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 drug addiction be genetic?

-gracek, New York

Hi GraceK, great question. Family studies that include identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings suggest that as much as half of a person’s risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs depends on his or her genetic makeup. Pinning down the biological basis for this risk is an important avenue of research for scientists trying to solve the problem of drug addiction. for more information please take a look at:

-Anto Bonci

can drugs affect female reproductive organs?

-karlenes1, New York

Hi karlenes1
Yes, they can.
For example, long-time use of heroin or prescription pain pills such as oxycodone can result in irregular menstual cycles and sometime stop periods for long periods of time. This can lead to infertility.
Drug use also leads to impaired decision making that can put people at risk for sexually transmitted infections through unprotected sex. Some of these infections can lead to infertility and irreversible damage to the female reproductive system.

-Geetha Subramaniam

Besides Marijuana what other drugs can be used for medical purposes?

-Davey Schwartz, New York

Well of course opioids are abused and have a medical purpose. Ritalin is abused and also used for ADHD. Ketamine is abused but used therapeutically. And amphetamine is a stimulant that is abused and has several medical uses. There are other examples too. Check this out regarding medicinal use of marijuana:

-Dave Thomas

Besides peer pressure, what else influences one to take drugs?

-Mith, Illinois

Mith, what a good question to ask! People use drugs for lots of different reasons. One is peer pressure. Others reasons may include boredom, rebellion, curiosity, etc. (See for some more reasons). People can know drugs are bad for them, but they may still choose to take the risk, while others may not be aware of all the risks. Then, once they’re hooked, it can be very difficult to stop. Check out one of NIDA's Drug and Health Blog posts about peer pressure here: Take care Woodland Middle School!

-Bethany Deeds

Ca I beat the drug test?

-Keller Hairline, Maryland

You can try, and many have, but it's not likely to work. Drug testing technology is rapidly developing and can detect even the smallest quantities in blood or urine. Good luck, Keller Hairline!!!

-Ericka Boone

Can a baby be born addicted to a drug if the mother is addicted and taking drugs when she was pregnant?

-Melissa, New York

Hi Melissa
When a pregnant woman uses tobacco, alcohol, or another substance, the fetus in her womb is exposed to the substance. When the fetus is born, it may exhibit symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). That is, it may experience withdrawal sickness because its body has adapted to having the drug present, and now will need to re-adapt to not having the drug present. Forturnately, doctors in hospitals can treat NAS effectively, keeping the newborn alive and reducing their distress
Here is some additional info

-Geetha Subramaniam

can a baby get affected if you drink a lot

-bguerrero, Texas
Alcohol can seriously affect a baby's development during pregnancy. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today. Basically, it is never safe to drink any alcohol when you're pregnant. You can learn more about the dangers of drinking when you're pregnant here:
-Aaron White

Can a baby get drunk if it drinks alcohol.

-ack, Massachusetts

Yes. Each year there are several cases of babies dying or being taken to the emergency room due to alcohol poisoning.

-Aaron White

Can a baby still be affected when the mother stops drugs before she got pregnant?

-aluo, Texas

Hey aluo- Great question! If a mother stops using drugs before she gets pregnant, the baby will not be exposed to them during development and will have a much lower risk of developing problems than if the drugs were present. Drug use can, however, cause changes to a mother's (or father's) genes that can be passed along to the baby. For more information about epigenetics, visit:

-Emily Einstein

can a baby still have withdraw symptoms when the mother only used drugs for the last week?

-ACarpenter, Texas

Yes, that is possible. Take a look at this:

-Dave Thomas

can a child get easly drunk when drinking alchol?

-brian, Texas

Yes, any organism can get drunk. How much alcohol it takes depends mainly on body weight and sex. So smaller adults generally require less alcohol to become intoxicated that larger adults. Children should never be given alcohol.

-George Koob

can a drug guarantee the gender of a conceived child?

-yo boi, Nebraska

Dear Yo Boi,

There is no drug that can determine the gender of a child, and it is very dangerous to take drugs, even prescription drugs, when a woman is pregnant. There is more information here:,

-Roger Little

Can a drug make you sexually active?

-1221, Other

not too many drugs do that directly. but many drugs (like alcohol or marijuana) will lower your inhibition or self control. There is one class of drugs that is purportedly used as a sexual enhancer. that is nirtrites, aka poppers.

-Ruben Baler

can a girl smoke cigarettes while she is pregnant

-ApPlEsLiCe, Texas

NO!!! This is extremely dangerous to both the mother and the child. If you know someone who is pregnant and smoking, there are some immediate actions you can take to help! First, you should tell her that you are worried about her health (and her baby's) and that you want her to quit. Second, you can also ask her to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), a national toll-free number that can help people get the information they need to quit smoking. Third, sit down with her and go over the resources that can help herquit ( Don't give up!

-Kevin Conway

can a kid at the age 12 get a faster overdose if taking drugs or a teenager?

-corey, Texas

Hi Corey,
Your risk of overdose depends a lot on your body size, so a 12-year-old might be more likely to overdose than an 18-year-old.

-Eric Wargo

can a kid die from drinking beer?

-JesusGalvan, Texas

JesusGalvan- yes, if they drink enough of it.

-Maureen Boyle

Can a person be too old to become addicted to alcohol and drugs?

-Jack Meoff, New York

Jack Meoff - No one is immune to addiction. Everyone has their own particular risk factors, but no one is immune from addiction.

-Michele Rankin

Can a person be too young to be addicted to drugs?

-mscharf, Texas

HI mscharf, you can get addicted at any age but your risk of addiction is higher if you start use before your brain is fully developed - which happens in your early to mid-20s

-Maureen Boyle

Can a person be too young to become addicted to alcohol and drugs?

-Jack Meoff, New York

hey Jack Meoff, no, actually the risk of addiction is highest when you are younger.

-Maureen Boyle

Can a person be too young to become addicted to alcohol and drugs?

-Denisb, New York

No, not at all. In fact, the earlier someone has their first drink of alcohol the more likely they are to develop a problem with alcohol at some point in their lives.

-Aaron White

Can a person who weight less get drunk faster and easier than someone who doesn't?

-Sunny, Pennsylvania

Yes, for sure. In general, the less someone weighs the more alcohol they'll have in their bloodstream after each drink. That means it takes less alcohol to affect a smaller person than someone bigger.

-Aaron White

can a pregnant woman who is taking drugs make the baby an addict right from birth

-robledobleafish, Texas

They can make a baby that experiences withdrawal from the drug at birth. This can be very serious and life threatening. Prenatal exposure may also increase the offspring to become addicted to drugs as teeenagers.

-Nora Volkow

can a pregnant women have a miscarriage if she does drugs?

-la guerra #2, California

hey la guerra #2, yes there are a number of drugs that increase the risk of miscarriage including cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids.

-Maureen Boyle

can a pregnant women have a miscarriage if she does drugs?

-ally, New York

it depends on the drug, but it can definitely happen with cocaine. It can also be one of the risks of regular alcohol drinking (5 or more per weeks)

-Ruben Baler

can a tendency towards addiction be hereditary?

-E, Colorado

hey E, yes about 50% of the risk for addiction is genetic.

-Maureen Boyle

Can addiction to a drug be caused by a mental health disorder?

-twizzlers, New York

Great question, and we don't know the answer for sure. However, we do know that a lot of people who have addictions also have other mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety disorders or PTSD. And we know that it is a lot harder to treat the addiction if we don't also treat the other disorders.

Another thing we know is that some people with a mental illness start out using an addictive drug -- like alcohol, for example -- because at first it helps them feel better; they then can become addicted later. Again, treating both the addiction and the mental illness together works better than treating either one alone.

-Josh Gordon

Can addiction to drugs pass on genitically?

-summit14020, New Jersey

Dear Summit14020,

This is a great question. We know that genetics do affect people's risk for addiction. People who have a family history of drug or alcohol addiction are at greater risk. Environment is also very important--stress and other negative environmental factors can increase addiction risk, but having good friendships and family support can protect people who are at risk. Also having a stimulating environment, like having lots of hobbies and interests, can reduce your risk. The safest thing is to never try drugs.,

-Roger Little

can alchohol cause brain damage or survere brain damage?

-705377, Texas

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. Teenagers who drink a lot have problems with these things. 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.

-George Koob

Can alchol be cause you stress, depression, and suicidal ?

-tnguyen, Texas

Yes, for sure. Some people begin drinking because they feel like it reduces their stress. Over time, though, problems related to drinking can increase stress and depression. Alcohol often plays a role in suicides. Some estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 4 people who commit suicide were drinking at the time.

-Aaron White

can alchol make you insane

-MAR, Other

Insane is a legal term that really doesn't apply to alcohol. Long-term chronic alcohol use can lead to a form of dementia. And alcohol use disorders can co-occur with most mental disorders and can make one vulnerable to those mental disorders and worsen them. For example, individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder often develop alcohol use disorders.

-Aaron White