When I admit a new patient to the hospital (an inpatient chemical dependency and dual diagnosis program), I do an evaluation and ask a lot of questions about substance abuse. The new patients come here because they are out of control with drugs and/or alcohol, usually need medical detoxification, and also need rehabilitation to change the way they are living. To detoxify them safely I need to know what drugs they are using, how much and how often. The drugs are cocaine, methamphetamine, opiates (heroin, oxycontin, hydrocodone, etc.), benzodiazepines, hallucinogens, alcohol, and last but not least – marijuana. The patients are quick to identify their problem when it is shooting heroin daily, smoking $100 of crack per day, drinking a fifth of whiskey per day, or taking 30 Vicodin a day. I always ask “What else?” or “How much?” several times because most underestimate their amounts, and many are using 2 or 3 different drugs. When I ask, “Do you smoke pot?”, 90% answer “Yes.”
In going back through the patient histories, 85% started their drug use with pot and the other 15% started with alcohol. Marijuana is usually their first experience with a chemical high, and many move on to various other drugs searching for a stronger or better euphoria. If I don’t ask specifically, “Are you smoking pot?”, most will not mention it because they take it for granted, as they have usually been smoking since age 10, 11, or 16. They haven’t looked at it as the problem, but rather as a given in their life. It’s easier to see cocaine or alcohol as problems because behavior is disinhibited and dramatically out of control, involving car wrecks and fights. Marijuana is not so dramatic and in fact it causes people to sit on the couch, watch TV, and eat. How can that be a problem?
To find out why it is a problem, please read the rest of the article on marijuana published by Recovery Today Online.