Posts Tagged ‘Marijuana’

More About Marijuana and PTSD

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

More About Marijuana and PTSD

 Recent news is full of articles about making marijuana legally available for those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

While marijuana’s popularity may be based on the perception that it is safer than other methods as a treatment for so-called PTSD, a new study just published March 23 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science finds that regular marijuana smokers experience more work, social and economic issues at midlife in comparison to the ones who use pot just occasionally or not at all.

Backing up for a moment, we should mention that PTSD is not a real medical illness. It has become blurred as a catch-all diagnosis for some 175 combinations of symptoms, becoming the label for identifying the impact of adverse events on ordinary people. This means that normal responses to catastrophic events have often been interpreted as mental disorders when they are not.

Indeed, people can experience mental trauma; unfortunately, the “treatments” being used — psychiatric drugs and marijuana — have their own issues.

People take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. Marijuana masks the problem for a time; but when the high fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before.

The University of California, Davis researchers in this newly published study tracked roughly 1,000 young people for decades and found that the ones who smoked cannabis four or more days in a week over many years suffer lower-paying, less-skilled jobs in comparison to those who didn’t smoke pot on a regular basis. Quoting from the study, “Persistent cannabis users experienced more financial difficulties, engaged in more antisocial  behavior in the workplace, and reported more relationship conflict.”

“Against the backdrop of increasing legalization of cannabis around the world, and decreasing social perception of risk associated with cannabis use … this study provides evidence that many persistent cannabis users experience downward socioeconomic mobility and a wide range of associated problems. Individuals with a longer history of cannabis dependence (or of regular cannabis use) were more likely to experience financial difficulties, including having troubles with debt and cash flow, … food insecurity, being on welfare, and having a lower consumer credit rating. Persistent cannabis dependence (and regular cannabis use) was also associated with antisocial behavior in the workplace and higher rates of intimate relationship conflict, including physical violence and controlling abuse.”

The study concludes with, “Our data indicate that persistent cannabis users constitute a burden on families, communities, and national social-welfare systems. Moreover, heavy cannabis use and dependence was not associated with fewer harmful economic and social problems than was alcohol dependence. Our study underscores the need for prevention and early treatment of individuals dependent on cannabis. In light of the decreasing public perceptions of risk associated with cannabis use, and the movement to legalize cannabis use, we hope that our findings can inform discussions about the potential implications of greater availability and use of cannabis.”

We urge everyone embarking on some course of treatment to do their due diligence and undertake full informed consent.

Is Marijuana a Treatment for PTSD?

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Is Marijuana a Treatment for PTSD?

Marijuana’s popularity may be based on the perception that it is safer than other methods as a treatment for PTSD, but multiple studies show that marijuana is not the harmless drug many believe it is. It can have a negative impact on your mental health, which may already be compromised if you have been diagnosed, rightly or wrongly, with PTSD.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, has become blurred as a catch-all diagnosis for some 175 combinations of symptoms, becoming the label for identifying the impact of adverse events on ordinary people. This means that normal responses to catastrophic events have often been interpreted as mental disorders when they are not.

As is usual in a business involving large sums of money, controversy and misinformation are rampant. There are, however, enough facts to allow one to work out the connections and reach unbiased conclusions.

Myth: marijuana can cause PTSD; or alternatively marijuana is a treatment for PTSD. There are as many conjectures about one as about the other.

Fact: Neither view is totally accurate.

Marijuana is the word (thought to be Mexican-Spanish in origin) used to describe the dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the Indian hemp plant (genus Cannabis.) Etymologists think the name cannabis is from an ancient word for hemp (the name of the fiber made from the plant.)

Regardless of the name, this drug is a hallucinogen — a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world. The chemical in cannabis that creates this distortion is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly called THC. The amount of THC found in any given batch of marijuana may vary substantially, but overall the percentage of THC has increased in recent years due to selective breeding. Average THC levels in cannabis have grown from 1% in 1974 to up to 24% presently.

It has been found that consuming one joint gives as much exposure to cancer-producing chemicals as smoking five cigarettes. The mental consequences are equally severe; marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users. THC disrupts nerve cells in the brain affecting memory. THC also damages the immune system.

Nationwide, 40% of adult males test positive for marijuana at the time of their arrest for criminal conduct.

Short term effects can include panic and anxiety. Long term effects can include personality and mood changes. Sounds somewhat like the symptoms of PTSD, does it not?

People take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. Marijuana masks the problem for a time; but when the high fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. One study found that marijuana users had 55% more accidents, 85% more injuries, and a 75% increase in being absent from work.

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant; a greater amount acts as a sedative; an even larger amount can be fatal. This is true of any drug. But many drugs, like THC, can directly affect the mind by distorting the user’s perception, so that a person’s actions may be odd, irrational, inappropriate, and even destructive. Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. So, while providing short-term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking. Users think drugs are a solution; but eventually the drugs become the problem.

There are so many non-drug alternatives to mental issues that it makes one wonder why this drug is so popular. Actually, we said it earlier — it is a business involving large sums of money. And if a person has mental trauma, whether a result of the joint or a precursor to the joint — there is your neighborhood doctor or psychiatrist ready to prescribe drugs.

Is Marijuana a Treatment for Depression?

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Is Marijuana a Treatment for Depression?

Marijuana’s popularity may be based on the perception that it is safer than cigarettes and alcohol as a treatment for depression, but multiple studies show that marijuana is not the harmless drug many believe it is. It can have a negative impact on your mental health.

As is usual in a business involving large sums of money, controversy and misinformation are rampant. There are, however, enough facts to allow an unaddled brain to work out the connections and reach unbiased conclusions.

Myth: marijuana causes depression; or alternatively marijuana is a treatment for depression. There are as many studies, articles and arguments about one as about the other.

Fact: Neither view is totally accurate.

Marijuana is the word (thought to be Mexican-Spanish in origin) used to describe the dried flowers, seeds and leaves of the Indian hemp plant (genus Cannabis.) Etymologists think the name cannabis is from an ancient word for hemp (the name of the fiber made from the plant.)

Regardless of the name, this drug is a hallucinogen — a substance which distorts how the mind perceives the world. The chemical in cannabis that creates this distortion is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly called THC. The amount of THC found in any given batch of marijuana may vary substantially, but overall the percentage of THC has increased in recent years due to selective breeding. Average THC levels in cannabis have grown from 1% in 1974 to up to 24% presently.

It has been found that consuming one joint gives as much exposure to cancer-producing chemicals as smoking five cigarettes. The mental consequences are equally severe; marijuana smokers have poorer memories and mental aptitude than do non-users. THC disrupts nerve cells in the brain affecting memory.

While alcohol consists of one active substance, ethanol, marijuana contains more than 400 known chemicals, including the same cancer-causing substances found in tobacco smoke. THC damages the immune system; alcohol does not. Nationwide, 40% of adult males test positive for marijuana at the time of their arrest for criminal conduct. Next to alcohol, marijuana is the second most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal automobile accidents.

Short term effects can include panic and anxiety. Long term effects can include personality and mood changes. People take such drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. Marijuana masks the problem for a time; but when the high fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. One study found that marijuana users had 55% more accidents, 85% more injuries, and a 75% increase in being absent from work.

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant; a greater amount acts as a sedative; an even larger amount can be fatal. This is true of any drug. But many drugs, like THC, can directly affect the mind by distorting the user’s perception, so that a person’s actions may be odd, irrational, inappropriate, and even destructive. Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. So, while providing short-term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking. Users think drugs are a solution; but eventually the drugs become the problem.

There are so many non-drug alternatives to mental issues that it makes one wonder why the drugs are so popular. Actually, we said it earlier — it is a business involving large sums of money. And if a person is depressed, whether a result of the joint or a precursor to the joint — there is your neighborhood doctor or psychiatrist ready to prescribe an anti-depressant.

Stress

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Stress

Our research leading to the recent newsletter on Marijuana turned up many references to “stress” — the relief of stress by smoking pot; the stress caused by not having access to pot; the tension caused by opposing points of view on the use of pot; myriad stress-relief programs; the stress caused by adverse reactions, side effects and withdrawal symptoms of pot-smoking.

We thought it would be appropriate, therefore, to write about the subject of stress. It is obviously a term of great interest to psychiatry as well. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the billing bible of the mental health care industry, names it explicitly as a billable diagnosis.

  • Acute Stress Disorder (308.3, DSM-IV)
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (309.81, DSM-IV)
  • Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders (an entire chapter in DSM-5); including various manifestations of PTSD, acute stress disorder, adjustment disorders, and reactive attachment disorder.

There are even “DSM-5 Self-Exam Questions” with which you can diagnose yourself for stress-related symptoms.

Then there is ICD-10, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision. This is a coding of diseases and signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or diseases, as classified by the World Health Organization. ICD-10 has its own classification of various stressors such as phobias, anxieties, adjustment disorders, and so on. The deadline for the United States to begin using Clinical Modification ICD-10-CM for diagnosis coding is currently October 1, 2014.

Let’s go over the basics, the dictionary definitions of the word “stress.” There are many; here are some:

  • a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in life or work
  • something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety
  • physical force or pressure
  • a constraining force or influence
  • the burden on one’s emotional or mental well-being created by demands or difficulties

[from Middle English stresse stress, distress, hardship, short for destresse which is from Anglo-French destresce, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere to grip with force, to draw tight]

“Acute stress response” was first described by Walter Cannon in the 1920s as a theory that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system. The response was later recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms (from Wikipedia.)

Here are some additional terms and phrases associated with the concept of stress that one might consider as either causes or symptoms:

  • suppression on one or more parts of one’s life
  • boredom
  • lack of a goal or purpose in life
  • exhaustion
  • overwhelm
  • physical or mental shock
  • exposure to someone antagonistic to oneself or one’s efforts
  • an accumulation in life of turmoil, distress, failure, pain, loss or injury

For comparison, here are some of the concepts encompassing opposites of stress (which we might generally just consider as an absence of stress):

  • survival
  • success
  • health
  • vitality
  • comfort
  • relaxation

We would like to make it very clear that STRESS IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS! It is the reaction to a stressor. It is not a deficiency of cannabis or Prozac, and cannot be fixed with a drug. It can only be fixed by finding and eliminating the causes of the stress. Notice we said “causes” plural; if you knew the one thing that was causing your stress, you would have already fixed it. Of course, there are many, many single things that, when found and fixed, could significantly reduce or eliminate those particular stressors.

Bodies also have their own forms of stress, for example chronic age-related diseases are linked to inflammation in the body; and oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive number of free radicals.

What’s keeping people from handling their stress?

Well, there are vested interests who want the general populace immobilized by stress. The psychopharmaceutical industry, for example.

Psychiatrists will not tell you that there are many safe and effective, non-psychiatric options for mental and emotional turmoil.

While life is full of problems, and those problems can sometimes be overwhelming, it is important to know that psychiatry, with its unscientific diagnoses and harmful treatments, are the wrong way to go. Their most common treatment, psychiatric drugs, only chemically mask problems and symptoms; they cannot and never will be able to solve life’s problems. Once the drug has worn off, the original problem remains, or may even deteriorate. Though psychiatrists classify their drugs as a solution to life’s problems, in the long run, they only make things worse.

According to top experts, the majority of people having mental problems are actually suffering from non-psychiatric disorders, which can cause emotional stress.

You can get a thorough physical examination from a competent medical—not a psychiatric—doctor to check for any underlying injury or illness that may be causing emotional distress.

It’s up to every individual to insist on it, and to insist on fully informed consent to any treatment.

Mary Jane comes to psychiatry

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Mary Jane comes to psychiatry

There has been a lot in the news recently about marijuana — “medical” marijuana, synthetic marijuana, legalizing marijuana, human interest stories about someone smoking marijuana, rants about the horrors of marijuana smoking — in short, every possible human reaction and little to none of the facts, especially how this brouhaha ties in to psychiatry.

Listening to a radio talk show today, we heard many cogent arguments both for and against legalizing marijuana with or without “medical use.” It was obvious there were not going to be any agreements made among those discussing the issues. However, this is not the real issue, which is hidden behind the psychiatric influence — or should we say, the issue IS the hidden psychiatric influence. Suddenly we have an entirely new crop of potential psychiatric patients, ripe for “stress relief” programs, “substance abuse” programs, psychiatric drugs to “treat” the side effects of smoking pot, and mental health “research” projects about how pot smoking affects mental health or vice versa.

A Google search for “marijuana” produced nearly 62 million results. The NFL is debating marijuana use. About 20 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Various factions within Oregon, Colorado, Nevada and Washington are either extolling or condemning its virtues. Around 25 million people in the U.S. are active marijuana users. The U.S. marijuana business is worth $113 billion. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug according to the FDA, meaning the drug has “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” The heat is on to change the FDA’s mind. Even Saturday Night Live has jumped into the fray.

Over 60% of Americans in drug treatment programs (of which 19% are aged 12 to 17) need treatment for marijuana. According to a National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, kids who frequently use marijuana are almost four times more likely to act violently or damage property. They are five times more likely to steal than those who do not use the drug.

Marijuana is often more potent today than it used to be, due to growing techniques and selective breeding. The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana) concentration has increased by as much as 12% over the past 30 years. Correspondingly, there has been a sharp increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits by young pot smokers. Even pets are showing up in veterinary emergency rooms with marijuana intoxication.

Because a tolerance builds up, marijuana can lead users to consume stronger drugs to achieve the same high. When the effects start to wear off, the person may turn to more potent drugs to rid himself of the unwanted conditions that prompted him to take marijuana in the first place. Marijuana itself does not lead the person to other drugs; people take drugs to get rid of unwanted situations or feelings. The drug masks the problem for a time. When the high fades, the problem, unwanted condition or situation returns more intensely than before. The user may then turn to stronger drugs since marijuana no longer “works.”

Short-term Effects
Loss of coordination and distortions in the sense of time, vision and hearing
Sleepiness, reddening of the eyes, increased appetite, relaxed muscles
Sped up heart rate, up to five-fold in the first hour after smoking
Reduced performance through impaired memory and lessened ability to solve problems
Long-term Effects
Psychotic symptoms
Damage to heart and lungs, worsening the symptoms of bronchitis and causing coughing and wheezing
Reduction of the body’s ability to fight lung infections and illness
Addiction

How Do Drugs Work?

Drugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. A small amount acts as a stimulant. A greater amount acts as a sedative. A still larger amount poisons and can kill. This is true of any drug. Only the amount needed to achieve the effect differs.

Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones along with the unwanted ones. While drugs might be of short-term value in the handling of pain, they wipe out ability, alertness, and muddy one’s thinking. One always has a choice between being dead with drugs or alive without them.

Drugs affect the mind and destroy creativity. Drug residues lodge in the fatty tissues of the body and stay there, continuing to affect the individual adversely long after the effect of the drug has apparently worn off.

How is psychiatry involved?

Stephen Hinshaw, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, said marijuana is a “cognitive disorganizer” that produces roughly the same effect in users as those associated with ADHD. However, psychiatrists are now starting to prescribe medical marijuana for children and adults diagnosed with ADHD.

Heavy marijuana users are more likely than non-users to be diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life, placing them squarely into the mental health care system. A recent study found that people who had used marijuana more than 50 times before the age of 18, had a threefold increased risk of developing symptoms diagnosed as schizophrenia later in life. Once diagnosed with schizophrenia, they are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs. Never mind that schizophrenia is a fake disease; the symptoms are decidedly uncomfortable.

Smokeable herbal products, so-called synthetic marijuana, have been marketed as being “legal” and as providing a marijuana-like high. These products consist of plant material that has been coated with research chemicals that claim to mimic THC. Brands such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” are labeled as herbal incense or bath salts to mask their intended purpose. Emergency room physicians report that individuals that use these types of products experience serious side effects such as anxiety attacks and other psychotic behavior. Psychiatrists may fraudulently diagnose these symptoms as a mental illness and prescribe psychotropic drugs.

Psychiatrists already have a name for marijuana addiction, “Cannabis Use Disorder.” A recent British study published in Schizophrenia Bulletin claims that mental illnesses are triggered six years earlier in patients who have smoked high-strength cannabis every day. Dr. Marti Di Forti, who led the study, wrote: “Daily use, especially of high-potency cannabis, drives the earlier onset of psychosis in cannabis users.”

Let’s not forget the withdrawal symptoms, which are similar to those of withdrawal from smoking and include irritability, sleep difficulties and anxiety, all of which can be mistaken for psychiatric symptoms leading to the prescription of psychotropic drugs.

We are already seeing many more articles discussing the chicken or egg question — that is, which came first, the mental illness or the marijuana? Of course, this wrong target ignores the real reason for drug use, described above as an unwanted condition, situation or feeling.

We are already seeing massive wasted research dollars going to psychiatrists to investigate the connections between marijuana and schizophrenia, or between marijuana and bipolar, or between marijuana and PTSD, or between…you get the idea.

The psychopharmaceutical industry is already salivating over the new crop of “Cannabis Use Disorder” patients who will be needing “substance abuse treatment.”

What do we do?

Rather, what do YOU do? What CAN you do? Something can ALWAYS be done about it!

Find Out! Fight Back!

That’s right. Educate yourself, your family, your friends, your associates, your school board, your church, your Chamber of Commerce, your Lions Club. Spread the word. Forward this newsletter. Challenge the proliferation of false information. Distribute the CCHR booklets and DVDs on the dangers of psychotropic drugs. Have a CCHR DVD party and show a DVD to your peers. Donate to CCHR so that we can continue to distribute the true information — CCHR St. Louis needs donations to give Missouri legislators CCHR documentary DVDs. Write letters to your local, state and federal officials. Write Letters to the Editor of your local radio, TV, and newspapers. Come to the CCHR St. Louis Public Seminars and bring your friends.

Or, you could always just do nothing, and watch this nation’s children grow up smoking pot and becoming patients for life in the mental health care system.

Medical Marijuana Prescribed to Kids with ADHD

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

by David Knowles
SPHERE
November 24, 2009

In California, the state with the nation’s most permissive medical marijuana law, several doctors say that some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are being treated with marijuana – a fact that has sparked a heated debate.

Reliable figures on the use of marijuana to treat ADHD are hard to come by, as reported by The New York Times. Though California says it has issued more than 36,000 medical marijuana cards since 2004, the state does not compile statistics on prescriptions for specific conditions, such as ADHD. And many doctors and patients are reluctant to talk about it. Still, experts say such prescriptions are becoming more common as the number of pot dispensaries and doctors prescribing marijuana continues to grow. And not everyone is happy about it.

“Let me count the ways in which prescribing marijuana for teens with ADHD is a bad idea,” said Stephen Hinshaw, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. Marijuana, Hinshaw said, is a “cognitive disorganizer” that produces roughly the same effect in users as those associated with ADHD.

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Read the entire article:

http://www.sphere.com/2009/11/24/marijuana-prescribed-to-kids-with-adhd/ and express your opinion to your state and federal legislators and local school districts. Let CCHR St. Louis know what you did and what was the result. Type “marijuana” or “adhd” into the Search Box at www.cchrstl.org for more information.

Marijuana use could worsen depression

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

According to a new report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), marijuana use can worsen depression and lead to more serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.

Because The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is used by psychiatrists to diagnose disorders and derive treatment, a real danger for misdiagnosis and mistreatment exists.

In the absence of a known physical cause, a group of symptoms seen in many different patients is called a disorder or syndrome. Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Joseph Glenmullen says that in psychiatry, “all of its diagnoses are merely syndromes [or disorders], clusters of symptoms presumed to be related, not diseases.” Dr. Thomas Szasz, professor of psychiatry emeritus from the State University, Syracuse, New York, observes, “There is no blood or other biological test to ascertain the presence or absence of a mental illness, as there is for most bodily diseases.” Bipolar (previously known as manic depression), schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity, depression, etc., are disorders, not diseases or illnesses.

There are, however, medical tests for marijuana use; but how many psychiatrists give drug tests to their patients before prescribing mind-altering psychiatric drugs for symptoms of depression or other so-called mental disorders?

While medicine has established causes and cures, leading psychiatric agencies such as the World Psychiatric Association and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health admit that psychiatrists do not know the causes of or cures for any mental disorder or what their treatments specifically do to the patient. They have theories and conflicting opinions about their diagnoses and methods, and lack a scientific basis for them.

What’s more, medical studies clearly show that psychiatric drugs not “mental disorders” cause violent, hostile and suicidal behavior, exacerbating the problems that may be caused by marijuana or other illicit drug use.

Any medical doctor who takes the time to conduct a thorough physical examination of a child or adult exhibiting signs of what psychiatrists say are “mental disorders,” can find un-diagnosed, untreated physical conditions, including drug use that may be causing those mental disorders.

Any person labeled with a so-called psychiatric disorder needs to receive a thorough physical examination by a competent medical – not psychiatric – doctor to determine what underlying physical condition is causing the manifestation, including, but not limited to testing for:

drug use
lead- or pesticide-poisoning
thyroid conditions
early-onset diabetes
heart disease
worms
viral or bacterial infections
malnutrition
injuries or tumors
allergies
vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies
mercury exposure

all of which can cause mental symptoms.

For more information, visit http://www.cchrstl.org/.