Kent Runyon, Executive Director of Novus Medical Detox, speaks to 94.9 News Now Stimulating Talk broadcasting over Connecticut, Rhode Island and Long Island about the harmful effects of marijuana – and the detriment of its legalization to future generations of our society.
Mr. Elci: 94.9 News Now and Stimulating Talk broadcasting out over Connecticut, Rhode Island and Long Island. Once again, those of you who are online, it’s [email protected] You can reach out and e-mail me. You can listen online at 949newsnow.com. Special guest joining us, all the way down to Florida we go and bring on the director of a detox facility, Kent Runyon. The detox facility is Novus Medical Detox. Good morning, sir, how are you?
Mr. Runyon: Good morning, I’m very well.
Mr. Elci: Obviously, with marijuana, the marijuana explosion, more and more people may be experimenting with the drug. You’d have to think that the cause for a place like yours is going to skyrocket. What do you think about that?
Mr. Runyon: Well, sure, that would be a concern of ours. I don’t know that we would see it immediately, but certainly we have concerns that this could have an effect on future generations who begin playing with marijuana at earlier and earlier ages and the long-term effects of that.
Mr. Elci: Do you assume that the incidences of driving while under the influence of marijuana is going to skyrocket?
Mr. Runyon: Well, it’s certainly a concern. You know, there’s a reason why people want to use marijuana and that it’s beyond medicinal properties. It’s a psychoactive drug. It definitely has an impact on motor coordination, brain function and reaction time; so yes, absolutely there’s a concern there.
Mr. Elci: And there’s truth to the fact that you really… without a blood test, you can’t just give somebody a breathalyzer test on the side of the road, so you don’t even know if somebody’s really impaired, right?
Mr. Runyon: That’s right. I mean, there’s some technology out there that they’re trying to develop and they’re playing with to do more on-site testing, but yeah, it’s not where we’re at with alcohol roadside tests right now.
Mr. Elci: Obviously where you work, Novus Medical Detox down in Florida, you have to see all different types of people who come in to you, whether they’re addicted to opiates, whether they’re addicted to the heroines or the cocaines or alcohol, cigarettes, whatever. What’s the addiction, or is there even an addiction to marijuana?
Mr. Runyon: That’s one of the misnomers about marijuana, that the answer is, yes, that… Today’s marijuana, first of all, is four to five times stronger than the marijuana of the ’60s and ’70s, so it’s not the same drug that a lot of people may have tried back in their youth. It’s also important to note that we’re seeing increased numbers of persons who are going into treatment because of marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that in 1993 marijuana comprised approximately 8% of all treatment admissions, but by 2009 that number had increased to 18%, so we’re seeing the trend of increasing number of admissions for people who are saying, “I can’t stop using marijuana by myself.”
Mr. Elci: You know, some doctors say it is, some doctors say there’s no such thing; but is marijuana a gateway drug? Is it the beginning and opening up people to other harder more addictive substances?
Mr. Runyon: Absolutely. It moves people down that path. And in my experience working with folks with varied addiction issues, a lot of times they started here, and it unfortunately a lot of times puts you in a crowd that’s may be experimenting with harder substances. It increases that temptation to try a new high. So, yeah, absolutely it brings that risk along with it.
Mr. Elci: It just seems like common sense. We’re talking this morning to Kent Runyon, Director of Novus Medical Detox in Florida, and we’re chatting briefly about marijuana and the abuse of marijuana and the legalization of marijuana. If somebody is out there right now and let’s say they are thinking about smoking some pot or what have you or they’ve been offered it many times and turned it down and they want to go to their doctor to ask him about marijuana use, what would you tell them to ask their doctor?
Mr. Runyon: Well, certainly, I would ask the question of what are the addiction risks associated with this drug; what are the side effects and the medical risks associated with this drug like cancer, overall effects on your health? It’s not a miracle drug. It has side effects. So, yeah, you need to explore all those just like you would for any, any medication that you would go to a physician for. Heaven knows we see so many people addicted to prescription medications for pain, painkillers, and people went in for chronic pain and came out with an addiction. And so we need to be doing that as a society for any medication we’re going on to, and that’s no different for marijuana, which is being categorized as so safe, and we need to ask more questions about it.
Mr. Elci: There are people out there who are adamant that marijuana is not addictive; they can control it, the whole nine yards. I mean, is that just the addiction talking, or is that silly for people to say that marijuana has no addictive properties in it?
Mr. Runyon: Well, my response to that would be that may be true for them just as I can have a glass of wine and be finished with it, and one glass of wine is all I need, and every day I talk to patients in our center who could never do that. Their brain chemistry is different. Their reality is different.
Mr. Elci: Right.
Mr. Runyon: So to say that marijuana is not addictive for you as an individual is fine, but research shows that for some… There’s research showing that 1 in 11 marijuana users will become addicted to the drug, and if someone starts before the age 18, that number rises to 1 in 6, so that’s not the reality for everyone. And we know the earlier persons begin using marijuana the higher the risk of addiction later in life to other drugs.
Mr. Elci: How do people know that they’re addicted to marijuana or any other drug for that matter?
Mr. Runyon: Well, it begins, you know, it begins with symptomatology of withdrawal. When you stop using that substance, you experience a physical withdrawal from the substance. And it’s also related to what I described earlier, the ability to simply stop yourself and quit and control that use, and also it’s related to the consequences of use, someone who can’t control their behavior or make decisions when using. All those factors relate to it.
Mr. Elci: Is there a difference, is there a place for medical marijuana?
Mr. Runyon: You know, I absolutely… You know, I have seen the news stories, and I’m very sympathetic to the parents of the children who have benefitted from it, very sympathetic to people suffering from chronic pain. We deal with a lot of patients who suffer with chronic pain. So absolutely, I think there needs to be additional research into the medicinal properties for it. I think we also need to look at a medical application for it other than a smoked form. So I’m by no means saying we shouldn’t pursue its medicinal properties or its pain relief properties, but I feel like we’re rushing really fast down this path, and I think we should slow down and do a little more research and also look for a medicinal delivery form.
Mr. Elci: All right, what do you think when somebody finds themself or they’re fearful that they’ve been addicted to whether it be marijuana or something else, what would you advise those folks to do?
Mr. Runyon: You know, get help. There is help out there, and you don’t’ have to… One of the main things that keeps people from getting help is fear of withdrawal, you know, what I talked about earlier, and that medical detox programs like ours, and there’s many of them out there, can significantly reduce the discomfort that goes with withdrawal. So find help, get help, and don’t’ wait.
Mr. Elci: Well, listen, Kent, I appreciate the time this morning. Good stuff. Thank you for the conversation. We can talk down the road.
Mr. Runyon: All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. Elci: You got it. Kent Runyon, director of the facility down in Florida called the Novus Medical Detox. It’s always interesting to get a different perspective as far as that goes, interesting stuff. All right, we’ll take a break. Don’t move, 94.9 News Now Stimulating Talk.