Bonnie Carroll: Getting Off Pot – July 20, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marijuana is used both medicinally and recreationally in our society. And like all mind altering drugs it can be abused and its use can evolve into an addiction. The key is how to differentiate medicinal and recreational use from chronic or addicted use that is adversely affecting your life.

Addictive use is chronic or daily use of marijuana for one’s perceived emotional well being. Addictive use of marijuana usually involves the continued use of the drug despite adverse consequences in other aspects of your life. Addiction can also be defined as a pattern of repeated use that results in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug taking behavior.

Recreational use among adults, whose brains and life experience have matured and who are able to limit their marijuana use to occasional weekends, is somewhat like using alcohol to relax. Most people don’t use alcohol on a daily basis unless they are self medicating and/or have addictive tendencies, similarly you wouldn’t use marijuana on a daily basis if your life was basically satisfying without it.

Medicinal marijuana use has been identified as a helpful treatment for a number of mental and physical health disorders. But due to the limitations of scientific research, which has been adversely impacted by the illegal status of marijuana, scientists are still learning about the many ways that marijuana can affect the brain and the body. Marijuana use has been found helpful by some people who have severe pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Other ailments that have shown positive benefits from marijuana use include AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other physical health conditions.

In treatment of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, marijuana has mixed outcome: some people find symptom relief, whereas others find it exacerbates their symptoms. However, it is important to keep in mind that any psychotropic medication used to treat a mental health disorder should be used in conjunction with psychotherapy.

It is also important to note that heavy or daily use of marijuana will affect the parts of your brain that control memory, attention, and learning. But due to above mentioned limitations of scientific research, scientists are still learning about the many ways that marijuana can affect the brain: both positive and negative.

In light of this, I caution young people to be careful with or avoid marijuana use altogether for two primary reasons. First, we really don’t know what all the long-term effects of marijuana use on the developing brain are. And secondly, so our youth are able to reach their full potential in life.

If you are using marijuana on a chronic or daily basis, you may want to consider how it is affecting your life. Is it interfering with your dreams, goals and ambitions? Is it interfering with or adversely affecting your relationships? Is it affecting your ability to meet your basic needs? Is it affecting your ability to reach your full potential? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to reduce or eliminate your marijuana usage.

If marijuana use has become a problem for you or you are using marijuana to treat a mental illness, you would probably benefit from psychotherapy. Many of the therapists in our community can be found listed on the North Coast Association of Mental Health Professionals website at ncamhp.org. You can even search for therapists on this website who specialize in substance abuse treatment if that is what you need.

If you are looking for a fellowship of support to address marijuana addiction you can go to the Marijuana Anonymous website at marijuana-anonymous.org/meetcalif.shtml

On the website, I found the following list of Marijuana Anonymous (MA) meetings in Humboldt County. You can find contact information for each group on the website.

MCKINLEYVILLE – Sundays at 9 a.m.

“No Train Wreck”

Misty Village Community Room

2331 McKinleyville Ave

This is a closed, non smoking and wheel chair accessible meeting.

FORTUNA – Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Redwood Memorial Hospital

3300 Renner Dr.

MCKINLEYVILLE – Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

Church of the Joyful Healer

1944 Central Ave.

This is an open, non-smoking and wheelchair accessible meeting.

The website notes that meeting times and places can change frequently, so check the website for contact information for each meeting and call for confirmation before you go.

Bonnie Carroll is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a counseling practice in McKinleyville. Contact her directly at askbonnie@arcatanet.com.

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11 Responses to “Bonnie Carroll: Getting Off Pot – July 20, 2010”

  1. Spook

    You have got to be kidding me. Another self-serving trough feeder spewing lies about cannabis. Couldn’t you at least come up with something original rather than trotting out the tattered, completely debunked BS-stories we’ve been spoon-fed the past 50 years?

    #5057
  2. John Thomas

    Spook is right, of course. Every major government study on marijuana has concluded marijuana is NOT addictive and FAR less harmful than alcohol. All these major studies can be read here:

    http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/Library/studies/studies.htm

    Even the DEA’s own administrative law judge, Francis Young, concluded after an exhaustive review of the evidence: “Marijuana, in its natural state, is one of the safest therapuetically active substances known to man.”

    It’s time to end the monstrously destructive fraud of marijuana prohibition.

    Vote YES on Prop 19!

    #5089
  3. There may be a misunderstanding here. Yes, the negative health effects of cannabis are surely overblown, and it certainly assists with some health conditions. We know this empirically, since our reefer madness-crazed federal government to this day has cannabis classified as a schedule 1 drug, right up there with heroin and LSD. This defines it as having no currently accepted medical use and limits study. To me, that is one of the most insidiously cruel things our federal government is doing right now – denying relief to people in pain.

    However, Spook, you’re completely wrong in characterizing Bonnie in that uncalled-for fashion. First, whether it comports with your philosophy or not, the reality is that there are people who have a problem with overuse of cannabis. They use it compulsively and it impacts their effectiveness. That’s why there are organizations around to assist people who want help with reducing or eliminating their excessive usage.

    Bonnie’s piece was well-balanced, listing positive as well as negative effects this substance has on people. or rather the positive and negative ways in which it is used, and can be abused like anything else.

    Further, I asked her to write the piece, just as I asked others to write the other cannabis-related columns from varying points of view for people to read and consider. So you can direct your fire at me, not this good writer.

    Finally, here’s some advice for commenters from good old Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

    #5093
  4. John Thomas

    kevpod

    My post solely addressed ideas. You say:

    >>>”there are people who have a problem with overuse of cannabis. They use it compulsively and it impacts their effectiveness. That’s why there are organizations around to assist people who want help with reducing or eliminating their excessive usage.”

    That’s an example of using words like “compulsively” to characterize addiction. Marijuana is not addictive. Those who have a problem with it just stop. If there are a few who somehow can’t stop, the benign nature of marijuana does not generally inflict damage. Consider the thousands of medical mariuana patients who consume various times each day, yet carry on a normal life.

    Marijuana is not alcohol.

    Marijuana “treatment” programs exist primarily to serve the courts, employers and parents. In most cases there was no need for assistance, and I would challenge you to present the methodology of these “treatment” sessions. From what I’ve heard, it amounts to a ‘good talking to’ – which none take seriously.

    The consideration of marijuana prohibition is not an issue with two sides. If so, name ONE positive thing it accomplishes. It is clearly a monstrous fraud perpetrated by megalomaniac bureaucrat Harry Anslinger and friends in 1937. And is now supported by various huge vested interests, like law enforcement, prosecutors, prisons, drug testing/”treatment” centers, the alcohol and pharmacuetical companies, etc.

    But the Internet and Prop 215 woke Californians, and much of America, to the truth. A growing majority of Americans want an end to marijuana arrests. There appears to be a majority of Californians who want to end marijuana prohibition all together. We’ll see in November.

    #5096
  5. “Those who have a problem with it just stop.”

    If only it were that simple. I agree that cannabis isn’t physically addictive. It can become a dependence situation. There are people who abuse all kinds of things, from gambling to celebrity idolatry to Facebook.

    One doesn’t have to buy into all the marijuana mythology to acknowledge that some people need help altering their behavior for the better, to lessen dependence if it is a problem for them. Appreciating that doesn’t make one an advocate of Prohibition.

    #5097
  6. Mark Godfrey

    “Cannabis cured cancer in lab rats” -University of Virginia Medical College, 19 August 1974.

    #5098
  7. Mark Godfrey

    Right on, Spook.

    “Don’t take my gravy train, think of the children!”

    #5099
  8. Mark, if your point is that there are people profiting massively off the current crazy-quilt of bizarre, factually groundless legacy prohibitions, I am totally with you.

    #5101
  9. John Thomas

    kevpod

    >>>”I agree that cannabis isn’t physically addictive. It can become a dependence situation. There are people who abuse all kinds of things, from gambling to celebrity idolatry to Facebook.”

    Like I said, if there are a few who somehow can’t stop consuming marijuana, they are a VERY few, and it’s not due to marijuana, but to some deeper, underlying issue. Perhaps a fraction of one percent. We don’t make policy for the 99 based on the one, especially whent it’s not marijuana causing the problem.

    Like I also said, for the majority of even these very few, often repeated consumption does not damage their lives – just as medical marijuana patients consume various times a day and still function well in life. Part of the definition of “abuse” has to include a significant level of resultant damage. Otherwise, we need to start talking about milk abuse.

    >>>”One doesn’t have to buy into all the marijuana mythology”

    Interesting statement. What do you think are some examples of “marijuana mythology?”

    >>>”to acknowledge that some people need help altering their behavior for the better,”

    Most people in marijuana “treatment” are mandated there. The only behavior they are attempting to alter is consuming marijuana.

    >>>”to lessen dependence if it is a problem for them.”

    “Lessen?” Are you trying to tell me there are marijuana “treatment” programs whose goal is anything other than total abstinence?

    >>>”Appreciating that doesn’t make one an advocate of Prohibition.”

    Again. Marijuana “treatment” programs treat a bogus addiction, dependence, whatever you want to call it, for the vast majority of the people sent there. We cannot approach a clear and rational view of any possible, small, disfunctional fragment of the marijuana consuming population until we end the all-consuming, gigantic fraud of marijuana prohibition. It clouds every issue that touches marijuana.

    #5104
  10. I think I agree with you on all this, though I’d express things differently and I’m less inclined toward absolute statements.

    “Like I said, if there are a few who somehow can’t stop consuming marijuana, they are a VERY few, and it’s not due to marijuana, but to some deeper, underlying issue. Perhaps a fraction of one percent. We don’t make policy for the 99 based on the one, especially whent it’s not marijuana causing the problem.”

    Indeed. I don’t know what basis there is for that 1-in-100 figure for those who would like to temper their cannabis use but can’t on their own, other than guesswork. Let’s guess that it’s 1 in 200. And that 20 million people in the U.S. smoke marijuana regularly (which is probably way low). That would put the number of people having a problem at 100,000. We’ll probably never know. What we do know is that anything can be abused, and like you say, it likely has more to do with some underlying personal problem.

    “Interesting statement. What do you think are some examples of “marijuana mythology?””

    If you have the stomach for it, you could read through this for all the outmoded bilge about cannabis you will probably ever want to read.

    http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08/n726/a09.html?397

    Here are some tidy deconstructions:

    http://blog.mpp.org/medical-marijuana/drug-czar-lies-of-the-week/07252008/

    http://reason.com/blog/2008/07/30/why-smoking-pot-is-like-sex-wi

    #5110
  11. John Thomas

    Okay. I thought you were referring to marijuana mythology on the reform side. Yes, of course. Since science shows marijuana is as near benign as a drug can be, the only thing prohibitionists can trade in is myth.

    #5136

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