Drugs can have beneficial qualities

Megan Neal, Print Editor

*Names have been changed due to source requests for anonymity.

Inherently “bad” drugs, such as marijuana and Adderall, have recently undergone studies that suggest more positive effects. Studies have shown these drugs can help treat chronic pain, mental health issues and more. While this has led to calls for legalization and easier access, some are still concerned about making them too readily available.

Psychology teacher Claire Haflich said that while recent studies have shown these drugs can provide benefits, they still have negative and addictive side effects.

“Generally all drugs are potentially good when used as directed when they are prescribed to you by a physician, and all drugs are potentially dangerous in any other circumstances,” Haflich said. “Drugs that are classified as illegal are generally made so because they are highly addictive and/or highly damaging to your body.”

Haflich said these effects can even relate to everyday things, such as caffeine.

“Even with legal unregulated drugs like caffeine, proceed with caution,” Haflich said. “A cup of coffee every once in a while isn’t going to hurt you, but it’s still addictive and can result in negative side effects like anxiety or insomnia and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like headaches and irritability.”

While prescription drugs like Adderall can help the person they are prescribed to, they can be detrimental to those that don’t need them.

“Adderall is generally prescribed to individuals with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD,” Haflich said.  “For individuals with ADD or ADHD, this can be a highly effective treatment to help an individual focus and manage behavior impulses.  But Adderall is extremely dangerous for people who it is not prescribed to, causing anxiety, depression and potentially dangerous problems with your heart, along with being addictive, while higher levels are similar to speed, cocaine and meth.”

Another drug whose uses have been debated over for years is marijuana. Although there are proven medical benefits to the usage of marijuana, it is only legal in 10 states.

“I believe all states will eventually legalize it at least for medical use,” Haflich said. “This is because there is strong clinical evidence to support benefits in treating chronic seizure diseases, lessening side effects of chemotherapy, treating chronic pain and many other medical conditions.”

According to the Clinical Psychology Review, marijuana has showed signs of helping people get over other addictions such as alcoholism. A study they performed also showed that in most cases the consumption of alcohol had worse effects than that of marijuana.

“I originally started using [marijuana] due to an interest of understanding what I was advocating for when I said marijuana should be legal for at least medical purposes,” junior male Kevin Miller* said. “Now that I’ve used it for longer, I use mostly for a stress reliever and a sleep aid. Having the ability of having a couple hours to myself, just doing nothing, feels good, and marijuana helps clear any negative thoughts from my mind.”

Marijuana has two different chemicals that are used, THC and CBD. The use of CBD in things such as oils, vapes and creams has become increasingly popular in recent years to treat conditions like chronic pain.

“THC is what people get high off of, and while it has a number of euphoria/high-based benefits, it also has negative side effects like a decrease in cognition, loss of memory and increase of anxiety (and is also illegal in most states),” Haflich said. “CBD is a newly isolated component of marijuana that does not get you high, but is used medicinally for decreasing pain and anxiety.”

Another study done by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that cannabidiol treatments were successful in preventing seizures in patients whose symptoms were not relieved by the typical medications. The study was done on a group of children with a rare and deadly form of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome.

“The researchers found that the children who received the CBD solution went from having around 12 seizures per month to an average of six seizures per month. Three children receiving CBD did not experience any seizures at all,” the researchers concluded.

While the use of CBD may seem like a perfect solution, there are some concerns surrounding it, more specifically the lack of studies.

“We only recently isolated it, there are no long-term effect studies and no studies involving the impact on individuals under the age of 21,” Haflich said. “If you think CBD is for you, talk to your doctor before taking it.”

However, Haflich reminds everyone to be careful when using any kind of drug.

“When it comes to any drug that you were not prescribed, I would always recommend that a person not partake,” Haflich said. “Bottom line, drugs are not inherently good or bad, but you shouldn’t take a drug without talking to your doctor first.  Self-medicating is dangerous. Make good choices.”

Miller agreed, stating there is still conversation to be had and research to be done.

“There is still a conversation to be had over overuse and overreliance on substances and dangerous behavior like driving while on the influence,” Miller said. “I think the pros outweigh the cons in the case of weed.”