Category Archives: Addiction

New Study on Long Term effects of Marijuana use

Newly published study (American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry):  Long lasting effects of chronic heavy cannabis abuse.

Joannis N. Nestoros MD, PhD1
Elena Vakonaki PhD2,
Manolis N. Tzatzarakis PhD2,
Athanasios Alegakis PhD2,
Markos D. Skondras MD, PhD3 and
Aristidis M. Tsatsakis PhD, DSc2,*
Version of Record online: 17 MAR 2017
DOI: 10.1111/ajad.12529
Copyright © 2017

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

Background and Objectives:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent of short-term memory impairment and schizophrenia-like symptoms in heavy and systematic cannabis users and the association between the severity of abuse and the longevity of its persistent symptoms after refraining from such use.

Conclusions:

“The existence of hallucinations, delusions, and organic brain dysfunction in heavy cannabis users seems to be associated with cannabinoid levels in hair. The continuation of persistent symptoms 3 months after the discontinuation of cannabis abuse, was a remarkable finding.”

Scientific Significance:

“We provide evidence that chronic and heavy cannabis abuse results in long-lasting brain dysfunction in all users and in long-lasting schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms in more than half of all users. These findings suggest a reevaluation of the current classification of cannabis as a “soft narcotic” which erroneously, therefore, is typically considered harmless.” (Am J Addict 2017;XX:1–8)

 Click Here to view the study.

His Treatment Center’s Business will Mushroom But He Wants No on 64

Former drug user, turned addiction specialist, Jon Daily, decries the marijuana legalization movement and the medical community’s ignorance in these compelling videos.

5 Ways Marijuana is a Gateway Drug

Marijuana Presents Itself as a Gateway Drug For Many

Under the right circumstance marijuana leads people towards addiction, mental illness, or other harmful drugs. Scientific studies on the drug have shown its ability to damage brain circuitry. It numbs the reward system, sending users on a search for a stronger high. Peer influence or personality traits can lead to use of drugs beyond marijuana. Here are some reasons why marijuana tempts someone to open the gate and try other drugs.

1. Biological Evidence and Plateau Effect:

Studies showing the damaging effects marijuana has on dopamine receptors and our brain’s reward system suggest marijuana may lead to the use of many other different drugs. In one study done by the University of Michigan Medical School, researchers found a negative correlation between the amount of marijuana consumed over time and the amount of dopamine that was released in the brain in response. This study suggests a change in the reward system over time with a high-inducing drug like marijuana. This decrease in the amount of dopamine released creates a plateau effect. Smokers will then seek other drugs in order to achieve the high they used to experience with pot.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says cannabinoids are able to decrease the reactivity of brain dopamine reward circuits over time, leaving frequent marijuana users vulnerable to other drug addiction. Additionally, THC promotes an enhanced response to other drugs in the same way that alcohol and nicotine do, which may lead to the progression of more serious drug addictions.

2. Social Environment:

While the scientific evidence supports the idea of marijuana being a gateway drug, it is important to consider the pot smoker’s social environment. Those who begin taking drugs or abusing other substances are likely surrounded with other frequent users. And often their peers have moved on to chasing greater highs. Through their friends they are introduced to harder drugs. There is no predicting who will succumb to addiction in such a progression. If someone is already inebriated or high, they will be less able to resist the invite from a friend to try another substance. Plus, while the motivated, wealthy or successful individual may seemingly thrive with the use of recreational pot, their not so motivated and less successful counterpart may become a cocaine addict. According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World 99.9% of cocaine addicts began their drug journey with marijuana, alcohol, or nicotine.

3. Gangs and Drug Dealing:

One of the most subcultures is that of drug dealing gangs. The goal of these groups is to make a profit off of the same drug they are hooked on. Check out the story of one man, Eddie Martinez, who managed to overcome a life of drug dealing and now advises young people to steer clear of the dangers which surround marijuana and its victims.

4. Addictive personalities

For some marijuana use may be an occasional form of recreation or a one-time deal. However, various personality traits make one susceptible to substance abuse. This is what is known as an addictive personality. Especially males, who are often considered “risk-takers,” have a greater chance of becoming addicts when they are willing to engage in extreme behaviors. So while marijuana presents itself as a gateway drug to many, the risks to an individual depends their personal choices. See this article, Big Marijuana Claims vs. The Science.

5. Craving the High:

Marijuana, alongside alcohol, is one of the most accessible high-inducing drugs on the market, making it a gateway drug to intoxication addiction. John Daily, an adolescent and young adult addiction specialist argues it is not the THC that people get hooked on.  Jon says, “Addicts are hooked on intoxication” so it makes sense that those who become Opiate or Heroin addicts began with marijuana because it was the most readily available drug which later lead to their pathological relationship to getting high.

 

Marijuana Use Leads to Domestic Violence Victims

Too many people are still deceived by the image of the laid back pot smoker.  A certain percentage of stoners can become psychotic and violent from using marijuana.   Davie Dauzat, who beheaded his wife on August 25, was certainly having a psychotic break when he killed her.  He told police that it was wrong, but he slayed her because it was a “battle between good and evil.”  He and his wife had smoked pot together before he killed her. 

Domestic Violence Awareness is promoted each year during the month of October.  Educating others about the connection between marijuana and psychosis can stop many irrational cases of unnecessary violence in the home.

Substance abusers cause more than 80 percent of domestic violence, according to estimates.   Some reports say drug and/or alcohol abuse is involved at least 92 percent of the time.  Marijuana, classified as a hallucinogen, can cause fear, anxiety, panic or paranoia. Experiencing any of these symptoms can lead to intimidating, violent or bullying behavior, endangering family, other people and property.

Last month Reveal and Cosmopolitan published riveting stories of sexual violence in marijuana country, the Emerald Triangle. If national policy targets early drug prevention, including marijuana, fewer men and women will become violent.

Domestic Violence and Marijuana Use

In South Carolina, Jesse Osborne recently shot and killed his father before attempting to murder three more people at an elementary school.  The father, Jeffrey Osborne, had convictions for marijuana and domestic abuse and had filed for bankruptcy.   The boy had acted out in previous years and had been forced out of the local school for bringing a hatchet.  Could it be that his violent, marijuana-using father was traumatizing him and he in turn acted out on others?

Marijuana use was a factor in two murder-suicides of young women by their current or former boyfriends last year.  Zachary Ham, 19-year-old boyfriend of Jasmine Hayslett,19, had been using marijuana since he was 13.  Their 20-month-old son survives. When Rebekah Eldermire’s ex-boyfriend shot her and turned the gun on himself, THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) was the only drug in his system.

One of Stoppot’s big supporters was a 17 year-old California girl smoked pot to anesthetize the pain of losing her father.  By age 30, she was a mother and had been through a failed marriage and two boyfriends, each one a batterer who used pot. She had a failed suicide attempt at age 29.  Both she and her boyfriends used marijuana, but she failed to see how it was harming her life.  She continued to face depression and stayed in violent situations.  Badly beaten up and in the hospital, she had the revelation that marijuana was doing destroying her life.

Marijuana users are violent enough to kill their babies, too.  Recently, a man in Pennsylvania, killed his 5-month old daughter while high on marijuana.  Yet marijuana advocates try to tell us that marijuana is harmless.

Why Woman Stay With Partners Who Harm Them or Their Children

A University of Florida study gives insight into women who began using marijuana at a young age.  Frequent marijuana users in adolescence are twice as likely to engage in domestic violence as young adults.  The same study showed this group more than twice as likely to become a victim of domestic violence. 1  They often stay with intimate partners who are violent, even risking the safety of their children.

Consider the case of Wendy Salsbury, a mom whose boyfriend bashed her two-year-old’s head into the toilet and killed him.   The baby had tested + for THC at birth.  States with legal pot often don’t see marijuana as an issue of danger.  The father filed a $2.5 million dollar lawsuit against Oregon’s Department of Human Services.

Los Angeles paid $450,000 to the father of a dead child because the department of Children and Family Services failed to act on signs of child neglect and abuse. The boy died in early 2011. The mother tested positive for marijuana, but, as in other instances, it was a violent boyfriend who killed the two-year-old. 

Preventing girls from using marijuana at a young age may prevent them from hooking up with violent males.  National policy should address this issue and stop pretending that marijuana just makes users passive and lazy.   Highly addicted users, while high on the drug, may behave much like severe alcoholics, or even worse.

For addicted users who run out of the drug, there may be violence. A few weeks ago in Vermont, a 36-year-old man killed five people in a wrong-way driving crash. He had been convicted of domestic violence previously, and an ex-girlfriend said becomes violent when runs out of marijuana.  Earlier on the day of the accident, he had tried to check himself into an emergency medical center.

Solution to Domestic Violence

Studies from around the world have shown that marijuana contributes to psychosis and violence.  Efforts to stop domestic violence need to educate against substance abuse.   Multi-generational substance abuse and violence will continue until we change the way of dealing with these issues.

Much drug abuse comes from trauma.  We need to find solutions to childhood trauma that will circumvent drug use and not fall back on marijuana as a solution for PTSD. 2    Domestic Shelters need to take a holistic approach that helps the victims get away from drug use and into treatment.  Education is the big equalizer, but the national government continues to neglect the need for drug prevention programs in schools.  If states do not require it, domestic shelters should take up the slack, starting with the children.  Otherwise, the patterns will repeat.  Family courts have made costly mistakes by failing to see marijuana use as a serious issue.

Life is challenging, and substance abuse is not the way to deal with challenge.  If marijuana is promoted as safe and healthy, young people will not understand how marijuana usage interferes with responsible parenting.  Medical marijuana “patients” should reconsider their choice if they want to be in a relationship or continue parenting.  For people with physical handicaps, the law must carefully consider the children when considering their needs.

Footnotes:

1  A study The Journal of Interpersonal Violence, consistent marijuana use in adolescence is a strong predictor of intimate partner violence for those who are both victims and perpetrators, independent of alcohol use and other risk factors.  (Reingle, J. et.al., The Relationship Between Marijuana Use and Intimate Partner Violence in a Nationally Representative, Longitudinal Sample J Interpers Violence May 2012 27) These findings are consistent with prior studies, which have found that any marijuana use is predictive of victimization and physical assault by their intimate partners (Moore et al., 2008; Nabors, 2010; Railford et al., 2007).

2   Physically abused children are at special risk to become heavy pot users in adolescence.  See  Characteristics of Child Maltreatment and Adolescent marijuana Use: A Prospective Study, by Howard Dubowitz, Richard Thompson, Amelia M. Arria, Diana English, Richard Metzger and Jonathan Kotch, Child Maltreatment