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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are dabs or oil concentrates worse for your health than smoking normal weed??

-Willem Sheetz, Maryland

Hey Willem Sheetz - Dabs and oils concentrate the drug into a more potent form. Either method isn't good, but getting high concentrations of a drug into your system is the equivalent of your brain hitting a wall and can be much more dangerous.  

-Joni Rutter

are dabs or oil concentrates worse than regular weed

-Willem Sheetz, Maryland

Dear Willem, 
Oil concentrates of marijuana (hash oil) are more concentrated, resinous forms of the drug. with much higher concentrations of THC (the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana). H
ash oil concentrate THC content has been reported to get close to 80 or even 90 percent THC, a huge amount. This high level of THC is very worrisome in terms of addiction potential and the risk of mental illness.
best of luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

Are drugs allowed in any states?

-smohan, New Hampshire

Hello Smohan from Kingswood Regional Middle School! Thanks for your questions. Yes, drugs are allowed--in fact our country has the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. This is the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids and other chemicals are regulated. There are 5 Schedules (classifications), of substances. Check them out here:

-Bethany Deeds

can cocaine be medical

-trapwizard04, Michigan

It does have a very limited medical use as a local anesthetic.   But I do not think it is used much.   There are other local anesthetics that work fine and are not abused.   


-Dave Thomas

can coffee kill you

-Brittany, Illinois

Although caffeine is generally safe at the dosages contained in popular beverages, caffeine overdose (which can happen when consuming caffeine powder) can cause fast and erratic heartbeat, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation or even death—symptoms much more extreme than those of drinking too much coffee or tea or consuming too many sodas or energy drinks.

-Maureen Boyle

Can different drugs do different things. Does it affect your brain?

-KevinC, Texas

Hi Kevin, Yes and Yes. Some drugs are stimulants (methamphetamine) others are sedatives (heroin) and some are psychoactive (LSD). They affect different cells in the brain, and different brain areas and brain connectivity. What they share in common is the ability to create a sensation of pleasure or reward which reinforces and increases the desire to have more. More information is here:

-Roger Little



TY THE FLYEST- hey there...

Dogs can get high off drugs, but they can also get very sick. Dogs much prefer to be taken out for a walk instead. 


-Joni Rutter

Can doing drugs kill a baby before its born? (Not including being prematurely born)

-BallislifeMD, Maryland

We know that drugs can affect babies before they are born. Drugs are passed from mother to fetus. These include alcohol, stimulants like cocaine, and heroin as babies are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, stimulant syndrome, and heroin dependence.  We have no data on whether fetuses who die before birth did so because of drug exposure.  But it does not seem fair to expose an innocent human to these drugs.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can doing drugs trigger an underlying mental or personality disorder? And if so, which drugs are most likely to do sotion

-lc, Maryland

lc - great question! We are still sorting out the science of what comes first - mental illness or drug use, yet research is showing us that it is possible that people who develop symptoms of mental illness or disorders start taking drugs in an attempt to medicate themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn't help with the symptoms, and folks end up feeling worse. Whatever symptoms appear first, it's important to treat all mental illnesses at the same time. The best thing to do is go to a doctor who can provide treatment.
Regarding your second question, here's a link to more on which drugs can cause mental health problems:

-Denise Pintello

Can doing drugs, especially alcohol and marijuana, enhance or lead to depression at all?

-lc, Maryland

Hello 'Ic'! Thanks for your great question. Research has suggested that depressive symptoms are linked to the initiation of drug taking in adolescents. Check out this link for some information about it:

-Bethany Deeds

Can drinking underage affect the brain

-sofia12, Florida

Yes, alcohol affects every part of the brain. Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking. It can also affect the part of the brain that controls our movement, making it more difficult to walk and focus.Teens who drink too much risk suffering lingering problems with attention and memory. 

-Aaron White

can drug addiction be over come on your own or do you need help?

-BryceR, Texas

Hi BryceR,

You have probably heard that some people who smoke can quit "cold turkey". These people have extremely high will-power. Unfortunately, these poeple are few and far between. Once you become addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is very hard to quit on your own. We are doing  research to develop and improve behaviroal and medicine treatments to help addicted people stop using. A combination of both treatments has been shown to be the best approach for treating addiction.

If you know anyone who wants to quit taking drugs, here is a website that gives information on local treatment programs throughout the Nation:

-Roger Sorenson

can drugs affect my cell division process

-Fallout, Michigan

Hi Fallout - Gold star question!  In general, addiction researchers study effects of drugs on the brain, and mature neurons don't divide.  However, some reports found that a byproduct of cocaine metabolism hinders the development of new nerve cells by interfering with a specific protein, cyclin A, which regulates cell division. More research needs to be done on this question to understand the effects of other drugs of abuse.  I hope you become a scientist, Fallout, and try to help us figure this out!

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect personality?

-Jju, Maryland

Hello Neighbors from Maryland!  As a result of decades of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. Here is an example--Marijauna. Long-term use of this drug can  lead to a series of attitude and personality changes, known as “amotivational syndrome.” This syndrome is characterized by a diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, a sense of apathy, decreased attention to appearance and behavior, and decreased ability to concentrate for long periods of time. These changes can also include poor performance in school.
Here's a link for more information:

-Bethany Deeds

Besides brain damage what is wrong with using weed?

-lilly boladian, Michigan

Lilly Boladian...C'mon.  Isn't brain damage enough?  

-Joni Rutter

Can a animal die from drugs, Pennsylvania

Good morning, -- Certainly. So can humans.

-Joni Rutter

can a person be healthy after when they are drug addicts?

-YeseniaC, Texas

Dear Yesenia,
I'm not sure I understand your question, so I'll answer it two ways.
Yes, a person can be healthy and live a good life after quitting drugs.
If you are asking if a person can be healthy when s/he is a drug addict - it is possible, but much less likely. All addictive drugs have negative health effects, which you can find out about here: In addition, someone who is addicted spends a lot of time thinking about the drug, obtaining it, and using it. That usually means that other areas of his/her life are less important, including taking care of his/her health.

-Michelle Leff

can a person quit a very addictive drug if they try?

-BryceR, Texas

Yes and the likelihood they succeed is increased if they get professional help.

-Nora Volkow

Can adhesive on the back of stickers cause you to get high?

-tamyra221344, Georgia

Hi tamyra.

I don't think so. It probably tastes aweful too.


-Ruben Baler

Can alcohol be good for the brain

-JCox, New Hampshire

The short answer is that alcohol is not good for a teen's developing brain.  Research tells us that drinking lots of alcohol during the teenage years can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the area of the brain area that helps us learn and remember. Teenagers who drink a lot also have trouble with learning. We do not know yet whether these problems go away if the teenager stops drinking.

However, there is some evidence that, for older people, drinking small amounts of alcohol (a drink per day for women or two for men) might decreases the changes of developing dementia, which is a condition in which brain function deteriorates and it becomes harder to focus attention and learn new things.  

-Aaron White

can smelling cigarette smoke affect your body in a bad way?

-ShefBoyRD, Maryland

Hey your spaghetti!  Yes, inhaling the smoke produced by a smoker (second hand smoke) can have bad effects.  That smoke still contains all the same harmful chemicals as the smoke that the smoker is inhaling.  In fatc, over time, exposure to second hand smoke can result in higher risk of disease and death. For more info, and to take a fun quiz, go to

-Cindy Miner

can smoking kill you

-kennedi2015, Georgia

Hi kennedi2015 - thanks for the question.  Yes!  Cigarette smoking kills over 480,000 people every year.  Most adults who smoke try to quit every year and find they cannot.  And most smokers started smoking before age 18.  Kids are very sensitive to the addictive properties of nicotine, so the best defense is to never start smoking.  Check out these NIDA resources for more information on tobacco/smoking - and

-Kevin Walton

can smoking kill you

-Denayzha, Georgia

Yes, 443,000 deaths per year are attributed to smoking:

-Maureen Boyle

Can smoking pot damage your lungs?

-Little Bill, Michigan

Hi Little Bill – YES Smoke from marijuana irritates the lungs, causing breathing and lung problems among regular users similar to those experienced by people who smoke tobacco—like a daily cough and a greater risk for lung infections such as pneumonia. Research has not found a strong association between marijuana and lung cancer, but many people who smoke marijuana also smoke cigarettes, which do cause cancer. 

-Susan Weiss

Can smoking weed cause lung cancer

-Nicole, Michigan
Hey Nicole- Marijuana can have harmful effects on the brain and lungs, but we don't know if it causes cancer like smoking cigarettes.  Here's what we do know about marijuana:
  • Many of the carcinogens and co-carcinogens present in tobacco smoke are also present in smoke from marijuana.
  • Marijuana smoking does cause inflammation and cell damage, and it has been associated with pre-cancerous changes in lung tissue.
  • ​Marijuana has been shown to cause immune system dysfunction, possibly predisposing individuals to cancer

Bottom line: Though marijuana most likely pales in cancer risk when compared to cigarette smoking, it's better to play it safe. 

-Joni Rutter

can smoking weed help with ADHD sypmtoms?

-Fallout, Michigan

There are NO studies to support this, although some doctors are recommending it anyway.  It may help with the anxiety associated with ADHD, but certainly not any the problems with attention, focus or cognition.  plus kids with ADHD are at higher risk of developing problems with addiction--so this seems like a really bad idea.

-Susan Weiss

can smoking weed lead you to feeling rebellious?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Hi kearsarge,
No, probably the opposite, because weed tends to sap a person's motivation, for instance to do defiant and rebellious things; it also distorts judgment, possibly causing users to think the things they are already doing are more rebellious than they really are. 
Great question!

-Eric Wargo

can sniffing hand sanitizer really make you high

-jdavis0923, Maryland

Hi jdavis0923,
You probably won't get high from sniffing it, but some kids try to get high by drinking it, because it contains a lot of alcohol. It's actually dangerous because the alcohol is pretty concentrated. Definitely do not try!

-Eric Wargo

can sniffing natural products like glue give you and instant rush and if so will it really damage your body

-kirito sao, Georgia

Hi kirito sao - What’s clear is that when you inhale toxic chemicals like those in markers, paint thinner, or computer duster, it messes with your brain’s wiring and signals, so you feel almost drunk or dizzy for a while—but if you keep doing it, you can have pretty scary side effects. These chemicals can cause dizziness, loss of consciousness, bad mood swings, and headaches. In the long term, toxic fumes can take the place of oxygen in the blood, leading to hypoxia (low oxygen pressure in the body), which can damage your brain and other organs or even kill you. In fact, even one hit of a toxic substance can stop your heart, aka “Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome”—a tragedy that too many teens and parents have experienced. 

-Michelle Rankin

Can someone answer where the chat starts and ends on the scroll...I see questions and answers coming from the top and bottom?

-mjacoby, Ohio

Hi Mjacoby - the most recent answers are at the top!

-Michelle Rankin