Monday, March 26, 2012
This morning's special news segment addressed the question about whether or not parents should introduce alcohol in the home, so that children will understand how to drink when they reach majority age. The issue with the question posed, is that there is an assumption made, that parents themselves understand how to drink reasonably.
The problem is that children and teens are not physically capable of handling alcohol. Developmentally, they need pure foods such as fruits, nuts and vegetables, grass-fed beef and poultry, for brain growth. They do not need alcohol at a time when the brain is learning and expanding its knowledge base.
They also do not need to emulate the drinking behaviors of adults around them. Especially when most do not understand that a woman should drink a maximum of 3-4 (one ounce) drinks in an evening at most, and a man about 5 ounces. A standard size glass of wine in America is over the three ounces to begin with. And watching parents who come home and have a beer to relax each night sends a negative message that alcohol is an acceptable tool to use to unwind.
Whether the drinking age is 21 or 18, teaching people how to drink is a great idea. Waiting until the brain and body can handle alcohol is an even better idea!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Today, I attended a conference that focused on the damage drugs and alcohol can do to the adolescent brain. Most people in the audience were not worried about the effects of marijuana; they were focused on alcohol and 'hard' drugs. In fact, some even defended the position the MA DCF has taken - that removal of children for parental abuse of marijuana is not going to happen.
Yet, these attendees learned today that marijuana may not be a 'gateway' in the traditional sense, but it is harmful nevertheless. It takes approximately 18-24 months for a person to stop depending upon marijuana after discontinuing abuse through harm reduction. And in fact, withdrawal really happens; including mood swings, depression and irritability during protracted withdrawal.
The adolescent brain is not fully formed and smoking marijuana at a young age impedes the user's ability to hold memories and interpret cognitions properly. Smoking causes cognitive distortions.
Developmentally , using drugs and alcohol does not allow the user to progress from adolescence to adulthood emotionally. They get stuck - something we refer to as arrested development.
Most young people begin smoking cannabis around 11 or 12 years old. Research demonstrates that if a 'father figure' is smoking in the home when a child is 6 years old, the child will most likely grow up smoking marijuana as well within 5 or 6years. That makes me wonder whose idea it was at DCF to decide not to consider marijuana as a serious issue.
Smoking marijuana is a serious issue. It is not the cannabis of the 1960's; but cannabis that is ten times stronger. It is not a joke, or a casual source of entertainment. It is a substitute for skills we have not taught our young people. Skills that will help them manage their lives in a more balanced way.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The question on most folk's minds about addiction is what is wrong with smoking marijuana. It is natural. There is no data on overdose by smoking. And most smokers agree that it is not addictive. While these things may be true, the real question is why do people continue to smoke cannabis on a daily basis. And why is there so much negative press?
The answer is that smoking marijuana changes the way we feel. It numbs us, it clouds our depression, it shifts our focus from everyday stresses to an ethereal experience which takes us out of ourselves. Is the substance itself addictive? NO. Is cannabis a gateway drug leading to more intense addiction and highly volatile drug behaviors? No. So what is the problem?
The problem is that we become attached, dependent and/or addicted to the feeling. To the escape and the method of detachment. Using this method on a daily basis keeps us from doing other things. It does not allow us to develop other coping mechanisms which we need to manage our lives. It prevents us from becoming involved in family and friendships. The loss that we experience is a loss of time. Something we cannot recover.
Marijuana may not be a gateway to other drug use. But it definitely is an obstacle to living life to the fullest.