The latest in our Drug Myths Debunked series, this one should ruffle a few feathers…
Myth: Drinking isn’t all that dangerous.
Fact: One in three 18 to 24 year olds admitted to the emergency room for serious injuries are also under the influence of alcohol at the time. Alcohol is also a major common denominator among homicides, suicides, and incidences of drowning. The World Health Organization estimates that risks linked to alcohol cause 2.5 million deaths per year from health problems such as liver and heart disease, car accidents, and cancer. All in all accounting for 3.8% of all deaths. Alcohol is the third biggest risk factor for early death and disabilities throughout the world.
Myth: Alcoholics Are Found in the Lower Depths of Society
Fact: The average alcoholic does not end up on the street or under a bridge. In fact a great many of them will be doing quite well in life. These high functioning alcoholics (HFAs) can have good jobs and a seemingly happy family life
Myth: Beer is weaker than other types of alcoholic beverages.
FACT: One 12-ounce can of beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine or one normal mixed drink are all equally intoxicating. The reality is that beer contains alcohol and some of the stronger beers can contain be high in alcohol content. This leads us to the next myth.
Myth: Beer drinkers can’t be Alcoholics
Fact: A common myth is that beer drinkers can’t be alcoholic. This view of beer can give people a false sense that beer is harmless. In fact, there are plenty of alcoholics who will only drink beer.
Myth: Alcohol use is not as dangerous as drug use.
Fact: Although there are more illicit drug users than there are alcoholics, every year there are many more alcohol-related deaths than there are drug-related deaths. There is a famous study done by researchers in Britain who designed a scoring system to decide what drug or drugs are “the worst.”
Scientists with the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) conducted research that took into account 7 different criteria and found that alcohol is most harmful. On a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being harmless and 100 causing the most harm, they found alcohol to be worse than illegal drugs; alcohol scored a 72, while heroin scored a 55 and crack scored a 54.
Myth: Alcohol kills brain cells.
Fact: Although alcohol does not kill brain cells, it does cause you to lose neurotransmitters, the chemicals in your brain that allow you to do things like think and breathe. Long-term drinking can something called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, also known as “wet brain.” It is a chronic and debilitating disease characterized by progressive learning and memory problems, such as forgetfulness frustration. Alcoholics with wet brain have difficulty with walking and coordination.
Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are Synonymous
The fact is, alcoholism and drug addiction are one in the same. The preferred substance might vary but, alcohol is, in fact a drug. So, technically, an alcoholic is a drug addict who happens to choose to specify his or her drug of choice: alcohol. A recovering alcoholic put it like this: “It’s only booze. But booze for an alcoholic is just as dangerous as crack.”
If you or your loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
For a long time addiction was severely misunderstood, and, to a certain extent even now, it is still widely misunderstood. As more and more science and research is done about what addiction is, and how it affects the individual using and their family; the myths about it stay cemented in many people’s minds. Many of the myths are based on stigma, judgment, ignorance, and just plain misunderstanding. Whatever their basis we are here to try and shine some MORE light on the truth about addiction. This is drug myths debunked: addiction.
Myth #1: Addiction is a willpower problem or a choice
This is a very old belief and if you have it you need to toss it because it is false. This myth probably started with wanting to blame addicts for using drugs to excess (severe excess). This myth continues to be reinforced by the observation that most treatments for addiction are behavioral therapies which many people perceive to build “self-control”. But the truth is addiction occurs in an area of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system that is not under the addict’s conscious control. Brain imaging studies have shown the differences in the brain that are both a cause and effect of addiction. Long before drugs even enter the picture there are neurobiological differences in people who become addicted compared with those people who do not. Once a person starts using drugs, the prolonged drug use changes the structure and function of the brain which makes it hard to control impulses, feel pleasure from natural rewards like setting goals and to focus on anything other than getting and using drugs. This is involuntary, not a choice.
Myth #2: Addiction only happens to people who are weak, uneducated, have no morals; weren’t raised right and they can’t be productive members of society. In other words, addicts “look” a certain way.
The truth is addiction does not discriminate in any way, shape or form. Addiction is in the lives of people of all ages, ethnicities, cultures, religions, communities, and economic statuses. Addiction is not a result of low morals. Addicts behave in ways that violate their own personal beliefs, values and morals. Addiction is truly an equal opportunity disease. It is very common for people to believe that all addicts are unemployed, involved in criminal behavior, homeless and have family issues etc. While this is sometimes true there are many addicts that continue to function in society and have good jobs, provide for their families, are involved in their communities, and don’t appear to be an addict in the “stigmatized” sense of the word.
Myth #3: Addicts are bad people who deserve to be punished
If a person develops an addiction, there usually is the widespread idea that they are bad, weak-willed and immoral. The hostility toward addicts takes a form that is unknown among other illnesses. This hostility causes harsh legal sanctions and judgments that sound a lot like “let them kill themselves, they brought it upon themselves.” It is true that many addicts do unsightly things but those things are done because they are driving by a brain that is functioning properly. Addicts are sick people who need treatment not punishment. If you don’t believe this myth is false, think about someone you care about who might be dealing with an addiction. Are they a bad person normally? Do they deserve punishment or do they need help?
Myth #4: Someone with an addiction has to want treatment or hit rock bottom in order to get sober
Just read what Dr. Kathleen Brady has to say about this myth: “There are two main misconceptions that really drive me crazy when it comes to addictions,” says Dr. Kathleen Brady, a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. “One of them is this whole idea that an individual needs to reach rock bottom before they can get any help. That is absolutely wrong. There is no evidence that that’s true. In fact, quite the contrary. The earlier in the addiction process that you can intervene and get someone help, the more they have to live for. The more they have to get better for.”
Someone with an addiction doesn’t have to be ready to get help or hit some terrible emotional, spiritual, financial, familial bottom to get help. If that was the case some addicts may never get the help they need especially the ones who are functioning or don’t want to be sober right now. In fact, I am one of these cases. I was involuntarily committed in NC; which means I really didn’t want help and I hadn’t hit rock bottom in my own eyes. But that commitment saved my life and I know that now. Here I am today sober!
Myth #5: Addiction lets addicts off the hook and they get to be excused from negative behavior
This just isn’t true. What you can’t blame addicts for is for having addiction. Addicts still need to be held accountable for their actions. They are not responsible for having an addiction (no addict woke up one day and said today is the day I want to have the disease of addiction). But they are responsible for their recovery and their choices.
It can be really easy to judge and criticize what we don’t understand. You don’t have to walk a mile in addicts’ shoes to understand addiction and addictive behaviors. If someone you know is struggling with an addiction, consider learning more about addiction and extend a helping hand instead of hurtful words. The more knowledge we all acquire the more we can help to prevent, eradicate, and support addicts instead of stigmatizing or judging them. When we all can see what addiction truly is as a disease we can all be more apt to help!
If you or someone you love is in need of drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Ooo this should be a fun one! We’ve all heard them: crazy yet believable stories about drugs, which I like to refer to as Drug Urban Legends. These veritable “ghost stories” of the drug variety are most likely passed around by overly-concerned parents and sensationalist news casters as a way to convince folks that there is great imminent threat in the form of unwitting children turning into overnight drug addicts. So, without much further ado, I give you the latest in our Drug Myths Debunked series: Drug Urban Legends.
Drug Urban Legend: Drug-laced or poisoned Halloween candy
I’m willing to bet that everyone has heard a variation of this one at some point in their life. Like mine, your parents probably insisted on “checking” your candy before you ate it because it might have been tampered with in some way. Whether they cautioned that your candy could have been injected with poison, drugs, or somehow booby-trapped with a razor blade or needle, your parents got first dibs on your candy. If you were like me, your biggest concern was getting pennies, nickels, or ribbon candy while trick-or-treating. There has never been a genuine case of drug-laced or poisoned Halloween candy. Unfortunately, there have been cases of non-random poisonings by relatives that were made to look random by masking their deed with this drug urban legend.
Drug Urban Legend: Drug-laced candy or lollipops given to schoolchildren
There is a nugget of truth to this one although it has nothing to do with unsuspecting children being duped into ingesting drugs. There have been cases of drugs being found in lollipops and seemingly innocuous items that can be hollowed out for the disguise and transfer of drugs. According to the U.S. DEA, drugs such as THC, PCP, and heroin have been found in the form of hollowed-out lollipops but were never used for the distribution to schoolchildren. It’s easy to see how news of drug-laced lollipops could evolve into a horror story involving children since lollipops are usually associated with the innocence of childhood. In fact, that is probably why drug dealers and smugglers chose this specific item to corrupt, with hopes that their scheme would go undetected.
Drug Urban Legend: Drugs being smuggled in a baby’s corpse
This gruesome drug myth dates back to the 1970s and usually goes something like this: drug traffickers kidnap and kill tourists’ babies, which the then cut open, stuff with drugs, and sew shut in order to smuggle drugs over the border. Although drug smugglers are known to be both ruthless and creative in finding ways to transport their goods, there are no actual, verifiable cases of dead babies being stuffed with drugs and smuggled over the border.
Drug Urban Legend: The Legend of the Gnome
Now, this one was new to me. As the story goes, there’s a group of teenagers tripping on acid or mushrooms who are out and about one night, most likely walking through one of the teens’ neighborhoods. They come across what they believe to be a gnome or hobgoblin – something fantastic like that. They capture it and bring it home. After sleeping off the effects of the drugs, they realize that what they caught was in fact a child. Now, here’s where the story can go in two very different directions. The positive outcome is that the teenagers were unwitting heroes, finding a lost child. The story can also take the tone of a cautionary drug tale in which the teenagers, feeling threatened by the “gnome” in their intoxicated state kill it only to find out the next day, when they’re sobered up, that it was an actual child. Like the other drug urban legends above, this one has never been substantiated.
If you or someone you love is in need of drug or alcohol addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Methamphetamine is one of the most intimidating drugs out there for addicts and non-addicts alike. The photos of meth users are enough to shock anyone even meth users themselves. So what is the truth about this drug that has such a bad reputation? Is it true that the US has a meth epidemic? Do all meth users look like they do in the before and after photos? Is it true that after 5 years of meth use you are probably going to die? Let’s find out in this article of drug myths debunked: meth.
What is meth?
Methamphetamine (also known as meth, ice, clouds, crystal, crystal meth, glass, tik, and Tina) is a central nervous stimulant that produces intense euphoria and can keep the user awake for hours and even days at a time with continued use. Meth can be snorted, smoked, or intravenously injected when dissolved in water.
Myth #1: Meth is an epidemic or widespread
Many media outlets have claimed that methamphetamine is taking the country by storm and is a raging epidemic. The truth is that meth is, yes, a dangerous drug but is among the least commonly used. Rates of methamphetamine use have been stable since 1999. Not only that, but meth use among teens has actually dropped not risen. The amount of people using cocaine and marijuana is much higher than it is with meth. This myth is false.
Myth #2: The average length of time from first use of meth to death is five years
It is unknown where this myth came from but the only consistent information is that most meth users don’t even show up in the criminal justice system until year seven which puts this myth to rest.
Myth #3: Using meth once results in addiction.
This myth is said about many drugs not just myth but it is just that; a myth. Meth is a super powerful drug and the first use can cause a powerful euphoric rush that could make its users want to use it again but as with all substance an addiction happens with repeated use not just in one sitting.
Myth #4: Meth is used primarily by white male bikers and truck drivers.
This of course is a stereotype. And stereotypes are merely stereotypes and are not necessarily fact. This myth is probably based on the idea that it was used to reduce fatigue in truck drivers and was dealt by biker gangs. The truth is meth is used by a wide variety of people and has no stereotypical user.
Myth #5: Lung damage from recrystallization
Perhaps the best-known of the meth legends refers to the method of administration in which the user will heat/melt crystal methamphetamine and inhale the resulting methamphetamine vapor. The legend states that the drug, once inhaled, will re-crystallize in large amounts inside the lungs, damaging them in the process. This is a false claim as crystallized methamphetamine is always in the form of a salt (usually methamphetamine hydrochloride), which is highly soluble in water, as well as hydrophilic, and is instantly absorbed into the user’s blood stream.
However, intravenous methylphenidate (Ritalin) use results in a type of lung damage commonly known as “Ritalin Lung”. Methylphenidate (Ritalin or Concerta) tablets are crushed and dissolved into solution for IV injection. The tablets contain talc and other particulates which can deposit in the lung and result in severe emphysema affecting all the lobes of the lung. The “Ritalin Lung” effect could be a possible source of how rumors about methamphetamine damaging the lungs could have surfaced.
Myth #6: Strawberry Quick
Strawberry Quick meth was a drug scare from 2007. Drug dealers were allegedly using coloring and flavoring to disguise methamphetamine as Strawberry Quick, thus making them more appealing to children. The story was widely reported in the media, but no cases of children using flavored meth have been verified. Sometimes meth labs will try to brand their crystal meth product by coloring it in order to make it seem unique and to give it more market appeal. Police and drug enforcement officials have conjectured that the idea for “strawberry meth” may have come from such a process.
Myth #7: Every meth user looks like they do in the meth project photos
This is not true. I have met plenty of heavy meth users that look nothing like those before and after meth photos. Of course it is better to err on the side of caution and say it is likely that anyone who uses meth will end up looking much worse than they started out but not all heavy long term users have their teeth rot out (meth mouth) nor do they have scabs all over their face. Meth can, however, cause brain damage, which is even scarier.
If your loved one is in need of Meth addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Heroin has a really, really bad reputation. It is touted as the worst drug on the face of the planet. Pictures of its users usually include homeless people in alleys shooting it up with dirty needles. What many people know about heroin is from what they see portrayed on television. Heroin and heroin users are surrounded by a cloud of hysteria, horrific media, and quick judgment. We are here to set the record straight. Because while heroin, yes, is very dangerous and addictive, some of what you may or may not know about this drug and its users are myth not fact.
And it is time to debunk the myths. This is drug myths debunked: Heroin.
Myth #1: Heroin users are dirty, broke, homeless people who use needles
The recent death of Glee star Corey Monteith should have laid this myth to rest but this myth will probably go on for as long as there are homeless people in alleys that are using heroin. Because the truth is yes, many homeless people shoot up heroin in alleys but they aren’t the only ones. Heroin use is not resigned to the broke “junkies”. There are many white collar, kids even, who are snorting or smoking (not shooting up) heroin with their weekly allowance. Not only that but there are people who seem very clean cut and put together such as Corey Monteith that use heroin. Heroin use doesn’t discriminate and heroin users are not as easily characterized as you may think. There are kids who go to a great college, get a degree, and all the while have an intense and life threatening heroin addiction. Heroin addiction can affect anyone despite their economic standing, education, race, sex, and location.
Myth #2: Heroin is more dangerous than alcohol.
This myth is false. Heroin is not more dangerous as alcohol. Alcohol is just as dangerous as heroin. The truth is alcohol in a lot of ways is even more dangerous than heroin. Alcohol just happens to be more socially accepted. The reasons that alcohol is more dangerous than heroin could go on and on. For instance, that the withdrawal from alcohol could kill you and heroin withdrawal is not fatal. Alcohol’s effects on the body and brain are much more intense and long lasting. Heroin has some medical benefit as an opiate even though it is an illicit drug whereas alcohol has none. Just because a drug is socially accepted or not socially accepted doesn’t make it any more or less safe.
Myth #3: If you try heroin even once you will become addicted immediately
Addiction is a complex disease that takes a while to develop. It is not the same as physical dependence – you can be physically dependent on a substance but not addicted. It takes time for a heroin user to develop physical tolerance and even though it is a very addictive substance the true state of addiction will also take some time to manifest. This doesn’t mean that trying heroin even once is safe. It just means that if you do or have done heroin once and then never used it again this is why.
Myth #4: About what to do when someone overdoses on heroin
There are many myths about overdosing and what to do if someone is overdosing or on how to prevent overdosing. These myths include putting someone in a bath or shower which can lead to drowning and death. Slapping, hitting or pinching a person will not rouse a person into consciousness nor will trying to make them walk around when they are slipping into unconsciousness. Some people believe that inducing vomiting will reduce the drug affects but this is dangerous and may lead to choking. Some intravenous drug users believe that injecting a person with another drug, such as amphetamines or adrenaline when they are overdosing on heroin, will reverse the overdose (remember the scene from Pulp Fiction? In reality, intracardiac injection is old fashioned and an extreme last resort, and, Narcan, not adrenaline, is used to revive a heroin OD). Salt water and milk injection are also other common myths. The fact is if someone is overdosing on heroin you need to call 911 immediately. Someone who is overdosing on heroin is not going to just kill over like many people think either. Many times a heroin overdose is gradual and the breathing will slowly stop. So there is time. Get help!
Heroin is a dangerous drug that should not be taken lightly. The best way to prevent heroin use and heroin overdose is to know the facts. Heroin abuse and knowledge about heroin that is based in myth is not effective and can lead to many problems and in the worst case scenarios such as heroin overdose, death. Know the facts, know the truth and share it.
If someone you know is in need of treatment for heroin addiction, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.