shows that regular marijuana use that begins in the teen years reduces IQ into adulthood, even if the person stops taking marijuana. So marijuana use during adolescence can produce negative biological (brain development) effects that can change the structure and function of the brain. You can read more here:

-Will Aklin

Can marijuana be fatal?

-Jamesp, Colorado

It can cause cancer and impair motor skills like driving, leading to accidents. However, I have never heard of an overdose of marijuana. Neither have the scientists sitting on either side of me...

-Dave Thomas

Can marijuana be taken any other way than by smoking it? if it can, does it effect your body the same way?

-monkeylover123, Illinois

Yes, marijuana can be taken orally, in which case it induces less rewarding effects and is less addictive.

-Nora Volkow

can marijuana change your physical appearence?

-koralieo, New Mexico

Marijuana is not known for changing your physical appearance. But other drugs do. For example, steroids are definitely known for changing your appearance: Boys taking steroids risk shrinking of the testicles, baldness, breast development, and infertility! YIKES! Girls taking steroids risk growth of facial hair, menstrual changes, male-pattern baldness, and deepened voice! I don't know any females that want that! Check out the facts: and Thanks for the question!

-Joni Rutter

Can marijuana cure canceror does it ease the pain?

-TTrinity, Texas

Marijuana does not cure cancer, but it may help alleviate the nausea associated with chemotherapy and may also help with some of the pain. However, note that although some states have legalized medical marijuana, it is still not considered medicine by the Federal government since it has not gone through the formal process that allows a medication to be marketed. This requires approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which evaluates the results of carefully controlled studies that measure the safety and effectiveness of a medication and decides if its benefits outweigh its risks. Most scientists believe that the medicinal promise of marijuana lies in its purified ingredients or other medications that affect the cannabinoid system (where marijuana acts). Some of these medicines are currently going through the FDA process.

-Susan Weiss

Can Marijuana effect you even though your not smoking it?

-981954, Maryland

Yep...if you eat it, it will still affect you and if you are in the room with someone who is smoking it (heard of a 'contact high'??), it can affect you...maybe just not to the degree that it would if you were smoking it yourself. It can also get in your hair (which if it is tested, could test positive). The best thing to do is to walk away when someone is about to light it up! Find out more about MJ by clicking on, or

-David Shurtleff

Can marijuana lead to major health problems? such as cancer?

-that white guy, Texas

Possibly. There is some early evidence that marijuana can raise a young man's risk of a very dangerous form of testicular cancer. There has been a lot of medical interest in whether marijuana smoking can raise the risk of lung cancer the way cigarette smoking can, but so far the evidence is weak -- more research needs to be done.

-Eric Wargo

Can marijuana mess up your mind

-reginac, Texas

Marijuana can cause distorted perceptions, memory impairment, and difficulty thinking and solving problems. Sounds like messing with your mind to me...

-Dave Thomas

Can marijuana only be a depressant, or can it also be a stimulant?

-thebestaround, Maryland

Marijuana is actually a hallucinogen (mind-altering), and is neither a depressant nor a stimulant (in terms of what does to respiration and alertness, etc.)

-Dave White

Can medical marijuana help with depression

-gir, North Carolina

So far, the research says no. Marijuana may make you feel better initially, but over time it can make you feel worse--similar to what happens with alcohol. Regular use of marijuana has been linked with increased risk of anxiety, depression, suicidal thinking, schizophrenia, and an 'amotivational syndrome'--which is probably not that different from depression.

-Susan Weiss

can memory loss be a result of marijuana

-enelson, Texas

Yes, memory impairment is one effect of using marijuana. Recent research has show that the receptors in the brain for THC, the active chemical in marijuana, are involved in normal memory formation. So marijuana use can alter the normal memory processes in the brain. But since it still not clear how long impairments in memory persist once one quits using marijuana, do you really want to take the risk? Find out more at:

-Steve Grant

Can meth be used for medical uses?

-RicardoR, New Mexico

Meth is used for treating obesity but only when everything else has failed since it's a dangerous drug. When its prescribed for obesity it is known asDesoxyn. But it is a dangerous drug so only should be used when prescribed by a physician by the person that it was prescribed for.

-Joni Rutter

Can meth shrink your body size or stunt your growth

-Elizabeth M, Colorado

Not sure about that, but drugs tend to have unpredictable effects on still developing brains and bodies. But growth is not the only thing to be concerned about with meth -- meth increases your blood pressure, make you have an irregular heart beat, cause bad breath and teeth ('meth mouth'), make you anxious, paranoid and more. The best thing to do is not use it. good luck Oberon Middle!!!

-David Shurtleff

Can OTC medicines like SufadPe be used as drugs?

-eric_c, Texas

Yes, the active ingredient in Sudafed is Pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make methamphetamine. In the United States, the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 reclassifies several of Sudafed's ingredients as Schedule Listed Chemicals to limit sales and require behind-the-counter storage or locked cabinet storage.

-Jen Katt

Can our immune system ever be strong enough to block off drug effects?

-asam, New Hampshire

One of the problems with drug abuse is that the drugs are taken in high dosages that hijack or overcome the body's normal responses. The body probably does not produce enough immunity by itself to overcome the effects of drugs, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse is conducting research to develop antibodies to block the effects of drugs. We are trying to do this for nicotine and for cocaine at this time. Although the results are not in yet, we are hopeful that these antibodies will provide new ways to treat addiction.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can overdosing sleeping pills kill you?

-cayo, Illinois

Yes, there have been reports of death from sleeping pill overdose. For example, a sleeping pill overdose can kill a person within a few minutes from the lack of oxygen in the lungs (report from the UC San Diego Health System). Go to: more information.

-Joe Frascella

can people function while being high?

-cotakid, Pennsylvania

No. Many brain areas are impaired, including brain areas that control judgment and decisions. This not only makes the user more likely to make risky decisions that negatively affect his/her health, but the health of others can also be impacted due to drugged driving.

-Anto Bonci

can people get deseases from drugs

-jcates, New Hampshire

Yes, they can. For example, people can get hepatitis or HIV/AIDS by sharing syringes (using the same needle to inject drugs). To learn the link between HIV and drug abuse, go to: Drugs also can irreversibly damage your brain, lungs, liver, and other body organs. Here's more information:

-Anto Bonci

Can people in general make crystal meth and why would they try?

-vung, Texas

Yes, meth can be made without particularly complex or expensive lab equipment (meth labs in people's basements). However, the over-the-counter medication (pseudoephedrine) that can be converted into meth is now more strictly controlled at the pharmacy. People make it, and risk injury and harmful effects from the dangerous and flammable chemicals they have to use, in order to try to make a profit.

-Dave White

Can people sneak drugs into your food or drink with out you knowing or tasting it?

-monkeylover123, Illinois

Yes--in fact, there are several drugs that are considered 'date rape' drugs that can be put into a person's drink without their knowing it--examples are GHB and rohypnol. You should always be careful when in a public place or a party to keep an eye on your drink. For more information on these drugs, please see:

-Susan Weiss

can perscription drugs harm you?

-oelmore, Texas

All prescription drugs have side effects. Some of them, especially painkillers, connect with certain molecules in the brain. For painkillers like oxycodone, the body can develop 'tolerance' to the drug over time, where it takes more and more pills to get the same effect, and this is what can really cause the slide into addiction. It's still a bit of a mystery why most people can quit, but some unfortunate people get hooked on them, and scientists are working to discover why!

-Dave White

Can pharmicutical drugs effect your physical appearance?

-parisp, New Mexico

Hmmm, that depends. I guess if they become addicted--that is the drug 'takes over' their life--so that they compulsively seek and use the drug despite the consequences, they could easily let their appearance go. Also, some prescription drugs can cause weight loss and other physical changes.

-Jen Katt

Can pot or heroine do damage to your liver?

-johnson, Pennsylvania

Both drugs can have negative effects on the body. Heroin can cause liver damage among a long list of other harmful effects. Its better to stay away from both drugs! You can find more information at:

-Dave White

Can steroids make you abusive?

-dino13, Texas

Abuse of anabolic steroids may lead to aggression and other psychiatric problems. Although many users report feeling good about themselves while on steroids, extreme mood swings can also occur, including manic-like symptoms and anger (“roid rage”) that may lead to violence. Researchers have also observed that users may suffer from paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment stemming from feelings of invincibility.

-Jen Katt