Though the study (and the article I linked to) both were published a month ago, this project has been on the back burner for some time. Due to a combination of other distractions and projects, and a need to get my message on point (since I wade into the realm of the controversial with this writing), this ended up taking much longer than I expected.
Nonetheless, let us now jump right into it. As usual, feel free to leave any commentary you have in the comments section.
Marijuana abuse by youth with mood disorders linked to suicide attempts, self-harm and death, study finds
Unintentional overdoses, suicide and homicide were the three most frequent causes of death, according to the study published Tuesday in JAMA Pediatrics.
“The perception is that marijuana is safe to use, but we need to educate parents and kids that there are risks involved, particularly with heavy and high potency cannabis use,” said study author Cynthia Fontanella, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Ohio State University’s College of Medicine.
“And clinicians need to intervene to identify and treat cannabis use disorder as well as kids with mood disorders,” Fontanella said.
First of all, we need to dig into Unintentional overdoses, because this context seems to be broadcasting an incorrect message. And frankly, the link they provided is no better.
Cannabis use disorder was significantly associated with nonfatal self-harm (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 3.28; 95% CI, 2.55-4.22) and all-cause mortality (AHR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.13-2.24), including death by unintentional overdose (AHR, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.39-4.16) and homicide (AHR, 3.23; 95% CI, 1.22-8.59). Although CUD was associated with suicide in the unadjusted model, it was not significantly associated in adjusted models.
That entire paragraph is problematic in itself, but again, the contact would seem to broadcast a false message. Unintended overdoses . . . on what?
While no one seemed to bother going into detail with what substances actually killed these people, the outcome of the 2010-2017 Ohio study ended up coming to this seemingly agenda-driven conclusion:
Conclusions and relevance: Cannabis use disorder is a common comorbidity and risk marker for self-harm, all-cause mortality, and death by unintentional overdose and homicide among youths with mood disorders. These findings should be considered as states contemplate legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, both of which are associated with increased CUD.
The message of this would seem to tie a whole lot of the listed factors TO CUD, or Cannabis Use Disorder. As such, the recommendation to other states (most of which didn’t take this advice, thank goodness) is to think twice before you legalize. All of this brings to mind many questions about the data used in the study, and the lives of the various people that are behind the faceless statistics.
1.) There are many motives for murder. Even when illegal drugs are taken to consideration, the picture still isn’t clear (obvious scenarios ranging from domestic violence, gang-related violence relating to turf).
2.) While it was not deemed important to fill in the blanks in terms of what types of drugs killed that segment of the statistical pool, this oversight leaves an entirely different problem seemingly unsolved. Where are THESE substances coming from?
3.) The most important factor being left on the table by this study is in the background of all the people themselves. It is acknowledged that they all have mental some sort of mental illness. However, what are/could be the origins of this illness?
More on this to come.
Getting back to the initial article:
Marijuana use disorder
Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana use disorder, is associated with dependence on the use of weed. A person is considered dependent on weed when they feel food cravings or a lack of appetite, irritability, restlessness and mood and sleep difficulties after quitting, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Though I didn’t specifically mention food cravings in my last visit with this definition, I find this part interesting since it reminded me of quitting smoking. Honestly, I don’t know that the food cravings ever really went away even after my last smoke (which was well over 5 years ago, now). Instead of craving a smoke or a cigar during long spells of late-night boredom, I often find myself reaching for a snack instead.
That may say more about me than it does about medical science. But it also reminds me of the concept of replacing addictions with other (lesser) addictions, a concept first made clear to me by the infamous James Fry. In the case of James Fry (and his journey to sobriety as detailed in his books, nonsense aside), the alternative was religion. Or should I say, God (whatever that means to you, AA does not care).
However, that is getting somewhat off-topic (and I’ve already delved into this previously). None the less, however, you can’t have proper treatment of addictions (be it in kids or adults) without adequate programs.
But that is but one part of where our systems fall short of what is truly needed.
“People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults,” NIDA advises. About 4 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder in 2015, the NIDA estimates.
Experts say that number will have grown due to a rise in potency in today’s varieties of weed, along with the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults in 15 states and medical use in 36 states.
Studies in adults show a strong association between overuse of weed and suicide attempts and death. A study of adult same-sex twins found those who were dependent on marijuana were nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide than their twin who was not dependent on weed.
Another study of 1,463 suicides and 7,392 natural deaths in the United States found a link between any use of marijuana by adults and suicide risk after adjusting for alcohol use, depression and use of mental health services. And there was an increased risk of suicide for both men and women who were dependent on marijuana, according to a four-year study of 6,445 Danish adults.
1.) Same-sex twins (or ANY pair of twins!) will not necessarily share the same environmental characteristics as the other, so it hardly seems worth noting the association. Well, unless the goal is looking at how genetics may factor into the picture. Even then, who is to say that the twin’s endocannabinoid systems are necessarily equal?
At this point, that research is still ongoing.
Indeed, that is a bit of a cop-out straw man(“Who said anything about the endocannabinoid system?!”). Nonetheless, the important thing is that it’s not just genetics.
2.) In line with that last statement, I can’t help but wonder how much consideration the lives of the deceased have been given. That is to say, marijuana and other substance abuse issues aside, what kind of life did they live before their seemingly untimely demise of either suicide or preventable causes?
In the final paragraph above, it looks like some consideration was given in this realm, with alcohol use, depression and use of mental health services seemingly accounted for. Yet, given the abysmal state of mental health services all over North America (and likely throughout the world), I am left with a question mark.
What were these people’s lives like? Was it a case of mental illness predating the unfortunate circumstances of life in today’s hyper-capitalist era? Or is it a case of the trials of life bringing on unenviable mental anguish? Or is the answer somewhere in between?
Most individuals that are contented in life do not struggle with substance abuse issues. I know, it’s risky to use flat-out generalizations like that with the individualistic cats that humans are, hence the word most. However, these people don’t generally need to escape from their troubles, hence the often social use of substances. Drugs are a highlight in life and reality, rather than a crutch.
While the definition of what a hard life is will change depending on who you ask (and is often influenced by where they are in the economic hierarchy of society), for our purposes, a difficult existence is in the eye of the beholder. No matter what the problems plaguing people are, there is generally something worth looking into.
Where I am going with this, is into the flaws of most suicide prevention programs as they exist today.
Locally and around the world, these programs exist to try and change people’s minds before they take what is viewed as a permanently regrettable action. Such organizations have their heart in the right place, oftentimes homing in on addictions, past traumas and other problems that push people towards suicide.
Where I stand opposed to such organizations is when they attempt to eliminate the choice of suicide without tackling an of the many environmental factors that push people into such mindsets. Which in many cases are the result of systemic injustices and equalities that are not likely to ever change (and in fact, tend to worsen as time goes on).
For example, the equipping of extremely high bridge spans with netting to prevent jumping, or proposing AI-based systems that could potentially detect suicidal behaviour in a person (based on their past health records) months or years before the action. Say what you want, but NOT looking into the underlying issues seems very akin to the anti-suicide nets employed by Foxconn.
I come at this not only from a humans rights perspective but also from a point of empathy. While idiots often speak of the selfishness of suicide, I have to consider the other side of the coin. I personally know of a person who suffers the daily consequences of a past sexual assault trauma that was not dealt with in their teens, and of which may well never be dealt with. Though they do the best they can to mask the problem with (mainly) marijuana, suicide has been mentioned before. And I have never countered because . . . that isn’t my place.
What do you expect me to do . . . calm the person down with the tired argument that is “Come on, it can only get better from here!”. They have been dealing with this for close to 20 years, and STILL, the mental health resources that could make a difference are either unavailable or financially out of reach. Why would this person take me seriously when life experience itself flies right in the face of my empty hopeful request?
The system screwed them over back then when they were most vulnerable. And the system is doing the exact same thing now, 20 years later. Post-traumatic stress disorder or not, mental health care is a joke in this country, and almost everywhere else really. So who am I to say “NO! There is another way!”.
Consider another anecdote drawn from my life. I grew up viewing the consequences of what happens when a worker becomes too injured to continue working (and thus, obsolete to the system). That is to say, I grew up on social assistance watching my parent inhumanly fight for every nickel.
Workman Compensation Board’s don’t pay out long-term injury claims as an unofficial rule, leaving the onus on the taxpayers and the welfare system. I know this because when my parent received an approval notice from WCB saying that their long-term shoulder injury claim had been approved, the case manager showed up at our door to pick it up to be photocopied. I remember the nice man and his nice briefcase, sitting right at our kitchen table.
Whether the notice was sent out in error (and he was dispatched on a 600km 2-way journey to clean up the mess) is unknown to us. We just know that my parent’s claim has been continuously denied ever since, and there is no way to appeal this process without a bank filled with lawyers fees.
These people invariably end up in the welfare system. This system further shames these people by requiring lists of jobs actively applied for, which must be signed by employers (full sheets turned in monthly). Many of these employers refuse to help enable these welfare bums.
And as if the disdain from complete strangers was not bad enough, you even start to hear this bullshit from some family and friends. Because people are unable to empathize with the difference between “I slept wrong and now my shoulder is sore as hell!” and permanent repetitive action-based injury.
This almost completely hidden lack of options for the long term injured working class leads to its own mental health crisis. From substance abuse to suicide (if not outright acts of violence), long term workplace injury has become it’s own category within the spectrum of mental health.
It really affected my psychological frame of mind to have my doctors say one thing (that my stress injury was work related) and WorkSafeBC say the opposite (that it wasn’t work related). Being forced to work in an inappropriate vocation by the agency charged with the protection of workers was too much for me. I got to the point where I was not only suicidal, I believed WorkSafeBC was trying to kill me. That they refuse to correct their errors I find unbelievable.
When my back injury got to the point where I needed medication for the pain, my doctor’ locum wanted me committed; she thought I was delusional, because I said that WorkSafeBC forced me, with my history of back injuries, to work in this vocation they had chosen for me. No, they would never do that!
Now I’m dealing with the BC Ombudsman. On and on it goes . . .
I empathize with the story in its entirety because I have heard it all before. It all played out before my eyes between 2000 and the present day. The notable difference (aside from my residence in Manitoba, and this guy in BC) being that my parent was never able to pursue it legally, or otherwise. Even the part about the bullshit pain-inducing modified duties is in my parent’s story!
In their case, it was scrubbing an overhead hood vent of grease with cold water and dish soap. These were modified duties for a SHOULDER INJURY!
Though it has now been around 21 years since this stuff began, the case has never been settled and has almost certainly passed any point of appeal. And my parent as a person has never been the same since. Though part of that is self-induced problems on their part, one can’t underestimate the mountain of bullshit they indeed lived through. All because they DARED to do their job to an even higher standard than was expected of them, and as a result, paid the price.
The life lesson I took from this is that your value is as a vessel of productivity. Nothing more.
After the system had successfully trained my family member (along with millions of others) into quiet unquestioned obedience, they were eventually cast aside like an outdated and worn-out piece of equipment. Its usefulness has been extracted, so off to the trash heap with what remains.
Though my family member never tried to pursue his claims any further, I once wrote a lengthy letter to my local Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament detailing the struggle of my parent and asking about what he (as an MP) had to say about the matter. And by wrote, I mean just that. I put pen to paper and went through about 7 or 8 different drafts before settling on the one that was just right.
And the response was . . . NIL. Nada. A whole lotta FUCK ALL. Not even a cookie-cutter form letter.
Having written to my local Conservative MP’s several times in the past few years now, this lack of response is not something I am surprised by anymore. Whilst it pissed me off the first time (I put a lot of time into that letter!), it’s just how it is now. Even the NEW conservative MP does not respond to his mail!
Despite sending out newsletters with a cut-out that says “Tell me how I am doing?“!
At this point, I still respond to the newsletters with my politely phrased left-leaning critiques of the conservative’s typically oil sands energy-heavy plans for Canada’s future. I suspect that they only respond to the ageing populace of voters (the majority in my area) of whom this pipe dream all makes sense. After all, they all grew up with strong Canadian energy outputs. It MUST be a great investment in a greening and renewables-embracing world!
If the Progressive Conservatives are fine with milking the hell out of a population with MAYBE a 20-year lifespan, so be it. And the same goes for many oil sands-dominated businesses and investors in Canada’s Western Provinces. Of they want to bet their entire future on nostalgia and a population that could be wiped out by COVID 19, who am I to say no!
Nearsighted idiots be damned, however, I am now WAY off-topic.
Getting back to it, I don’t know if the list of employers applied to is still required for social assistance, but it was a crock of shit.
To my family, friends and every person sharing this crazy existence with me, I first implore you to consider every option that is available before doing anything rash. No matter what decision that anyone comes to, however, I will never judge them nor attempt to stand in their way. You have been let down.
If that statement enrages you, then frankly, you have your priorities misaligned. Where you should be focusing is on the pathetic state of mental health care worldwide. And aside from that, your focus should be on figuring out how to build a world that is WORTH living in. Since it would be very easy to fix this crisis by simply putting a bandage on it and pumping everyone full of medication.
In order to support better outcomes, we need to look at the systemic causes. Also worth considering is what it means to be human. What it means to have a purpose in life.
And yet again, I find myself connecting another external issue to this, the future of work.
Though the current status quo is broken in the most obvious of ways, it’s profitable. The constant discontent and destruction of humans is (and always has been) good for business, an essential tenant of economic growth and domination. Given this backdrop, many of the realities that have become commonplace in everyday life (particularly in the US) became extraordinarily easy to explain. While many acknowledge that the key to a healthy society is healthy citizens, it’s hardly an outcome desirable for many who are heavily invested in today’s status quo. Though the majority of the population of the US (and the world, generally) tend to be overworked, overstressed, and underpaid, it’s great for the businesses that thrive in this environment. Everything from frozen and fast food industries, to pharmaceutical conglomerates and recreational drug retailers. In a world of broken promises, there is much money to be made in tailoring to the dysfunction.
Speaking of tailoring to dysfunction . . . few industries showcase this systemic industrial cynicism better than the recovery industry. For those willing to pay (or who have wealthy backers), there are many options available to help achieve sobriety. If you are an everyday drug addict who has a loved one willing to nominate you for a coveted place on a show like Intervention, you may well also get access to these options of the wealthy.
For the vast majority, however, you are stuck with whatever is available in your local area. Which tends to be some flavour of the horrifyingly ineffective Alcoholics Anonymous program.
It’s tempting for me to take a grand ole leap and blame 99% of the ailments of modern society on some mixture of neoliberalism and capitalism. Though the obvious item (in the context of the United States) that comes to mind for me at the moment is mass gun violence, it’s not hard to map the path of almost any other issue you can think of right back to this single root. Though this issue coming straight to mind was likely on account of me just finishing reading Columbine by David Cullen (I highly recommend), we can still make the connections.
- With gun control, it is obvious. Restrictions mean just that, restrictions. There is profit lost when any ole person can’t waltz into a gun shop or a big box store and pick up 10 of any weapon they desire.
- While mental health is not as easy to follow, you still wind up in the same place (albeit in the opposite direction). Even researching the diverse mental maladies that exist in all of the varying cohorts of humanity costs big money, let alone dealing with the problem with what we do know. Maintaining the mental health of a complex society of hormone-driven beings by way of therapy is expensive. Though it is certainly a lucrative market if you own a patent for anti-depressant medication.
Mental health is simultaneously too costly a problem to properly tackle AND a source of revenue for a segment of the pharmaceutical industry. Though I have to be careful not to dismiss solutions just because they are manufactured by pharmaceutical behemoths, it’s hard not to see the pragmatism of it all. If it’s too expensive for localities to handle many (if not all) of their mental health requirements, may as well let corporate America pocket the proceeds of filling in the gap.
Though I would argue that one of the biggest keys to solving the various manifestations of the mental health crisis of the western world lies in many systemic changes, this is also precisely why nothing has ever been done. There are benefits to driving people to work 2, 3 (if not 4!) jobs JUST to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. There is benefits to keeping a majority of workers on constant vigilance for any signs that their jobs will be outsourced or (increasingly) automated away. There is benefits to exploiting you both when you are valuable and when you are down.
Not to us! But definitely for the people that you should be angry with.
Suicide is a symptom. To tackle the problem of skyrocketing suicide rates by way of simply focusing on preventing the end result by any means necessary strikes me as akin to treating a lung cancer-induced hack with strong cough medicine. You may think you have a visible improvement, but the problem is still there, slowly growing worse and worse.
While the specifics are hard to nail down, I’m certain that a big part of the solution to this problem lies in figuring out how to break the modern-day status quo. The modern-day status quo ignores our humanity in favour of viewing us all as cogs of a giant machine.
Plentiful. Replaceable. Disposable.
While I don’t know how to fundamentally remake pretty much the entirety of what it means to be a human, I do know that not doing so soon is going to make the Covid 19 mental health crisis look like a picnic. Like everyone else, I am also far too entrenched in this status quo to even imagine what one that isn’t dominated by fiat currency would look like. I can not imagine what a truly socialist (or even communist) world would be like.
I don’t know if the solution to our future lies in capitalism, socialism, communism, or some future hybrid of multiple (if not a new path entirely). All I DO know is that something has to change. The systemic status quo has been inhumane for decades (if not always). And given the path of automation, I suspect that it is on the brink of being unsustainable.
Well, it always has been unsustainable in terms of resources and the environment. In that context, I’m more thinking in terms of the economy. When huge numbers of consumers are forced out of the job market, they mostly stop spending money. When huge cohorts of consumers quit spending money, large swaths of the economy start shrinking and going out of business. And when the phenomenon becomes pronounced enough, entire national economies (if not the entire global economy) all start to sputter.
Gathering some thoughts
Though the article I choose to quote for this piece involved primarily marijuana and suicide, as observed, my brain struggles in such tight environments. As it does when I have to hold on to 2 seemingly contradictory ideas at the same time.
One of those being my stance on marijuana, and drugs in general.
I am all for the legalization of every banned substance across the board. I back this stance with the notion that focus should be placed on addiction recovery, as opposed to fighting the unwinnable battle that is taking down all points of supply. Since many areas are dealing with the unfortunate reality that is super strong opioid variants that kill, decriminalization has garnered some significant weight from a variety of police and civilian organizations in Canada and the US. While I would love to take it a step further, it’s music to my ears nonetheless.
It’s unfortunate that the road to competent policy has to be paved in blood. But if it gets us there, at least the loss of those affected was not for nothing.
Where I am more focused, however, is in the role that drugs play in the modern status quo. That is to say, they often make things more bearable. First, it’s an escape. Then a crutch. And before you know it, it’s one’s whole life.
Given that I can see this, it may seem contradictory to be entirely pro-legalization but empathetic to addiction sufferers. And that is certainly one way to interpret it. The wrong way, however.
I don’t doubt that drugs (in particular, the nastier and more addictive of the substances, both legal and illegal) definitely play a part in keeping the cattle distracted and in line. Marijuana may already have found a place in that paradigm judging by this article. Hell, pharmaceutical companies manufacture and sell drugs like Adderall And Concerta explicitly for this purpose. There is a reason why a Donut shop can unironically adopt the slogan America runs on Duncan.
While I do acknowledge that drugs are (in a sense) part of the problem, I have to view it from the context in which we live. Drugs, as they are consumed now, are merely a product of the paradigm in which they (we!) exist. Though drugs exaggerate the problems of modernity by providing a seemingly easy escape, this could change in a less toxic paradigm.
More than that, I consider the right to experiment with substances to be a human right (so long as no one else is harmed in the process). Some may scoff at this notion being that it could be said that I am personally green lighting people’s right to snort, smoke, or inject literally anything. I can’t really deny this. I don’t know why someone would want to do many things, but who am I to stand in their way. People engage in many activities knowing full well what the risks are. How is this any different?
What I will say, however, is that if governments and societies as a whole get the coming transition right (whatever that means), I doubt that people would need an artificial escape from their world. While I can see a future for psychedelics (weed, shrooms, Acid) as well as party drugs like E (or Molly as it’s known now), I don’t see room for the destructive drugs. Be it nicotine or heroin, contented people generally don’t need such crutches.
With that, I’ll return to the initial article.
First study in children
The new study used Ohio Medicare data to identify both cannabis use disorder and self-harm attempts and outcomes in youth between the ages of 10 and 24 years old. The study could only show an association between cannabis dependence and negative outcomes, not a direct cause and effect.
I’m glad that they note this, albeit late in the article.
Prior studies show children with mood disorders are highly likely to use and abuse marijuana, Fontanella said, partly because they don’t like the side effects of many prescribed medications.
“Mood stabilizers and psychotic medications can cause weight gain, say up to 30 or 40 pounds … stiffness of their neck or eyes … and it can cause sedation,” Fontanella said. “So, they may not use their medication and may self-medicate with cannabis to treat the mood disorders.”
It could also be that using weed might contribute to the development of mood disorders, however.
“Research shows cannabis use is associated with early onset of mood disorder, psychosis and anxiety disorders, so it can lead to the onset of severe mental illness,” Fontanella said.
At this point, however, science is not sure which comes first, partly because few if any studies have been done in teens and young adults.
Though I have never heard of the first study, there is certainly an interesting lesson to be learned. If young children are choosing to self-medicate over the options that the expert adults are making available to them, then it might be a good idea to go back and take another look. No, I am not saying that self-medication (in this instance, or in any other instance) is wise (be it with marijuana, or any other substance). What I am saying, however, is that those are some pretty prominent side effects.
As for the 2ed point (marijuana can bring on mood disorders), I also agree with the author.
As I have mentioned in other posts at different times, the way that the US (and the world) has governed marijuana for the past 50 years or so has helped contribute to this problem. That is, the problem that is this era’s street-level produced and distributed marijuana is not the stuff that our parents and grandparents once smoked. It is way more potent, with raising THC levels and little (if any) CBD levels.
Though the science of CBD still isn’t clear (thanks, again, to the war on drugs!), it’s starting to be understood that it (CBD) acts as a sort of Yin to THC’s Yang. Or to put it in a less stoner-esk way, CBD actively blocks THC from overstimulating a given pathway in the brain’s hippocampus (thus preventing some of THC’s well-publicized negative effects).
Based on these results, the research team proposes that CBD blocks the ability of THC to overstimulate the ERK pathway in the hippocampus and thus prevent its negative side-effects.
“Our findings have important implications for prescribing cannabis and long-term cannabis use. For example, for individuals more prone to cannabis-related side-effects, it is critical to limit use to strains with high CBD and low THC content,” said Laviolette. “More importantly, this discovery opens up a new molecular frontier for developing more effective and safer THC formulations.”
There was also this:
Amazingly, the researchers also found that CBD alone had no effect on the ERK pathway. “CBD by itself had no effect,” noted lead study author Roger Hudson, a PhD candidate at the University of Western Ontario. “However, by co-administering CBD and THC, we completely reversed the direction of the change on a molecular level. CBD was also able to reverse the anxiety-like behavior and addictive-like behavior caused by the THC.”
Laviolette says they will be following up these studies by continuing to identify the specific features of this molecular mechanism. The research team will examine ways to formulate THC with fewer side effects and to improve the efficacy of CBD-derived therapies.
This finding alone is interesting (no effect without the THC), since it makes me wonder if the CBD as a wonder drug of the gray market is a placebo. That is to say, does CBD truly give a calming effect outside of its partnership with the euphoric high of THC?
I guess only time (and research) will tell.
Either way, as for how this all ties into my marijuana prohibition rant, it boils down to how the marketplace guided itself in a way that benefits the sellers, but not the buyers. There is much money to be made in rapidly increasing the potency of your offerings to keep up with your core customer base’s tolerances (your repeat customers make up the bulk of your income, after all). As for how these rapidly rising THC doses will affect new users (particularly teenagers) and recreational users . . . who cares?
A dollar earned is a dollar earned.
When Dick Nixen (😂) kicked off the drug war in order to rein in minorities and get them pesky hippies back in line, his intentions (however racist) were not to promote the creation of superweed. And all the operatives that have kept the industry going throughout the years likely never intended to accidentally conduct one of the biggest psychological experiments in history by way of upping the potency of their product. But as it happens, society turning its collective back on the marijuana industry resulted in the guiding hand of economics taking over, with all other considerations going by the wayside. And now that the experiment has been exposed as the dangerous failure that it is, many of the so-called authorities of society (Doctors, cops, politicians) want to use the symptoms caused by their failure to take proper action as grounds to stick with the status quo!
Had Prick Nixen not decided to take the US down the path of racially tinged prohibition, what would the world look like today?
Had the US government (along with others in the world) not so stringently denied funding and resources towards research into cannabis, would scientists still be puzzled at the relationship between marijuana and mental health today?
“Research suggests that marijuana exposure impacts the brain’s ability to process emotion. Could this interact in a deleterious way with the developing brain?” said Dr. Lucien Gonzalez, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on substance use and prevention. Gonzalez was not involved in the study.
“It doesn’t prove that using cannabis causes depression or self-harm, but also doesn’t definitively refute it,” said Gonzalez, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
“Complicated associations appear to be found, and we just don’t fully understand them yet,” Gonzalez said.
While science sorts out the answers, “family-based models and individual approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy” have been effective in treating youth with marijuana use disorder, Fontanella and her team said. They also called for the rollout ofa national study to further examine the mortality risks for youths and young adults who struggle with overuse of weed.
It does not prove it, nor does it refute it.
As elaborated before, I don’t like how this study seems to gloss over the reasons that people would turn to marijuana (or any other substance) to begin with. While I agree that studies into the risk of people using weed (or anything) in excess are justified, we should also be asking Why. In fact, that is arguably the most important inquiry since answering it can at least theoretically put us on the path to limiting new cases of addiction (while also promoting recovery and healthy environments in the service of healing existing addicts).
Time to close this piece.
While I don’t have all of the answers to how to fix our broken and failing societies, I can give at least one piece of advice. Stop looking for a single pill, as though it all can be fixed by way of a single solution. To borrow an annoying and overused trope, it’s not about the blue pill or the red pill.
It’s about the purple pill.
It’s about understanding the complexities of human life and by extension the complexity of human societies. And since these societies are as complex as the humans that make them up, so too are many of the problems within.
If I were to name one of the biggest flaws of most humans, I would say that it’s our inability to see the big picture. While our inability to predict what seems like the obvious in hindsight is one thing, our overall reaction of attempting to solve complex problems by simplifying them could well be our downfall. This is not to say that big issues shouldn’t be reduced down to their component parts for the sake of comprehension. It’s more, our habit of attacking a problem by focusing on a small part of it is inherently destructive.
I mentioned that I had read a book called Columbine earlier . . . let’s take school violence. It’s not a mental health problem, it’s not a gun problem, its . . . all of the above. It’s all of the above, and more. Though it can be debated how much of each is pertinent in the formula.
While focusing on the relationship between marijuana and self-destructive (if not fatalistic) behaviour is a worthwhile study, it should not be undertaken without consideration of other factors.