Thursday, December 09, 2010

Defining addiction

The term 'cannabis addiction' is now bandied about as if it is an established fact. It seems that the addiction industry has redefined the term to suit, as discussed in a Time article.

Having known people who used many types of drugs, I always agreed that cannabis could be psychologically addictive -- but then, so can golf, good chardonnay or even blogging.

Compared to the "shaking, puking heroin junkie who can't quit because the withdrawal sickness is impossible to bear", giving up cannabis is a breeze as far as I have observed -- people just do it naturally when their life changes or they reach a certain age (As I have previously described in 'Confessions of a cannabis addict').

But the addiction industry argues that mental addiction is harder to break than the physical, and it is well known that junkies or tobacco smokers who give up find it difficult to fill the social vacuum left in their lives.

So if both kinds of addiction are simply addiction, and therefore treated similarly under the law or in medicine, isn't someone having a lend of themselves? Is weaning a serious injecting drug user off their habit the same as advising a newly pregnant woman to stop smoking pot while they are pregnant, or a final year student to give up while studying for their final exam?

As the Time article says, you can die from alcohol withdrawal but not from cannabis withdrawal. The seriousness of an addiction must be considered in relation to the harm caused. One woman became addicted to carrots, for instance.

And given that cannabis is the least harmful of drugs, legal or not, (notwithstanding the moral panic generated by the anti-cannabis industry), all this po-faced concern about cannabis addiction needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

But the biggest injustice is that nicotine addicts are treated as having a health problem and help is provided to wean them, which along with other measures results in steadily declining rates of use. But cannabis 'addicts' are punished by law. Why? Who would tolerate a government that punished smokers, drinkers (or golfers) with fines and jail? Interesting.

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