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A treatment program for the chronic cannabis user.
August 21, 2001 1:44 PM   Subscribe

A treatment program for the chronic cannabis user. Do you think chronic use of weed actually does this to you? Or is it all just more anti-drug propaganda?
posted by bytecode (35 comments total)

 
some of it may be true, but they will definetly amplify the effects for their own benefit .

I definetly remember a time in college when I quit smoking cold turkey and found myself feeling very awkward with total sobriety. It certainly wasn't anything that warranted a 12-step program, but it was enough to convince me that smoking every day didn't lend itself to heathy everyday living. But, who knows, there may be people out there who really do need the help.
posted by Hackworth at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2001


The damage from long term use is well documented, and is even apparant when comparing brain tissue samples. An objective scientific paper like this is the antithesis of propaganda; it doesn't rely on value judgements.
posted by skyline at 2:03 PM on August 21, 2001


It's been proven that nicotine affects you years after you quit, why would cannibas be different? That is, if cannibas is actually as harmful as this article implies.
posted by geoff. at 2:06 PM on August 21, 2001


. An objective scientific paper like this is the antithesis of propaganda; it doesn't rely on value judgements

I think I've seen my fair share of "objective" studies regarding drugs to be extremely skeptical of any paper dealing with the subject. Too much vested interest for big pharm and big brother.
posted by skallas at 2:18 PM on August 21, 2001


I stored most of my information for elaboration while smoking pot.
posted by rschram at 2:23 PM on August 21, 2001


I'm with skallas on this. There are a lot of "objective" papers on long term narcotics use, but very few that acknowledge the fact that long term use of ANY DRUG, even those lovely over the counter cold medications, can result in serious side effects. (Previously cold medications could cause a stroke. The FDA has finally put an end to that.) Personally, I'll take the pot.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:48 PM on August 21, 2001


it's easy to look at a chronic pot smoker and feel they're doing allright, but you know i have one or two friends who are basically "wasted", who can't make the disctinction between sober thought and high wierdness, and whose very existence illustrates certain points made in this study (especially lack of self-criticism and apathy). once close buddies of mine, they now just require too much special handling to invite over for drinks with mixed company. i set aside time for them. i assume they'd be horrified to realize this. but maybe not.
posted by subpixel at 3:12 PM on August 21, 2001


Personally, I don't believe there is much — if any — damage caused by long-term pot-smoking. I know a lot of of potheads, many who have been smoking for an upwards of 18 years, and none of them exhibit abnormal personality quirks. You wouldn't know they were potheads unless they told you...
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:24 PM on August 21, 2001


An objective overview of Paul McCarney's entire solo career does quite a bit to bolster the argument that long term pot use can be detrimental.
posted by akmonday at 3:48 PM on August 21, 2001


I used to smoke a ton in college, and by that I mean practically daily for four years. After a while, I started bugging out a bit and now when I smoke up it just makes me paranoid and uncomfortable about myself. However, one of my old roommates, who still smokes probably three or four times a week at the age of 26 (as pathetic as that sounds), is the most successful of our friends. It's weird. Somehow he just seems to handle himself just fine when high. He just got his own office with a view of the Statue of Liberty, and is the hardest working guy I know. Maybe some people are just genetically programmed to have a tolerance for the stuff. I can tell you though, that when I stopped smoking I had no problem quitting. Beer and cigarettes are about a billion times more addictive.
posted by Samsonov14 at 4:18 PM on August 21, 2001


Reads like a profile of my youngest brother.

I smoke occasionally. I should probably clarify that - I first smoked at 25, had it weekly for a few weeks, dropped back to once every couple of months, and haven't had it for over a year. One cone, I'd be happy for hours, fall asleep, wake up and be fine. Over those few weeks, however, I developed a 'couldn't give a fuck' attitude to life. I was aware of it, and it bothered me, so I stopped.

Youngest bro, however, smokes *several times a day*. He steals stuff from my parents to pay for his habit - I'm talking thousands of dollars worth. He is (was, anyway, but I'm sure he can be again) a really good kid, but he simply cannot control himself - his thought processes are completely fucked. I worry about him a lot.

His condition has made me aware of the way people rationalise marijuana use with logical fallacies. There are a few of them in the comments above. Classics include (logical assumptions in brackets):

- (Marijuana is OK because) beer and cigarettes are about a billion times more addictive. ('Less addictive' is 'better', so marijuana is 'OK'.) Drinking gasoline isn't addictive (to my knowledge) - does that make it 'safe'?

- (Marijuana is OK because) you can take any substance in large enough doses/often enough and it will probably harm you. I could swallow a heap of water right now and die, whereas if I swallowed a heap of marijuana I'd just feel high and/or sick. Marijuana is much safer than water.

- (Marijuana is OK because) the government / establishment / Da Man /The Pharm says it's bad, and they've lied to 'us' before (so they must be lying about marijuana as well). The Pharm tells me that driving while under the influence of strong sedatives is bad, and so is taking them with alcohol - are they lying about that too? They just don't want anybody to have any fun.

- My friend / relative / colleage uses pot all the time, and they seem OK (so marijuana use is OK). My friend smokes three packs of Winfield Reds a day, and he seems OK - maybe I should start?

Marijuana affects the body's physical and mental metabolism and functioning. Some people who use marijuana frequently may appear to be 'fine', but without a thorough medical examination, you have no way of knowing for sure (although you can be fairly sure their lungs are fucked).

Appearances are deceiving - my brother appears polite, intelligent and amicable to most people. They don't know that he steals stuff. Or threatens to burn the house down during episodes of psychotic rage. Or can't hold down a job. Or that he lies to people a lot of the time.

Even if they are OK, that doesn't make it true for everybody, or even a majority of people (any more than the fact that some people drive while drunk and make it home alive makes that 'OK' or 'safe').

M'kay?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2001


Obi, I see what you are saying, and you definitely have a point.

You are 100% correct on most of your arguments. Still, I have to question whether or not your brother was "turned to the dark side" by marijuana. A lot of the kids that I knew that smoked pot when I was younger were just bad seeds, and something that bad seeds do is steal and launch themselves into fits of rage.

I've never seen anyone ever threaten anyone else while high. And man, did we have a lot of what we used to call, in the vernacular, "sessions."

I'm not suggesting that marijuana is harmless, I was just saying that I have a friend that smokes a lot and functions quite well. Also, I didn't mean to cast aspersions on members of your family, but it brings to mind your last point. One case study doesn't prove a point. For example:

If I a person I know steals from his family and threatens to burn down the house, can I blame that on his use of marijuana?

I do recognize that I used only one person to make a case, but still...
posted by Samsonov14 at 6:08 PM on August 21, 2001


i was going to read this article, but i was high...

(sorry, i had to do it)
posted by phunkone at 6:15 PM on August 21, 2001


....yeah and the dark lord says, he says....well anyway. Trying to study and smoke can bite. I read the alot of the Russian stoned, cant remember one damn chekov novel and only some thing about toothaches from dostoevsky. (of covrse reading Burroughs stoned is like a watching a 40's detective dialog oriented skit.) Ive seen 100's like Obis' brother. It is sad when you have to hide your wallet and silver when the doper relative pops by.
posted by clavdivs at 7:18 PM on August 21, 2001


The interview techniques discussed are pretty standard in the addiction/recovery field these days -- "motivational interviewing." As a former heavy dope smoker and current psychologist, I didn't find anything patently propagandistic or patronizing (whoah, easy on the alliteration!). I agree with both sides of the argument, depending on the user. It's like anything... some can simply walk away, some need some help. Seems to me that the site is there to offer resources when someone decides they want the help. I figure that if something is getting in someone's way, and they want to remove it from their way, then more power to them. If they are not functionally impaired and they would like to continue with their life, let 'em be.
posted by apollo at 7:29 PM on August 21, 2001


Isn't "chronic pot smoker" redundant?
posted by kindall at 8:06 PM on August 21, 2001


If I a person I know steals from his family and threatens to burn down the house, can I blame that on his use of marijuana?

If his theft and threats commenced after his use of marijuana commenced, and if they cease for the brief periods when he goes straight, then yes, I think it's a reasonable conclusion.

One case study doesn't prove a point - but a single example does dispel a universal argument like 'marijuana is safe' (I know you're not saying that, btw :>).

The best one can say is 'in my experience, people who I know who smoke marijuana appear outwardly to be doing OK'. Of course, the same can be said for a lot alcoholics, gambling addicts etc. We only see the truth when we were pretty sure we had $200 in our wallet, not $100, and I can't believe I lost my mobile phone again, and where the fuck is my watch, and why the hell are you so angry all the time, anyway?

People who say that long-term use of anything that mucks about with your metabolism and mental function is harmless are in denial. And even if the long-term physical and mental effects are mild and disappear shortly after ceasing use, the immediate effects of addiction on your life and your family can be devastating.

'Everybody does it', 'the government says it's bad' and 'everything gives you cancer these days, anyway' are just verbal talismans recited by people who know, deep down, that it isn't really good for them.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:16 PM on August 21, 2001


"Appearances are deceiving - my brother appears polite, intelligent and amicable to most people. They don't know that he steals stuff. Or threatens to burn the house down during episodes of psychotic rage. Or can't hold down a job. Or that he lies to people a lot of the time."

It sounds to me like your brother may have problems that stem from something other than marijuana use, I wouldn't be so quick to blame the drugs. Drug use can sometimes be symptomatic of behavioral problems (i.e. drugs use as a means of escape from a troubled life), and may need something more than sobriety to help him with his problems. But then again, I don't know him and you do.


Personally, I've been smoking pot for around 9 years now and it's never made me violent, lose a job, or steal anything. Does that make it "ok"? My opinion is that trying to rationalize personal moral decisions like this is like trying to argue whether or not apple are better than oranges, it's all relative to the individual.
posted by Hackworth at 9:21 PM on August 21, 2001


obi-Your story about your brother sounds very much like my boyfriend's brother. He strikes people as very charming and likable, but he can not keep a job and is a many times over recovering drug addict (more than just pot). He has been diagnosed with ADHD and some specialists feel that he turned to drugs as a way of controlling his symptoms. This leads back to Samsonov's point that perhaps there is something else there besides the pot use. Perhaps there aren't, but I think Samsonov is right in any case to say that you can't base an entire case (for either side) on one person.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:22 PM on August 21, 2001


"I think Samsonov is right in any case to say that you can't base an entire case (for either side) on one person."

Indeed, miss-lapin, indeed. Basing your opinions on a upon limited experience is the very definition of the word prejudice.
posted by Hackworth at 9:31 PM on August 21, 2001


Hmmm Hackworth. Then I guess we're all prejudiced about everything all the time, because experience is, by definition, limited by our pathetically short lifespans and inability to exist in more places than one at a time. It does not sound to me like "prejudice" under that definition is a particularly useful concept.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:16 AM on August 22, 2001


I smoke it every day and still have managed to snag a Master's degree with a 4.0 GPA. I agree with Hackworth that the effect of marijuana on the personality varies widely from person to person. Most likely, obi's wayward brother has other deep-seated issues; the self-medication may even be therapeutic to him...
posted by Wizzle at 7:44 AM on August 22, 2001


hackworth. keep smoking 5 joints aday, then see us in 10 years. nine years aint nutin. some can do enough drugs to kill the average fellow AND be happy and useful(H.S thompson and burroughs are two examples) But most of us aren't that...brave constitutionally
posted by clavdivs at 7:54 AM on August 22, 2001


now im gonna roll a big fat tater and watch Hannibal.
posted by clavdivs at 7:56 AM on August 22, 2001


Did I say I smoked 5 joints a day? No.
posted by Hackworth at 12:31 PM on August 22, 2001


And for the record, I do think most people maintain a certain level of prejudice about most anything involving moral decisions on an everyday basis (myself included), I think it's part of being human. What matters is that the intelligent ones realize this and try to over come it.
posted by Hackworth at 12:36 PM on August 22, 2001


How many times have I forgotten where I put something while I was stoned? How many times have I found those things only after getting stoned again.

I don't know. That's why I was asking you.
posted by mischief at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2001


It sounds to me like your brother may have problems that stem from something other than marijuana use, I wouldn't be so quick to blame the drugs.

Another logical fallacy - 'post hoc'. My brother didn't experience factor X (boredom, peer pressure, curiousity, whatever) and then turn into a thieving psycho. He experienced factor X, started using dope AND THEN became a thieving psycho. Dope is the most singificant cause of his behaviour, and so I do blame it for his behaviour.

Why he started using is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not long term marijuana consumption is safe. 'Marijuana is safe' is a universal generalisation. I only have to provide one example to refute it. Behold my brother.

Factor X may have 'led' my brother to start using marijuana - peer pressure, boredom, curiousity, who knows? But the reason he started isn't the reason he continues, and the the reason he started isn't the reason he steals, exhibits rage, can't hold a job etc.

He didn't say 'I'm bored - I think I'll scream at my parents and threaten to burn them alive.' His gf didn't say 'hey - go steal your dad's mobile phone.' He does all of these things because he needs dope, can't get dope, or can get dope and doesn't make it out of bed. His reason for starting is not the most significant cause of his negative behaviour. Being addicted to pot is.

Perhaps there aren't, but I think Samsonov is right in any case to say that you can't base an entire case (for either side) on one person.

'fraid you can. My brother is the single case that proves the universal generalisation 'marijuana is safe' completely and utterly false. To prove otherwise, you'd need to examine each and every marijuana user that ever is and ever was and prove that none of their health problems were caused by marijuana consumption. Can't be done - and thus we have a fallacy of explanation: untestability. One case of marijuana causing harm proves that it is not safe. The question then becomes one of whether the damage is worth the benefits. For some, it might be. For others, it clearly isn't.

Indeed, miss-lapin, indeed. Basing your opinions on a upon limited experience is the very definition of the word prejudice.

No, hackworth. 'I don't like Dr Pepper' is an opinion formed on limited experience - and like all opinions, it can't be confirmed or refuted. You can only do that with arguments.

Forming universal generalisations based upon limited experience is prejudice. Kinda like saying 'I smoke pot, and I'm OK, so pot is OK'. Or 'I smoke pot, and I'm OK, so your brother's problems must be caused by 'deep seated issues''. Fortunately, universal generalisations cannot be tested, and so we can all safely assume them to be false.

Mischief - check on top of the fridge.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:43 PM on August 22, 2001


oh come now, that's like saying all stairs are unsafe because my grandma fell down some and broke her hip.
posted by Hackworth at 3:38 PM on August 23, 2001


No, Hackworth. 'Stairs are unsafe' is a universal declaration. I try very hard not to make them.

You're saying that you use stairs, and you're fine, so [stairs are safe] <--- UNIVERSAL GENERALISATION.

I'm saying that your grandma 'fell down some' and broke her hip while using stairs, so at best, you might be able to claim that 'if used properly, stairs are probably safe for most people, although even then they often pose a safety hazard for the elderly or infirm'.

Or, to use another example, 'if used occasionally and in small quantities, and ignoring the immediate lung damage and skyrocketing risk of smoking related cancers, marijuana probably poses no major long-term health risks; although at least one person has experienced dramatically negative effects on their life by using it, and medical experts are unclear as to the effects of larger doses/long term use.'

Get it yet? Live your life in black and white, and you come across about as bright as a zebra crossing.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:22 PM on August 23, 2001


"Did I say I smoked 5 joints a day? No." No you did not, but i believe that would be the criteria for a chronic dope smoker, since you dont burn at least five times a day, you would not be a chronic user. (i, on the other hand, at one point would smoke 5 hoots by tea time, so i know the effects of chronic use.)
posted by clavdivs at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2001


*peers at clavdivs*

Bro?

:)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:27 PM on August 23, 2001


(gee thanks obi) how much is grass in UK? I feel the cost factor is a majority of the problem concerning Pot. (the health issues are a seperate matter)
posted by clavdivs at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2001


drugs are bad, mkay?
posted by thc at 8:31 AM on August 24, 2001


Thanks so much for posting the link to this article, bytecode. My partner and I stopped smoking pot a few weeks ago after about four years of smoking every day, just to take a break; considering how dramatically our life has changed (we actually leave the house now and talk to people; we hardly watch TV), and especially after reading this article, it looks like we'll stop permanently. I'm surprised at how accurate it is, at least in our case. It's the first time I've read an acknowledgement of the withdrawal symptoms, which were rough in our case. The article was on target about how easy it (while using pot) to deny that it affects your life, especially when you're still holding a job and otherwise getting by. With the energy we have now physically and the mental clarity we've regained, it's easier to see how much of our life was being wasted, something we never would have admitted before.

We are lucky enough that we haven't needed a treatment program (though there have been many tense periods), but this article really resonates for us and makes us far more aware of what we are going through. I think the information here will definitely help us in our weaker moments when we want to recreate that old 'magical feeling'.

Thanks again for posting it!
posted by sftroybob at 9:03 AM on August 25, 2001


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