She claims the “cannabis legalization movement” has successfully pushed back against this narrative due to the drug war.
Fortunately, Dr. Salwan is not one of these old-school drug warriors. She knows cannabis doesn’t turn people into criminals and that cannabis prohibition has led to the mass incarceration of peaceful (mostly black) Americans.
Dr. Salwan represents the new school of drug warriors. The kind that promotes more opioids to wean people off opioids. That labels drug use as a “treatable medical condition” rather than an activity.
To her credit, Dr. Salwan recommends cognitive behavioural therapy as a solution to “cannabis use disorder” since that’s where the evidence leads her. (But not without mentioning the “promising” FDA medication that will “reduce cannabis cravings.”)
However, Dr. Salwan is on the education faculty for the American Society of Addiction Medicine. In other words – it is tough for Dr. Salwan to see substance use as anything but a medical condition.
What is Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD)?
Is cannabis addiction a treatable medical condition? What is a “cannabis addiction,” anyway? “Cannabis use disorder” (CUD) is a topic we’ve covered before. It’s a myth that refuses to die.
The belief that outside forces determine our thoughts, behaviours, and actions is only becoming more prominent in the culture where neuroscientific theories of consciousness are accepted as “science” despite their philosophical shallowness.
But let’s get to the crux of Dr. Salwan’s argument. “To shake the collective disavowal of cannabis addiction,” she writes, “It helps to understand the clinical paradigm of all drug addictions, or substance use disorders (SUDs).”
So, whether we’re talking about cannabis, alcohol, or opioids, the hallmarks of SUD are always the same, categorized as the three Cs.
Craving: A strong desire to use the substance
Consequences: Negative consequences of using the substance
Control: A loss of control when consuming the substance (or in the pursuit of).
Other residual SUD “symptoms” include developing a tolerance and experiencing withdrawals. But by this definition, nearly every American suffers from caffeine use disorder and a refined sugar addiction.
Of course, “cravings” are just thoughts. Perhaps you’ve “craved” ex-partners when visiting areas that remind you of them. It’s a common human experience. You don’t have to associate your stream of consciousness with your ego and attach yourself to each and every thought.
Especially if you’re breaking a long-term drug habit (or trying to get over an ex).
Likewise, determining whether the consequences of your actions are negative is up to you. So-called “addiction experts” are supposed to be neutral, value-free scientists.
You could drink a case of beer every night. Destroy your liver, your marriage, turn your kids against you, lose your job and house, and end up living on the street. These all sound like negative consequences of drinking.
But if you frame the experience as positive, then who the hell are “addiction experts” to tell you otherwise? It may seem irrational to us, but many prefer to live on the street and use drugs like fentanyl.
This fact of life is lost on many advocates of taxpayer-funded supply of “addiction medicine.” They want to dehumanize someone’s choices and consider them “mentally ill” because they don’t conform to specific social values.
I find it hard to believe that the left-wing advocates making this argument have ever read (or understood) Foucault. Although they’ll claim him as one of their own.
As for the loss of control – despite the persistence of this myth, it remains just that. A myth. No research worthy of the label “science” supports a loss of control.
Some Real Science to Drive Home the Fact
G. Alan Marlatt was an American-Canadian clinical psychologist and researcher in the field of addictive behaviours.
One of his most well-known studies helps answer whether “cannabis addiction” is a treatable medical condition.
Dr. Marlatt took a group of heavy drinkers who qualified as having alcohol use disorder. He separated them into two groups in two separate rooms.
He gave one group cocktails without alcohol. But the cocktails tasted as if they contained booze. He told this group the cocktail did have alcohol in it. Obviously, the participants reported cravings for more, kept drinking, and some even began behaving intoxicated.
He gave the other group cocktails that contained alcohol. But the drinks didn’t taste like alcohol, and he told the group there wasn’t any in the beverage. This group did not report cravings for more and did not binge drink to excess.
Contradictions in Dr. Salwan’s Article
Dr. Salwan doesn’t seem aware of the contradictions in her article. For example, she writes it’s “heartening that the prevalence of cannabis addiction among U.S. adults remained below 2 percent from 2002 to 2017, even as cannabis use increased from 10 to 15 percent.”
But how does that make sense? Especially since the THC potency has increased. If the drug itself is causing addiction, shouldn’t higher use rates also increase addiction rates?
Dr. Salwan solves this issue by recognizing that cannabis has – more or less – been destigmatized. If you’re not losing your job or falling behind on the bills, who cares if you engage in wake-n-bakes or smoke weed every night after work?
Destigmatization, says Dr. Salwan, is a “desired social outcome.” However, she believes it comes “at the expense of engagement in treatment,” where only 4 percent of people received CUD treatment in 2019 versus 9 percent in 2002.
Think about that. The number of people who have sought treatment for problematic cannabis use has dwindled, and she believes that’s a problem.
If you make your money from “addiction medicine” and by promoting rehabs and treatment centres – then yes, people not viewing themselves as helpless addicts who need your paid expertise is a problem.
This phenomenon of people viewing their cannabis habits as habits instead of an addiction is a step in the right direction. Only ideologues believe “cannabis addiction” is a treatable medical condition.
FDA Drugs vs. Changing Your Mind
As mentioned, Dr. Salwan pays lip service to “promising” FDA drugs to remedy cannabis addiction or CUD. But, as she writes in the article, all evidence points to cognitive behavioural therapy (and others) being more helpful.
And it’s obvious why. These therapies tend to challenge an individual’s thought process and patterns of thinking rather than affirm how they feel and look for a “root cause” somewhere in their childhood.
Cannabis addiction is not a treatable medical condition because addiction is not real, and problems of the mind are not medical conditions.
Addiction is a social construct that feeds into itself.
Much like race. We’re all homo sapiens. But you can divide people by skin colour, create cultures based on these skin tones, and then propagate and control populations according to the beliefs and values of the various “in” and “out” groups you’ve created with this social construct.
Addiction is the same way. Whether it’s cutting back on cannabis, social media or trying to create positive habits like exercising and eating right.
You can recognize your free will and autonomy or believe your habits and preferences are a “disease” or “disorder” of the brain. That you’re masking some underlying cause that only years of therapy and a cocktail of pharmaceuticals will cure.
Dr. Salwan worries that people have been denied access to CUD treatment because of its illegality or because their “symptoms were trivialized.”
And indeed, we’re not trying to trivialize someone who feels addicted. It’s incredibly frustrating. But, like poor race relations stemming from government policy, school indoctrination, and media coverage, this poor relationship between drugs and consumers results from “addiction experts.”
Dr. Salwan’s framing of the issue does not help.
Is Cannabis an Addiction or a Choice?
“Cannabis use disorder” is a concept created and reinforced by these so-called experts.
But what about people (i.e. “cannabis addicts”) who strongly prefer the herb with their actions but not in their speech?
It could be they think cannabis helps them cope with some traumatic past.
And it could be that some people just like to get fucked up. For whatever reason, they want to feel numb. And drugs are an effective way of bringing about that state.
But it’s a leap in logic to blame the substance. It confuses cause and effect. It’s putting the cart before the horse in every sense of the term.
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