My marijuana is better than your Antidepressant:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I have been smoking marijuana daily for the last three years starting around fourteen years old. Previous to that my life was hell.  My dad smokes medical marijuana when he’s not beating on my mom or drunk and reminding me how useless I am. Marijuana makes me happy.   None of my doctor’s medication has ever done a lick yet he keeps insisting I have to give up marijuana. Why? My grades are good and so far it’s the only thing that makes my life bearable.

-Moe Toke

 

Dear Mr. Toke,

You are right- there really is no such thing as a legal antidepressant. One often reads articles stating that antidepressants do not work. In truth, they absolutely do; but not in the manner which the advertising would have you believe.

The medications your doctor gives you are called antidepressants because of marketing. As you rightly pointed out, there is no legal medication that can make you happy. Antidepressant medication (usually dealing with the chemical serotonin) tone down emotional information… ALL emotional information. If taken in too large a dose they can even cause chemical numbness. Antidepressants also work by decreasing exaggerated empathy. They take you out of other people’s heads and improve your cognitive flexibility.

Mr. Toke, you are also right in that marijuana is an antidepressant that can make you happy; at least for a while. But happiness from a pill is not real. Happiness, in order to be kept, needs to be earned. If you bypass the normal learning curve, you acquire no skills. Not only will chemically induced happiness not last, but depression and numbness is common when chemical happiness wears off, leaving you with no behavioral changes or learned skills for natural happiness. What this means is your life will be endlessly as it is now.  Anything that induces artificial happiness in the short term steals from your long term happiness. You are trading your future to endure your present.

Chemistry is another reason not to play with artificial happiness. Oxytosin in our bodies is supposed to moderate dopamine.  These are two very important neural chemicals that need to be in balance. Essentially, dopamine gives a sense of self and ego. It regulates memory, pleasure, and learning.  Oxytosin fosters a sense of attachment. It is why human females do not eat their children as animals without oxytosin do. Normally, we will not jeopardize our attachments to appease our own egos. We consider our behaviors as they affect our group. But with artificial pleasures or an unnatural rise in dopamine, there is no such moderation. Hard core crack addicts have been known to sell their own children to feed their habit. Even recreational marijuana use might have untoward consequence.

Chemically, love requires a balance between oxytosin, seratonin and dopamine. Throwing this balance off artificially  can and will affect our experience of love. Antidepressants differ as they can be prescribed specifically to help maintain, not replace, balance.

So long as one is raising dopamine by unnatural means, it is out of oxytosin’s control and one’s ability to consider one’s effect on others will be diminished. Use of any mind altering substance will also affect your ability to be present. I know that’s the aim in using drugs in the first place; but although I agree your life sucks, Mr. Toke, the way out of it is not through chemical happiness or numbness; that actually only makes it persist forever. Instead, challenge yourself by building a life outside of the one you know now. Concentrate on school. Study outside your house; get to know your teachers. If you get to know your teachers the school work will start to make more sense.

And in school, remember- oxytosin moderates dopamine; attachments affect memory and learning.

 

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

 

Granny says: The problem here is not whether you are keeping up with your grades, Mr. Toke. The problem is that you are turning into your father by pursuing the same path of chemical dependency that he did. Your grades can be fabulous and it won’t make a damned bit of difference. If you don’t learn some real coping skills, you are doomed to follow in dad’s footsteps.

The teen years are when one sets patterns that will last a life time. It is one thing to use marijuana in a responsible medical manner, or even to use it in moderation as many adults use alcohol. However, if you get in the habit of using pot as a habitual crutch while a teen, you are setting your life on a course that is going to be steered by whatever is hot, cold or shiny and comes with extra cheese. If you are enrolled in school or some other disciplined educational situation such as work training, you can probably graduate and get a job without becoming a bum. But when it comes to your personal life, you will always still be back at square one. Your father is a lousy role model. You can’t do any better than he did if you don’t learn some new tricks.

Get out of your freaking’ house and get on track. I know WAY too many people in their 50’s who drifted there from their 20’s in a cloud of smoke and aren’t quite sure how it happened. Don’t be one of them.

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About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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5 Responses to My marijuana is better than your Antidepressant:

  1. Additional reply by Dr. brilliant Cliche,

    As an aside not pertaining directly to Mr. Toke but significant for the blog I wanted to mention a few other things.

    It is the same thing for anxiety. Alcohol is probably the most effective anxiolytic but again what’s good in the short term is bad in the long. Here even prescription anxiolytics can feed the short term and gamble your future. Anxiety is necessary to be in tuned to your environment. The worse your environment the worse the anxiety is supposed to be. If you remove anxiety completely through prescription drugs, street drugs, or alcohol you lose the ability to remove yourself from bad situations. Like pain gets you to take your hand of the stove, anxiety gets you away from that abusive significant other.

    Anxiety like depression are not really one thing. Anxiety is conflict or fear or the inability to process situations and depression can be guilt or loss or a million other things. It is important to be dealing with the root cause and not the anxious or depressed superficial presentation. This is why any diversion like street drugs, addictions, or prescription medication often leads to no behavioral changes. And why the New York Times has weekly articles that prescription medication are no better than placebo. That is silly but what you are measuring as outcome is really important. Their asking the wrong questions!!!

    Ecstasy which increases serotonin and is called the love chemical. It is again mislabeled. It isn’t love it is causing it’s the removal of territorial boundary. Oxytosin causes attachment but it is conditional attachment. In studies where oxytosin is given to autistic children they 50% do indeed increase the ability to attach but 50% become wildly aggressive. It essentially turns them into a pregnant wolf. If you’re in the in group you’re loved if you’re in the out group your eaten. Serotonin moderates who is in and who is out. With ecstasy everyone is in.

  2. rachelmeeks says:

    This was very enlightening. I’m currently working on a screenplay dealing with antidepressants working/not working, and this explained things in a very simple and easy to understand way. Really enjoyed this, thanks. 🙂

    • @ rachelmeeks: Glad to be of use. All the marketing that goes into this billion dollar industry really skews expectations and causes a lot of confusion. Medications can never replace skills but they can assist one in the ability to acquire those skills.

      Dr. B.C

      • rachelmeeks says:

        I also wanted to let you know I shared this on facebook, and had a couple of friends re-share and it sparked a lot of interesting discussion. 🙂 Thanks again for your wisdom and thanks for your reply!

  3. A reader comments:
    Lol@ThisArticle commented on My marijuana is better than your Antidepressant:

    Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché, I have been smoking marijuana daily for the last three years starting around fourteen years old. …

    “And in school, remember- oxytosin moderates dopamine; attachments affect memory and learning.”

    Antidepressants kill Neurons. They kill your brain cells.
    And they cause sexual dysfunction. Which means no sex.
    Worst drug ever.

    Dr. Brilliant Cliché responds:

    Dear LOL,
    Actually there aren’t any definitive studies about antidepressants killing brain cells but there are those studies for marijuana. Not all antidepressants kill sex drive although some certainly do. In some people marijuana also kills sex drive. So I am not sure of your point? Marijuana used recreationally isn’t a good antidepressant. It is unreliable. What it does in the immediate it can do the opposite in the long term. There might be some new strains of marijuana being developed with low to no THC that look promising as theoretically there is no recreational potential.

    Dr. B.C.

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