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Smoking Cigarettes and Pot
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jfrishof posted:
My wife has been dealing with the early stages of MS for about 2 years now. Her symptoms to date are relatively minor with fatigue being her hardest battle. She's a Type A sort of person that takes everything to extremes.

One of the biggest concerns I have is that she also has an addictive personality which at this point is with cigarettes and marijuana. Her claim is that it calms her when in fact it does not. Could you give me some links to research this and possibly print out what the reality is when dealing with MS. I'm aware that some feel marijuana helps with appetite or dealing with pain. However, she is not gaining weight but actually having a more difficult time maintaining it. Pot does not increase her appetite just is in my opininon another way to smoke or self medicate.

Because of HIPA laws the doctors (at Stanford no less) seem to look the other way with these questions. I've believed that they should at the very least suggest some counseling.

Signed Frustrated care taker
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hackwriter responded:
Dear jfrishof,

All good questions that do not have simple answers--but here goes:

First off, doctors differ in their attitudes about their MS patients smoking medical marijuana. Many support it and will help the patient obtain a medical marijuana certificate in states where it is legal.

When consulting literature, you'll find many different positions, and any reputable health organization is going to be cautious about recommending it because these orgs must preserve their credibility. See an example below from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society:
http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/complementary--alternative-medicine/marijuana/index.aspx

And here is some info about a liquid form of THC called Sativex that is legal outside the US:

http://www.gwpharm.com/Sativex.aspx

http://www.mpp.org/reports/questions-and-answers-about-sativex-liquid-medical-mariju.html

Now about your perceptions concerning your wife's claim of how smoking tobacco and pot affects her:

Yes, of course she's self-medicating, that's what it's all about. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing, we with chronic diseases do it all the time with the support of our medical professionals, friends and family.

I'm a wee bit concerned with your judgments about how MS is affecting her, claiming it's minor so far and fatigue is her biggest battle. Lots is going on inside us that cannot be seen or felt by others. We do grasp for coping techniques. True, an addictive personality wants to over-indulge, and that will worry a loved one. But you have no idea how the disease is affecting her, really--and though you want to protect her from developing what you think are unhealthy habits, she's going to fiercely protect her coping tools because she's scared and she's lost her former health and body, and she stands to lose more in the future.

Tobacco smoking calms her only in the sense that it relieves the nicotine craving. I'm a smoker, too, and though I know all about how it works on me and how dangerous it is, it is my biggest coping tool and it's tough to quit. We don't want to let go of it and we won't until we're good and ready. Which might be never.

Concerning pot, I don't indulge in it, but plenty of people I know do claim that it relieves pain and spasticity. And who am I to judge that? As long as they are safe while smoking it, I wouldn't deny them that comfort.

About counseling: It's a good idea--for YOU to have counseling, that is. A therapist can help you cope with your wife's disease and behaviors and how you feel about it. But counseling isn't going to change her into someone you seem to wish she'd be. Support and understanding and acceptance is the best gift you can give her.

Kim


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