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 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

Can nicotine kill people?

-demarian r, Georgia

Hey demarian r - check this out:  Nicotine is one of the most poisonous chemicals: a tablespoon could be enough to kill an adult; half a teaspoon could kill a child.

And, consider these statistics:
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly 90 percent of those deaths. On average, every cigarette takes 11 minutes off of your life. Smokers die at least 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. For each person in the United States who dies because of cigarette use, nearly two youth or young adults become daily smokers. Avoid becoming a statistic, and stay away from tobacco.

-Joni Rutter


-TyreeM201, Georgia

It is made up of a cough suppressant and an antihistamine.  The cough suppressant is dextromethorphan.  If you take a lot of this, it can produce PCP- or ketamine-like effects, including halllucinations and dissociative (out of body) experiences.  Thanks for the question!  For more info on drugs, see:

-Nancy Pilotte

can one over dose of cocaine kill you?

-jgarcia, Texas

Hi jgarcia, yes, one overdose on cocaine can be deadly.

-Maureen Boyle

can one time moderate use of cocaine lead to permanent brain damage, lost or memory or any other effects?

-aurorag, New Mexico

It depends on the individual.  We don't know what it is about anyone that makes them prone to or resiliant to developing addiction.  We have no actual evidence that a one-time use has permanent cognitive effects, but we do know that a single use has caused the death of some, including the athlete Len Bias.  That is because the way cocaine works is to block the reuptake of critical chemicals that make our hearts work...and if you have too much of a "good thing,"  it can go bad very quickly.  For more info see:

-Nancy Pilotte


-jdnehviuehfviuf, Massachusetts

Hi jdnehviuehfviuf,
Yes, vaping can get you high just like smoking. Eating pot in food can get you high for longer, but it takes longer to take effect.

-Eric Wargo

can people make drugs by making a hybrid of two other drugs?

-awesomesauce14, Illinois

Hi awesomesauce14
In theory yes, Although I am not aware of any actual example. Perhaps you'd make a good chemist (?)

best of luck

-Ruben Baler

can people use drugs as a medicine?

-JLe, Texas

Sure. Just because a drug might be abused, does not mean it never can also be used as a medicine. But care is needed when a doctor prescribes these drugs and the patient also needs to be careful. Prescrition opioids are a prime example. They can help some people in pain, but they are also abused.

-Dave Thomas

Can prescription drugs taken for anxiety or depression become addictive ?

-blancoisd8, Texas

yes,they can produce addiction in those who are vulnerable.

-Nora Volkow

Can pro football players abuse steroids if they have been using it their whole career...or will it harm them in any way?

-mbanks, Texas

Hi mbanks,
Your own body produces all the steroids it needs. It needs them to regulate your growth, and for reproductive functions. The kind sometimes used by athletes are called anabolic steroids, meaning that they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Adults and teens who use large quantities of anabolic steroids risk heart disease, and liver damage and may not reach their full height.  It also can cause aggression, male-pattern baldness (who needs that?), and shrinkage of your testicles (if you are a male).  If you are a female who is using anabolic steroids, your voice may deepen permanently, you may grow facial hair, and develop male-pattern baldness. See for more info on steroids, and check out Ruben’s video:

-Maureen Boyle

Can rehab help a person who is really addicted to tobacco stop?

-PPham, Texas

Yes, PPham, we want all people to quit smoking. A combination of medications and behavioral rehab is the best approach to help stop smoking. There are medications to help with some addictions including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and opioids (e.g. heroin or pain pills). And there are also behavioral therapies to help people recover. NIDA scientists are working hard to develop better treatments to treat addictions to all types of drugs. You can learn more about effective treatment programs here:

-Roger Sorensen

Can steroids increase a mans sex drive?

-(), Michigan
Anabolic steroids can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as infertility, delayed puberty, as well as for diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass, such as cancer and AIDS.  But most people naturally produce all the steroidsthey need in exactly the amounts needed to maintain good health.  And although steriods are important for normal functioning, there can be too much of a good thing.  When people take steroids in doses of 100 times or more than they need, their own steroid production shuts down because it senses there are already enough out there. The high doses of steroids can have numerous negative effects, including negatively affecting the ability to get and maintain an erection...and sperm production shuts down too.  Fortunately, these effects can be reversed with quitting.  For more information, see
-Nancy Pilotte

Can steroids kill you ?

-jsanchez, Texas

yes by producing heart insufficiency

-Nora Volkow

can tar from cigarettes cause cancer?

-klebbie, Texas

The short answer is yes.  But I should explain what the word "tar" really means when we talk about cigarettes.  In this context tar is not the stuff used to pave the roads!  When researchers study cigarette smoke they use the big smoking machines that collect all the chemicals on a piece of filter paper that would be inhaled by a smoker.  All those chemicals look like a big black gooey gob so they actually kind of look like tar....  There are lots of chemicals in tobacco smoke that have been shown to cause yes the "tar" in cigarette can cause cancer

-Cindy Miner

can tar from cigarettes cause cancer?

-klebbie, Texas

yes.  For more info on tobacco and cigarettes, visit:

-Nancy Pilotte

Can tar give you cancer?

-ahernandez, Texas

Hi ahernandez, yes, several chemicals in cigarettes can lead to cancer, including tar. Here is a wiki page on it:

-Joni Rutter

Can teens get drunk faster than adults?

-atekrouri, Texas

Often times yes simply because we tend to be smaller than adults when we're teens. Smaller bodies mean more alcohol gets to the brain. Learn more about how drinking affects teens

-Aaron White

Can the amount of drugs affect the sperm to the reproductive system?

-PSwidrak, New Hampshire

Yes, especially the use of anabolic androgenic steroids like testosterone.  Mega-doses that most people use to build muscle actually decrease sperm production and testicular size.  For more info see:

-Nancy Pilotte

Can the baby of a pregnant woman be born addicted if the mother was addicted to drugs?

-Cookie P. JR, Illinois

Hi Cookie P.JR.  Yes, sadly this can happen. You might have heard of "crack babies" or babies born with "neonatal abstinence syndrome."  These are caused by the mother using cocaine or heroin, respectively. You can learn more in our Substance Use in Women DrugFacts and our Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome infographic. 

-Joni Rutter

Can therapy help you stop doings drugs ?

-MTrevino, Texas

Hi MTrevino:


There are medications to help with some addictions including nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and opioids (e.g. heroin or pain pills). And there are also behavioral therapies to help people recover. But addiction is often a lasting condition, like heart disease or diabetes; there are treatments that help someone live a healthy, productive life but there is no cure. NIDA scientists are working hard to develop better treatments to treat addictions to all types of drugs. You can learn more about effective treatment programs here:

-Michelle Leff

can tobacco affect any part of the body on the outside? (skin, hair, etc.)

-jle, Texas

Absolutely. Tobacco affects many parts of the body. Skin is less elastic and becomes more wrinkled when someone smokes and the lustre of hair diminishes. It's amazing that tobacco harms not just the lungs but MANY parts of the body.

-Wilson Compton