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 our skin absorb drugs

-Student6372, Maryland

Hey Student6372.  You bet our skin can absorb drugs.  For example, you can absorb drugs from "patches" like with nicotine patches, or from creams.

-Joni Rutter

can overdose of tylenol and advil have the same effects on your body as using other drugs that are known as being harmful and bad for your body and brain?

-123456, Maryland

Good morning 123456, thanks for your question!  Everyday medications like Tylenol and Advil, available over the counter, can have bad effects if people take too much or use them longer than recommended. If people take Tylenol at too high a dose or for longer than recommended, they can suffer severe liver damage. Advil can worsen asthma, for example, sometimes fatally. But Tylenol and Advil do not contain psychoactive, or 'mind-altering' ingredients, and do not produce the changes in your brain that lead to addiction. That doesn't mean that they are safe to take for long periods of time or in high doses. Also note that there are other over the counter drugs (like sleep aids) that can have surprising side effects – and need to be taken with extreme care. If you find that you need over the counter medicines frequently, make sure to consult a medical professional about how much is OK to take and what is the best medicine for your needs. Remember, if the proper amount of the drug isn't working – then it's not the right treatment for your health condition.

-Jeff Schulden

Can overdosing on trazodone cause you to be put in a concussion?

-Directioner, New Mexico

Hi Directioner...thanks for the question.  I am guessing that you are asking if overdosing can cause comas.  From what I can find, there have been reports of coma caused by trazodone.

-Joe Frascella

Can people get addicted to nicotine patches when trying to stop smoking?

-sharkesha476584, Massachusetts
Interesting question shark.
When people smoke they become addicted to nicotine, which makes it hard to quit smoking.  Nicotine patches can help people stop smoking because they provide the person nicotine.  When a person uses the patches to quite smoking, they usually will use patches with lower and lower amounts of nicotine until they don't need the patch anymore.  But even if they don't get off the patches, the patches are less dangerous than smoking. But you are right, they are still addicted when just using the patches.
-Dave Thomas

Can People Overdose Themselves With Different Type Of Drugs ?

-bill, California

Hi Bill.  This is a very important question.  In a word, yes people can overdose on just about any kind of drug, but some are more dangerous than others and can kill you even if you take them only once. Painkillers like oxycotin contain high amounts of a class of drugs called opioids, and one effect of these drugs is they reduce your breathing. If you take too much you simply stop breathing and die. Other drugs, like amphetamine and stimulants, can cause heart attacks. Even antibiotics can be dangerous; for example some people are allergic to penicillin. Even non-prescription drugs like Tylenol (acetaminophen) can cause very rare but potentially fatal skin disorders as well as liver damage. For more information on various drugs and what they can do to your body, see

-Steve Grant

Can pregnant women who smoke put the baby in any danger? If so, what kind of danger?

-GEFRE, New York
Yup, GEFRE, it can be a danger to the baby.  Pregnant women have to be real careful in what they consume or put in their body.  
We know now that babies born to smokers can be smaller than normal when they are born, and some studies show that these babies may have developmental problems and somewhat decreased cognitive abilities (shorter attention spans, inability to focus on a task) that may be related to maternal smoking. Our nicotine research report has a section on smoking and pregnancy at
-Dave Thomas

Can prescription drugs be as harmful as illegal drugs?

-bubbles7977, Maryland
Dear bubbles7977,
Yes, prescription drugs can be as harmful as illegal drugs.  Some prescription drugs are as addictive as illegal drugs if used the wrong way (i.e., not as prescribed).  Here is more information:

There is lots of information on NIDA’s Web site at

Check out the "Students and Young Adults" tab.

-Michelle Leff

Can psychotropic hallucinogens have effects of causing you to have irrational emotions?

-ryan_thorpe, New York

Hi, RT. Yes they do. Hallucinogens produce rapid, intense emotional swings. LSD, peyote, psilocybin, and PCP are drugs that cause hallucinations, which are profound distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people may see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but are not. LSD, peyote, and psilocybin cause their effects by initially disrupting the interaction of nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin. For more info, please go to:  

-Anto Bonci

Can rehab help you get over an addiction to alcohol? How long will it usually take?

-Aveson, California
Absolutely! Rehab certainly can help a person deal with their addiction to alcohol. How long it takes depends on several things, including how serious the problem is and what kind of rehab the person goes to, whether in-patient or out-patient. Most people who treat alcoholism believe that alcoholism is a life-long condition and that a person never really gets over it but, rather, learns to cope with it. 

Here is a link to further information about the signs of alcoholism and suggestions for quitting:


-Aaron White

can steroids permanetly make you strong?

-bmorse, New York

no--those effects tend to go away when you stop taking them, but some of the harmful effects can be permanent--e.g., stunted growth, the masculinizing effects in females, such as deepened voice;  and feminizing effects in males.

-Susan Weiss

Can street drugs such as heroin and meth be used recreationally? or are they too addictive?

-SETLAX32, New York

There are people who use drugs occasionally and don't become addicted. In part that depends on their genes and their home/school life.  But that said, there are at least 2 problems with using drugs recreationally--one is that you never know what you are really getting, and whether it might be contaminated with poisonous ingredients.  The second is that some drugs (like heroin and meth) are more addictive than others--depending in part on how they are taken.  Smoking or injecting are among the most dangerous ways because the drugs get to the brain very quickly. And there are other diseases also linked to injecting drugs, such as Hepatitis and AIDS

-Susan Weiss

Can supplements affect growth?

-whiteshoes81, Maryland
Hi whiteshoes.   There is a lot of debate about whether dietary supplements do anything for you.  I have never heard of them making you grow, or stopping growth for that matter.  It's probably better to get everything you need from food! 
-Dave Thomas

Can taking a drug like cocaine or marijuna once potential kill you?

-GEFRE, New York
good question.  My answer is yes, but not necessarily for reasons you might think.  While there are documented cases of people dying from a single exposure to cocaine, there are other indirect ways these and other drugs can have tragic consequences even if you were to just use them once.  Think about it -- drugs impair your judgment, your memory, and how you process information.  If you were to drive a car, or get into a car with a drug-impaired driver, you're seriously increasing your risk of something awful happening.  So it's not just the drug you have to think about -- it's the whole context of the situation and the possible results.  Stay safe and take care!
-Lori Ducharme

Can the effects of drugs, like feeling dizzy or sick to your stomach, last even after you stop doing drugs?

-maryd@aslacadem, New Mexico
Thanks for your thoughtful question.  Most drugs have both short- and long-term harmful effects, although dizziness and nausea are often short-term. However, if the drug has some damaging effects to certain brain areas, long-term dizziness can result. 
You might want to check specific drugs in our teen Drug Facts section: 
-Joe Frascella

can u die from cocaine

-william_yang, New York
Good morning william!
Yes. One can die from the acute effects (intoxication) of cocaine because of its effects on the cardiovascular system: one can suffer heart attacks or strokes, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of the heart stopping (cardiac arrest) followed by an arrest of breathing. In addition, there is an increased risk of death from cocaine due to risk of HIV infection from sharing needles when injecting the drug. Depression during cocaine withdrawal can be dangerous because one can become suicidal. Also important that if you drive, ski or skate under the influence you are increasing your chances of dying or seriously injuring yourself and/or others. In addition to these scenarios, mixing cocaine with alcohol or heroin (or prescription opioids) can also result in death from the additive effects of the drugs. 
Thank you for asking! 
-Geetha Subramaniam

can u die from doing to much Steriods

-mary, California

Hi- thanks for question--Steroid use can result in serious damage to the body including kidney failure, liver damage, and cardiovascular problems. Changes in blood pressure can result in heart attack. Some individuals can also develop serious emotional problems resulting in depression and, in some severe cases, suicide. 

-Jack Stein

can you die from drinking too much caffine?

-parislover8, New York

If you have heart disease you can die from excessive caffeine consumption, but this is rare.

-Nora Volkow

can you die from excessive tylenol or any other medical drugs, without taking them with the purpose of addiction?

-asdfghjkl, Maryland

Thanks for your question.  Absolutely!  Many drugs can cause overdose and death.  Tylenol can cause liver failure.  Pain killers can cause respiratory depression.  Stimulants can cause heart attacks and strokes.  For more information on the effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs on teens check out

-Steve Gust

can you die from hallucinogens?

-devondonahue, New York
Hey devondonahue!  It's possible.  Not common, but possible.  At high doses, blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration drop. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. PCP abusers are often brought to emergency rooms because of overdose or because of the drug’s severe untoward psychological effects. While intoxicated, PCP abusers may become violent or suicidal and are therefore dangerous to themselves and others. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Because PCP can also have sedative effects, interactions with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can also lead to coma.
I'd suggest focusing on life and pursuing natural highs like hanging with friends and having fun!  Learn more about hallucinogens using this resource - 
-Joni Rutter

Can you die from prescription drugs? What are the effects?

-Gem, New Jersey

Absolutely you can die from prescription drugs! The effects that the prescription drugs produce vary based on the type of drug that it is. Unfortunately, many people are taking prescription opiates now- oxycontin, hydrocodeine and others that are potent opiates. You can die by taking too much of these prescription opiates just like you could die from too much heroin. In fact, more people die from Prescription drug overdoses every year than from heroin and cocaine combined. More info on prescription drugs here:

-Marilyn Huestis

can you die from smoking too much weeed. Please respond.

-BIGMAMA, New York
Good question. No, you probably won't die from weed--that's not the danger. The harms of weed have to do with affecting your brain development, especially when you're young. Studies show marijuana can permanently lower your IQ if you use it heavily as a teenager. 
You can learn more here:
-Eric Wargo

can you die from taking to much cocaine?

-Armen Kasabb, New York
Great question. Yes, you can. Cocaine can produce mental disability, very large brain ischemia (lessened blood flow to the brain), death, or give you heart attacks that lead to death.
-Anto Bonci

Can you die if you drink one cup of alcohol?

-friendlyperson1, New York

Well, if that one cup was just a single serving, like a beer or a glass of wine, it's unlikely that a person will die but even that small amount is enough to cause small changes in balance and reaction times that could make it more likely to have an accident or get into a car crash and die. If that cup was full of all vodka, then yes that might be enough to directly kill you. 

-Aaron White

can you die if you drink too much water


hi again Ralf-weiner!  good question.  The answer is yes.  All things are toxic at a given dose--even water.  What happens is that the water depletes the electolytes in the body.  Electrolytes are what makes our heart tick, our kidney's function, our brain think, etc.  Too much water means no electrolytes and you can die.

-Joni Rutter

Can you die off of smoking alot of weed and then getting relly drunk ?

-dannyg, California

You can die by getting very drunk, whether u have marijuana or not

-Nora Volkow

can you die off of spice?

-dave, Alaska

Hi Dave- Spice is a synthetic drug that contains many different chemicals some which may be very dangerous to ingest. A number of emergency room visits were a result of spice use over the past several years. Fortunately, the word seems to have gotten out about its dangers and use is down among teens.

-Jack Stein

can you drink nicotine?

-lalapickel, Massachusetts

Hi ! Nicotine does come in a liquid form which is used in e-cigarettes. However, it is highly dangerous and considered poisonous so beware!

-Jack Stein

can you eat marijuana

-ninja6963, New York
Hi ninja6963,
You can. It affects the body less swiftly when it is eaten in food, although it can actually be more dangerous this way, because it is easy to consume too much before you know it, and have a very bad reaction (such as terrible anxiety).
Great question! 
-Eric Wargo

can you get a headache from smoking to much

-Dwyane, New York

Hi Dwyane...thanks for the question.  Yes, given nicotine effects on one's vascular system (blood vessels) and its stimulant properties, smoking too much certainly can result in headaches.  There are many other negative health effects from smoking, I am sure you already know about.  If you are smoking now, you might consider trying to quit, as it gets harder to quit the longer you smoke. For more information on smoking, check out:

-Joe Frascella

Can you get addicted to drugs the first time that you use them?

-CFPC, New Jersey

Hi CFPC.  For some people the first use of a drug can lead to an overwhelming urge to use again, which can often lead to addiction.  While a true diagnosis of addiction is probably impossible after a single use, there is no doubt that some individuals are more prone to developing addictive patterns after initial exposure.

-Steve Gust