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9 Drug Myths Debunked

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It’s 2015 and information is more accessible than ever, so we debate myths over fact. Degrees can be earned entirely online from a school on a different continent. Written, vocal, and visual messages can be sent to anywhere and everywhere in the world within moments of being uploaded to the internet.

We can now see more cats, puppies and babies than ever before.

Yet, somehow misinformation still permeates the realm of generally accepted facts in the form of myths and legends. Though factual information does exist on the internet, it is often muddled with opinion, oversimplification, and exaggeration. With curious and vulnerable teens and young adults turning to the internet for answers to pressing questions concerning drugs it is imperative that they receive true, unbiased and objective information.

This September, in honor of National Recovery Month, I’m presenting a list of interesting drug myths. I have high hopes of debunking the socially accepted drug myths and opening the channel for honest conversation.

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Poppy Seeds: Can they cause a false positive on drug tests?
Remember the episode of ‘Seinfeld’ where Jerry’s friend Eileen tests positive for opium? She frantically tries to prove her innocence to her boss. She then realizes the cause for her test results: the poppy seed muffins that she eats regularly.

So, the myth lives on: poppy seeds will cause a positive test for opium if you eat too many.

Or will they?
Fortunately for poppy seed muffin and bagel lovers everywhere, this is not true. Poppy seeds contain trace quantities of opium but not enough per serving for detection even by the most sensitive of drug tests. In fact, one would have to consume about 100 poppy seed bagels for opium to be detected in the sample.

LSD Will Make You Stare Into the Sun Until You’re BLIND!
This has been a myth for a while. It’s a favorite among organizations used to discourage drug use:

One day, back in the 1960’s, a group of university students decided that trying LSD would make for the perfect afternoon activity. They gathered in the courtyard, took their doses and waited for the effects to

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set in. The hallucinations and delusions were so powerful that the students sat helplessly staring at the sun. They were completely unaware of themselves or their surroundings. They gazed at the sun for so long, their eyes were irreparably damaged; they were blind.

It’s the ultimate ‘don’t do drugs story’ so it definitely happened…Right?

While there are a number of physical and psychological reasons LSD is dangerous, blindness caused by sun gazing is not one of them. There are no documented cases of this scenario ever playing out at any university, college, or elsewhere. The story is the product of early anti-drug use propaganda, likely stemming from the beginning of America’s “War on Drugs.”

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Kids Can Use Drugs Via Temporary Tattoos?

I have personally heard this one; there was a rumor circulating through the school systems in the 1980’s and 90’s. The rumor was that students and drug dealers had developed a new way to take drugs in plain sight, while teachers and parents were blissfully unaware. This rumor even made it into school news letters and press releases, which specified a specific ‘blue star tattoo’ that was infused with LSD and other drugs. Parents panicked, banning their children from getting fake tattoos. This contributed to the false correlation between tattooed people and drug abuse.

So was it real? 
Due to the nature of LSD, it can only be absorbed orally or intravenously – not through the skin. While a “blotter” form of LSD does exist, it is in no way a temporary tattoo. It is easy to understand how they may be mistaken for a temporary tattoo; the paper is typically decorated with cartoon characters and other friendly images.

The Beatles Toked Up at Buckingham Palace?!
There is a story stemming from what is known as “Beatlemania” during the 1960’s. While awaiting an award from Queen Elizabeth, it’s said that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr partake in a marijuana break on the front lawn of the Buckingham Palace..
The band was to receive a Member of the British Empire award and they took a few minutes to smoke a joint before joining the festivities. If the rumor is true, it would solidify the band’s reputation as free-willed, bad boys of the hippie movement.

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But is it?
Before his death, John Lennon confessed to starting the rumor. He claimed that he made it up to give the band an edgy reputation. Lennon said the band members ultimately extinguished this rumor to avoid legal issues. Harrison and McCartney have since come forward to confirm they never smoked pot at Buckingham Palace but Ringo Starr maintains that he simply does not remember.

Trying Drugs Like Heroin and Cocaine Once Or Twice Isn’t Enough to Form an Addiction!

Recent studies suggests that 50% of high school seniors do not believe that cocaine is harmful or addictive, if only used once or twice. 40% of high school seniors believe the same of heroin. It is true that only 23% of heroin users develop a dependency but, does this mean it is safe in small amounts?

Absolutely not. This is perhaps the most dangerous drug myth. This is leading young and vulnerable people to believe that they are invincible and insusceptible to addiction. They often falsely believe that addiction is a character flaw. A flaw that they do not possess, ultimately protecting them from the ill effects of drug abuse. This could not be further from the truth: addiction can affect anyone. Experimenting with drugs to satisfy a curiosity can spark a chain of events that leads to addiction.

Rehab is Only For People Who Have Lost Control and Hit “Rock Bottom!”
Stigmas in the substance abuse community, against those seeking treatment and sobriety, can be extremely harmful. Not only does it discourage those struggling with substance abuse, it implies that sobriety is not a desirable state. With only one in ten addicts seeking treatment, too many continue to suffer due to a false sense of pride and/or the illusion of control.

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So what’s the truth?
Functioning addicts are addicts. The lack of a ‘rock bottom’ moment doesn’t mean one should not seek treatment for their addiction. In fact ‘rock bottom’ has no set definition: what may be enough to dissuade one from continued abuse may not waver another. There is no magical limit one must reach before treatment is necessary. Anyone suffering from addiction should seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid the adverse health effects that prolonged use can cause.

Medically Prescribed Drugs Are Safer Than Street Drugs Because My Doctor Prescribed Them To Me!

The abuse of medically prescribed drugs is rising exponentially across the United States especially among teens and young adults. With access to medicine cabinets and street dealers, teens are using pills to get high under the false impression that this is a safe alternative to hard drugs like heroin or cocaine. Misuse of drugs prescribed for pain relief can also lead to addiction.

What does that mean safety-wise?
With recreational use/abuse, prescription drugs are not ‘safer’ than street drugs. The legality of a substance’s manufacturing or dispersal does not reduce the dangers of misuse. In fact, both heroin and cocaine were once completely legal, prescribed, and readily available until the dangers of their use outweighed the benefits. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances in terms of overdose or withdrawal yet, it is legal. Victims of prescription drug abuse are in the same danger as those that abuse illicit substances. Withdrawal from prescription medication can be just as difficult as withdrawal from methamphetamine. The point is, there are no ‘safe’ drugs when abused.

Smoking Weed is Healthier Than Cigarettes
The current bid for drug law reformation is primarily aimed toward the legalization of marijuana, primarily promoting that marijuana is safe and healthy for users. Primary findings suggest that marijuana may help treat certain cancers. They also suggest that pot is a cure for

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cancers. It’s naturally growing so it’s safe, right? In fact, it shouldn’t even be considered a drug!

Why that’s not necessarily true…
First, let me address the ‘marijuana is a cancer cure’ part of this particular myth. Studies do support the fact that certain chemical compounds in marijuana can minimize and possibly shrink certain types of tumors. It has also shown to agitate and support other cancers including lung and throat cancers. The reality is, inhaling smoke of any kind is harmful to the body no matter the ignited substance. Actually, marijuana requires smoke to be held in the lungs for a period of time to feel the effects which is potentially more harmful than cigarette smoking. Smoking three joints causes the same damage as smoking twenty cigarettes.

-Alexandrea H. is a content writer for Harbor Village Detox in Miami, Florida. 

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