The Cannabis Chronicles

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Welcome to the Cannabis Chronicles, where we’ll be discussing health and medicinal aspects of Cannabis smoking.  Many of my patients have asked about the safety of cannabis use and why such an innocent herb is such a big deal.  Of recent note is the large number of states decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana in small quantities for personal, recreational use. Even the federal government is weighing in with somewhat vague statements of not prosecuting those recreational smokers, for now. The same is true with medical marijuana.  There are no head to head and good double blind studies meeting the standards for FDA approval of cannabis for prescription as a purely smoked plant. There are many chemicals in the plant that have actions ranging from psychoactive to immune system regulation, to impact on muscle spasticity.  Some of the chemicals even may reverse the actions of others.  Smoking the plant is like a “shotgun” treatment when it comes to knowing what in the plant is making the difference. We do have studies on natural and synthetic individual chemicals whose benefits have been identified and studied in small dosages.   Let’s face it.  With some of the suffering from debilitating diseases covered by medical marijuana, the “shotgun” may be the most compassionate thing to do.

While we don’t have the best science, we still have laws and empirical studies.  The laws have made medical and recreational use legal.  There will always be those who will manipulate the requirements to get the drug.   To confound the process even more, there is our old friend placebo.  We know how powerful belief can be as a driver for response. It can cause psychological and physical changes in the body.  How much is wanting it to work and feeling the effects serving as a signal that help is on the way?  Lastly, most of the studies measuring the effects also used small, controlled doses.  Folks buying medical marijuana are generally smoking the recreational dose potencies.  That means many should be getting some euphoria; that’s the clinical term for being “high.”  So, if they’re feeling better because “they’re feeling no pain” from euphoria as well as getting some pain relief via medical effects on the nervous system…Well, who’s gonna complain about that? If comfort and compassion are our goals for those most in need, perhaps it’s   the right thing to do.

Then there are the medical risks of smoking cannabis for recreational and medical purposes.  There are always those unintended consequences.  Think about smoking a cigarette without a filter and smoking it down to the nub. That means you are getting all the tar/nicotine and other carcinogens with each inhalation.  With cannabis, most people inhale deeply and hold in the smoke to get the biggest dose.  All the carcinogens and tars (the brown stuff) are inhaled more deeply and kept longer. Cannabis smokers inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers in general. There is no evidence that cannabis is safer for the lungs than cigarettes. This may not be a big issue for those already medically disabled, but the recreational smoker will be at higher risk, especially if it’s legal, because of more regular use.  We have some clinical data that also point to an increase in impaired driving by cannabis users.  Emergency room monitoring of those in motor vehicle accidents also points to a recent increased incidence of urine tests positive for cannabis in drivers, though nowhere near the numbers for alcohol drinkers.  How will legalization impact these numbers? There are findings pointing to higher risk of psychosis and other long-term effects. Legalization means we are also accepting more costs for these natural consequences of our decisions. So, from my windshield, it’s still a cloudy picture on more mainstream inclusion of cannabis.  What are the full and objective benefits of medical marijuana? We are still “practicing” medicine. Eventually, enough will be learned to stimulate the profit motive of big companies and they will begin to research and license products.  We’ll talk next about why intoxication is enjoyable and so problematic.

Meanwhile, please, please don’t drink or smoke and drive.

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Is There a Relationship Between Addiction and Mental Illness?

We work with people who either have a propensity to mental illness, which is triggered, or already have a mental illness, which is worsened, by drug use. With today’s drugs, we see such powerful changes of brain chemistry that mental illness results, even without other risk factors.  It’s discouraging in many respects, because, although we create better treatments for the mental illnesses themselves, people bring them on and make them treatment-resistant by substance abuse.

One of our colleagues in the Addiction world, Chana (pronounced “Hana,” like the road to Hana, Hawaii) Carro is a licensed independent Substance Abuse Counselor, with over 24 years’ experience.  She says, “This is an enormous tragedy.  We made a very large advance when we decided that we should treat mental illness and active addiction as co-occurring disorders, that we weren’t going to give preference to one over the other.” In reality, it’s very challenging to make the correct diagnoses because patients aren’t going to tell us about their addiction issues.

Chana described a recent case where information was sought about a patient admitted to the mental health hospital on a court-ordered evaluation.  Collateral information she received indicated that this person had a longstanding history of methamphetamine abuse, with no prior family history of mental illness, but with a very long, inter-generational history of drug and alcohol use.  When she spoke to the professional in charge of this patient about why the diagnosis of schizophrenia might not be accurate in the face of such active addiction, she was told, “Well, I just want you to know that four or five people have seen this person over the last 15 years and every single one of them has agreed that this is the diagnosis.”  As Chana says, “Well, you can call a giraffe an elephant for 15 years and get a whole lot of people to say that that’s what it is, but if a giraffe is a giraffe it’s not going to be an elephant, no matter how many people call it that!”  Some of the challenges of drug abuse are that it’s so prevalent;  it’s glamorized in social media;  and many people don’t see it as a reportable component of their medical complaints.  It’s difficult to treat if it’s not known.  There are ways to improve treatment outcomes when we do know.  We’ll discuss the involvement of a “Higher Power” next time.

Vernon and Louise Barksdale

Consciousness Is The Headwaters; Attitude The Flow

MindOBody

We often hear about performance being 95% mental and the rest physical.  Many of the most talented enhance their good work ethic with the humility to seek coaching and mentoring for self-improvement in their craft.  There is even benefit in failing during practice to learn from it, to perfect your craft.  You may find it strange that my postings on a health blog talk little about physical health and more about the health of the inner you, the guy you talk to every day, the guy with whom you share your most intimate secrets. Well, there is a reason for this. I chose to get as close as possible to the headwaters of what makes us function as humans. Despite our genetic gifts and abilities, our personal attitude and outlook on life, however they came about, drive the major decisions about our health and prosperity.  “Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”  Lifestyle is a function of those decisions we make about what’s important to us and what we are willing to fight for or just let happen to us.  Those decisions are a function of our beliefs and attitudes.   A lot of these  dwell within us, fueled by our past experiences, current circumstances and our beliefs regarding what life can give us.  

If our current circumstances and conditions are not what we want, we can change them. We must be willing to forgive the past and let it go. We can set up a new path by making daily small changes in the direction we need for our success. Procrastination is the thief of time.  Attitude is either his accomplice or his vanquisher.  Unless we alter our attitude, we are unable to make consistent changes or we soon undo the very changes we make.  Negative attitudes from our past will always tell us “No, you can’t.”  Changing that attitude is crucial to vanquishing procrastination and low self-confidence.  We have already talked about developing a reading habit for self-improvement. We also need to list, in writing, opportunities for improvement.  Make another list of strengths and positive attributes.  Decide on areas where you will make consistent steps toward the positives you want. These should be small steps, not big often-overwhelming steps you can’t do consistently.  Do them every day, not every other day or when convenient. It won’t be perfect in the beginning, but progress never is. However, if you review your progress weekly and correct your course, it will give you a better result.

Meanwhile, use your strengths to help bridge the gaps in your areas of opportunity for improvement. Set goals  and dates to achieve them. I like using a calendar or journal to track progress. Then comes the fun part!   Make a collage of what your goal will mean to you.  If it’s weight loss or not smoking, what would that look like for you? Different clothes, running the hiking trails, happier relationships, healthier life?  Lastly, spend about 10 minutes before bed and a few minutes before starting your day for quiet mental rehearsal of your life with these changes manifest, filled with the joy and excitement of living the goal! Write out a brief affirmation that encapsulates your project or the personal change you are working on. Add it to your mental rehearsal and return to it any time during the day when you feel discouraged or frustrated with your progress. Empower it with positive emotion. Keep it short and to the point with a “feel good” emotion. Inhale as you envision and recite the affirmation swelling your heart and mind with the positive emotion, then exhale slowly, savoring the feeling.  This is a very powerful trigger for consciousness to keep doing the work of change independent of circumstances.  Remember.  In your consciousness, this exercise is happening in the laboratory of manifestation. Here, we harness the forces of creation and belief together to change attitude and outcome in our life. You will be tested anytime you attempt these types of changes. Your Ego has been comfortable with the way things are and does not want you to rock the boat, no matter how healthy it is for you when it comes to attitude and belief. Those are your headwaters of being who you are.  Changing the flow means risking failure or disappointment. “Better to stay in the comfort and safety of life as you know it.”  Not!

When you change, you will develop new baselines and comfort zones and they will be very much you.  The old you?  Well, that was then and this is now. Don’t get angry with yourself when you experience fear and resistance to change.  It just means you are on the right track so push a little harder toward your goal. Envision and breathe.  Smile!

Consciousness Is The Headwaters; Attitude The Flow

MindOBody

The post Consciousness Is The Headwaters; Attitude The Flow by appeared first on The Epoch Times.

We often hear about performance being 95% mental and the rest physical.  Many of the most talented enhance their good work ethic with the humility to seek coaching and mentoring for self-improvement in their craft.  There is even benefit in failing during practice to learn from it, to perfect your craft.  You may find it strange that my postings on a health blog talk little about physical health and more about the health of the inner you, the guy you talk to every day, the guy with whom you share your most intimate secrets. Well, there is a reason for this. I chose to get as close as possible to the headwaters of what makes us function as humans. Despite our genetic gifts and abilities, our personal attitude and outlook on life, however they came about, drive the major decisions about our health and prosperity.  “Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”  Lifestyle is a function of those decisions we make about what’s important to us and what we are willing to fight for or just let happen to us.  Those decisions are a function of our beliefs and attitudes.   A lot of these  dwell within us, fueled by our past experiences, current circumstances and our beliefs regarding what life can give us.  

If our current circumstances and conditions are not what we want, we can change them. We must be willing to forgive the past and let it go. We can set up a new path by making daily small changes in the direction we need for our success. Procrastination is the thief of time.  Attitude is either his accomplice or his vanquisher.  Unless we alter our attitude, we are unable to make consistent changes or we soon undo the very changes we make.  Negative attitudes from our past will always tell us “No, you can’t.”  Changing that attitude is crucial to vanquishing procrastination and low self-confidence.  We have already talked about developing a reading habit for self-improvement. We also need to list, in writing, opportunities for improvement.  Make another list of strengths and positive attributes.  Decide on areas where you will make consistent steps toward the positives you want. These should be small steps, not big often-overwhelming steps you can’t do consistently.  Do them every day, not every other day or when convenient. It won’t be perfect in the beginning, but progress never is. However, if you review your progress weekly and correct your course, it will give you a better result.

Meanwhile, use your strengths to help bridge the gaps in your areas of opportunity for improvement. Set goals  and dates to achieve them. I like using a calendar or journal to track progress. Then comes the fun part!   Make a collage of what your goal will mean to you.  If it’s weight loss or not smoking, what would that look like for you? Different clothes, running the hiking trails, happier relationships, healthier life?  Lastly, spend about 10 minutes before bed and a few minutes before starting your day for quiet mental rehearsal of your life with these changes manifest, filled with the joy and excitement of living the goal! Write out a brief affirmation that encapsulates your project or the personal change you are working on. Add it to your mental rehearsal and return to it any time during the day when you feel discouraged or frustrated with your progress. Empower it with positive emotion. Keep it short and to the point with a “feel good” emotion. Inhale as you envision and recite the affirmation swelling your heart and mind with the positive emotion, then exhale slowly, savoring the feeling.  This is a very powerful trigger for consciousness to keep doing the work of change independent of circumstances.  Remember.  In your consciousness, this exercise is happening in the laboratory of manifestation. Here, we harness the forces of creation and belief together to change attitude and outcome in our life. You will be tested anytime you attempt these types of changes. Your Ego has been comfortable with the way things are and does not want you to rock the boat, no matter how healthy it is for you when it comes to attitude and belief. Those are your headwaters of being who you are.  Changing the flow means risking failure or disappointment. “Better to stay in the comfort and safety of life as you know it.”  Not!

When you change, you will develop new baselines and comfort zones and they will be very much you.  The old you?  Well, that was then and this is now. Don’t get angry with yourself when you experience fear and resistance to change.  It just means you are on the right track so push a little harder toward your goal. Envision and breathe.  Smile!

The post Consciousness Is The Headwaters; Attitude The Flow by appeared first on The Epoch Times.

Consciousness Is The Headwaters; Attitude The Flow

MindOBody

We often hear about performance being 95% mental and the rest physical.  Many of the most talented enhance their good work ethic with the humility to seek coaching and mentoring for self-improvement in their craft.  There is even benefit in failing during practice to learn from it, to perfect your craft.  You may find it strange that my postings on a health blog talk little about physical health and more about the health of the inner you, the guy you talk to every day, the guy with whom you share your most intimate secrets. Well, there is a reason for this. I chose to get as close as possible to the headwaters of what makes us function as humans. Despite our genetic gifts and abilities, our personal attitude and outlook on life, however they came about, drive the major decisions about our health and prosperity.  “Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”  Lifestyle is a function of those decisions we make about what’s important to us and what we are willing to fight for or just let happen to us.  Those decisions are a function of our beliefs and attitudes.   A lot of these  dwell within us, fueled by our past experiences, current circumstances and our beliefs regarding what life can give us.  

If our current circumstances and conditions are not what we want, we can change them. We must be willing to forgive the past and let it go. We can set up a new path by making daily small changes in the direction we need for our success. Procrastination is the thief of time.  Attitude is either his accomplice or his vanquisher.  Unless we alter our attitude, we are unable to make consistent changes or we soon undo the very changes we make.  Negative attitudes from our past will always tell us “No, you can’t.”  Changing that attitude is crucial to vanquishing procrastination and low self-confidence.  We have already talked about developing a reading habit for self-improvement. We also need to list, in writing, opportunities for improvement.  Make another list of strengths and positive attributes.  Decide on areas where you will make consistent steps toward the positives you want. These should be small steps, not big often-overwhelming steps you can’t do consistently.  Do them every day, not every other day or when convenient. It won’t be perfect in the beginning, but progress never is. However, if you review your progress weekly and correct your course, it will give you a better result.

Meanwhile, use your strengths to help bridge the gaps in your areas of opportunity for improvement. Set goals  and dates to achieve them. I like using a calendar or journal to track progress. Then comes the fun part!   Make a collage of what your goal will mean to you.  If it’s weight loss or not smoking, what would that look like for you? Different clothes, running the hiking trails, happier relationships, healthier life?  Lastly, spend about 10 minutes before bed and a few minutes before starting your day for quiet mental rehearsal of your life with these changes manifest, filled with the joy and excitement of living the goal! Write out a brief affirmation that encapsulates your project or the personal change you are working on. Add it to your mental rehearsal and return to it any time during the day when you feel discouraged or frustrated with your progress. Empower it with positive emotion. Keep it short and to the point with a “feel good” emotion. Inhale as you envision and recite the affirmation swelling your heart and mind with the positive emotion, then exhale slowly, savoring the feeling.  This is a very powerful trigger for consciousness to keep doing the work of change independent of circumstances.  Remember.  In your consciousness, this exercise is happening in the laboratory of manifestation. Here, we harness the forces of creation and belief together to change attitude and outcome in our life. You will be tested anytime you attempt these types of changes. Your Ego has been comfortable with the way things are and does not want you to rock the boat, no matter how healthy it is for you when it comes to attitude and belief. Those are your headwaters of being who you are.  Changing the flow means risking failure or disappointment. “Better to stay in the comfort and safety of life as you know it.”  Not!

When you change, you will develop new baselines and comfort zones and they will be very much you.  The old you?  Well, that was then and this is now. Don’t get angry with yourself when you experience fear and resistance to change.  It just means you are on the right track so push a little harder toward your goal. Envision and breathe.  Smile!

The post Consciousness Is The Headwaters; Attitude The Flow appeared first on The Epoch Times.