Drug and Alcohol Abuse: Debunking the Myths: Part II

Last week I began an article concerning Drug and Alcohol Facts, in celebration of the upcoming Drug and Alcohol Facts Week to be held across our great state and nation from January 25th through January 31st.

In that article I presented a listing of the myths and misconceptions concerning the use/abuse of alcohol and other drugs that abound in our society.

Although the myths and misconceptions are numerous, I have selected 12 of probably the most prevalent we in the Substance Abuse arena have encountered (as were presented in the previous article), and now provide factual responses to them; with hope that the responses will increase awareness and action toward the most serious problems our community faces with regards to alcohol and other drug abuse.

The myths and misconceptions are not in any numerical order, as to ranking, as one is just as important as another. Rest assured that the responses, although quite abbreviated, are factual; backed up with many years of scientific research on the topics.

“I drive better after a few beers.” Remember that alcohol is a drug…it makes changes to the body and the mind. As soon as any amount of alcohol reaches the blood stream it begins to alter the mind; it is a depressive drug that lowers inhibitions affecting judgement and coordination.

One should not drive after the consumption of any amount of alcohol.

“Marijuana is not addictive.” The psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is an addictive chemical substance, and 10% of those who use marijuana are addicted; psychologically and physiologically dependent and have long term, chronic use.

“I only drink beer; I will never be an alcoholic.” The vast majority of alcoholics (those dependent on ethyl alcohol, the chemical in beverage alcohol) have never drank anything other than beer. It makes no difference what alcohol beverage is consumed; it still has the potential for addiction with anyone.

“Alcohol is not a drug and is safer to use than real drugs.” Alcohol is a drug, and perhaps the most dangerous drug being used in our society. One only need look at statistics wherein alcohol was involved…automobile accidents, criminal behaviors, etc. to prove this to themselves.

“Misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is less harmful than using other drugs.” The abuse of prescription medication and over the counter medications is at epidemic proportion in our nation. The deaths from overdose on prescribed opioids alone is at staggering levels…thousands of young and old alike die each year from their overdose.

“Cold showers and black coffee will sober a person up.” This is an age old myth. Only time for the alcohol to be eliminated from the body will “sober a person up…” elimination is at a rate of about 1 hour per ounce of alcohol imbibed.

“If you have a stable job and family life you’re not addicted.” The truth is that the majority of those addicted to any chemical substance have a stable job and family life.

“Drug addiction is a choice.” The choice to begin the use of any drug is a choice. For a great number of people who continue to use, building up tolerance to the drug, addiction becomes no choice. Of the thousands of person I worked with in the field of addictions for many years, not one of them said, “I really wanted to be an alcohol/addict, so I became one.”

“Addicts are really bad people.” Addiction to a chemical substance is not bound by morality. Many of those addicted to a substance are upstanding individuals in their community, good parents or youth, etc.

“You have to use drugs for a really long time before they can really hurt you.” This is not only a myth based on faulty assumptions, but can be very dangerous. Consider the person who took LSD for the first time and thought they could fly, and then jumped off a tall building to their death; or the person who injected heroin for the first time and died of an overdose; or the person who consumed alcohol for the first time, decided to get behind the wheel of that car and died in a traffic accident, etc.

“Teenagers are too young to be addicted.” Addiction can happen at any age. Even unborn children can get addicted because of their mother’s drug use.

“Cocaine is only addictive if you inject it.” Cocaine is quickly addictive any way it is used: smoking, snorting, or injecting.

These are only a very, very short list of myths and misconceptions regarding alcohol and other drug abuse. They have been presented to you with the hope that it will raise awareness of the fact that substance abuse is a most serious problem in our community, state, and nation; and as a challenge to you to think more about the facts regarding alcohol and other drug abuse.

The more we can promote the truths about the abuse of chemical substances, the more awareness we have. And the more awareness we have, the more we can recognize the seriousness of the problem. The more serious we take the problem, the more we can begin taking action to intercede with the problem. Are you willing to help…your family…our youth…our community?

Hopefully we will not look at the problem as Pogo did when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” Stay Healthy my Friends!

To read Part I, click on this link, http://tinyurl.com/zdejm7o