Marijuana use for Opioid Withdrawal

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With regards to therapeutic marijuana use, there is mounting evidence that cannabis eases withdrawal symptoms of opioid dependent patients. In states where marijuana is legal, the number of opioid related overdoses has decreased. This is very good news as this number has been increasing yearly over the past 10 years. The bad news is that not every person in America has access to legal cannabis whether it be medically prescribed or legal for recreational purposes.

I am in no way endorsing any drug use, but we must look at this from a logical and scientific point of view. If alcohol is legal and we can drink ourselves to death, we should be able to use marijuana for medical problems as well as recreationally. Marijuana has not directly killed one person in recorded history, but alcohol is responsible for a high number of deaths every year; directly and indirectly. In my view, if marijuana remains illegal at the federal level then alcohol should be made illegal again in our country.

I am a strong advocate for medical marijuana being used during opioid withdrawal as it saved me from opioid dependence and subsequent withdrawal effects of the medication Suboxone. Suboxone is a synthetic opioid consisting of buprenorphine and naloxone, and is primarily used to wean patients off of other opioids. The problem is that a person will become dependent on the Suboxone too. Even though I was not abusing Suboxone, but taking it as prescribed my body could not miss a day without it.

After being prescribed Suboxone for 8 long years I wanted to be free from it and its numbing effects of the human condition. Fear of the side effects and withdrawal symptoms is what kept me taking it for so long, not to mention the unethical doctor looking to feed his family. Suboxone has a long half-life, which means it leaves the body slowly and withdrawal symptoms last much longer. I did not know this when I was put on the medication, and really would not have cared as I was in an addicted state of mind.

It was on July 5th, 2016 when I took my last dose of Suboxone, which was only about a quarter of a milligram. I had tapered down over the past month, taking smaller and smaller daily doses. I had been prescribed and taking one 8mg strip per day the eight years before. The first 2 days after my last dose were not too bad as the long half-life helped to prevent immediate harsh withdrawal effects. The third day is when the full force of withdrawal came upon me.

It felt as if time slowed to almost a stop, with every second feeling like a minute and every minute an hour. My runny nose was almost like a faucet while my whole body began to ache. I was restless, my legs began to jerk involuntarily and sleep was impossible. I was so tired and wanted to sleep but I couldn’t, and that is a horrible feeling. My motivation was on empty as well as my stomach, but I could not think of eating; the growling of my stomach was an often reminder though.

At this point, about 4 days into withdrawal effects I could barely move or even think straight. I could not seem to collect my thoughts, and my body felt like a 98 year old ill man’s would feel.  I literally had to pick up my own legs from the couch and guide them to the floor to help myself get up. I was close to calling the doctor to get back on Suboxone, but I did not want to. Instead, I decided to see if marijuana would help me as I knew it may.

After acquiring some medical grade marijuana and using it I was able to eat, and think a bit clearly. By no means did it cure the withdrawal symptoms, but made them more manageable. After using it I was able to leave my house, sleep a bit and it kept the restless leg at bay. Without a doubt, it helped get me through the harsh withdrawal symptoms and associated side effects of Suboxone. I firmly believe that if I didn’t use marijuana during this time, I would have gone back to the doctor for more Suboxone.

Prescription Addiction

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It is no secret to society that there is a prescription addiction ‘problem’ in America. There are many different types of addiction to drugs, but addiction to prescription pills is an epidemic here that the majority continue to overlook. Many people are addicted to prescription medications and do not even realize it yet. A hard truth that will hit them in the near future.

A major contributor to the epidemic is unethical drug companies and physicians. Some doctors make their living by prescribing opioids for a living; with the education they hold it is known to them that they are getting and keeping persons addicted. These unethical doctors are legal drug dealers who know how to document and prescribe in such a way where they do not break any laws.

By no means am I laying full blame on doctors, but they are indeed part of the problem in this opioid epidemic. It should be fully understood that some people do require prescription pain medication for various injuries and illnesses. It is how most doctors manage their patients that contribute to this problem of addiction.

Several years ago I became addicted to prescription pain medication. In order to fight this addiction and free myself I was put on Suboxone. Suboxone is a synthetic opioid consisting of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is primarily used to wean patients off of other opioids, similar to methadone. This was a huge mistake that I now realize. I cannot change the past, but I can educate others from my experience.

Now that I reflect on this experience I have come to the conclusion that I was not that bad off before I was prescribed Suboxone. If I would have had the proper care, I could have been weaned off of the prescription opioids without needing the Suboxone, which I was on for 8 years. The Suboxone helped me, but it was a prolonged bandaid that limited my potential as a person.

I say this because I became dependent on the Suboxone, which was a substitute for the prescription pain medication I was abusing. I was able to work and function as a ‘normal’ person, but it was as if I was in handcuffs with the warden being the doctor I had to see in order to get the Suboxone prescription. Every month I had to go into the doctor, pay a fee and take a drug screen in order to get the prescription.

It became a routine I hated as it took away from things I really wanted to do in life. In this time, the doctor and counselor never asked or came up with a plan to get me off. As long as I went in, paid the fee and passed the drug screen I had a Suboxone prescription in hand to fill. This added up to be a large sum of money for both the doctor and the makers of Suboxone over the 8 years I was on it.

I came to the point where I was sick and tired of being on this poison. I decided I would stop taking it and started my own plan of weaning myself off. The doctor tried to convince me that I needed to be on it for life, but I was not having it. After a month of taking low doses I came to the end of being on this medication.

It was the end of Suboxone for me, but the beginning of a 3 month trip to hell in dealing with the withdrawal and side-effects that nearly killed me. It has been a year now since I have been off of it and I am just starting to feel as I believe I always should have.

 

 

Women and Girls Deserve Better

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With today being World Day against Human Trafficking in Persons, we must focus on who is directly affected. According to the United Nations, women and girls account for 98% of the persons being trafficked, with most being used as sex slaves. 4.5 million of them are being exploited for sex across the world, with a total of 21 million persons used as forced labour.

I have personally witnessed the exploitation of women for sex while working in Southeast Asia. The women, mostly in their late teens and up are lured to countries like Singapore by traffickers promising them decent jobs and pay. A vast majority of these women are from the surrounding countries of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and so on.

Their home countries offer little hope for them as there are no decent jobs for women who come from impoverished families who are living hard already. The traffickers use charm and promises to make the ‘jobs’ sound attractive while using women and girls already in their grip to help reel them in. Once the women agree to go to work, they are told that the airfare and other small costs will be taken care of by an employer and that they can pay the sum back as they work.

With hopes high, the women and teens accept the offer and make their way to Singapore in hopes of a better life in order to begin to prosper and help their family back home. Once they arrive and get through customs the unknown downward spiral starts to swirl. The trafficker, who could be the employer has the woman or teen hand over their passport for safe keeping and are brought to a small one or two bedroom apartment they will share with twenty other females who met the same fate.

She then learns that the work she will do has been changed as the ‘cleaning jobs’ are no more at the moment. They explain to her that she will work in a pub, and all she must do is get men, mostly foreigners to buy her expensive drinks. The more she can get them to buy, the more money she will make. It starts off this way until she is drawn into the lifestyle where she can be comfortable selling her body. It is like a domino affect of peer pressure as the ones who have been there longer convince the new females that this is okay.

All the while, the employer or ‘master’ keeps adding to her tab the money she owes while holding her passport hostage. I know this story because I have helped a few young women get out of these situations and back home. Torn and battered, some lose a sense of self and are not the same again, or even worse they get sucked back in.

Art Speaks to all People

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When we as humans look at a painting, photos, sculptures, architecture, or anything considered worth staring at we can usually label these creations as artwork.  When thinking of art as just that, a beautiful, strange, or even unattractive piece the language is the same for all persons no matter the language they speak. Art and artwork is a universal language of humans as people who speak different languages often perceive that same feeling or a very similar feeling a piece emits when showed.

I remember in Rome, a woman and I were admiring a fresco within the catacombs beneath Rome when I noticed we were admiring a certain corner that still had its vivid green paint and detail. Without using words, we glanced at one another knowing that each were having the same awe inspiring moment with that beautiful corner of the catacomb fresco.

I came to the realization that artwork is a universal language that can bring two or more people in the same frame of mind simultaneously even if  the parties cannot verbally communicate effectively, a piece of art that sparks a feeling can and will talk to the human race who takes the time to appreciate these moments in time we call works of art.

It can be a magical experience and bring various cultures together, but we also see a negative side as seen with ISIL/Daesh destruction of priceless art due to their intolerance and ignorance. This example is rare, but happens throughout history which is why we must continue arts and humanities for our children.

Pond water reflection