Drug urban legends

Drug urban legends

Many urban legends about illegal drugs have been created and circulated among children and the general public. These are commonly repeated by organizations which oppose all illegal drug use, often causing the true effects and dangers of drugs to be misunderstood and less scrutinized.

Urban legends about LSD

Various urban legends exist about LSD. The aura of mystique popularly associated with the drug, and a great deal of misinformation issued and propagated by anti-drug groups, particularly in United States anti-drug education programs in schools, provide fertile ground for misconceptions to take hold. Such misinformation may be propagated due to simple ignorance, or through deliberate attempts to frighten students away from LSD usage through scare tactics.


The most famous example of this legend spreading was at Woodstock, where there was an announcement from the stage not to use "the brown acid". Expecting an LSD trip to be bad (due to concerns about contamination, or any other reason) is likely to cause the trip to be bad, perhaps reinforcing the legend. Contamination "is" a concern in any illegal drug market, however LSD in "blotter" form is extremely hard to tamper with, as the amount of material involved is so small.

Blue star tattoos

One popular legend is the blue star tattoo legend. This legend frequently surfaces in American elementary and middle schools in the form of a flyer that has been photocopied through many generations, which is distributed to parents by concerned school officials. It has also become popular on Internet mailing lists and websites. This legend states that a temporary lick-and-stick tattoo soaked in LSD and made in the form of a blue star, or of popular children's cartoon characters, is being distributed to children in the area in order to get them addicted to LSD. The flyer lists an inaccurate description of the effects of LSD, some attribution (typically to a well-regarded hospital or a vaguely specified "adviser to the president"), and instructs parents to contact police if they come across the blue star tattoos. No actual cases of LSD distribution to children in this manner have ever been documented (also, LSD is not addictive [ [http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/lsd/lsd_basics.shtml LSD Basics] , April 24, 2007] and unlikely to be enjoyed by an unwitting user so there is no motivation for a dealer to do thisFact|date=February 2008). The legend is [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/drugs/bluestar.htm debunked at Snopes] . As a final note, even if this or a similar legend were true, propagating a warning about a specific tattoo design would be unlikely to help matters, since those responsible could simply switch designs.

Retention of LSD in spinal fluid

A legend with particular appeal to anti-drug educators who wish to instill a fear of the potential long-term effects of LSD in their pupils, and also among casual high school age LSD users, is that the body stores crystallized LSD in spinal fluid or in fat cells, which at some point dislodges and causes horrific flashbacks, perhaps years later. Although the body does store some toxins in fat tissue, and residues of some drugs and toxins can be found in spinal fluid, LSD is not among these. LSD is metabolized by the liver, and has an elimination half-life of around 2.5 hours [http://www.emedicine.com/PED/topic2809.htm]

Different types of LSD

A popular legend with high school and college age users is that there are different "types" of LSD, which produce different types of trips. The types are usually associated with a particular blotter paper design or other dosage form (e.g. sugarcube or geltab), and the resultant trips associated with each dosage form are typically described in terms such as that "blue pyramids [a blotter paper design] give body trips" (a trip of mainly physical sensations with not much mental effect) or a "head trip" (the reverse, mainly mental effects with little physical sensations) or "great visuals" (hallucinations).

While there is no actual physical variation in the LSD molecules carried on different substrates, this legend is self-reinforcing insofar as a user taking LSD who strongly expects to have a particular type of experience due to ingesting a particular substrate is thus much more likely to actually have that particular kind of experience. The only substantial differences could be the amount of micrograms per "dose". Fact|date=February 2008

A similarly active analogue of LSD could be present in material sold as LSD, such as ALD-52, which has been reported to produce a less stimulating and more mental trip.Fact|date=February 2008 As with any other chemical compound, D-lysergic acid diethylamide will have differing effects on each person, therefore person A may experience a more physical "trip" from person B.

Alternatively, the dopant may not be related to LSD-25 or even tryptamine in nature. A well spanned series of phenylamines exist, given the name 2C and 3C to denote the number of carbons in a side chain connecting an amine to a central benzene ring; with 3C compounds being the amphetamine group to which the more infamous MDMA belongs. The members of these groups often differ only in a halide present on the central ring, with the surface charge of this halide contributing to the biochemical bonding properties of the compound at the synapses. Despite producing a wide range of mind-altering effects and at varying intensities, prior to analogue drugs laws, these compounds could be legally distributed through headshops and online stores. Rather than selling them as compounds that mimic illegal substances, or produce similar effects, they were sold to the public as research chemicals; earning them the street name RCs. As they also contain a pair of oxygen molecules branched from the central ring, they may be referred to as DOx, a shorthand of dioxy with the x being replaced by I, B, C and so on to represent a halide. Some of these compounds possess extremely long lived hallucinogenic properties, with personal trip reports mentioning durations from 24 hours to days.

Due to the universally illegal nature of LSD-25, the ease with which undoped blotter may be made or purchased, and the difficulty involved in obtaining and culturing ergot to produce LSD-25s precursor, lysegic acid, it became common to dope blotter with the more readily available hallucinogenic RCs.

Many users do not enjoy the bodily sensations of RC blotters, that may remind them ampethamine like substances, and prefer the more clear, pure psychological effect of genuine LSD; considering RC blotter to be a lesser. Others see the compounds as unique in their own right and have set about exploring the lexicon of analogues available, often having select favourites for their particular balance of effects.

The safety of RCs is questionable. Their sale was made illegal in many countries under analogue drugs laws and a small number of deaths have involved their use; although at least some of these have also involved the simultaneous use of MDMA.

Tryptamine based substance users are often well aware that experiences can be intensified and/or extended through the simultaneously use of monoamine inhibitors (MAOIs) that block the reuptake of serotonin in the synapses, causing it to accumulate, creating the feeling of happiness that gives them their pharmacological role as antidepressants; as tryptamines like LSD-25 mimic serotonin, they too are allowed to accumulate when MAOIs are simultaneously present at the synapses. However, phenylamine compounds are thought to cause monoamine neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, to be actively pumped into the synapses, contributing to the effect felt by the individual. In the presence of MAOIs, the normal effects of the phenylamine can then be overexpressed in symptoms such as hypertension.

It is possible that complications may arise from individuals believing themselves to have taken a tryptamine simultaneously taking some form of MAOI when they have actually consumed a phenylamine. As a result, MAOIs should never be consumed unless one can be sure of the nature of the compound and this provides another reason for those being treated for mental illness to not consume any such substance in addition to their treatment program.

Because of the large number of compounds present in the group, little clinical work has been done into the precise risks RCs pose. However, unlike LSD-25 which may be consumed in quantities many times that required to experience its effects without significant physical risk to the individual, the dose multiple before problems may occur for phenylamine dopants is thought to be a lot lower; with individuals reporting signicantly more intense body load and negative sensations even at low doses.

A number of chemical tests can be performed on blotters for the presence of LSD-25, but these are often far beyond what the typical buyer is willing to invest.

LSD-25 will fluoresce blue under UV light, but again this is not a fault free assay, as many paper companies specifically treat their products with UV dyes to make them appear a purer white in sunlight and, although no evidence is available, it would be a trivial task for dealers to add UV reactive dyes to the dopant to recreate the blue glow if it is otherwise missing.

A large amount of phenylamine material must be consumed relative to LSD-25. As LSD-25 is often distributed on small paper tabs, this makes dosing it with sufficient phenylamine potentially difficult, and so larger tabs of paper may be more suspect; although by no means does this offer a faultless assay. Milligram quantities of RC are often required, as opposed to the microgram quantities for LSD-25.

Recreational users of LSD-25 have suggested that it may be possible to detect RC blotters by taste and blotter consistency. Phenylamines, like MDMA, often have a bitter (not tangy), synthetic taste, whereas LSD is effectively tasteless at common dose masses of tens to a few hundred micrograms. This relies on the compound being water soluble so that it may dissolve in the saliva, and at such small masses the bitter taste may only be on the threshold of being detectable. Finally, it has also been suggested that holding a blotter under one's tongue may give an indication of its dopant, with LSD-25 blotter turning to mush and RC doped blotter remaining more rigid for longer. This latter method is also not well established. Both these assays will result in the individual being exposed to some quantity of the active compound whilst they wait for a result.

In the numerous related onlined fora, LSD-25 users often discuss blotter art and the resulting experiences they produce not only to gauge the purity and quantity of active chemical present, but also to expose the art that is thought to contain RC in place of LSD-25. RC dealers may purposefully use blotter art that is held to a high standard in an attempt to use its popularity to distribute the RC and are unlikely to continue using a particular piece if they become aware of it having a bad reputation for carrying RC.

Due to a number of online stores selling the DOx substances for research also openly advertising the psychedelic effects of their products in related newsgroups, the potential risks they pose when passed off as safer or other more well known substances and their swamping effect around already established drug laws, the analogue drug law was established to make not one specific chemical but the entire group as a whole illegal. This should theoretically reduce the number of RC blotters, but online fora relating to psychedelic substances contain numerous members claiming to be in possession of blotters sold as LSD-25 that they believe to be otherwise.

Banana peel synthesis

"Tripping" on banana peels is another popular myth, though it has been refuted by researchers at New York UniversityFact|date=February 2008. The false claim states that it is possible to synthesize LSD or some similar hallucinogenic drug from banana peels or other common household foods and chemicals. The actual synthesis of LSD usually requires advanced knowledge and experience in organic chemistry and requires both expensive laboratory equipment and expensive, carefully controlled precursor chemicals.

Originating from a recipe originally published as a hoax in the "Berkeley Barb" in March 1967 [Cecil Adams, [http://www.straightdope.com/columns/020426.html Straight Dope] , April 26, 2002 ] , variants of this legend often circulate on the Internet and were popular on BBSs well before the widespread availability of Internet access through William Powell's "The Anarchist's Cookbook". This book claimed "Musa Sapientum Bananadine" was a mild psycoactive drug found in banana peels. The slang terms "mellow yellow" and "saffron" (for the color of the peels) were borrowed from the 1966 Donovan song, "Mellow Yellow", perhaps because the phrase "electrical banana" is mentioned in one of the lines.

Another possible explanation for this particular urban legend is that it originated from a pun; to 'trip' on a banana peel could easily become a joke at the expense of the ignorant. One version of the myth was that if you chewed a piece of gum, inserted it in an unpeeled banana, wrapped it in electrical tape for about a week, the aged gum, when chewed again would get you "high".

This myth is sometimes related in a way so as to bolster social standing within a drug-using social group through association with the purported chemist, e.g. "My boyfriend/cousin/friend/roommate makes LSD in the bathtub from banana peels".


Anti-drug educators frequently tell their students some variant on the theme of inevitable strychnine poisoning through LSD use, for example, that strychnine is commonly sold as a cheaper substitute for LSD by unscrupulous drug dealers; that strychnine is a byproduct of LSD synthesis; that the body produces strychnine as a result of LSD metabolism; or that strychnine is somehow necessary to bond LSD to blotter paper. None of these are trueBraden, William. "The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God". New York: Quadrangle Books, 1967. ASIN B0006BQD7C] . These memes may even be believed and propagated by drug users themselves. Occasionally, LSD users themselves assume that the minor aches and fatigue associated with "coming down" off the drug are the result of strychnine. In reality, most hallucinogens cause some degree of mental or physical discomfort after the "trip" is over. This is a direct effect of the drugBraden, William. "The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God". New York: Quadrangle Books, 1967. ASIN B0006BQD7C] , not strychnine or any other adulterant. Additionally, strychnine itself is one of the most bitter substances known. The bitter taste can be detected at 1 part per million, which is well below the toxic levelBraden, William. "The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God". New York: Quadrangle Books, 1967. ASIN B0006BQD7C] . Finally, the dangerous dose of strychnine is too high to be contained in a blotter square, even if the entire square were composed of the poisonBraden, William. "The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God". New York: Quadrangle Books, 1967. ASIN B0006BQD7C] .

Strychnine has indeed rarely been discovered mixed with LSD and other drugs in a few samples recovered by law enforcement agencies, but these were all found in murder or attempted murder investigations where someone was being specifically targeted for poisoning, and not associated with recreational LSD use.Braden, William. "The Private Sea: LSD and the Search for God". New York: Quadrangle Books, 1967. ASIN B0006BQD7C] .

A related myth is that a new type of gang initiation requires the initiate to put a mixture of LSD and strychnine on the buttons of as many payphones as possible. This too, is debunked on Snopes. [ [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/mayhem/payphone2.asp Urban Legends Reference Pages: Payphone Poison ] ]

Fruit juice synergy

Several legends claim that drinking some specific type of fruit juice (varying from legend to legend) will intensify or shorten an LSD trip. While there is no specific physical evidence supporting this claim, if a person under the influence of LSD does something that they believe will intensify their trip, then they may feel a placebo effect. Note that grapefruit juice does interfere with the metabolism of some drugs; it has not been tested in conjunction with LSD.

It is, however, true that mixing an acidic juice such as lemon juice or orange juice may help extract certain alkaloids from natural sources as their more water soluble salts. This myth may be a mutated form of this technique.

Legally psychotic

There is an urban legend that a person who has used LSD more than seven times (or ten times, depending on the version of this legend) is automatically declared legally psychotic. This is nonsensical because there is no definition of "legally psychotic" and there is no reliable link between LSD use and lasting clinical psychosis. The same claim is often suggested with large doses, the difference being that the person is considered psychotic only for the duration of the trip.

Various atypical psychotic reactions

Anecdotal legends retell the stories of LSD users who:

* believed they could fly and jumped out of a high window (the comedian Bill Hicks noted that more intelligent users would probably try to take off from the ground first);
* jumped off of the balcony at a Phil and Friends Warfield show in San Francisco, endangering themselves and those below them
* believed themselves immortal and walked onto a highway, only to be hit by a car
* stared at the sun (or "had a religious conversation with the sun", depending on the version of this legend) and thus went blind;
* thought that they were oranges and locked themselves in a closet for hours for fear of being peeled (or, more gruesomely, tried to peel themselves with a knife)
* had a sheet of acid in their back pocket, sat on a wet bench, and now they are in a mental hospital (possibly originating from the motion picture SLC Punk!.)
* someone "never came down" and now they think they are a glass of orange juice, constantly fearful of being "tipped" over and spilled, etc.
* fracture their skulls and die from banging their head against a door, trying to fit through the keyhole.
* meeting a gruesome end by believing they were a two by four and hurling themselves into a wood-chipper.
* believed that their world was really that of an animated feature and attempted stunts that are not physically possible, resulting in their demise.

There is insufficient statistical data to warrant any of these precise claims, however anti-drug educators sometimes present these reactions as common. However there is some documentation of [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=1266919&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum one case] of sun-gazing (the prominence of which is disputed [http://www.snopes.com/horrors/drugs/lsdsun.asp] ). Delusions may be common among LSD users with existing pre-psychotic mental illness. Other drugs with psychadelic effects, such as PCP and DXM, have stronger tendencies to lead to these delusions.

Marijuana laced with LSD

There is a myth that low quality marijuana may be dipped in LSD to increase its potency or make the user hallucinate upon smoking. However, LSD rapidly degrades in the presence of moisture or heat. LSD cannot be smoked; it will be destroyed at a temperature of 80°C, well below the minimum 240°C required to release the THC in marijuana.

Urban legends about cannabis

:"For further information about the toxicity of cannabis, see Tetrahydrocannabinol toxicity.Many misleading urban legends about cannabis exist. Like LSD rumors, many were spread by anti-drug groups during the 1960s and are believed to continuously circulate today. These widespread legends claim that it is easy to overdose on the smokable variant of cannabis and that it is extremely dangerous and addictive when compared to alcohol and nicotine, when in fact alcohol and nicotine, the drugs that are claimed to be safer, are actually considered as hard drugs and both can be very addictive. Furthermore, scaling up from animal studies, an average human would need to ingest about 1.8kg of cannabis to overdose. Cannabis is not physically addictive, but "can" be (like all things) psychologically addictive, though this form of addiction tends to occur only after someone has been using the drug habitually [IOM, Op. cit. 1999. Mikuriya, Op. cit. 1972. Young, Op. cit. 1988. LaGuardia Comsn., NY Mayor's Report. 1944.] . Also, there are studies that show no actual increased risk of cancer from smoking marijuana, even when duration of use is expanded over several years (this could be because THC allows cells to die faster). [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html Study Finds No Cancer-Marijuana Connection - washingtonpost.com ] ] In fact, some studies indicate THC to have anticancer properties, with studies showing tumor reduction in mice. [ [http://www.webmd.com/lung-cancer/news/20060523/pot-smoking-not-linked-to-lung-cancer Pot Smoking Not Linked to Lung Cancer ] ]

Amotivational Syndrome

Amotivational syndrome or 'burnout' is a proposed condition with claimed symptoms which range from lethargy to a lack of motivation. There is no medical basis or evidence for this condition, however, it is commonly cited by many anti-drug organizations as common. It was claimed that marijuana smoking can lead to this syndrome and make a user exhibit lethargic behavior. Studies have been conducted showing this claim to be false. Though marijuana smoking is not physically addictive, there is a possibility of a psychological addiction which therefore may divert motivation. [ [http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/LIBRARY/slikker.htm The Marijuana Amotivational Syndrome ] ] [ [http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/medical/canb1.htm Cannabis Amotivational Syndrome by Dr. Peter L. Nelson ] ] [ [http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_myth17.shtml Erowid Psychoactive Vaults ] ] [ [http://www.marijuana.com/myths/11 Marijuana Myths ] ]

Memory loss or damage

Another claim by many anti-drug organizations is that marijuana smoking causes memory loss or damage. While intoxicated or 'high' there is short-term memory loss but long term memory loss is simply not an effect of marijuana use. [cite web
title=Heavy Marijuana Use Doesn't Damage Brain
publisher=WebMD Medical News
author=Sid Kirchheimer
date=July 1, 2003

Urban legends about MDMA

Altered or variant ecstasy

A sort of "reverse urban legend" is that the impurity of street MDMA is an urban legend - with the incorrect legend suggesting users can easily identify impurties in MDMA crystal or can rely on them to be of high MDMA purity when considering additions other than the inactive caking agents used to form the substance into ecstasy pills. While opinions vary on the allegation that ecstasy (MDMA) is often found on the street in an impure form, it is based on the fact that the majority of ecstasy pills tested in laboratories contain a mixture of several compounds: amphetamines, caffeine, dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), or other stimulants, anesthetics, and deliriants. Given such independent, publicly available data, the "misconception" can be said to be usually true.

Often, evidence against the "misconception" is offered in the form of arguments to the low cost of MDMA, the consistency of street MDMA, and the fact that adulteration is common with most street drugs, as below:

MDMA is often thought to be cut with other drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamines, or a variety of designer drugs. This then gave way to the classification of "molly", a pure form of MDMA, which is supposedly the pure form of ecstasy. This is, of course, based on the assumption that all ecstasy found in tablet form is lacking in purity. The idea that most pills of ecstasy are less than pure in their content is not true, mostly because MDMA is one of the least expensive drugs by weight to manufacture. Any drug that it was mixed with would have a higher monetary value than ecstasy. Though it can be found in powder or gelcap, its consistency is usually the same. Undoubtedly, shady people have tried to pass off other substances (such as aspirin or other over-the-counter medicines) as ecstasy (just like people looking to make cash have sold oregano as marijuana - but this happens with all controlled substances, blame the shadiness of people or the drug laws, but not the drugs) but it is much rarer than has been accused. Though in many areas MDMA is hard to come by (it's never been produced in large amounts by any legitimate source and can be much harder than methamphetamine to synthesize) and thus to supply the demand other substances may be used such prescription amphetamines.

See recent MDMA testing data at [http://www.ecstasydata.org/ EcstasyData.org] .

"Holes" in the Brain

Research into the neurotoxic effects of MDMA has been highly controversial because of the possible influence of political pressures on the science. Government institutions, as part of a struggle to get ecstasy off the streets, often assert that the drug causes irreparable brain damage. Popular claims that MDMA drains spinal fluid or causes holes in the brain are scientifically unfounded. Much research on the long-term effects of the drug has been funded by government grants and has been used to fuel the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) "Brain on Ecstasy" anti-ecstasy campaign. The campaign's widely distributed postcard shows two halves of a brain, one normal and one "after ecstasy." The brain of the ecstasy user appears darker and has holes, which has led to the common misconception that brain imaging studies prove ecstasy creates holes in your brain. A DEA agent interviewed in Peter Jennings's documentary Ecstasy Rising goes so far as to say that ecstasy "turns your brain into Swiss cheese" [24] . However, there are major flaws in this interpretation, the most obvious being that the images shown are not structural brain images, and don't show any holes. Instead, what they actually depict are subtle, relative differences in some marker of neural activity, a more ambiguous finding.

Urban legends about PCP

PCP is almost always described in pop culture in ways that are incompatible with its status as a dissociative anesthetic very similar to DXM and Ketamine. PCP is said to cause extremely powerful hallucinations, of the kind found in deliriants like Dramamine, but non-mundane.

Several drugs, such as PCP, crack, methamphetamine, etc. are said to cause superhuman strength, such that 10 strong and well trained policemen are needed to control an unarmed and untrained user of those drugs. This myth was promoted by the movie "The Terminator", where Arnold Schwarzenegger's robotic character is mistakenly believed by police to be a man on PCP, because of his superior strength and violence (specifically, his ability to punch through a pane of reinforced glass apparently without feeling pain).

Another popular source of this myth may be the Rodney King trial. Defense attorneys for the five white LAPD officers who were videotaped beating King claimed that the motorist was high on PCP at the time, and that they were using necessary force to combat the six-foot King's drug-induced "super-strength." Medical experts rightly dismissed the theory as urban legend.Fact|date=February 2008

The television show "CSI" actually claimed (Episode 3x03: "Let the Seller Beware") that PCP use could cause not only "super-human strength" but also cannibalism. This may have been inspired by the real life case of Antron Singleton (a.k.a. Big Lurch), an aspiring rapper who, while under the influence of PCP, murdered 21-year-old female acquaintance Tynisha Ysais, cut open her chest cavity, and attempted to eat her lung.

This myth sometime results in unnecessary violence to restrain users of drugs, as a police officer may believe they are stronger because of the drug they are on. However, there is a modicum of truth in this, since it is hard to fight off an attacker who is under the influence of an anesthetic due to their diminished capacity to feel pain; or who is experiencing a possibly PCP-induced and adrenaline-enhanced rage. In either case, it may take a lot more force to bring someone down, contributing to the myth of super-human strength.

Another commonly held misconception is that PCP is synthesized from embalming fluid. The PCP molecule has no relation to embalming fluid.

Urban legends about methamphetamine

Perhaps the best-known of the meth legends refers to people who heat/melt and then inhale crystal methamphetamine smoke. The legend states that the drug, once inhaled, will re-crystallize in large amounts inside the lungs, damaging them in the process. This is a false claim as street 'crystal' meth is usually in the form of methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is highly soluble in water and instantly gets absorbed into the users blood stream via the alveoli.

However, intravenous methylphenidate (Ritalin) abuse results in a type of lung damage called "Ritalin Lung". Methylphenidate tablets are crushed and dissolved into solution for IV injection. The tablets contain talc and other particulates which can deposit in the lung (talcosis) and result in severe emphysema affecting all the lobes of the lung. [Wolff AJ, O"Donnell AE. Pulmonary effects of illicit drug use. Clin Chest Med. Mar 2004;25(1):203-16]

Urban legends about heroin

Cotton fever is a high fever supposedly caused by injecting cotton fibers into the blood stream when shooting up heroin. Cotton is sometimes used as a crude filter for particulate matter prior to IV injection. Other commonly blamed substances include dirt if Mexican heroin was injected, or fiberglass if a cigarette filter was used (cigarette filters do not contain fiberglass) [http://neumann.hec.ca/~p054/cas/en/cas.htm] . In general, cotton fever refers to a fever that users believe is caused by inanimate particulate matter injected into the blood stream. In reality, the particulate matter causing cotton fever is bacteria from lack of sterile technique. Most cases of cotton fever resolve as the body clears the infection. Users will often seek medical attention when cotton fever persists. Persistent cotton fever is often infective endocarditis. Although endotoxin shed by the bacteria Enterobacter agglomerans, which colonizes cotton plants, has been implicated as the cause of cotton fever [D. W. Harrison and R. M. Walls, "'Cotton Fever': a benign febrile syndrome in intravenous drug abusers", Journal of Emergency Medicine, March-April 1990, pp. 135-139] , most clinical cases demonstrate blood cultures positive for skin and fecal bacteria.

Urban legends about drug adulteration in general

There are many myths about the substances that may be added to illegal drugs to bulk them out or to change the effects. One myth claims that a 'hard drug' (such as heroin or cocaine) is added to a non-addictive 'soft drug' (such as cannabis or ecstasy), possibly in order to get the users addicted to a drug that in itself is non-addictive. Often the claim will not offer a motivation for this adulteration. However, the 'hard drugs' usually cost more gram-for-gram than 'soft drugs' so the dealer would lose money in the short term on such an operation, and hard drugs often carry more severe penalties for the dealer.

Drug adulteration is a widespread occurrence but in almost all cases the adulterant is an inert 'filler' such as flour or plaster, a complimentary (but cheaper) drug such as caffeine or fake designed to resemble the taste, smell or other qualities of the drug such as bicarbonate of soda or novocaine added to cocaine. This is done to increase the quantity of the substance in order to make more money. The greatest risk of dangerous adulterants is when a dealer deliberately sells pills or substances that do not contain the drug the buyer expects but another cocktail of chemicals, telling the buyer that they are a particular drug. In this case the dealer has no stake at all in the well-being of their customer (repeat customers not being a consideration) and may sell them anything he/she can find that vaguely resembles the drug required.

'First Hit for Free' myth

This prevalent myth states that dealers of hard drugs will attempt to lure non-drug-users into drug use by offering the first dose of the drug for free, in the hope that they will become immediately hooked and provide the 'pusher' with a secure income stream. However, unlike a willing drug user, the unwilling one has not committed any crime and could readily inform the police of such an occurrence without being charged with anything themselves. Dealers would also have no practical method of ensuring that the "hooked" individual would come back to them to buy additional drugs.

However, this myth does contain some truth. Though approaching a stranger with an unsolicited drug offer would invariably involve a great amount of risk, there is no reason to believe that a drug dealer would not use the approach on a friend or acquaintance who ostensibly had not used a drug.

Also, although uncommon, some heroin or cocaine markets may occasionally involve dealers giving away free bags. These are not meant to be given to non-users, but still occur in open-air drug markets where strangers are solicited by dealers.


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