Marijuana vs. Alcohol Part II: Electric Boogaloo

This blog is the Electric Boogaloo to yesterday’s Breakin’. Yep. A sequel! Why a part II? Well, because there was a lot of fiiiiiiiya burning yesterday when I posted some follow up to my blog post, a post which included a number of links to articles about marijuana, links that made some people feel the feelings.

Ozone, Turbo and Kelly - YO! Saving the community center!

Ozone, Turbo and Kelly – YO! Saving the community center!

All the feelings!

The USA Today piece that quotes President Obama riled a few people up, and with good reason. This is a hot topic. Hot, hot, hot! Later in the day, USA Today posted another piece that included some strong and conflicting opinions of professionals in the field of addictions medicine. I posted the link to the wall on my Facebook fan page so that you all could check it out. I also posted the link to my personal page.

Wut. The. Shit?

Wow! Everywhere I looked, people really got sticky buns about it! Like I said, all the feelings! Not surprising though, as this is a topic, like politics and religion, that are very polarizing. I’d rather give an angry cougar a mani-pedi than discuss politics or religion, but man do I love talking about addiction.

But I wanted the gel manicure, bitch!

But I wanted the gel manicure, bitch!

One of the comments that made me laugh was this one:

“That guy, Gitlow, seems like a tool!” my cousin, K.

I couldn’t stop laughing, because I could hear K, saying those words, and I imagined her hilarious face all contorted in a mask of disgust. And I love when people use the word “tool” as an insult. It’s so much better than any cuss word, because it denotes a level of idiocy that trumps any generic poo-poo grade school playground level name-calling.

I respect K. If she posts a links on her social media profiles or her blog, or a tells me about something during conversation we are having, you can bet I’ll look into it. She’s highly educated, yes, but that’s not why she’s so smart or why I trust her. She’s smart because she’s open minded and discerning. I trust her because I know that she won’t share things with me that will lead me off the path of the knowledge I am seeking. (I’m a knowledge seeker, yo!) She’s passionate about finding the truth. Yeah, I trust K.

If K wants answers, she will hunt for them, relentlessly! K isn’t going to stop until she’s satisfied and maybe even not then. She is a lover of knowledge, a lifelong learner. Her comment also made me wonder if Gitlow was, in fact, a “tool.” That’s why I did some research on this potential “tool,” Gitlow.

Stuart Gitlow, MD

Not a tool. At least by my definition of the word. Now that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything he has to say, because I don’t. I can still respect him as a professional, and I do. Especially after spending an hour reading about him.

Here is a very brief interview he gave on Psych Central Professional about using benzodiazepines in the treatment of alcoholism. If you are an addict, a recovering addict or friends/family with an addict or a recovering addict, I believe you will really get a lot out of this if you take the time to read it while keeping one very important thing in mind. Dr. Gitlow sounds like a hard ass, yes, but he’s also a well-respected physician who has dedicated his life to addictions treatment and research. He doesn’t have to be mushy and squishy, because he’s a fucking medical professional who people count on to do his job as their doctor, not their hugger and enabler. This is a very difficult field to be in, people. There is a high rate of burnout when treating addicts, because the relapse rate is so high. Love doesn’t cure addiction, people. It just doesn’t.

Gitlow is quoted in the USA Today piece as saying that he doesn’t think there is any benefit to marijuana. It is very important to remember that Gitlow is an addictions specialist. He is speaking from a point of view that is quite different from a physician who isn’t. Gitlow has a different perspective, because his experiences are different from a physician who isn’t as focused on traditional medicine. This is the quote from Gitlow that I believe deserves the focus.

The two drugs have very different side effects, different long-term effects and different contributions to illness and death in the general population. “I would never try to compare and contrast them on something as absurd as ‘dangerousness.

Stuart Gitlow, MD


Addiction is prevalent and such a horrible burden to bear. Sure, the danger factor is important to consider, but Gitlow is most likely more focused on the big picture, which includes every stinking goddamn physical, emotional, spiritual, sociological and societal aspect of addiction.

It’s heartbreaking to see an addict work hard in recovery, desperate to make positive life changes, heal their body and mind and repair broken relationships, fall back into the cycle of addiction.

I want to thank all of you who read my blog and participated in the dialogue with regard to whether marijuana was, in fact, safer than alcohol. I especially want to thank the people who contributed smart, well-thought-out comments. Hell, I’m even grateful to the idiots who so blatantly demonstrated their narrow mindedness and ignorance.

This level of passionate dialogue and raw emotion related to the legalization of marijuana will only increase in the coming years, as it should, so it’s good that we are all paying attention to this very important issue. And, as it has for the thousands of years, the number of people struggling with addictions will continue to rise. People will live and die in the vortex of illicit substances, some able to manage their use and others not so much. We need to talk about that, too.

Spirited and respectful dialogue is a loving and helpful way to go about addressing the issue of legalizing marijuana. Ignorant spewing of incorrect information is a bitter and dangerous approach. As a mental health and addictions professional, a mother, and a person who has lived with heartbreak of loving more than one addict, I will continue to find ways to encourage discussion and share relevant information about how drug and alcohol policy and law affect us as individuals and families. It’s important to me. And from the feedback I’ve received with regard to yesterday’s blog, I can see it’s important to you.

Some reading about addiction that I thought was dig worthy.

Five Years Recovery


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