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 tobacco kill ???

-704496, Texas

Hey, 704496, what do you think? Here are the facts: Tobacco is among the top killers worldwide. 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


-john, New Mexico

Good question john! Tobacco causes nearly 500,000 deaths every year in the United States. It is estimated that 1 BILLION lives will be lost around the globe from tobacco use in the 21st Century. And all of these deaths are preventable--if tobacco is avoided. Here's some more information from our teen site:

-Wilson Compton

Can too much drinking result in a shutdown in your body and kill you?

-CXDYLANXC, Illinois

Hi CXDYLANXC, Yes, you can overdose on alcohol and it can lead to death. Check out this information from NIAAA:

-Maureen Boyle

can u die from weed

-ItsFrosticles , Massachusetts

Deaths from weed are related to things people do under its influence--driving, for example, since it increases the risk of accidents.  Also, there have been a few reported incidents where people became psychotic (they see things that aren't there) and paranoid (they think people are out to get them) and injure (or kill) either themselves or others.  

-Susan Weiss

can u get addictive to spray paint


What up, NARWHAL? You can become mentally addicted to abusing the chemicals found in spray paint. These chemicals are known as inhalants because you breathe them into your body. If you use inhalants long enough, your body begins to expect that you will continue to use inhalants. Largely because it is easy to get inhalants [paint thinner, gasoline, shapies], inhalants are among the first drugs that preteens or teens abuse. In fact, they are one of the few types of substances that are abused more by younger teens than older ones. Inhalant abuse, if continued, can become a real problem in adulthood. Some common household products used as inhalants to get high can have permanent effects including hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, bone marrow damage, and possibly death from heart failure or suffocation.

-Roger Sorensen

can u have a hart attack if u smoke marijuana?

-mayla clardy, New Mexico

Hi mayla,
Good question. Marijuana raises heart rate and blood pressure. Someone with heart disease or a weak heart might be at higher risk of having a heart attack after smoking. But for most people, it would be unlikely. 

-Eric Wargo

can u kill your self in one day for having to many drugs in one day...????

-704496, Texas

HI 704496,
In 2014, over 47,000 Americans died of drug overdoses. That’s 129 people dying every day. Their deaths are felt by countless mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family, and friends. What do you think we can together do to help save lives and prevent more suffering?

-Maureen Boyle

can u really get addicted to all the drugs that u take

-Abigaila, New Mexico

Hmmm, all drugs?  Not sure. Certainly all drugs that are abused. The definition of addiction is "compulsive use despite harm." Lot's of people do lots of things that fit this definition, and it goes way beyond addiction to drugs.

-Dave Thomas

can you die from marijuana?

-Participant, Massachusetts

Hi, it is not likely that someone would die directly from marijuana use. But they can experience extreme anxiety (panic attacks) or psychotic reactions (where they lose touch with reality and may become paranoid). And people can and do injure themselves because of marijuana's effects on judgment, perception, and coordination. For example, marijuana affect the skills you need to drive (e.g., concentration, reaction time) so people can injure themselves and others if they drive while under the influence. For more information on marijuana, see:

-Maureen Boyle

Can you die from overdoses on alcohol?

-Dalexopoulos, Texas

Yes, for sure. You could die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much. Alcohol builds up in your bloodstream and can slow down important body processes like breathing and the gag reflex, which prevents you from choking. Even if you have stopped drinking or pass out, alcohol in the stomach and intestine can continue to enter your blood stream and circulate throughout your body.

Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include:
  • Mental confusion
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Hypothermia, or low temperature
  • Bluish skin color
  • Paleness

If you think someone you know may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, make sure to get help immediately. You can call 911. You can learn more about alcohol poisoning and overdoses at:


-Aaron White

can you die from passive smoking

-eGriswell, Texas


Although we often think of medical consequences that result from direct use of tobacco products, passive or secondary smoke also increases the risk for many diseases. Environmental tobacco smoke is a major source of indoor air contaminants; secondhand smoke is estimated to cause approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among nonsmokers and contributes to more than 35,000 deaths related to cardiovascular disease. Exposure to tobacco smoke in the home is also a risk factor for new cases and increased severity of childhood asthma. Additionally, dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of residential fire fatalities, leading to more than 1,000 deaths each year.

-Michelle Leff

can you die from second hand smoking

-J Brungard, Pennsylvania


yes, it has been reported. And there are scientific articles trying to measure thne actual impact of second hand smoking on both disability and global burden of death .

Great question!

-Ruben Baler

Can you die from taking drugs???

-EmmaArcher, Ohio

EmmaArcher, absolutely you can die from taking drugs. Misuse of heroin and prescription opioid drugs is causing many overdose deaths in the United States and worldwide. Just a single use of cocaine can stop your heart and cause death. Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs:

-Roger Sorensen

can you die from vaping

-mynameis, Texas

Hi mynameis,
Great question! If you mean vaping marijuana, then no, it probably isn't more harmful than regular smoking.

-Eric Wargo

Can you die if you try withdraw from a physical dependency on heroine?

-smistry, Texas

Dying from an overdose of heroin is more likely. Withdrawal from heroin can be very difficult, but there are several medications that can help. If you or someone you know is trying to quit using heroin, you should talk with a health care provider about what to expect and how to stop using safely. Make sure to tell the doctor about all of your health history, including drug or alcohol use.

-Joni Rutter

Can you die the first time that you try drugs?

-garciat, Texas

Garciat - yes, you can die the first time you try drugs if you get a high dose or don't know what you are taking. Some drugs, like tobacco, can damage you slowly – for example long-term tobacco use can cause cancer and is the leading cause of preventable death. Other drugs, like meth, can be especially toxic to your brain. And taking drugs, like heroin or cocaine, or misusing prescription drugs, has the potential to cause overdose and death even the first time you use them. It can also lead to addiction. So any drug you use can be the most dangerous drug for you. Please protect your brain and your health, you need them! Check out the overdose death statistics for various drugs:

-Joni Rutter

can you drink to much to make your kids(if pregnant) have problems?

-Jacksepticeye, Massachusetts

Yes, for sure. Drinking while you are pregnant can seriously affect a baby's development. A range of problems, the worst of which is called fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) can result. Babies born with FAS are not addicted to alcohol themselves, but they do have smaller brains, abnormal facial features, and often have life-long learning and behavioral problems. It is the leading preventable birth defect associated with mental and behavioral impairment in the United States today. Basically, it is never safe to drink any alcohol when you're pregnant, whether its through vodka eyeballing or normal drinking. You can learn more about the dangers of drinking when you're pregnant here:

-Aaron White

Can you fail a drug test from secondhand smoke?

-MyNamesJeff, Michigan

Hi Jeff,
Good question. No, you can't fail a drug test from secondhand smoke. A lot of the chemical needs to get into your blood, and secondhand smoke will not do it.

-Eric Wargo

can you get a hangover from heroin

-flo2273, Texas

Hello flo2273.
That's an interesting question.
Heroin doesn't cause the kind of hangover that alcohol does. But heroin changes the chemistry in the brain associated with pleasure and pain, so that people who have used it repeatedly may start to feel bad all the time when they are not using it. People who become addicted to heroin and try to stop using it experience withdrawal symptoms, in a way, could be described as a really bad hangover: they include pain, itching, vomiting, and intense craving. Fortunately, we have treatments for people that lessen the withdrawal effects so that they can start living again without heroin.
There is information here:

-Roger Little

Can you get a sleeping disorder if you smoke normal cigarettes?

-Swaggyp, Michigan

Great question swaggyp - Interestingly, people who have sleep disturbance tend to smoke more. And, when an smoker tries to quit, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms including irritability, attention difficulties, sleep disturbances, increased appetite, and powerful cravings for tobacco. Treatments can help smokers manage these symptoms and improve the likelihood of successfully quitting.

-Joni Rutter

Can you get addicted even though you only do it once in a while?


though unlikely it can happen in those that are vulnerable

-Nora Volkow

Can you get addicted if the doctor gives you drugs?

-amartineau, New Hampshire

Hi Amartineau
Unfortunately, some medications have the potential to produce addiction. They include stimulants, sedatives and opiates. This is why it is so important that these medications be used under the careful monitoring and supervision of a trained physician and never be used for non-medical purposes.

great question.

-Ruben Baler

Can you get addicted off medication you are prescribed, even if you take the right dosage?

-Ya Boi, Michigan

Unfortunately yes. We are not sure how likely that is, but it can happen. That is why medication should be used with caution and only as the doctor prescribed.

-Dave Thomas

Can you get addicted to drugs your doctors prescribe?

-Eva, Massachusetts

Hi Eva, yes sometimes you can get addicted to drugs a doctor prescribes, but this usually happens when someone takes another person's prescription that was never meant for them or if the person takes their medication incorrectly. Prescription drugs are safe when taken as the doctor prescribes by the person for whom they are intended. 

-Michelle Rankin

Can you get seizures because of cigarettes or alcohol?

-jatuchi, Texas

not from cigarrettes, but if you drink too much alcohol for a long time then, during the withdrawal period, seizures can occur.  

-Nora Volkow

Can you get stuck on acid?

-HollandMiddlePA, Pennsylvania

Hi HollandMiddlePA,
No, that is pretty much a myth. You can't get stuck on any drug. But in very rare cases some drugs can provoke psychosis, which may be lasting.  

-Eric Wargo

can you have mental problems if you smoke marijuana?

-leila saenz, New Mexico

Hello Leila,
There is indeed an association between marijuana use and various mental illnesses. Meaning that a higher percentage of marijuana smokers have them than of people in general.. It is important to point out though that this statisticalm association doesn't mean that marijuana causes mental illness. However, there is some evidence supporting the idea that marijuana use, particularly when it starts early, can cause some mental illnesses or make the symptoms worse.
you can learn more about this important question here:

cheers and thanks for the great question



-Ruben Baler

can you injure your bones for taking drugs

-blacknation, Massachusetts

Maybe, if you fall or are in a fight while using them.  But just by taking them?  No.  The one exception would be anabolic steroids like testosterone.  Long-term use of testosterone by adolescents can result in them stopping growth too earlier, and being shorter than your body expected.  Permanently.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you lose friends by doing alcohol? I was told you do

-Noskcaj, Massachusetts

It sure seems possible. Drinking alcohol can make it more likely for you to get into fights - even violent ones, so this can certainly harm friendships. You can learn more about how teens can deal with the peer pressure to drink and similar issues here:

-Aaron White

can you od on weed?

-pappichulo, Washington

Hi pappichulo,
Yes, but you'll just end up in the emergency room. People don't die from marijuana overdoses.

-Eric Wargo