Drug abuse is a topic that has more heated debate, and misinformation, than almost any other controversial topic. Through the support of the War on Drugs, many myths are distributed to the public as facts. While these myths may keep a few people away from drugs, substance abuse continues to be a problem for society. What’s more important is that these myths distract people from the realities of the disease of addiction and contribute to stigma and prejudice instead of treatment awareness. To dissipate ignorance and increase informed, intelligent decisions concerning addiction treatment, we’re debunking some common myths about drugs.
Common Drug Myths
There are plenty of myths about drug addiction that are either meant to scare people into abstinence (which usually has the opposite effect) or make people feel better about using drugs. Either way, these misconceptions could perpetuate stereotypes and further enforce harmful stigma that may prevent addicts in desperate need of drug or alcohol treatment from getting it.
Here are seven myths about drugs that have fooled millions:
Myth #1: All Addicts Look the Same
When you see addicts on TV or in the media, you can always immediately tell they are addicts by their physical appearance. They are often disheveled, skinny, pale, and have bad teeth. In reality, anyone can get addicted to drugs, and drug abuse doesn’t affect everyone’s body the same way. Some people who abuse drugs are what we refer to as high-functioning addicts. These individuals can appear to be completely healthy and fine and maintain this persona by fulfilling their responsibilities at work, school, and home despite their addiction. You could have talked to a drug addict while in line at the grocery store this week and didn’t even know it.
Even so, all people with addictions will eventually hit a breaking point if they don’t get help, so act immediately if you notice any signs of drug or alcohol abuse in a loved one.
Myth #2: Pot Is “Safe” Because It’s Plant-Based
A portion of the population praises the benefits of marijuana, claiming it’s natural and, therefore, healthy. However, because the marijuana industry is largely unregulated by the government, you may be smoking as much pesticide as THC when you light up a bowl. Smoking can also cause emphysema and lung-related illnesses.
Myth #3: Marijuana Isn’t Addictive
Just like so many people believe weed is safe because it’s a plant, many believe that marijuana isn’t addictive, but this is far from the truth. Drug addiction is both physical and psychological. While weed isn’t as physically addictive as opioids or alcohol, it can lead to psychological dependence. Many chronic weed users find themselves unable to control their smoking, or they may experience withdrawals like irritability and anxiety when they aren’t high. These are signs of dependence.
Myth #4: Drug Addicts Are Violent Criminals
This may be one of the most damaging myths about drugs for addicts who are trying to recover and re-enter society. Although most substance abuse takes away some amount of a person’s inhibition and could potentially lead to crime to feed the addiction, drugs don’t always turn nonviolent people into violent people, and not all addicts are criminals. Saying all drug addicts are violent or criminals are just more ways to stigmatize them.
Myth #5: Pot Is a Gateway to Other Drugs
Many people say marijuana is a “gateway drug,” meaning smoking marijuana will lead to hard drug use. However, marijuana has no property that makes a person want to use crack cocaine or smoke heroin. However, what can cause a person to go from weed to harder drugs is the age they start using drugs. Using drugs at a young age can make you more likely to develop an addiction later in life. So teens and young adults who started drinking alcohol or smoking weed at a young age are more likely to be exposed to and begin using other harder drugs when they’re older.
Myth #6: Some Drugs Are Universally Addictive
Drugs like heroin and crack are often described as being universally addictive. The myth goes that if a person takes one hit of a crack pipe or one snort of heroin, he or she will be immediately hooked. In reality, not everyone who tries drugs recreationally gets addicted. But addiction doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s the manifestation of continuous, heavy, and progressive drug or alcohol use. When a person is diagnosed with a substance use disorder, it’s because they’ve hit a point where they’re unable to control their use of the substance and will continue using it no matter the repercussions.
Myth #7: You Can Stop Using Drugs or Drinking at Any Time
This mentality is a common sign of denial among people with drug or alcohol addictions. They believe they can quit or stop whenever they want. Those who are just getting into substance abuse may also believe this, as they might be under the impression that just a bit here and there won’t do anything.
The reality is that drugs often feel good, which is why they’re abused. This also makes it difficult to stop using them. It’s important to consider tolerance and dependence. Tolerance is when a person needs to increase their doses because they’ve become used to the drug’s effects. This then gives way to physical dependence, which is marked by withdrawals when the person isn’t using or drinking.
Withdrawal symptoms are often severe and uncomfortable, which can make quitting difficult. These symptoms often discourage users from staying clean, as they may go back to drugs or drinking simply to feel normal again. Withdrawal can be dangerous without medical help, so our Pompano rehabilitation center recommends that addicts undergo medically supervised detox to stay safe.
Get Help for Addiction Today
Myths about substance abuse are everywhere, but the realities of addiction are often scarier than the myths. Don’t let substance abuse rule your life. Banyan Treatment Center treats all forms of addiction and substance abuse.