Shaming Med Use Kills

In the last several weeks, there have been several news articles relating to opiate use and changing definitions regarding drug classification and how doctors can prescribe. As usual this has brought a lot of the stigma surrounding medicine use to the limelight. Whenever these conversations get sparked again, a lot of people start talking about over-prescription, abuse of narcotics, and how big bad pharma creates fake conditions in order to sell drugs. People start talking about patients who abuse the system and end up addicted. These conversations are usually had by people who have no personal experience with chronic pain or the type of conditions being discussed. These same arguments then get used to discredit conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and ADHD.

The shaming inherent in a lot of these arguments not only make life more difficult for patients, but they are actually an example of how “a little” knowledge is a dangerous thing. Take, for example, the frequent argument that ADHD is often over-diagnosed and an excuse to medicate children. Some people have gone so far as to claim that ADHD meds are the shut up and sit still drug and that ADHD itself doesn’t exist.

The first half of the argument is based on two problematic ideas: the lie of more-diagnoses which I discussed in a previous article, and a tendency by certain studies to limit their focus on white males. While there is some indication that ADHD may be over-diagnosed in white boys, in every other category girls, people of colour, and so forth, the opposite appears to be the case.

In white children misbehaviour is believed to be pathological, whereas in the case of children of colour, it is believed to be genetic and inherent. When behaviours that are believed to be disruptive appear in class, white children are often send to counselors and psychiatrists, while black children in particular are punished. We’ve seen this discussed when activists and studies discuss the school to prison pipeline. In many cases the behaviours being punished are the same that are said to be caused by ADHD in white children. Continue reading “Shaming Med Use Kills”

Shaming Med Use Kills
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MMJ 101: Are You Worried About Becoming Addicted?

Whenever I bring up the topic of medical marijuana, whether openly asking people to bring up myths and questions, or discussing it with someone who knows about my own use, the first topic to come up is invariably the one of addiction.  People are concerned about the addictive properties, and like anytime a patient takes treatment for pain, there are the inevitable questions about whether we are worried about becoming addicted.

I’ve addressed some aspects of addiction and addictive properties in the first MMJ 101 post. Most importantly I discussed the fact that no one pauses to consider the importance of ending pain. It is such an important point that it bears stressing again. Chronic pain has severe long term consequences, and causes long term changes to the body. Treating it is a high priority. To question whether we are sure we have to treat pain, is to underestimate its importance, and this is something that most people, unless they’ve experienced it themselves, can have a hard time comprehending. To them, it’s just pain.

To have an honest discussion of addiction, we must first understand what it is. The social perception of addiction is that it is a series of bad decisions that lead to a chemical dependency. Some views stop there and collapse addiction entirely into chemical dependency, often joking of being “addicted” to caffeine or sugar.  At some point one becomes physically dependant on the chemical, creating a driving need, and ultimately the addicted person has to make another choice, this time to give up their addiction and begin the long hard road to recovery.  This view often fails to distinguish between addiction and any craving or yearning for something that one enjoys, and thus regards addiction as an act of irresponsibility.  There are some variations on this perception, ranging between people believing that addiction is wholly the result of some internal flaw within a person, and others believing that it is entirely the result of a chemical dependency.  Neither view grasps the true nature of this phenomenon.

Continue reading “MMJ 101: Are You Worried About Becoming Addicted?”

MMJ 101: Are You Worried About Becoming Addicted?