Because drug addiction is so scary, many myths have been invented about addiction or taking various drugs. In fact, some of these myths are told in schools or on reputable-looking websites. Many people are told lies about drugs when they're growing up.
On the other hand, just because people have been told lies about drugs, that doesn't diminish how dangerous they really are. Warnings about drug dangers are much more credible when they're backed up with real facts and real science. That's a better way to discourage drug usage. Here are some of the most popular or widespread drug myths, all of them busted by science and research:
This is a myth that gained widespread currency among lawmakers and educators. Supposedly, babies can have severe birth defects or developmental problems if the mother uses crack while she's pregnant. The one problem? It's not true.
It seemed to be supported by scientific research, but the original research was flawed. Once higher-quality research was done, the effects of crack on baby development was actually found to be minimal. The real culprits were more mundane: the health of the mother, income, exercise, diet, and other factors.
Heroin Is Addictive Right Away
Some people believe that heroin is so potent and produces so much euphoria that even one hit can make a person addicted. The story goes that heroin can actually rewire the brain after only one experience.
Heroin is technically less addictive than tobacco. It can take weeks to develop a heroin habit. This makes sense, though, because the opioid prescription painkillers that are commonly prescribed are chemically similar to heroin. Doctors can safely prescribed Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin without worrying that someone will get addicted after swallowing the first pill. Heroin is incredibly dangerous, but not because it immediately causes addiction.
The War on Drugs
In the 1980s and 1990s, politicians were very worried about appearing "soft on crime." They ratcheted up the penalties for drug users. Now, even possession can potentially lead to years of jail time.
There's a reason the United States has the largest prison population in the entire world. By throwing drug addicts in jail, we're putting them far away from the treatment that they need. In fact, only 14% of people get the rehab that can save their lives. Many prominent experts have called the war on drugs a failure. It's cost trillions of dollars, and it hasn't led to a reduction in drug usage rates. The research shows that the truly effective way to fight drug addiction is with drug rehab treatment. Expanding access to effective rehab treatment should be the priority.