Tag Archives: Dr. Libby Stuyt

Libby Stuyt at Oregon Mental Health and Law Conference

(An advisor to Parents Opposed to Pot, Dr. Libby Stuyt, an addictions psychiatrist in Colorado, spoke at the Oregon Mental Health and the Law Conference in Portland.  The Mental Health Association of Portland published a blog about it on August 13.) Here it is:

Libby Stuyt, MD spoke at the Oregon Health Forum with Drs. Esther Choo of OHSU and Katrina Hedberg who is the State Epidemiologist and State Health Officer at the Oregon Public Health Division, and at the Oregon Law & Mental Health Conference in June 2017 on the unintended consequences of marijuana legalization. Continue reading

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.

Marijuana Can’t Treat the Opiate, Heroin Epidemic

Any marijuana use leads to less intelligence potential, less empathy for life, less motivation and poorer decision making.  A war on drugs is a protection and defense of our brains.   Governor Susana Martinez probably recognizes how Colorado’s marijuana problem leads to the drug epidemic and filters into New Mexico’s substance abuse issues.   Read about her veto in Part 1.

One young man who gave us a testimony explained how his marijuana use led directly to heroin addiction.

In Colorado, Dr. Libby Stuyt, addictions psychiatrist, traces a direct line from marijuana legalization to the heroin epidemic.    Colorado’s recent report on heroin has shown that the number of deaths from heroin overdose have doubled between 2011 and 2015.

In fact, Pueblo County, has suffered from heroin use and addiction more than any other Colorado county.  Pueblo, Denver and Boulder have the highest rates of youth marijuana use.   Southern Colorado is suffering the most from the heroin epidemic. Counties that have banned marijuana dispensaries have been affected the least by the heroin.

Misunderstanding of the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

Since the government has clamped down on opiate prescriptions, more users have replaced the pain drugs with heroin.  Since the legalization of marijuana, Mexican cartels have replaced much of their marijuana with heroin.  Heroin is now cheaper and addicts find it easier to get heroin than prescription pills.

Politically there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the opioid epidemic. If it was initially caused by over prescribing of medications, that’s no longer primarily the case.   Seth Leibsohn wrote an insightful article on the subject last week. The abuse of opioid prescriptions acquired legitimately constitutes a small portion of the overdose problem, he said. *

A simple crackdown on prescriptions will not solve the problem, according to Maia Szalavitz.  Although Szalavitz misunderstands the  inherent danger in using marijuana,* she explains the underlying causes of substance abuse quite well.  Impulsive children are at high risk of becoming drug users, but so are some highly cautious and anxious young people.   Two thirds of people with opioid addictions have had severely traumatic childhoods, and the more exposure to trauma, the higher the risk.  We need to help abused, neglected, fragile and otherwise traumatized children before they turn to self-medication as teens.  On the other hand, we should also provide tools and teach coping skills to children who are impulsive, ADHD or anxious.   (Overmedicating children doesn’t allow them to develop the skills needed to transition into adulthood.)

Let’s Help People Get off ALL Drugs

Effective treatment for addictions is getting off all drugs, not going to other harmful, brain-altering substances.   “The goal in helping a loved one with a substance use problem is not to reduce their use. It is to stop drug use,” according to Sven-Olov Carlsson of Drug Policy Futures.  He gave the opening address at the World Federation of Drugs Conference in Vienna last year.  As Carlsson said, the current heroin epidemic proves that “harm reduction” is not saving lives.

No one sets out to become an addict.   Fortunately, more people and states are realizing the foolishness of allowing “medical” marijuana for intractable pain.  It opens up a Pandora’s Box of problems, as in California and elsewhere.

Addiction specialists estimate that one in five American adults is addicted to drugs or alcohol.  With such large numbers, there should be no “stigma” attached to addiction or treatment.  A new or revised health care act should maintain the provision to treat addiction.

Those who are addicted have a strong need to protect a secret.  Their brains have been hijacked and there isn’t a straight path back to previous functioning.

Optimum treatment requires a period of time when the person is not using any substance of addiction in order for the brain to heal.  During that time, the person needs to be able to learn new things. The lack of treatment resources which allows this to happen is a big barrier to recovery.   Marijuana cannot be used to treat this current drug epidemic.

___________________________________________________________________________*  Another recent article explains how doctors began to take pain seriously, treating it as a fifth vital sign.  Szalavitz based her 10% addiction rate for marijuana on the weaker pot of the ’70s and ’80s, not the pot of today.  She also disregarded teen users of pot.

 

The Persistence of Trauma, Problems in Adulthood

Time conceals rather heals wounds, and traumatic experiences convert to disease later in life.  Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) cause diseases that carry into adulthood, as well as numerous psychological issues and addiction.  (Read about the mind-body connection, part 1 and mind-based healing solutions, part 2)

A long-term study from Denmark, explored a number psychological factors that may or may not have adverse outcomes on the children.

The Danish study determined that parental factors most likely to create either violent or suicidal tendencies in adulthood are 1) parents who used marijuana; 2) having parents who are sociopaths or 3) having parents who attempt suicide.   In other words, marijuana abuse is far more serious in predicting adverse behavioral outcomes than other parental mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and alcoholism.

Salvador Dali , The Persistence of Memory, 1931: Time goes on, but the conscious mind may not know how memories hidden in our body and brain persist. The effects of early trauma are carried into adulthood. Photo: MoMA, New York

What is Known about ACEs?

Because the research is so extensive, we are coming to understand some of the precise mechanisms by which biography turns into biology.  Heart disease, diabetes, all forms of auto-immune disease (a growing problem), addiction and obesity are connected to high ACE scores.   While choices such as smoking, maintaining a good or bad diet and exercise are within a person’s control, ACEs are not.

Today there are more than 1500 studies about how ACEs affect the mental and physical health.  The exploration into ACEs began with an accidental discovery by Dr. Vincent Feletti of Kaiser Permanente in San Diego.  His obese patients who had high rates of cancer and heart disease also had high rates of childhood trauma.  Dr. Feretti teamed up with Dr. Robert Anda of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) whose specialty was the link between heart disease and depression.

Drs. Anda and Feretti conducted a huge study on childhood trauma and disease between 1995 and 1997.    The information they discovered can be revolutionary in terms of treatments linking mental and physical health.   They found that 2/3 of those who suffer chronic disease had traumatic childhoods. In other words, genetics is not the only predictor of susceptibility to disease; experiences also play a crucial role.

It is interesting that two causes of death — strokes and diabetes — do not correlate with high ACE scores.   However, chronic pain and addiction are highly correlated to traumatic childhoods, just like autoimmune diseases, heart disease and obesity.

There’s Also Substance Abuse

Victims of trauma will often use marijuana, alcohol and other drugs to create a numbing effect, and to allow disassociation.   Marijuana and heroin have the greatest numbing effect, writes Janina Fisher, PhD., in a paper on Traumatic Abuse and Addiction. 

When the numbing is too much and the victims need to feel energized and alive again, stimulants such as cocaine and opiates can be used.  Other chronic marijuana users become anxious and get prescriptions for Xanax to cope with anxiety. The need to use multiple drugs becomes a cycle, and the addicts of today tend to develop multiple addictions.

This fragile coping mechanism often blows up when drugs users must deal with another person and raise children. Raising children and needing to care for another person will expose the inability of drug-abusing parents to maintain an equilibrium.   There are additional risks as well.

Multigenerational Drug Abuse

Yasmin Hurd of New York University spoke about neuroepigenetics and addiction vulnerability at the recent Neuroscience conference on November 16.  She believes marijuana is much more addictive than most people acknowledge. Her research demonstrates that both adolescent marijuana use, as well as exposure to THC in utero, makes epigenetic changes to the brain, priming it for greater susceptibility for later addiction to opiate drugs.

Hurd’s study explains one way marijuana use primes the next generation for addiction to their children.  Another way is when children of drug users carry the legacy of abuse by neglecting or abusing their children. Those who grew up in homes where drug use is normalized end up using and abusing, too.

Another problem is that medical marijuana practitioners are encouraging pregnant women to smoke pot for morning sickness and for breastfeeding.  Dr. Steven Simerville explains the reasons why we should be concerned about the mental development of children whose mothers did not protect them from THC during crucial stages of life.

Today, it’s not ‘just’ marijuana.  The marijuana of today is at least five times stronger than it was in the 1970s.   (Read Part 4 to understand more about how we are creating new generations of traumatized children.)