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5 Myths About Substance Use

Man snubs out a cigarette while holding glass of alcohol, surrounded by pills.


In this Article:

  • Legal does not equal safe.
  • Alcohol and drugs affect everyone differently.
  • Treatment options are available and accessible.

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, it’s important to separate myth from fact. Use and misuse of these substances can put you at risk for developing a substance use disorder (SUD).

Guard Your Health partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to clear up some common misunderstandings about substance use and addiction.

Myth #1: Legal Means Safe

Fact: Legal substances can be harmful and addictive.

Prescription drugs are often used to relieve short-term pain from injuries, surgery, or dental work. But these pain relievers can put you at risk for overdose, dependence, and addiction. Before taking your next prescription, talk to your medical health professional about the potential side effects and risk for dependence.

Like prescription drugs, alcohol is also legal. If you are over 21 and choose to drink, remember to:

Myth #2: Misuse or Abuse Is Easy To Spot

Fact: Addiction is complex. Using alcohol or drugs too often can lead to dependence, which can be mild, moderate, or severe. Substances affect people differently; use or misuse doesn’t always result in addiction.

If you are unable to curb your habit or quit using, take this test to find out if you might have a SUD.

Myth #3: Smokeless Tobacco Is Safer Than Cigarettes

Fact: Smokeless tobacco has more nicotine than cigarettes, which makes it harder to quit. Using smokeless tobacco can cause mouth sores, tooth decay, and cracked gums. Studies show people who dip, chew, or snuff tobacco are at a higher risk of getting oral cancer.

Find out ways to kick your tobacco habit for good.

Myth #4: Substance Use Isn’t Related To My Behavioral Health

Fact: Substance use and behavioral health often go hand in hand. Soldiers may turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) also increase your risk for substance abuse.

Are you or a battle buddy struggling with a behavioral health concern? Learn more about PTSD and TBI.

Myth #5: Treatment Is Hard To Find

Fact: Effective treatment is accessible. To help you cope with substance abuse, check out these resources:

Just like the food you eat, alcohol and drugs can seriously impact your health. Think twice about what you put into your body.