Drug addiction is a problem that requires a holistic approach. It has been proven time and time again that addiction is unpredictable, and the initial motivation for an addict to seek treatment is not an indicator of how successful their treatment will be. The two main schools of thought behind treating addiction are the abstinence model and the harm-reduction model.

The abstinence model is the “classic” model of addiction treatment e.g. alcoholics anonymous. The idea behind this model is that the chemical/mental dependency that leads to addiction is so great that even a single indulgence can lead to relapse. Behavioral Health compared and contrasted the benefits and drawbacks of both models. It should be noted that the statistics for many addiction programs are flawed due to the nature of the issue. They largely rely on self-reporting, which can easily be influenced by the sense of shame associated with substance abuse. Abstinence-only models report that only 7% of addicts were able to remain sober for at least 90 days over a three-year period (Henwood et al. 2013). Addicts that have been sober for a year or less have an 80% chance of relapsing; that number drops to 34% for those have been sober for three years (Horton). Addicts that have been sober for five years or more have a 14% chance of relapse (Horton). Although these numbers may seem encouraging, many are unhappy with the way in which abstinence programs operate. Many users abandon this type of treatment because they don’t want to completely stop using (Tennison 2010). Even worse, these programs tend to demonize those that relapse, rather than realizing that relapse is an unavoidable outcome for many users (Stoicesu).

The harm reduction model is a treatment philosophy that was popularized by Audrey Kishline. An addict herself, Kishline opposed the ideas of the abstinence model. This model aims to gradually reduce the frequency of use while accepting that relapse may be an unavoidable setback in the battle against addiction (Tennison 2010). Although moderation may sound like an attainable goal, it may be too much of a temptation for some (Horton). Many addicts use moderation as an excuse to relapse (Henwood et al. 2013). Encouraging someone to moderate themselves enables that person to continue a risky behavior. In addition to this, the harm reduction model is insufficient when dealing with “hard drugs”, like heroin or cocaine. These drugs are so detrimental to one’s health and general well being that there is no acceptable amount (Horton). In addition to all of these factors, many of the statistics proving the effectiveness of the harm reduction model are controversial. Due to its arbitrary nature, operationalizing moderation is difficult. What can be said is that around 30% of patients enrolled in a harm reduction course move onto abstinence-only programs (Stoicescu).

Based on the physiology of addiction I believe that the abstinence model should be the golden standard for addiction treatment. Often times moderation can have a snowball effect and quickly escalate into a full-blown relapse. Also, there is evidence that drug addicts are hard wired to respond better to drugs i.e. their reward pathway is more sensitive to the effects of drugs, resulting in poor impulse control (Henwood et al. 2013).

The internet articles I chose to use were found from pages that were specifically related to mental health. Behavioral health had been featured on A&E and CNN, two news outlets that strive to report the most accurate information they can. Harm Reduction International is an institution that works globally to educate people about how the harm reduction model operates. Much of their information comes from top researchers. The other two sources were primary literature articles that presented sound findings.


Tennison, L. R. (2010). Abstinence-Based Treatment. Addiction and Substance Abuse, 3-5. Retrieved April 2, 2017.

Horton, G. (n.d.). The Efficacy of Abstinence Treatment vs. Harm Reduction. Retrieved April 02, 2017, from

Stoicescu, C. (n.d.). What is harm reduction? Retrieved April 02, 2017, from

Henwood, B. F., Padgett, D. K., & Tiderington, E. (2013). Provider Views of Harm Reduction Versus Abstinence Policies Within Homeless Services for Dually Diagnosed Adults. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 41(1), 80-89. doi:10.1007/s11414-013-9318-2

Spotlight Blog 1 Prompt

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure to use the tag “Spotlight” on your post. Also include the tag listed for the option you choose below.

Option 1 – Use the tag “Development”

As divorce has become more and more common in the US, the number of children affected by divorce has increased greatly. The effects of divorce on children are controversial and there are a number of opinions out there on just what is “best” for kids. If you select this option, I want you to find two credible sources that argue divorce is inherently harmful to children and two credible sources that argue children can come through a divorce without serious consequences. Make sure to assess the arguments and supporting data presented in each source, explain what makes the source credible, and state which side of the issue you think is correct based on your reading. Make sure to list all sources at the end of your post.

Option 2 – Use the tag “Memory”

Now that we’ve discussed how learning and memory work and you’ve had a chance to think about your own study skills, I want you to critically evaluate websites that give students advice about how to study. If you select this option, I want you to find three different websites that provide advice for studying: one targeted toward college students, one targeted toward middle or high school students, and one targeted toward parents. Evaluate the advice provided on each and compare it to what you know about how memory works (include sources), making sure to correct anything you think is bad advice. Be sure to include links to the websites you are evaluating.

Option 3 – Use the tag “Drugs”

We covered the biology of addiction as well as basic information about the types of drugs of abuse out there, but we didn’t spend much time talking about treatment. The two most prominent treatment philosophies (arguably) are the abstinence model and the harm reduction model. Find two credible sources that advocate the abstinence model and two credible sources that advocate the harm reduction model. Make sure to assess the arguments and supporting data presented in each source, explain what makes the source credible, and state which model you think is better based on your reading. Make sure to list all sources at the end of your post.

I look forward to seeing what you write!

Header image: CC by Flickr user Thomas Hawk
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Week 6 First Impression

The legalization of marijuana is one of the many controversial issues in the modern climate. For this week’s post, I have been asked to take a side on this divisive issue. I, for one, have always supported the legalization of marijuana in both medical and recreational capacities. That’s not to say that I’m necessarily encouraging its usage, I merely think that there isn’t sufficient evidence or reasoning for it to remain illegal. First, marijuana has been legal in certain states already and they’ve seen no great health crises as far as marijuana usage goes. These states have also been able to collect tax revenue on legal marijuana which is a positive, if not overstated, effect. Another reason to support marijuana legalization is that it would then be subject to federal regulation and inspection. The legalization of marijuana would also cut down on the massive number of people who are given disproportionate sentences due to mandatory minimums on drug charges.

There are some who would argue that marijuana is too harmful to be legalized and that it would have a negative effect on society but I am not so sure that this is the case. The obvious response to this concern would be to point out the fact that neither tobacco products or alcohol are illegal even though they both are arguably equally, if not more, dangerous than marijuana. To those who are skeptical, please thing of it this way. Alcohol can easily kill you in multiple ways, from drunk driving to liver failure. Tobacco products can cause an array of cancers and other respiratory diseases. Marijuana only shares the danger of intoxicated driving with these two. Marijuana will not cause cancers like tobacco, and you also can’t overdose like you can on alcohol. The primary issues with marijuana is that it can cause psychosis in some users after chronic daily use, and that it can affect the brain development of young people. The chronic use issue is unavoidable. If you take any drug daily, then you’re going to have some long-term problems. The effects of marijuana on brain development are a more valid concern in my opinion. I would certainly want to see rules and regulations if marijuana was to be legalized and specifically I’d say a legal age of perhaps 21 with the effects of marijuana both short and long term clearly defined on the packaging.

From a completely moral standpoint, I don’t like the idea of the legality of any substance that is both addictive and can be harmful to the user. From a more pragmatic perspective, however, I understand that people are going to use marijuana and I would rather have it be regulated and studied to help safeguard people.

Blazing It

Marijuana is an interesting drug- it is pretty taboo and hush-hush, yet at the same time it is pretty widely used, especially among college students (in my observations during the 3 years in the school as well as asking friends in college back home).

I understand that marijuana comes from the plant Cannibis sativa and from my knowledge is non-addictive. It does leave a weird smell that is true, but besides that, it doesn’t really impact others that much. I believe that marijuana is not necessarily a bad thing. I think that it could be made legal to be used for medicinal purposes, to alleviate stress and to perhaps stop seizures in its tracks. However, like any drug that affects your brain, there may be some long term side effects that we may not know of. To my knowledge, marijuana does not lead to lung cancer, but what is it to say that it may very well affect your lungs negatively? Any amount of inhaling in smoke can’t be good for your health or well being. Still, I think that it should be made available to people who would like to use it. Just, that it should be made in a law that those who smoke it, cannot drive while under that drug’s influence. Just like alcohol, I know that the effects of the drug can impair judgement, reaction time, and vision. It is still better than tobacco in my opinion, which for some reason, is still up in the market due to the huge companies that have a stake in it. If you use this substance wisely, I believe that it is fine to use.

Drugs // Marijuana

The debate to legalize medical and recreational marijuana is unnecessarily prolonged. The issue can be solved efficiently if our government chooses to take more consideration on the benefits of legalizing marijuana, instead of viewing marijuana as merely an addictive drug. I strongly believe both medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized and decriminalized.

The popularity of marijuana nullifies the purpose of marijuana criminalization, to diminish marijuana usage. Criminalization has not lead to decreased use of marijuana. In fact, marijuana usage has double in the past decade, according to Time. As a result, legalization of marijuana, whether medical or recreational, will not be a factor that causes increased usage. Criminalization of the usage of marijuana has increased incarceration rates in America. High rates incarcerations are costly, both financially to America and socially to the offenders. Whether used as a calming reagent or a cure to epilepsy, medical cannabis is also a medicine. It can treat illnesses ranging from insomnia to multiple sclerosis to autism. There has also been no supported records that the effects of recreational marijuana are not near as harmful as the effects of cigarettes. Excessive use of marijuana, however, can obviously cause more harm than good. Just as overdosing on prescription drugs can lead to serious problems, overuse of marijuana can do the same. While there are not that many studies that focus on the effects of marijuana on our lungs, it is something we should look into more when it comes to usage of marijuana in relations to our health.

While I do believe medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized, I also believe that it is crucially important to do research and conduct more studies on both the positive and negative effects of marijuana. It is important to understand this drug as it is important to understand other drugs.

The Talk On Marijuana

It’s good news to see that a lot of states have decided to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.  Looking at the current medicines used now for various illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, and Multiple Sclerosis, a lot of the already used medications are not as effective and medical cannabis and take a long time to provide immediate pain relief especially to those who might be going through chemotherapy. Since marijuana is also non-habit forming, it would be a safe option for people to self-medicate.  My stance on recreational marijuana is really not that much different since they’re are many people in our population today that suffer from minor ailments that could be eased with marijuana.  Of course, I’m not entirely replacing the advice of a certified doctor, but there are many doctors that are clearly ignoring the massive movement of legalizing marijuana.  Personally coming from someone that suffers frequent cluster headaches and other cognitive issues, cannabis is something that needs to be legalized and explained to the public that it’s safe to use.

First Impression Post: Marijuana

I am a strong supporter of both medicinal and recreational marijuana, because it’s a natural way to help people get through lots of different things. With alcohol and cigarettes, you’re putting chemicals in your body that only harm you and can harm others. Marijuana doesn’t have any negative effects, and isn’t habit forming, unlike alcohol and nicotine, which are both legal and harmful. I’ve never heard of someone being harmed from some pot, but I’ve heard plenty of stories of it helping anyone from people with epilepsy, to cancer patients, to people with anxiety. Alcohol has caused millions of deaths as well as nicotine. Even my father died from the effects of nicotine at 33, and my grandmother is dying of liver failure due to alcohol; but all of my family in Colorado who smoke pot are actually doing better because of the calming effects of weed. The worst marijuana can do is give you the munchies, and all that’s going to do is give McDonald’s more money. Also, if we made pot legal, we’d have less prisoners, and less drug cartels, because there would be no incentive to bring pot in illegally, and there would be less people doing illegal drugs (since pot is widely used illegally). Plus, this would bring more money into America, because we could grow our own weed, and so other countries wouldn’t be able to profit from it.


I believe that marijuana should be legalized and used for both recreational and medical reasons. Marijuana is a drug that does minimal damage to your body and has low levels of addiction. As far as recreational drug use goes, marijuana does the least harm to people consuming and people around them. Like most things, there should be regulations for production, selling and consuming of marijuana. But it should all be legalized. Marijuana can also benefit many people with different medical situations including cancer patients, people with nerve pain or glaucoma. Medical marijuana can benefit the healthcare system in so many ways so there is little reason for it to not be legalized.

Medical & Recreational Marijuana


This week I will be discussing the topic of both medical and recreational use of marijuana. In this particular blog, I will be taking a stance on the use of both as well as whether or not it should be legal. This topic is quite controversial across the United States; many people are both for and against the use of marijuana in general, for good reason. I believe that marijuana use should be legal, however, in I believe in moderation. Yet, just as alcohol, there is no way to necessarily control the amount a person indulges in for recreational use. Just as alcohol is still able to find its way into dry counties, marijuana will be able to find its way into areas that are against the use. The “upside” to marijuana usage is that, unlike alcohol and most other drugs, you have an extremely low probability of dying from marijuana use. I have a strong belief that medical marijuana should be legal nationwide, particularly for those who suffer from cases such as chronic pain or high anxiety. Marijuana has been proven to have many beneficial effects for those suffering from illnesses – physically and mentally. Although, just as many drugs, there are different experiences with different people. Some people may experience a more enhanced or concentrated pain, while others may have higher anxiety levels than normal from the plausible side effects of marijuana use. I do believe that there is the possibility for people to abuse marijuana, just as people do with many things. However, people are able to abuse marijuana whether or not it is legal (recreationally). Most people, though, are not able to get marijuana for their detrimental illness the proper way if their state prohibits its use. All in all, I think that both recreational and medical should be legal. There are many pros and cons to each side, but I believe that the pros outweigh the cons in this case. There is – in my opinion – more good than bad that would come from the legalization of weed for both medicine and (moderately advised) recreational use.

To tie in with my blog, I would also like to add some additional reads about medical/recational marijuana that I thought were interesting while I was gathering my thoughts of how to approach this topic:

This article covers the use of marijuana and anxiety:

Chronic pain/psychiatric problems & medical marijuana:

Recreational use of marijuana (notice that this is not a scholarly journal/abstract – careful for pseudoscience)


Recreational vs. Medical Uses of Marijuana

I have never had a particularly strong opinion when it came to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. In my belief, everyone has been endowed with free will, a sense of right and wrong, and a “gut-feeling” of knowing what is best. In addition, tax-paying citizens who do choose to buy marijuana have a greater economic role and are in fact helping to supply a business (although it is not always a legal business found nationally). On the other hand, people of all ages, backgrounds, and states of wealth can become addicted and put their health at risk. With this being the case, I do think when it comes to the recreational use of marijuana, the detriments outweigh the benefits.

Based on the medical approach, there was always more evidence for medical marijuana than evidence against it. Many people tend to forget this drug is in fact derived from a plant which was utilized by many eastern cultures in ancient times for its pain-relieving and relaxing properties. When it comes to modern times, these pain-relieving and relaxing properties are highlighted for medical purposes. Those who get this drug prescribed to them for medical purposes do not take it the same way those who use the drug for recreational purposes do. Based on experiences I have seen with my own two eyes, I definitely think there is a major difference between people who use marijuana medically and people who use it recreationally; there has to be a difference because if a patient were to become addicted to the drug, the entire purpose of using it would be defeated. Furthermore, under the Controlled Substances Act, medical marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug, which means the DEA recognizes the high potential for abuse and is prepared to take an actions necessary in case of this happening. I actually learned all of this over the summer when studying to become a pharmacy technician. The FDA and DEA have such tight control over the dispensing of Schedule 1 drugs that the typical pharmacy is not allowed to serve as a Schedule 1 drug provider. For the most part, research shows marijuana does in fact help with pain and anxiety. In addition, the protocols for dispensing this drug are pretty strict. On the other hand, many physicians who decide on this drug for a patient are doing so for research purposes. With any research, things can go wrong and the effects this drug has may not be generalizable (going back to the five major questions of successful experimental research). Many of the research articles promoting the use of medical marijuana may have bias and the positive results could always be due to some kind of correlational effect, not a direct cause and effect relationship.