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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reefer Madness

Marijuana use
I'm in bishopric meeting discussing a family who just discovered their son's marijuana stash.
    How can we help as a ward?
I'm in weekly staff meeting discussing with my clinical staff our more difficult teen "pot smoking" clients.
    How can we help as a professional therapist?
And yes....
I'm sitting at home and we get a call from another parent. One of my kids was smoking marijuana.
(So don't feel like you are alone.... did something wrong... just because someone you love smokes marijuana.)
    How can I help as a parent?

Teach TRUTH 1-marijuana causes problems
Marijuana is the most common illicit drug used in the United States-even before it was legalized.

Currently Cannabis (another word for marijuana) Intoxication, Cannabis Withdrawal, and Cannabis Use Disorder are classified by the American Psychiatric Association as Mental Disorders under the heading “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.” (See: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for mental Disorder-5th Edition, DSM-V).

The DSM-V describes Functional Consequences of Cannabis Use Disorder by saying:
Many areas of psychsocial, cognitive, and health functioning in may be compromised in relation to cannabis use disorder. Cognitive function, particularly higher executive function, appears to be compromised in cannabis users, …. Cannabis use has been related to a reduction in prosocial goal-directed activity, which some have labeled an amotivation syndrome, that manifests itself in poor school performance and employment problems… Cannabis smoke contains high levels of carcinogenic compounds that place chronic users at risk for respiratory illnesses…Chronic cannabis use may contribute to the onset or exacerbation of many other mental disorders. In particular, concern has been raised about cannabis use as a causal factor in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders…(DSM-V pg. 514)
Tolerance and Withdrawal are both identified as possible symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder. (DSM-V pg. 509)

The National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) says the following about the consequence of marijuana use:
Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. In fact, heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who came from similar backgrounds. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out from school. Several studies also associate workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover. (Drug Facts: Marijuana NIDA)
Here is a 90 second video summarizing the consequences of marijuana use Everything You wanted To Know About Marijuana.

Teach TRUTH 2-marijuana triggers the pleasure center of the brain
The DSM 5 explains that activation of the brain’s reward system is central to how drug use affects an individual –- the rewarding feeling that an individual experiences as a result of taking drugs like marijuana, may be so significant that the individual neglects other normal activities in favor of taking the drug. "While the pharmacological mechanisms for each class of drug is different, the activation of the reward system is similar across substances (including marijuana) in producing feelings of pleasure or euphoria, which is often referred to as a high.” (DSM 5, pg 481) 

Also see: Pleasures of Sin - First stage of addiction.

TeachTRUTH 3-marijuana use will cause the spirit to withdraw

The Word of Wisdom including NOT smoking marijuana is a commandment.
... —absolute prohibition—against the use of alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee. Added to this has been the counsel of the Church leaders to abstain from the use of such drugs as marijuana...., (Run and Not Be Weary, L. Tom Perry, Oct 1966)
And disobedience to any commandment results in the loss of the Spirit. The loss of spiritual health is far more serious than the loss of physical health. (See: Section 89 The Word of Wisdom, Doctrine & Covenants Student Manual)

Teach LIE 1-marijuana is harmless
Over 40% of the youth in the US believe marijuana is harmless and should be legalized. For example, NORML is a national organization working towards legalizing marijuana. Here is a sample article on NORML's website: MYTH: Marijuana is a Dangerous Drug  (Pay attention to the dates of the research). A 60 second video  Make Marijuana Legal is another NORML product.

Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado sends the message that marijuana is harmless. Learn how YOU can legally buy THC Lollipops and Marijuana Cookies!!! Check out this CNN article: Recreational Pot Sales: Where the grass is much greener.

Teach LIE 2-marijuana will kill you (or other exaggerate statements)
For decades, organizations (particularly churches and parents) have used scare tactics to discourage teens from smoking marijuana. One of the earliest examples is Reefer Madness—a hour long film produced in the 1930s and re-released in the 1970s. The movie depicted a series of exaggerated (and tragic) events happening to high school students who tried marijuana.

During the 70s and  80s  I was working at a community substance abuse treatment center. We used material that focused on the exaggeration of facts and scare tactics to "scare them straight."  (Later we discovered these type of prevention strategies were not effective.) Here is a 2013 article that uses exaggeration of facts and scare tactics referencing the Colorado Recreational Sale of Marijuana: Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 In Colorado First Day of Legalization.

As a grandfather with a bunch of grandchildren who are growing up in this world, I would very much like the side effects of marijuana to be severe and immediate.
But they are not.

Why has marijuana use risen in recent years?
As perception of risk goes down,
use goes up (and vice versa).
(This happens with pretty much any drug or sin.) 

Use of marijuana has increased because - Young people are showing "decreased perception" that marijuana is harmful. In part, the decreased perception of risk has occurred because of Satan's effective use of...

....the two LIES  noted above.
marijuana is harmless- National organization, media, legalization of etc etc -- As a result young people are influenced
to believe marijuana is harmless.

marijuana will kill you (or other exaggerate statements) - etc etc Youth are way to smart and have access to information and friends who smoke marijuana. They know the exaggerations and scare tactics are lies -- As a result young people are influenced  
to believe marijuana is harmless.

Teach your children TRUTH about marijuana.
Then, following the admonition of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” (Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75, 3:54.) (I know its a scary thought.)

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