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 alcohol cause brain damage or suvere 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 second hand smoking kill you.

-Jonathan R, Pennsylvania

Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to smoke and lots of the dangerous chemicals that get released when tobacco is smoked. Research also shows that kids who live with adult smokers are at increased risk of smoking themselves. You might find this blog post helpful (it gives statistics for the number of people who die from effects of secondhand smoke):

-Kevin Walton

can second-hand smoking increase the chances of someone else getting addicted?

-anguyen, Texas

This is a very interesting question, anguyen. We know that exposure to second-hand tobacco increases health problems like lung cancer and emphysema, but the link to addiction is not so clear. It's hard to know if the reason someone becomes addicted may be because of their genetic risk or the risks from second-hand exposure in the home. For other drugs (like marijuana smoke), we need more information about the effects of second hand smoke.

-Wilson Compton

can second-hand smoking make someone also get addicted to smoking?

-anguyen, Texas

Dear anguyen, when you are exposed to secondhand smoke, you are not exposed to nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco products. However, it's important to remember that more than 41,000 people who don't smoke in the United States die every year from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Try not to be around others who are smoking and keep control of your health!

-Heather Kimmel

can second-hand smoking make someone also get addicted to smoking?

-anguyen, Texas

Hi Anguyen,

Yes, you can get addicted (and also develop cancer) from secondhand smoke. That is why it is very important to avoid secondhand smoke and to make sure that other people do not get exposed to secondhand smoke.

-Carlos Blanco

Can small amounts of alcohol, specifically red wine, actually have beneficial effects on your body?

-loooooogan, New York

Hi, Looooooogan. Yes, some studies have shown beneficial effects of moderate alcohol use on stroke, heart disease and diabetes. More studies are under way. Other dietary factors may also contribute to the health benefits associated with moderate consumption of red wine. It's possible that the health benefits are just from the alcohol and not some other component of the wine.

-Aaron White

can smoking make you stop breathing for good eventually

-dgarza, Texas

Hello dgarza,
Absolutely, cigarette smoking can make you stop breathing for "good." That's what will happen when years of smoking causes death from lung cancer. It is very sad to see that happen to someone, especially a family member or friend. I lost my brother-in-law to lung cancer a few months ago. He'd smoked for many many years and the cancer spread from his lungs to many parts of his body. In his last few weeks of life, it was so sad to see the horrible effects smoking on his body and his life.. I also lost my mother and sister to lung cancer due to smoking several years ago. Please do not start smoking. You will never regret not smoking. But if you do start smoking, then you could live to regret it and then die from it,

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can social anxiety take over your life? And if so how do you deal with it?

-kudeh, Texas

Social anxiety can definitely disrupt how you do in school, with friends, and really most aspects of life since other people are everywhere. Learn more here:

-Susan Borja

Can some drugs be used for medicine?

-Ailed@gentryjs, Texas

Yes, many medicines can be, unfortunately, misused. Pain medication for example can be very effective in treating pain. They are often made up of powerful substances (opioids) that can be addictive. If not used as prescribed, major problems can arise.

Thanks for asking!

Dr. J

-Jack Stein

can some people be more prone to addiction and alcoholism?

-nikkinikkilo, Maryland

Yup, there is a certain portion of addiction that is genetically mediated. One is not born as a person with substance use disorder, but there are people that are more prone to addiction. The good news is that one can defeat this genetic predisposition by not starting!

-Dave Thomas

Can someone be immune to the side affects of drugs?

-aluo, Texas

Based on the genetics, many people are naturally immune to certain bacteria and viruses. But in the case of drugs, some people are more resistant or tolerant to the side effects than others.

-Jag Khalsa

can someone become addicted to secondhand smoke ?

-melissa, Ohio

Great question Melissa! While you can't get addicted to smoke secondhand, secondhand smoke exposes people to the dangerous chemicals found in inhaled smoke:

-Kevin Walton

can vape harm you like a drug

-nyc.kaylaa, New York

Vaping often includes nicotine, which is an addicitive chemical that comes from tobacco. There are other risk factors too. Check out this article for more info.

-Kevin Conway

can weed harm your lungs the same way cigarettes can?

-stay puft, Texas

We don't know if it causes lung cancer but it does increase the risk of lung infections like bronchitis. Also, increases phlegm production and cough.

-Susan Weiss

Can weed make you deaf?

-pineapple, New York

pineapple - nope

-Maureen Boyle

Can weed take away your brain cells

-Jessie@gentryjr, Texas

it can make your brain cells sick so that they can not communicate properly with one another, making you apathetic, depressed, anxious when you are under its influence

-Nora Volkow

Can you actually become a "zombie" from bath salts?

-Soph, SSMS, Colorado

Hi Soph, SSMS - Not really a "zombie", but bath salts do have significant effects. Bath salts are a name (and I think it's a very strange name since we don't use them for an actual bath) for a drug that usually contains a cathinone chemical. This is a chemical that is a stimulant and can produce psychosis. It both causes an increase in heart rate as well as hallucinations and paranoia in some people. See other drug facts about bath salts here:

-Wilson Compton

can you actually get drunk by "drinking" alcohol by the anus?

-YZY, Other

Yes, but it is extremely dangerous. Getting alcohol into the body this way can lead to very rapid increases in the amount of alcohol in your blood and can kill you.

-Aaron White

can you be addicted to second hand smoke

-Mike Wazowski, New York

Hi Mike, that is a great question. People become addicted to smoking because cigarettes have high levels of nicotine. Usually, someone exposed to secondhand smoke will not get similar amounts of nicotine. Unfortunately, secondhand smoke exposes that person to a lot of the toxins in cigarettes, and can cause many of the same bad health effects. It is best to avoid secondhand smoke, and also to provide quit help for the person who is smoking.

-Kevin Walton

Can you be addicted to vape?

-Summit15794, New Jersey

hey Summit15794, yes, e-cigarettes typically contain nicotine which is highly addictive.

-Maureen Boyle

Can you be in jail if you got into a car crash from a drink and drive incident?

-vcheng, Texas

hey vcheng, yes drunk driving is a crime that can lead to jail time.

-Maureen Boyle

Can you be on every single drug at once

-sammycallahan, New Jersey

Obviously that would be a very bad idea. Some people do use several drugs at one time, for various reasons. The problem is that there are drug interactions, where drugs can have different or exaggerated effects when taken in combinations. These interactions can be really dangerous, producing harm and death. For example, taking opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines together is VERY dangerous.

-Dave Thomas

Can you become addicted to cigarettes it someone around you smokes?

-maggie, New York

Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to cigarette smoke and lots of the dangerous chemicals that get released when tobacco is smoked. Research also shows that kids who live with adult smokers are at increased risk of smoking themselves. A good rule is to avoid smoking entirely. If possible, see if you can get your friends and family to develop a smoke-free policy so that everybody is protected.

-Kevin Conway

Can you become addicted to cigarettes when someone around you smokes?

-maggie, New York

I've gotten this question before, so here's my answer ... Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to cigarette smoke and lots of the dangerous chemicals that get released when tobacco is smoked. Research also shows that kids who live with adult smokers are at increased risk of smoking themselves. A good rule is to avoid smoking entirely. If possible, see if you can get your friends and family to develop a smoke-free policy so that everybody is protected. You might find this blog post helpful:

-Kevin Conway

can you become addicted to medicines that help you become unaddicted to other drugs?

-coras, Pennsylvania

There's a difference between addiction and "physical dependence". Some medications that help you become unaddicted to other drugs (e.g., methadone, suboxone for heroin) do produce physical dependence, but not addiction. Dependence is when your body adapts to the drugs constant presence, and you feel sick if you stop taking it abruptly (withdrawal) This can happen with many drugs that you take regularly--a coffee drinker may experience headaches if they don't get their morning coffee, but that goes away as the body adapts to the new situation (no coffee). Addiction medications work differently than the abused drug--methadone gets into the brain slowly, and stays in the body for a long time. Heroin gets to the brain fast, which produces the high; and then disappears fast, causing the person to crave and seek the drug. With methadone (or suboxone) people can function well. I hope this helps clarify a very complex topic.

-Susan Weiss

Can you become addicted to shots (like as in the alcoholic drinks)?

-Soph, SSMS, Colorado

Well, you can certainly become addicted to alcohol and drink shots as your primary type of beverage. But the drug in shots, beer, wine is all the same -- alcohol.

-Aaron White

Can you compare the harmful effects of teen marijuana use versus adult marijuana use?

-eadams, Maine

So far the research shows that teen marijuana use is more dangerous than adult use. The studies focus on regular users of the drug and found long term (maybe permanent) changes in the brain--this is likely because it is still actively developing in youth up to age 25. Changes include: size of brain structures, the amount of neurons in certain areas, the connections between brain structures, and how the brain gets activated when you are doing different tasks. Long term reductions in IQ have been reported; poorer academic outcomes, higher drop out rates, lower income as adults, increased welfare dependence, increased risk for psychosis (in people with a genetic or other vulnerability) and higher rates of suicidal thinking and attempts. This is not to say that its safe for adults--we just don't have as much information, especially for older adults who may have other physical and mental problems.

-Susan Weiss

Can you control yourself while drunk?

-Dezmond@gentry, Texas

It can be hard to control behavior when drunk. Alcohol disrupts the frontal lobes, which help us think about the future, make decisions and control our impulses. As a result, alcohol increases the chances of taking risks and suffering consequences as a result.

-Aaron White

Can you crush up cheez its and snort them? Can you crush up any sort of food or snack and snort it?

-CC, Indiana

Hi CC,
Nope. That sounds like a crummy idea. :-)

-Eric Wargo

can you die form smoking vapors

-Tyrese FVSU 4_H, Georgia

Dear Tyrese FVSU 4_H - you probably can't die from vaping, but it's still not good for you. Instead of actually burning (combusting) the drug, vaping raises its temperature just enough to create a mist-like vapor. It is probably safer for the lungs, which is why people like it. But vaping can be used for marijuana, nicotine, as well as many other substances. Vaping is NOT a "healthy" alternative to smoking cigarettes. We are just beginning to understand vaping but we have much more to learn. Although many of the toxic chemicals from burning cigarettes may not be present in vaping, other dangers may exist! There are many checmicals in the vaping liquid that were never meant to be inhaled. In addition, many of these liquids contain nicotine, which is very addictive.

Stay in control of your health and don't use any tobacco product!

-Heather Kimmel