Today, April 20th, is 420 Day. To continue my segment on better living through better health and freedom here, and throughout the year to come, in order to implement great healing–I will feature articles designed to improve physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Substance abuse is up a really alarming percentage these days with these circumstances and the great fentanyl debacle, so I am bringing continuing articles concerning substance abuse.

Versatileer  Brings you this post in regards to more safe living, through awareness of cannabis usage.

420 Day

420 Day is a day to for persons using cannabis to celebrate their choice to use the mind-altering, mood changing substance marijuana.

Recent Claims:
There have been recent claims, even by government sources that there is the promise for an easier way out of addiction, whereby someone with drug use problems, including opioids that use of another mind altering substance instead of a so-called drug of choice is an alternative to standard 12-step programs. The same website has information that is completely contradictory to the other part of the website.

The Practice of Having to Use Marijuana in an Automobile to Legally Use:
There are states, including my state, which is Illinois, where it is not legal to use marijuana legally in public–but it is legal to use it in the car. This practice instills a safety factor with the use of a car and while driving, and it is real easy to start that car, drive, and then get in an accident. The use of any, and I really man any “mind-altering, mood changing” substance impairs a drivers ability to drive and/or use machinery, as I cited on at least 100 websites (results researched in less than 5 minutes)! I highly suggest not using any substances while driving or with the association of an automobile. These states should be ashamed of themselves! Lives are at stake. I suggest contacting your local government to see about changing these laws. Driving and substances never mix!

Cannabis vs. the Everyday Consequences of Continued Use:
Even though several worldwide reports showed that use of cannabis is safer than that of alcohol, the continued connection between persistent, regular cannabis use present the same economic and social problems results as other drugs/alcohol:

  • Downward social mobility (becoming anti-social and/or isolating)
  • Poverty/financial problems:
    • Debt
    • Cash flow
  • Antisocial behaviors at work:
    • Stealing money
    • Lying to get a job
  • Relationship problems
    • Intimate partner violence
    • Controlling abuse

All sorts of consequences happen, legal problems, institutionalization and more, especially with the possibility of fentanyl laced product, make a decision to use detrimental.

Substance Use and Abuse:
Substance use means that a person uses a drug, with or without a problem. Non-problematic use entails using and being able to put it away without having obsession and/or compulsion to use, sometimes more and more; and/or have to use every day (craves). Substance abuse is a science, not an art. I really wish I could give a magical answer. Denial attempts at making it an art and a management system. This vicious cycle can take a short or long time, depending on the person involved. If you think anyone in your life is affected by a problem concerning addiction, an 11 question quiz is available at this website: attempts at identifying the addiction patterns. Just because cannabis appears safe to use (maybe just because it is legal or for other reasons) without the onslaught of the patterns of addiction don’t make it any safer than any other substances. Cannabis is a very tricky drug, because it can be considered a gateway drug for many–the fate opening up to harder and more dangerous substances. Through managing active addiction and/or denial, people lose everything, person by person, object by object, and day by day. With the progression of the disease of addiction, the onset is never the same for every person. The drug of choice varies and changes. Some cases happen in days, weeks, months, years and even decades. They lose family attachment, get divorces, have problems keeping a positive relationship with children, have problems retaining employment or continuing education, end up with legal problems, and also end up institutionalized. Not so good decisions are made–including use in vehicles. Accidents can occur because of impairment and distracted driving, up to and including property damage, injury and death. Also, just because it is legal to use a drug, doesn’t make it legal to use while driving. The website: GHSA shows all 50 states and the laws governing the roads for these reasons plus also a list of other reasons. Worst of all, some with any continued addiction problems, lose their lives. There is research being done on a link the cannabis smoke and Tenosynovial Giant Cell Tumor (TGCT), more will be revealed. Any type of smoking is never going to relate well with the onslaught of cancer. Also, it is never a great idea for children and teens to use any mind-altering substance, as it impedes proper growth of the body, and has better onset of all types of life-long addiction problems at an early age. Always talk with children, especially teens. They really need guidance. See the website: TALKING WITH YOUR TEEN ABOUT MARIJUANA: Keeping Your Kids Safe

Cannabis and Pregnancy:
It is also not safe for pregnant women to use while carrying a baby, especially for relief from “morning sickness”. See the website: Marijuana and Pregnancy | SAMHSA

SIn these days of fentanyl presence in every substance, including marijuana (Source Connecticut state DPH-November 2021), so people really do not know what they are getting, and nothing is off limits.

Addiction and Health:
Life leads to a person looking for an easy way out. There is life-changing assistance in the 12-step program known as Marijuana Anonymous. With any program, there are never direct statistics due to the anonymity of the persons attending such meetings, but the doctor’s reporting on any and all 12-step programs is uplifting and life ameliorating. Any type of program is open for discussion with a general practitioner. With honesty a doctor is best fit to discuss a treatment program that will really work, instead of relying on a program filled with empty promises. Also, and most importantly, any 12-step program is not easy. It is however, easier than continuing living while managing an active addiction. With the continuing future of any drug use including cannabis and the presence of fentanyl, people continuing the lifestyle can and does really lead to death. Also, there are reports that smoking of cannabis is not much good on your lungs, including the chance of the onset of cancer. From several sources, except this (Leaving unnamed, due to lack of proper scientific data) governmental website with information stating contradictory reporting, I see many scientific and statistical reports stating that the use of marijuana could limit exposure to the aspects of fentanyl exposure. Still, medical cannabis can be in the form of liquid and/or pill form, whereby prescription use does not lead to the effects of being “high” whereby the addict is compromising substituting one drug for another, or a gateway drug whereby either the use of cannabis leads to a relapse and or eventual starting use of hard drugs and/or illicit drugs. Also use of cannabidiol (CBD) can and presents many if not way more benefits without the side effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Again, seeing a doctor is always better than self managing of any drugs (including over the counter).

Evaluate the Risks:
With the use of any chemical substances, whether for health reasons or any other reasons, should always be open to self-evaluation. With cannabis, the you can read and come up with a conclusion at the website: Know the Risks of Marijuana | SAMHSA. There also are some informative videos concerning evaluation: Know the Risks of Marijuana: Multimedia Resources | SAMHSA

Know that Cannabis is a Drug:
Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most commonly used drug that is or was illicit until recently, in the United States. You are able to see the relation to other related drugs at the website: Marijuana | CBHSQ Data: SAMHSA

Use of Any Drugs Affects the D.O.S.E./Tolerance:
Use of any mind-altering or mood changing substance, no matter which one, has an effect of the body’s chemistry of enzymes, including the dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins (D.O.S.E.). Any time these naturally occurring body chemicals are altered by foreign chemicals such as cannabis and other drugs including over the counter substances, the naturally occuring substance patterns are altered, and life cannot go on naturally as intended. Substance abuse can be a distinct possibility and the onset of tolerance can become a factor, as it masks the ability whereby the use of yesterday just simply cannot “do the trick” anymore, and heavier and heavier use due to the fact that the person smoking or using cannabis is not feeling “high” until a larger dosage is consumed, and can lead to the use of other drugs (gateway to heavier usage). The brain wants to “feel good”, no matter what, so when the use of mind altering drugs happens, the D.O.S.E. needs to resort to ways and means for the brain to function. The reason is that the body becomes used to the drugs, essentially a “tolerance”, because it starts to meddle with the body’s natural enzymes, and/or D.O.S.E., of which is explicitly explained in my article: International Day Of Happiness – 2023 (How to Get Your Daily D.O.S.E. of Happiness)  Don’t forget that marijuana, alcohol, a lot of over the counter drugs, and prescriptions that are mind altering and mood changing, all affect the body’s chemistry.

Assessment of Dependence:

Signs of a Dependence Problem:
Cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a medical condition. Medical doctors diagnose it when a patient’s using cannabis causes distress or harm. The condition can range from mild to severe and is diagnosed when the patient answers a questionnaire with two or more “yes” answers to these questions:

In the past year, has the person:

  • Had times when an occasion has ended up using cannabis more, or longer than intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop using cannabis, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time using cannabis? Or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving—a strong need, or urge, to use cannabis?
  • Found that using cannabis—often interfered with taking care of the person’s home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to use cannabis even though it was causing trouble with the person’s family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting, or gave pleasure, in order to use cannabis?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after using cannabis that increased the chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to use cannabis even though it was making feelings of depression or anxiety or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blur?
  • Had to use cannabis much more than the person once did to get the effect that the person wanted? Or found that the person’s usual number of “hits” had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of using cannabis were wearing off, the person had withdrawal symptoms, such as the onslaught of unfounded irritability, over-tiredness, loss of interest, anxiety, depression, restlessness, obsession and/or compulsion?

Positively having a “yes” with any of these symptoms may indicate a problematic substance use disorders called Cannabis use disorder (CUD).that may already have cause for concern. The more symptoms, the more urgent the need for change. A health professional can conduct a formal assessment of symptoms to see if CUD is present

Resources on Assistance to Control:

Starting With a Primary Care Doctor:
For anyone thinking about treatment, talking to a primary care physician is an important first step—he or she can be a good source for treatment referrals and medications. A primary care physician can also:

  • Evaluate a patient’s cannabis usage pattern
  • Help craft a treatment plan
  • Evaluate overall health
  • Assess if medications for cannabis may be appropriate

Individuals are advised to talk to their doctors, with complete honesty, about the best form of primary treatment. Delaying treatment does not assist the individuals overall physical, mental, spiritual and/or emotional health–time is not an asset when it comes to treatment. Things usually regress given more time and avoiding the problem through the use of denial. There are many of types of professionals that are involved in care. Many health professionals can play a role in treatment. Below is a list of providers and the type of care they may offer.

Options for Treatment:
When asked how cannabis use problems are treated, commonly a 12-step program or 28-day inpatient rehabilitation come to mind first, but may have difficulty naming any other options. In fact, there are a variety of treatment methods currently available, thanks to significant advances in the field over the past 60 years. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what may work for one person may not be a good fit for someone else. Simply understanding the different options can be an important first step.

Options for Treatment:
Behavioral Treatments: Behavioral treatments are aimed at changing smoking cannabis through counseling. They are led by health professionals and supported by studies showing they can be beneficial, including:

  • Psychotherapeutic treatments, including motivational enhancement treatment (MET)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management (CM)

Medications: Medications can be recommended by physicians in the ongoing treatment plans to ease the onset of the three treatments of MET, CBT AND CM. The medications as prescribed have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing frequency and quantity of cannabis use, but abstinence rates remain modest and decline after treatment. Medications are always prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional and may be used alone or in combination with counseling.

Support Group Assistance:

There Is Help Out There:
Cannabis use affects people of all ages, races, sexes, and does not discriminate. It could be any member of your family, a friend, co-worker or acquaintance. Also, if someone involved with use of cannabis is an addict, the chances of relapsing on another drug of choice are very high during and after using cannabis. It is really important to note that when someone does have a problem, that unless they are true to themselves and not only seek help, but want a change in lifestyle–all the help in the world will not assist them.

Mutual-Support Groups:

  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA), for persons directly seeking membership if they think that they have a cannabis use problem.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA), for persons directly seeking membership if they think that they are an addict, with or without the combination of a cannabis use problem.
  • Nar-Anon Family Groups, for families, peers, and persons being affected by someone with a drug problem, with or without a cannabis usage problem.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), for persons directly seeking membership if they think that they have an alcohol problem with or without a cannabis usage problem.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups, for families, peers, and persons being affected by someone with an alcohol problem, with or without a cannabis usage problem.
  • Celebrate Recovery, for persons directly seeking recovery with a Christian based 12-step program.
  • Other 12-step programs. . .

All 12-step programs provide peer support for people quitting or cutting back on their cannabis use, and if there is another addiction, there are other resources may be in the individual’s best interest to trial. There are programs for families, peers and friends who are directly affected by problematic use or addiction. Combined with a treatment plan led by health professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. Many health professionals in most modern times even have direct information to provide to individuals to find a proper support group. Even though the anonymous nature of mutual-support groups make it difficult for researchers to determine the success rates compared with those led by health professionals, many have become most assured in these modern days that they are indeed a complete asset in the reliance of being able to overcome a problem such as dependence of cannabis.

photo-of-cannabis-on-white-background-7668042 marijuana_1682032352.jpeg Kindel Media at Pexels

Kindel Media at Pexels

Cannabis Use vs. Addiction + Resources

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