Program designed to treat marijuana use

    A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. Photo Credit: Tyler Ross / Contributing Photographer
    It’s been over 30 years since Greg Wilkin graduated from CSUN and a lot has happened since he walked the campus as a college student.

    Recently, Wilkin, decided to take a negative experience and transform it into a promising business venture. The alum has created a program to help people cut down or stop their marijuana use.

    Wilkin designed The Chronic Coach 90 day turnaround program out of his own experience.

    “I thought it was basically harmless and I had become so addicted to it (marijuana) I couldn’t do anything without it,” said Wilkin, a chronic pot smoker for more than 10 years.

    Wilkin said he destroyed his ankle fishing when the bank of a rock gave way under him shattering his fibia and malias and ripping up his ligaments. His doctor at the time told him to try marijuana, he said.

    “I would take it with the prescription meds and it had a good synergy and seemed to help me relax so I said this is good,” Wilkin said. “There’s no reason to stop this. So I stayed with it and I ended up being a more than 10 year everyday usage.”

    Wilkin said he became embarrassed by how much he was dependent on marijuana. He also said he realized it wasn’t helping his pain anymore.

    “It ended up I was always stoned and I didn’t realize the effect it was having,” Wilkin said. “Not to mention it was a $6,000 a year habit.”

    He said 12 step programs didn’t work for him, which is why Wilkin came up with his own program It took him a year and a half to research and write the program, he added.

    “There was nothing out there that deals with the approach that I want to suggest and that’s recalibration, moderation and tapering down jut versus abstinence,” Wilkin said.

    He said he designed his program as a gradual withdrawal program. The first thing he does is have people cut their use in half, Wilkin added.

    “Once you start tapering down and you’re not smoking those massive amounts of dope, the body starts to reduce a little bit,” Wilkin said.

    Part of the research in the last couple years has been harm reduction and moderation in the use of the substance, he said.

    “My program has evolved into the marijuana equivalent of the drink responsibly campaign,” Wilkin said. “Same craving, but different candy.”

    Research from the University of Texas is now showing that restraint centered programs are more effective than the 12 step programs, he said.

    “It’s like going on a diet,” he said. “You look and you see something that you absolutely love like that big slab of bread with butter and then all of a sudden you’re going to have to take it if you restrain all the time. Have it, but just have one piece. Don’t have two or three pieces.”

    Janis Martin, wellness coach at the Klotz Student Health Center, said each person would respond to a taper down program differently.

    Martin said the obvious health risks are the memory loss.

    “My concern is impairment of people’s ability to do things,” Martin said. “The memory loss is something that can be lingering.”

    She added that marijuana is just like any other drug.

    “It’s the good feeling part of our brain that makes us want more,” Martin said. “It’s addictive, it’s a drug and that’s it.

    “For some, harm reduction works great and for others it’s just not feasible. Some people need total abstinence and some people are able to taper down.”

    Wilkin said he wants to make people more aware of the dangers of chronic marijuana use.

    “I will never give up on trying to keep it real on the dangers of chronic marijuana use,” Wilkin said. “It’s not like it’s a hard drug, where if people do heroine or cocaine or crack or any of that, you know that stuff is going to ruin your life, but the insidious thing about it is that it is fairly benign.”

    Some students like senior Randall Curtis, 23, said they think the program and its methods will work.

    “People are going to him because they want help,” said the political science major. “It’s not going to help people who really need it because they don’t think they have a problem, but it will help people who want to get help.”