Wecommended Weeding

Will doesn’t quite agree with Matt Labash on medical marijuana:

Labash seems to think that his subjects’ tenuous connection to the health care industry is some sort of blanket indictment of marijuana use, but fake prescriptions and opportunistic bouts of carpal tunnel syndrome are actually symptomatic of a ridiculous legal system that outlaws marijuana use at the federal level while state and local legislators – who, incidentally, are best positioned to judge the costs and benefits of decriminalization – attempt to look the other way.

When we look at chronic pain or depression and other affective ailments, there often isn’t a bright line between self-medicating and simply enjoying oneself. That’s why there’s a tenuous connection, if any, to health care. The whole point of the medication is to enjoy oneself.

Did the depressive enjoy the sunset because it was beautiful, or because he took his Zoloft? And did I enjoy it because I’d had a martini? Why police the authenticity of joy? Police other things about joy if you want — some joys are dangerous, after all — but don’t tell me my happiness isn’t clinical enough.

Consider tobacco. Despite its many other health risks, it appears to be effective against depression:

New research has suggested that there may be something in cigarette smoke that has antidepressant properties, which explains why cigarette smoking is much more common among depressed patients. A survey of 3,000 individuals in the St. Louis area confirmed that lifetime frequency of major depression was more common among smokers than nonsmokers (6.6 vs. 2.9 percent) This study also demonstrated that smokers who reported at least one episode of major depression were less likely to succeed in smoking cessation programs than smokers without depression (14 vs. 28 percent). These findings have been confirmed many times over.

I find it revealing that Zyban, a popular smoking cessation drug, is also marketed as Wellbutrin, a popular antidepressant. They’re the very same chemical, one which happens to be in the amphetamine family.

As an aspiring conservative politician once confessed to me, “‘Officially’ I’m taking Zyban to quit smoking. I didn’t need it to quit, but I really like the way it makes me feel, so I plan to wage this epic, years-long struggle with tobacco.” In some circles, it’s still the kiss of death for a politician to be on antidepressants. I wished him happiness, if not exactly success. What else could I do?

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

8 thoughts on “Wecommended Weeding

  1. I guess it depends on why you are taking the meds. The point of taking medication if you have cancer is not really exactly to enjoy oneself. Its more to take away the horrendous pain. Compare that to drinking a few beers or a joint on the weekend. There is a bit of difference.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  2. That link about tobacco is interesting. I was having some pretty nasty issues with depression earlier this summer. In the last month or so, I’ve put a foot off the wagon and started smoking some again–not much; generally a couple of cigs in the evening. I’ve also gotten my mood on something closer to an even keel. I’d thought it was just coincidence and doing a better job of staying busy, but who knows. Something to think about.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. There is a crucial difference between Zyban and Welbutrin besides marketing… Zyban is sporadically covered by insurance and Welbutrin almost always is. The politician may take Zyban for the Welbutren effects, but it’s more often than not it goes the other way. You mean if I’m depressed the insurance will pay for it? Well, doctor, I do feel sad…

    I have bottles of Welbutrin in the medicine cabinet but I don’t take them because I am not yet ready to quit smoking. I’m stocking up so that when I am ready, I won’t have scarcity to convince me to stop taking it.

    For my own part, it is likely that cigarettes act as a sort of self-medication for one problem (depression) or another (ADHD). I have an unhealthy attraction to stimulants that are known to help with both. I will never forgive George W. Bush for taking ephedrine off the market.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • @Trumwill,
      Be careful about where you keep your Wellbutrin stockpile, and how long you keep it. Most drugs have a shelf life of 2-3 years, which is the amount of time they’ll have at least 90% of their original effectiveness. Some last longer, but some will degrade more quicly, especially if they are stored in standard pharmacy twist-cap bottles, rather than in foil-sealed bottles containing dessicant. And the bathroom is the worst place to store any drugs, because the repeated humidity from showers and baths will seriously reduce the shelf life of nearly any medication. (I work in pharmaceutical R&D.)

        Quote  Link

      Report

  4. I was reading a lovely book of old Tibetan Buddhist documents from the 12th century the other day (while I was supposed to be writing my dissertation), and I found a nice sentence to the effect that sorrow, because it leads us to truth, is a guru. I certainly think we all self-medicate in one way or another, including myself, but that sentence really resonated with me.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  5. My first thought on reading the excerpt on smoking and depression is that the data would work just as well (and perhaps better) to prove that smoking causes depression, rather than ameliorates it. Given the fact that an antidepressant appears to be effective at helping people quit smoking, I’d suspect the depression is linked to withdrawal.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *