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Drugs - Myths vs Facts


Myth:  You cannot become addicted to marijuana.

Fact:  Although it is less likely to become addicted to marijuana than many other drugs, it is possible.  One in eleven people who use marijuana become addicted.

Myth:  If it is prescribed by my doctor it can’t be bad for me.

Fact: Prescription medications can be addictive, especially when they are not taken as prescribed or taken for long periods of time.  You can also be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) even if the medication is prescribed to you.

Myth:  Mixing drugs and alcohol is no big deal; people do it all the time.

Fact:  Using more than one drug at a time (including alcohol is called polydrug use.  It compounds the risk of taking each substance separately because the active chemicals interact within a user's body like some sort of amateur science experiment.  For example, if a user snorts cocaine while drinking champagne, his or her liver combines those two substances to produce a third substance called cocaethylene.  Combining the two drugs may intensify the euphoric effect of the cocaine, but it also intensifies its effects on the cardiovascular system, raising the risk that the user may die from heart failure. 

Myth:  When you take ADHD medication as a child, it increases your risk of becoming addicted to drugs as a teenager.

Fact:   Multiple studies indicate that while ADHD sufferers have a higher risk of becoming substance abusers, prescribing ADHD medications not only doesn't lead to adolescent abuse, but it may actually help prevent it.   A 2008 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, for example, found that girls treated with ADHD medications were half as likely to become cigarette smokers or drug abusers. 

Myth:   You can trick a drug test.

Fact:  Drug users going in for a test sometimes try to alter or mask traces of drugs in their urine sample. They may dilute it, substitute urine from another person or an animal, or add other ingredients to the sample to alter it.  (Vinegar is a frequent choice, but soap, apple juice and bleach are also popular.) According to one drug testing firm's Web site, some of those methods once did actually work.  But as drug tests have become more exacting, it's been more difficult to trick them. Today's tests don't just look for banned substances, but also measure indicators like specific gravity, pH, creatinine levels, and temperature for irregularities.

A sample diluted with water, for example, will have an abnormally low creatinine and specific gravity levels, while urine from another person or animal is unlikely to pass the temperature and specific gravity tests.  Additionally, drug testers now use far more stringent security procedures.  For example, donors aren't allowed to take purses, bags or other objects that might conceal an adulterant into the collection room, and some tests are conducted without prior notice, so that test subjects don't have time to retrieve an adulterant.

Myth:  Natural drugs aren’t bad for you.

Fact:   A substance being “natural” means nothing in terms of its potential health risks.  Opium for example comes from the poppy flower and is a highly addictive narcotic.  If a person consumes too much opium it quickly becomes toxic and can cause death.

Myth:  Using drugs will help me be more creative, or help me improve my athletic performance. 

 Fact:   While some talented people have ended up having drug problems, the talent came before the drug use.  For example, years of hard work in music, sports, or acting brought some people to great success, but substance use has called short the lives of too many, who otherwise could have had longer and happier lives.