Friday, January 10, 2014

Yahoo!: What is it Like to Use Weed? (life coach, counselor, psychotherapist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, osteopath, quezon city, manila, philippines)

What is it Like to Use Weed?
by Randy Dellosa

Marijuana in Filipino slang is called “jutes,”chongki,” or simply “damo.” This plant, scientifically known as cannabis, has grabbed the spotlight especially after Colorado became the first American state licensed to sell recreational marijuana. 

In the Philippines, weed is an illegal psycho-active substance which is widely available:  It is easily shared among friends; it is served as food in parties; and reports even have it that weed is sold to students by tricycle drivers in the university belt. 

Because of the culinary craze in this country, users have creatively incorporated marijuana as an ingredient in food and drinks. In fact, one user I know, for lack of culinary creativity, simply sprinkles the dried marijuana leaves on bread, using it as “palaman” for sandwiches. 

As an addictions counselor, my clients narrate to me their experiences of being on weed:  Most of them smoke it as a ‘joint’ or inhale a vaporized version of it. After a minute or so, they start feeling its effects. The effects gradually intensify in around 15-30 minutes and wear off after a few hours.

How weed psychologically affects users is influenced by many factors:

  • The time it is taken
  • The ambience of the place
  • The mood of the user
  • The metabolism of the user
  • The manner it is taken (whether inhaled or ingested)
  • The frequency of its use (whether occasionally or regularly)
  • The amount of marijuana
  • The quality and variety of the weed used. 

Being a plant, marijuana is considered organic and is likened to tobacco. Unlike tobacco however, its psychological effects are unpredictable for its users. People can get a euphoric “high” from using weed, or they may experience a traumatic “bad trip” from it. Marijuana, for instance, can result in the following effects:

  • Relaxation or intense panic attacks
  • Alertness or tiredness/sluggishness
  • “Food trips” or loss of appetite
  • “Laugh trips” or flashbacks of traumatic memories
  • “Sex trips” or erectile dysfunction
  • Creative solutions or impractical ideas
  • Profound realizations or silly insights
  • Increased sociability or avoidance of people
  • Mental calm or paranoia/hallucinations

Certainly, medical marijuana can help some people manage their anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, and anger management problems. However, medical marijuana is not for everyone.  It should be used occasionally or only on short-term basis, and its use should strictly be supervised and monitored by a physician.

In my clinical experience, frequent and heavy long-term weed users carry a higher risk of getting confined in a psychiatric facility for 3 main reasons:

  1. they develop an addiction, 
  2. they develop psychiatric illnesses such as major depression, anxiety disorder, or schizophrenia, or
  3. they develop an “amotivational syndrome” wherein they get too "chill" and become “lazy bums” in the process, losing all interest and motivation for school or work. 

Weed can produce pleasant psychological benefits as much as it can cause deep and permanent psychological harm. Clearly, the bottom line about marijuana use is this: you either get stoned on it, or stoned by it!

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