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 you become addicted to over counter drugs such as NyQuil or similar?

-Taytaylataytay, Michigan

Hello to Franklin High! I guess I would say techincally you could get addicted to anything. I think the important thing to mention is that it wise to not take any drug unless you really need it--that way it will be effective when you really do need it.


-Bethany Deeds

Can you become addicted to prescription drugs even if they are prescribed? If not, is there any way to avoid prescription drug addiction?

-erisrael17, Minnesota

This is a very important question!  Prescription drug abuse is when someone takes a medication that was prescribed for someone else or takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor.  When prescription drugs are taken as directed, they are usually safe. However, it requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. There is a lot we still don’t know about who becomes addicted and why, and after how much drug exposure. We do know that each person is different.  When dealing with prescription drugs it is very important to be following the direction of your doctor or nurse in order to prevent addiction. Check out for more information.

-Katia Howlett

can you die from alcohol

-HussamA, Texas

Yes, you can! Close to 90,000 people per year in the United States die from alcohol-related causes, including 5,000 or so teenagers. Stay safe and make smart choices. 

-Aaron White

Can illegal drugs prevent STDs like HIV or AIDS? Could that be the reason some people use them?

-sami14, Maryland

Hi sami14.  No way!  Actually, using illegal drugs can increase risk for STDs like HIV or AIDS because they affect your brain, they way you think and can lead to poor decision making, like engaging in risky sexual behaviors that increase risk for HIV/AIDS.  Here is some additional information for you to review --  It's great that you are asking this type of question.  You've just shattered a drug fact myth!

-Belinda Sims

can it be painful when you don't do cocaine in a while??

-Sophie Dupree, Texas

Hello Sophie--good question. When you take cocaine for along time, you can become addicted. This means that your body has now adapted to wanting to have cocaine. When you first stop taking cocaine, your body still wants the drug. If you don't take cocaine, your body begins to react. This is known as physical withdrawal. During physical withdrawal your body shows many ailments. This physical withdrawal can be very painful to the person.

-Roger Sorenson

Can LSD be a gateway drug like in the novel "Go Ask Alice"?

-919323, Florida

Hi 919323,
I'd say it's pretty unlikely, because these days LSD is pretty rare--a person would be very unlikely to take it as their first drug before having tried alcohol, marijuana, etc. One thing that makes a "gateway" drug is accessibility.
Great question, though!

-Eric Wargo

Can LSD really be stored in your spine and cause trips in the future?

-Kat, North Carolina

Hi Kat,
No, it's a myth that the LSD stays in your spine or anywhere else in your body. But it is true that you can have a trip in the future (a "flashback"). This is because of changes to the brain caused by the drug. It's your own altered brain causing the trip. (Pretty trippy, right?)

-Eric Wargo

Can Marijuana Be Addictive

-QueenAliyyah, Maryland

Sure, addiction is compulsive use despite harm.  That happens a lot with marijuana,  Here is some more information on marijuana:


-Dave Thomas

Can marijuana be fatal?

-curious Lion, Kansas

There are, to my knowledge, no direct fatalities attributable to marijunana itself. Causality is hard to prove. But people can and do injure themselves and die because of marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. There are reports of people who have died in traffic accidents while under the influence of marijuana because it dramatically slows your reaction time (and you don't respond to danger signals from traffic as quickly as you would without the drug). Also, people can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks) or psychotic reactions (where they lose touch with reality and may become paranoid).  Do you want to know more about drugged driving? Check out

-Nancy Pilotte

Can Marijuana cause paranoia?

-Marie, Maryland

Thanks for your question. Yes, for some people they can become paranoid after taking marijuana, and other drugs also. You can learn more about the effects of marijuana at

-Joseph Frascella

can marijuana change someones personality?

-Catherine Mayer, Ohio

Hi cathy,
i really think so. Anything that changes the brain can affect personality. besides the risk of addiction (which is a dramatic change in personality, associations have also been found between marijuana use and other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts among adolescents, and personality disturbances, including a lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities. 
hope this helps

-Ruben Baler

Can marijuana change the way you act and your personality?

-kearsarge, New Hampshire

Yes--any drug can do that.  Marijuana affects parts of the brain that are important for decision making and judgement, and at high doses or in vulnerable individuals it can make you paranoid or psychotic.  That usually goes way when the effects of the drug wear off, although in people with a pre-existing vulnerability to psychosis--it can contribute to a younger age of onset or more severe course of illness.

-Susan Weiss

Can marijuana enhance any mental disorder?

-JuanV, Texas

Hi Juan.  Good question.  Drugs affect your brain and your behavior whether or not you have a mental disorder. Some research suggests that drugs like marijuana use can increase risk for mental disorders.  We also know that using various drugs can also lead to impulsive behavior or can impair judgement, so using drugs can sometimes interact with symptoms or make mental health problems worse.  It's sort of odd when you think about the fact that we sometimes use drugs to treat mental disorders, but then again, medications to treat mental disorders are prescribed by a doctor under careful monitoring.

-Denise Pintello

can marijuana kill you?

-NateArchibald , Minnesota

Hi NateArchibald – deaths due direct exposure to marijuana are few, but driving under the influence of marijuana is very deadly especially when it is used along with alcohol.

-Susan Weiss

Can Marijuana Kill You?

-gerald jeffries, Maryland

Hi gerald jeffries. Great question! Not directly. Use of marijuana can impair coordination and lead to accidents that kill people.  Also, sometimes people become very anxious and paranoid when they use marijuana and end up hurting themselves.  Find out more on marijuana at

-Wilson Compton

can marijuana lead to other drugs as its called the gateway drug and if so what kinds?

-WBrooks, New Hampshire

Good question, WBrooks.  The research is not yet settled but it suggests that while most people who smoke marijuana do not go on to use other drugs, few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana. For example, the risk of using cocaine is much greater for those who have tried marijuana than for those who have never tried it. However, this is also true for alcohol and tobacco. Animal studies suggest that early use of marijuana (or alcohol or tobacco) may impact the brain – which is still developing in adolescents— altering the reward system in ways that affect the likelihood of using other drugs as you get older. In addition, using marijuana puts children and teens in contact with people who use and sell other drugs. So, a person who uses marijuana may be more likely to be exposed to and urged to try other drugs.

-Joni Rutter

Can medications for animals be taken by people?

-glenelg41, Maryland

Glenegl41, You want to take flea medicine?  If people take their animal's medications, how will the animal get better?  Some medications for animals and people are the same, but they may be administered in different dosing regimens. It is never a good idea to take drugs that are not prescribed by your doctor for a specific ailment.  

-Joni Rutter

Can meth kill you on the first try? Or in that just a myth?

-Tyrone Young, Minnesota

Meth is a way dangerous drug. Since it, as well as many other drugs, are often filled with other chemicals, reactions are often difficult to predict. Unfortunately, this can result is some very scary outcomes including death!

-Gaya Dowling

can mj effect blood flow to the brain?

-thor, Maryland

Hi Thor - YES marijuana can affect affect the contraction and expansion of your blood vessels, so it does affect blow flow to the brain.

-Susan Weiss

Can mushrooms be considered drugs?

-Kearsarge, New Hampshire

Ones with psychoactive components like psilocybin (shrooms) can be...

For more information on hallucinogens (like mushrooms), check out:!

-Nancy Pilotte

Can my body build a tolerance to drugs?

-alicia, Ohio

Fantastic question, Alicia! I assume your talking about drugs that can be abused.  Yes, most people do develop a tolerance to drugs - that means after a person uses a drug for a while, it takes MORE drug for the person to feel the same effect. This is why people who are addicted need more and more of a drug just to feel normal.
Want to know how many teens are using drugs? Check out this infographic:

-Dave Thomas

can my body build up a tolerance to drugs?

-joe45, Maryland

Hi Joe45,
Yes, most people do develop a tolerance to drugs - that means after a person uses a drug for a while, it takes MORE drug for the person to feel the same effect. This is why people who are addicted need more and more of a drug just to feel normal.
Want to know how many teens are using drugs? Check out this infographic:

-Michelle Leff

can Nyquil give you a high or drunk feeling?

-keshawn14, Georgia

Unless you get the non-alcoholic version of Nyquil, it's 10% alcohol. It would most likely put you to sleep (part of its intended effect) before you got drunk on it. If you tried drinking too much of it, you might risk some severe negative side effects of large doses of the other medications in Nyquil.  You would definitely risk alcohol poisoning (not fun...unless you enjoy getting your stomach pumped). The antihistamine in Nyquil might make you feel dizzy, but probably wouldn't really make you feel high...more like disoriented.

-Joseph Frascella

can Nyquil give you a high or drunk feeling?

-keshawn14, Georgia

When taken in a high enough doses cold medicines can be intoxicating. Some teens think “over the counter” cough medicine (which can be bought at a drug store without a prescription) are safer to abuse than illegal drugs. But to get high, they need to take high doses, which can be dangerous.

See the NIDA site for more information:

-Maureen Boyle

can one become immune to their antidepressants like when we have a cold and we fight it off?

-amse0110, Maryland

amse0110: Hello again - another great question! Actually - we can't develop immunity to antidepressants like we can when we contract various infectious diseases, yet we can develop a tolerance to a medication. It is possible that after someone takes a medication for a long time, they might not respond to the medication in the same way that they used to. This is something that someone should talk with your doctor about - they may change the dosage of the meds or select a new antidepressant to try that might be as effective. 

-Denise Pintello

Can one lose weight with cocaine

-sufhsdvk, Maryland

Morning Suf,
Cocaine is a stimulant, and some stimulants are prescribed in weight loss programs.  Cocaine is not.   I suggest diet and excecise.  :)


-Dave Thomas

Can people become allergic to bath salts???

-itsyoGurl, Maryland

Hi againitsyo
people can become allergic to anything.

-Ruben Baler

Can people get drunk off of mouthwash?

-breezywind, Minnesota

Totally depends on the mouthwash. Some mouthwashes contain no alcohol. Others contain alcohol. The amount can vary greatly from product to product. While it's theoretically possible to get drunk off of some mouthwashes, it would probably be disgusting and is not recommended!

-Aaron White

Can people mix drugs with a vape pen without your knowledge.

-MAEGNM, Maryland

Hello MAEGNM--So you put your vape pen down in a room full of pot users.  When you come back, you see them laughing and fear they may have switched your gummy bear cartridge out and put a cartridge with THC or marijuana in.  Possible?  Yes.  Likely without your knowledge--well, certainly not after the first puff.  But it's a good call to always keep your vape pen, and your drink, in your possession--thus it's all on you what you put in your body.

-Lis Davis

can people put drugs in liquid

-chance, Illinois

in some cases depends on the drug and its chemical composition.

-Gaya Dowling