Legalization: Placing Age Limits On Marijuana

legalization

More than half of the 50 United States have voted in favor of medical marijuana legalization, and nearly a fifth of all states have legalized the drug for recreational use. Since marijuana policy reform in America seems to be heading one way, it is vital that lawmakers heed the wisdom of researchers when it comes to drafting such policies. It is ever important that quality standards and age restrictions pay mind to experts in the field.

For the most part, those charged with rolling out recreational use in states like Colorado and Washington have deferred to scientists and experts. The fact that one must be 21+ years of age to buy and use the drug was not decided at random, and it was not meant to be an affront to ebullient 18-year-olds itching to exercise their new-found sense of freedom. The age restriction in states with legal “weed” was set in deference to brain science, and the fact that the human brain continues to develop into the mid-20s.

Given there is ample research showing that the marijuana can have a serious impact on cognitive function, affecting memory and intelligence quotient, the further along one goes in life before having tried marijuana — the better. On top of that, studies have also shown that marijuana use, beginning at a young age, can increase one’s risk of abuse and dependence of not only cannabis, but other substances, down the road. While marijuana may register low on the Richter scale of dangerous drugs for adults, there is really no way of predicting what kind of damage it may do to a developing brain.

Cannabis in America, Legalization and Beyond

Last November, you may have been one of the majority of Californians who voted in favor of legalization. Adults over the age of 21 in California can use, possess and even cultivate the plant in their own home. The retail aspect of Proposition 64 isn't expected to take effect until sometime next year, which will give officials time to work out the minutiae.

What’s more, efforts are likely to be underway to ensure that the right messages are being sent to young people about the drug. Specifically, that while cannabis is now legal for people over the age of 21, that doesn't mean that it is safe for everyone to use.

With more states expected to adopt a more lenient position about marijuana, continued research is of the utmost importance. At the end of the day, experts know far less than they don’t know, the byproduct of over 80 years of prohibition hindering effective research on the substance. As our neighbors to the North prepare to announce next month Canada’s plan to legalize marijuana from British Columbia to Newfoundland effective July 1, 2018, age restrictions are a hot button topic, according to a press release from Concordia University. The Canadian Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommends that cannabis use be restricted to those who are at least 18 years in age. While the restriction is 3-years below what U.S. states have set, CBC reports that provinces would be allowed to set a higher age limit.

Research Supports 21

A new study published in the journal Health, examined the results of three national surveys on tobacco, alcohol and drug use (two in Canada and one in America), showed that those who refrain from using marijuana until the age of 21 are unlikely to develop a lifelong habit, the press release reports. Study coauthor James McIntosh, professor of economics in the Faculty of Arts and Science, said that earlier in life one starts using marijuana, the more negative the physical and mental effects will be. McIntosh and his co-author Rawan Hassunah’s study was novel in how closely is examined the age of first marijuana use. They found that early cannabis initiation and use can lead to cognitive impairment, including:

  • Memory Loss
  • Diminished IQ
  • Reduced Educational Success
  • Greater Risk of Mental Illness

Despite the findings of the study, McIntosh believes that the pros of legalizing outweigh the cons. He points out that Canada’s move towards legalization puts the country in a distinct position to start seriously researching the effects of the drug on every age group:

We need to start collecting data on it to see what the effects are on people of all ages. You can get all kinds of information on drinking behaviours -- they should do that with marijuana."

Cannabis Addiction

The use of cannabis, while considered to be a benign practice by those with a history of addiction or not, can actually wreak havoc on one’s life. As was listed above, the impacts of heavy cannabis use, starting at an early age can make your life unmanageable. Attempts to cease use often results in withdrawal symptoms which are typically mitigated by continued use of the drug. It is not uncommon for marijuana addicts to seek help by way of an addiction treatment center. If you are a young adult, male whose life has been significantly impacted by cannabis use, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Giving Back in Recovery and Community

giving back

The principles and virtues of addiction recovery are what the program is built upon. Honesty, willingness and service, for example, are essential to recovery; without these the goal of long term sobriety could not be achieved. Adhering to the principles, like those mentioned above, are not only good for recovery, it is a good way for anyone to live. But for those with a history of addiction, a disease that is often typified by extreme selfishness, practicing the principles of recovery in all of one’s affairs can be difficult at first. For many recovering addicts and alcoholics, being honest with others is 180 degrees different than how one has been historically.

Overtime, adopting the principles of recovery and practicing these in all of one’s affairs becomes easier, and eventually acting counter to that way of living becomes more and more difficult. An individual comes to the program wanting to find a new lease on life. You surrender and commit yourself to the vital task of being not only honest with yourself, but with your peers. You commit to working a program as if life depended on it (and it does), not only working the steps, but living them. In time, if direction has been followed to the best of one’s ability per working the steps, you will accumulate a length of sobriety. Then what? The simple answer is that you make a commitment to pay it forward.

If You Want to Keep It, Give It Back

Giving back to the program which was given to you gratis, is a major component of recovery. Even if you have only attended a few meetings, there is a good chance you have heard it said that you can’t keep it unless you give it away. You may have scratched your head upon hearing that, saying to yourself, ‘I can’t keep it, unless I am willing to give it back.’ A paradox, right? Well, not exactly. As you work through the steps with a sponsor, you will come to realize that this person who you barely know is helping you save your own life. Something you were unable to do on your own. On the surface, it will appear that said person is in no way being compensated for teaching you how to work the program, and live life one day at a time.

At some point along the way you will come to understand that this relative stranger helping you, was once helped in the same way by another person. And is still likely being helped by a sponsor of their own. In effect, helping another find the gifts of recovery, in turn, helps them keep what you have earned from recovery. Such work does not only apply to sponsorship, it could be as simple or as menial as cleaning up after a meeting (even the bathroom) or making coffee for the group. Humility goes a long way, when it comes to long-term sobriety. Walking up to a newcomer and welcoming them to the group is a way of paying it forward.

The Recovery Community and Beyond

Practicing the principles of recovery in all our affairs doesn’t just apply to how we conduct ourselves in the rooms of recovery and among our peers working a program. Sure, after acquiring some time in the program your role with the support community is of the utmost importance. But you, or rather all of us, are members of a greater community—society. The good work you do in the program can also be channeled into the greater community. What’s more, as your time in sobriety accumulates and you begin to feel sturdier in recovery, you may find yourself desiring to become a productive member of society. Feeling inclined to do things like volunteer your services to good cause.

There is no shortage of ways you can be of service to the greater community. You may discover that you own life experience, even the bad parts, could be of great help to at-risk youth. Organizations and campaigns dedicated to mitigating the risk of certain young people walking down a similar path—that of addiction.

PACE Recovery Center Encourages Community Service

Throughout the year, PACE Recovery Center encourages the men in our treatment program to become involved with community events. This can include volunteering at charitable events, particularly working with the homeless during the holidays.

This year PACE Recovery Center has committed to supporting the Tucson Conquistadores Classic - An Official PGA TOUR Champions event. The event is sponsored by the Tucson Conquistadores, a civic, not-for-profit fundraising organization established in 1962. Over the decades, the Conquistadores have contributed more than $32 million to youth athletic programs throughout Southern Arizona.

The Tucson Conquistadores Classic begins March 15 and continues through March 19, 2017. It takes place at Omni Tucson National Golf Resort. And should you happen to be Tucson, AZ, this week, you may want to get involved.

It Is All About Giving Back…

Giving back is at the heart of the Tucson Conquistadores and Champions Tour. Net proceeds from this tournament go directly to youth charities in Southern Arizona including The First Tee of Tucson, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, Pima County Special Olympics and the Southern Arizona Community Sports Center at Curtis Park.

Here’s to a successful tournament and paying it forward.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

problem gambling

Recovery from mental illness is possible, but it is always darkest before the dawn. If you have personal experience with addiction (i.e. problem gambling), then you understand firsthand that it is a progressive disease. Left untreated, you continue to spiral down until, at some point, you realize that you are in a worse position than hitting rock bottom—in fact, you are looking up at your “bottom.”

It is said time and time again in the circles of recovery, that one must truly reach their bottom in order to be willing to surrender and be able to embrace the principles of recovery. But, the truth of the matter is that you actually hit, and surpass several bottoms in multidimensional ways—a veritable tesseract of despair. No matter which direction you look, you are confronted by the entryway doors that connect you with the world around you closed or closing, one after another. With active addiction, you can feel like you are falling in multiple directions at the same time, stretching your mind to the brink. You finally cease plunging for just enough time to take a panoramic snapshot of existence, only to discover upon development that you are, in fact, alone—shackled to the disease. At such a crossroad, one must make a choice; follow the path you are on to its logical end, or…

Addiction is a mental health disorder that takes many different shapes. And while a number of behaviors or substances can be habit forming, regardless of what you are dependent upon, the outcomes for each of the afflicted (left untreated) are typically the same. Any number of things can lead to dependence, and each of them in their own way can bring one to their knees: Snatching friends, family, livelihood and life right out from under you. Fortunately, if one works on any problem, a solution can oftentimes be found. When it comes to addiction the solution is treatment and a commitment to work a program of spiritual maintenance.

There are millions of Americans plagued by one form of mental illness or compulsive disorder. However, while it is easy to find information about treating and recovering from a substance use disorder, the same cannot be said for other debilitating conditions—such as “gambling addiction" or "compulsive gambling." The reasons are numerous, but it is important that those who are actively struggling with problem gambling, sometimes referred to as Ludomania, come to realize that they are not alone and help is available.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Gambling can turn into a dangerous two-way street when you least expect it. Weird things happen suddenly, and your life can go all to pieces.” —H.S. Thompson

In 2012, there were an estimated 5.77 million disordered gamblers in the U.S. in need of treatment, according to the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services. Yet, of that staggering number of problem gamblers, only 10,387 (less than one quarter of one percent (0.18%) people were treated that year in U.S. state-funded problem gambling treatment programs. In comparison, substance use disorders were about 3.6 times more common at the time, than gambling disorders. However, the amount of public funding allotted for substance use disorder treatment was about 281 times greater ($17 billion: $60.6 million) than the funds directed towards treating problem gamblers.

Every March, a grassroots campaign is waged to raise awareness about problem gambling. During Problem Gambling Awareness Month events and activities will be held around the country to “educate the general public and healthcare professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and to raise awareness about the help that is available both locally and nationally.”

This is an important time for raising awareness about the condition, because there is a serious effort on federal and state levels to lift or amend the federal prohibition on sports betting, ESPN reports. While the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is neutral about whether or not sports betting should be legal, the organization believes that expanding the practice across the country will likely result in more people playing and in turn—more problem gamblers. The NCPG is asking legislators behind expanding sports gambling for funds to prevent and treat gambling addiction.

Getting Help

If you are a compulsive gambler and need assistance, you can call the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (800-522-477). In some instances, your or your loved one’s condition may be so severe that residential addiction treatment is the best option. Additionally, PACE Recovery Center's Orange County Intensive Outpatient Program is a men’s only - gender specific program. We treat men who are suffering from drug and alcohol issues, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, relationship issues, process addictions, and gambling addiction.

Addressing Alcohol Use Disorder In America

alcohol use disorder

The American opioid addiction epidemic has long been a top priority among lawmakers and health experts. The scourge of opioid abuse across the country has resulted in thousands of premature deaths, the result of overdoses. If you have been keeping yourself apprised of efforts to curb opioid use and abuse rates, it is likely that you have heard or read statements indicating that the opioid epidemic is unprecedented.

A claim that is spot on when it comes to the abuse of drugs. What makes opioid abuse so pernicious is the fact that technically, someone can overdose at any time. People often say that addiction is a slow death, dying spiritually at first and then expiring physically down the road—often decades later. Not so with opioid use disorder. But, if we were to step back and look at addiction in America as a whole, one could easily argue that the most severe addiction epidemic that the U.S. has ever faced and continues to struggle with is tied to a substance that is legal for adult consumption. Alcohol is a drug that is responsible for far more deaths every year than opioid narcotics, such as OxyContin or heroin. However, opioid addiction receives far more attention than AUD.

Alcohol, like prescription drugs, is a multibillion dollar enterprise. Despite the deadly nature of heavy alcohol use, the substance is both legal and is considered to be a socially acceptable for both relaxation and celebration. The substance can be acquired with little effort, there are no rules about how much can be purchased or used at one time. Suffice it to say, one can drink themselves to death without out any checks and balances. Unlike a doctor who may stop prescribing a drug because of concerns of abuse, liquor stores will sell booze to anyone with a pulse.

Alcohol Abuse Figures of Interest

A few years ago a National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) revealed that over 20 million Americans consumed alcohol at potentially dangerous levels. The data was analyzed by author Philip J. Cook, and used for a book titled, “Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control.” NESARC data revealed that 24 million adults (18 +) - drink an average 74 alcoholic beverages every week—about 10 drinks a day. A lot of alcohol to be sure.

In the following year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. What’s more, the survey indicated that 15.1 million adults had an alcohol use disorder (AUD), a figure made up of 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women. While those figures are staggering, perhaps the most concerning finding was that about 1.3 million adults received treatment for AUD at a substance use disorder center in the same year.

Alcohol and Opioids—A Common Tie

If one were to try and find a silver lining regarding the American opioid addiction epidemic, you may think that it would be a difficult task considering the death toll. However, the crisis has brought to light the fact that there is a real lack of addiction treatment services in this country. A reality that brought about the passing of legislation that would, among other things, expand access to addiction treatment.

Substance use disorder treatment centers utilize effective science-based therapies to help people save their own lives. In conjunction with medication and introducing patients to recovery support groups (i.e. 12-Step programs and SMART Recovery), people with the disease of addiction can have a real chance at sustained abstinence for decades. Many facilities have started to take advantage of certain medications that can help clients after being discharged avoid relapse. One such drug is naltrexone, commonly sold under the brand name Vivitrol ® has been used for years on opioid addicts.

Naltrexone has been found to have an impact on opioid cravings, it can deter relapse by blocking the euphoric feelings produced by opioid use. One can take an OxyContin, but not get high. Interestingly, science shows that both opioids and alcohol impact some of the same receptors in the brain. So, it stands to reason that naltrexone may help alcoholics curb their drinking. Studies indicate that Vivitrol can decrease the pleasure that comes with drinking alcohol, NPR reports. If you reconsider the survey that showed only a small fraction of alcoholics go to treatment, it is vital that primary care physicians utilize the drug which research shows has been historically underused.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, we implore you to seek help immediately. The problem, as with any addiction, it will only get worse. Alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease, without treatment it can be fatal. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the journey of recovery. We specialize in treating young adult males, and have helped many people start the journey of recovery. Here’s to life!

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