Thursday, February 14, 2008

Up in Smoke (with apologies to Cheech and Chong)

A report came out today that said that MSers who use pot to ease symptoms have a slowing down in their ability to process and remember information and a rise in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

Not really a big surprise. Our cognitive skills diminish as we ingest a mind altering drug. The study only involved 10 patients so it's not really big enough to make sweeping conclusions about the use of pot. The folks who used pot were using illegally obtained pot, so there's no verifying what else, if anything, was in those funny little cigarettes that may or may not have contributed to the findings. And the folks who used pot were not evaluated before they started using the drug so who's to say they hadn't already had diminished skills and revved up anxiety to begin with.

But let's think about the uses of pot for MSers.

To ease neuropathic pain. Pain is such a subjective thing; it's difficult to quantify how much is acceptable to any individual. But if it's keeping you awake at night or keeping you from leading a relatively normal life (with its usual aches and pains) then it's unacceptable.

To ease muscle spasms. Spasms can be painful. They, too, can keep you awake at night and prevent you from leading a relatively normal life. (And speaking from experience, they can cause you to hit the wrong button on the computer at work.)

To ease anxiety. Let's face it, life can make us anxious. We all have different coping mechanisms for anxiety. Some of us kick the dog, some of us drink to excess, some of us wash our hands 1000 times a day. Not great coping mechanisms. Now add a degenerative disease to the mix of life's usual anxieties. Would a joint once a week, say on a Friday night at home, be an any worse method of coping? Personally, I think not. Do I do it? Nope, but I have a healthy fear of a criminal record and luckily I haven't had pain or spasms bad enough to make me seek it out (almost, but not quite).

So we have a population of people with pain, spasms, and anxiety, and a disease that is destroying their brain, seeking out relief. All these stressors contribute to diminished cognitive skills and reduced mental health. The bigger issue I think is, Is the use of pot by MSers detrimental to their life.

Before we determine that pot is bad for MSers, remember that MS is bad for MSers.



Jim said...

This is a tough issue. I don't care for pot but I don't care if others smoke pot. This is one of those I rather that individuals makes their own choices as we do with alcohol.

Shauna said...

I agree, Jim. To each his own...unless operating heavy machinery like cars etc.


Anonymous said...

Do you have MSers who use hyperbaric oxygen (diving bells) to slow down the progress of the disease? I kid you not, the ONLY people I know personally who used that are now very unwell or no longer with us, prematurely.

If it alters your mind, it alters your life span and the quality of life you have left. I feel sure of that.

mdmhvonpa said...

Duuuude. You are seriousssly harshing my mellow! Ease off, you know?

Shauna said...

I read of MSers who use the chambers but I haven't read any results of any research on it as a therapy.

Last week, I accidentally came upon the site of the hyperbaric chamber in our hospital. I would have snuck in to take a look but had an appointment and they were probably not open anyway. But I will track down someone so I can go take a gander at it. I got a look at the 4 Tesla MRI machine we have in the city about two years ago and some of the other parts of the Brain Repair Centre. Very cool.

Dave's not here......


steve said...

Hi all. After being an enthusiastic recreational user of the weed for many years and having stopped for many years now, I must point out that people forget that smoking pot gives you some serious munchies. After a while, I developed a stunning 40 inch waistline. I am happy to say that I no longer go for a stoned late night pizza and wing run and I now successfully fit into size 34's. Still a little overhang, but getting better. Stay away from the stuff, it's not healthy. Now I just need to work on giving up the nicotine sticks. Anyone have any suggestions?