Drug Myths

excellent article from Cracked.com

Natural Drugs Aren’t As Bad For You!

The Myth:

This one you’ve heard from your hippie friends: “Don’t believe ‘The Man’ when he says all recreational drugs are bad for you! What I’m giving you are but plants and mushrooms that grow from Mother Earth herself! It’s far better to put something natural into your body than some chemical that came out of a factory!”

The Reality:

Let’s start with the obvious: A substance being “natural” means precisely squat in terms of its potential risks and benefits. For example, opium, which is squirted straight out of a poppy, is a highly addictive narcotic that can easily kill you dead if you overdo it. Check out this chart comparing all the drugs the popular kids are doing nowadays:

Drugs on the lower left are safer, while ones to the upper right are dangerous-er. Note that everyone’s favorite natural drug, marijuana, is just about on par with perhaps the very definition of a synthetic drug — LSD — in terms of lethality, while being higher up the dependence ladder. And hey, check out alcohol up there playing alongside cocaine and morphine and heroin like he thinks he’s one of the big kids or something. At the risk of causing you to fall into a PowerPoint-induced catatonic state, here’s another chart for you to take a gander at:

This one’s the result of a study led by neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt to rank drugs in terms of the harm they cause to their users and others. While the vegan-friendly mushroom is at the bottom of the list, it’s not so far behind Ecstasy and acid, both puked out of some laboratory beaker somewhere. Pot and tobacco are up there near the top mingling with Walter White’s favorite synthetic drug, and hey, look at that: Alcohol takes the very top spot. It probably seems like we’re bullying poor little booze at this point, but we contend that he’s asking for it.

So just because a drug is natural, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any safer — sometimes, it’s quite the opposite. We mentioned above that the poster child of synthetic drugs, LSD, can cause its users to go on psychotic rampages if they’re predisposed to them. Do you know which other drug can do that? If you guessed the poster child of all-natural drugs, marijuana, give yourself one (Acapulco) gold star.

4 thoughts on “Drug Myths

  1. What are the data behind these charts and graphs? When deciding whether a drug is more harmful to the user versus others, why is methamphetamine use apparently some of the lowest risk to others? I had a meth-using boyfriend who stomped puppies to death and extorted prostitutes, and to this day is the one person in the whole world that I fear. But I’ve never really known a stoner to get violent while under the influence (I would say that some of us are more violent and dangerous without marijuana *cough*). As for marijuana’s harmfulness to the user, does that include the mode of consumption? I can see a case being made for the harmfulness of smoking marijuana, but to eat it has fewer negatives as car as cancer is concerned. Also, of course, listing GHB as so low on the scale of “harmful to others” only applies if you’re looking at personal use. Seeing as how it as often used on unwilling participants for the purpose of rape, I think we need to push that light blue bar a little farther down the line.

    As far as the argument of “natural” vs “synthetic” goes, there’s still a case for natural “drugs” being “safer” than the synthesized ones. Take the example of the coca leaf. Coca tea is popular in South America, I experienced it in Peru. It helps with altitude sickness, headaches, and gives you a little pep. People make it a regular part of their days, but its use is similar to that of coffee. Whereas, you take the coca leaf and extract the potent chemicals, turn it into its pure, crystalline form (cocaine/crack), and all of a sudden, it’s an addictive substance with horrible consequences, that even the above graph agrees with. We see the same thing with sugar. No one gets truly addicted to apples or oranges. People may like them a lot and eat several servings a day, but myself, when blood orange season ends, as much as I binge on them when available, I do not get cranky or itchy if I don’t have them, and I’ve never robbed anybody if I couldn’t afford them. But, you take refined sugar–sucrose–and mix it with artificial colors, and flavors, and that’s how you get people downing gallons of soda every day and getting diabetes. They’re addicted. They know refined sugar is bad for them, but they still keep going, no matter its negative consequences.

    It’s a new thing, but some people are starting to use pure THC, extracted from marijuana by adding butane and other horrible chemicals to get it there. I have a friend who was “dabbing” as it’s called, and although he’s always been a habitual marijuana user who had the ability to go several days without it without withdrawal effects, when he got into the extracted stuff, he noticed irritability when he didn’t use it. It’s just an anecdote for now, but time will tell.

  2. I find myself so irritated by that argument–apparently the Feds just want the drug companies to get rich, and so won’t let us make our own natural drugs. But the drug cartels are impartial?

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