Proponents of drug legalization argue that legalizing drugs would bring abuse from the darkness into the light, but Clare Waismann, RAS/SUDCC, founder of Waismann Method® and Domus Retreat, fears legalizing drugs would pour fuel on the fire of America’s addiction and mental health crisis. 

“In the United States, we are currently lacking good, accessible and effective mental healthcare. Therefore, legalizing brain altering drugs is just putting gasoline on the fire.” Waismann said on a recent episode of her podcast. 

The movement toward drug legalization or decriminalization might seem far-fetched, but the United States is rapidly moving toward decriminalization. In the past ten years, seventeen states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 43% of Americans now live in the seventeen states and Washington D.C., where recreational marijuana use is legal. States have recently started decriminalizing psychedelics as well. 

Although some see this as progress, Waismann believes it can be dangerous. A simple example is that marijuana users are more likely to drive while under the influence, putting themselves and others at risk. Additionally, they’re dabbling with a drug with serious adverse effects on brain regions responsible for memory, learning, impulse control, and cognitive abilities. Likewise, psychedelics can impact the mind and perception of the world even after use. Studies have shown that psychedelic drugs can lead to severe long-term health conditions, including persistent paranoia and perception disorder.

Marijuana might be considered a harmless substance that can be used safely and responsibly. However, widespread legalization means that any adult, regardless of their mental health history, has access to the intoxicant without any health care management. That’s irresponsible, says Waismann, and could spell disaster down the line. Consistent marijuana use can diminish people’s motivation, which can lead to depression and unproductivity.

“Sometimes individuals use marijuana to manage psychiatric disorders that are not being adequately treated by a professional. However, marijuana is not a treatment, but a way to self-medicate the emotional distress. Therefore, the condition may continue worsening because the person doesn’t receive the help they truly need,” Waismann says. 

According to recent studies, marijuana use can cause aggressive behavior, exacerbate psychosis, or even lead to paranoia.

Furthermore, the currently available marijuana is far more potent in THC concentrations, the psychoactive component which results in a higher risk for paranoid ideation and psychosis. Consequently, paranoid behavior is directly associated with aggressive and violent behaviors.

Legalizing drugs is currently a growing risk to American citizens’ well-being. The expansion of private pay studies, showing that marijuana provides minor threats to the public’s health, is causing state and federal legislatures to change laws that will significantly expand the accessibility of marijuana. Consequently this puts people at risk.

Of course, the harm of drugs exists on a continuum. Using marijuana is not the same as abusing opioids, for example. If someone can work with their doctor to medicate with cannabis rather than powerful prescription pills, that should be encouraged. 

Private industries have spread a tremendous amount of information that compares harmful drugs like opioids to marijuana. It’s ludicrous that we have to choose one evil over another. Instead, we can choose to use our resources to focus and treat why someone is seeking to alter their feelings. If you just cover up a condition with a band aid, you may not see it, but the problem will keep growing. You can numb unwanted emotions with substances to a certain point, but eventually, the drug won’t be enough to ease the pain anymore, leading to unpredictable, risky situations.

People must address any physical or emotional pain that is driving them to seek relief through substances. By addressing the root cause of the pain — whether childhood trauma, untreated mental illness, or a physical condition — people can learn to live life without seeking mind-altering substances. 

Helping people find the best chance to a better quality of life is the goal of the Waismann Method and Domus Retreat team. Our mission is to better the lives of those impacted by substance use through proven medical care, using comprehensive and individualized solutions. Our work is strengthened and inspired by the respect and compassion we have for every person who comes to us for help. We genuinely believe that when people reclaim their health, they strengthen their abilities to cope with mental health issues.

With millions of Americans dependent on substances, it’s clear that we need to do something more. However, legalizing drugs, especially drugs that further cause damage to the nervous system, is not the answer. Instead, we must strengthen the strategies that people use to address their physical and mental pain, to keep them from seeking drugs in the first place. We need to focus on the crises of pain, isolation, and emotional health many Americans are grappling with. Legalizing drugs is not a solution but a profitable and damaging delay in providing one. 

By: The Fix staff
Title: The Case Against Drug Decriminalization
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Published Date: Fri, 28 May 2021 05:09:54 +0000

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