Tag Archives: Marijuana

Is Marijuana Dispensary Acceptance Driving Consumer Perception the Wrong Way?

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Marijuana Dispensary Acceptance and perception

Many states have enacted marijuana reform laws over the past several years. Some states have legalized marijuana for medical use in limited forms while others like Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational cannabis for adults over 21. While there is strong evidence to support marijuana’s medical value, there is also evidence to show that marijuana does have addictive properties, contrary to popular belief.

Developing A Realistic Understanding Of Cannabis

One unfortunate side effect of the growing presence of marijuana dispensaries across the country is the pervasive misconception that marijuana is entirely safe. Another is the growing number of school children, some as young as eighth grade, reporting using marijuana in the past*. In 2017, about 14% of surveyed eighth-grade students reported smoking marijuana at least once. The rates increased to over 30% for tenth-grade students and 45% for twelfth-grade students.

Marijuana may not cause acute withdrawal symptoms like opioids or cocaine, and there may be no visible signs of damage from prolonged marijuana use, but marijuana has an undeniable effect on cognitive processing and memory, especially for younger users.

Potential Dangers Of Cannabis Use

Potential Dangers Of Cannabis Use Cannabis may not carry an overdose risk like other drugs, and the short-term effects are generally mild compared to the effects of stronger substances. Typically, marijuana use can create feelings of relaxation and euphoria, increase appetite, and help a person sleep more soundly.

Some of the medical applications of cannabis include treating the symptoms of anxiety disorders, depression, and chronic pain. Marijuana can help dull pain sensations and alleviate headaches and joint pain. It can also help with cancer treatment; quelling the nausea often caused by chemotherapy and helping patients maintain their appetite.

While there are distinct benefits of medical cannabis and many believe that recreational marijuana should not carry the same stigma as other, “harder” illicit drugs, there are definite risks associated with prolonged cannabis use. Excessive consumption can lead to memory problems and can exacerbate the symptoms of some mental health disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. In a recent study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)***, researchers found that adolescent marijuana consumption correlated heavily with poor academic achievement and an increased risk of depression later in life.

Long-Term Complications

Another NIDA-backed study**** looked at the effects of cannabis use disorder on the brain. The study concluded that the brain has to work around the presence of cannabis in the bloodstream and eventually adapts to prolonged cannabis use. A “cannabis use disorder” describes a person using higher doses of cannabis due to tolerance. Some of the long-term effects of cannabis can include reduced inhibitory control, reduced cognitive flexibility, and impaired memory.

Over time, a person will become resistant to the effects of cannabis due to overstimulation of the brain’s natural endocannabinoid receptors. The person will require larger and larger doses of cannabis to achieve the desired effect, and this eventually leads to cannabis use disorder.

Luckily, it is possible for cannabis users to “reset” their natural endocannabinoid systems by abstaining from marijuana use. While marijuana does not cause physical withdrawal symptoms, a person with cannabis use disorder will likely experience cravings for marijuana and other adverse side effects in the first few days of abstinence, but these side effects fade relatively quickly.

Overcoming The Effects Of Cannabis

A study from the Center for Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School** reported that marijuana use at a young age can interfere with learning ability. Researchers studied the effects of cannabis abstinence and found that although cannabis use can be detrimental to memory and learning ability, these effects appear to be reversible with abstinence. After one week of cannabis abstinence, visual learning ability showed marked improvement. After four weeks, the ability to process and retain new information improved.

Changing Perceptions Of Marijuana

While most medical marijuana dispensary employees will extoll the value of marijuana and downplay the potential risks, it is vital for all marijuana users to understand the risks of cannabis use disorder and the potential for long-term damage. The growing number of dispensaries across the country inherently shifts people’s perspectives on marijuana. Someone who previously considered it a dangerous drug may start to change his or her mind after seeing several legitimate cannabis businesses appear in the local area.

Changing Attitudes In California

While it is important to quash misconceptions about marijuana and encourage responsible use, it is equally important to acknowledge the potential risks of cannabis. California was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, and state policymakers continue to track the costs and benefits of the marijuana industry in California in relation to public health.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) recently released a marijuana report***** tracking marijuana perceptions in California communities. The study tracked perceived harm, whether people believe marijuana dispensaries are offering stronger strains of cannabis, driving ability after consuming marijuana, and perceived risks associated with use.

Some results of this study included data that indicates school-age children are now more likely to self-report cannabis use as their first drug use experience. They also report viewing cannabis as minimally dangerous with a very low perceived impact on driving ability.

Finding Help For Cannabis Use Disorder

Cannabis may be legal in many areas of the country, but it is only legal for adults over the age of 21. Children and teens who consume cannabis face a high risk of developing long-term medical issues. While some of these effects are reversible, they may still interfere with academic achievement and career opportunities later in life for some young people.

The Fight Addiction Now community includes people all over the country who have experience with substance abuse in some way. Some members are former drug users in various stages of recovery. Others include researchers, caregivers, medical professionals, and friends and family of people who have experienced addiction firsthand.

Cannabis may not be as dangerous as other drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, or heroin, but cannabis use disorder still has the potential to cause significant problems, especially in young people. Visit the Fight Addiction Now community and take part in the conversation.

More Women Are Using Marijuana While Pregnant than Ever Before

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More Women Are Using Marijuana While Pregnant than Ever Before - Fight Addiction Now

Since it became more socially acceptable and, in some places, legal, to smoke marijuana, more and more pregnant women are using marijuana to cope with everything from morning sickness to postpartum blues. Some women use it instead of opioids for pain relief, defending its use because opioids are addictive and dangerous for the unborn child. Women’s use of marijuana covers the socioeconomic spectrum, but is increasingly used by those who are more disadvantaged.

Unfortunately, there has been enough research to determine there is a potential risk to the developing fetus due to marijuana’s active compound, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can cross a mother’s placenta and get to her baby during pregnancy. It can also get into the mother’s milk and passed to the baby that way. CBD can also be harmful, by weakening the permeability of the placenta, making it easier for harmful substances to pass to the baby.

Potential Health Risks

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has determined that the health risks to the unborn baby can include low birth weight, premature birth, small head circumference, small length, and even stillbirth. When these babies are born, they tend to present increased tremors, exaggerated startle reflexes, high-pitched cries, abnormal sleep patterns and other behaviors normally associated with opioid withdrawal.

Research has also suggested that in-utero exposure to marijuana can result in poorer hand eye coordination in the baby, such as catching a ball or solving visual puzzles. The effects of the THC on the brain could also be a trigger for the child, as it gets older, to addictive behaviors, including alcohol or other drugs.

Brain Development

A baby’s brain is rapidly developing, even while still in the womb, and is constructing billions of neural connections. With marijuana use being more commonplace, many obstetricians and gynecologists fear that the THC ingested, either while in utero or through the mother’s milk, will cause these babies to perceive their world through an altered state. But marijuana use has also shown to affect the placenta by reducing flow of oxygen and blood, which may affect brain development.

Long term studies stated that children whose mothers used marijuana during pregnancy have trouble with memory, attention, controlling impulses, and school performance. These children showed the effects by age 9 or 10 in reduced reading and spelling skills and executive function. By age 14, the children did much worse in school and were more likely to display delinquent behavior.

Medical Marijuana Isn’t Any Better

Although the medical marijuana dispensaries do try to standardize dosages, there is no real standard dosage, no standard formulation, no standard delivery system and no FDA approved recommendations regarding use during pregnancy. This is why most doctors advise against marijuana use for women who are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant.

Smoking is considered a health risk around small children and especially newborns, whose lungs are still developing. Marijuana smoke has some of the same chemicals as cigarette smoke and is just as bad. However, vaping, edibles or tinctures, even in the dosages that are set, are not recommended. While their THC levels are lower, the THC still crosses the placental wall and can harm the fetus.

There are alternatives to marijuana use, including homeopathic alternatives, to combat morning sickness, back pain and depression from pregnancy and most doctors advocate using those.

Marijuana Poses Risks to the Mother

There is also an increased risk to the mother from ingesting marijuana while pregnant. Anemia, increased heart rate, and low blood pressure can develop which may cause dizziness and fainting. Coupled with the ungainliness of advanced pregnancy, the possibilities of a mother accidentally hurting the fetus is increased. Use of marijuana can add to the confusion and forgetfulness of “baby brain”, the pregnancy-induced fog which many women experience. Pregnancy is also a time when many mental illnesses are brought to the surface; use of marijuana can induce paranoia and other psychological issues.

Marijuana Use during Pregnancy Should Be Avoided

Pregnancy & Marijuana use - Fight Addiction NowThe research that is out there about marijuana use in pregnant women is either negative or contradictory. The overriding consensus is that any potentially positive merits of its use merely shadow the health risks for mother and child. Even the ACOG report waffled, saying it may cause damage, not stating empirically that it did.

One report stated that there were five studies and one systemic review that provided evidence of increased risk to the unborn child, while another review and three studies contradicted the results. The one thing that the studies have shown is that the more a woman consumes marijuana, the greater the risk to the baby’s health. However no one knows what amount is safe and where the delineation point is towards harmful.

Truly, more research is needed and with that in mind, next year, the US government will be funding $1.4 million for more marijuana research, focusing mostly on marijuana use during pregnancy. We do have some research already available that says it may not be in a baby’s best interest to use marijuana in any form because of the THC and CBD. Therefore, it may be wise to stop using marijuana at least 30 days after deciding to get pregnant, since THC stores in the fat cells and it can take up to that much time to clear out of the body. In case you find out you’re pregnant, stopping use of marijuana immediately is highly recommend. This will definitely increase the baby’s chances at optimal health.

Like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, ingesting marijuana in any form should be considered a health risk for the baby. If you or someone you know is pregnant and using marijuana, you might want to talk to your doctor or gynecologist to get more information on the pros and cons of marijuana use during pregnancy and alternatives such as vitamin B-6 for morning sickness or an analgesic rub for back pain.

Fight Addiction Now Can Find You Help to Quit Marijuana Use While Pregnant

Can You Use Marijuana to Get Off Opioids (Heroin/Painkillers)?

Can You Use Marijuana for Opioid Withdrawal Heroin Painkillers - Fight Addiction Now

The American opioid epidemic rages on. More than 2 million Americans are reportedly dependent on opioid drugs currently. In 2016 alone, some 42,000 people died of an opioid overdose. That’s more than 100 opioid-related deaths every single day.

Understandably, opioid addicts are terrified, and many are beginning to turn to unconventional treatments to overcome their addiction. As the number of accepted medical uses for marijuana has steadily grown over the past decade, many wonder if cannabis can be an effective treatment for opioid addiction.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence showing that marijuana can help people suffering from opioid withdrawals. However, marijuana use may be of some benefit during other stages of opioid addiction treatment.

Marijuana for Opioid Withdrawal: Does It Work?

Opioid Prescriptions In States With Medical Marijuana Statistic - Fight Addiction Now

It would be nice if simply smoking weed or eating marijuana food for opiate withdrawal were an effective treatment, but to put it bluntly, it’s not. There is very little that can be done to make the symptoms of opioid detox less miserable.

Once you’ve decided to get clean, you’ll inevitably have to suffer through opioid withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Cold flashes
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting

Now, there is some anecdotal evidence that marijuana may be able to partially relieve some of these symptoms, like nausea and insomnia, for example. But as a general rule, marijuana is not an effective replacement for opioids during the early stages of recovery.

Marijuana as a Replacement Painkiller

Many people who become addicted to opioid drugs began using them for legitimate reasons. There are countless stories of doctors prescribing painkillers to patients who, over time, become more and more dependent on the opioid medications.

And when their prescription runs out, many of these patients turn to street opioids to satisfy their drug dependence, which can eventually lead to heroin addiction and even death.

While marijuana may not treat the physical dependence on opioids, it can bring relief to the underlying chronic pain issues that led to the use of opioids in the first place.

Studies on Marijuana to Treat Chronic Pain

Harvard researchers recently performed a systematic review of 28 studies examining the effectiveness of cannabinoids to treat numerous chronic pain conditions. The Harvard team found that of six general chronic pain studies, all demonstrated that marijuana use resulted in a significant improvement in pain symptoms. In addition, five out of five studies showed that marijuana helped to alleviate neuropathic pain.

Two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association also seem to indicate that states that legalized medical marijuana observed a significant reduction in the number of opioid prescriptions written by doctors. While these studies only show observational correlations, the research teams were confident that the drop in opioid prescriptions is related to the availability of legal marijuana, as there was no change in the number of non-opioid prescriptions during the study.

It’s hard to say whether marijuana can be an effective chronic pain treatment in all cases, but the research appears to show that many may be able to find relief by replacing their opioid use with marijuana.

Marijuana as a Recreational Opioid Replacement

Marijuana Food For Opiate Withdrawal - Fight Addiction Now

Not everyone uses opioid drugs for legitimate medical reasons. Those who use prescription painkillers or heroin recreationally may be able to replace opioids with marijuana. People abuse opioids for a number of nonmedical reasons, such as to relieve social anxiety or just unwind after a stressful day. Marijuana can provide similar effects to opioids in this regard, and is much safer in both the short and long term.

Whereas opioids have a tremendously high potential for addiction, marijuana does not. People can use it for years with little risk of developing a physical dependence. And while opioid overdoses claim tens of thousands of lives every year, it’s nearly impossible to have a fatal overdose of marijuana.

Now, we’re not recommending that people take up marijuana use just to have a good time, but if the choice is between marijuana and opioids, it’s safe to say that marijuana is going to be the safer option nearly 100 percent of the time.

Beating Opioid Addiction the Smart Way

If you are serious about kicking an opioid habit, there is no better way to do it than through a medical opioid detox program. For someone going through the process of quitting opioids, marijuana will not do much for the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, but there are other medications that can.

If it’s deemed necessary, a trained physician at a medically assisted opioid detox facility may prescribe any of the following medications to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms:

Buprenorphine/Naloxone

An opioid and opioid antagonist, this drug helps with managing withdrawal symptoms and can be taken by injection, as an implant, under the tongue or as a skin patch. Be mindful that this medication has the potential for addiction if abused or taken for too long of a time.

Methadone

This medication, sold under the brand name Dolophine, can treat pain and help wean patients off other opioid drugs. Detox centers must be certified by SAMHSA to legally prescribe this medication, as it can be addictive if prescribed for too long or too heavy of a dosage.

Clonidine

Clonidine is a blood pressure medication that has proved to be effective in treating opioid withdrawal symptoms. This drug works by affecting the central nervous system, and can be prescribed by any licensed physician.

Zofran

Zofran treats nausea and vomiting that accompany opioid withdrawal. Any licensed doctor at an opioid detox center can prescribe Zofran to patients.

Help with Finding an Opioid Detox Program

In the end, the decision comes down to each individual whether they will choose to use marijuana as a replacement of the symptoms or reasons they started taking opioid drugs. One thing that is certain, however, is that if someone is already addicted to opioids, marijuana is not going to magically get rid of their withdrawal symptoms. But don’t lose hope!

No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, with professional help and personal determination, anyone can start down the path toward a life free from opioid addiction.

Learn More About the Detox Process