Almost Addicted

The slippery slope of recreational drug use

I’m Not Using “Hard” Drugs, So What’s the Big Deal?

Some think that because marijuana isn't a "hard" drug it doesn't cause problems. The reality is that although drugs like methamphetamine and the opiates can be devastating and even a single use might be too much, regular use of marijuana can also exact a high price and wreak havoc on lives in various ways. Read More

Ignorance of this article/author

I am continually surprised by the ignorance of modern man. Although you may possess a Ph.D and I do not, I can tell you have not done any real research into the field of drugs. If you had, you would know marijuana is NOT a gateway drug, that it is NOT 50 times stronger today than it was 30 years ago (think about it, how does that make sense?). Marijuana is NOT physically addictive and you CANNOT overdose on it. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years. The government in the U.S. dislikes marijuana because they know they would not be able to sell pharmaceutical drugs the way they do if people knew of the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Pharmaceutical companies bring in more money than any other business. Obviously the government wants that money instead of allowing people to grow their own medicine in their backyard. It is utterly pathetic that your education in drug usage and abuse is less than the level of a sophomore in high school. Learn your facts through your own curiosity! Don't just conform to whatever the government tells you thinking its the best thing for you and your children! Case, in point: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Preservatives, Lead in Gasoline, etc. Need I say More? Clearly in this nation, however great it may be, corporate gain comes before the health and well being of citizens. The fact that you would write an article like this shows how ignorant you are. And the worse part is, other people on this website will read this ignorant article and believe it as true when it is completely backwards! I'm not entirely sure whether you are just a conformist or a pharmacist, but either way I advise you to educate yourself and not be so condescending in your knowledge of this subject matter.

I have to agree with the

I have to agree with the above poster you make claims in this article that have no evidence to back them up. Alcohol and Tobacco are both drugs that are far mre harmful and addictive than marijuana based on empirical evidence. Your claims are at best made with anecdotal evidence.

Author response to the comments thus far

For the record, I have no love loss for big pharma. Despite the fact that some medications have done a tremendous amount of good, I have written repeatedly about the harmful influence of the pharmaceutical industry in medicine. Here is one small example:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/200...

I have also decried, in print, profit driven medicine and many aspects of our governmental policies. I have made mistakes and been wrong at times, but I have never been a shill for our government, not even remotely.

So about marijuana . . . my piece does not say marijuana is a gateway drug. For what it is worth there are some individuals for whom it is but by no means is it one for everyone

I also do not say that marijuana causes "physical dependence" (in which someone experiences physical withdrawal symptoms) the way that alcohol, tobacco, and the opiates can. That does not mean that one can't become dependent on it otherwise. My personal experience and the scientific literature describe scores of such people who can't quit marijuana despite a lack of physical withdrawal symptoms.

Also, in my previous blog, I acknowledge that alcohol and tobacco and the biggest killers in our midst. As someone who is hostile to the entire tobacco industry, I would not assert that any drug has ever exacted a larger toll than tobacco.

Additionally, before I began reviewing the medical and scientific literature--which is ever increasing--about the harmful effects of marijuana (on IQ, depression, anxiety, and psychosis to name just a few things) much less seen what I have in clinic, I would never have spoken out against frequent use of marijuana.

And finally, as I write in my previous post, none of what I have just written means that I support the "drug war" or the criminalization of drugs. It means that certain forms of drug use wreck lives.

Yes, I say that partly based on anecdote but way more based in an increasingly huge and undeniable body of scientific literature.

I've read your articles and

I've read your articles and see that you acknowledge that alcohol and tobacco are far more harmful and addictive than marijuana.
I think you do make some good points about the harmfulness of marijuana.
I disagree with you about the riskyness of opiates. You say that once a person uses them once they find it near impossible to avoid using again. I think this contradicts empirical evidence.
Alcohol has about a 10% dependance rate for people that have used it. Heroin generally regarded as the the most addictive and euphoric opiate has between a 10-20% dependence rate from studies I've seen. It's hard to pin down because the drug is illegal making large studies hard to conduct.
The idea of someone using Heroin once and being hooked for life is Anti-Drug Propagandha. The majority of heroin users use it casually and are not dependant on it. It should be noted that lots of the funding for Anti-Drug advertisments comes from the big alcohol and tobacco companies. While Heroin is an addictive substance it is not nearly as harmful as the mainstream media make it out to be.
In general the Hard Drugs like Heroin are on Par with Alcohol and Tobacco when it comes to Addictiveness and Harmfulness.
In fact opiates like Heroin are actually far less harmful to the body than alcohol and cigarettes.

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Wes Boyd is on faculty at Harvard Medical School and is an Attending Psychiatrist at Cambridge Health Alliance and Children’s Hospital Boston.

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