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Best-selling author, Susan Shapiro, says marijuana nearly ruined her life
Susan Shapiro, best-selling American author of nine books and an award-winning professor of writing at The New School and New York University, says a serious, 27-year addiction to marijuana almost ruined her life. And because of how marijuana negatively impacted her life, and new scientific evidence of its side effects, she says she’s ambivalent about the current trend to legalize the drug.
In a recent opinion piece written for the Providence Journal, Shapiro says that in 2014 the US “went cannabis crazy,” with 18 states now having legalized marijuana.
“Colorado opened boutiques selling ‘mountain high suckers’ in grape and butterscotch flavors,” Shapiro writes. “In my New York home, I’m glad that someone can carry up to 50 joints and no longer get thrown in the joint. Yet I worry that user-friendly laws and such recent screen glorifications as “High Maintenance” and “Kid Cannabis” send young people a message that getting stoned is cool and hilarious.
“I know the dark side,” Shapiro explained. “I’m ambivalent about legalizing marijuana because I was addicted for 27 years. After starting to smoke weed at Bob Dylan concerts when I was 13, I saw how it can make you say and do things that are provocative and perilous. I bought pot in bad neighborhoods at 3 a.m., confronted a dealer for selling me a dime bag of oregano, let shady pushers I barely knew deliver marijuana like pizza to my home. I mailed weed to my vacation spots and smoked a cocaine-laced joint a bus driver offered when I was his only passenger.
“Back then Willie Nelson songs, Cheech and Chong routines and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” made getting high seem kooky and harmless. My reality was closer to Walter White’s self-destruction from meth on TV’s “Breaking Bad” and the delusional nightmares in the film “Requiem for a Dream.”
Shapiro says that marijuana became an extreme addiction, but that she was finally able to kick the addiction and has been free of drug use for nearly a decade. She adds, however, that she’s far from alone in suffering from marijuana addiction.
A 2012 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that half of all people who smoke marijuana on a daily basis will become addicted. Roughly 2.7 million people already are marijuana addicts, and nearly 17 percent of those who get high as teenagers will become addicted to marijuana.
Shapiro also points out how the strength of the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana has increased dramatically in recent years. “The weed of today is far stronger than in the past,” she writes. “The new edible pot products can be 10 times stronger than a traditional joint, says a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. How you react to marijuana depends on your size, what you’ve eaten, the medications you take. As I tapered off, one hit from a pipe or bong could leave me reeling, as if I’d had five drinks.”
Shapiro listed some of the dangers of marijuana, according to recent research:
- Marijuana causes more car accidents than any other illicit drug
- Marijuana doubles the risk of being in a car accident if you drive soon after smoking it
- Marijuana contributed to 12 percent of traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2010, triple the rate of a decade earlier.
The medical side effects are also significant:
- Smoking marijuana increases the risk of lung cancer 8 percent – British and New Zealand studies.
- Smoking marijuana associated with bronchitis, respiratory infections and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke – New England Journal of Medicine.
- Frequent marijuana use by teenagers and young adults causes cognitive decline and decreases IQ – another 2014 study.
“Marijuana essentially fries your brain,” Shapiro says. “Before jumping on the buzzed bandwagon, throwing a pot dessert party or voting to lift all restrictions, ask yourself and your kids: Is the high worth the lows? We shouldn’t send pot smokers to prison, but they don’t belong on pop-culture pedestals either.”
Susan Shapiro is the author of nine popular books, including Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Only as Good as Your Word, Lighting Up, Speed Shrinking, Overexposed and coauthor of The Bosnia List and the New York Times bestseller Unhooked: How To Quit Anything.
Shapiro has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Salon.com, Glamour and Marie Claire and many others. She is also on the board of the National Book Critics Circle.
Here at Novus Medical Detox Center, we help our patients recover their lives after falling prey to dependence and addiction, and many of them cite marijuana and alcohol in their teenage years as the forerunner of what later became addiction. If you or anyone you care for is having a problem with alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re always here to help.
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