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.

Download Full Year

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 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: 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

can you get high offcaffeine?

-SOS_Lucky, Maryland

Hey SOS_Lucky: You sure can get high off of caffeine! Even though it is legal,
affeine 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 hasirresistibleurges that make it difficult for them to moderate intake of common substances, like food and soda. What do you think?

-Joni Rutter

Do drugs have any calories?

-parisp, New Mexico

A calorie is a unit of energy...and most drugs are taken in tiny amounts and provide no nutritional value. So that would be a 'no.'

-Nancy Pilotte

Do drugs have different effects on different people?

-DKendall5587, Pennsylvania

Hey DKendall5587! This is a very astute question....they do, indeed! Here's why: Each person has individual differences that impact how they respond to a drug. People are different, and addiction has many sides to it that make a person more or less likely to become addicted to a drug, such as genetics (e.g., genes that metabolize drugs can be different across people), environment (e.g., drug availability; parents using drugs/tobacco/alcohol) and development (e.g., age--the younger you are when you try a drug, the more likely you are to abuse it), all of which play important and changing roles in determining how a person becomes addicted. No matter what, all drugs of abuse are bad for your body! Get accurate facts on drugs so you can make healthy decisions for your brain and body. See: Keep up the good work and 'Just Say Know!'

-Joni Rutter

Do drugs have similar results on animals as they do on humans?

-iank, New Mexico

Drugs can definitely affect animals. In fact, a lot of the research we support uses animals to examine the effects of drugs. When it comes to conducting tests related to intelligence, learning, and drug abuse, rats are a popular choice due to their high intelligence (believe it or not!), cleverness, and adaptability. Their psychology, in many ways, seems to be similar to humans. The great thing about rats and other animal models is that rats don't have social pressures, they don't care about being popular, or how they look (ever seen a rat with a Justin Beiber hairdo?). Rodents don't know what addiction is. This means that when scientists observe addictive behaviors in rats, they know that those effects are likely to have similar effects in humans. And, the rat brain has many of the same 'parts' as the human brain, just on a smaller scale. Believe it or not, they've been used in biology and psychiatry research since the late 1800's! Since then, rats have been used in many experiments, which have added to our understanding of genetics, diseases, the effects of drugs of abuse. A 2007 study found rats to possess metacognition (knowing about knowing), a mental ability previously only documented in humans and some primates. Thanks for the great question!

-Joni Rutter

do drugs help you become insane?

-123456789, North Carolina

Hi 123456789 Yes they can, there is actually a very strong link between drug use and mental illness, in both directions. Sometimes, people with mental illness use drugs in an attempt to self medicate (e.g., anxiety or depression), in other cases, drugs can trigger or exacerbate a mental illness. your question make sme think that you might find the following document on comorbidity intersting good luck to you Ruben

-Ruben Baler

do drugs make people calm their nerves

-ricky, Georgia

Ricky, It really depends on the drug...some drugs are stimulants and can result in people feeling jittery and nervous, whereas other drugs such as depressants can have sedating and calming effects. So the short answer is it really depends on the type of drug as well as the reaction a person has to the drug. For example, some drugs like stimulants can have opposite effects...that is, instead of revving a person up, can have a calming effect. For more information go to: Hope this helps. Joe

-Joe Frascella

do drugs make you hurt people

-mashcraft, Texas

They can. PCP has long been known to cause violent rage in some cases. And lets not forget about alcohol and bar fights. Also, just look at how many people are killed by drunk and drugged drivers.

-Dave Thomas

Do drugs make you overweight?


There are no rules here, but it's probably the other way around. Chronic drug abuse slowly erodes the pleasure that a user derives from naturally pleasurable activities, like eating, so that many addicted individuals will tend to lose interest in food and indirectly lose weight as part of a general neglect in their well-being. It is an emerging fact of science that obesity and addiction appear to be related disorders of the reward system that share (and compete for) some overlapping circuits in the brain. So, in a sense, you would expect that obesity and addiction will rarely co-occur in the same individual. Interestingly, it has been reported that some morbidly obese patients that underwent bariatric surgery have a higher risk of taking up alcohol or other drugs of abuse. thanks for a great question. good luck to you.

-Dave White

Do drugs make you sterile?

-Blake Girl 67, Minnesota

Heroin can indeed reduce a man's sperm count and make him less likely to be father; cocaine can inhibit normal ovulatory cycles. 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 make you sterile.

-Nancy Pilotte

Do drugs make your lungs black?

-Tyshawn, Georgia

Yes! Inhaling drugs deep into your lungs through smoking can deliver harmful chemicals to the interior surfaces of the lungs and eventually compromise the blood flow within the lung and lead to the formation of necrotic (dead) tissue. Normal lungs are pink, necrotic tissue is not. Hopefully you will prefer pink!

-Nancy Pilotte

Do fake cigars/cigars to help you quit smoking actually help you quit smoking?

-benjitheman51, Maryland

Fake cigars? You mean like candy chocolate cigars? Seriously, all tobacco products are harmful to your health. Quitting can be hard but there are lots of resources to help. Connect with us at to learn about free quit guides, help someone else quit by encouraging them with a free eCard, and read more statistics that can help a friend quit.

-Cindy Miner

do hookahs cause cancer?

-nathanb1998, Maryland

So you know when you are using a hookah, you are actually smoking tobacco right? They might add some fancy flavors and tell you that the water is filtering out the bad stuff. Don't believe are still inhaling tobacco smoke and exposing yourself and your lungs to nasty stuff. There are no safe tobacco products...don't believe the hype out there.

-Cindy Miner

Do inhalants harm your brain?

-JJohnson, Texas

Hi JJohnson,

Most inhalants depress the central nervous system in a manner not unlike alcohol. The effects are similar—including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria, and dizziness. Inhalant abusers may also experience light-headedness, hallucinations, and delusions. With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache.

Although it is not very common, addiction to inhalants can occur with repeated abuse


-Eric Wargo

Do kids get presciption drugs?

-#1SoulEaterFan5, New Jersey

yes, unfortunately, they get them all too easily--usually from friends and family. Of course, that's different from getting them prescribed for you from a doctor for a real medical reason.

-Jen Katt

Do Mollys really make you sweat?

-Craig, Alabama

'Molly' is an abbreviation for 'molecular' and refers to the pure form of ecstasy, or MDMA. Thus, it has all the effects of MDMA. Learn more by clicking on this link:

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you overdose on steroids?

-dae dae, Alabama

No, steroids by themselves will not kill you. But their repeated usage can lead to the formation of blood clots that can lead to strokes...and the strokes can kill you. But I suspect you would rather stick around for a while...avoid these drugs! They can give you more than you bargained for because they disrupt the normal production and balance of hormones in the body, and can lead to a long list of problems, such as reduced sperm production, shrinking of the testicles, male-pattern baldness and breast development in men. In the female body, anabolic steroid abuse can cause masculinization. This means that females may experience decreases in body fat, coarsening of the skin, and deepening of the voice. Women may also experience excessive growth of body hair (chest, chin, back, etc.) and lose the hair on their head. And they may make you stop growing tall before your time as they hasten the closure of the long bones in your legs. They may also increase the risk of blood clots and damage to heart muscle. Most important, with continued steroid use, some of these effects can become irreversible. Are those enough reasons to keep away from abusing steroids? See more at

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you overdose on weed?

-swimma, Pennsylvania

Probably not--but it can kill you by increasing your risk of being in an car wreck---driving while high about doubles your risk of being in an accident, and if combined with even a little bit of alcohol--the risk is even greater. for more info on mj, check out:

-Susan Weiss

can you really get smarter from smoking weed?

-brookep, Oklahoma

No; in fact, there is some research that suggests that weed, or marijuana, can have a negative impact on learning and memory. Visit the teen website to find out more information on marijuana: .

-Michelle Leff