Living high: Daily marijuana use among adults

Living high: Daily marijuana use among adults

0740-5472/89 $3.00 + .OO Copyright 0 1989 Pergamon Press plc Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Vol. 6, p. 143, 1989 Printed in the USA. All right...

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0740-5472/89 $3.00 + .OO Copyright 0 1989 Pergamon Press plc

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Vol. 6, p. 143, 1989 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

BOOK REVIEW Although many of the participants stated that marijuana use increased their self-awareness, the study researchers, by use of the interviews and psychological tests, concluded that this category was actually more related to avoidance or denial, particularly in relation to marital problems. In a similar manner, while the participants stated that marijuana use helped their work, the study researchers concluded that, in actuality, marijuana use helped to cope with jobs or careers that were disliked, to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood, and to unwind from job-related stress (that is, to “escape from work and responsibility”). The last category was that of “personal relationships.” Here again, the researchers found marijuana use to hinder rather than facilitate the growth of personal relationships. For example, as adolescents marijuana use had functioned for the subjects as an act of open or covert rebellion against parental authority and families while living at home; in adulthood, marijuana use enabled the users to detach from unpleasant or troubling situations, such as troubled marital relationships, providing an “illusion of intimacy while restricting closeness and commitment” (p. 158). A summary of the effects of chronic, daily marijuana use in adults, as well as the study’s findings, can be found in the following quote from the last paragraph in this text:

Living High: Daily Marijuana Use Among Adults H. Hendin, A. Haas, P. Singer, M. Elmer, and R. Ulman New York: Human Science Press, Inc., 1987, $26.95, 183 pages. This text is actually a comprehensive report of a research study “undertaken in order to explore the use of marijuana by adults who smoke daily and heavily, who have done so for many years, and who, at least in the several years prior to our study, have not used other drugs on a regular basis” (p. 11). Advertisements for participation in this study were placed in a variety of journals over a one-year period. From these advertisements, a total of 383 subjects, who had used marijuana daily for at least two years, were selected and asked to complete an application form. In order to remove the variable of race from consideration, a sample of 150 Caucasian subjects (99 males and 51 females, aged 20 to 56 years) was selected. These individuals were paid $25.00 each to complete a screening session and a 43-page questionnaire concerning health behavior and psychosocial effects of marijuana use. The sample was further reduced to a “representative sample” of 15 cases (8 males and 7 females) who were each paid a $200.00 fee to complete five unstructured interviews and a specified battery of psychological tests. The unstructured interviews included questions concerning current life, past history, present and past marijuana use, interrelationship of study variables, and the study itself. Each interview lasted approximately one hour and was tape recorded for subsequent transcription and content analysis. The battery of psychological tests included the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WARS-R), Draw-APerson Test, Rorschach Test, and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The following subject characteristics were identified: 95% American born; 50% no significant religious preference; 60% single; 75% some college education; 85% employed; 75% grew up in a stable family; median annual income $34,000; and 16 years of age was the average age for starting marijuana use. Of the 15 cases, 6 were studied more intensively, and their case studies and analysis comprise the major portion of this text. The major findings from these six cases centered around the reasons for daily marijuana use by the study participants. The reasons given by the participants were categorized into three major groups: self-awareness; work; and personal relationships.

Marijuana maintained these individuals in a troubled adaptation, reinforcing their tendency not to look at, understand, or attempt to master their difficulties. It served to detach them from their problems and allowed them to regard even serious difficulties as unimportant. Marijuana provided a buffer zone of sensation that functioned as a barrier against self-awareness and closeness to others (p. 171). The text reads well and is fairly interesting; however, it could have been written as a 30-page research article instead of a 170-page text and said the same thing. For this reason, and the fact that after having read this review one knows what is in the text, I cannot recommend that treatment providers purchase this text. However, it may be of interest to academics who can use it as an example of an approach to drug and substance abuse research for their students and to libraries specializing in this field. Louis A. Pagliaro, MS., Pharm.D., Ph.D., C.Psych., F.A.B.M.P. University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 143