By Cheryl Steinberg
Being less of an alcohol fan and more a certified pothead (in my using days, that is), I was always annoyed by the people who would go around saying that marijuana is a gateway drug; that it leads to “harder” drugs. First of all, like me, most kids and teens who do experiment with substances try alcohol before they do anything else. So, why don’t people go around calling alcohol a gateway drug? Oh right, it’s legal…and socially acceptable.
Did you know that alcohol is one of the three deadliest – and legal – drugs? Marijuana’s death toll, on the other hand is zero. A bit fat zero. Now, I don’t advocate smoking weed for those of us in recovery but, I think there can be a lot of medicinal value to marijuana and, besides, I think it’s about time the rest of the world stops vilifying pot and starts accepting that their beloved booze is actually quite dangerous. In fact, it’s poison in the blood stream.
Do you know how alcohol works – the reason why people under the influence of it slur their words and have difficulty with coordination? In a nutshell, when you drink (a lot of) alcohol, your brain thinks that you’re dying. Therefore, it starts shutting down all non-essential processes, such as speak and coordination, allowing for only the important stuff – like breathing – to keep you alive. Sounds like a good time, right?
On the other hand, you have marijuana, known as cannabis to the rest of the world. This plant has lots of potential when it comes to improving quality of life. Only until recently, however, have we even been able to begin to research marijuana’s medicinal qualities. In the U.S., marijuana has long been a Schedule I drug, categorizing it as having a high potential for abuse and having no known medical qualities.
No Folks, Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug
And there’s more evidence that marijuana does not lead to the use of harder drugs. Therefore, contrary to popular belief, marijuana use might not be as dangerous as some critics have been claiming.
Emory University researchers, in a new study, looked at federal surveys and states that legalized medical marijuana in order to evaluate the impact of this new legal status on the use of other drugs. Researchers found that the legalization of medical marijuana legalization did lead to more drug use – that of more marijuana (trolled ya!) They specifically looked at adults 21 and older and saw that this population’s use of marijuana increased after the new legislation BUT, this increase did NOT lead people to try harder drugs.
The study had two major findings:
- Before the legalization of medical marijuana, 11.1% of adults 21 and older reported using marijuana in the past month; after legalization, that rose to 14.2%. But, it seems, medical marijuana legalization had no effect on children and adults aged 12 to 20.
- There was also no significant increase in alcohol abuse and dependency, cocaine use, or heroin use after medical marijuana legalization, even though marijuana use increased for adults.
This most recent study revealed findings that mostly support previous research about marijuana use. A 2012 study from research institute IZA found that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use did not lead to higher rates of marijuana use among high school students. Another report from Glenn Greenwald found drug use among Portuguese adults 20-24 increased following the decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal, while overall drug use actually fell among teenagers.
The study offers some food for thought where it comes to states that are considering whether to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical purposes. For one, it suggests relaxed marijuana laws can lead to more regular marijuana use, although not among teenagers. But the study also indicates that marijuana use might not be as dangerous as some critics of the drug fear.
If you’re like me, a drug is a drug is a drug – no matter its legal status. In the past, I used to think that marijuana was harmless but, more and more people are seeking treatment in the form of drug rehab for their marijuana use, alone. If you struggle with marijuana or any other drug, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist.
By Cheryl Steinberg
In case you didn’t know, the legalization of certain drugs and the prohibition of others rarely has to do with actual science. So, for example alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs are all legal. They are also the deadliest drugs in America, contributing to more health risks and deaths than illicit drugs are associated with.
One major contributing factor of total tobacco and alcohol deaths is that both substances are legal and easily available. As a result, they are also socially-acceptable to use.
What about marijuana? Up until recently, it was illegal.
Marijuana: A Brief History Lesson
The country is polarized when it comes to the legalization of marijuana, whether it be for medical purposes only or for recreational use. Marijuana has long been vilified in the media by newspaper men such as William Randolph Hearst, whose wild and sensational ‘old wives tales’ of the “Devil’s Weed” were spread via main news sources of the time (newspapers) in a large-scale smear campaign.
You see, Hearst was ‘in bed’ – as it were – with the Dupont Brothers who had recently patented the wood-pulping machine. This meant that paper was to become the go-to for printing newspapers. At that time, though, hemp was being considered – by the American government’s Agriculture Department – as the “Billion Dollar Crop of the Future.” If hemp, instead of trees, was to be grown and cultivated, that would make the Duponts’ invention obsolete.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
If you didn’t know, marijuana and hemp go hand-in-hand. Hemp and marijuana both come from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L. Hemp is the cannabis stalk and seeds that are used for textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials; it doesn’t contain the psychoactive drug THC that marijuana does. Thus, ‘marijuana’ refers to the cannabis flowers, or buds, that are used for medicinal and recreational purposes.
The Three Deadliest Drugs Just So Happen to Be Legal
As the US debates drug policy and marijuana legalization, there’s one aspect of the war on drugs that remains perplexingly contradictory: some of the most dangerous drugs in the US are perfectly legal.
If you don’t believe me, just take a gander at this chart, compiled with available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Alcohol: One of the three deadliest – and legal – drugs
The rates of direct death and overdose leave out other factors such as health and socioeconomic issues. Alcohol, in particular, is widely associated with several issues, such as a higher rate of crime and traffic accidents that cause harm both to users and to society as a whole. What makes alcohol so dangerous is most obvious when looking at health effects and drunk driving. But there are other major issues when it comes to alcohol, like aggression, erratic behavior, injuries, drop in economic productivity, family problems, and even crime. Alcohol is a factor in 40% of violent crimes, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
- Alcohol increases the risk of a traffic accident 13 times over, whereas other drugs double to triple the risk.
- It takes less relative doses to die from alcohol than it does to die from marijuana and even cocaine
- Alcohol causes more fatal traffic accidents than other drugs – in 2010 alcohol caused more than 10,000 traffic fatalities
Tobacco is a known killer
Smoking cigarettes used to be chic and very commonplace. I mean, you could smoke on airplanes and even hospitals! Just watch an older movie, like The Exorcist (the original) in which a doctor is seen smoking in a hospital, and you can see remnants of a by-gone era.
Once the evidence of just how detrimental cigarette smoking and tobacco was uncovered, all hell broke loose. Do you remember all the lawsuits Big Tobacco was fighting? Yet, tobacco remains a legal substance – a heavily-taxed substance, but legal nonetheless.
Prescription drugs like narcotic painkillers and benzos (Xanax and Valium) are super popular in a pill-popping society like ours. Back pain? Take a pill. Headache? There’s a pill for that. Social anxiety? Here, swallow this. With all these meds floating around, doctors, parents, and even grandparents have become unwitting drug dealers.
Although there are conditions for which medication might be a necessary intervention, there are non-narcotic alternatives as well as lifestyle changes that can improve quality of life. If you are struggling with alcohol, prescription pills, or any other substance, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Addiction Specialists are available around the clock to answer your questions. You are not alone.
By Cheryl Steinberg
I just celebrated two years of sobriety, being clean and sober from all mood and mind-altering substances, save for caffeine and nicotine (nicotine-free now for 6 months). In my addiction, I used and abused anything I could get my hands on: from alcohol to painkillers to benzos to even sleeping pills. I would say that my true DOC was opiates, painkillers and later, heroin.
My love affair began with a drug called Tramadol, also known as Ultram and Ultracet. It had been prescribed to me for a legitimate pain condition and, at the time, I was told it was a ‘safe’ drug, meaning that it had a low rate of physical dependence amongst those to whom it’s prescribed. I was told it was a “non-narcotic opioid,” not really knowing what that meant. I thought it sounded good, though and trusted my physician whole-heartedly.
What I found, however, from taking Tramadol, was that it made me feel good. You know, that certain euphoric high that illicit drugs and narcotic painkillers give you. I also noticed that, if I took more than was prescribed, I felt even better; higher.
Around this time, I had graduated from an institute of higher learning and was living in the college town. This wasn’t a very big town nor was there much to do, except hit the bars and pubs along Main Street. I honestly wasn’t that big of a boozer anymore; alcohol had stopped ‘working’ for me a while back, while I was still in college. It just didn’t sit well with me physically and I couldn’t drink enough to get drunk (why else do people drink, amirite?).
Then one evening, when I had plans to meet friends at a local pub, I took my Tramadol beforehand. I ordered a beer with the rest of them, not expecting to be able to finish it. This time was different, though. I could drink, and drink some more. The alcohol didn’t upset my stomach! And, as an added bonus, I was pleasantly high and drunk, due to the synergistic effect of the Tramadol and alcohol together. This was to be my new jam for a while.
But ‘a while’ soon passed and the drug combination stopped working. Even with the tramadol, I wasn’t able to drink alcohol anymore. But, you know what? I didn’t even matter. I had my new love: painkillers. And, in love I was!
The rest of my story doesn’t really matter for the purpose of this article. I just wanted to illustrate how my addiction to narcotic painkillers and heroin began. It’s been my experience that there are several other people like me out there, who thought they were being prescribed a relatively safe drug with no potential for addiction only later to find themselves hooked.
Others in recovery don’t seem to know what Tramadol is and that is worrisome to me. I want to get the word out that Tramadol is not something to be taken lightly – both literally and figuratively.
Always always always be a self-advocate when it comes to your health and when dealing with your healthcare providers. Let them know you are concerned about taking certain drugs, such as narcotic painkillers and benzos, if they want to prescribe a drug of these classes to you. There are alternatives to narcotic medications. In the case that your condition requires something more potent, say, you’ve undergone surgery, then don’t be a martyr. There are safe ways to take these drugs. Always follow the prescription instructions. Talk to your sober supports and sponsor. Have someone trustworthy hold your prescription for you. Whatever it takes.
So, is tramadol safe for people in recovery? It’s not necessarily a black-and-white issue with a clear-cut answer. Tramadol is an opioid – which just means that it is a man-made opiate (heroin). If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or any other substance, help is available. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist. You are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Some Americans go home after a long day, and tend to ‘unwind’ by having a glass of wine with dinner. Just that one glass would put someone in the top 30% of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If they were to turn around and add another glass of wine, that would bump them up into the top 20%. But some still break through that to the top 10% barrier of American drinkers, who drink more than two entire bottles of wine with every dinner, not just once in a while. Even then with two bottles, one would still be below-average as far as alcohol consumption among those top 10% of Americans. Studies have shown that Americans in this top 10% of alcohol consumers go above and beyond to get there.
24 million adults over age 18 make up the top 10% of American drinkers. This demographic on average consumes 74 alcoholic drinks, and that is per week! For anyone who knows their way around a liquor store, that comes out to more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. And yes, we are still talking about 1 week of drinking. Or if you want to narrow it down a little more, that’s about 10 alcoholic drinks per day. So some people are wondering, does America have a drinking problem?
These figures come from “Paying the Tab,” an economically-minded examination of the costs and benefits of alcohol control in the U.S. by Philip J. Cook. Specifically, these are calculations made using the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data. Philip J. Cook has made a huge contribution to related studies in his 40-year career at Duke University, and has provided the chance to teach and research on a variety of issues relating to public safety, health, and social policy.
“I agree that it’s hard to imagine consuming 10 drinks a day. There are a remarkable number of people who drink a couple of six packs a day, or a pint of whiskey.”
Statistics in the Alcohol Business
Cook stated during an interview in regards to double checking the figures and estimates of this recent publication of the study. In his book “Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control” Cook notes the top 10% of American drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year! So out of all the alcohol in the entire country, that 10% is drinking more than half of it! On the other hand, people in the bottom three percentiles don’t drink at all, and even the median consumption among those who do drink is just three alcoholic drinks per week. In comparison it was next to nothing!
As surprising as this may seem to some people, the actually curve of this average isn’t exactly unique. According to Cook the Pareto Law states that “the top 20% of buyers for most any consumer product account for fully 80% of sales”. The rule can be applied to everything from whiskey, to Walmart flip-flops, to your regular morning Starbucks.
However the consequences of the Pareto Law are drastically different when it comes to industries like alcohol, tobacco, and now the growing marijuana business. Just as an example if you consume 10+ drinks per day, you almost certainly have a drinking problem. But the beverage industry is heavily dependent on this kind of consumption for their profits. So when it comes to raising awareness, of course the companies will do the bare minimum to stay in business. Cook writes,
“One consequence is that the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry. If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent.”
So it is fair enough to say that based on these numbers, you can quickly make a connection between the over-all averages of consumers and see why there is such a concern with the prominent drinking problem in America. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are no rarity in today’s society, but often times it is swept under the rug, or people convince themselves that they do not qualify for that top 10%. In reality all it means is that more people need to learn the dangers of excessive alcohol abuse, and the reality of those who struggle with alcoholism.
Alcoholism is a progressive and deadly illness, and it can sneak up on those who consider themselves to be average or moderate drinkers. The top 10% of American drinkers consume more than most would have guessed, and with the rate of consumption rising, the risks of serious issues with alcohol abuse or alcoholism become more and more dangerous, and the threats of long last effects before more deadly. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or alcohol addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
As the month of September comes to a close for the year 2014 it is awesome to be able to take a look at the good being done and the efforts to effectively raise awareness about addiction, after all September is National Recovery Month. In its 25th year, National Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance abuse disorders across the board. 2014’s theme has been “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out” which was to encouraged people to stand strong and speak up about mental health and substance abuse disorders, addiction and the reality of recovery.
A History of Recovery
National Recovery Month began in 1989, originally entitled “TreatmentWorks!Month” which was initially created to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field. The annual observance evolved in 1998 to “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” when the scope of the focus extended to include celebrating the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders. Later in 2011 this celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all facets of behavioral health.
This month also promotes new growth for individuals to use to recognize behavioral health issues and reach out for help. National Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is a crucial piece of the overall health issue. Over the past 25 years National Recovery Month has inspired millions of people across the nation facing both mental health disorders and substance abuse to raise awareness about addiction. It has inspired millions more to share their stories of recovery, and to contribute to educating and helping others who are still struggling with these important issues.
Every year since its inception, National Recovery Month has made a tremendous impact. Through activities and events at both the national and local level, the resulting media exposure, and the growing support from elected officials, policymakers, education leaders, judges, health providers, the faith community, and many other sectors, efforts in raising public awareness have soared beyond expectation. Every individual and entity involved has taken a position to take a stand in nurturing the survival and growth of quality treatment services. These sectors and officials have invested time to work together to carry the message that substance abuse is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible.
Jeffersonville Rally for Recovery
Overcoming substance abuse is possible was the underlying theme of a fun-spirited event held in Jeffersonville Saturday afternoon to fuel support and raise awareness in honor of September being National Recovery Month. The Rally for Recovery event had a guest list including some of the United States advocates spear-heading the fight against drug addiction.
Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and national drug czar, told those in attendance that he knows recovery can work, as he personally overcame substance abuse 25 years ago. Director Botticelli went on explain that those fighting addiction often need community organizations to be successful in their battles against drug abuse, and stressed the great deal of importance there is to him that people at every phase of recovery have a voice in the fight against addiction.
“Our office promotes policies and practices that make sure that people are getting access to treatment, that we know when people recover they become productive members of their communities, and we can restore them to life and to love. We know that community problems require community solutions. One of the most important things is to bring communities together to help support people in recovery [and] to make sure we are not arresting and incarcerating people who have a substance-abuse disorder. The importance of events like this is it brings out all parts of a community. That is what we experienced today. We have treatment providers, prosecutors, community advocates and families.”
Botticelli addressed crowds at the events held in Jeffersonville alongside Tom Coderre, who happens to be the senior advisor for The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While the event praised those who have overcome substance abuse, it also reached out to those who continue to struggle with addiction.
NCADD Recovery Rally
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) was one of the original founding sponsors of National Recovery Month 25 years ago and has been an actively involved in National Recovery Month as a Planning Partner ever since. Local NCADD Affiliates across the country hold hundreds of local community events in celebration of recovery month including events at baseball games, picnics, rallies, walks, luncheons and dinners.
For several consecutive years NCADD has worked hand in hand with A&E and its Recovery Project in planning and sponsoring a National Recovery Rally. The first two years of the National Recovery Rally were held in New York City and then three years in Philadelphia. Back in 2009, the NYC Recovery Rally attracted a crowd of 10,000!
In 2012 the Recovery Walks Rally, sponsored by NCADD Affiliate, the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania/PRO-ACT, drew an astonishing crowd of over than 15,000!
Similar programs and rallies have been organized and conducted yearly nationwide, with the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources (CAARR) being responsible for the organization of Recovery Happens and the annual California Recovery Happens Month Kick-Off Rally at the Capitol.
Millions of American lives are transformed and elevated through recovery from drugs and alcohol. These successes stories often go unnoticed by the broader population, and many unsung heroes have amazing and compelling stories to tell. Therefore, National Recovery Month has been put in motion for 2 and a half decades now to facilitate sharing and rejoicing in these victories. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction there is hope to become one of these incredible success stories, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135