« The “Pot Doc” as (New) Medical Specialist | Main | Improbable Changes, Grim Prognoses »

November 25, 2009

A Blast from the Past

It’s been over five years since I analyzed data from about 625 selected cannabis applicants for presentation at a national conference of Medical Marijuana “reformers” in Virginia. Although the total applicant population has since become a registry of nearly fifty-five hundred individuals and much detail has been added, the general findings exhibited by that first group have remained remarkably consistent. I recently came across a column by Fred Gardner published just before that conference, which I also remember clearly because it was there that I received the first unmistakable signals of displeasure from presumed colleagues; for reasons they are still reluctant to discuss and I no longer bother to ask about.

Fred's column isn’t very long; slightly over 1000 words and just a click away. Because findings related to the role played by biologic fathers have also stood up remarkably well and weren’t emphasized in the subsequent peer-reviewed report, I’m pasting the relevant text here. It suggests that, even in their physical absence, the very idea of the biologic father is important to the emotional well being of their progeny; also that their physical presence may be far from benign.

Finally; more recent analysis, facilitated by the larger population and its enhanced comparison of birth cohorts, could, when published, eventually bring about the demise of the invidious "Gateway Theory."

"Looking for environmental factors that might explain such high rates of illicit drug use, I began taking increasingly detailed family histories. It soon emerged that there was a common pattern: the biologic father had not played a positive, supportive role in their lives between pre-school and the sixth grade — roughly ages four through 12.

The most common reasons were:

— an unknown father

— early (before 7) death or divorce

— an alcoholic/workaholic father

— a stern, punitive father.

There are other, less common scenarios involving an invalid or an elderly father, or a recent immigrant who cannot communicate in English.

Many of my patients reported early self-esteem problems which were made worse by the following: — any learning or reading disability

— being in a racial minority

— being teased ( for any reason)

— frequent moves and attendant school changes.

Quite a few of the younger ones were evaluated for/identified with ADD; many of the older ones would probably have qualified. The bottom line is that most of the people who use cannabis regularly and were forced to come to buyers' clubs for their "recommendations" — either because they don't have a doctor, or their own doctor wouldn't discuss it with them — were/are using seeking to control an emotional "disorder" rooted in low self-esteem.

Cannabis was clearly only one of several agents they'd tried — along with alcohol and tobacco. Any of these agents may be able to control the underlying emotional disorder for a while, but pot is — for them, at least — the safest and least harmful, especially over the long haul. "Initiating" heroin seems an unquestionable indicator that the underlying emotional disturbance is severe. Those who tried heroin also tried cocaine and mushrooms at rates over 90%, and had the highest rates of problem drinking... There's some preliminary data that access to cannabis predisposes against addiction to heroin. It appears that most adolescent drug use may be motivated by the same basic causative factor: low self-esteem in its many guises."

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at November 25, 2009 06:18 PM