healing the feeling by feeling the healing

Monday, January 26, 2015


Marijuana addiction affects millions of people across the world. Find out more about addiction symptoms and how to quit marijuana if you’re currently using.

Daily or almost daily use of marijuana increased from 5.1 million people in 2005 to 8.1 million people in 2013. But the debate of whether or not marijuana addiction is even possible is still going strong. To further understand why marijuana can actually be addictive, we must take a look at how marijuana affects the body.
What happens when you get high?
The use of marijuana produces pleasurable feelings which include euphoria, relaxation and increased appetite. However, people who smoke or otherwise consume marijuana may also experience negative short term effects. These include anxiety, paranoia, difficulty thinking, impaired memory and poor attention. In addition, cognitive and sensori motor abilities are affected, meaning that driving and other potentially dangerous situations put you at an increased risk of accidents. Other potential side effects from marijuana are as follows:
Possible cancer risks: Laboratory research suggests that marijuana is a carcinogen, and long-term cannabis users have symptoms similar to people who smoke tobacco. However, there is not conclusive evidence of the connection between marijuana use and cancer in humans.
Respiratory health effects: There is considerable evidence that smoking marijuana regularly does adversely affect the respiratory system. Symptoms include chronic bronchitis, coughing, and wheezing. These negative effects on respiratory health may play a role in disease formation, including cancer.
Brain processing slows: There's also evidence that long-term cannabis use produces varying impairment in memory, attention, and the processing of complex information. These effects are more pronounced with longer usage, and may diminish after discontinuing use.
Reproductive health effects: Marijuana usage may also cause ill-effects on the reproductive system of both men and women. In animal studies, consumption of marijuana is linked to lower sperm count and lower testosterone production. In female animal subjects, disruptions to the ovulatory cycle have been found.
Infant risk of exposure to marijuana: In addition, there is evidence to suggest that human children exposed to cannabis in utero may have reduced cognitive functioning including attention span and memory deficits.
In addition to these negative effects, long-term marijuana usage also affects the brain. Studies with animals have found that marijuana affects the reward centers of the brain in much the same way tobacco, alcohol, and cocaine do.
So – Is marijuana addictive? When deciding whether a substance is addictive or not, a number of factors are taken into consideration. Does the substance have psychological and physical effects? Do users find it difficult to discontinue use, and report failed attempts at quitting? Are there withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing use?
Marijuana does fit these criteria, and one major study found that 9% of marijuana users become dependent. Being dependent means that it is difficult for the chronic smoker to function in daily life without using marijuana. This may be due to a combination of physical and psychological dependence. And when a person is driven to get high by this dependence, it can be classified as marijuana addiction.
Who becomes the 9% affected by marijuana addiction?
One of the chief risk factors for any addiction is mental health. Whether you experience mental health problems due to acute stress (stressful job, relationship struggles, etc.) or you have a long-term mental health issue, this puts you at increased risk of addiction for all substances, including marijuana.
Another risk factor is genetics. Studies of twins have shown a link between usage patterns of marijuana or cocaine and genes - which means that if someone in your family suffers from addiction, you may be at an increased risk for marijuana addiction.
But certainly addiction doesn't form without the initial use of a substance. With marijuana, it starts off that smoking a joint may help take the edge off your anxious feelings, or help get your mind off your problems. But getting high is not a solution to any mental health problems, including stress, and may actually make you feel worse. As you spend more time using cannabis, you will spend less time making the changes in your life that will actually make you feel better.
How do I know if I am addicted to marijuana? Consulting a trained clinician is the most definite way to determine whether you have a marijuana addiction, as marijuana addiction symptoms vary for each person. You may also consider the following questions useful in determining whether or not you might be addicted:
1. Do you find it hard to go a day without using marijuana?
2. Do you frequently use marijuana to reduce stress and relax?
3. Do you often use marijuana to get rid of boredom?
4. Do you miss work or school because of your usage?
5. Do you have relationship problems related to your usage?
6. Do you have financial problems related to your usage?
7. Do you have negative health effects related to your usage?
8. Have you tried to discontinue usage, and failed?
9. Do others tell you that you have a problem, and you disagree?
10. When you are not using marijuana, do you spend a lot time thinking about when you will next get high?
If you have answered several of these questions with a ‘yes', you may have a marijuana addiction.
What can I do to quit marijuana?  Marijuana addiction poses particular challenges. Chief among them is the growing social acceptance of marijuana use. As a result, people around you may not understand the extent of your problem. Some people are capable of smoking marijuana regularly without developing dependence.
For those in whom marijuana does form dependence, however, it means that your brain is used to being high. And when you stop smoking, your brain has to adjust to not having the myriad of substances released by cannabis into your system – leading to withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms often include irritability, grumpiness, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and loss of appetite. While not as pronounced as the withdrawal symptoms accompanying acute alcohol or opioid use, they are nonetheless unpleasant and may make quitting difficult. For this reason, many who make the choice to give up marijuana attend an addiction treatment centre.

For best results, you may wish to consider a residential marijuana addiction treatment option. Shafa Home offers holistic, research-based treatments and has helped hundreds of addicts into addiction recovery. Let us know if you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction or any other substance abuse problem.
(These articles are the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”, they are its original authors.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Which is better - harm reduction or abstinence-based recovery? Each have benefits, but one is definitely stronger than the other.

When discussing addiction one thing is certain: addiction is devastating not only to individuals, but also families, communities, and society at large. The havoc that addiction wreaks has reached epidemic proportions, leaving leaders around the world with decisions to make regarding how to combat its negative effects.
In order to be treated and recover from addiction most treatment centres and 12-step programmes such as the original Alcoholics Anonymous, assert that abstinence is essential. But more recently, in order to address the wide reaching and severe consequences of drug addiction, programmes that aim to reduce the harm caused by addiction without encouraging abstinence have been developed.
 Harm reduction approaches are often solely equated with programmes that provide addicts with clean needles and education about safer drug use, which were first introduced as the spread of HIV and AIDS became a major public health concern. Because of this association, harm reduction models are criticised for enabling addicts and seen as a waste of resources that could be spent on rehabilitating those suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction through abstinence-based addiction treatment centres.
A more Comprehensive look at Harm Reduction : While the media highlights programmes such as the safe-injection site and other large scale needle exchange programs, there is much more to harm reduction than programmes developed to combat the spread of HIV. A harm reduction approach to addiction recovery could be said to encompass any strategy that seeks to reduce the damage caused by addiction, less of course, complete abstinence.
The Harm Reduction Therapy Centre in USA, advocates for an approach to counselling and addiction treatment that does not see abstinence as the end goal or only option. HRTC helps clients set small achievable goals in relation to their substance use, often first in the form of moderation. While this approach doesn't deny that abstinence may be the healthiest option for some people, especially for those who are severely dependent, it does acknowledge that addiction falls along a continuum and abstinence may not be possible or desirable for everyone. It seeks to meet people where they are, and allows the client to open the discussion about using substances in a healthier way-- whether that means in moderation or quitting altogether.
Methadone maintenance therapy is a harm reduction technique that has helped many people live more manageable lives and reduces the severe harm that intravenous heroin use causes in all areas of peoples' lives. While still arguably controversial, methadone maintenance has become an acceptable and life-saving form of treatment for some individuals. But, methadone maintenance is not intended to be a lifelong solution, rather a method of harm minimisation that can help individuals later achieve complete abstinence.
Many assert that offering approaches to addiction treatment that are not focused on total abstinence are necessary and positive for the community for the following reasons:
To get more people into treatment. The stigma of labelling oneself as an alcoholic or addict keeps many people from seeking treatment in the first place. Fear is a huge part of addiction, and by offering an alternative to the 12 steps, or an alternative to abstinence only, it is thought that more people may take that first step to get help. Further drug replacement therapies such as methadone maintenance are a manageable first step for many who want to free themselves from a life of addiction.
Prevention. Harm reduction approaches to therapy can help people assess and moderate their drug and alcohol consumption perhaps before they become completely dependent or addicted, which may prevent new cases of addiction. Not only preventing more severe cases of addiction, but preventing the spread of HIV through clean needle programs makes for safer communities.
Addiction as a Disease and Abstinence-Based Recovery: One of the problems with a harm reduction approach, especially in terms of supporting moderation is that addiction is often characterized by a desire yet inability to reduce consumption of drugs. Addiction is a disease that follows a predictable pattern. While moderation may be possible for some people or for a period of time, the nature of addiction makes consuming in moderation an extremely difficult goal, which some suggest is equally as difficult as achieving complete abstinence - yet not as physically or emotionally rewarding.  
Another argument for harm minimisation is that this approach meets people where they are, is less stigmatizing as it accepts people who are not ready to stop using drugs altogether, and provides resources that reduce an addict's negative impact on themselves and society. Harm minimization is also frequently thought of as a budget-friendly option for governments to put in place when they can't afford to send a large percentage of the population into residential rehab to achieve abstinence. However, evidence shows that people do not have to enter alcoholism and drug abuse treatment voluntarily, or be ready for treatment in order to be successful in recovery. In fact if many people attribute non-voluntary abstinence-based treatment to saving their lives, stating they would have likely died from their addiction before they were “ready” to change.
When we look at harm reduction more comprehensively we can see that abstinence-based addiction treatment almost always encompasses some form of harm minimisation techniques, and often harm minimisation programmes, such as methadone maintenance, are meant to be a stepping stone towards total abstinence. Many addiction counsellors incorporate a motivational interviewing approach even within abstinence-based treatment. This stage of change approach is sometimes associated with harm minimisation, but in counselling it is possible to “meet clients where they are,” while still asserting abstinence as a necessary aspect of treatment.

While programs aimed at reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS through promoting “safer” drug use are achieving that worthwhile goal, the quality of life of those suffering from addiction is still failing. At Shafa Home we support complete recovery from addiction, as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”  Shafa Home is the best alcohol and drug rehab India has to offer and we believe that recovery can be accomplished through abstinence-based addiction treatment.