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Marijuana Addiction, part 3. Danny Chapin responds

We’ve been having a fabulous conversation about the meaning/validity of the phrase “marijuana addiction” and how that has been and should be addressed.

Danny Chapin, the managing editor of AllTreatment.com, a directory for drug rehab centers and substance abuse information resource, originally approached me about having a dialog about marijuana addiction with all of you, as he searches for understanding himself.

  1. Danny Chapin’s original post
  2. Pete Guither’s response

If you haven’t had a chance to read those, I recommend that you do so — the comments were extraordinary — and it leads to this one.

Danny Chapin has now responded to my response. Check it out and take your shots. I’ll react later.

Thank you, first off, Pete, for hosting this discussion (and quite a discussion it has lead to). It’s fantastic to be able to participate with your community. In a responsive style, I’ll address Pete’s points chronologically.

The Numbers

Pete’s numbers are illuminating, and perhaps the best metrics to show the differences in the quality of admissions between a drug like Marijuana and a drug like Heroin.

I do, however, have issue with the notion that “it’s certainly not possible to use treatment data to support the existence of any kind of significant levels of marijuana addiction.” Rhetorically, this presents a contradiction since Pete uses this data to argue his initial point. But, less superficially, even if we do take seriously the 14.8% of referrals that are from individuals, we’re still left with 45,187 individuals seeking treatment for marijuana abuse, a number which is significant.

Pete’s metrics do point out the obvious fact that more people (relatively and absolutely) are personally admitting themselves into treatment for cocaine addiction as opposed to marijuana addiction (60,782 people if we take 34% of 178,771, compared to 45,187 at 14.8%), but this higher percentage of admittance is not a refutation of the notion that marijuana can have a destructive, negative impact on an individuals life–it simply supports the notion that cocaine addiction motivates more individuals to admit themselves into treatment.

The differences between these admissions statistics should drive policy, I would argue. Marijuana treatment is less a product of an individual’s will and more a product of an inefficient court system’s regulatory power. From a purely utilitarian perspective, marijuana addiction is the lesser of two evils, yet, forty five thousand people annually admitted to treatment seems a large enough number to justify talking about marijuana addiction as a real social issue. Something which, if decriminalized or legalized, we must educate our young people about.

People can and do get addicted to marijuana, and it can and does have a negative impact on the livelihood of many Americans. The question then is about marijuana: is marijuana the cause or simply a conduit for an addictive personality to unfold?

What is Addiction

Pete is spot on in arguing that addiction is more a function of an individual than the inherent properties of a substance–marijuana itself isn’t addictive, it’s the individual’s behavior that expresses their compulsive relationship with the world and its objects. If addiction were defined by the inherent properties of an object, then we’re all addicted to food–yet we know, by the absurdity of this example, that actual addiction is understood as that uncontrollable, compulsive drive to consume more and more. The cause of one’s addiction to marijuana is not inherent to marijuana but to the user, otherwise we would see far more serious legal and social repercussions for the widespread and liberal use of marijuana–we could posit that the relatively mild physical relationship marijuana has with its users is one of the reasons it is so popular despite its illegality.

When marijuana becomes a problem, anyone has the right to seek treatment. We’ve seen from the numbers that many Americans can’t handle smoking pot responsibly and treatment is a smart, responsible choice. The numbers Pete has pointed to show us that most Americans in treatment have unwillingly been forced into treatment–a fact which can produce ill-will during a therapy session where other addicts have serious intentions of stopping their cycle of abuse. That unwilling participant can only hurt the treatment process for those serious patients. This is something we need to change–for the sake of fiscal responsibility, to minimize inefficiency, and as a duty to Americans deterred by the half-assed intentions of unwilling participants.

Consensus

Marijuana addiction isn’t a joke, it isn’t impossible, and is large enough of a phenomenon to pay attention to. Legality aside, most marijuana users in the United States do find and use marijuana responsibility (or at least, not in a compulsive, criminal manner). And for those that don’t, treatment is 100% their best option. And above all, education is the mother of prevention, so if marijuana is used as much at it is, let’s admit there’s an elephant in the room, and at the very least empower our citizens to say yes or no in a safe, responsible manner.

— Danny Chapin

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65 comments to Marijuana Addiction, part 3. Danny Chapin responds

  • Sometimes it’s like this. I mean, sure, let’s talk about addiction, but here’s a paraphrase between an online acquaintance I have.

    Ob: so it seems the lady’s brain damaged or suffers from immense amnesia

    Me: Oh, my god, what happened?

    Ob: Well, they say she had like 6 drugs in her body, benzodiazepines, painkiller, I dunno. She just got home from the hospital. I wonder if she’ll recognize me on account of the amnesia

    Me: Oh I’m so sorry to hear it. How’d it happen, I mean … why’d she overdose.

    Ob: She was in for marijuana rehab.

    Me: She was WHAT?! WHAT!???

    Ob: I’m not sure exactly what happened, but the first day they gave her 25 or 30 mg. diazepam. She womited a lot. Then again she’s just a small lady at 49 kilos (108 pounds).

    Me: It’s just beyond me how anyone with a prescription pad can do such a thing, incomprehensible, just incomprehensible.

    Med. student (MS) elaborates:

    MS: Yeah, that’s just an insane dosage, but you know, it happens all the time. The doctor often secures a stash of drugs for the treatment facility, then let’s the staff dispense at their own discretion. Some places people can just go grab whatever they want. I recommend filing a report at the police


    Scary part is this, for ALL their talk about addiction and how bad it is, those addicted are treated as sub human scum, some for whom the normal rules of DECENCY doesn’t seem to apply, and obviously no one cares one bit.

    Sometimes, y’know, I’m so frakking tired of listening to all that talk about addiction. She went in for WEED.

  • Andrew

    “most marijuana users in the United States do find and use marijuana responsibility (or at least, not in a compulsive, criminal manner)”

    The most dangerous line in this whole paper. Please….What is using in a “criminal manner”?
    There’s no such thing. You should be able to use as much of anything as you want, and simply ingesting anything shouldn’t be illegal.

  • denmark

    A grand thank you to Max, March 5th, 2010 at 2:55 pm.
    You nailed it.
    Guest post over? Have we learned enough?

  • Just me

    Andrew
    March 5th, 2010 at 4:58 pm
    “most marijuana users in the United States do find and use marijuana responsibility (or at least, not in a compulsive, criminal manner)”

    The most dangerous line in this whole paper. Please….What is using in a “criminal manner”?
    There’s no such thing. You should be able to use as much of anything as you want, and simply ingesting anything shouldn’t be illegal.

    You absolutely right, but IMHO this is all about money and control. Always has been always will be. The government knows it . All the facts , all the science is there to debunk everything thats supposed to keep it iilegal. Even a short bus boy like me can see that. So they just perpeuate this lie by ignoring, recreation of lies,stonewalling,looking down the nose , do as we say , on and on. Its a sick game to those in control of the game. We are the pawns and expendable in their quest , a never ending quest for conquering soliders.

    If we take this game away from them they will find another , maybe one thats more insidious than this one.

  • ezrydn

    Danny, one question left. If, as you, I and most here agree, “addiction” is a state of “Personality/Behavioral,” then how can you use such a misleading title as “Marijuana Addiction?” It’s this “insinuating metaphor” that raises knowledgable folks hackles. Terms like this and “drug-related” are untrue stigma words.

    You should really bone up on “Prohibition Addiction.” I say that because you’re a pawn in the cause. You and I both understand semantics and general semantics. Without words, you have no profession.

    If you’re basically in agreement with us and are unaware of the movement (on both sides), you may wonder what YOU could do. It’s easy. Restructure your catalog/titling system. It’s not “Marijuana Addiction.” It’s Addiction. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And I too extend my thanks for joining in our “couch” session. We bark. We’ve even been known to nip. But we never bite. Join us as regularly as you can. As you can see, we welcome engagement.

  • DavesNotHere

    45,187 times $10,000 = $451,870,000
    ($1.50 of cost for every man, woman, and child in the US.)
    or if they can charge $15,000 = $677,805,000

    Follow the money. Those numbers above are the most significant for most people pushing the idea of forced cannabis re-education camps.

    Half of our population has tried cannabis? 150 million or so? 45,187 “addicts”? Half a billion dollar$ makes that significant I guess.

    Thank you to Danny Chapin for trying to communicate with us. We’re not a polite bunch.

    The truth is Danny, we won’t know the full truth about cannabis “problems” until we legalize it, regulate it, study it, observe it etc.

    Scientists use its scientific name, cannabis. Propagandists and opportunists use its negative racial slur name marijuana. The “Marijuana Addiction” industry is a joke that is not based on science because the science has been banned by our government? I’ll grant you there is an elephant in the room called Big Brother Government keeping scientists from studying cannabis to learn more about its potential “problems”. How anybody can advocate for treatment of “marijuana addiction” without also demanding the ban on cannabis science in the US be lifted is beyond me.

  • Another point about Danny’s participation here for us/y’all to consider… look at the development of the comments from Danny’s first blogpost. A lot of what we say doesn’t get said – out there. Danny comes from – out there.

    In here – Pete’s couch – we sit around… some of us smoking herb, some of us vaporizing herb and prolly a few eating herb… maybe some wishing they were smoking herb and probably a fair repesentation of those who don’t smoke herb and prolly won’t ever smoke herb but sure don’t care that the rest of us do.

    And while Danny’s here? Let’s use him. Let’s remove any doubts he has about Prohibition with the surgical precision we (as a group) are capable of. Let’s not be rude but pick his brain (and get out those darn Prohibition nits for him while he’s here) instead. He at least is polite (unlike the Calvinas and Linda Taylor types). C’mon, pass the poor guy the Doritos® and offer him a beer, at least just for being a sport.

    At least that’s the way I was raised…

    Of course I’m hoping Danny sticks around awhile, so the evil legalizer meme has a chance to embed. Once he’s a carrier it will spread, like a virus of common sense… bwhahaha!

  • Thank you, Max. Perfectly put.

    Whether or not Mr Chapin has honorable intentions doesn’t negate the fact that he does profit from his work.

    As I read thru the comments, the guy seems very nice, but does precisely as you say, “Concern trolls”.

    And yes, the percentages and numbers are extremely significant and to simply shrug them off is telling.

  • ezrydn

    Allan,

    If anything will clear Danny’s mind and open it up, it’s sitting on Pete’s Couch. And Dan doesn’t even have to participate, just read. We have a bad habit of embedding factual URLs with our comments so he can easily go to the source.

    I, too, welcome Dan’s appearance here and thank him for contacting Pete. He may not have been aware of what he was walking into. LOL Yet, he came out the other side without a bruise and what seems, a better understanding.

    We still have to remind some that debating is not about personalities. It’s about solid, foundational facts.

    So, ball’s in Dan’s court now. We’ll see if he returns to the Couch.

  • denmark

    The Danny Chapin’s of the world … the concerned trolls. There is not an inch of room for them in my life for these very people are out to continue one of the greatest lies that has ever been brought upon the human race. These Danny Chapin’s hide behind their good intentions while thousands continue to suffer at the hands of unbending minds that refuse to see the nose on their face, regardless of all the facts and figures that are presented.

    My story is just one of millions, a story of physical pain due to a body that cannot tolerate pharmaceuticals. A story of suffering because the Danny Chapin’s of the world wish to look at me as a victim rather than a thinking being. A responsible, kind, loving human being, who would never do anyone any harm, who only wants to use the cannabis plant that would indeed comfort, soothe, and heal.

    So no, there’s no room in this heart for the Danny Chapin’s of the world.

  • well… if nothing else I do believe we have just coined the term “Prohibition Addiction.” A quick Googling of the phrase shows no use. I think it’s a useful and accurate phrase.

    And while folks may not like Danny’s line of work, he has truly walked into the lion’s den without flinching. I believe that it behooves to us always take the higher road – and not devolve our long-in-developing arguments into a useless stream of insults.

    The treatment industry won’t go away with RE-legalization, but it may become more effective if we can bump up the level of their understanding of our position, by having coherent discussions w/ folks like Danny.

    Just as much as anybody here, I have very personal reasons to be pissed off at the drug war and drug warriors. The WO(s)D sucks and has irreparably f’ed up my life now twice and has harmed good friends and associates. And it has killed too too many folks who had nothing to do with drugs or drug policy. We all get that.

    I guess some folks are stuck on expressing their anger in a manner insulting to any target that presents itself. I’ve vented over teh last decade by writing thousands of letters-to-the-editor and getting darn effective at it. I’ve assisted many people in getting their letters and Opeds published. But that’s the way I chose. I just happen to think it works better than flinging poop…

  • DdC

    if nothing else I do believe we have just coined the term “Prohibition Addiction.

    It fits. What else would a WoD Junkie have?

    Prohibitionist WoD Junkies 05/02/00
    (War on Drugs)

  • GypsyB

    I’ve read through these debates and still come to the same conclusion. Pseudo science proves nothing and the books can be rewritten until everyone has some dire mental problem that they and the pharmaceutical co’s can make money off of. The biggest drug pushers in the world are allowed to advertise their drugs on T.V. and no one thinks this is out of line?
    Bottom line, the drug laws are unconstitutional and were put into place by those wishing to exert authority over minorities. We claim we do not permit hate crimes in the United States, yet we have tolerated hate crimes against those who chose to use something that is no longer in the pharmacopoeia (due to prejudice and yellow journalism inciting fears) for 70 years now.
    We’ve become a country claiming people are free as long as we think like the puritans. Where did compassion go in our country? I find it amusing that there are so many “authorities” speaking negative about people using marijuana who haven’t been there done that. I can safely say this because it’s a take it or leave it PLANT. Some people get the same feeling from heavy exercise or jogging raising natural cannabinoids in a persons body. Will jogging be illegal next?
    We do NOT have the right to create or enforce laws of prohibition and if you wish to live that way, go live in China. I’m sure they would welcome you.

    “The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in the United States is closely connected with this.” – In “My First Impression of the U.S.A.” (1921) Albert Einstein

  • mntnman

    OK…please explain THIS!
    I smoked marijuana daily for 35 years.When I lost my job over a year ago I had to make some changes to my budget.The first non-essential luxury to go was marijuana,pretty easy decision.I just simply stopped…no cravings…no withdrawals…just stopped.I have not smoked marijuana in over a year,but ya know what? I fully intend on starting again when my monetary situation improves…why?…because I LIKE IT!
    Any rehab facility that takes a persons money with the claim they can help “rehab” a person off marijuana should be charged with fraud.

  • InhaniaSamLib

    Im sorry for stupid question and If I’m asking not where should. I do not understand, Kim.K scandal tape that all keep talking about – not fake?