DR. WALLACE: You stated in a recent column that marijuana is not a physically dependent drug and that, in fact, marijuana is a psychological-dependence drug.
Can you please explain this in more detail? My fiance smokes at least one or two marijuana cigarettes every evening. Other than being a little giddy, he appears to have no ill effects from the marijuana drug. — Anonymous, Boulder, Colorado
ANONYMOUS: According to Life Skills Education in Massachusetts, a drug user is psychologically dependent on a drug (like marijuana) when the user feels that the drug is an important and necessary part of his or her life. The body does not demand the drug, but the mind does, because it remembers that using the drug produces a good feeling. The user believes that life is much more pleasant when the drug is in his or her system.
A drug user is physically dependent on a drug when the user suffers withdrawal symptoms if the drugs used to stop and there is an overpowering drive to use the drug, regardless of its consequences (even cocaine, LSD, heroin, meth). A physically addictive drug user's body needs the drug so it can function without pain. Without the drug, the physically dependent user can have convulsions, severe sweating and, in extreme cases, even go into a coma.
A physically addicted person will often go to severe lengths to get the money to purchase the addictive drug. It's a vicious cycle that can end in death for the user or for an innocent victim.
A psychologically dependent person fortunately avoids the debilitating physical dependency, and this is perhaps one of the main reasons that marijuana has become legal in some U.S. states and other countries such as Canada.
GRAND CANYON OVER 2 BILLION YEARS OLD
DR. WALLACE: I am taking a geology class, and my assignment is to find out how old our Earth is and provide details on its development from its inception right up to 2018. Could you provide me with some interesting information on this huge assignment to help me get started? Please, super please tell something beside just boring statistics! — Stumped Student, Phoenix
STUMPED: I'm sure a public library in your neighborhood can supply you with books with photographs and accurate information, and of course, the internet will have quite a bit of detailed information on the Earth as well. To start off a project like yours, I'd focus on some great landmarks.
The spectacular Grand Canyon in your home state offers a peek into the earth's distant past. The 6,000-foot-deep canyon carved by the Colorado River allows scientists to identify 40 different rock layers. Scientists say the walls of the canyon display a cross section of the Earth's crust dating back over 2 billion years. Utah has spectacular red-rock canyons, and the majestic Rocky Mountains cut through several western states. Read about their formation and then explain their significance in your own words.
That's a start, at least, using some parts of the Earth near your area. Now it's up to you to finish your assignment and look around the world at the entire Earth, as there are many wonders to behold. I wish you great success with this project — and trust that you learn some memorable things along the way!
I'M RECOVERING FROM ANOREXIA NERVOSA
DR. WALLACE: I'm a girl who's 16 and presently recovering from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. I have heard that about 10 million people in the United States suffer from this disease, so I am definitely not alone. Do girls and women get it more than boys and men? — Anonymous, via mail
ANONYMOUS: First of all, congratulations on being in recovery from this malady. Keep at it and be sure to interact with your support network often to avoid a relapse. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia nervosa is a serious but treatable mental and physical illness that can affect people of every age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic group. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.
While no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that it is a range of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. For those in need of 24/7 crisis support, text 'NEDA' to 741741 or call NEDA's toll-free helpline at 800-931-2237.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.