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 GET ORAL CANCER FROM ALCHOL???????????????????????

-billybob67, New York

Yes, drinking a lot of alcohol over time increases your chances of developing cancers of the head, neck, mouth and throat. You can learn more about these risks at:

-Aaron White

Can you go to jail for killing someone for drunk driving?

-CallMeCAT, New York

Oh yes! It happens every day!

-Aaron White

can you inject cleaning products into your bloodstream?

-jamealbrechtsen, New York
Hey jamealbrechtsen....uh....why would you want to inject cleaning products into your blood?  You could do it, but it could kill you... and painfully.
Give me a better question... 
-Joni Rutter

Can you OD from a perscription drug

-skkoollover, New York
Hi skkoollover,
Good question. Yes you can, if you take more of the drug than your doctor prescribed, or if you take it in a different way ... or if you aren't the person it was prescribed for. 
-Eric Wargo

Can you OD from a perscription drug?

-judicorn, Maryland

Hi Juidicorn.  In a word, yes, but it depends on the prescription drug.  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.  The Food and Drug Administration writes very detailed descriptions of the effects of the drug, both good and bad, that are included with every prescription.  You should always read these labels to find out what the harmful effects are, use them for what they were FDA approved for, and if you have questions talk to your doctor or the pharmacist.

-Steve Grant

can you od on steroids

-lalala, New York
I don't know of many cases of death due to overdose on steriods, but there can be some very serious consequences resulting from the use of steroids.  For example, you can damage your liver and cause blood pressure problems.  Steroid use can also result in other really thrilling effects like breast enhancement, testicle shrinkage and baldness in males (lovely!).  For women, you can get breast shrinkage, deeper voice, facial hair, etc...but who wants that?!  
All in all, you may not necessarily die from use of steroids, but there are so many other unpleasant effects....your best bet is to stay 'steroid free'! 
-Joni Rutter

Can you OD on tylenol?

-skylerisdope, New York

Yes, you can die from a tylenol overdose although the mechanism that kills you (kidney failure) is different from the one associated with OD from drugs like heroin or alcohol (respiratory depression).

-Nora Volkow

Can you overdose on inhalants? And if so, is it easier or harder to overdose on them than other drugs?

-z_oneill, Maryland
You can definitely overdose on inhalants.  It's a misconception that they are harder to overdose on than other drugs.  
Markers, paint, glue, etc, are inhalants and they are relatively easy to get from household items.  Using inhalants is NOT a harmless way to get a buzz.  It is like sucking in toxins directly into your lungs. Sniffing inhalants can also result in 'Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome' which can happen when inhalants cause death by either stopping the heart from beating or preventing the person from getting enough oxygen. All that for a high?  No way.  One of the little known long-term effects of inhalants is that they can break down myelin, the substance that protects your nerve cells, a lot of which are in your brain.  If that happens, it can cause muscle spasms, tremors, and even affect the ability to walk.
Remember, once you use drugs, it can be tough to reverse the damage.  
Visit the NIDA for teen website to learn more about different inhalants and the effects on the body:  
-Joni Rutter

can you overdose on marijauna?!?!

-miracow, Maryland
Hi miracow,
Great question. The answer is probably not--overdosing isn't the danger with marijuana. The danger is long-term effects on the brain, when it is used during the teenage years. Those aren't easy to notice (which is why lots of people don't think marijuana is bad for you), but they really are!
-Eric Wargo

can drugs mess up your whole body

-prettygirl13, New York

Yes, but the effects will depend on the type of drug u use, the doses, and for how long

-Nora Volkow

can drugs really affect your body??

-YOLO!!!, New York
The short answer is "Yes."
The exact impact on you depends on the drug, how it is taken, and a lot of other factors.  
There is a whole lot of info on our website:
-Dave Thomas

Can drugs weeken the body? Say if an active teen around 13 who plays 3 sports can they get affecfted? xoxox billybob :)

-billybob67, New York

Absolutely billybob67! At 13 the body is still developing rapidly and drugs can interfere with normal development. Depending upon the drug, it may certainly affect training and performance in sports. For instance, some drugs may affect your ability to react correctly to different situations, slow you down, affect your vision and speed. And these are only the affects of drugs on your performance- they also affect your health!

-Marilyn Huestis

Can ecstasy kill you?

-amanda_foo, New York

Hey Amanda_foo--yep ecstasy can kill.

The geeky term for ecstasy is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine).  It can cause the body to get rid of water and this can cause the body to overheat - called heat stroke.  The body's inability to regulate temperature is just one of the bad side-effects of ecstasy.  This is even worse and deadlier when people take ecstasy and drink alcohol at the same time, like while partying. 
Find out more on ecstasy here:
-Joni Rutter

can elderly people get addicted to cocaine?

-friendlyperson1, New York
Hey there friendlyperson1. Great user name! The short answer is YES -- elderly people can be addicted to cocaine or any other harmful and illegal drug. In fact, elderly people may even be more likely than younger adults to be harmed by many drugs. For example, the elderly may be less able to absorb and break down medications and drugs as easily as it used to (so drugs may stay in the body longer, which can increase their effects). Aging brains are also different than young ones and may be at greater risk for harmful drug effects (on memory or coordination, for example). And the elderly could be on medications for medical conditions, and these medications could interact with abused drugs in dangerous ways.
Here's some other information on cocaine if you're interested:
-Harold Perl

Can hallucinogens be placed inside an aerosol can and become weaponized? If so, is there any way we can defend ourselves against them?

-ThleduinAlkara, Pennsylvania

ThleduinAlkara, hey!  What an interesting questions.  Hallucinogens would probably dissipate or be inactivated by heat reactions before having any effects, but I don't know of any data that addresses this question.  How do you defend against this possibility?  Read more.  Do well in school.  Study science.

-Joni Rutter

Can herion kill someone once they inject it?

-alyssaskyglace, Pennsylvania

Yes- heroin use is extremely dangerous. It can result in an overdose resulting in death. Check out for more info about heroin and other drugs of abuse.

-Jack Stein

can heroin be smoked

-marshmallow, Maryland
Hello again marshmallow-- 
Quick answer. Heroin can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. It also can be smoked or snorted up the nose.
-Roger Sorensen

Can homemade cigarettes have the same effect that cigarettes sold in stores

-lj12, New York


-Cindy Miner

Can I goto rehab because of my flappy bird addiction?

I don't know--do you think you need rehab? Unlike drugs, game addictions can usually be cured by finding another fun activity ... or the next game that comes along 
I cured my Angry Birds addiction with Words With Friends. :-)
Good luck! 
-Eric Wargo

can you get addicted to mental health medication? and ig you get the wrong diagnosis for a mental health issue and you take medicine for it can that drug do something really bad for your body?

-skpmb, Maryland

Hey SKPMB.  Wow great and complicated question about mental health problems.  First, certain prescription medications used to treat certain mental and physical health conditions can be addictive.  Medications like opiates to treat pain and some of the stimulants used to treat ADHD can be addictive.  The key is to ONLY take medications prescribed for you, take those medications ONLY as prescribed by the physician, and to REMAIN under the care of a reputable physician.  Regarding question two:  treating mental health problems, like treating physical health conditions, requires an accurate diagnosis.  Mental health professions should provide an assessment to  determine the type and severity mental health problem. Sometimes,  medications are prescribed as part of treatment by psychiatrists or physicians.  You are on the right track though - an accurate diagnosis is key to successful treatment.  For more information on prescription medications see:

-Redonna Chandler

can you get cancer from trying a cigarette one time?

-xoxogossipgirl, Massachusetts
Hi Gossipgirl! No, but you might get addicted to smoking, which causes cancer, as you know. Many people that became addicted to smoking thought they would only try it once. 
If you are curious to know more, please go to:
-Anto Bonci

can you get drunk of bleech?

-gk22, New York
hei there gk22
You mean: bleach?? like in clorox? are you crazy????? it is extremely toxic stuff
watch out! 
-Ruben Baler

can you get help when you are addicted to marijuana, New Jersey
Hi Tyost,
Yes, there definitely are ways to get help if you are addicted to marijuana.  Realizing that there is a problem is an important first step.  Here is a resource to find substance abuse treatment in your area:
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.
Good luck!! 
-Michelle Leff

can you get high by choking yourself

-strawberrycream, Maryland

Strawberrycream,  Well you ask an interesting question.  If you choke yourself to the point of asphyxiation - where you deprive your brain of oxygen - you would experience dizziness, light headedness, etc.  My question for you is: why would anyone want to do that to themselves?  There is no high like a natural high.  Go climb an indoor rock wall, ski down a mountain, write the best English paper, go see "I Frankenstein" with a friend.  Something fun and that won't negatively affect your brain!

-Redonna Chandler

Can you get high off life?

-Not a Drug Guy, California

sure can....we can now even see the brain "light up" when we are participating in engaging activities like sports, etc. Try it!

-Jack Stein

Can you get high off of cat pee

-icecreamswirl5, Maryland

Cat pee?  Seriously icecreamswirl5?  There are no psychoactive properties in cat pee.  Pee (urine) is a fluid that is filled with waste from the body.  What other questions do you have?

-Joni Rutter

can you get high off of poppy seeds?

-cakecakecake, New York


-Susan Weiss

Can you get high off running? If so, how and why do you get high off running?

-Student101, Maryland
Good question to start my day!   I don't know if I would say "high" but running and exercise can cause the release of chemicals in your brain called "endorphins" and they can make you feel good.
-Dave Thomas

can you get high off secondhand smoke?

-CrazyK999, New York

CraxyK999,  Good question.  If you are referring to marijuana smoke the answer is no. However, if you are referring to cigarette smoke there is a different answer. Secondhand tobacco smoke does deliver nicotine which is the psychoactive ingredient in cigarettes.  Secondhand smoke is a combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by the smoker. When you stand near a smoker or go to a restaurant or home where smoking is allowed, you breathe secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is dangerous. Over time, secondhand smoke causes death and disease in kids and adults—even if they do not smoke.  Check out a fact sheet the National Cancer Institute put out to learn more: NCI Factsheet, Secondhand Smoke: Questions and Answers  And if you are interested in a recent study, here is an interesting news release:

-Cindy Miner

Do drugs effect the people around the people that are doing the drugs

-xPreparationz, Pennsylvania
Hi x...z. I bicycle in Bellefonte when I visit my relatives.
Absolutely doing drugs affects the people around them, in many ways. Drunk and drugged driving can harm and kill pedestrians and passengers in the car. Drugs and alcohol might change a person's personality, which can lead to conducting violent acts. If it's a friend doing the drugs, you will worry about your friend. You will worry whether your friend who is taking the drugs will harm himself, do something stupid that your friend wouldn't normally do, or have medical consequences or overdose and you will have to get them medical help quickly. You and your friends can have much more fun doing something other than drugs. Don't ruin your fun by taking drugs.


-Roger Sorensen