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 someone be immune to the side affects of drugs?

-aluo, Texas

Based on the genetics, many people are naturally immune to certain bacteria and viruses. But in the case of drugs, some people are more resistant or tolerant to the side effects than others.

-Jag Khalsa

can someone become addicted to secondhand smoke ?

-melissa, Ohio

Great question Melissa! While you can't get addicted to smoke secondhand, secondhand smoke exposes people to the dangerous chemicals found in inhaled smoke:

-Kevin Walton

can vape harm you like a drug

-nyc.kaylaa, New York

Vaping often includes nicotine, which is an addicitive chemical that comes from tobacco. There are other risk factors too. Check out this article for more info.

-Kevin Conway

can weed harm your lungs the same way cigarettes can?

-stay puft, Texas

We don't know if it causes lung cancer but it does increase the risk of lung infections like bronchitis. Also, increases phlegm production and cough.

-Susan Weiss

Can weed make you deaf?

-pineapple, New York

pineapple - nope

-Maureen Boyle

Can weed take away your brain cells

-Jessie@gentryjr, Texas

it can make your brain cells sick so that they can not communicate properly with one another, making you apathetic, depressed, anxious when you are under its influence

-Nora Volkow

Can you actually become a "zombie" from bath salts?

-Soph, SSMS, Colorado

Hi Soph, SSMS - Not really a "zombie", but bath salts do have significant effects. Bath salts are a name (and I think it's a very strange name since we don't use them for an actual bath) for a drug that usually contains a cathinone chemical. This is a chemical that is a stimulant and can produce psychosis. It both causes an increase in heart rate as well as hallucinations and paranoia in some people. See other drug facts about bath salts here:

-Wilson Compton

can you actually get drunk by "drinking" alcohol by the anus?

-YZY, Other

Yes, but it is extremely dangerous. Getting alcohol into the body this way can lead to very rapid increases in the amount of alcohol in your blood and can kill you.

-Aaron White

can you be addicted to second hand smoke

-Mike Wazowski, New York

Hi Mike, that is a great question. People become addicted to smoking because cigarettes have high levels of nicotine. Usually, someone exposed to secondhand smoke will not get similar amounts of nicotine. Unfortunately, secondhand smoke exposes that person to a lot of the toxins in cigarettes, and can cause many of the same bad health effects. It is best to avoid secondhand smoke, and also to provide quit help for the person who is smoking.

-Kevin Walton

Can you be addicted to vape?

-Summit15794, New Jersey

hey Summit15794, yes, e-cigarettes typically contain nicotine which is highly addictive.

-Maureen Boyle

Can you be in jail if you got into a car crash from a drink and drive incident?

-vcheng, Texas

hey vcheng, yes drunk driving is a crime that can lead to jail time.

-Maureen Boyle

Can you be on every single drug at once

-sammycallahan, New Jersey

Obviously that would be a very bad idea. Some people do use several drugs at one time, for various reasons. The problem is that there are drug interactions, where drugs can have different or exaggerated effects when taken in combinations. These interactions can be really dangerous, producing harm and death. For example, taking opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines together is VERY dangerous.

-Dave Thomas

Can you become addicted to cigarettes it someone around you smokes?

-maggie, New York

Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to cigarette smoke and lots of the dangerous chemicals that get released when tobacco is smoked. Research also shows that kids who live with adult smokers are at increased risk of smoking themselves. A good rule is to avoid smoking entirely. If possible, see if you can get your friends and family to develop a smoke-free policy so that everybody is protected.

-Kevin Conway

Can you become addicted to cigarettes when someone around you smokes?

-maggie, New York

I've gotten this question before, so here's my answer ... Research shows that being around someone who smokes increases exposure to cigarette smoke and lots of the dangerous chemicals that get released when tobacco is smoked. Research also shows that kids who live with adult smokers are at increased risk of smoking themselves. A good rule is to avoid smoking entirely. If possible, see if you can get your friends and family to develop a smoke-free policy so that everybody is protected. You might find this blog post helpful:

-Kevin Conway

can you become addicted to medicines that help you become unaddicted to other drugs?

-coras, Pennsylvania

There's a difference between addiction and "physical dependence". Some medications that help you become unaddicted to other drugs (e.g., methadone, suboxone for heroin) do produce physical dependence, but not addiction. Dependence is when your body adapts to the drugs constant presence, and you feel sick if you stop taking it abruptly (withdrawal) This can happen with many drugs that you take regularly--a coffee drinker may experience headaches if they don't get their morning coffee, but that goes away as the body adapts to the new situation (no coffee). Addiction medications work differently than the abused drug--methadone gets into the brain slowly, and stays in the body for a long time. Heroin gets to the brain fast, which produces the high; and then disappears fast, causing the person to crave and seek the drug. With methadone (or suboxone) people can function well. I hope this helps clarify a very complex topic.

-Susan Weiss

Can you become addicted to shots (like as in the alcoholic drinks)?

-Soph, SSMS, Colorado

Well, you can certainly become addicted to alcohol and drink shots as your primary type of beverage. But the drug in shots, beer, wine is all the same -- alcohol.

-Aaron White

Can you compare the harmful effects of teen marijuana use versus adult marijuana use?

-eadams, Maine

So far the research shows that teen marijuana use is more dangerous than adult use. The studies focus on regular users of the drug and found long term (maybe permanent) changes in the brain--this is likely because it is still actively developing in youth up to age 25. Changes include: size of brain structures, the amount of neurons in certain areas, the connections between brain structures, and how the brain gets activated when you are doing different tasks. Long term reductions in IQ have been reported; poorer academic outcomes, higher drop out rates, lower income as adults, increased welfare dependence, increased risk for psychosis (in people with a genetic or other vulnerability) and higher rates of suicidal thinking and attempts. This is not to say that its safe for adults--we just don't have as much information, especially for older adults who may have other physical and mental problems.

-Susan Weiss

Can you control yourself while drunk?

-Dezmond@gentry, Texas

It can be hard to control behavior when drunk. Alcohol disrupts the frontal lobes, which help us think about the future, make decisions and control our impulses. As a result, alcohol increases the chances of taking risks and suffering consequences as a result.

-Aaron White

Can you crush up cheez its and snort them? Can you crush up any sort of food or snack and snort it?

-CC, Indiana

Hi CC,
Nope. That sounds like a crummy idea. :-)

-Eric Wargo

can you die form smoking vapors

-Tyrese FVSU 4_H, Georgia

Dear Tyrese FVSU 4_H - you probably can't die from vaping, but it's still not good for you. Instead of actually burning (combusting) the drug, vaping raises its temperature just enough to create a mist-like vapor. It is probably safer for the lungs, which is why people like it. But vaping can be used for marijuana, nicotine, as well as many other substances. Vaping is NOT a "healthy" alternative to smoking cigarettes. We are just beginning to understand vaping but we have much more to learn. Although many of the toxic chemicals from burning cigarettes may not be present in vaping, other dangers may exist! There are many checmicals in the vaping liquid that were never meant to be inhaled. In addition, many of these liquids contain nicotine, which is very addictive.

Stay in control of your health and don't use any tobacco product!

-Heather Kimmel

Can you die from a panic attack caused by marijuana?

-wowbro, Texas

There is no evidence that a panic attack from marijuana can kill u

-Nora Volkow

can you die from a tobacco overdose?

-16764 summit, New Jersey

Hi 16764 summit, thanks for this question! You can't actually overdose from tobacco (although too much of it could make you pretty sick), but there are many dangers to your health from smoking tobacco. The long-term effects of smoking makes it one of the most dangerous drugs. 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. Because that happens over many years of smoking, people often don't think about it when they are young. It is important to think about these effects of tobacco your health, since after all, most people who start smoking when they are young wished they had never started.

-Kevin Walton

Can you die from depression

-Big crill, New York

Big crill - hi there - and thanks for sending me your question. Generally - major depression robs people of energy and interest in life. With treatment, they are very likely to get better - and successfully enjoy life. The big concern is that without treatment, there is the possibility that they consider suicide as an option. If you know someone who is depressed and considering suicide, please have them call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273.TALK (8255) to get some support.

-Denny Pintello

Can I snort cocaine while pregnant?

-Taleen, Ohio

Hi Taleen - anything you ingest will also be experienced by your growing baby. If you feel that you need help with cocaine use - please reach out to a trusted parent, family member, or friend to get help. Hopefully you feel comfortable talking to your family doctor, because they can help! SAMHSA also has a treatment locator to help you find treatment options in your area Please take care of yourself both for your own sake and for your baby's.

-Michele Rankin

can kids buy otc drugs

-Tyler@Tremain, Texas

hey Tyler@Tremain, yes, legally they can.

-Maureen Boyle

can legal drugs like Prozac, help with drug addiction?

-janemiz, Rhode Island

There are some legal drugs that help with drug addiction. Prozac and other antidepressants are useful if someone has an addiction and also suffers from depression. There are other drugs that are specifically useful for drug addiction.

-Josh Gordon

Can LSD be lethal?

-IRamos, Texas


-Jag Khalsa

Can marijuana affect people faster depending on their age?

-amomin, Texas

Hello amomin,

Sort of. Marijuana and other drugs are more dangerous for people under 25 because their brains are still developing, and there is evidence that marijuana and other drugs can alter brain development. Also, if children or toddlers get exposed to drugs, they can become intoxicated or overdose more easily than adults because of their small body size and other differences. When people get older, they also may respond differently to drugs because of age-related changes.

-Roger Little

Can marijuana be laced with other drugs?

-pineapple, New York

Yes, absolutely.

-Eric Wargo

can marijuana effect your learning skills?

-wallace1234, New York

Hi Wallace1234,
Great question. Yes, marijuana impairs your memory and thinking skills, making it harder to learn. If you use it heavily while you are in school, you will not do as well as you might otherwise. Also, if you use marijuana heavily in your teens, you could permanently lose IQ points -- sounds like a "scare tactic" but a big study in New Zealand a few years ago showed that people who had used marijuana heavily as teenagers lost 8 IQ points!

-Eric Wargo