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Myth 1: If it’s a
prescription, it must be safe; you can’t get addicted to something your doctor
prescribes. Although many medications are perfectly safe if taken in
the prescribed dosage for a short period of time, prolonged use can be
dangerous—and, yes, addictive. Some prescription drugs are especially hazardous
if the user exceeds the prescribed dosage or takes a combination of drugs.
Myth 2: “Natural”
drugs are safer than synthetic ones. Marijuana, mushrooms and other “natural” highs
still alter brain chemistry and produce dangerous side effects. They aren’t
harmless just because they grow in the ground.
Myth 3: The heroin era
(or the crack crisis, the age of ecstasy, etc.) is over. Drugs don’t just go
away. Although certain drug trends become more popular and available and then
seem to diminish in popularity over time, a drug doesn’t pose a lesser threat
to you – or your kids – simply because it is associated with the culture of a
Myth 4: If you have a
high alcohol tolerance, you don’t have a drinking problem. If you feel nothing
after several drinks, you DO have a problem. A casual drinker wouldn’t be able
to finish a couple of six-packs—and if they did, they’d feel very sick. If
you’re drinking this much and feeling fine, you need help.
Myth 5: If you have a
stable job and family life, you’re not addicted. You may still have a
job or career, a loving spouse and kids, and still have a drug or alcohol
problem. Just ask any physician in recovery—many of them practiced for years
without anyone recognizing their drug addiction. Holding down a job doesn’t
mean you’re not addicted—it could mean that you have a tolerant spouse or boss,
or you are in a career that puts up with excessive drug or alcohol use.
Although you may still be treading water, you are risking everything, and rock
bottom may not be far away.
Myth 6: Drug addiction
is a choice. Drug use is a choice, and prolonged use changes
your body and brain chemistry. When that happens, the user no longer appears to
have a choice—this is when use and misuse become addiction.
Myth 7: Detox is all
you need. You aren’t addicted after you finish detox. They can just knock you
out so you can detox while you sleep. Detox is difficult and it’s just the
beginning. The new “ultra rapid detox” programs can be dangerous and even
deadly. Finally, detox is the first step towards recovery, but addiction is a
chronic illness—like diabetes, asthma or hypertension, it needs to be managed
throughout the lifespan. There is no cure.
Myth 8: If someone in
recovery uses drugs or alcohol again, they’ll be right back where they were
when they first quit. This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that one
drink will throw you back to “square one,” then it will. However, it is
entirely possible to relapse, realize your mistake, and get right back in
Myth 9: You need to be
religious in order to get sober. Sobriety doesn’t require you to believe in God
or subscribe to any organized religion. It helps, however, if you believe in
humanity, family, community, and the good aspects of yourself—beliefs that are
greater and stronger than your own daily life with drugs.
Myth 10: Addicts are
bad people. Addicts aren’t “bad” people trying to get “good,” they’re sick
people trying to get well. They don’t belong to a particular race or exist only
in certain parts of the country. They are lawyers, farmers, soldiers, mothers
and grandfathers who struggle with drug dependence on a daily basis. They are
proof that addiction doesn’t discriminate—but, thankfully, neither does
• Myth: You can stop
using drugs anytime.
Withdrawal sickness, believing you must have drugs, and being around
people who use can make
stopping drug use difficult. But there are people and
programs that can help.
• Myth: You have to
use drugs for a long time before they can really hurt you.
Drugs can cause the brain to send the wrong signals to the body. This can
make a person stop
breathing, have a heart attack or go into a coma. This can
happen the first time
the drug is used.
• Myth: If you only buy
drugs from friends, you'll get the pure stuff.
Because drugs are illegal, no one can know what is really in them.
• Myth: Teenagers
are too young to get addicted.
Addiction can happen at any age. Even unborn children can get addicted
because of their
mother's drug use.
• Myth: If you're
pregnant and use drugs, your body protects the baby.
Drugs affect an unborn child as much or more than the mother. Drug use
during pregnancy can
cause the baby to die or be born too early. It can damage
the baby's mind and
• Myth: If you
smoked pot on the weekend, you'd be fine by Monday.
The effects of pot (marijuana) can last for up to 3 days. It impairs memory,
• Myth: As soon as a
person feels normal, all the drug is out of the body.
Long after the effects of the drug stop being felt, the drug can still be in
For example, cocaine
can be found in the body up to one week and marijuana up
to 3 months after a
• Myth: If you get
drunk, coffee will sober you up.
Once alcohol is in the bloodstream, only time will make a person sober.
• Myth: Cocaine is
only addictive if you inject it.
Cocaine is quickly addictive any way it is used: smoking, snorting or
• Myth: Snuff and
chewing tobacco are safe because there's no smoke.
Smokeless tobacco can cause mouth and throat cancer, high blood pressure
and dental problems. It
can also lessen the senses of taste and smell and can cause bad breath.
• Myth: Sniffing
glue gives an instant rush. There isn't time for it to hurt you.
Inhalants enter the blood and go through the body in seconds. Sniffing
larger amounts can
cause a heart attack or death from suffocation because
oxygen in the lungs.
• Myth: Pot isn't as
bad for you as cigarettes.
Marijuana smoke has more cancer causing chemicals than tobacco.
• Myth: You can tell if
anything is added to marijuana.
Chemicals can be added to marijuana leaves without the user knowing it.
Drugs like PCP could be
put in the dry leaves. Chemicals could be sprayed on the
plants before picking.
• Myth: Drugs
relieve stress. They help deal with problems.
Drugs only make people forget and not care about their troubles. When the
drug wears off, the
problem is still there.
• Myth: Steroid
creams can be bought in drug stores. Doctors prescribe steroids to
treat allergies. So
using steroids to build muscles must be OK.
There are different types of steroids. Steroids used to treat rashes and
allergies are not the
same as steroids used to increase muscle growth