13 Historical Drug Myths Some People Still Believe Today

We've all heard the urban legends about drugs – how bath salts turn people into zombie-like cannibals, that person who flipped a car on PCP, the brain on ecstasy that looks a whole lot more like Swiss cheese than an actual human organ. For those of us still holding out hope that somewhere out there a poor soul who took took much LSD truly believes he's a cup of orange juice, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. The war on drugs has long perpetuated ridiculous drug myths. Some are totally warranted and come from a place of real fear (opiates are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, after all). Other times, they're outright ridiculous – are we really supposed to believe a pot head is going to hand out their weed gummies to trick-or-treaters? For free?

America has long had a fixation on drugs, probably because history wouldn't have been the same without them. Would we have had the Salem Witch Trials if young girls didn't start dabbling in an LSD-like drug in 1692? Would we have had the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour? We certainly wouldn't have had Coca-Cola. Despite the rich history that illicit substances have brought us, there are sure a lot of lies people believe about drugs.

You've probably heard these myths about drugs, but none of them are actually true.


  • LSD Stays In Your Spinal Fluid And You Can Trip Any Time After Taking It

    We've all heard the urban legend that LSD is permanently stored within your spinal cord, and a haphazard back crack can send you right into an unexpected trip. The truth is that acid doesn't stick with you forever, but the effects just might.

    Like any water soluble drug, acid leaves the body very quickly. Its half-life is just three to four hours, though the length it stays in your system varies from person to person. According to High Times, the spinal cord myth was probably sparked from the idea of acid flashbacks, which are certainly real but not something every LSD user experiences. The myth also has roots in Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (a.k.a getting stuck in a trip). This serious but rare condition can be triggered by taking any psychedelic drug and often leads to symptoms like permanent changes in your peripheral vision, halos around objects, and the blurring of small patterns. There's currently no cure for HPPD, and it either goes away on its own or people learn to live with it.

  • LSD Made A Guy Permanently Think He Was A Glass Of Orange Juice

    Most of us have heard the Urban Legend of a man who took LSD and permanently thought he was a glass of orange juice. Sometimes it was a next door neighbor, sometimes it was a friend of a friend, sometimes it was a dude running from the cops who took a whole sheet to hide the evidence, but every time the man couldn't bend over because he was afraid he would spill.  There are certainly a lot of horror stories about drugs (like that girl who clawed out her eyes after having a meth-induced psychological break), but this isn't one of them. Multiple sources could find no evidence of "orange juice man" having ever actually existed.

    The origins of this myth can be traced back to a 1966 Los Angeles Times article that explains the dangers of LSD and gave examples of its negative side effects. It mentioned a "heavy user who is convinced he is an orange. He won’t allow anyone to touch him for fear he will turn into orange juice.” There was no name given to this user nor was there the name of hospital where this patient had resided.  Despite this, the story has been perpetuated long after the government banned the substance in 1967 amid Nixon's war on drugs.

  • Acid Causes Genetic Mutations

    The rumor that acid causes genetic mutations and chromosomal damage has been around almost as long as the drug. It started in 1967, when Science published an article claiming that LSD causes chromosomes to break, but the study examined just a single patient. For the next few years, articles were written sourcing the study and claiming that LSD not only damages the user's chromosomes, but that of their offspring.

    The truth is that chromosomal damage was actually seen among LSD users, but it had more to do with their lifestyle than the actual drug. A 1971 study concluded that chromosomal damage found in research subjects was related to the effects of drug abuse in general and not LSD itself.

  • You Can Have "Flashback Highs" With Cannabis Stored In Your Fat Cells

    The cannabinoids found in marijuana are fat soluble, meaning they accumulate in your fat cells.  If you burn more calories than you consume, the size of your fat cells will decrease (i.e. what happens with diet and exercise). This thinking is probably what's responsible for the age-old marijuana myth that states if you burn fat, stored-up weed will be released back into your bloodstream and make you high.  This is patently false, but what's happening in that runner's high isn't actually that different from regular old weed.

    The reason people feel high when they work out is because our body makes and releases endocannabinoids, which The New York Times describes as "internally-produced marijuana or cannabis." Studies show that exercise raises the level of endocannabinoids in our bloodstreams giving us that workout after-glow.

  • Eating Poppy Seeds Will Cause You To Fail Drug Tests

    If you're taking a drug test, don't eat a poppy-seed muffin for breakfast. This age-old drug myth is so popular that it was even the subject of an episode of Seinfeld. So, could consuming a couple poppy-seed bagels cause a false positive? Yes, but that doesn't mean you will fail the test. False positives from poppy seed consumption should never occur if proper testing is carried out.

    Poppy seeds come from the seed pods of opium plants, and often contain small traces of opium residue. Eating just one poppy seed muffin can certainly trip a drug test, but the United States Federal Government raised the workplace testing threshold to combat the results seen by people who couldn't help but gobble down a bagel and schmear right before. Unfortunately, those who live in New Zealand aren't so lucky. The testing standard is .03 micrograms per liter, which means just one slice of poppy seed cake with three-quarters of a cup of poppy seeds could make you test positive for opiates. In this case, there is typically a further investigation that will pinpoint the pesky seeds as the source.

  • High Doses Of Niacin "Burn Off" Drugs From Your System

    Niacin, or vitamin B3, has long been linked to burning fat, which is why it's been adopted as a fix to quickly flush fat-soluble drugs out of your system. Though Internet drug forums swear by the ill-advised method, the CDC states that there is "no scientific evidence" showing niacin alters drugs tests at all. In fact, ingesting large quantities of niacin more often than not leads to some adverse reactions including skin flushing, itching and vomiting. On the other hand, niacin can help lower your cholesterol.