Tag Archives: drug

Voluntary Addiction Treatment for Cannabis

addiction treatment

We find ourselves in a brave new world with marijuana. A good thing in several ways, especially regarding the impact the drug has on people’s lives. Specifically, fewer people are being sent to jail due to cannabis possession. This is a good thing, considering that our jails and prisons have long been filled with nonviolent drug offenders. needlessly serving unjust lengths of time because of draconian drug policy. To be certain, nobody who’s caught with relatively small amounts of marijuana should have to spend time in a cell. And in recent years, those charged with possession have been offered addiction treatment as an alternative.

Although, as more and more states embrace decriminalization and full, adult legalization—the need for such referrals is diminishing. Adults can now smoke “weed” legally in Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Undoubtedly, more states will hop on board the marijuana legalization train in the coming years. Medical marijuana started as a trickle with California becoming the first state to launch a program. Now, a mere twenty years later, 29 states and D.C. have medical cannabis programs.

As you can probably imagine, those working in the field of addiction treatment have some concerns about marijuana in America. Our stance is certainly in favor of decriminalization, because no one should have to serve time for drug use. But, we must be leery about marijuana addiction, and elevated rates resulting from legalization. If you are like many Americans, there is a good chance that you believe marijuana is benign. Meaning, that it has a small likelihood of causing serious bodily harm. And for the most part you are right, at least when compared to other mind-altering substances. However, and we must be clear on this, marijuana can be habit-forming and cannabis addiction is a real thing.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Pop culture has helped create certain stereotypes about “pot” use. You have probably seen movies that paint a harmless-looking picture of marijuana addicts. Perhaps you have seen the movie Half Baked (1998)? If so, then you saw actor Bob Saget berate Dave Chappelle for being addicted to weed. For those who haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t matter. The point is that in the realm of addiction, marijuana dependency is often viewed as being less legitimate. Believe it or not, there exists a kind of reverse hierarchy among addicts and alcoholics. Somebody with an opioid use disorder may look down upon a person seeking help for marijuana.

That being said, how others view your addiction is irrelevant. What matters is how it affects your life. No one should delude themselves into thinking that because marijuana is now legal—it’s harmless—because the exact opposite is true. Thousands of Americans seek addiction treatment for marijuana every year. Chronic cannabis use can have a negative impact on your cognitive abilities and there is a risk of dependence. People who find themselves dependent on marijuana do experience withdrawal symptoms during cessation.

Regarding cognitive deficits arising from cannabis use, teenagers and young adults are at particular risk. As an addiction treatment facility specializing in helping young adult males, we should join the narrative about marijuana. Young people need to have all the facts about pot. Thinking the drug does not carry risks just because it is now legal in your state is erroneous. Please remember, alcohol is legal and there is no shortage of suffering alcoholics in America.

Voluntary Treatment for Cannabis

Over the past few years, the number of people court ordered to addiction treatment for cannabis possession has declined. The byproduct of legalization. It must be noted that people court-ordered to treatment are not necessarily addicts. Being caught by the law doesn’t dictate having a substance use disorder. On the other hand, those who choose to go to treatment voluntarily probably have an issue worth considering. Evidence suggests that the number of people seeking addiction treatment voluntarily for cannabis use disorder is on the rise, The Washington Post reports. Evident by the overall number of people being treated for marijuana remaining stable, despite a 40 percent drop in court mandated treatment since 2011.

More people are using marijuana than ever in this country. It stands to reason that more young people will try and use the drug due to misconceptions about danger. The likelihood of greater numbers of people voluntarily seeking help is good. In Europe, the Netherlands has long had a light stance on the drug. Is it a coincidence that the Dutch also have the highest rate of seeking marijuana treatment in Europe?

If America is to blaze a different path than the Dutch, we need to be conscientious of the message being spread. Deterring young people from trying the drug will go a long way. Not by fear of punishment, but by giving them the facts. Marijuana is not benign, it can harm you. Dependence happens fairly often, and with it—addiction. If the drug is negatively impacting your life, please contact PACE Recovery Center today.

Cannabis Use: A New Report

cannabisIf you live in one of the several states which have adopted legislation for medical marijuana, legalized cannabis or both, there is a good chance that you have heard several claims about the drug. While some of what you have heard was likely supported by research, the majority of claims heard about the drug were probably not grounded in science—or what could be considered credible research.

The reality is, there is more that scientists don’t know about the drug, than they do know. And what researchers think they know “now,” is often proved inaccurate by further research. Dizzying, right? This is likely the result of under researching the drug during this country’s lengthy prohibition. Decades of understanding what would have been potentially gained, were lost by 80 years of federal prohibition. Now, with state voters taking a more tolerant approach to the drug, researchers are racing to play catch-up.

It is widely agreed, when it comes to illicit drug use, marijuana is probably the safest comparably. But is it important that we differentiate between “safer” and “safe.” Just because a drug is let say, not likely to lead to an overdose, does not mean that it lacks the potential of negatively impacting your life. It is not uncommon for regular “pot” users to report problems with memory or that they have trouble functioning in certain settings.

Heavy marijuana users are susceptible to withdrawal-type symptoms during sustained abstinence. Those who become dependent on the drug are likely to continue use to avoid such discomfort. If what you have just read sounds like addiction, that is because that is precisely what it is—cannabis use disorder. Of course, marijuana addiction is an extreme example of where regular use can lead. The majority of pot smokers, whose use can be typified as being casual, will probably not find themselves in the grips of addiction down the road. That does not mean that there are no other risks to be aware of, findings that could influence one’s choice to use.

Cannabis Research: Making Sense of the Noise

In recent years, there has been much research conducted on both the potential health benefits and health penalties of cannabis use. Both advocates and opponents of the drug will introduce the findings of such research as if it were 100 percent accurate, when it is often not. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal, if the confidence in such research didn’t sway voters; who, in the end, may find they have voted against their best interest.

Making sense of it all so that we can produce informed decisions about the drug can be nerve-racking, to say the least. To make sense of the noise in deciding which research to put stock in, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) sought to shine some light on the subject. The organization analyzed more than 10,700 study abstracts published in peer-reviewed journals since 1999. The conclusion of which, supports what was written above, researchers know little about the effects of marijuana use.

After looking at research, ranging from studies on marijuana's hand in mental health development, treatment of chronic pain and the drug's effect on the lungs—there was little that could be backed by substantial scientific evidence. NASEM writes:

This is a pivotal time in the world of cannabis policy and research. Shifting public sentiment, conflicting and impeded scientific research, and legislative battles have fueled the debate about what, if any, harms or benefits can be attributed to the use of cannabis or its derivatives. This report provides a broad set of evidence-based research conclusions on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids and puts forth recommendations to help advance the research field and better inform public health decisions.”


The report on the review of the abstracts indicated:

  • Twelve of the conclusions are supported by conclusive or substantial evidence.
  • Twenty-five are supported by moderate evidence.
  • Twenty-seven are supported by limited evidence.
  • Another 27 conclusions no or insufficient evidence.


Problem Cannabis Use

As for substance abuse, or problem cannabis use as it is often called, there is science that users should be aware. The was substantial evidence that cannabis use at an earlier age, being male and smoking cigarettes are risk factors for the development of problem cannabis use. There is substantial evidence of a statistical association between increases in cannabis use frequency and the progression to developing problem cannabis use. There is moderate evidence of a statistical association between cannabis use and the development of substance dependence and/or substance abuse disorder for substances including:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Other Illicit Drugs


Moving forward…

A review of research abstracts often resets the starting line for new research. This type of review is a much needed resource for scientists, as they set parameters for new studies. It is also a useful resource for addiction experts in the field of medicine and clinical therapy. NBC Nightly News’ Harry Smith presented a good overview of this study, you can see it here.

If you or a loved one are seeking treatment for marijuana addiction please reach out to our California drug abuse rehab today.

Nonviolent Drug Offenders Get Pardoned

nonviolent drug offendersMass incarceration has been just one of the results of the “war on drugs” in the United States. It is probably fair to say that in 1971, when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse "public enemy number one," that he had no idea of the long term implications that declaration would have on the country. First, let’s take a look at some numbers so you can get an idea of the cost of making addiction a crime. The International Centre for Prison Studies reports that half of the world's prison population of about nine million, reside in penal institutions in the US, China or Russia. However, while the overall general population in America is but a fraction of China, we have the highest number of prisoners by almost a million people. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that there were 2,220,300 adults behind bars in 2013, and according to the Bureau of Prisons, close to half (48.6 percent) are incarcerated for drug crimes—some of whom are serving life sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. It is almost impossible, and for good reason, to wrap your head around those statistics, yet they are a reality. Fortunately, the view of addiction and how it should be handled has gradually been changing in America, in part due to the opioid epidemic. Lawmakers have taken a look around and can see that addiction can affect anyone, as is evident by the over 2.5 million Americans living with an opioid use disorder. There are more opioid addicts than there are prisoners in the United States. There has been a big push to do away with mandatory minimum sentencing laws which affect minorities the most. What’s more, lawmakers having been calling for more addiction treatment, and less imprisonment for nonviolent drug offenders. Unfortunately, repealing and altering the draconian drug sentencing laws in America is no easy task. And even if public sentiment and sentencing laws change, there are still thousands of people serving unjust time for the crime of addiction. Because of those circumstances, the current White House administration has been working tirelessly to give people a second opportunity.

Pardon for Drug Addiction

There is a good chance that you have heard the reports in recent years regarding Presidential commutations, specifically for those who are serving lengthy sentences for nonviolent offenses. In fact, the President has commuted the sentences of nearly 800 prisoners during the course of his tenure, most of them drug offenders. The president has commuted more prison sentences than his 11 predecessors combined. The president has commuted or reduced the sentences of a number of people who were serving life sentences. The effort to commute the sentences of drug offenders has widely been applauded. No one should have to rot away in jail because they became hooked on drugs. It is likely that more sentences will be considered and commuted between now and January 20th when the next president is sworn in. However, there are still some 13,275 petitions for clemency still pending, as of October, Business Insider reports. With little time left, many inmates fear that their window of opportunity is closing fast. There is no way of knowing the stance that the next President will take, so organizations like the Clemency Project 2014, are working hard to forward inmates' petitions to the Pardon Attorney, according to the article. The project has sworn that they will continue filing inmates' petitions until time runs out. The Clemency Project consists of a team of lawyers who vet petitions in order to deem which ones stand a chance, before sending them off to the Pardon Attorney.
We certainly have expressed to [the lawyers] that time is of the essence and we want to work quickly and efficiently,” project manager Cynthia Roseberry told Business Insider.

The Future is Uncertain

One can only hope that those who deserve a second chance, will be granted such a gift - the gift of recovery. As the next few months play out, hopefully the push for treatment over jail will continue. It is the only way to reduce the prison population and prevent staggering mass incarceration rates. As featured and promoted in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) treatment is the answer, and should be the weapon of choice in the war on drugs moving forward.

Major Media Covers the Opioid Epidemic

opioid epidemicA number of major media outlets have taken it upon themselves, and for good reason, to shine a light on prescription opioid and heroin abuse. For over a decade now, our nation has been severely affected by the opioid epidemic, a crisis that takes over 70 lives a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While health agencies and lawmakers are working hard to increase access to both the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone and addiction treatment, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to combat the calamity. This week, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). If the bill passes in the House, the legislation will give the Attorneys General the power to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. The funding will be used for strengthening a number of programs and initiatives, including: addiction education and prevention, prescription drug monitoring and treatment. CARA is just one effort among a multifaceted interagency approach to addressing the opiate epidemic. The White House, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, et al., are all committed to saving lives and providing access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, there is still a lot that the American public does not understand about the drug crisis and the true scope of the disease of addiction. Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a film: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict”. The film was created mainly for young Americans, and was essentially a call to action for the public to take part in ending the opioid epidemic. Towards the end of February, PBS aired a new "Frontline" documentary "Chasing Heroin." The film is nearly 2 hours long, and took a year to film. The documentary covers a number of elements of the epidemic, but perhaps the most interesting aspect was the coverage of how law enforcement is addressing the problem. Police officers are acting as social workers and not jail taxis, instead of slapping on the handcuffs they are referring addicts to addiction treatment services. You can watch a short clip below or watch the full documentary by clicking here. Tonight, ABC News will air a special edition of "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET. "Breaking Point: Heroin in America." The report covers the ongoing heroin epidemic in New Hampshire. “When you realize that nearly everyone you meet has been touched by the drug in some way, that’s really eye-opening,” said David Muir. “It helps begin a conversation out there, and the more we can be part of the conversation, the better.” We hope that everyone, whether the opioid epidemic has touched you or not, will take time to watch the important documentaries. We can all have a hand in the solution to this insidious problem.

A Link Between Marijuana and Prediabetes

marijuanaThis week, the state of Oregon began selling marijuana to adults for recreational use, now being one of four in the country to do so. With many Americans gearing up to vote on legalization next year, being informed about the drug is important. Over the last few years the amount of research on the drug has increased substantially, after decades of prohibition which limited who could study the drug. A new study has found a link between marijuana use and poor blood sugar control, also known as "prediabetes,” Medical News Today reports. Although the researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis were unable to tie marijuana use to type-2 diabetes - the most common form of diabetes. The research was led by Mike Bancks, a postdoctoral cardiovascular trainee at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Bancks and his research team focused on three questions:
  • Was there a link between marijuana use and prediabetes and/or type-2 diabetes?
  • Was being obese a factor to eliminate before connecting marijuana and diabetes.?
  • Does race/gender and sex/race play a part in the connection?
The researchers found that current marijuana users had a 65 percent increased chance of having prediabetes, according to the article. Interestingly, lifetime users of marijuana only had a 49 percent increase in the odds of having prediabetes. The researchers said:
Marijuana use was associated with the development and prevalence of prediabetes after adjustment. Specifically, occurrence of prediabetes in middle adulthood was significantly elevated for individuals who reported using marijuana in excess of 100 times by young adulthood. Future studies should look to objectively measure mode and quantity of marijuana use in relation to prospective metabolic health."
The findings were published in Diabetologia. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.