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 smoking marijuana give you the same dark smoker's lung as if you were smoking a cigarette

-jamecia.T10, Georgia

Hi jamecia.T10,
Great question! The answer is, we don't know yet how harmful marijuana is for the lungs. We don't know if it causes lung cancer, for instance, because studies have shown conflicting results. It's hard to compare it with cigarettes because people who smoke cigarettes usually smoke a lot more in a day (and a year, and a lifetime) than people who smoke marijuana. But people who smoke marijuana may have more colds and lung infections than non-users, since they are still gunking up their lungs with smoke.

-Eric Wargo

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

-precioust130, Georgia

Hi precioust130,
Glue isn't a natural product. But yes, sniffing some glues and other chemicals (like cleaners, solvents, etc.) found around the home can sometimes produce a brief rush by slowing brain function or reducing its oxygen supply. It can also dangerously affect other organs in your body. For instance, "sudden sniffing death" is when the heart stops as a result of breathing (or "huffing") some household chemicals. Very dangerous!

-Eric Wargo

Can some mushrooms be considered a drug?

-mkovesdvn, Texas

can some people not get addicted to drugs even if they smoke at least once a week ?

-yfeghali, Texas

Although there is some individuality in the effects of drugs, most people will become addicted if they use a drug often enough.  Using a drug once a week may not cause addiction, but someone who does that will most likely end up using the drug more frequently and then eventually become addicted.  So it’s better to stay away from drugs!   For more info on drugs see:

-Nancy Pilotte

Can someone not get drunk from alcohol or liquor

-George_Jettson , Pennsylvania

While people differ in their sensitivity to alcohol, everyone who has a relatively normal human brain will get drunk from consuming any type of alcohol.

-Aaron White

can someone over dose on marijuana

-Erick mendoza, New Mexico

Hi Erick,
Yes, they can, and they'll have a very long, unpleasant experience, and may even need to go to the hospital. They won't die, though (at least not directly from the marijuana).

-Eric Wargo

Can steroids actually help your athletic performance?

-ww73, Illinois

some specific aspects of it, yes.
but there are always  adverse effects that people tend to not pay attention too much. That's unfortunate.

-Ruben Baler

can steroids destroy your reproductive system?

-angie13, Texas

Hi Angie,  That is a great question. First, f

Question: What can steroids do to your organs?
Answer: Steroids can have a lot of effects, but first you should know that your own body produces all the steroids it needs...and it needs them to regulate your growth, and they critical for reproductive function.  People who use large quantities of steroids (often to help build muscle or control weight) risk heart disease, liver damage (even in young people), and may stop growing tall earlier than they should.  It also can cause aggression, and if you are a female who is using anabolic (androgenic) steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, and you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. Oh, and yes, overuse of anabolic steroids can make a male stop producing sperm...and without sperm...well, you get the picture.  For more info, see:
-Nancy Pilotte

Can weed kill you?

-Jalaqaun Fotu, New Jersey

Weed has sent people to the emergency room with acute psychoses. You could get behind the wheel intoxicated and kill yourself, or become cognitively impaired and contract a sexually transmitted disease like HIV.
So, you should not think that weed is natural or benign.


-Ruben Baler

can weed make you dumb

-kgameroverlord, Massachusetts

HI kg
no doubt about it!!!!!!!!!!!!


-Ruben Baler

can withdraw from heroin kill a person

-JConrad, Texas

It is dfficult, but under medical supervision, I have not heard of people dying. On the other hand, continuing to use heroin certainly can kill!

-Dave Thomas

Can withdrawl from any type of drug kill you?

-HVasquez, Texas

Hey Hvasquez -  Here are a couple of examples: Withdrawal from heroin can be very difficult, but dying from an overdose is more likely. There are several medications that can help. For more information, check out this site: If you or someone you know is trying to quit using heroin, you should talk with a health care provider about what to expect and how to stop using safely. Make sure to tell the doctor about all of your health history, including drug or alcohol use.

Long-term marijuana users trying to quit can have withdrawal symptoms including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, making it even harder to quit.

-Joni Rutter

Can you addiction to Drugs that doctors prescribed?

-madsoccer28, Illinois

HI Madsoccer28. Some medications that are prescribed can be addictive. Painkillers, sedatives and stimulants that are prescribed can all be addictive. That's why it's important not to take other people's medications. They are meant for serious health conditions and can be dangerous when taken outside of medical supervision.

-Wilson Compton

can you be addicted to anti-depressants or is it normal for you to feel like you need them after stoping?

-daphneg, New Mexico

Anti-depressants do not produce an addiction in the same way that cocaine or amphetamine might.  They are given in small doses over a longer period of time, not the very large ones taken recreationally, that tend to overtake the normal processes that your brain uses.  But you might feel a little different when you stop if you have taken them for months or years because they have helped you feel "normal" for so long. But not to worry--you will recognize the new normal without them, just as you will recognize if you have to go back to taking them. There is an NIH Institute dedicated to helping treat depression and other mental health problems. For information on depression and mental health, go to the National Institute on Mental Health website:  You might also want to se the Teen Depression Fact Sheet:

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you die after trying marijuana for the first time?

-kirsten2017, Texas

not likely, unless you get into an accident

-Ruben Baler

can you die from alcohol

-Bob, Massachusetts

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. 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.

It's also possible to die from long-term abuse of alcohol. The liver can become enlarged and inflamed and ultimately stop working. 

You can learn more about the effects of alcohol on your body here:

-Aaron White

can you die from being a passive smoker

-jhermann, Texas

Good question. Secondhand smoke can cause asthma, heart disease, lung cancer and emphysema--just to name a few. It is estimated that more than 40,000 persons per year die from second-hand exposure.  So, the dangers are not just to the person who smokes but also to everyone around them too.

-Wilson Compton

can I stop or prevent someone from doing heroin after they've been doing it for countless years

-leeann, Massachusetts

Hi leeann,  One of the best things you can do for a friend with a serious drug problem is let them know you are there to support them. Let them know you are concerned about their drug use, and encourage them to seek help from a trusted adult or their doctor.  You can also help by being a strong positive influence - help them get involved in non-drug-using activities like joining a club, playing music, or playing a sport. However, if your friend is becoming a negative influence in your life you might have to step away from the friendship for a while. If you feel your friend is a danger to him or herself, or to others, it is important a trusted adult right away – it could save their life. To get your friend help go to: NIDA also has great guides:

-Maureen Boyle

Can inhalants make the people taking it loose control

-Nmistry, Texas

Hello Nmistry,
Inhalants can cause you to lose conciousness which is dangerous. If you mean lose self-control in a way that you act out, that is less clear.
Inhalants are extremely dangerous because these are often products designed for commercial applications and are not safe for human ingestion.There is a long list of the toxicities associated with this class of drug, including death: Inhalants can also multiply the effects of drugs that depress heart and breathing activity, including opiates, heroin, and prescription pain killers.  

-Roger Little

Can inhaling too much helium addict you so much just like drugs?

-MSwanick, New Hampshire

No.  Helium sort of coats the sacs in your lungs that enable you to breathe and temporarily makes your voice sound higher, but it is not addicting in the way that cocaine, nicotine, or prescription drugs are.  It is also so short-acting and volatile that it is not likely to kill you.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can kids with cancer smoke marijuana like the adults do?

-Yasmine Cowan, Alabama

marijuana smoking, even medical marijuana, is not legal for minors.

-Ruben Baler

can lsd kill you


Not by itself...but because it produces hallucinations, it can make you think you are stronger than you are or that you can do things that you just aren't built to do--like fly without an airplane.  If you try that last one, it might be the last thing you do!  For more info on LSD see:

-Nancy Pilotte

can marijuana be good or is it always bad?

-Adam Sanchez, New Mexico

Hi Adam Sanchez, \
Marijuana for medical use has been in the news a lot lately. The marijuana plant has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any medical condition. There is early research suggesting that some of the active ingredients in marijuana, like THC and cannabidiol (CBD), may potentially help treat things like epilepsy, cancer, obesity, or addiction. Scientists are studying these ingredients to try to develop new medications.   A pill form of THC (an active ingredient in marijuana) is already available for certain conditions, such as nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy and weight loss in patients with AIDS.  However, smoked marijuana is unlikely to be an ideal medication because of its negative health effects, including the risk of addiction and the damage that smoking can do to the lungs.

-Maureen Boyle

can marijuana cause cancer

-particapant , Massachusetts

Hi participant
There is no clear evidence that marijuana smoking causes lung cancer. However, a few studies have shown a clear link between marijuana use in adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer that predominantly strikes young adult males. (ouch)
best of luck

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana kill you?

-Me, New Jersey

Is this Me, or You? Marijuana effects: NIDA funded research shows that long-term marijuana use is associated with impaired intellectual functioning and IQ decline when usage starts during the teen years. This includes a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. However it is not yet clear whether marijuana use directly causes these issues or just makes them worse.  Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis.  Marijuana intoxication can, in rare cases, produce a temporary psychosis, and it may play a role in the development of schizophrenia in some people carrying a certain genetic risk. Marijuana may be a means of self-medicating an existing or mild mental illness; it may be a marker of other problems (abuse, trauma); it may contribute to the development or worsening of the mental illness; or it may reflect combinations of the above.

-Roger Sorensen

can marijuana lead to killing yourself ?

-habdul, Texas

in some people marijuana can lead to psychosis and, as a result of this, some people might end up killing themselves.  

-Nora Volkow

Can marujuanas cure depression

-MaryJane, Massachusetts

Hi MaryJane.  No..if anything, there is research to suggest that marijuana may cause mental illnesses like depression, not cure them.  Sometimes people with depression use marijuana as a way to make themselves feel better ('self-medicating')  Using drugs to try to treat depression on your own is not a great idea.  It will probably lead to more problems in the long run.  If you or someone you know is depressed, psychotherapy ('talk therapy') along with medications given under the care of a licensed mental health professional would be a better way to go than using marijuana.   If you want to ask about getting substance abuse or mental health treatment, call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7. Or you can go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Amy Goldstein

can meth cause birth defects for pregnant women?

-ennisisd, Texas

There is no evidence that methamphetamine causes birth defects such as changes in physical appearance, like cleft palate or other growth disorders.  But the published research suggests that the children of meth users who were exposed to the drug before birth can be more impulsive, engage in more risky behavior, and may not be quite as smart as children whose mothers did not use this stimulant when they were pregnant.  For more info on methamphetamine see: and

-Nancy Pilotte

can meth cause you to do stupid things, just like when you are high?

-Swaggyp, Michigan

Hello Swaggup - meth is a very powerful drug and I imagine it can cause you to do stupid things. 

-Michelle Rankin

can my cat get high?

-ben borglin, Michigan

Hi ben,
Chemicals can have different effects in different animals—like how chocolate is delicious to humans and poisonous to dogs—so even small amounts of a drug could be very harmful for your pet. Alcohol can cause a dog to suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure, blood sugar, and body temperature. They can also have seizures and stop breathing.
In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, signs may be seen within 3 hours, and include severe depression, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, hyperactivity,  seizures, and vomiting. Also, your pet wouldn’t understand that it had been given a drug, and the sensations that might feel like a high to a human would be a very scary experience for an animal. For more information, check out:

-Maureen Boyle