Have you ever heard “if you eat or take a shower it will sober you up quickly” or “it’s not that dangerous to drive if you smoked marijuana”? Well, misconceptions about addiction have been in circulation for centuries but it wasn’t until recently that the medical and scientific communities became aware of how the brain impacts behavior, emotions, and addiction.
Misconceptions about mind-altering substances have also made it harder for people to notice they may have an addiction problem and less likely to reach out for support. Here are a number of myths related to addiction compared to the reality that we know thanks to extensive research.
|Drugs and Alcohol|
|Natural drugs like cannabis, mushrooms or peyote are safer than synthetic drugs.||The fact they are natural doesn’t mean they aren’t mind-altering. The reality is, we never completely know what's in a drug or how it will affect the user. (NCCIH.NIH.gov )|
|Cannabis addiction isn’t real.||Just like with any substance, the body certainly can build up a tolerance to it and react when you stop using it. Common withdrawal symptoms are sleeplessness, restlessness, headaches and increased irritability. (NIDA.NIH.gov )|
|If you have a high alcohol tolerance, then you don't have a drinking problem.||If a person has a high tolerance to any mind-altering substance, this means that it takes more and more of that substance to achieve the same effect. Tolerance would actually indicate the likelihood of problematic use. (Washburn House )|
|Drinking alcohol before going to bed can help with sleep issues.||While it does allow many people to fall asleep quickly, alcohol can interfere with sleep cycles and reduce REM sleep. This interference impacts the quality of the deep, restorative sleep your body needs. (Rise Science )|
|It is safer to drive after consuming cannabis than to drive after drinking alcohol.||Cannabis slows down thinking, reflexes, and reduces concentration and coordination. As a result, cannabis changes the way people do tasks and activities as complex as driving. (NCBI.NIH.gov )|
|Eating a big meal before you drink will keep you sober.||Food in your stomach only delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. A full stomach doesn’t prevent the effects of alcohol or intoxication. (NCBI.NIH.gov )|
|Smoking tobacco is a choice; I can quit whenever I feel like quitting.||The first time is a choice, but after a few cigarettes, it isn’t. Addiction to nicotine can develop quickly and most people that smoke don’t even know they have an addiction. (Cancer.org )|
If you consume any substance (even if you think it is harmless, like alcohol or tobacco), we encourage you to get truly informed about how they function in your body, the potential consequences, and what to expect.