4 Ways You've Been Totally Misinformed About Drugs

Just like with crack, he sees a double standard: People like Andre Agassi and President Kennedy are known to have taken amphetamines. They lived pretty regular lives. But meanwhile we see very poor people on methamphetamines -- chemically not that much different from amphetamines-- and blame the drug for their physical and mental deterioration.

In High Price, Hart challenges the way the press has historically handled the vilified drug of the moment. The modern-day campaign against meth reminds him of the way The New York Times wrote about Southern "Negro Cocaine Fiends" in the early 1900s.

He cites a 2010 NPR story, "This Is Your Face on Meth, Kids." He concedes that the meth users we see in the news often look worn-down, and have what's called "meth mouth," rampant tooth decay. But the research doesn't show that the drug itself causes these problems -- it's more likely related to lack of sleep, poor dental hygiene, poor nutrition and media sensationalism.

"There is no empirical evidence to support the claim that methamphetamine causes one to become physically unattractive," he writes.

The NPR story also quotes a sheriff saying that 90 percent of first-time meth users become addicted.

Hart writes that "the best available information clearly shows that the majority of people who try methamphetamine will not become addicted," citing a study that found roughly 5 percent of first-time users of meth, cocaine and other stimulants became addicts.

What Hart sees is a cycle of misinformation, all in the name of getting people to stop using drugs. He thinks that the damage wrought by the war on drugs -- particularly for minority communities -- far outweighs the dangers of the drugs themselves.

Updated, 2:23 p.m.

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