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November 19, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Marijuana

Question:

Background Info: I smoked for 8 years, on average four joints/day or 2 grams of resin or bud. I have a history of depression from age 11 to present day, although less apparent and more manageable now. I started getting drunk weekly from the age of 14. I experimented with nearly all recreational drugs but only take ecstasy and cocaine (monthly) on regular basis. I drink less now, only a few pints of lager in one sitting. I find more and more when I get stoned I can't express myself at all while friends with the same background can. I feel worried that anything I will say will face rejection and in all fairness, it often does. I worry intently about my appearance. I have stopped smoking marijuana and find the anxiety drops away in the short term but in the longer term, I seem to develop similar symptoms without getting stoned or taking any other drugs. I exercise weekly and walk daily; I eat well but smoke cigarettes heavily. I am currently a mature student, studying psychology!

Do I have a problem with THC, or is it a class A problem, or is it likely to be a problem exterior to the drugs I have taken or am taking?

Paul (24 year-old man from England)

Answer:

Dear Paul,

The quick answer is Yes, Yes, and Yes, all of the above. Let me explain.

Taking any kind of medication is risky. That is why they ask patients to sign a release of responsibility when they are administered anesthesia in the hospital. There is always the risk of death, drug interactions, or other problems. Using drugs on a routine basis changes the body's chemistry and destroys its balance. Even drinking too much sugar that you find in some soft drinks can create an imbalance in your sugar to insulin ratio, which makes it more likely to suffer from diabetes or hypoglycemia. It would take a lot of sugar to do this over a considerable time period, but it occurs often.

Drug abuse and especially drug addiction is a primary problem that is created by the particular drugs used. However, I find that very often people who use drugs are really self-medicating for emotional pain or even more often for underlying chemical problems that were present before drugs or alcohol were ever used. The difficulty is that it is extremely hard to make an accurate diagnosis when someone is still using street chemicals. A therapist can only be sure several months after sobriety is established.

Very often people who abuse amphetamines or cocaine are suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. People with Bi-Polar Disorder often use alcohol or other depressants.

No matter which type of problem, whether primary or self-medicating, anyone who is using drugs will have problems with their moods, behaviors, judgment, and perceptions. Eventually they change the brain and the neurotransmitters that transmit thoughts and feelings. Depression and anxiety are the result. Feelings become repressed and eventually chronic dissociation results, which is one of the defining characteristics of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. When a person finally stops the drugs they find that emotionally they are at the same age as when they first began using.

No drug is without some benefits and some costs but the drug ecstasy is one of the most dangerous. Ecstasy is an amphetamine-based hallucinogen and its chemical compound is MDM. It also comes in various other forms such as MDA, MDAA, and MDMM. All of these drugs make a person feel euphoric and have visual and auditory hallucinations. The hallucinatory high is very akin to mescaline. It is also an indiscriminate aphrodisiac.

The problem with the drug is that it raises the neurotransmitter, serotonin, to amazing heights and then drops the level like a stone. It also can cause a shortening of the serotonin fibers and that can cause brain damage that results in the need for anti-depressants for depression and anxiety. There is even evidence that it may cause permanent brain damage. It is much worse than LSD. It sounds as if some of the symptoms you are suffering from are consistent with this problem.

The problems with anxiety and depression often take weeks or months to develop and therefore people are often lulled into a false sense of security about this particular drug. Anxiety attacks are very frequent. This drug is at epidemic proportions in the United States and in the last six months alone I have had to hospitalize three teenagers for this particular problem. I hope this has been helpful for you and wish you all the best. I would suggest getting some face-to-face help. Take care.

Jef Gazley

This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.

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