Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Confessions of a cannabis 'addict'

Prohibitionists are spending a whack of taxpayers dollars trying to establish 'cannabis addiction' as a significant problem. Jo Baxter of Drug Free Australia recently stated at an international forum (1) that "there are still at least 200,000 people in Australia... who admit to being addicted to cannabis". As she was referring to the Australian Household Drug Survey (2) which does not give figures for cannabis addiction, it appears to be a prime example of the porkies these people spout.

An acquaintance of mine told me the other day she had conducted a 'medical experiment' on herself. After 40 years of smoking pot almost daily, she decided to give it up to see what would happen.

Result: nothing. A week after she stopped (on the weekend), she had a strong urge to smoke and trawled the house for dregs, but didn't smoke. Next weekend, the same. Then nothing -- no problems, no side-effects, no withdrawal symptoms. She is now five weeks into her fast. That's not even indicative of a significant psychological dependence.

It is salient, I think, that she has never smoked tobacco and did not consume it mixed with her pot.

She is a pleasant, healthy, employed, functional person with adult kids who are themselves studying or employed.

OK it's a sample of one but 40 years is a long time and any sane person would have to admit that if she had been using heroin, cocaine, tobacco or amphetamines she would have been deeply addicted.

This gels with my knowledge of the long-term smokers I know. The only time I have seen anything like dependence in a pot smoker was when they mixed it with tobacco.

I guess Jo Baxter must either be talking about a different substance or she is deeply deluded.



(Thanks to Gary Gahan for pointing out the Jo Baxter material on an email list.)


Anonymous said...

I'll give you 2 more examples.

One guy I know had a heroin hobby for over 10 years. He was on some sort of medication that does not allow the heroin to work, then once a month goes off it for a weekend to have some 'fun'. He recently told me he is now clean.

Another guy I know has had a cocaine hobby for nearly 20 years. This means he has spent nearly $500k on coke. And yet he has a job, a kid and is a productive member of society.

neither of these people has ever broken into houses or stolen for a living, but by most peoples estimation would be classed as addicts.

So is something wrong with these citizens, or is something wrong with the law?

Anonymous said...

Is dope more potent ? Is tobacco depression lite and dope for maximum effect ? I guess that the SCIENCE is getting closer to the answer.

Anonymous said...

I know a few long time heavy dope smokers amongst my friends. They are so aged whilst they are still relatively young that they look like dried prunes.

I am told that this is a fairly common occurrence. Has anyone seen statistics to confirm this ?

The Editor said...

No. And I'll bet they smoke tobacco. If they exist.

Anonymous said...

interesting report here

Anonymous said...

Anomymous' suggestion that pot smokers prematurely age sounds a little haywire to me. I have never witnessed any evidence of it - and I have generally noticed the opposite to be true. And at home my boyfriend has been a heavy pot smoker for most of his 40 years and still looks about 15. I have seen evidence of premature ageing as a result of other habits though, ice for instance or bitterness.

Dr Ray in KX said...

Cannabis can certainly be a psychologically addictive drug with intense craving and insomnia with agitation as part of the withdrawal. This occurs in only about 10 per cent of regular cannabis users. Effective withdrawal can be managed in a general practice setting with frequent reviews of the patients and use of a sedating antidepressant medication [Mirtazapine] for about one month with regular medical reviews and counselling.

Anonymous said...

Let me say as a mental health practitioner, that I have seen many clients with Anxiety disorders self medicating with cannabis and the cannabis has become a dependency problem on top of the anxiety.

Clients are unaware that they have problems with anxiety and put it down to just being 'nervy'. So they use cannabis long term as way to take the edge off. When they cut down on using, they sometimes they have worse levels of anxiety or, at minimum the underlying untreated anxiety remains the same.

So they need to learn how to manage their anxiety without cannabis or alcohol.