Here at Narconon Suncoast we have discussed many aspects of marijuana use, legalization, and implications. These conversations are partly due to the proposition of legalizing medical marijuana here in Florida and also partly due to our firsthand experiences with many who started out using marijuana and ended up on much harder and more dangerous drugs.
In an effort to shed more light on marijuana, we are busting several myths about pot we hear consistently both verbally and in the media.
Myth #1: Weed isn’t addictive.
We hate to break it to you: marijuana actually IS addictive. Addiction rates vary depending on when the user started smoking and how often they smoke. On average, about 9% of users become addicted, but if they started young that rate goes up to 17% of addicted users. Also, 25%-50% of daily users are likely to become addicted.
Contrary to the media-hype, pot also causes withdrawal symptoms in addicted individuals. Some of the withdrawal symptoms, like sleeplessness and decreased appetite, are physical withdrawals. Others, like anxiety, depression, irritability, and craving, are psychological withdrawals.
Note: Another drug which is often abused and has mainly psychological withdrawal symptoms is cocaine. And that’s legal for medical use but still often abused.
Myth #2: It’s safe to drive while high.
This myth seems completely illogical to anyone who can get a concept as to why you “don’t drink and drive”. Marijuana is a psychoactive substance. This means it affects how the brain works. Do you really want to be operating a motor vehicle, heavy machinery, or anything else where lives could be at risk?I hope not.
Here are some statistics:
Fatalities from car crashes have risen steadily over the past ten years. About 40% of these crashes are alcohol related. That number has remained pretty much the same. But, ten years ago, 16% of fatal crashes were related to drugs. As of 2010, that number has risen to 28%. The number one culprit when it comes to fatal car crashes related to drug use? Marijuana. And that’s not a generally steady number like alcohol related deaths. Deaths from crashes due to pot use have risen 300% from 1999 to 2010.
Another really scary statistic comes from mixing pot and booze. Here’s the scoop: driving under the influence of alcohol increases your risk of a fatal car crash by 13 times. BUT if you drive under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, you are 24 TIMES more like to suffer a fatal crash.
The moral of this story? Don’t drink and drive. Don’t smoke a blunt and drive. Don’t drive under the influence. Period.
On this note, just so that I’m not singling out marijuana and alcohol only – there are several other drugs that one should NOT use when driving (or operating any heavy machinery). Just SOME of these drugs include the following:
The reason we emphasize marijuana abuse in this myth is because the state of Florida will soon be voting on whether medical marijuana should be legalized.
Myth #3: Medical marijuana will be used to help people who are terminally ill or have an incurable disease like cancer or AIDS.
Most legislation approving medical marijuana use actually leaves it up to the physician to determine who should use pot. Here in Florida, we have personal experience in how even just a few irresponsible physicians can ruin thousands of lives due to their poor handling of prescriptions and lack of consideration for the individuals to whom they are prescribing. If you haven’t heard about it, the Feds had to shut down several pill mills throughout Florida after indiscriminately prescribing dangerous drugs to thousands. You can read about it here.
Medical marijuana gets prescribed for anything from glaucoma, period cramps and pain to the nausea related to cancer treatments. You want to know something crazy? There is a federally approved drug that utilizes aspects of marijuana – but DOESN’T GET YOU HIGH – called Marinol. This drug helps resolve the loss of appetite and nausea caused by chemotherapy as well as help AIDS patients gain weight.
So, if there’s already a federally approved drug that helps bypass the dangers of marijuana, but gives relief to those who are terminally ill…why are people so interested in approving marijuana? Could there be another agenda?
Myth #4: Pot is not a gateway drug.
There is a lot of evidence that indicates marijuana does start people on the path to harder, even more addictive drugs. For example, two recent studies, one from Yale and one from Harvard, show that marijuana use affect the pleasure receptors in your brain. These are the same portions of the brain associated with addiction to drugs like opiates, cocaine, and meth. Additionally, the Yale study showed a connection between marijuana abuse and abuse of prescription medications.
We have personal experience with marijuana use leading to addiction to harder drugs. You can read more information about it in this interview.
Myth #5: I smoked weed when I was young – and I’m fine.
Modern marijuana is much stronger than it was back in the 70’s. It can be up to 5 times stronger than it was back then. Marijuana has been selectively bred over the years to make the plant provide a more intense high than it used to.
Scientists have shown a big concern about this selective breeding. The addictive substance in this drug (THC – the compound that causes a high) is getting stronger and may cause developmental issues in teen users. It also is causing more teen users to become addicted to pot and to turn to harder drugs. As time goes on, marijuana will only become stronger.
We treat addiction to any drug – including marijuana. Contact us today if you or someone you know is suffering from addiction. Call us at (877) 850-7355. We can help.
Refs: DrugAbuse.gov, RXList.com, NCSL.org, WebMD.com, Aje.Oxfordjournals.org, NYTimes.com, CTPost.com