Tag Archives: EMDR

Our Growing Problem of Traumatized Children

Photos of passed out parents with toddlers have surfaced everywhere — the images of our addiction epidemic.  (Above photo is from the East Liverpool, Ohio, Police Department.) Though it’s often heroin, fentanyl or opiates that kill, most of the young people dying today began their illicit drug use with pot.  (Read Part 1,   Part 2 and Part 3. )  We have created a new generation of traumatized children.

“All of the parents I know who use marijuana are terrible parents,” a  fan of poppot.org’s, who is in her 20s, wrote to us recently.  Many newspapers have written about the children of the opioid crisis, but pot-using parents also contribute to the crisis.  We’ve tracked 80 child deaths related to caregivers’ marijuana use since November, 2012.

When those who were traumatized children put their own children in abusive situations, it’s easy to understand their failings.  Selena Hitt’s boyfriend accidentally shot her baby, after both of them had smoked pot. Selena had been raised in foster care.  Her mother died when she was very young, and most of the time her father was not available to care for her.

Policy More than other Factors Creates Problem of Drug Use

However, there’s a group of non-traumatized adults abusing their children because the United States has normalized the use of marijuana.  Because marijuana users can be detached from life and are susceptible to psychosis, it’s important not to use pot if you have children.

Up to eighty percent of child abuse and neglect involves substance abuse, a fact that violence prevention groups  often ignore.*  The denial is helpful to the strategy of making drug use socially acceptable.  NORML, Marijuana Policy Project and Drug Policy Alliance wish to normalize drug use.

The same groups that promote legalization suggest that harm reduction strategies work.  Policy based on harm reduction promotes “responsible use” of drugs, which doesn’t work.  Recently, a five-year-old drowned, because her babysitter used pot at 8:30 a.m. and stopped watching her.

The Widespread Problem of Traumatized Children

One of our Parents Opposed to Pot members in Colorado has a 13-year-old son who suffers from PTSD.   His older brother threatened and terrified him while in a marijuana-induced psychosis.   (The older son, now 17, is in recovery, while the younger son is being treated with EMDR for PTSD. )

Genetic and environmental factors that influence drug use are compounded by a society that normalizes drug use.    Our blog on suicides tells of teens and young adults who lived in environments that normalized marijuana use.  For the most part, they did not use marijuana because of trauma, although one was a veteran.

Many parents of these suffering children use drugs only because it’s social and considered harmless. Michael Goldsby, addictions instructor at College of the Redwoods said, “Risk factors for drug problems include availability of drugs, positive peer attitudes towards drug use [and] community norms that accept drug misuse. Drug and alcohol use is accepted and even encouraged in our community”  Goldsby teaches college in the Emerald Triangle region.

Drug-Related Deaths far Outnumber Deaths by Cars or Guns

The Center for Disease Control recently released statistics about accidental deaths:

52,404 drug-related deaths, up 11%.

37,757 died in car crashes, an increase of 12%.

36,252  gun deaths, including homicides and suicides

As we try to cope with a growing number of children affected by ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), the United States is embarking on a program to legalize all drugs.  Little children are losing their parents at an alarming rate, adding to the trauma and ACE scores of the future.

Instead of protecting the people, politicians are allowing marijuana lobbyists to dictate policy.  (Billionaires, marijuana companies and pro-legalization groups donated more than $30 million to legalize marijuana in California.)   Professionals need to counter the media bias and bias in polls which favors drug legalization.

Taking away children from drug-using mothers is not the answer, because separation from the moms also creates traumatized children. Child protection workers are in a Catch 22 situation. Techniques described in Part 2 can perhaps help the children traumatized by parents’ drug use.

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*Our information is mainly from CASA Columbia.  A good current reference Ed Gogek’s book, Marijuana Debunked.  Several studies are mentioned in our six-part series on child abuse deaths related to pot.   Parents Opposed to Pot has tried to share stories with Futures Without Violence, but they banned us from posting on their Facebook page.

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Successful Strategies for Deep Healing of Trauma and Pain

Using Mind-Body Connection for Deep Healing

The average medical marijuana cardholder in California is a 32-year-old male who uses it for chronic pain.  If so many young people have so much chronic pain, it’s tempting to think medical marijuana is for “anyone who can fake an ache,” according to Professor Jon Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon

Another part of the equation is that physical pain often develops as a result of stressful events lodged in the body.  It’s also possible that many ‘patients,’ including those who are veterans, actually suffer from deep emotional pain and trauma.  (Read Part 1 for the Mind-Body Connection to trauma and pain.)

Two young women who wrote to Parents Opposed to Pot explained their need for medical marijuana to deal with traumatic childhoods. One said it was because her mother had committed suicide, while the other said she had experienced traumatizing sexual abuse.

Using marijuana in order to numb painful feelings, or for getting high, will only mask the underlying emotional pain. In all cases of psychological issues, including PTSD, marijuana works against true healing, no matter how much temporary relief it provides.

21st Century Strategies for Healing

Since pain or disease (dis  ease) is imbalance, the body which created the disease can also be the body which heals the disease.

Dr. Libby Stuyt, a professional advisor to Parents Opposed to Pot uses Brain Synchronization Therapy to heal trauma in the body and
bad memories. The neuroplasticity of the brain means that even post-traumatic experiences can be weakened or discarded. At the same time, the brain can relearn forgotten neural pathways.

Dr. Libby Stuyt is Medical Director for the Circle Program at the Colorado Mental Health Institute

Besides Brain Synchronization Therapy, Dr. Stuyt recommends both EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Recovery) and Biofeedback based on heart rate variability.

Neurofeedback is another therapy which can heal trauma, PTSD and ADHD without drugs.  Even the Washington Post describes very positive outcomes from Neurofeedback for healing additional problems such as depression and severe pain.

Some therapists have found a newer technique, Brainspotting, to be  even more effective than EMDR.   The theory is that Brainspotting taps into the body’s innate self-scanning capacity to process and release focused areas that are maladaptive.  Brainspotting can often reduce and eliminate body pain and tension associated with physical conditions.

Listen to Dr. Libby Stuyt’s video about why marijuana is not an effective treatment for PTSD.

Another technique, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy provides healing in which the victim need not remember or relive the painful experiences.   This therapy changes the brain’s reactions to events to change how legacy of trauma affects the victim.  Sensorimotor therapy treats the effects of events as they recur in response to reminders of the trauma.

Treating Root Causes Rather than Just the Symptoms

The good news is that there are ways to treat PTSD and chronic pain that don’t involve drugs, ways that treat the root causes rather than symptoms.  “Medical” marijuana does not provide deep healing.

Medical marijuana is an addiction-for-profit industry which needs new users and promotes long-term use.   Habitual users run the risk of becoming psychotic.  Like continuous opiate users, they may also develop addiction.

At the Alternative Wellness Club, published in Oregonlive, 2014, patients were introduced to “dabbing.” Some of these  users  claimed to have bipolar disorder which may in fact be related to trauma–or triggered by marijuana. Dabbing increases the risk for addiction and psychosis.

The recent report from National Academy of Science found marijuana can give moderate relief to three medical conditions, pain being one of the conditions.  Although the human body has cannabinoid receptors, marijuana’s cannabinoids are foreign to our bodies.  They’re not endo-cannabinoids, the body’s natural occurring chemicals, but exo-cannabinoids.  With marijuana use over time, THC will replace the cannabinoids associated with joy and happiness.

Therefore, it’s hard to claim THC is truly “natural” for humans.

Mind-body healing solutions are the “natural” solutions, and they cannot be addictive.  They offer help for chronic suffering in ways “medical” marijuana and pharmaceutical medicines cannot help.

Read Parts 3 and 4 to find out more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and drug policy.

*Quote is from Professor Jonathan Caulkins of Carnegie Mellon.

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Mind-Body Solutions Offer Healing Without Medicine

Trauma Becomes Biology, But There’s Hope

How do we help children with difficult childhoods grow into adulthood without becoming drug users?  Is healing possible without using medicine?  Can our health system devise ways to treat chronic pain and illness without using marijuana or pharmaceutical drugs?

Those who grow up in difficult, traumatic situations – those whose bodies hold a painful past of abuse, shock or emotional pain – respond to opioid pain pills differently from the way non-traumatized people do.  They may be primed for opioid pill addiction more than others, according to Jon Daily of Recovery Happens, Sacramento. Furthermore, emotional trauma during childhood also leads to hypertension and a host of chronic illnesses.

Popular writer Monica Cassani agrees.   She describes on her website how Chronic illness is trauma embodied.    Her blog is called Beyond Meds

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now recognize Adverse Childhood Experiences as part of public health.  Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs are considered contributing factors to depression and a host of chronic diseases.   Experts use 10 paradigms for testing childhood trauma.  A score of 4 or more ACEs makes a person 460 percent more likely to suffer from depression.  A score of 6 or more takes 20 years off life.  Adults with high ACE scores are susceptible to chronic diseases that are rare in those who do not have ACEs.

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Childhood Disrupted and The Body Keeps the Score are two excellent books for understanding childhood trauma and its relationship to pain and illness.

The death of a parent, divorce, family drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse are among the events that can be counted as ACEs. These traumas are singled out because of their unexpected and unpredictable nature.  Severe bullying, excessive parental criticism are included, as well as living in a violent neighborhood.  Extreme poverty also creates stressful situations which can be compounded by abuse and the other problems.

Healing Chronic Disease Through Mind-Body Solutions

There’s good news.   Psychology,  Psychiatry and the medical field can lead the way for overcomimg both disease and emotional garbage. Understanding and applying the mind-body connection can work miracles without medicine.  Several notable scholars have led the way.  Francine Shapiro’s Getting Past Your Past and Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score provide excellent explanations and understanding.  Books by Daniel Siegel and Peter Levine offer therapeutic keys to healing.

Donna Jackson Nakazawa wrote one of the most straightforward explanations of healing ACEs in her new book.  Childhood Disrupted explains the causes of trauma in childhood and how to heal it.   In another book, The Last Best Cure, she describes her own healing from two debilitating auto-immune diseases.   (Nakazawa experienced the sudden traumatic death of her father when she was twelve.  While she outwardly coped, her body suffered deeply.) A science journalist, Nakazawa writes for the general public.

Part 2 will cover healing psychiatric problems through mind-body solutions, and Part 3 will summarize the growing problem of traumatized childrenPart 4 explains how we’re creating a new, larger generation of traumatized children.

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Cutting Edge Therapies Treat PTSD, Pain Without Marijuana

Best Treatment Strategies for PTSD

A study of soldiers with PTSD by Wilkinson and others at Yale University showed that marijuana made them more violent and made their PTSD worse. *   Nonetheless, under intense pressure, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill allowing veterans to get marijuana for PTSD.   We published stories from two parents whose children — as veterans — used marijuana with tragic results:  Who Said No One Ever Died From Marijuana? and Help Save My Son for Himself and Others.

Cutting edge treatment for PTSDs include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Since 2004, it has been recommended by the American Psychiatric Association,  World Health Organization, SAMHSA, the International Society of Stress Studies and the Veterans of Foreign Affairs.  It can often bring about symptom relief more rapidly and more effectively than any other type of therapy.  It is described in detail in The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, who has been working with trauma patients for about 40 years.  As van der Kolk explains, trauma results in the fundamental reorganization of the way we manage perception.  It is not just an event.  It imprints on mind, brain and body.   Most of all, traumatic events affect the body and live on through the body.

EMDR therapy appears to link into the same neurological processes that take place in REM sleep and clean up the brain.  It reintegrates brains that have been dysregulated during adversity. This work can lead to rapid reduction in episodic memories of traumatic events that are stored in the hippocampus.   The International Society of Stress Studies categorized EMDR as an evidence-based level A treatment for PTSD in adults.  (There are professionals who advocate for Cognitive Behavior Therapy over EMDR for PTSD.  The search to  find any professional association that certifies that marijuana works for PTSD has proved fruitless.)

EMDR is important for not only the mind, but for the body processes by which it heals.   EMDR can be used as a treatment for chronic pain, too.   It is a mind-based pain treatment, which once again goes against the purpose of those pushing medical marijuana.

Neurofeedback, Mind-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), yoga, acupunction and acupressure also may reverse the course chronic pain or PTSD — without medication.   As with all therapies and medical procedures, there are differences in the skill, experience and training of practitioners who use these techniques.bigpharma

Pain strategies should take away the need for “medicating,” by treating the root cause of the pain.   A good book to describe how this happens is The Last Best Cure, by Donna Jackson Nazakawa.

Cynical Games to Mislead the Public

The marijuana industry is currently playing a cynical game of telling the world that addiction to pain pills should be replaced by another addictive substance — marijuana.   Yet — Colorado — known for its marijuana consumption — also leads the country in consumption of opiate pain pills, heroin and alcohol.   It defies common sense to replace one addictive substance for another.

At the moment, the marijuana industry is using pain, PTSD and seizures to aggressively advocate for marijuana legalization.  They’re exploiting veterans to get new users.  In addition to EMDR, yoga and dogs are other excellent treatments for those suffering from PTSD because thy facilitate connection.   The pot industry stands in the way of letting the public know about EMDR.   They stand in the way of letting about other mind-based treatments for both pain and PTSD.   These are  treatments that don’t involve permanent illness and disability.  The marijuana industry wants chronic “medical” users because addiction will keep Big Marijuana profitable.

Marijuana advocates claim it’s a plant from nature. However, poison ivy, hemlock and rattlesnakes also come from nature.  If more people knew the truth, the public wouldn’t need its medical marijuana.   It was planned as a ruse from the start.

*2,276 veterans were studied between 1992 to 2011.  An example of a veteran using marijuana for PTSD who became violent is Eddie Routh.  Routh shot and killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield when he became paranoid and thought they were going to hurt him.  He is now serving time in prison.

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