When I was in college and medical school at UCLA we all had to take statistics classes. I hated them. Most of us hated them. BORING!!
After a few years of practicing Internal Medicine while on the UCLA Clinical Faculty, I found that I was not able to understand studies that SEEMED bad to me, but I couldn’t show or understand why. So, I took a bunch of more boring classes, but it has changed how I help patients interpret new data that just does not make intuitive sense after 35 years of clinical practice.
Check out: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/Addictions/34989. Perhaps the worst study ever on cannabis.
This study had 36 patients. Grossly inadequate.
Of much greater importance is that we have no idea of what the patients were using their cannabis for. For example, if a group of patients are all taking the same blood pressure pill and are asked to stop it for two weeks, as in this study, I doubt anyone would be surprised that their blood pressure rose and perhaps they had some headaches and dizziness. Is this an “addiction” to their BP meds? Are the headaches and increase in blood pressure “withdrawal symptoms”? Of course not; it is simply the return to their previous state before their blood pressure meds.
In this study, a small group of cannabis users were asked to stop using cannabis for two weeks. The “withdrawal” symptoms were:
Lack of appetite
Feelings of anxiety
Feeling like “life was an uphill struggle”
Feeling of physical tension
In other words, most likely the very reason they were using cannabis in the first place. THIS IS NOT WITHDRAWAL. This is not addiction; it is a return to baseline.
In order to differentiate for certain, whether this was some impossible withdrawal syndrome or a return to the patient’s baseline state, you would have to ask them WHY THEY WERE USING CANNABIS AND WHAT SYMPTOMS WERE HELPED. Pretty darn simple.
This same “logic” would apply to anyone taking daily 5 hr energy drinks. If they stopped, AND if the drink was either helping them or they believed it was helping them, their fatigue and other symptoms would return.
These studies coming out now with regard to this addiction study or the recent testicular cancer absurdity that I blogged about two weeks ago.
I believe it is very important for all of us trying to promote the safety and health benefits of cannabis to be able and prepared to rationally discuss with anyone why these studies are just political scare tactics.
We must be smart and not emotional.