Reefer Madness – How Americans Used To Perceive The Use Of Marijuana
Once upon a time in America, the common consensus was that marijuana was evil. The majority of the U.S. population believed it would motivate people to commit horrendous atrocities. All you have to do is watch the 1936 cult classic film Reefer Madness and you will get a clear picture of just how misguided people once were when it came to the effects of weed.
Initially funded by a church group under the title “Tell Your Children,” the flick was intended to be a cautionary tale for young people to keep them from smoking pot. The movie tells the story of a group of teenagers who would ultimately go insane after being involved in a hit and run accident, manslaughter, and attempted rape – all because they had smoked some pot. Back then, people actually believed marijuana had the power to incite violent behavior and cause people to lose their minds.
Needless to say, we’ve come a long way since then. In fact, the pendulum may have swung too far in the opposite direction. While we now know marijuana does not bring about such unfavorable outcomes, many people mistakenly believe pot doesn’t bring about negative consequences at all. This comes from misinformed sources.
Current Public Perceptions About Pot-Smoking Are Favorable Toward Total Legalization
Today, most Americans believe marijuana is a relatively safe drug – and, unfortunately – consider marijuana addiction to be a myth. This is evidenced by voter-approved legalization for recreational and medicinal marijuana use in states around the country. Currently, weed is legal for recreational use in Washington D.C. and eight states (including Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and California) and it is legal for medicinal use in 29 states (including Hawaii, Illinois, and Maine). More states are slated to legalize the stuff in 2018.
Studies indicate that the average Joe is convinced weed doesn’t pose a threat to the American way of life. According to the Pew Research Center, “the share of Americans who favor legalizing the use of marijuana continues to increase. Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.”
Reports from Pew Research indicate that the shift in public perceptions about pot-smoking are largely coming from the younger generation. Millennials (ages 18 – 35) are driving the vote that is making the legalization of marijuana possible, which is changing how the country perceives pot. The idea is, if something is legal, it must be okay.
Just Because States Across The Nation Are Legalizing Pot Doesn’t Make It Safe
You only have to look at opioids and alcohol to understand that just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is safe for human consumption or that it is not without the power to bring death and destruction.
Opioids like Oxycodone are legally prescribed by a doctor. They have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pain. Yet, we know that opioids are highly toxic substances, causing more than 33,000 overdose deaths a year. Opioids are so dangerous, in fact, that the federal government recently declared the opioids crisis in the United States a public health emergency.
Likewise, alcohol is sold at the corner store but is responsible for drunk driving fatalities, death by alcohol poisoning, organ damage like cirrhosis, pancreatic cancer, and wet brain.
We make these points because we don’t want you to assume that just because the country is moving toward marijuana legalization means that the pot is safe. You can get addicted to marijuana and experience negative consequences when you smoke weed.
Despite What You May Have Heard, Marijuana Addiction DOES Exist
While we don’t have an opinion on the legalization issue, we do take a stand on the matter of marijuana addiction. Proponents of the legalization of marijuana have put a lot of information out there that marijuana addiction is a myth. Furthermore, weed advocates have spread the word that marijuana is without its negative consequences.
We want to set the record straight.
Marijuana addiction is a very real affliction. While pot may not drive the demonic behavior depicted in Reefer Madness, it does not promise sunshine and roses either. Marijuana delivers a crushing blow to millions of people around the world who are hooked on the stuff. Ask someone who has a problem with pot and they will tell you they can’t put it down, even though it is causing negative consequences in their lives.
Sure, pot is not as harmful as cocaine, methamphetamines, or opioids, but so what? Weed is a harmful and addictive substance in its own right. We consider this an important point that needs to be addressed.
If you think marijuana addiction doesn’t exist, you are misinformed. Let’s talk more about the subject.
Marijuana Addiction Defined In The Simplest Of Terms
Addiction is a complicated matter. If you go to Google searching for the definition of addiction, you will get thousands of different interpretations of what addiction actually is.
For example, The American Psychiatric Association says, “Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence.”
Webster’s Dictionary reports that addiction is the “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.” Additionally, Webster says that addiction is the “persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works.”
These definitions of addiction are all fine and good, but how do they help explain marijuana addiction? When it comes to an addiction to weed, we define it simply: if you want to stop smoking pot, and find that you are powerless to do so, you’re addicted to the stuff. Yes. It’s just that simple.
Marijuana Withdrawal – If It Wasn’t Addictive, You Wouldn’t Have It
One of the characterizations of addiction is the experience of withdrawal. Withdrawal (otherwise known as detox) is what happens when your body gets used to processing a powerful addictive chemical and you take that chemical away. We hear a lot about withdrawal from heroin and opioids, but we don’t hear much about marijuana withdrawal. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a real thing.
If you are a chronic pot smoker, try putting the stuff down for a day – just one day – and see what happens. You will experience withdrawal symptoms. Here they are:
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of focus
- Panic attacks
- Cravings for more weed
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- A feeling like you can’t function as a human being
If marijuana addiction were a myth, you wouldn’t experience withdrawal at all. You would simply be able to put down the pot and go on with your life. The truth is, withdrawing from weed is a very unpleasant experience. People who have been smoking pot regularly, and then suddenly quit using the stuff, find that readjusting to life without marijuana is incredibly difficult.
The first two weeks of marijuana withdrawal are the most unkind. During this time, someone in recovery from marijuana addiction will want to return to using pot just to experience some relief from the symptoms. However; if you want to overcome the madness pot inevitably brings, you will have to push through the withdrawal process to find freedom on the other side.
After two weeks, the pain of withdrawal begins to subside. However; it can take as long as six months for the brain to fully restore itself to a place of wellness after months or years of chronic pot-smoking.
Are You Addicted To Marijuana?
The National Institute On Drug Abuse reports that marijuana use becomes an addiction when “when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life.” Does this apply to you?
Because there is not a lot of information available about marijuana addiction, so many people convince themselves it’s okay to smoke pot every day to relax or let loose. It’s easy to become addicted to marijuana and not even realize it. You may be surprised to learn that in 2015 alone, more than 138,000 people across the United States admitted themselves into treatment to get help for marijuana addiction alone.
Here are the telltale signs that you’re addicted to pot:
- You smoke weed every day.
- You use pot before you go to work.
- You use it on your lunch break.
- You become anxious when you know you are going to run out of weed.
- People have talked to you about your marijuana use and expressed their concern.
- You spend a lot of your money on your habit.
- You miss work to stay home and use pot, or you don’t go because you feel too lethargic.
- You have experienced problems with the law because of your marijuana use.
- You feel like you must be under the influence to function in your daily tasks.
- Your life revolves around the need to use pot.
- Your relationships are suffering because of your marijuana use.
- You want to stop using weed, but you feel like you can’t.
- You have tried to stop using pot, but you have been unsuccessful.
If you can relate to at least three of these indicators of marijuana addiction, chances are…..you’re hooked on pot.
Five Reasons To Get Help For Your Marijuana Addiction
Remember how we told you that many Americans believe that marijuana is relatively harmless? It’s not. Here are 5 negative consequences that arise from marijuana addiction:
- Chronic marijuana use causes permanent long-term memory loss.
- Regular pot-smoking can cause functional impairment in cognitive abilities, which makes learning more difficult.
- The regular use of weed can lead to sexual dysfunction in men and fertility issues in women.
- Although many people believe marijuana helps treat anxiety, studies have shown that the long-term use of weed can actually lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
- Pot makes you stupid. It does! One research study showed a significant drop in IQ points among those who consistently used marijuana.
Your memory, cognitive ability, sexual health, mental health, and intelligence – you need these things to function as a human being. Marijuana addiction takes these things away from you.
Marijuana Anonymous – Proof Positive That Marijuana Addiction Is Legit
Marijuana Anonymous (MA) is a 12-Step program that is available to men and women who have developed an addiction to weed. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using marijuana.
The first step of Marijuana Anonymous is, “We admitted we were powerless over marijuana, that our lives had become unmanageable.” Millions of people around the world attend MA meetings. If marijuana addiction were a myth, there would be no need for this program!
Marijuana addiction is not a matter of weakness or willpower. You may have been thinking, “Why can’t I quit? It’s just weed! What’s wrong with me?” The answer to these questions might be that you are a marijuana addict. Here’s what MA has to say on the subject:
“Marijuana controls our lives! We lose interest in all else; our dreams go up in smoke. Ours is a progressive illness often leading us to addictions to other drugs, including alcohol. Our lives, our thinking, and our desires center around marijuana – scoring it, dealing it, and finding ways to stay high.” Can you relate?
Convinced you have a problem with weed? Want to get help for your problem? Why not give yourself a break and attend a Marijuana Anonymous meeting tonight? Find a meeting here.