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 →
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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. *
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.
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 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.
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.
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 have families. Raising children and needing to care for another person will expose the inability of drug-abusing parents to maintain an equilibrium.
Hurd concludes that future generations who use marijuana are more susceptible to heroin addiction. Children of drug users often carry a legacy of having been abused or neglected. Since they grew up in homes where drug use was normalized, they will tend to do the same.
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.