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10 Crazy Myths About Illegal Drugs

by Gregory Myers
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Hysterical news stories already have a habit of spreading like a virus, but drug stories are some of the most pervasive. These legends take hold so quickly because they scare people and fear is infectious. However, the truth behind many of these stories is much different from what you hear. The dangers of drugs can be explained without fabrication and honesty is always the best policy. Join us below as we debunk some of the crazier myths about illegal drugs.

10 Krokodil And Flesh Rot

By now, you have probably already heard of a new drug called krokodil that is taking off in the Russian drug scene as a cheap replacement for heroin. According to reports, this drug is much more addictive than heroin and causes your flesh to literally rot off your skin, leading to your untimely demise. Some US news outlets have even claimed that this drug has shown up in the United States and the hysteria machine is now at full horsepower.

However, Krokodil is simply the street name for a drug that addicts are trying to make using codeine and household chemicals called desomorphine. You see, heroin is illegal in Russia, but codeine is sold over the counter, making it very easy to obtain. Many of the news reports seem to imply that the drug itself is responsible for the necrosis, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Desomorphine was patented in Switzerland back in the 1930s for pain relief and there is no evidence that it has ever caused people’s flesh to rot.

But people are getting flesh rot, right? So what’s causing it? It turns out that the process uses various household chemicals and most people don’t synthesize pure desomorphine. However, considering there is very little in the way of actual study done on the subject, it is hard to be certain that even that is truly the culprit. You see, Russia actually has no official needle exchanges and diseases like AIDS are constantly spread through this method. The cause of the necrosis could also have something to do with all of the dirty needles. It is also unlikely that the drug will become popular in the United States, as codeine is not available over the counter here and that convenience is the entire point of attempting desomorphine synthesis.

9 Drug Testing

Urine Specimen
If you are an employer and you want to make sure that someone is clean of drugs, the solution is extremely simple—just have them take a drug test. While sometimes the results are instantaneous and other times you need to send the test back to a lab, you will soon have your answers. Of course, if you are the prospective employee looking to prove your drug-free lifestyle, you can be guaranteed a clean slate. Many people are so convinced of the efficiency of modern drug tests that some US states have even passed laws requiring those receiving welfare benefits to take a drug test.

Unfortunately, it turns out that drug tests are often inaccurate. Researchers studying drug testing have found that results showed false positives as much as 10 percent of the time, with a similar number for false negatives. Eating even a small amount of poppy seeds can trigger a false positive, but many doctors have no idea this is even possible. They found also that cold medicines, allergy medications, antidepressants, some antibiotics, and even an HIV medication can result in false positives for illegal drug abuse. On the false negative side, many tests don’t cover every available drug, and oxycodone in particular is often missed completely.

8 The Dangers Of Crack


Photo credit: Psychonaught

Many people are under the impression that the crack form of cocaine is much more dangerous than the powder variety. This myth likely got its start due to the draconian laws that made possessing crack much worse than possessing regular cocaine. For a long time, the law operated under a ratio of 100:1 in the United States. Essentially, what this meant was that if you got caught with crack, you would be punished as if you had possessed 100 times that amount in cocaine.

As it turns out, there isn’t any real difference between crack and regular cocaine beside the fact that crack is made to be smoked. You see, crack is actually not some ancient, evil substance that slithered up from the primordial depths to bring about the final downfall of humanity. It’s just a process involving baking soda, water, and heat that removes hydrochloride from the cocaine so that the final product will be easier to smoke from a pipe. We aren’t recommending the use of illegal drugs (that’s wrong) or suggesting that cocaine is particularly safe (it’s absolutely not), but the sentencing disparities seem disproportionate to the relative dangers of the drug’s two forms. Even after a recent law to bring an end to unfair sentencing, crack is still legally considered almost 20 times as bad as cocaine.

7 Dead Baby Stuffed

According to the legends, a couple were traveling by plane and brought their baby with him. However, after the plane had taken off, the flight attendant became increasingly suspicious that the baby didn’t do any of the loud, obnoxious, or smelly things that babies usually do. Upon arrival at their destination, these parents were met by law enforcement of some variety that decided to take a closer look at their baby. Upon investigating, the police found that the baby had its organs removed so it could be stuffed full of drugs like some gruesome piñata.

The story is sensational, disturbing, and highlights the darker side of man. These sorts of stories spread like wildfire and are very popular for those who wish to point out the evils of drug smuggling. Of course, it turns out that the story—which has seen many variations over the years—has absolutely no basis in reality. While occasionally some variation of the story appears in a legitimate news outlet, no incident of this kind has ever been verified, and the newspapers have not even been able to list the airport at which the event occurred. Worse yet, these stories are always reported as an anecdote offered by an unnamed member of law enforcement and never include details a journalist could independently verify.

6The Orange Juice Man

The story of the orange juice man has several different variations, but they are all very similar when it comes to the important details. The story goes that a man decided one day to buy an entire sheet of LSD on blotter paper for some unknown reason. Some stories say he then ran through a sprinkler, others say he was thrown in a pool, and some stories suggest he simply got really sweaty. Regardless of the details, the idea is that all of the LSD was absorbed through his skin and he thereafter decided that he was actually a glass of orange juice. Since then, the man has been afraid that he will spill, be drunk, or be peeled by someone if he doesn’t watch out and is now permanently insane.

While LSD can certainly make you think insane things while you are tripping, there is no evidence whatsoever that it can make you permanently crazy because you took too much one time. It should also be noted that, as a scare story, it is not very effective. No LSD user could possibly relate to this tale, because they aren’t going to be walking around with a sheet of acid in their pocket. As for the orange juice man, there has been no evidence to suggest that such a thing ever happened.

5 MDMA Brain Holes

According to anti-drug campaigns, MDMA—known on the streets as ecstasy—will put holes in your brain. A study published about a decade ago involving monkeys supposedly proved that ecstasy could do serious, permanent damage to your brain after just one night of use.

However, it turns out that the study was not only flawed, but actually had to be completely thrown out. Only recently, the Dr. Ricaurte who performed the study reported that he hadn’t used ecstasy at all, but had somehow accidentally given the monkeys methamphetamine. This mix-up of the good doctor’s not only caused his MDMA study to be disregarded, but ruined four other projects as well. It turns out that Dr. Ricaurte has a history of doing research that shows pretty much any drug to be extremely dangerous and has even been criticized by his allies for being “sloppy.”

4 Bath Salts Make People Cannibals

Not long ago in Florida, a man went full zombie and tried to eat another man’s face while on a bath-salt-fueled rampage. This led to a media outcry of bath salts as the most dangerous new designer drug and many reports of bath salt madness across the country.

It turned out, however, that the only drug the face eater had in his system was marijuana, and the reason he attacked the other man was simply because he was insane. The truth is, there is no evidence that bath salts make people psychotic. Bath salts are just synthetic stimulants and some people have described the high as similar to ecstasy. This drug hardly lives up to the hype.

3 The DEA Taunts Drug Users

Policeman with a german shepherd on a training.
Back in 2002, many people were telling a story that the DEA had put up billboards around the country stating “If you think it’s dry now, wait till next month,” supposedly in reference to a shortage in the marijuana supply. The message was that the DEA was planning to crack down much harder on weed and was taunting the users beforehand.

However, it turns out that this story seemed to circulate whenever the marijuana supply was low in general and seemed to crop up when summers were especially hot. Of course, none of these billboards ever existed. Why would a law enforcement agency tip their hand by publicly announcing plans for a massive crackdown?

2 Drink Spiking

Man Drugging Woman's Drink In Bar
One of the most commonly held beliefs is that if you are at a bar—especially if you are a woman—you should guard your drink religiously. The reason for this is, of course, that someone might slip a date rape drug such as rohpynol into your drink and take advantage of you. Many people are convinced that this is a common occurrence, and many strategies have been put together to keep drinks guarded.

Before we go on, we want to make clear that we are not implying that date rape doesn’t happen or that taking advantage of someone in an altered state, by whatever means, is okay. That said, a study of 200 students at Kent University (UK) found that many students who claimed that a date rape drug had been responsible for their problems had actually just been drinking alcohol. Furthermore, an Australian study cataloged almost 100 people who went to a hospital claiming they had their drinks spiked over a 19-month period. The study concluded that not a single one of these people had actually been on any drug besides alcohol. It turns out that many people don’t realize just how incapacitating alcohol can be and don’t realize the danger it can put them in.

1 Bananadine

According to the story, you can get high using bananas, but you have to follow a fairly complicated process. First, you need 7 kilograms (15 lbs) of bananas, and then you need to peel them and scrape off the insides. You are then supposed to take the scrapings and boil it for several hours, put this nasty mixture on a cookie sheet, and bake it in the oven for a while. Once you are finished, smoking the resulting concoction will get you high.

This recipe for “bananadine” first appeared in The Anarchist Cookbook. It was a silly joke and bananas certainly don’t have any ability to get you high. The author of The Anarchist Cookbook, William Powell, wrote the book at a time in his young life when he was very angry at the world around him, and years later, he wanted the book to be done away with. Since he was essentially told to go pound sand because the publisher owns the copyright, we can probably look forward to idiots smoking bananas for years to come.

Greg has become convinced that he is actually a car. If you want to help him check his oil, you can follow him on Twitter.

fact checked by Jamie Frater