Can Alcoholics Smoke Weed? This is What I’ve Learned So Far…

Last week I started reading “Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth About the World’s Most Popular Weed” by recognized clinical expert and researcher on marijuana Kevin P. Hill. Ever since I stopped smoking weed back in May, I’ve been obsessed with marijuana and the chemical mechanisms behind this stuff. I’m an alcoholic. I’ve had major trouble with alcohol dependency in the past but I’ve been slowly getting better. I had a terrible relapse recently but I’ve been sober for almost four months now. The longest I’ve gone without a drink in my life has been 9 months. That’s my best streak. However, I spent the latter half of that 9-month streak smoking weed. More than half. I smoked weed regularly for the better part of 5 months. Since I stopped smoking back in May, I’ve now been weed-free for 5 months. I’ve spent the better part of the last 5-months craving weed.

My experience as an alcoholic smoking weed has been strange and I’ve got a lot of questions that need to be answered. I’ve wondered if my drug of choice could be “safely” replaced with marijuana: can an alcoholic smoke weed? Is marijuana safe? What exactly does marijuana do to my brain? What the fuck is going on with marijuana and why am I having all of these cravings for this stuff?

I’ve read most of Hill’s field guide to marijuana. Hill’s “Marijuana” is a pretty good read and it’s very well written but it was full of a lot of things that I already knew. If you’ve gone to rehab or detox before, there isn’t much in this book that is all that shocking. If you’ve worked with addiction and mental health professionals, then you’re not going to learn a hell of a lot. I did not learn a lot that I was not already aware of. What I really wanted to know is if there was any sort of medication that stimulated my brain in the same way as cannabinoids. I’ve been on several different antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication and none of it worked quite like marijuana did.

First, I’d like to describe and share my own experience with this drug. I will firstly admit that I was addicted to marijuana. There’s no doubt about it. Not only was I addicted to marijuana but I was also abusing it. One of the most common misconceptions about addiction and drug abuse is how easily usage can qualify as drug abuse. More than 3 drinks per day is alcohol abuse. We can calculate one drink. One beer, one glass of wine, and on shot of hard liquor are the qualifying measurements of what is considered one drink. The hard thing with marijuana is that it is difficult to determine what exactly is one hit. Tolerance to marijuana builds fast if you use it often. Defining the line between recreational use and drug abuse is difficult with marijuana. Right now it kind of goes on a case by case basis and you have to do some serious self-evaluation. The abusive behaviors that are recognized as drug addiction are all-inclusive. Do you feel guilty about your drug use? Do you wonder if you’re using too much or too often? Once you start using is it hard to stop? Do you feel anxiety when you do not have access to the drug that you use/abuse? These are just a few questions but this is a good example of how easy it is to cross that line into abusing a substance.

I did have an abusive relationship with marijuana. Like many other people, there were external factors that contributed to my marijuana abuse: problems at home and frustration with school. I also started increasing the amount of marijuana that I was smoking and I started smoking more often because I broke my arm and later on got an insanely bad staph infection. These were contributing factors to my increased usage of marijuana. Being hurt sucks, especially when you’re a very active person. The pain was one thing but the psychological shittiness of having a broken arm was way worse and I just wanted an escape. I picked up marijuana as a hobby because I couldn’t work out and I didn’t want to go crazy. Mostly, I was just mad and frustrated and these were limiting emotions that I knew that I did not have the mental strength to deal with sober. I was in a spot where it was either drug use or debilitating mental illness exasperated by physical injury. I chose what felt like the lesser of two evils.

Thinking on this later on, my problem has a lot to do with this distorted cognitive behavior. If my brain didn’t say, “drugs or suicide” that’d be great. I gotta get that worked out because it’s the source of all of my problems. However, I am already on medication and this addiction-fueled cognitive distortion is not being helped. I really would just like that part of my brain to shut the fuck up. Marijuana abuse shut that part of my brain up. Or so it seemed. What I wanted to learn from this book is how marijuana stimulated my cannabinoid receptors and if that feeling could be replicated by a safe and controlled prescription medication.

I feel that there must be some benefit to stimulating the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. I also believe that there must be a safe way to access our cannabinoid receptors. I’ve got problems with my neurotransmitters already. That’s why I take SNRI’s. My serotonin and norepinephrine levels are fucked. I take serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors to unfuck these neurotransmitters. What Hill’s “Marijuana” failed to discuss in-depth was the mechanisms behind cannabinoids, their receptors, and marijuana’s all-around affect on brain chemistry.

I was asking questions that were a little too specific but this was still a good place to start.

So far this is what I learned (and also what I already knew) about marijuana:

  1. Marijuana is addictive.
  2. More people (globally and also in the U.S.) use marijuana than any other illicit drug. No other illicit drug comes anywhere close.
  3. More than 47% of Americans age twelve or older have used marijuana during their lifetime.
  4. Marijuana usage statistics lag only behind legal substances alcohol and tobacco.
  5. There have not been nearly enough laboratory studies about this drug that is so popular and widely used.
  6. The FDA only approved two medications that synthesize the effects of cannabis in the brain.
  7. Data suggests that 9% of adults who use marijuana become addicted.
  8. Likewise, 17% of adolescents will become addicted (nearly twice as likely to become addicted).
  9. Marijuana, compared to nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, is less addictive than all of them.
  10. Addiction to anything is bad for you.

 

HOT TAKE:

Long story short, this book was a good place to start but I’m disappointed. I’m no more informed than I was before. I’ve got exact numbers and stats now but that’s about it. I already knew this. I was hoping to find out that weed gave you brain cancer and shrunk your balls and made your hair fall out. I was kinda hoping to be scared straight but instead I came away feeling more steadfast in my own personal belief that mental illness is way more dangerous than marijuana addiction.

I’m going to kick this post, which I hope is the first of a series of posts about my weed exposé, with a smokin’ (hehe) HOT TAKE: Kevin P. Hill was a coward to not address and discuss this chart:

2011_Drug_Harms_Rankings

To write a supposed “unbiased guide” to the “truth” about marijuana and to fail to include this chart above is fucking cowardly and Kevin P. Hill is a soft, candy-ass excuse for a science bitch. Look, marijuana is neither a cure-all nor is it Satan’s pubes, but if you don’t admit that it’s not anywhere as close to as bad for you as pretty much anything else, you’re doing to general public as serious disservice and you’re adding to hysteria. Kevin P. Hill, MD., I’m calling you out, bruh. You fraud! You can’t just write a book saying that something is dangerous and addictive and then not say that it’s less bad for you then all of the other bad shit that we do. Is weed cupcakes? No. But it sure as fuck isn’t alcohol or tobacco. Or firearms. Or ENRICHED WHITE FLOUR. For fucks sake, Kevin, marijuana is less bad for you than all of the garbage that you and your colleagues just hand out like fucking candy. My question is, what does YOUR ass hand out to people addicted to weed? BENZOS??? How many times have YOU prescribed Adderall or Benzodiazepines? Oh so the weeds are real dangerous but Xanax is all good? We good with Vicodin and Perc’s but weed’s what we should be looking out for? You’re telling me that addiction to weed is on the same level as the shit that you and your science bitch colleagues prescribe the kids to sit still in class everyday? Are you trying to tell me that the distress caused by marijuana is WORSE than the distress caused by mental illness? So there is no way what so ever that the cannabinoid receptors in our brain are worth heavy investing in? There’s no data? THEN GET MORE DATE YOU CHARLATAN.

Kevin P. Hill probably cheats at Scrabble and gets defensive about it.

I need to get this hot take out of my system because my boy K-Hill let me down and I took it very personally. I expected more from you, Kevin. What I didn’t like was playing this guessing game the whole time wondering if this dude had ever smoked weed in his life or not. Unless I missed it, he did not indicated whether or not he had or hadn’t smoked dat dope-ass, dank-ass shit. I don’t like that. He should have been unbiased and truthful about his past usage. Fucker. Truth mongering all the way through, you have taught me nothing, Kevin. Kevin P. Hill, you’re a haughty dipshit who’s virtually humorless and occasionally condescending. You lack charm and have added nothing to the world’s conversation about marijuana. You suck, Kevin! You can expect a VERY unfriendly email in the near future.

Now back to reality:

This chart above was the result of a clinical survey done by a Scottish group of scientists in 2011. Cannabis, as you can see above is rated very low on the scale of social harm. Only magic mushrooms beat cannabis in lowest overall social harm score. Cannabis is ranked lowest on the scale of personal harm overall. The visual of the statistics shows that cannabis, although not safe, is much safer than every other widely used drug or medication. I’m not even going to address that magic mushrooms because, for real, nobody is doing that on the reg. And if you are you should stop.

I’d like to point out on this chart above that alcohol is in the same grouping as crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and heroin. Alcohol is legal and cannabis is not. That seems insane. Nicotine is also very high up there and it is also legal.

The only reason that I bring this chart up is because this seems important because drug use is a public health crisis. I’m not saying that cannabis should be legal solely because it is less harmful than legal substances. What I’m trying to point out that it seems strange that cannabis is illegal while alcohol is legal. I’ve always thought that the harmfulness to legality dilemma was troubling. What I’m mostly troubled by is how little we know about this drug that everyone is using. We’re wasting a lot of time an resources pumping our citizens with alcohol while throwing those who smoke marijuana in jail. That seems fucked up but that’s just my opinion based on my own personal experience.

My biggest issue with Hill’s book is that it seems like he just wrote this for concerned parents who’d rather read a book than actually talk to their kids. Maybe I’m projecting but that’s the vibe that I got. The message he conveys is that 1. marijuana is addictive, 2. addiction is bad, 3. we’re workin’ on it. I was a little disappointed in this book but that’s because I wasn’t asking questions that this particular book could answer. However, there is good stuff in here.

I’ll go into more detail and go over more of the particulars but upon first reading, I did not come away satisfied. The biggest problem with the topic of addiction, mental health, and marijuana is that marijuana is a different animal and scientists are reluctant to get off their asses and do serious big  boy research. Can we blame them in America? When insurance companies and drug corporations have us under their thumb, economically speaking, who will waste their valuable time an effort studying something illegal?

I didn’t hear a lot about the benefits of cannabinoids. Hill was reluctant to speak about the positive aspects of cannabinoids and their interactions with the receptors in our brains. From what I can gather, Hill is writing for an audience who knows absolutely nothing about drugs or marijuana. This is a dummies’ guide to drug abuse and marijuana and mental illness. This was more of a warning than anything else. It’s a little bit of a D.A.R.E. program chapter book. If you don’t know that marijuana is addicting and that smoking anything is bad for your general health then you’re probably just an idiot and more than likely won’t be reading a book anyway. I think that what Hill wanted to point out was that too many people believe that everyone smokes weed and that it isn’t bad for you. His larger point was that addiction leads to poor quality of life and because weed is in fact an additive substance it can lead to the problems that arise from abusing any substance.

It was very hard not to have a “no shit, Sherlock” attitude about Hill’s “findings”. But I don’t think he wrote this for recovering addicts or alcoholics. But Jesus Christ did he dumb it waaay down. Your suburban mom is likely to bust both nuts over this book while chuggin’ down another glass of three buck chuck. In the most negative and dickish way that I can put it, Hill’s “Marijuana” is basically just fuel for your mom’s purple-toothed, holier-than-thou, vaguely racist and completely uninformed preconceptions about marijuana. Wino moms of America rejoice! Finish yer merlot, pop a xanax, and smh and guilt trip your fuck-up son until he abates this urban hobby that he picked up at college.

FIRST CONCLUSIONS:

As much as I just took a big poo on Kevin P. Hill, MD. I do think that this book is not a bad start. I think we probably do have to admit to ourselves that this shit isn’t just dank-ass cupcakes. However, marijuana is also not smokeable, instant brain-AIDS. Let’s be clear, KEVIN. This book wasn’t written for me, it was written for my dumb parents and everybody else’s equally dumbass mom and dad. It wasn’t written for Johnny Alcoholism or Scotty Scaggs. It was written for uber frosh. At the same time though, if you are addicted to weed, you should read it because you should probably get learned.

I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to know more about weed. It’s probably good to read this book if you do smoke weed. Maybe everybody should read this book. As an alcoholic, this was not a good choice and not a good read. Weed addiction compared to alcoholism isn’t even apples and oranges, it’s wasabi and carrots. Not even close. The psychological mechanisms are definitely similar and addiction is addiction but as an alcoholic I find it kinda hard to compare the two.

What I am NOT saying is that marijuana addiction is some candy-assed shit. Hell no. I was in rehab with people who were addicted to marijuana just as bad as people addicted to alcohol or heroin. Addiction is addiction and it’s all the same brain mechanisms. Drugs is drugs. However, the difference between marijuana and other drugs is in that chart I referred to above. The problem with marijuana addiction, where I actually give a lot of credit to Kevin P. Hill, is that it is drug addiction without a doubt but it is very easy to deny and put off getting help.

My humorous (and clever!) hot take about Kevin being a science bitch and a coward was mostly a joke because I think it is extremely important to make the public aware that marijuana addiction is very real and it is the same as other drug addictions. The reason why I truly think that Hill was dumb as shit to leave out this visual analysis of drugs and personal/social harm is that the truly insidious nature of marijuana addiction is evidenced by what this chart represents. Marijuana addiction is bad for you. However, marijuana itself is not that bad for you. Compared to a lot of other things, marijuana is not dangerous. For me personally, it feels like it makes life tolerable and I like that it gives me something to look forward to. For me personally though, as someone with addiction problems, I can’t be smoking weed because I’ve crossed that line into substance abuse before and doing it again would be stupid and insane. There is a fine line between a hobby and a lifestyle and I pretty much cross it immediately once I even start thinking about drugs. That’s just my experience though.

The reason why marijuana addiction is so insidious is because marijuana itself is not that dangerous. This seems like a smoking hot take but for my point of view it’s really not. This is what I personally believe as a recovering alcoholic about weed: anybody who thinks it’s bad for you but still drinks alcohol is a fucking idiot and most likely sucks as a person. If you think that alcohol isn’t as bad as weed, you can kindly go fuck yourself because the numbers indicate that you’re a fucking twat. That’s just one alcoholic’s opinion. If that rustles somebody’s jimmies then they can go brush their wine gums with drain-o and send me an unfriendly email. I’d love to chat more on the subject! That’s a little much but what’s really hard about weed is that it is not that bad for your health.

The worst part about weed is that it’s addictive. Basically the thing that fucks you up with weed is that you become an addict and you’re psychologically fucking yourself up. The problem that I see with weed is that the physical consequences are relatively minimal. I fucking swear, anybody who says that it’s bad also probably eats enriched white flour and high fructose corn syrup and drinks diet coke and has unprotected sex and goes to church and owns a gun. In the real world, and I hope that this is not just me, but the risk of picking up an STD is soooo much worse than smoking marijuana. Also, you’re more likely to get shot in an American classroom than have a real physical problem smoking too much weed. But that’s the problem: it’s a low risk drug and the worst thing about it is that it is addicting. The negative consequences of weed, to me at least with my shithouse life/problems, all have to do with the psychological problems with addiction. Anxiety, withdrawal, emotional problems, mood swings, dependency. One of my big problems with Hill’s horseshit was that he didn’t sell me that his was worse than living sober; not to say that I’d rather be smoking weed than be sober. I’d rather be sober right now but I wasn’t sold that smoking marijuana was really worse than any sort of mental illness issue that I’m already dealing with.

The risk versus reward with marijuana when you’ve got a history of serious big boy drug abuse and crippling mental illness is really peanuts in the big picture. I’m not saying that I’m on my way to calling up my old dealers but wow, Kevin, good job giving me absolutely no reason whatsoever to NOT smoke weed. I’m glad that I didn’t read this book when I was dealing with serious cravings because basically it just justified smoking weed to me. And that’s the problem. That says something about being sober in this country today. It’s almost not worth it at all. Being sober in America is balls. It feels like a waste of time and with weed it feels like just one more thing to stress out about. Maybe if sobriety offered more then this book would make me more confident that I was making the right decision not to be using marijuana. But I’m not sold that I’m worse off smoking marijuana than I am just being a sad and embittered dry drunk. On the other hand though, I’ve made it this long without smoking that shit.

ALCOHOLISM AND WEED:

For me, as a recovering alcoholic, I want nothing to do with smoking marijuana right now. I feel like I’m more likely to never drink again that never smoke again. I can’t see myself drinking or wanting to drink but I don’t want to test it.

If you’re an alcoholic with questions about marijuana, take my word for it when I say fuck Kevin P. Hill with a rusty shovel. If you have big boy questions about marijuana this is what I know:

My cravings for alcohol were never worse than when I was smoking marijuana.

Doc Hill failed to mention that. Kinda seems like you’d wanna touch on that. Did I waste my money on this book? No. It’s a good reference because the internet is full of shit when it comes to marijuana. The only thing that I think is important to really know about marijuana is that 1. it is an addictive substance that can be as easily abused as any other mind altering drug and 2. I would not recommend smoking weed if you are an alcoholic. My only point of reference is my own experience. Smoking weed did not make my cravings for alcohol go away, it cranked them way the fuck up to some scary levels and it would be stupid and dangerous to say that my marijuana abuse had nothing to do with my relapse with alcohol. There is no way that marijuana didn’t play some kind of role in my relapse and my return to my drug of choice. Were there environmental factors? Yes. But when I got an alcohol craving and I smoked weed to deal with it the craving for alcohol did not go away; it got way worse.

From my own personal experience, I think that it is dangerous to smoke weed if you’re a recovering alcoholic. I may never be able to smoke marijuana safely. I liked it a lot and I want to do it again and the only thing that scares me about it is that I know it had something to do with my alcohol relapse. I do not believe that weed was solely responsible but it played a part nonetheless.

Right now, I’m just happy not to have alcohol cravings. I know that weed will give me alcohol cravings and I want nothing to do with that so it’s easy to stay out of the weed. I do believe, however, that cannabinoid receptors can be manipulated and these receptors can play a role in improving mental health. I do not think that the answer is accessing cannabinoids via smoking marijuana. I do think that marijuana can be used as a natural source of cannabinoids. There is no way that cannabinoids cannot improve mental health if we can control them and safely use them in medicine. There must be something good in there and I think that we have to find a way to use cannabinoids in medicine and I think that there must be a way that stimulation of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain can improve mental health. Until then though, I will remain sober. There’s way too many question marks on weed’s chemical baseball card. I hope that Kevin P. Hill, MD. gets off of his lazy ass and starts answering important questions.

BOOK REVIEW GRADE: B-

(“B-” for Kevin P. Hill, you are a science B-itch).

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