What Do You Think of a Drug Rehab Facility that Offers Marijuana as a Solution to Addiction?
I saw an article in LA Weekly (that’s Los Angeles, not LouisianA) about a new drug rehab facility that plans to offer marijuana to help get addicts “off drugs”. The author of the article was surprised at that, and referred to the facility as one of the very few that offers drugs as part of their treatment plan. This thing of giving drugs to people instead of getting them off drugs is part of the ‘harm reduction philosophy’. In other words, they’ve given up getting people off drugs, and their focus is on just keeping them alive. Is that really good enough? Why do that when there is successful drug rehab available?
I would suppose there are some families who’ve seen so much destruction from their son or daughter, husband, wife, other family members, and have tried to get them to or through rehab so many times that they would be grateful at this point just to know their son or daughter is going to be alive tomorrow. And, of course, that’s the highest priority.
But, for the most part, I would also suppose that the addicts – and the people who care about them – would actually like to restore their lives to what they were before becoming an addict. Or maybe they never had a good life, but would at least like the opportunity to create one. And that doesn’t include being drugged.
Another problem with harm reduction as the limit of help someone is going to get is that a person still on drugs of any kind is not likely to feel better about themselves, revive their self-esteem, be enthusiastic about life, work, love, family, and so on. They know they’re not really off drugs, they didn’t actually make it, they just switched one drug for another. Why subject them to that. It’s cheating. To tell a person that everything is fixed while they’re still on drugs is cheating.
A former addict feeling good about themselves is a major reason – probably the most important – they can and want to create a new life.
If you want to dig an addict further into the mess, keep them on drugs.
I’m not saying that it’s not helpful to have drugs of some sort available to someone who’s going through withdrawal. There are a LOT of people who would like to quit taking drugs but as soon as they start feeling the discomfort of withdrawal, they back off and their resolve to quit – at least at that time – goes out the window.
But once the person is through that – which in the case of many of drugs might be just a few days – then it’s time to get healthy physically with a good diet, vitamins and any necessary medical treatment, then buckle down to figure out why you got addicted in the first place, and then figure out those problems so you can address them and either get back to having a good life, or get on with creating one.
That’s what drug rehabilitation is. And just like it took a while to get into the situation of being an addict, so does it take time to get out of it.
In the LA Weekly article I read, the founder of a rehab that does not believe one has to abstain from drugs to stop being an addict said: “Someone who’s using heroin, marijuana and alcohol, and who can stop their opiate use, we see that as progress.”
Really? I really don’t see how anyone who’s addicted to heroin or is an alcoholic has made progress – unless their only alternative was dead. And both heroin addicts and alcoholics die on a regular basis from overdoses and, in the case of alcoholics, also from related health conditions – so I’d say they’re not quite off the hook yet.
Other experts say there is no evidence that marijuana helps addiction to other drugs. Others also say that there is evidence that marijuana is addictive. AND, marijuana is still seen as a gateway drug – not because everyone who smokes marijuana immediately runs out the door looking for something stronger but because when the opportunity to have something ‘stronger’ is there, people who already smoke marijuana are less likely to refuse. And there is plenty of opportunity, especially when you’re already in an environment where people take drugs (e.g. smoke marijuana).
It’s time to stop arguing about which drug it’s better to put an addict on and put the focus on how to get addicts through a real, successful, drug rehab. EVERY counselor knows what that means – long term, residential, really digs in, addresses the problems that caused the addiction so they are no longer problems, helps them acquire the skills they were missing in life, gets them healthy, and prepares them to go into a different environment when they leave (as necessary), and arranges follow up.
Now if enough people would just fight for it, demand it, we’d have it. No more messing around with things that don’t work or, even worse, programs that keep the person on drugs. Really? What a joke.
I’ve been pretty clear about my opinion. What’s yours? Do you see a good reason to treat drugs with drugs?