Of all the strange things people believe about illegal drug use, the idea that getting high can cure a cold or flu has to be near the top of the “how would that even be possible?” list. If you ask drug users you might know or go digging through Reddit threads, you’ll see a lot of people who swear that they were sick for weeks until they did that line of coke or ketamine, and then they were miraculously cured. It should go without saying, but no, you aren’t going to cure your illness with hard drugs.

There is a certain historical precedent for attempting to treat sickness with toxic substances. In the 19th century, doctors frequently used laudanum, a tincture (meaning it’s made by dissolving a drug in alcohol) containing about 10 percent powdered opium by weight. It was popular as a painkiller, cough suppressant, and anti-diarrheal, and was even fed to teething infants. Unfortunately, many people in that era ending up succumbing to addiction and overdoses.

Attempting to use any of today’s popular illicit drugs isn’t likely to end much better. Take cocaine as an example. You might think that it will perk you up and help with grogginess or a general feeling of malaise, but in reality it’s just going to keep you awake, and your body will be exhausted and incapable of fighting infection properly. Taking stimulants like cocaine also makes you less likely to eat, and eating properly and drinking enough fluids are essential to overcoming cold and flu.

Another theory is that because cocaine is a vasoconstrictor (a type of drug that contracts the muscle in blood vessels, which causes the vessels themselves to constrict – most cold medicines and decongestants cause vasoconstriction), it might open up your airways and help you breathe. This might be true to an extent, but it’s a minor and temporary fix.

Some people also believe that going out to a club and taking MDMA can make you sweat out a sickness. For one thing, if you’re sick you’re likely already hot and sweating anyway. For another, surrounding yourself with people while you’re sick is just asking to pick up another bug. Finally, the whole idea that you can sweat out an illness is basically an old wives’ tale. Exerting yourself is just going to make you more tired and more dehydrated.

The only possible way that drug or alcohol use could make you feel better while you’re sick is by temporarily making you feel either so good or so terrible that you forget your original symptoms. It’s not worth it in the long run, because the effects of the drugs are only going to last so long, and then you’re going to have to deal with the comedown on top of your illness.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.



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