Lest potheads complain that I’m picking on them, may I point out that the three stages of addiction we talked about generally apply to ALL addictive substances (including nicotine and alcohol). Just that different substances affect the brain and behaviour in different ways during each stage of the addiction cycle.
Differences in the pharmacokinetics (what the body does to a drug after it has been taken, including how rapidly the drug is absorbed, broken down, and processed by the body) of various substances determine the duration of their effects on the body and partly account for the differences in their pattern of use.
For example, nicotine has a short half-life (time it takes for the total amount in the body to be reduced by 50 %), which means smokers need to smoke more often to maintain the effect. In contrast, THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, has a much longer half-life. As a result, weed smokers do not typically smoke as frequently as tobacco smokers. Getting it?
So with that out of the way, let’s get back to answering the question we started off with – can or should you and I smoke marijuana? At some time in their lives most people try a potentially addictive drug like alcohol or marijuana…I tried both when I was 15 years old and went on to become an addict.
My addiction was a pathological and compulsive pattern of drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviour which occupied an inordinate amount of my time and thoughts, and persisted despite adverse consequences. I also found it difficult to quit taking drugs, even when I expressed a strong desire to do so.
Finally, I did manage to abstain and still remain highly vulnerable to relapse even after nearly 25 years of sobriety. It’s already been a complex process for my brain to heal and re-establish itself and for me to embrace recovery.
Can I risk putting my life on pause and in limbo once again? Nope, I’m not going down that despairing road again…I may not get off that tormenting ride the second time around. Music, film, sport, books, food, spirituality and all the fabulous people around give me my sense of well-being. So I think I’ll skip chemically altering the state of my mind today 🙂
The youngsters out there demanding that marijuana be legalized should continue their own research to separate marijuana fact from fiction because honestly, I think it’s an individual decision. If it’s a treatment option for you, then like any other health care decision, the real risks and benefits of smoking marijuana should be discussed with your doctor (not yet an option in India). Unless the benefits outweigh the risks, it’s best to be free from the effects of psychoactive substances.
The people who initially want to experiment with drugs because of their pleasant consequences need to ask what is responsible for the transition from casual or experimental drug use to drug abuse and, eventually, the symptoms of addiction.
Over the last two decades or so there has been increasing recognition that drugs themselves can change the brains of susceptible individuals in complex ways and that these drug-induced changes in the brain contribute to the transition to addiction. Are you willing to take the risk to find out that you are one of the susceptible ones?