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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can you die the first time you take inhalants

-AshyumP, 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. High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation, especially when inhaled from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area. 

-Maureen Boyle

Can you get addicted to caffeine.

-knr@smsd.us, Pennsylvania

Hi knr@smsd.us-  9 out of 10 adults and 3 out of 4 children, teens, and young adults use caffeine it daily too—in the form of soda, coffee, and energy drinks.  That’s right, caffeine is a drug—a stimulant drug, to be exact. It’s even possible to be physically dependent on it—which means that a person who is used to drinking lots of caffeinated beverages can experience withdrawal symptoms if they quit. While most people do not become addicted to caffeine, try to take it easy on the caffeinated drinks...drinking a lot of them can make your heart race, make it hard to sleep or more.  Have a great day and check out NIDA information on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts
 

-Albert Avila

Can you get addicted to cocaine?

-SCARface, Michigan

yep...as well as any drugs, frankly. Addiction occurs because drugs "hijack" the brain resulting in a chemical change that results in uncontrolled craving. Even marijuana- contrary to what many believe- can be addictive. Drugs work on the brain - not worth taking that risk in my humble opinion! check out drugabuse.gov for more info. Dr. Jack

-Jack Stein

Can you get high on things other than drugs?

-AxleChange152, Maryland

1) Inhalants like organic solvents
2) Life

Here is a great infographic on teens and drug use: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/teen-drug-use-2014-statistics-animated.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can you get high your first time on weed?

-SCARface, Michigan

Hi Scarface.  Most definitely. Now that you know, it's up to you to learn why getting high is not good for your brain.  It might sound like fun, but long-term consequences (like lack of motivation, losing IQ, etc) are just not worth it. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Joni Rutter

can you get mood swings if you take drugs?

-BryceR, Texas

Hi Bryce.  Drugs can definitely affect your mood.  Some drugs are depressants that make you feel calm or sleepy, others increase your energy and attention. Also, drugs can cause people to be impulsive or impair their judgment and make them do things they normally wouldn't do. Sometimes drugs are used to treat mood problems or mood swings, but this invovles the use of specific drugs under a doctor's care and under careful monitoring.  

-Joel Sherrill

can you give me any examples of emerging drugs why are bath salts an emerging drug?

-459, Maryland

Great question. The term "emerging drug" means any drug that is new in a town or neighborhood.  The term “bath salts” refers to an emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. Reports of severe intoxication and dangerous health effects associated with use of bath salts have made these drugs a serious and growing public health and safety issue. Bath salts are among the most dangerous that we've been seeing in many parts of the country.  Prescription drugs like painkillers and stimulants are also emerging drugs in many parts of the country.  Find out more about emerging drugs at http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/emerging-trends.

-Wilson Compton

Can you Injected Crystal Meth?

-jessie pinkmen , Michigan

Hi Jessie,
Yes, you can but it is extremely dangerous. Because of the unknown purity level and concentration of any given batch of meth, individuals who are injecting meth never know what they are really putting into their bodies. They are also at high risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis, among many other things. Methamphetamine is produced in clandestine laboratories and is made of things a normal person would never even consider ingesting, let alone mainlining into a vein. So there are so many dangers and risks involved when a meth user is injecting meth which can ultimately affect their health and wellbeing for the rest of their lives.
 

-Antonello Bonci

Can you overdose from drinking alcohol?

-DavionH, Texas

Yes, you can. 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:

http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdose...

-Aaron White

can you overdose on all drugs?

-iwannaknow101, Texas

Dear iwannaknow101.  I'm glad you want to know. When taken in large doses, most any drug can have serious effects including death. The sports and entertainment field is filled with examples of people who accidentally died from drug overdoses.  Use of any drug can lead to addiction and addiction can lead to overdoses. To learn more about how many people die from drug overdoses, visit http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death....

-Cora Lee Wetherington

can drugs make you commit suicide?

-MORGYNNR, Texas

Hi MORGYNNR,
Yes, some of the new "fake weed" products and "bath salts" have caused severe psychotic reactions and caused some users to attempt suicide. Definitely stay away from those!
Eric

-Eric Wargo

can drugs make you go mentally insane

-bryancornelius, Texas

Dear bryancornelius,

Thank you for your question. Continued drug use has been linked to symptoms of mental illness, and also linked to increase risk of psychosis in marijuana users, as one example. High doses of marijuana can produce a temporary psychotic reaction (involving hallucinations and paranoia) in some users. On the other hand, mental disorders can lead to drug abuse as many people self-medicate. Patients suffering from anxiety or depression may rely on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to temporarily alleviate their symptoms.

Thank again, and best wishes! There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Will Aklin

can drugs make you mentally insane

-brianluna, Texas

I'll re-state your question. Do drugs cause mental illness? We know that drugs affect the way your brain functions. This can change a person's personality. Stimulant drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine) can also make people hyper. These drug effects can make it look like the person is "crazy".   There has been research on Marijuana and mental illness: that shows that long-term marijuana use is associated with a number of mental conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. However it is not yet clear whether marijuana use directly causes or exacerbates these conditions. Currently, the strongest evidence is for the link between marijuana and psychosis.  Marijuana intoxication can, though rarely does, produce a temporary psychosis, and it may play a role in the development of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals especially those with increased genetic risk. 

-Roger Sorenson

can drugs make your blood thin?

-keshawn14, Georgia

The only drugs that I know of that will make your blood thin are pharmaceuticals designed for that purpose and usually given during surgery or to people with heart disease and atherosclerosis. So if anyone tells you that aspirin, Plavix, or heparin has psychoactive properties, they are lying to you.

-Nancy Pilotte

Can drugs make your blood thin?

-abriannamedeari, Georgia

Hi Abriannamedeari,

Interesting question. There are drugs that are prescribed by doctors to "thin" blood, but those drugs don't make you high or aren't drugs you can become addicted to. Aspirin is also a blood thinner, but again aspirin is not considered to be a drug of abuse. To find out which drugs are addictive, and how they effect your body, click on this link: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

-Steven Grant

Can drugs make your brain swell?

-Snowfluff102113, Michigan

That's an interesting question. The first thing that I think of is that drugs can trigger an immune response, just like a bacterial infection. This can recruit additional immune cells into the brain, and may promote more fluid into the brain that could cause increased swelling. But in general, I haven't heard that drugs cause that much swelling. Thanks for asking. 

-Roger Sorenson

Can drugs make your penis small?

-Billy, Minnesota

Uh, no, but steroids can shrink your testicles---which is where your testosterone comes from.  That is why abuse of anabolic steroids (steroid molecules based on the structure and pharmacology of testosterone) can lead to impotence. There is a lot of information about the health effects of drugs on NIDA’s teen site here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts

-Nancy Pilotte

can drugs prescribed by doctors still kill brain cells like other unprescribed drugs?

-tollestudent15, Ohio

Yes, for example, pain killers that contain opiates such as vicodin or oxycontin can lead to respiratory depresssion, which if not taken care of, can kill cells in the brain from lack of oxygen,  

-Nora Volkow

Can drugs weaken your bones?

-Authement/Scate, Texas

Alcohol has been shown to weaken bones and lead to osteoporosis. Not sure if other abused drugs have that effect, but if you would like to learn more about effects that drug have, click here.

-Joseph Frascella

can every drug kill you

-Lions Adv., Texas

Hi Lions
Yes, but in different ways. for example:
inhalants can suffocate and kill you after a single dose
marijuana can impair your driving and get you involved in a fatal crash
heroin can force you to use a contaminated needle and get you AIDS
steroids can make you depressed and suicidal.

as you can see there many ways for drugs to kill you.

better safe than sorry.
ruben 

-Ruben Baler

can heroin kill you

-cassidyb, Texas

Oh yes, cassidyb, heroin can kill you. If the dose is large enough, it can stop your breathing, leading to death. But even if it doesn't kill you it is dangerous to take.  Taking heroin can change your brain so that you become addicted and don't feel pleasure anymore from things that are usually enjoyable.  Find out more about it here:http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts 

-Dave Thomas

Can hookah pens harm you in any way?

-ChristianMedina, Texas

Hi Christianmedina!H ookah pens are really just one name for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. These are battery-operated devices that many people think are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes...and their use is growing in popularity. E-cigarettes often contain nicotine and produce a flavored aerosol that looks like tobacco smoke but without the tar produced by burning tobacco leaves. While e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, it is still unclear how safe they are. They can still deliver nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, which poses a significant risk for teens to become addicted. Also, the aerosol from some e-cigarette products were shown to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals including formaldehyde. Until more studies are conducted, there is no way of knowing what the short and long-term health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals may be. Want more information on e-cigs? Click on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes and http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes

-Kevin Walton

can huka become more harmful if you take it alot ?

-1Dmusikluver, Maryland

Hi 1Dmusikluver - Hookah is just another way to smoke tobacco.  Nicotine in tobacco is addictive, so I don' t know if you'll become addicted to hookah, but you can become addicted to nicotine.  Check out more NIDA resources on hookah at - http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/category/265

-Belinda Sims

Can i die from Vape?

-SlayerofSauron, Michigan

Hmmmm... that's a really broad question. I'm assuming you aren't talking about accidently ingesting the e-nicotine liquid (although that has unfortunately happened and resulted in death). Electronic cigarettes are new to the scene and we don't have a lot of scientific data on their safety or effects yet.  While they may be advertised as "safer" than cigarettes, there is a lot we don't know about the health consequences of e-cigarettes.  There have been a few reports of e-cigarettes exploding when people use them causing some serious injuries to their hands and faces. The bottom line....you don't know what you are getting in these products or their health consequences. Best to wait until we get more information---and it could take a few years before we see good research studies on e-cigs.  For more information see: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-...

-Cindy Miner

Can I Drink Wine if I Take Lipitor?

-Walter White, Michigan

For a healthy adult, it is probably okay to have a glass of wine now and then while taking Lipitor, but this is something the person needs to discuss with his/her doctor. Obviously, teens should not be drinking alcohol! 

-Aaron White

can i eat weed?

-EmilyBlue, Maryland

Hello Emily Blue--Yes.  You can also eat dirt, rocks, and worms but why would you?  Yuck. But if you want to know if you can eat it and feel the high, yes, pretty much like people do that eat it when its baked into brownies or candy.  Often there is a time lag between when you eat it and when you feel the effects, which can cause some people to take too much and get very, very ill and feel psychotic.  So--bottom line just because you can, you still shouldn't.

-Lis Davis

Can I get a high off of the mushrooms that grow in the grass?

-kidgarbo, Michigan

There are many different kinds of mushrooms and all of them grow in the grass, on logs, or on the forest floor. Some do contain psylocibin, which can produce a mind-altering experience.  Unless you are an expert, you may find yourself choosing poisonous mushrooms.  I would pick mine at the supermarket.  

-Nancy Pilotte

Can I get addicted to caffeine?

-glenelg17, Maryland

Probably not in the sense of it interfering with your ability to perform critical roles in your life, but people who use a lot of caffeine do often have withdrawal headaches when they stop using--however, that is not the same as addiction.  

-Susan Weiss

CAN I GET HIGH OFF A WEED BROWNIE

-IAMADRUG, Michigan

Yes. How likely depends on your individual tolerance, amount of active ingredient in the brownie, strength of active ingredient, and so forth.

-Nancy Pilotte

can i really become addicted just by smoking one cigarette????

-waka, Maryland

Hi waka.  
Yes. Scientific studies have shown that the brain is significantly affected by the first exposure to all drugs, including nicotine. The first exposure can change your brain and make you want to smoke the second, then the third cigarette, and so on. 
Get the facts at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes.

-Antonello Bonci