Myth No. 1: Getting medical help after using illicit substances will lead to you being arrested. 

Fact: False – St John does not arrest people. To quote Sue Gullery, Clinical Manager at St John NZ, “We don’t treat [overdoses] as a potential crime; we treat them as a supposed poisoning. We would only involve police — and this is across the board — if there was a suggestion of a crime taking place or that our safety or that of any individual was at risk.”

Myth No. 2: You can tell what a drug is by looking at it. 

Fact: False — The only way to know exactly what’s in a drug you intend to take is to use various test kits to pin-point what the substance is. Know Your Stuff is operating a drop-in testing station on the 15th of July at The XCHC, so say ‘Know’ and test your shit.

Myth No. 3: You can drink alcohol on MDMA and be fine — great, in fact.

Fact: False — Your liver will be stressed by trying to metabolise ethanol as well as MDMA. While the MDMA is stimulating you, your drinks are depressing you. This means you spend more on your substances while experiencing less of the positive effects of each while being at an increased risk of experiencing the negative side effects of both and from their competition within your liver. 

Myth No. 4: Re-dosing MDMA is fine, as long as you re-dose half. 

Fact: False — Over a dose-threshold (which varies from person to person) MDMA disables your liver’s ability to metabolise it (and it takes at least 10 days for your liver to produce the right enzyme again), so the harmful effects of a small dose can be greater than that from a prior, larger dose.  Avoid re-dosing, dosing over 150mg, and frequent use (3-4 times a year is considered relatively safe).

Myth No. 5: Snorting lines is no more dangerous than oral ingestion. 

Fact: False — When you insufflate drugs you risk damaging the sensitive mucous-membranes in your nose. Your stomach, by comparison, is more robust. Further, snorted drugs enter your bloodstream immediately, which exposes you to the harmful effects of any adulterants which might enter your blood alongside the drug you intend to take. Oral ingestion on the other hand will direct your drugs to your liver first, before your bloodstream, giving it the opportunity to intercept any harmful substances before they can hit your brain or your other organs. 

Myth No. 6: Cannabis does not affect your ability to drive safely.  

Fact: False – Really? Are you high or something? Being stoned absolutely affects your reaction time, your propensity to be distracted, your depth perception, and your decision-making. While driving drunk may be worse, driving high is also unacceptable and dangerous.

Myth No. 7: Smoking cannabis with tobacco gets you higher. 

Fact: False — You like smoking chop because you like nicotine. You should consider healthier ways to manage your nicotine addiction.

Myth No. 8: Recreational drugs can cure your chronic illnesses. 

Fact: False — While recreational drug use can be done positively, many claims about disease being a product of a disordered mind/misaligned chakras have entered the fringes of drug-popularising communities. There is no evidence that tripping and getting stoned every weekend can cure myriad chronic conditions, nor any mechanism for how they could. Cannabis can be helpful for pain management and specific conditions (though accurate cannabinoid content information is vital for such application), and psychedelics, MDMA, and ketamine have shown exceptional promise in mental health interventions and end-of-life care, but crucially these effects are seen under clinical conditions with the application of trained psychotherapists. Mind-altering substances can absolutely change lives for the best, but they are not cure-alls and must be approached with a sense of caution and respect.  

Myth No. 9: As soon as you consume an addictive substance you will become addicted.

Fact: False — Addiction is not simply a chemical reaction which occurs in your brain. Addiction is reliant on the formation of patterns of behaviour associated with the pharmacology of a drug. While heroin is the most addictive substance on earth, the majority of adults who try it do not become addicted, with 1 in 4 developing an addiction. 

Myth No. 10: Drug-induced experiences are “not real”.

Fact: False, or at least not strictly accurate — 100% of human perception and experience is constructed by our brains. So, drug-induced experiences and perceptual changes are simply qualia-sets which exist in the same state-space of consciousness as that where ‘consensus-reality’ exists; all predicated on the same rules of brain function which underpin your ability to perceive the writing on this page. A tripping mind is an overly  stimulated mind, and admitting the personal reality and validity of drug-experiences is totally compatible with understanding that perceptual changes and hallucinations arise out of neurological phenomena, not by the manifestation of external entities. For many users of psychedelics, the most truth-saturated, significant experiences of their lives happen while under dramatically altered states of consciousness.

Myth No. 11: Doing drugs is cool. 

Fact: False — smoking cigarettes is cool. 

By Asher Etherington