All of us are experiencing something we never have before, even those who lived through the Great Depression. This pandemic of 2020 is brand new territory, a new enemy to defeat. What is not new? Humans like to use substances during tough times. Unfortunately, substance use, abuse and overdose has skyrocketed since the virus began earlier this year. Our service men and women are facing more calls for domestic abuse which often involve substances, mainly alcohol. Alcohol has long been the most used substance by humans and, now, we will need to pay attention to those we love who may be turning to a substance to escape the current reality.
Many will also recognize that they needed to stop drinking so much and consider cannabis as an alternative. Plant medicine is more important than ever in combating the temptation to reach for a bottle of booze, or opioids for that matter. We know that cannabis is safer, but can it really be used to help people stop drinking and taking other harmful drugs? If you’re reading this, you probably just said to yourself, ‘duh, yes!’, but for the general population, how do we educate while also being sensitive to the fact that they are hurting right now and looking for an alternative way to cope? When we step outside the cannabis industry, we must remember there is a large percentage of people that, although they know and agree cannabis is safer, they are still hesitant to try it. But facts are facts, and first-hand knowledge is key.
So, how can we educate and support our friends and family members? Sharing facts, not opinions, is the best place to start. Some important facts that many aren’t aware of include:
Roughly 88,000 people die yearly from drinking. 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the U.S. from 2006 – 2010. Those lives ending 30 years sooner than without drinking. Excessive drinking is responsible for about 1 in 10 deaths among adults 20-64 years old. The economic impact of excessive alcohol is at least 250 billion dollars per year. And these statistics were taken from long before the current virus madness started.
In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Again, this number has increased and is on the rise.
Cannabis has contributed to 0 DEATHS, EVER.* *However, like any substance or activity in which we can become addicted, there is possibility for mental, emotional, and spiritual death whereby we become dead to who we are meant to be through perpetuation of use, when it is no longer medicinal, but abuse.
Scientific studies, although still difficult due to current laws, have found emerging evidence that suggests cannabis may play a role in improving the impact of OUD (Opioid Use Disorder). Additionally, when looking at AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder), a clinical review published in 2014 studied whether medical marijuana made a better substitute for alcohol use, and found that it does seem to reduce harm when substituted completely for alcohol. However, when consuming both substances together, greater adverse consequences can occur than if either is taken on it’s own.
These studies are good to share with family and friends to support our commonsense knowledge that Cannabis is a safer alternative to other substances. Especially for more mature generations, they were not raised in an era where cannabis was promoted as good. It was twisted by advertising giants to demonize it, along with nonpsychoactive hemp, out of purely greedy motive. Out of this twisting and indoctrination of lies, big pharma began to grow into the beast we see today. Alcohol was advertised at sporting events, in commercials, at concerts, etc. as sexy and exciting, without ever acknowledging the sad reality that it’s the most abused substance across the U.S.
It’s also important to note, the only countries allowed to advertise pharmaceuticals are the U.S. And New Zealand. There is one goal of direct-to-consumer advertising: increased sales. The FDA is responsible for regulating these advertisements. Disease mongering = a socially accepted false perception of what disease is. Pharma ads have been proven to directly result in disease mongering. We want truth to prevail over fear. We can present these facts to help those we love to make a decision that is safest for them.
Depression/anxiety/approval/acceptance are things most people struggle with at certain points throughout life, and especially right now in these uncertain times. And, IT’S OKAY to feel this way, normal in fact. However, we must encourage others, and remind ourselves, it’s not okay to stay in this space. We must, at some point, choose hope, choose gratitude for what we have, trust that it will all work out okay, take some deep breaths, look up, and one day at a time, we’ll get through this.