Category Archives: Addiction

Marijuana and Other Drugs: A Link We Can’t Ignore

by SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)   Smart Approaches to Marijuana’s 2017 publication references academic studies which suggest that marijuana primes the brain for other types of drug usage.  Here’s the summary on that subject from page 4, Marijuana and Other Drugs: A Link We Can’t Ignore :

MORE THAN FOUR in 10 people who ever use marijuana will go on to use other illicit drugs, per a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.(1) The CDC also says that marijuana users are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin.(2)

Although 92% of heroin users first used marijuana before going to heroin, less than half used painkillers before going to heroin.

And according to the seminal 2017 National Academy of Sciences report, “There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or a substance abuse disorder for substances including alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs.”(3)

RECENT STUDIES WITH animals also indicate that marijuana use is connected to use and abuse of other drugs. A 2007 Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology study found that rats given THC later self administered heroin as adults, and increased their heroin usage, while those rats that had not been treated with THC maintained a steady level of heroin intake.(4) Another 2014 study found that adolescent THC exposure in rats seemed to change the rodents’ brains, as they subsequently displayed “heroin-seeking” behavior. Youth marijuana use could thus lead to “increased vulnerability to drug relapse in adulthood.”(5)

National Institutes of Health Report

The National Institutes of Health says that research in this area is “consistent with animal experiments showing THC’s ability to ‘prime’ the brain for enhanced responses to other drugs. For example, rats previously administered THC show heightened behavioral response not only when further exposed to THC, but also when exposed to other drugs such as morphine—a phenomenon called cross-sensitization.”(6)

Suggestions that one addictive substance replaces another ignores the problem of polysubstance abuse, the common addiction of today.

ADDITIONALLY, THE MAJORITY of studies find that marijuana users are often polysubstance users, despite a few studies finding limited evidence that some people substitute marijuana for opiate medication. That is, people generally do not substitute marijuana for other drugs. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences report found that “with regard to opioids, cannabis use predicted continued opioid prescriptions 1 year after injury.  Finally, cannabis use was associated with reduced odds of achieving abstinence from alcohol, cocaine, or polysubstance use after inpatient hospitalization and treatment for substance use disorders” [emphasis added].(7)

Moreover, a three-year 2016 study of adults also found that marijuana compounds problems with alcohol. Those who reported marijuana use during the first wave of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within three years.(8) Similarly, alcohol consumption in Colorado has increased slightly since legalization. (9)

Data on Marijuana Policy for 2017

Here’s the complete Data on Marijuana Policy for 2017 in pdf form.

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Secades-Villa R, Garcia-Rodríguez O, Jin CJ, Wang S, Blanco C Probability and predictors of the cannabis gateway effect: a national study. Int J Drug Policy. 2015;26(2):135-142

2. Centers for Disease Control. Today’s heroin epidemic Infographics more people at risk, multiple drugs abused. CDC, 7 July 2015.

3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health andPublic Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda (“2017 NAS Report”).

4. Ellgren, Maria et al. “Adolescent Cannabis Exposure Alters Opiate Intake and Opioid Limbic Neuronal Populations in Adult Rats.”Neuropsychopharmacology 32.3 (2006): 607–615.

5. Stropponi, Serena et al. Chronic THC during adolescence increases the vulnerability to stress-induced relapse to heroin seeking in adult rats. European Neuropsychopharmacology Volume 24 , Issue 7 (2014), 1037 – 1045.

6. “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jan. 2017. See also Panlilio LV, Zanettini C, Barnes C, Solinas M, Goldberg SR. Prior exposure to THC increases the addictive effects of nicotine in rats. Neuropsychopharmacol Off Publ Am Coll Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013;38(7):1198-1208; Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266.

7.  2017 NAS report.

8.  Weinberger AH, Platt J, Goodwin RD. Is cannabis use associated with an increased risk of onset and persistence of alcohol use disorders? A three-year prospective study among adults in the United States. Drug Alcohol Depend. February 2016.

This is the second recent article on the gateway effects of marijuana use.   Since marijuana has already primed the brains of most people who get addicted to opioids, marijuana cannot replace pain pills.

Marijuana Can’t Substitute for Pain Pills

The pot industry pushes marijuana use as a substitute for pain pills.  With a massive Public Relations effort, it uses the media to do its bidding.  However  — upon closer examination — the opiate and heroin epidemic mirror the legalization of marijuana.

The Opioid Commission headed by Governor Chris Christie should not pause one second to consider marijuana as a substitute for pain medication.  Save Our Society from Drugs asks that we petition this group not to consider marijuana as a treatment for pain.

Why So Much Chronic Pain?

Not everyone who becomes addicted to opiates started because of pain.  Those under age 35 who are dying from drug abuse at an unprecedented rate, often started abusing drugs just for fun.

People usually don’t get addicted to opiates by taking them as pain medications, according to Jon Daily, of Recovery Happens, outpatient addiction treatment centers in California.  He explains that the pain pills given after surgery and taken as prescribed, won’t produce a high for most people.  However, there’s a subset of people who respond differently and feel euphoria.  The difference for these people may be that they’re responding to unresolved issues of painful experience earlier in their lives.

Dr. Libby Stuyt, addictions psychiatrist and advisor to Parents Opposed to Pot said: “Most patients with chronic pain issues find that holding onto emotional pain from past trauma comes out in the form of physical pain.  When they work through this and are able to let go, the physical pain greatly diminishes.”

Too much medical intervention and surgery is also an issue.  Ten years ago Shannon Brownlee wrote Overtreated: How Too Much Medicine is Making us Sicker and Poorer, and now people are noticing that overtreatment create problems.

A wise Chinese doctor said:  “When a body has an imbalance, which is displayed in the form of some or other dis-ease, it will continue to display this imbalance.  If we cut out the place where that imbalance is currently occurring, then chances are, it will simply move to the next area of the body.”    It could be that unnecessary surgeries and too many surgeries contributed to chronic pain and the addiction problem.

Why People Get Addicted to Opiates

According to Jon Daily, most people in his practice begin pain pill abuse because they were already using alcohol and marijuana.  Their relationship with getting intoxicated began through these substances.  It is why Daily recommends an addiction paradigm shift away from heroin to marijuana.

Studies show that only about six percent of the population gets addicted to pain pills after surgery.   A recent study shows that states with the highest drug abuse are also the states that have legalized marijuana.

Overprescribing by doctors was a major issue in the past, but it is not the major issue today.   If pot is recommended as an alternative to avoid opioid addiction, it will probably be the same pill mill doctors who will be giving such recommendations. 

We believe the future of pain medicine is not prescribing marijuana, but in utilizing alternatives that treat the root of the pain.  Some of these techniques may need to be combined with Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy and spiritual help.   Cannabis, a psychotropic plant, is anything but “natural.”

Marijuana lobbyists have played a trick on America’s children by using the green pharmaceutical cross and pretending to be doctors.  They insist marijuana is “not a gateway” drug, but studies show otherwise.

Let’s push back on the pot industry’s promotion of marijuana as a cure-all drug and the media’s advocacy on their behalf.   Remember, “medical” marijuana was planned as a hoax.

The United States uses 80 percent of the world’s opiate pain pills.  The United States and Canada have 56% of the world’s illegal drug users.   Polydrug use is the rule today and marijuana is usually part of the drug cocktail.

Prevention and Treatment

There are many other ways to treat the opiate epidemic:  better prevention programs; mandating education in the schools; clamping down on internet sellers of these drugs, and reversing America’s constant craving to be high.

As for using drugs to treat an addiction, this practice is questionable.  What works for some will not work for others. Perhaps long-acting naltrexone (Vivitrol)  which blocks the effects of opiates, and apparently the craving, can help.  Let’s hope Governor Christie’s Commission devises some good recommendations.

Mathematics Proves Correlation to Marijuana as Gateway Drug

Two Studies Show Cannabis-Gateway Effect

by Pamela McColl, SAM Canada

The 25-year Christchurch Longitudinal Study demonstrated that in 86% of cases of those who had taken two or more illegal drugs, marijuana had been the drug the study subjects had taken first. The correlation is in the mathematics and can’t be denied.

The researchers concluded that the use of marijuana in late adolescence and early adulthood had emerged as the strongest risk factor for later involvement in other illicit drug use.

New research has been released that adds to these findings. Researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK has found regular and occasional cannabis use as a teen is associated with a greater risk of other illicit drug taking in early adulthood.

The study by Bristol’s Population Health Science Institute, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2017, caught the attention of most major newspapers in the UK.  It was reviewed in the British Medical Journal and Science Daily in June of 2017.    But, once again, the news was under-reported in the North American media.

Cannabis Use Predicts Many Forms of Problematic Substance Use in Adulthood

Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), the researchers looked at levels of cannabis use during adolescence to determine whether these  might predict other problematic substance misuse in early childhood – by the age of 21.

In addition to the findings on pot and illicit drug use, the study found that early cannabis use was associated with harmful drinking and smoking.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Michelle Taylor from the School of Social and Community Medicine told the UK media: “I think the most important findings from this study are that one in five adolescents follow a pattern of occasional or regular cannabis use and that those individuals are more likely to be tobacco-dependent, have harmful levels of alcohol consumption or use other, illicit drugs in early adulthood.”

Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient:

Now for all those that are still question the Gateway Theory or are willing to dismiss the evidence from these studies here is the Statistical Mathematical Evidence of Correlation:

A survey that was conducted in Canada and 9 other countries was used to determine the percentage of teenagers who had used marijuana and other drugs.

Using Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient to test the correlation between the two variables as extracted from the population as pairs of sets of data, it was mathematically demonstrated that there is a positive correlation between the two variables.

The claim that there is a positive correlation between smoking marijuana and doing other drugs is made with at least a 95% level of confidence by mathematical calculation.

If after this evidence you still cling to the position that the Gateway Theory is old-school and can be cast aside, you are being asked for your evidence, your proof and your calculations.

Follow Pamela McColl in Facebook at The Marijuana Victims Association

“Legalization would result only in more cannabis users and thus a higher secondary demand for and entanglement within the remaining illegal drug market,” wrote David Sergeant of The Bow Group, London, England.

Be Ready for the Long Term if Your Teen Needs Rehab

3 Tips for Finding a Rehab for Your Teenager       

by Julie Knight  

If you think your teen’s pot use is no big deal, you may be very wrong.  You may need to prepare yourself for the long-term recovery from drugs.

Over the past three years, I’ve struggled to find a rehab with counselors who could convince my teenage son that using marijuana two or three times a day is damaging his developing brain.

“It’s just marijuana,” he told me when he was 15-years-old. By the time he turned 16, he’d escalated to dabs, one of the most intense concentrates of marijuana, OxyContin and cocaine. He would drink alcohol until he blacked out.

A friend his age died after ingesting the same lethal mix of OxyContin and alcohol that my son was experimenting with.

I’ve sent my son to five residential rehabs for drug addiction. He’s relapsed after each rehab within a few weeks. When he turned 18, I offered to send him to sober living or said he’d have to live on his own. He’s living on his own now. I know he’s still using marijuana and alcohol. I’m not sure what else.

I’ve been asked to share some of my lessons learned. Here are my top three tips.

  1. Understand that the best program is probably going to be a long-term solution: short-term residential rehab followed by a long-term boarding school or after care program. As hard as it is to fathom giving up your child for up to a year, it’s so much easier than trying to stay two steps ahead of a drug- or alcohol-addicted child who is a mastermind of deceit.

The purpose of a short-term (30- to 90-day) residential rehab is just to get your child to wake up to the fact that drug or alcohol use might not be leading him or her on a path to success or wellness. The goal is to uncover the factors driving their use and offering tools to cope with those issues.

Prepare for sticker shock. That program can cost anywhere from $2K or $3K up to $50K+ for just one month.

The catch? After you spend that boat load of money for residential rehab, you’re not done. Then they tell you, “Oh, by the way, now you need to send your child to an ‘after’ program and that program has to be at least 6-12 months, so mortgage your house again because that will cost you at least $80K for a good program.”

What? You don’t have a house or an extra $80K stuffed in your mattress? Good luck.

  1. Get over the cost. Find any way you can to pay because that “after” program is the key to your child’s success. Don’t make the mistake I did by skipping it.

It should be a program where your child has no access to outside influences. Bringing a child home and trying to manage the process with outpatient counseling doesn’t work. At least not for my son.

My son fooled us all with his “miracle” recovery in his first wilderness program. He seemed transformed while safely tucked away in the mountains of Southern Utah. But he relapsed within a week of returning home, though it took me several months to discover this.

When my son came home the first time, I signed him up for outpatient counseling and sent him to a presumably “drug free” private school to get him away from his drug friends. I tested him for drugs but he figured out how to cheat the urine test. He also started using alcohol heavily since that didn’t show up in the urine test.

He met a boy at the “drug free” private school who introduced him to OxyContin, the pill form of heroin.

I didn’t think I could afford a 10-month boarding school / after program for my son because it was so expensive. Where was I going to get $80K? But turns out I went on to spend more than that with various other, shorter-term rehabs that didn’t work.

  1. Find an expert to help you find an appropriate rehab for your child. I used David Heckenlively in Walnut Creek. He did a great job of counseling me to find the best rehab for my son, a program called Open Sky Wilderness. Even though my son relapsed soon after returning from wilderness, I truly believe he learned valuable lessons there that influence him today in positive ways. It was one of the better programs my son went to, and it taught me a lot about how to parent a drug-addicted child.

In retrospect, I wish I’d listened to the advice that a longer-term boarding school is recommended after residential rehab. Not all teenagers will relapse and get into harder drugs like my son did but many will.

I was a single mom paying for all this myself. I didn’t have a house or relatives to help. I didn’t think I could afford a more expensive after program. But I later learned I could use my retirement money since this was a health-related expense. I could also borrow against my 401(k).

I also used Denials Management, which helped recover a portion of the cost of the wilderness program. A refund of about $10K came to me after about eight months of fighting the system. That was the best Christmas gift ever.

I believe all the counseling my son has received has helped him understand a few key concepts. He knows he can’t try meth, even once. He knows he can’t mix drugs and alcohol.

When I kicked him out, he could have moved to be closer to his drug-using friends but didn’t. He’s living 30 minutes from me in Sacramento. Thanks to all the counseling, he knows how much I love him. He visits often.

I think he’s using more moderately now because he’s able to work full-time and he’s finishing school. But I know it’s a progressive disease. I have to enjoy every hug I get while I can.

The cost of the five residential rehabs totaled more than a year’s salary. I drained my retirement fund to save my son. I’d do it again. For all I know, my son might be dead now or in jail if I hadn’t intervened.

In my next blog post, I’ll feature tips from other parents weighing in on “How to find the best rehab for your teenager.”

The author, Julie Knight, is a single mother living in Davis, California with her sixteen-year-old daughter.