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 you get addicted to drugs like caffeine

-Zach H, Maryland

The general thought is that while a true caffeine addiction is rare, folks can become physically dependent on caffeine – as anyone trying to stop drinking his or her two regular morning cups o'joe can tell you – but physical dependence is not the same as addiction. Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body simply gets used to (or adapts) the presence of a substance (for example caffeine), and when it is taken away, their bodies react to the substance not being there and they begin to crave it. So don’t worry...your coffee desires won’t lead you to a life of crime or knocking off Starbucks to supply your caffeine habit! Have a great day!

-David Shurtleff

can drugs make you blind

-trealbert, Oklahoma

Yes, they can. For example, drugs such as cocaine can cause a stroke in the part of the brain associated with vision (visual cortex) and make you blind. Get the facts on the health consequences of drugs here.

-Anto Bonci

Can drugs make you break out?

-josafinap, New Mexico

Steroids can! The anabolic steroids that are important for muscle growth also stimulate the oil-producing glands in your skin which can cause acne. To learn more about the problems associated with steroid abuse, click on this link:

-Nancy Pilotte

can drugs make you depressed ?

-huribe, Texas

Many drugs with continued use have been shown to cause depression...for example, cocaine, amphetamines/methamphetamine, alcohol, ecstasy, marijuana, opioids, etc. For more information on drugs and depression check out: and

-Joe Frascella

Can drugs make you die?

-sly, Texas

Short answer - yes. Many drugs can lead to overdose which cause you to strop breathing. This is especially true for drugs entering the blood stream quickly like those that are snorted and injected. For more information see:

-Redonna Chandler

Can energery drinks make you drunk or possibly kill you if you drink too much?

-007ghost, Maryland

Energy drinks don't make you drunk, but if you drink enough of them, the active ingredient--caffeine can make your heart beat fast, make you anxious or panicky, and land you in the emergency room. Some of the energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine--much more than you would get in a regular cup of coffee. A few years ago there were a number of energy drinks on the market that also contained alcohol (e.g. Four Loko), but those were banned by some states and are no longer available in the same formulation.

-Susan Weiss

can hallucinogens be fun??

-mjk, Pennsylvania

I suppose so, but most emergency room visits by people on hallucinogens are not because of body effects on the heart etc, but because the person is out of control, freaking out by sensory experiences that he or she thinks are terrifying.

-Dave White

can heroin be taken in only one way if not what are some other ways?

-C Garza, Texas

Heroin is a type of 'opiate' drug. It is usually injected, because it gets people to feel 'high' compared to by other means, like swallowing. However, people CAN smoke it or snort it up the nose. Since heroin depresses respiration, too much can stop the heart, especially when a user has been drinking alcohol. One great danger with heroin and other injected drugs, is when people share a needle. This increases the risk of getting HIV/AIDS!

-Dave White

can i get high from people doing drugs around me

-trealbert, Oklahoma

That is a good question, trealbert. The good answer is, no - it would be very difficult for you to get high if you, yourself, are not doing drugs, but just in a room with others who are doing drugs. However, if you are hanging out with people who do drugs a lot, you may feel peer pressure to 'try' drugs. This is a dangerous situation, and it might be best if you found other friends (who don't do drugs).

-Michelle Leff

Can i give my dog weed

-MarcusP, New Mexico

Ummmmm...dogs like dog bones and going for walks. C'mon MarcusP. Don't give your dog weed. You can get more info on marijuana at or

-Joni Rutter

Can drugs affect your mind in any way?

-Dr. Swag, Illinois

Yes, all drugs of abuse have psychoactive properties, meaning they affect psychological processes. Drugs can have stimulant effects and speed up mental processes and others can have depressant effects, slowing down processes. Others can significantly cloud, distort, and alter mental processes. For more information on the drugs of abuse and their physical and psychological effects, see:

-Joe Frascella

Can drugs and alcohol make you emotionaly unstable?

-walawaladingdon, North Carolina


-Jen Katt

can drugs be useful?

-MLopez, Texas

Yes, of course. Medications have improved and transformed many people's lives. It's when they're taken in ways or doses or by people they weren't prescribed for that makes them dangerous.

-Jen Katt

Can drugs cause depression and sleep problems?

-holly r, Alabama

Yes--a number of drugs can do this. Stimulant drugs for example (cocaine, methamphetamine, and even MDMA or ecstasy) can cause depression when people come down from their effects and have also been shown to disrupt sleep. Alcohol and marijuana as well disrupt sleep and are linked with depression, even if they have a temporary effect of making someone feel better. In the long run, they are more likely to cause depression (or an amotivational syndrome for marijuana).

-Susan Weiss

can drugs cause suicide?

-aash, New Hampshire

HI aash. Drug abuse and suicide can be linked in a couple different ways. Sometimes, when people are depressed or suicidal, they might turn to drugs to try to feel better. The problem is, using drugs that are not from a doctor to feel better doesn't provide a good solution and makes things worse or leads to more problems. Other times, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol do things they wouldn't normally do-- sometimes they become more depressed or impulsive and can harm themselves or become suicidal. The bottom line is if anyone is using drugs OR feeling suicidal, it's very important to get help. A good first step can be to talk to a trusted adult (for example a parent, teach, counselor, or doctor); if it becomes a crisis, help is available by phone 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.

-Joel Sherrill

Can drugs effect you having children?

-josafinap, New Mexico

Yes. Heroin can reduce a man's sperm count and make him less likely to be father; cocaine can inhibit normal ovulatory cycles in women. But it just takes one sperm and one ready while doing these drugs will not make you sterile, they may reduce your chances of becoming a parent. But this is no guarantee! Practice safe sex if you are active; a history of drug usage will not reduce your chances of having children.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs give you energy but have a harmful effect on your body?

-syousaf, Texas

Yes drugs can give you energy but they also cause many more harmful side effects such as dangerously high blood pressure and stroke. It's not worth the risk! Learn more about the dangers of stimulants here:

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs harm my dog and does it have the same affect on humans?

-r0ach, Missouri

Drugs affect animals in exactly the same way that they affect people. So people give animals antibiotics for infections, insulin for diabetes, anti-depressants for anxiety, and many others. That is one reason why animals are such good models for studying drug abuse--they produce the same kind of responses as people do but it is easier to control variables like what they eat and how they live and who they hang out with.

-Nancy Pilotte

can drugs hurt your teeth

-killerchef, Maryland

Hi Killerchef the drug most famous for causing bad teeth is meth: see more about this topic here: good luck and be smart about drugs ruben

-Ruben Baler

can drugs influence your boby

-blue44, Texas

Absolutely. Your body tries to protect your baby from anything that is taken, but many drugs are able to pass to the baby and can affect the baby's growth, brain development, and especially issues like ability to learn easily, get along well with other children in school, and might (we don't know for sure yet) make them more vulnerable to drug use themselves when they grow up. Also, mothers may not take care of their babies well if they are addicted to drugs.

-Marilyn Huestis

Can you get addicted to household, non-prescription drugs?

-anon, Minnesota

If by 'household, non-prescription drugs,' you mean medications like ibuprofen that are available 'over the counter,' they do not contain psychoactive, or 'mind-altering' ingredients and so are not addictive as are controlled prescription medications like OxyContin. However, they can have bad effects if people take too much. Iburprofen can worsen asthma, for example, sometimes fatally. Along with several other NSAIDs (like tylenol), chronic ibuprofen use has been related to risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, especially if used a lot and in high doses.

-Jen Katt

can you get addicted to Viagra or any other sex drug?

-Zach H, Maryland

not Viagra per se, but some people can be addicted to sex and have sexual urges, behaviors, or thoughts that appear extreme in frequency or feel out of one's control— which may require treatment. Some drugs such as alcohol can increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior such as unprotected sex, which can lead to a lot of serous unintended consequences. Most drugs impair your good judgement and you are more likely to engage in unsafe or dangerous sex while you are under the influence.

-David Shurtleff

can you get addicted to vitamins like you can with other drugs or painkillers?

-mikeh101, Texas

I do not think you can get addicted to vitamins like other drugs or painkillers, but you can overdose on vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A is bad if you take too much of it.

-Marilyn Huestis

Can you get aids from drugs or alcohol?

-pound cake, North Carolina

Not directly. But people who are drunk or high increase their risk of making poor decisions, because their judgment is altered by drugs. Bad decisions can include engaging in risky sex, which could lead to HIV infection or other sexually transmitted diseases.

-Jen Katt

can you get aids from smoking?

-aash, New Hampshire

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS and it is transmitted through blood--so probably not.

-Susan Weiss

Can you get any diseases from DNA?

-jnguyen, Texas's an interesting question. it's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents. Here's an example Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect that, if passed on, causes a person's offspring (their child) to be affected. That means that Huntington's Disease is 100% genetic. Inheritance, in the form of genes, plays a large role in drug addiction also. Research shows that drug addiction is about 50% heritable. BUT.....while genes play a big role, they are only part of the picture. Other factors, like having friends who don't use drugs, or being involved in sports and other recreational activities, also affect your risk of trying drugs and of becoming addicted to them. Researchers are trying to find the genes that make you vulnerable or resistant to addiction, in order to find ways to improve treatment and prevention approaches. Want more information on genes, addiction and teens? Check out: and Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body!

-Joni Rutter

Can you get cancer from tobacco and other drugs?

-HShagoury, New Hampshire

yes, but tobacco is the number one

-Nora Volkow

can you get drunk off of beer

-jadams, Texas

Yes, you sure can.

-Shuly Babitz

Can you get drunk off of vanilla extract?

-Ghetto Urinal, Pennsylvania

The FDA requires that real vanilla extract be no less than 35 percent alcohol by volume, about 70 proof, so while theoretically possible, we strongly recommend using it solely for baked goods.

-Shuly Babitz

can you get high off caffeine?

-SOS_Lucky, Maryland

Hey SOS_Lucky: You sure can get high off of caffeine! Even though it is legal, caffeine is addictive, and withdrawal symptoms include headache, dizziness, and shaking. Some people feel the effects of caffeine faster than others. If your body doesn't break down caffeine fast, too much of it can cause heart palpitations, and people with heart trouble should steer clear of caffeine. For more information, see: You probably know that some sodas have caffeine, others have sugar, and many have both. A component of addiction is that the person affected has irresistible urges that make it difficult for them to moderate intake of common substances, like food and soda. What do you think?

-Joni Rutter