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 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

can taking crack make you mad and depresses???

-iam awesome, Illinois

Yes. Crack, a form of cocaine, can change your mood in many different ways, including making you very depressed, anxious, obsessive, and paranoid. It does so by changing specific brain chemicals. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek treatment from a healthcare professional by calling 800-662-HELP. Or call 800-273-TALK if you are feeling depressed and need to talk to someone right away.

-Anto Bonci

Can taking more than 1 drug at a time make it worse? like can they have bad effects if they are put together or used together?

-monkeylover123, Illinois


-Nora Volkow

can tobacco effect someones personality?

-tarbuck, North Carolina

Sure can! Tobacco contains the chemical nicotine, which is very addicting. It's one of the reasons people keep smoking even though most don't want to. And have you ever met someone who is trying to quit? They can be very moody, agitated...not like themselves at all. That is what experts call withdrawal!

-Cindy Miner

Can tobacco give you a type of mental illness?

-Prettyme, Georgia

I don't think there is any evidence in the scientific literature that tobacco can give you a mental illness. What we do know is that people with certain mental illnesses smoke at much higher rates than people without mental illness. For example I've seen reports that anywhere to 60-80% of people with schizophrenia smoke. Compare that to the about 20% of all adults who smoke. But let me be clear there is NO evidence that smoking will give you schizophrenia. What is likely happening is that schizophrenics are smoking to ease some of their symptoms...or self-medicate as we say in science speak!

-Cindy Miner

Can too much alcohol cause someone to pass out

-fatpanda22, Illinois

Yes, it certainly can. Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much and it can cause you to pass out. Even if you have stopped drinking or pass out, alcohol in the stomach and intestine can continue to enter your blood stream and circulate throughout your body. Make sure you are aware of the critical signs of alcohol poisoning, which can include: Mental confusion Stupor Coma Vomiting Seizures Slow or irregular breathing Hypothermia, or low temperature Bluish skin color Paleness If you think someone you know may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, make sure to get help immediately. You can call 911.

-Shuly Babitz

can you die from drinking

-JHinojosa, Texas

Yes, you can. If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as 'alcohol poisoning.'

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

-Shuly Babitz

Can you die if you smoke marijuana once?

-REW90, Maryland

not directly, but you could become decision impaired and drive your car into a tree or become infected with HIV. Think about it. be safe and be smart

-Ruben Baler

can you die the first time you drugs?

-danimac123, North Carolina

Hi danimac123, the short answer is yes. There is a lot we still don’t know about how different people are affected by drugs differently, such as who will drop dead from the outset, who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different, so it’s a little like playing “Russian Roulette' if you choose to use drugs. But, if you do, the earlier you stop, the more likely you will be to avoid addiction and the harmful resulting brain changes and health conditionsh.

-Marsha Lopez

can you drive while high?

-Bubbler doodz, Pennsylvania

Getting high can seriously impact your ability to drive. Drugs and alcohol affect the part of your brain that controls your motor coordination, your ability to make fast and precise movements, and your vision - all necessary for you to drive safely. In addition, alcohol and drugs can impair your judgement, and makes you more likely to take risks like driving through a yellow or red light and driving faster than the posted speed limit. Some drugs, including alcohol, can also make you sleepy and increase the chances of falling asleep while driving. So, the short answer is that you just can't drive safely while high. Please don't try!

-Lori Ducharme

can you ever recover form a cocaine addiction?

-Zach H, Maryland

Hi and thanks for your question. The short answer is yes, but of course it's more complicated than that. Cocaine is a tough one, but NIDA is working with scientists all over the country to develop effective treatments. Right now, several behavioral therapies are effective in treating addiction to stimulants, the class of drugs that includes cocaine. These approaches are designed to help the person think differently, change their expectations and behaviors, and increase their skills in coping with various stresses in life. One strategy that is showing positive results in people addicted to either cocaine or methamphetamine is called contingency management, or motivational incentives (MI). These programs reward patients who refrain from using drugs by offering small rewards. MI may be particularly useful for helping patients to initially stop taking the drug and for helping them to stay in treatment.

Currently, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat people who are addicted to stimulants, although that is an active area of research for NIDA.

For more information on cocaine addiction and NIDA's research, visit our teen-friendly website,

-Lori Ducharme