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 here.

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do hookah pens ruin your lungs? do they cause you to get high?

-jenny, Maryland
Good morning, Jenny! My first question of the day and its a great one! Hookah pens, like many related e-cigarette products, are new products. There are many, many types of these pen-sized products and it is the subject of active research right now! The worst health consequences that we know about associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion. Since we don't know much about the consequences of using e-cigarettes, we don't know if the nicotine or flavorings that they contain will ruin your lungs... We do know that nicotine (the active ingredient for these products) is a stimulant drug that can have pleasurable, reinforcing and addictive properties, which makes it hard to quit! Check out our pub on e-cigarettes if you have more questions:  
-Kris Bough

Do I have more of a chance to do drugs of any sort if i have family members who do? How and why?

-Aveson, California
Great question, Aveson!  
Unfortunately, addiction does have a genetic component, so if you have relatives who have problems with addiction, your risk for having addiction issues is higher. Most diseases have some heritable component (this means that it can be passed on from parents), but the amount of heritable can vary. Those with relatives with addiction problems need to be especially careful about trying drugs, as they might be more likely to have addiction problems themselves.
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.
Aveson, make sure to use the links above to get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 


-Joni Rutter

do most people try drugs once in their life

-leone21157, Maryland

Most people try drugs in their lifetime, since alcohol and tobacco are both drugs

-Nora Volkow

Can you overdose on tylenol?

-c322d, California
Yikes, no, but it could make you very very sick.  Plus, overtime it could cause organ failure and that can cause death.   
-Dave Thomas

can you overdose/die from marijuana?

-chomer, New York

u cannot overdose from marijuana.  

-Nora Volkow

can you quit smoking marijuana as easy as it is to quit smoking cigarettes?, New Jersey

Hi Tyost!  I am not sure, but I would imagine both are equally challenging to quit.  The best thing to do is not to start!  For more information on quitting either drug, check out: and

-Bethany Deeds

Can you smoke alcohol???? Asking for a friend

-Peniswrinkle22, New York

No, you can't actually "smoke" alcohol. However, it is possible (although very dangerous) to force the alcohol in a beverage to vaporize (i.e., turn to gas) by using dry ice or high pressure from an air pump. Then the vapor is inhaled. When this is done, the alcohol enters the blood stream faster than when it is consumed. This is a VERY dangerous thing to do as alcohol vapor is highly flammable and it's difficult to control how much alcohol gets into the body. 

-Aaron White

Can you smoke bath salts?

-felisa.holden, Virginia
Hi felisa,
Good question. Bath salts are usually inhaled, snorted, or injected, not smoked. For more info on bath salts, you can check out our fact sheet: 
-Eric Wargo

Can you smoke the leaves that fall from trees?

-GodIsMyInfluenc, Massachusetts
Hi GodIsMyInfluen
Of course.
YouTube is full of this and other silly behaviors!!
-Ruben Baler

Can you snort cocain trough any hole in your body?


Hey Ralf-weiner.  I thought snorting by definition was through the nose.  Some people are also known to inject cocaine or inhale crack smoke.  Interesting...and bizarre question....

-Joni Rutter

Can you tell me what Molly is?

-Kfitzy28, Massachusetts

Hi Kfitzy! Molly is nothing more than repackaged Ecstasy, or MDMA. Some drug dealers claim that "Molly" is a pure form of Ecstasy but when they have tested it in labs, they have discovered there are all sorts of adulterants (bad things added) in it. People who make and sell drugs to young people try to create fads, or trends, to get kids to buy it. It's all about the marketing. But in reality, it's the same drug. Check out this info on Molly:

-Ruben Baler

can your heart explode if you smoke too much meth

-icecreamswirl5, Maryland
Hey icecreamswirl5!
YEP,  Meth can kill.  Here's how:  An overdose of meth can result in heart failure. Long-term physical effects such as liver, kidney, and lung damage may also kill you.  And, if it doesn't kill you, it will do terrible transformations to your mouth! (see this image of "meth mouth" from the department of justice website)  YUCK!!  There's an article, too, on meth mouth on the Sara Bellum blog:
Be smart and stay away from meth!
-Joni Rutter

Cant poeple who have anorexia take cocaine to avoid feeling hungry?

-gk22, New York
Hey gk22--If someone has anorexia one of the last things they want to do is start abusing drugs, especially one like cocaine.  People with anorexia can develop heart problems and cocaine also effects your heart by making it beat faster--combining the two could be deadly.  While cocaine can reduce appetite, it can also, cause stomach aches, shakes, make you throw up and pass out.  Abuse it regularly and you can also become addicted.  Definitely a bad call.
The trained counselors at the crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7 can help people struggling with anorexia and other mental health issues.  If you know someone who needs help--give them this number.
-Lis Davis

Cigarettes kill thousands of people in the US every year, yet they are legal. Marijuana has produced no deaths, yet they are illegal. Why is this?

-DynamoDude2801, Maryland
Hey DynamoDude2801,
You ask a really interesting question. There are lots of reasons. History and greed are two of the reasons: Tobacco was an important part of American society and our economy even before we were a nation, and by the time we found out how harmful it was (in the 1950s), lots of Americans were hooked, and the companies that made cigarettes weren't about to give up a big money-maker--so they have fought hard to keep people using their products. Although marijuana has been used for a long time, even in early America, it hasn't been as important in our society, so it was easier to make it illegal when its dangers became apparent. It's dangers are very different from those of tobacco though: It affects intelligence, motivation, and other mental factors, especially when used by young people.
I'm glad you're thinking about this--it's an important question! 
-Eric Wargo

Colorado legalized marijuana, what do you think of other states future

-scarey, Pennsylvania

Hello Scarey! Great question. Currently, Colorado and Washington have passed ballots for recreational marijuana (commonly called legalization) for adults. Alaska may be considering a ballot in the future as well. Please be aware that although all this policy activity is happening at the state level, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the U.S.

-Bethany Deeds

Could alcohol be in the food that we eat? Can that be another way kids get drunk?

-Luma, New York

Yes, there are foods and beverages that contain small amounts of alcohol, though probably not enough to make people intoxicated. Legally, non-alcohol products are allowed to contain up to 0.5% alcohol, which is about the amount that might be present in fruit juice as a result of natural fermentation. A standard beer contains 5% alcohol, ten times the amount that can be present in non-alcoholic beverages. 

-Aaron White

Could drug addictions be passed down to the baby?

-:), New York

Hey :)--great question!  I'm a geneticist and we've worked very hard to address your question.  

It's true that you can inherit diseases from your parents.  For 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.
Get accurate drug facts to make healthy decisions for your brain and body! 


-Joni Rutter

could drugs be breathed in and get intoxicated through the air?

-green59, Maryland

Hey Green 59! Good question. The answer is: yes. Drugs can be breathed in and you can get intoxicated by inhaling from a drug product directly - or even indirectly, e.g., from other people smoking in the room! 

-Kris Bough

could mixing viagra and beer kill you

-sean, New York

It's possible if you take enough!

-Aaron White

do you have less chances of getting drunk if you drink on a full stomach?

-asdfghjkl, Maryland

Yes, for sure. Drinking on a full stomach can reduce the peak amount of alcohol that makes it into the body by 30%, which is a big amount. 

-Aaron White

Do you just sit at your computer and answer questions

-aram_dadourian, New York

Oh I wish my job were that easy. Today I am sitting at a computer in a large room filled with other scientists answering smart questions like yours. But this only happens one day a year. While I like being able to share all this science with kids like you, my regular job is very different. I manage a division at NIDA that supports scientists all over the world who are doing some very exciting research into how drug abuse is treated. We take research findings and "translate" them into practical steps doctors and other health providers can take to help people with addictions get better. I love my job. We need more young people like you to become interested in science...even thought about it as a career? 

-Joe Frascella

do you know what DMT is

-squallaaa, Maryland
Hi squallaaa,
Yes I do know all about DMT! It's a chemical that is related to serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters in your brain that controls mood and other things. Some hallucinogens like psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and ayahuasca (a vine used in South American religious ceremonies) contain DMT, and produce powerful hallucinogenic effects--altering a person's sense of reality. 
Great question! 
-Eric Wargo

do you personaly think the drug age should be higher lower or stay the same?

-elephant11elisa, Pennsylvania

Hello elephant11elisa, I'm assuming you mean for alcohol and tobacco since these are the only legal drugs. Personally, I think it's a good thing that you have to be age 18 to smoke tobacco and 21 to drink alcohol because they present so many health risks for young people. Better to wait and make a careful decision about use because of these health dangers.

-Marilyn Huestis

Do you remember the experiences you have when you get high? If you don't, why do people get addicted to the positive rush they get when using drugs?

-sharkesha476584, Massachusetts
Hey sharkesha476584!  Depends on the drug, how much is taken, etc., but in general, people will remember their experiences when getting high, which often is why people will take drugs again, to recapture the feelings. The positive rush is the result of the brain chemical, dopamine, that is released in the brain reward areas.  Often, the more you take the drug, the less its effect because you build up a tolerance. So users find they need to escalate the amount they take, which increases the risk of harmful effects including addiction.  
You can read more about this very fascinating brain pathway in The Science of Addiction, and watch videos explaining why drugs are hard to quit and how you become addicted by linking here:
-Joe Frascella

Do you think 12-step programs are necessary for recovery from drug or alcohol abuse?

-Kfitzy28, Massachusetts

Hi Kfitzy28.  This is a very important question.  The simple answer is that 12 step programs are not necessary for recovery.  Some people find 12 step programs helpful, but others do not.  There are many different types of treatments for drug addiction, but the best ones are those that have been proven to work through rigorous empirical scientific studies, which are called "evidence-based" treatment.  You can find out more about the different types of treatment here:

-Steve Grant

Do you think marijuana should be legal in all states?

-lordkickbutt69, New York

Hi lord - If tobacco and alcohol are any example, marijuana should not be legal at all.  It has a lot of detrimental effects on the brain and behavior.  There are a lot of reasons to consider changing the legal penalties for using it.  But making it legal will only make it more available, and that will lead to more people becoming addicted, more traffic accidents related to its use, and more effects on the developing teenage brain.   

-Steve Gust

Do you think people in the army that has fought and seen alot and been threw use drugs to deal with all what is going on mentally in the war

-ericwoods5, Mississippi
Hello, ericwoods5, I appreciate your concern about our service members' health in times of conflict.  Overall drug use is lower in the U.S. military than in the civilian population, but alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug use are higher among men and women in military service.  As you suggested, those with multiple deployments and exposure to combat are at the greatest risk for developing substance use problems such as smoking, heavy drinking, and are more likely to be prescribed pain medications (nearly 4 million prescriptions in 2009) which can be addictive. If you or someone you know could be suffering from a substance abuse problem, 

call 1-800-662-HELP, 24/7 or go to to find information about treatment centers in your area.

-Marsha Lopez

do you think pills are okay to be taken for depression?

-#hella, California

Hi Hella--that's a good question and one that a lot of people ask!  Research studies suggest that both antidepressant medications and specific forms of counseling or talk therapy can help people with depression.  Some studies suggest that a combination of medication and counseling/therapy works best for many people.  We know that certain kinds of therapy have been shown to work in research studies.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT (which helps people change their thoughts and behavior), and Interpersonal Psychotherapy or IPT (which focuses on difficulties in relationships) both can help.  Just like different people experience depression differently, responses to treatment can be different and sometimes it takes a while to find a treatment that is a good match.  For more information about treatments for depression: Here's more on depression and teens:

-Joel Sherrill

Do you think that celebrities influence teen's views on drugs?

-#FreeBieber, New York
Hi FreeBieber. Good question. I am interested in what you and your friends think about this. My answer: I think youth tend to believe things as they are portrayed in music videos and in the media. The problem is that drug use is often glamorized and glorified and the "truth" about the consequences and realities of drug use are not portrayed accurately. I wish more celebrities would help spread the word and portray the negative affects and realities of drug use and also portray healthy alternatives and a healthy lifestyle. I also think that peers can help influence teen views on drugs. So, you and your friends can play an important role in sharing the facts on drugs and drug use with your friends and encouraging your friends to not start using drugs. For more information on drugs and their effects go to
-Jacqueline Lloyd

do you think that people arrested for DUI should be forgiven easily?

-sampugliese, New York

That's a tough question. We know that strict laws prevent people from drinking and driving and reduce the number of repeat offenders. So, forgiving them easily probably would be a very bad thing and would lead to more drunk driving deaths.

-Aaron White