Myths about Drugs: Knowing the Real Deal
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People have different views and beliefs regarding drugs and drug abuse. While public information and common knowledge are reliable at some point, there are plenty of myths going around regarding drugs and addiction that should be clarified. Otherwise, people are at risk of the many harms of addiction without knowing how, when, and where to get proper treatment.
The following is a summary of the most common myths about drugs.
Myths about Drugs: Prescription drugs are ‘safer’ than street drugs.
WRONG! Prescription drugs, when taken beyond what is advised by a physician, post the same amount of risk to your health. All drugs have their side effects, and using them for recreational purposes may cause adverse effects such as seizures, liver damage, coma, and death.
No, prescription drugs are not inherently safer than street drugs. Generally, any drug can be harmful when taken outside of its prescribed dosage and frequency. Drug abuse can lead to organ failure as well as result in psychological and social setbacks.
Many street drugs are made without any form of quality control, which is one big reason there is no certainty in their ‘purity’ and ‘authenticity’. Nevertheless, that does not make FDA-approved narcotics a better choice for whatever kind of trip you want to have. Drug abuse, in general, is harmful—it alters the brain’s functions, interferes with how the different organs work, and causes psychological and social setbacks.
Myths about Drugs: Addiction is a choice.
- Addicts are bad people.
WRONG AGAIN. Drug abuse is a choice while addiction is a health condition that cannot be controlled. When one abuses a certain drug, it alters the brain’s functions and changes the person through his or her behavior and routine, and the way he or she takes the drug. Over time, even occasional users and those who take addictive drugs based on medical prescription become dependent on the substance without knowing it.
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Myths about Drugs: Addicts should be left by themselves to find treatment.
- You cannot force a person to undergo therapy.
Drug addicts need help. Most of them do not voluntarily find and receive treatment, as they are often clueless about their situation. Many drug dependents do not know that they are relying on the drug to function normally. Equally, people who are addicted to drugs become too consumed by their compulsive need to take the drugs that they are unable to recognize changes in their lifestyle, routine, and attitude.
If you know of anyone who is addicted to drugs, it is vital to find the right treatment program that will suit his or her condition. Most drug addicts who receive rehab programs are convinced by family, friends, and loved ones, or are forced by the law before they concede.
Myths about Drugs: Marijuana is purely beneficial to the health.
- It should be legalized in all forms.
Marijuana use has been legalized in some states for medical purposes, with a few approving the recreational use of the drug. However, scientific studies show that Marijuana use, in general, is not automatically beneficial to the health.
Burning or smoking cannabis remains harmful and may cause cancer. Vaping cannabis, which does not involve combustion, is still a subject of research. Taking pure cannabis oil or extract is the most popular form used for medical purposes.
Myths about Drugs: Alcohol and tobacco are less harmful than illegal drugs.
Although alcohol and tobacco (nicotine) are legal substances that are advertised, promoted, and sold widely in all parts of the world, both of these substances are known to cause the highest death rates in the US. Tobacco smoking accounts for the most number of preventable deaths in the country while alcohol-related deaths reach 2.5 million each year on a worldwide level.
Alcohol and nicotine are also addictive drugs that, when abused, will cause withdrawal symptoms during cessation. People who are alcoholic or addicted to nicotine should also receive proper treatment to stay away from the substance permanently.
Myths about Drugs: There is an effective addiction treatment process that should be used for all patients.
There is no one single effective treatment process for all types of addiction. A person who is addicted to heroin may not respond in the same way as another heroin addict does. Depending on the drug involved, physical condition, mental state, and availability of resources, an addiction treatment program may vary for different individuals. The most effective rehabs have customizable treatment programs for their patients.
Myths about Drugs: Treatment is unnecessary.
- People can quit using drugs with the right wisdom and determination.
Wisdom and determination are two essential characteristics that are fundamental in overcoming an addiction. Nonetheless, they are not the decisive primary factors that will make an addict quit the habit. There may be a very minimal amount of people who can quit cold turkey on their addiction, but most patients require medical and professional help to get treated for their addiction.
Addiction is very difficult to treat without professional help, though not impossible. Although some addicts will be able to quit an addiction cold turkey, the majority of patients require medical and professional intervention in order to treat an addiction.
Myths about Drugs: Once a person relapses, there is no hope for full treatment.
A relapse is a sign that something went wrong, but that does not necessarily mean that there is no chance to get back on track. Quitting an addiction is very difficult, and needs a combination of different treatment strategies. It is important to find the most appropriate rehabilitation program that will suit the particular addiction, to prevent relapses.
Then again, a patient slipping into a relapse once or a few times simply means that something must be done in a different way. Many people who suffer from relapses can continue treatment immediately without going back to zero.
Myths about Drugs: Occasional use or short-term use of drugs is safe.
- You should only worry when you are a long-term user or addicted to drugs.
Yes, even short-term drug is dangerous. Occasional recreational use of drugs can put your life and health at risk. You can suffer from dangerous adverse effects such as immobility, seizures, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. The risk of death is even higher when different drugs are combined.
There is no certain ‘addictive’ dose when it comes to drugs. Depending on the person’s tolerance level, physical condition, and mental state, a drug may or may not be potent enough to become addictive. However, even the occasional use of drugs puts you at risk of adverse effects such as immobility, seizures, coma, passing out, difficulty in breathing, and death. Death risks increase, especially when different drugs are combined.
Myths about Drugs: Natural drugs or hallucinogens are safer than synthetic substances.
It does not matter whether the drugs came from the ground, a laboratory, or the streets. When a drug is branded as addictive, it means that it damages your brain and the way it functions. ‘Natural’ drugs are as dangerous as synthetic drugs, and should be treated the same way. Their mind-altering and addictive properties are the reasons why they are considered illegal, and that means they post the same risks to your physical and mental health.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. Prescription Drug Misuse: Myths vs Facts. 2018. https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/Prescription%20Drug%20Misuse%20Fact%20Card-7-2018.pdf.
- OK.gov. Addiction (Alcohol and Substance Abuse): Myths and Facts. https://www.ok.gov/odmhsas/documents/Addiction%20myths%20and%20facts.pdf.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs: SHATTER THE MYTHS. 2013. https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/teenbrochure.pdf.
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