Category Archives: Addiction

New Online Course on Marijuana Use and Addiction

A Three Week Online Course:
The Problem of Recreational Drug Use and Addiction in America

Editors Note: The next offerings of the course are September  25 – October 15  and  November 6, 2017 – November 26, 2017.

by Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D., Gordon Drug Abuse Prevention, Washington, D.C. and Course Instructor for a new course on marijuana being offered beginning August 7, 2017, by Auburn University’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education

On August 7, a three-week online course will begin on the topic of “The Harmfulness of Marijuana Use and Public Policy Approaches Addressing the Challenges”. I will be teaching the course in asynchronous time which means that those taking the course can complete assignments each week when it is convenient for them to do so. It is not necessary to be online at specific times each week.

The course has been designed to help arm those who are working to stop the legalization of marijuana with the understanding and knowledge they need concerning the research findings regarding the harmfulness of marijuana and the impacts on marijuana use on society.

The course has also been designed to help expand the knowledge and understanding of those who are working to address the problem of recreational drug use and addiction in America so that they can be as successful as possible in their efforts. The course is also designed to help those in the position of public responsibility understand what policy and program options have been working and what options might be tried to achieve the hoped for outcome of diminishing the amount of recreational drug use in America.

The course, offered under the auspices of Auburn University’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education, will be repeated several times in 2017 and as many as four times in 2018.

Here are some additional particulars about the course:
Participants in the course will study material drawn from a wide range of freely accessible resources including among others, the instructor’s website, http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com , the PopPot.org website, the Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) website, and the website of the National Families for Action and their weekly mailer, The Marijuana Report.

Topics to be addressed include the following:

• The need to defend the brain while nurturing mental and physical well-being: The need to foster a mental and public health approach to addressing the challenges of drug use and addiction;

• An extraordinary look at the addiction cycle: A look at the lessons and insights that can be drawn from a videotaped exchange between Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Dalai Lama that took place in Dharamshala, on October 30, 2013, the morning of Day 3 of a series of workshop programs on addiction. See Dali Lama on Mind and Life, Craving, Desire and Addiction   . It is fascinating to note some of the similar take-aways that can be found in a twenty-minute video entitled “Ultra Potent Pot: Growing Risks and Impacts”. See Potent Pot video and

• Comprehensive coordinated strategies aimed at stopping the use of marijuana and other psychoactive and addictive substances in the US: Proposed comprehensive and coordinated public health-oriented strategies involving all sectors of society, including government, the justice system, and educational institutions.

The dates that the course is being offered in 2017 are as follows: August 7, 2017 – August 28, 2017; September 11, 2017 – October 1, 2017; and November 6, 2017 – November 26, 2017.

The course registration fee is $300. Participants will be eligible for 3 CEU credits. Registrants will want to check with their professional associations or accrediting institutions to ascertain the acceptability of these credits. To register, call 334-844-5100.

Information about the Course Instructor:

The Instructor for the course is Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. Dr. Gordon has been involved in the drug abuse prevention and drug policy fields for many decades. She had a non-profit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. That organization focused on addressing the drug problem particularly as it was affecting youth and young adults in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. At that time, she wrote a Guide to Ideas on Drug Abuse Policies and Programs. The Guide is still being distributed by the U.S. Education Resources Information Center. (A copy is accessible at http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com).

Dr. Gordon was a major contributor to a White Paper on the Drug Problem prepared for the Domestic Affairs Council Staff of the White House. That was at a time in the early ‘70s when there was no Federal coordinating effort overseeing drug abuse prevention programs and policies. She later served as a full-time consultant in the Office of the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, when NIMH was given initial responsibilities for overseeing drug prevention efforts, the recommendation that she had initially made to the White House Domestic Affairs Council staff. She served as the full-time staff person to the Federal Drug Abuse Prevention Coordinating Committee. She also played a role in initiating and shaping the legislation that gave rise to the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (SAODAP) in the Executive Office of the President. SAODAP took the place of the Federal Drug Abuse Prevention Coordinating Committee. Later, SAODAP was replaced by the Office for National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Her past experience in government has also included drug abuse prevention-related contracting and consulting roles with the Department of Justice. Owing to her efforts, a set of three Regional Conference on “Alternatives to Drugs” was held under the auspices of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. In addition, she was the major contributor to the “War on Drugs” policy paper in George H.W. Bush’s campaign for President.

A substantial website of her work can be found at http://GordonDrugAbusePrevention.com . Included among the articles, presentations, and reports is a 33-page list of references on the harmful effects of on marijuana.

Some of her work that is posted there includes the following:
• A Case for Protecting the Brain: Keeping the Federal Controlled Substances Act in Place and Providing Non-Punitive, Justice System-Based Public Health Options to Address the Use of Marijuana, Opiates, and Other Psychoactive and Mood-Altering Drugs in America. (October 14, 2016). A presentation given at the 2016 International Criminology Conference, in Washington, D.C.
• The Illegality of Legalizing Marijuana Use: An Open Plea to the President and All Other Sworn Federal, State, and Local Public Officials Concerning Marijuana Policies and Laws in the United States: What Part of “I swear to take Care that Laws be faithfully executed” or “I swear to support and defend the Constitution” Do You Not Understand? (August 4, 2014). An article published by Family Security Matters.
• The Harm Caused to Individuals and Society by the Use of Marijuana (December 29, 2009). An article also published by Family Security Matters
Articles that appeared in the Journal of Drug Education and Drug Forum, along with other presentation and reports are also posted at the website. A report on the passive inhalation of marijuana smoke is also posted there.

Dr. Gordon has developed and is offering this course on “The Harmfulness of Marijuana Use and Public Policy Approaches Addressing the Challenges” in an effort to help more fully inform policy makers and others in roles of public responsibility concerning the harmful effects of marijuana and the substantial negative impacts its use has on society. More fully informed policy makers, legislators, and others will then be far better prepared to develop and implement sound policies and programs with regard to drug abuse prevention help reverse current drug-taking trends.

New Study on Long Term effects of Marijuana use

Newly published study (American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry):  Long lasting effects of chronic heavy cannabis abuse.

Joannis N. Nestoros MD, PhD1
Elena Vakonaki PhD2,
Manolis N. Tzatzarakis PhD2,
Athanasios Alegakis PhD2,
Markos D. Skondras MD, PhD3 and
Aristidis M. Tsatsakis PhD, DSc2,*
Version of Record online: 17 MAR 2017
DOI: 10.1111/ajad.12529
Copyright © 2017

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

Background and Objectives:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent of short-term memory impairment and schizophrenia-like symptoms in heavy and systematic cannabis users and the association between the severity of abuse and the longevity of its persistent symptoms after refraining from such use.

Conclusions:

“The existence of hallucinations, delusions, and organic brain dysfunction in heavy cannabis users seems to be associated with cannabinoid levels in hair. The continuation of persistent symptoms 3 months after the discontinuation of cannabis abuse, was a remarkable finding.”

Scientific Significance:

“We provide evidence that chronic and heavy cannabis abuse results in long-lasting brain dysfunction in all users and in long-lasting schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms in more than half of all users. These findings suggest a reevaluation of the current classification of cannabis as a “soft narcotic” which erroneously, therefore, is typically considered harmless.” (Am J Addict 2017;XX:1–8)

 Click Here to view the study.

His Treatment Center’s Business will Mushroom But He Wants No on 64

Former drug user, turned addiction specialist, Jon Daily, decries the marijuana legalization movement and the medical community’s ignorance in these compelling videos.

5 Ways Marijuana is a Gateway Drug

Marijuana Presents Itself as a Gateway Drug For Many

Under the right circumstance marijuana leads people towards addiction, mental illness, or other harmful drugs. Scientific studies on the drug have shown its ability to damage brain circuitry. It numbs the reward system, sending users on a search for a stronger high. Peer influence or personality traits can lead to use of drugs beyond marijuana. Here are some reasons why marijuana tempts someone to open the gate and try other drugs.

1. Biological Evidence and Plateau Effect:

Studies showing the damaging effects marijuana has on dopamine receptors and our brain’s reward system suggest marijuana may lead to the use of many other different drugs. In one study done by the University of Michigan Medical School, researchers found a negative correlation between the amount of marijuana consumed over time and the amount of dopamine that was released in the brain in response. This study suggests a change in the reward system over time with a high-inducing drug like marijuana. This decrease in the amount of dopamine released creates a plateau effect. Smokers will then seek other drugs in order to achieve the high they used to experience with pot.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says cannabinoids are able to decrease the reactivity of brain dopamine reward circuits over time, leaving frequent marijuana users vulnerable to other drug addiction. Additionally, THC promotes an enhanced response to other drugs in the same way that alcohol and nicotine do, which may lead to the progression of more serious drug addictions.

2. Social Environment:

While the scientific evidence supports the idea of marijuana being a gateway drug, it is important to consider the pot smoker’s social environment. Those who begin taking drugs or abusing other substances are likely surrounded with other frequent users. And often their peers have moved on to chasing greater highs. Through their friends they are introduced to harder drugs. There is no predicting who will succumb to addiction in such a progression. If someone is already inebriated or high, they will be less able to resist the invite from a friend to try another substance. Plus, while the motivated, wealthy or successful individual may seemingly thrive with the use of recreational pot, their not so motivated and less successful counterpart may become a cocaine addict. According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World 99.9% of cocaine addicts began their drug journey with marijuana, alcohol, or nicotine.

3. Gangs and Drug Dealing:

One of the most subcultures is that of drug dealing gangs. The goal of these groups is to make a profit off of the same drug they are hooked on. Check out the story of one man, Eddie Martinez, who managed to overcome a life of drug dealing and now advises young people to steer clear of the dangers which surround marijuana and its victims.

4. Addictive personalities

For some marijuana use may be an occasional form of recreation or a one-time deal. However, various personality traits make one susceptible to substance abuse. This is what is known as an addictive personality. Especially males, who are often considered “risk-takers,” have a greater chance of becoming addicts when they are willing to engage in extreme behaviors. So while marijuana presents itself as a gateway drug to many, the risks to an individual depends their personal choices. See this article, Big Marijuana Claims vs. The Science.

5. Craving the High:

Marijuana, alongside alcohol, is one of the most accessible high-inducing drugs on the market, making it a gateway drug to intoxication addiction. John Daily, an adolescent and young adult addiction specialist argues it is not the THC that people get hooked on.  Jon says, “Addicts are hooked on intoxication” so it makes sense that those who become Opiate or Heroin addicts began with marijuana because it was the most readily available drug which later lead to their pathological relationship to getting high.