The most effective weapon against drug abuse is knowledge. Studies have shown the more teens know about illegal substances and their effects, the more likely they are to say no. Unfortunately, even with the wealth of information available, there are still a lot of myths surrounding drug use. Here are ten drug abuse myths and the truth behind them:
1. Myth – Marijuana is harmless.
Truth – Smoking marijuana has the same health risks as smoking tobacco: bronchitis, emphysema and bronchial asthma. Studies show approximately 1 in 11 people become addicted to marijuana.
2. Myth – Drug use doesn’t affect the brain
Truth –Drugs do cause neurological changes leading to abuse, addiction and other extreme physical problems.
3. Myth – Legal drugs are beneficial. Only illegal drugs are damaging.
Truth – All drugs can be abused regardless of whether or not they are legal or illegal. Even if a drug has been approved by the FDA, it can still have damaging effects if misused or abused.
4. Myth – A parent cannot influence a teen’s decision to use marijuana.
Truth – Teens are less likely to smoke marijuana if they think their parents would strongly disapprove (2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
5. Myth – Experimenting with and using drugs is a part of growing up. It’s normal.
Truth – Most teens do not use/abuse drugs. A 2010 national survey found 79 percent of 8th graders have never used an illegal drug (Monitoring the Future, 2010).
6. Myth – You can’t overdose on prescription drugs the first time you use them.
Truth – Overdose is ALWAYS a possibility – even if it is your first time. In 2008, prescription drugs were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.
7. Myth – Lots of 8th graders abuse inhalants.
Truth – The same 2010 survey found 92 percent of eighth graders have NOT used inhalants in the past year.
8. Myth – Everyone is doing it!
Truth – Quite simply, no, they’re not. The majority of teens are not doing drugs or drinking. Those who do, do so infrequently. Most teens are not abusing drugs or drinking on a regular basis.
9. Myth – Trying it just once won’t hurt me.
Truth – Even one time drug use can have negative, sometimes lifelong consequences. You could become the aggressor or a victim of violence. You could do something under the influence you will regret. You could get very sick or, in some extreme case, die.
10. Myth – Drugs aren’t that addictive. I can quit whenever I want.
Truth – Over time, drug use changes the chemistry of your brain and body. These changes result in an irresistible craving for the drug. Addiction is a very serious and likely side effect of frequent drug use.