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 people smoke marijuana at 16 years old?

-niilane, Maryland

Good question, niilane. They can, but teens are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of drugs because the brain continues to develop and grow through the age of 25.  You only have one brain, don't mess it up. Check out this video: Development of the Young Brain:

-Joni Rutter

can poppy seeds show positive on a drug test

-kholderness, Michigan

you'd  have to eat a lot of them to get a positive effect, but its possible.  

-Susan Weiss

Can steroids make me more powerful???

-Kim Jong Un, Maryland

Steroids can strengthen your muscles so it will make you stronger if you work out.  The problem is that they do not strengthen your heart muscle and this unbalance can result in heart failure when someone on steroids is invovled in intense physical activity

-Nora Volkow

Can taking more painkillers than the bottle prescribes hurt me?

-glenelg21, Maryland

YES!!!   ABSOLUTELY!  Taking just a pill or two extra in some cases is enough.   And it happens a lot.  About 17,000 Americans die each year from opioid overdoses.   Be careful with opioids and NEVER take more than prescribed.   If you have bad pain, get help from your doctor.  You can even get help from your pharmacist.

For more info see:


-Dave Thomas

Can the chemicals used to raise yields in marijuana have a different effect on the brain than if it were just grown organically?

-Juan Figueroa, California

Hola Juan
probably no, the critical think that affects the potency or brain effects of marijuana is the concentration of THC that is achieved in the plant.
good luck to you.

-Ruben Baler

Can the fumes from melting fabrics harm thought processes?

-glenelg24, Maryland

Hi glen, 
the fumes of anything, at high enough concentration, can and will affect your brain, your thinking process, and even threaten your life.


-Ruben Baler

Can the mary jane be healthy

-Hoopla, Maryland

Hi Hoopla,
No, probably not. There's no positive long-term effect on the brain, and no evidence it actually cures or prevents most diseases. The question is how bad is it for you. If you're a teen, using regularly is definitely bad. 

-Eric Wargo

can the smell of cigarette smoke on someone's clothes harm you?

-ShefBoyRD, Maryland

Hey again, ShefBoyRd - So this is a little different question than your last one.  It's hard to say if smelling a tobacco odor on someone's clothes can harm you.  What you are smelling is a smoke residue -- something called "thirdhand smoke".   Not much is known about the risk of third hand exposure, there are some studies kids living in homes where smokers live do have some risky exposure from the smoke residue on the walls, furniture etc. The odors on clothes will get washed out, limiting your exposure.   Harm from smelling gym socks... well, that's another story!!

-Cindy Miner

can the smell of meth get you high?

-RaoK, Texas

Hi RaoK - I have a question for you: Does the smell of dinner on the table make you full?  

-Joni Rutter

Can tobacco be swallowed?

-chance, Illinois

Hi chance. Yes, there are some forms of tobacco that can be swallowed. You can learn more about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine at

-Ish Amarreh

can tobacco give you cancer

-lionsadv, Texas

Just standing next to it won't give you cancer...using tobacco-containing products such as smokeless tobacco and cigarettes can. Also, secondhand smoke can also cause cancer.  Read up on the effects of smoking at

-Kevin Walton

can u be affected by people that smoke around u

-seahawks boss 1, Georgia

 That’s a great question…I think you are referring to secondhand smoke. A second hand smoker is often someone who lives with a smoker and inhales the smoke from the burning cigarette or from the smoke exhaled from the smoker.  It might also be a non-smoker who works in a place that allows smoking.  The effects of second-hand smoke can be serious. Children who are exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to have respiratory problems like coughing or infections like pneumonia. This incidence of sudden infant death syndrome is also higher. Adult second hand smokers are more likely to have cardiovascular effects, with over 30,000 deaths due to heart disease. If you or someone you live with is a smoker and would like information about quitting, check out

-Kevin Walton

can u die from mary jane

-cashy, Maryland

Hi Cashy,

It's highly unlikely that someone would die just from using marijuana.  It does raise the risk for heart attacks and for some people they can have a psychotic reaction, which can then cause them to do something to harm themselves (or others).  But mostly, marijuana distorts your perception and so its when people drive while under the influence that they risk death.  Stay safe!

-Lis Davis

can u die from reefer

-Yaya Toure, Michigan

Great question Yaya Toure. It depends on the dose. Most people who take it experience problems in these brain activities:

  • Learning and memory. 
  • Coordination.
  • Judgment.

Since THC affects areas of the frontal cortex involved in decision making, using it can cause you to do things you might not do when you are not under the influence of drugs—such as engaging in risky sexual behavior, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS—or getting in a car with someone who’s been drinking or is high on marijuana.

Also, decision making, concentration, and memory can suffer for days after use, especially in regular users.

-Antonello Bonci

Can u die if u get high???

-Pedro C., Texas

Yes, most drugs can cause overdose and death if taken in high enough quantities.

-Maureen Boyle

Can u do crazy stuff when ur high???

-Pedro C., Texas

hi Pedro
that's a fact.

-Ruben Baler

can u get high off markers

-Jimmy G Buckets, Illinois

Yes, but you need a lot of them. They are a type of volatile solvent inhalant--solvents are liquids that become a gas at room temperature.  And if you have that many, they may cause liver and kidney damage or changes to heart muscle depending on the solvent that is used in the markers. For more information on inhalants, see

-Nancy Pilotte

can u get high off the smell of marijuana?

-chief_tru706, Maryland

hhi chief
no, you can't. but the smell could trigger cravings if you are a regular user.

-Ruben Baler


-AndreG, Texas


-Joni Rutter

can u overdose on alchol

-chief_tru706, Maryland

Definitely.  Alcohol poisoning occurs from a single episode of drinking way too much and you can potentially die from alcohol poisoning. 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 ur baby be effected by smoking

-seahawks boss 1, Georgia

Hi! Very important question. Tobacco is NOT safe to use in pregancy because it affects the developing baby.  You can read about the effects here: the good news is that the sooner a pregnant woman stops smoking, the better the outcome for her baby. It's also important not to smoke around the baby after birth because he or she can have health problems from secondhand smoke. 

-Cora Lee Wetherington

Can usage of an illegal substance while someone is pregnant, cause a miscarriage?

-agifford, New Hampshire

Yes, it is possible for drugs to cause a miscarriage.

-Gaya Dowling

Can you die from drinking alcohol?

-DavionH, Texas

Absolutely! Too much alcohol from any source -- beer, wine, liquor, -- can shut down the parts of the brain that keep us alive, leading to death. 
If you drink enough alcohol, parts of the brain that are important for keeping us alive can shut down. Then, the heart can stop beating and we can stop breathing. In essence, it's like alcohol flips a switch and shuts the body off. This is what's known as "alcohol poisoning."

It is also important to point out that having any alcohol at all can increase the chances of dying from injuries, such as falls, drownings, or car crashes.

It's also possible to die from long-term abuse of alcohol. The liver can become enlarged and inflamed and ultimately stop working. 


-Aaron White

can you die from hookah?

-TayDalto, Michigan

I guess so...especially if you drop the coal on you and catch fire! Ok that was a joke (a bad one), but on a serious note, many think that smoking tobacco through a water pipe (hookah) is safer than smoking a cigarette, believing that the water filters out the harmful chemicals.  That’s a myth! Hookah smoke contains the same harmful tar and other toxic chemicals that cigarette smoke has. Hookah smoking is linked to many of the same health problems as cigarette smoking—like heart disease and lung cancer. In addition, a typical hour-long hookah session, in which a person inhales several long, deep breaths of smoke, can equal as many as 100 cigarettes or more. Click here

-Albert Avila

can you die from huffing

-cassidyb, Texas

Yes, inhalants can be lethal. Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly cause heart failure within minutes. This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. 

-Maureen Boyle

Can you die from marijuana?

-SCARface, Michigan

Morning SCARface,
Not directly, but marijuana raises your risk of car accidents. People die from marijuana in indirect ways, same as with other drugs.

-Eric Wargo

can you die from smoking

-daquan, Maryland

Hi Daquan!

Yes, you can die from smoking. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. As you can see, its better not to even start smoking!

-Bethany Deeds

can you die from smoking marijuana

-dsaund5400, Maryland

hi dsaund5400,
Not directly, but you can get behind the wheel and have a fatal accident, and do other stupid, dangerous things.

-Eric Wargo

can you die from the loud pack?

-alrivera12, Maryland

hi al
loud pack is marijuana right? then, no.

-Ruben Baler

can you die off drugs

-Denayzha, Georgia

YES! For example, 17,000 people die from prescrition opioids each year. Plus even if you do not overdose, some drugs can kill you, but it takes time.  About 440,000 people die each year from diseases related to smoking.  

For more information about drugs see:

-Dave Thomas