BEE Heard: Substance use myth busters!    

Photo Credit: Native Connections

Let’s talk about myths around substance usage. First off, what is substance use? Substance use refers to the use of drugs or alcohol. Substances such as marijuana, cigarettes, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, inhalants and solvents fall under the category of drugs.  

So, when does using a substance become a problem? Substance use can become a problem when using drugs or alcohol start causing you harm or harm to others. When a substance becomes engrained into your daily routine you might have developed a dependency.  

Are you interested in learning more or maybe seeking help for yourself or a family member or friend? Please reach out to us at Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division 970-563-4581. It’s important to seek help and take control of substance use.  

 What are the myths?  

Drinking alcohol or using marijuana is a “rite of passage”. Myth or Fact?  

It is a myth. Especially in our Native American culture, alcohol and marijuana was not a part of our rites of passages for any one no matter what their age is. Today, the consumption of alcohol and drugs is more mainstream and can be seen on social media, music, television and among family and friends. The main thing to remember is that consuming alcohol or using marijuana can be very dangerous for people, especially if they are young. Because the brain of a young person is still developing, their risk for substance use disorder is a lot higher and can cause other health related issues.  

Drinking alcohol or using drugs will make people like you. Myth or Fact?  

It is a myth. Alcohol and drugs affect the body in many ways. (1) Brain: Alcohol and drugs interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate to the rest of the body. It also causes mood and behavior changes that make it harder to think and move your body. (2) Heart: Alcohol and drugs can cause arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), stroke, high blood pressure or even cardiomyopathy (stretching of the heart muscle). (3) Liver: Alcohol, especially if mixed with medication can cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). (4) Immune System: Alcohol and drugs can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to diseases.  

So, in recap, it’s unlikely you’ll be the most popular if you are uncoordinated, slurring your words, vomiting, or smell due to reduced hygiene  

If you drink alcohol, you won’t get into trouble. Myth or Fact? 

Myth. All states across this country have a 21-year-old minimum drinking age law. If you get caught drinking and you are not 21 or older, you might get a ticket (requiring you to pay money), and / or be required to go to court, do community service hours (this is without pay), take an alcohol awareness class such as Alcohol-Wise, or go to jail. These same things apply or can be even more severe if you are caught using marijuana or other drugs. And don’t forget: even if you don’t get caught by the police, you might get caught by your parents and face consequences with your family. 

If you are of drinking age, this is a myth for you too! If you consume alcohol and choose to drive, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or could hurt yourself or someone else. You also could potentially do time in jail and pay a lot of money towards fines, interlock systems and even restitution if you hurt someone in your act of drinking and driving.  

Marijuana is safer than other drugs. Myth or Fact?  

Myth. Marijuana is a drug and does influence the body, especially the brain. It is true that the effects of marijuana can differ from person to person depending on their tolerance and other factors, but it is not the safest drug. Some examples: Marijuana is unsafe to use in women who are pregnant because it can cause low birth weight. People who use marijuana are at a higher risk of problems with memory and learning. Driving stoned is dangerous because of your altered state of mind.  

 Need help? 

The Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division specializes in substance use disorders and we are here to help and support you, your family or friends. It is important to us that our Native American community overcomes dependency of alcohol and drug use and our people have long healthy lives and minds. Reach out, even if it’s for information about alcohol or drugs or even about resources that exist in our area that can help you or someone you know win the fight against alcohol and drugs.  

Contact us at Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division #970-563-4581. 


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