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10 Surprising Drug Myths Busted

 10 Surprising Drug Myths Busted

By Cheryl Steinberg

This is in no way an endorsement to go out and do some drugs. We just think it’s important for people to know what’s up before having discussions about drugs. Below are common misconceptions about drugs that seem to stand the test of time. Get ready to have your mind blown; even I was surprised by some of these. Here are 10 surprising drug myths busted!

Ecstasy Eats Holes in Your Brain.

Around 2000, MTV and Oprah Winfrey took to the air to make this erroneous claim. Apparently, this myth was based on a brain scan of an ecstasy user that was misinterpreted; the scan showed what appeared to be ‘holes’ in the brain tissue, however, this was the result if how a computer coded the image. The areas that were thought to holes were in fact areas of decreased blood flow.

Yet, the following year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) continued to allege that ecstasy caused permanent brain damage. But, a decade later, NIDA reversed its position and issued a study concluding that ecstasy may not cause harm to the brain at all.

Most Crackheads are Black.

Despite media and news reports that like to perpetuate this one and despite the popularity of depicting crackheads as Black (think Dave Chappelle’s character Tyrone Biggums), a 1991 NIDA study reported that 52% of crack users were white. Furthermore, in 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 62% of adults who had smoked crack in the past year were white; only 27.9% were black.

As far as overall drug use, some data shows that whites have a higher rate of drug use than blacks, even though there is a greater percentage of a blacks incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

There is a ‘Crack Baby’ Epidemic.

The many early studies declaring the emergence of a new social problem: the crack baby had failed to account for the effects of poverty and insufficient prenatal care as other factors leading to the birth defects and developmental problems that were occurring. To be sure, it’s not a good idea to smoke crack while pregnant (or at all) but, crack just isn’t quite as bad as initially thought.

Barry Lester, the Brown University professor who directed the Maternal Lifestyle Study, told The New York Times, that, when comparing the babies of crack smokers to those of non-crack smokers, “Are there differences? Yes. Are they reliable and persistent? Yes. Are they big? No.”

And, in fact, some experts now say drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to more pronounced and devastating effects on the baby than does smoking crack.

Doing Heroin One Time Will Get You Addicted.

Yes, heroin makes you feel good. And yes, if you do it long enough, you will go into nasty withdrawals. But, doing heroin once does not mean that you will wake up a full-blown junkie the next day. In actuality, only 23% of people who try heroin go on to become dependent on it. And, although that’s still a pretty high number, it just doesn’t support this drug myth. And, in case you need something to compare it to: 32% of those who try tobacco go on to become dependent. Therefore, cigarettes are more addictive than heroin.

The War on Drugs Is Working.

If you read our blog, then you already know that this one’s a big fat lie. But, for those who aren’t in “the know,” the war on drugs has been an utter failure, causing more harm than good. Despite costing a lot of money – $1 trillion since 1971 when Nixon declared war on illicit drugs, the only thing to come out of the war on drugs is having the world’s largest prison population. Not really anything to brag about. As for any lasting result? Furthermore, The Wire reported that the overall drug addiction rate has remained fairly constant – around 1.3%, since the 1970s.

Heroin Overdoses Are Common.

This one came as a surprise to me. Especially since we’ve been experiencing a heroin and overdose epidemic in this country as of late. As it turns out, not all heroin overdoses are really heroin overdoses. The cause of a so-called heroin overdose is more likely attributed to the mixing of drugs: many heroin users concurrently take tranquilizers, alcohol, and cocaine and are therefore at greater risk for sudden death. Likewise, in a 2014 article in The Daily Beast explained how regular heroin users can appear to overdose: “In many cases, what causes a daily, well-tolerated occurrence to suddenly result in an unexpected death is the mixture of substances, such as alcohol or sedatives.”

Heroin is More Dangerous Than Alcohol.

Again, this is something we have written about on a couple of different occasions. You may recall the name Professor Nutt who, in 2010, developed a rating system that ranked 20 drugs based on the 16 different types of harm they might cause, e.g. to self and community. Alcohol ranked the highest in several of the categories, including accidents and suicide, health risk, rate of addiction, injury, family adversities, and economic cost to the community. And, overall, alcohol had the highest score, meaning that it had the highest level of danger associated to it. Just for reference, alcohol rated a 72, while heroin was in a far second place with a 55, followed by crack at 54. Things that make you go “Hmmm.”

Crack Makes You Skinny.

Although crack is an appetite suppressant, it is not a very strong one. There are other drugs out there, like amphetamines that have both a stronger appetite-suppressing effect as well as a longer half-life. It’s true that many crack smokers experience some weight loss and weight loss is even considered one of the symptoms of an addiction to crack cocaine addiction. However, that weight loss could be a result of other reasons, such as a lack of concern about nutrition and an the tendency to spend all available funds on drugs rather than food.

Marijuana is a Gateway Drug.

This one is more about coincidence rather than cause-and-effect. Although it’s been found that someone who smokes pot is 104 times more likely to try cocaine, it’s important to remember that correlation between marijuana use and hard drug use does not necessarily mean causation. Al Arkowitz and Scott Lilienfeld wrote in Scientific American, “Many studies have found that most people who used other illicit drugs had, in fact, used marijuana first. Although results such as these are consistent with the gateway hypothesis, they do not prove that using marijuana causes the use of other drugs.”

And besides, how many people who went on to using hard drugs used alcohol and cigarettes first? I bet it’s more than those who smoked pot first.

Prison Keeps People Sober.

Some people seem to be under the impression that going to jail will help them ‘kick’ their addiction but, that just isn’t the case. Drugs are smuggled into prisons all the time, either by an inmate’s visitor, eve by some of the guards, or else by other inmates returning from their work-release assignments or from a furlough. And, in recent years, there have even been some stories of people attempting to smuggle in drugs using drones.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it can be hard to find answers – even in the vast universe of the internet. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist – someone who can answer your questions and talk to you about substance use disorder, addiction, and the signs to look for. We can also talk to you about your options on handling the situation.

In the News: Lindsay Lohan Tells Oprah she Plays the Tape Through When She Wants to Drink

In the News: Lindsay Lohan Tells Oprah she Plays the Tape Through When She Wants to Drink


When Oprah and Lindsay Lohan formerly debated taping a docuseries on OWN, Lohan said she was ready to be open and honest. But on the 3rd part of Lindsay watchers see Lohan decline to let the production crew into her apartment to film. Knowledge that Lindsay has caused commotion for the docuseries crew, Oprah goes to New York for a planned check-in on and confronts the actress about her behavior. “When you change a schedule, you know what happens. You’re a professional woman,” Oprah stated. “And it’s not just for you. You’ve got a whole team of people who are relying on you right now for this particular experience, for creating this documentary.”

During the powerful heart-to-heart, Oprah questions Lohan if recording this series is what she really wants. “No, I want it,” Lindsay states. “It’s just weird to film things that are going on; I’m just not used to it. And I’m learning how to deal with life in a different light than I have before, and in a different way that I have before. And at the end of the day, my main objective is to maintain my sobriety.”

Oprah asks the question that up until now, Lohan had not responded to: “And have you been sober since we last met?” “Yes, I have,” Lohan answers. “Hello, let’s celebrate that!” Oprah states. “That’s where you are right now; look at how great that is. Wow.” Breaking down into crying, Lohan expresses to Oprah that it feels good. “I feel good that I’ve maintained something that I’ve worked so hard for,” she says. “What about the Adderall?” Oprah asks. “No, nothing,” Lohan shakes her head.

When she’s been lured to drink, Lohan says she plays out the situation in her head, and it’s a descending spiral she doesn’t want to reenter. Oprah brings up a current tabloid report that said Lohan was out late at night with an old boyfriend, but Lohan says it was entirely false. It’s up to Lohan to demonstrate the pessimists wrong, Oprah says, and gives her advice. “The vultures are waiting to pick your bones,” Oprah says. “And that shouldn’t frighten you. That should liberate you. Because if I were you, I wouldn’t let them have me.”

It’s really amazing to know that even though she is the famous actress Lindsay Lohan, she still struggles with sobriety like any person would. She says that if she wants to drink or use, she plays the tape and sees how bad it can get. I know that for me, in the beginning playing the tape really helped me to stay sober. Sometimes it can be hard to be honest with yourself and think about what might happen if you drink. As a real deal addict, I know that if I start with drinking (even though I was an alcoholic, as well), I will end up doing drugs sooner rather than later. It’s something I have proven to be true over and over again. It’s good that Lohan is keeping her sobriety as her number one priority. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


In the News: First Look at Lindsay Lohan’s Reality Show Revealed

In the News: First Look at Lindsay Lohan’s Reality Show Revealed

The first look at Oprah Winfrey’s effort to salvage Lindsay Lohan’s career through a reality show intervention premiered online Tuesday, and it’s clear the queen of interviewing isn’t playing any games. “You need to cut the bulls–t,” Winfrey, 60, tells Lohan in the 2-minute sneak peek. “You really do.”

Lindsay Lohan’s new reality show ‘Lindsay’ follows the star on her journey through recovery following a very public period of disaster. Already, watchers get a hint of drama that surrounds the 27-year-old actress’ rehabilitation from drugs, alcohol and the status she gathered as one of Hollywood’s biggest party girls. The series debuts on Sunday night on OWN with the actress going to meetings, dodging cameras, spending time with her family, arguing with her father and having a serious sit down with Oprah. In the small clip of the show, Lohan states that she feels like a prisoner all the time. At one point, it shows her sober coach as he is asked if Lindsay is staying sober – and his answer isn’t very clear.

This show gives Lindsay the chance to tell her side of the story and show what it’s like for people to work with the star. She has admitted to knowing that this is her last shot at a serious acting career. Oprah gets real with Lindsay and tells her that she needs to take her recovery seriously. “This is exactly what everybody said was going to happen and I believed differently,” Winfrey says. “She doesn’t understand this is her life.”

Lindsay Lohan has definitely been back and forth in the recovery scene quite a few times and I commend her for broadcasting her journey to the world, but I don’t think I could handle it. When I first got sober, I had a hard enough time just talking to friends, family and supports. I couldn’t imagine being on television and having the whole world view my recovery process. This is a very scary and serious disease and if Lohan doesn’t get her act together, she could be jeopardizing more than just her career – this disease can kill you.

The disease of addiction is a baffling and powerful thing that shouldn’t be taken lightly. None of us choose this lifestyle and we shouldn’t judge Lindsay for her struggles with it but it also needs to be brought to attention that she’s playing games with her life. Oprah seems to be having a positive effect on her and getting her to take everything more seriously. If I was being given a $2 million paycheck to get my life straightened out, I would like to think I would do it – but being an addict certainly changes things.

It doesn’t matter the reason we have to stay sober, all that matters is that we are willing and just put in the action. Being in recovery isn’t for people who want it or need it; it’s for people that do it. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.


In the News: Lindsay Lohan Opens Up to Oprah About Her Addiction

Sunday night marked the first time we’ve heard from Lindsay Lohan since her most recent stint in rehab, in her highly anticipated interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Filmed four days after she left her 6th rehab facility, Lohan appeared healthier than we’ve seen her in a while on “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”

Lohan said she’s in “a different head space” now and vowed to stay “present and clear-headed and focused.”

“I feel whole again,” she told Winfrey, “and I have such a desire to want to keep this feeling and stay this way, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

Oprah reminds us that on July 6, 2010, Lohan violated her probation after missing her alcohol counseling sessions. She was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but only served two weeks because of jail overcrowding.

The actress said that being an addict and surrounded by so much chaos made her “kind of want” to go to jail.

“I think it was just to have some peace and just have no choice but to just sit and be,” Lohan told Winfrey. “I’ll never forget that moment (of being sentenced).”

Lohan said she hates being known – as Winfrey put it – “as an adjective and verb for bad behavior and child star gone wrong.” It’s not at all what Lohan said she aspired to be.

But she believes she can turn it around.

Lohan says her drug of choice is alcohol, but she’s used cocaine more than she admitted in the past, because it allowed her to drink more.

She says she is no longer taking the ADHD drug Adderall, and that she was calmer without it. The only pills she takes now, according to her, are vitamins.

Lohan spoke of a life steeped in chaos, starting with her home life, although she differed with a common perception that her parents had exploited her talents for financial gain.

“Nobody’s perfect,” she said of her parents, themselves tabloid fodder, adding “I love my family.”

“I don’t think anything was intentionally done … they’re just parents,” Lohan said when Winfrey asked about the possibility of her parents having exploited her.

“I don’t blame anyone for my mistakes,” she added. “I did that, and I’m not proud of it.”

She told Oprah that she is ready to “work really hard and stay focused and prove myself in the way that I did before in the past and I lost. I have to regain the trust of people in my career that have their doubts and I fully respect that on their behalf.”

The interview kicked off Winfrey’s OWN network’s Lohan programming, which will also include a reality docu-series about Lohan’s attempt to get her life back on track.

If you or your loved one is in need of drug rehab,please give us a call at 800-951-6135.



Addiction News: May 27th, 2013

AP Exclusive: Former radical Olson’s new cause is fairness in cocaine sentencing [ Washington Post]

Billy Joel Depression: Singer Says He ‘Used Booze As Medication’ Following 9/11 Attacks [Huffington Post]

Marijuana, blood sugar control linked, study says [ First Coast News]

Parents can prevent teens’ substance use despite doubts [USA Today]

Oprah On Prescription Drugs: Americans ‘Take Pills Like Candy’  (VIDEO) [Huffington Post]

If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction please give us a call at 800-821-9584.

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