Know the many dan­gers of ad­dic­tions

Psy­chi­a­trist brings her ex­per­tise to Amherst acupunc­ture meet­ing


You’re not born a win­ner, you’re not born a loser, you’re born a chooser.

“That’s a quote by a mo­ti­va­tional speaker from the NFL who talks to ado­les­cents,” said Libby Stuyt.

Stuyt, the med­i­cal di­rec­tor for the Cir­cle Pro­gram at Cross­roads Turn­ing Point in Pue­blo, Colorado, is also the pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Acupunc­ture Detox­i­fi­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (NADA).

She was in Amherst dur­ing a five-day re­gional meet­ing of NADA, which was hosted by Amherst’s Betsy Prager, a NADA board mem­ber, at the Four Fa­thers Me­mo­rial Li­brary.

Stuyt has been an ad­dic­tions psy­chi­a­trist since 1990, and has treated thou­sands of peo­ple ad­dicted to drugs rang­ing from nico­tine, to al­co­hol, to heroin.

Dur­ing her visit, Stuyt talked about ear acupunc­ture and how it can help with ad­dic­tions.

“What we’re find­ing is that it works mostly for stress re­lief, and it does help with crav­ings,” said Stuyt.

She says ear acupunc­ture tar­gets five points on the ear.

“One of the points is for the sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem, which helps bal­ance the sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem, and an­other point is a heart point, so it helps calm peo­ple down,” said Stuyt.

The three oth­ers are for or­gans of detox­i­fi­ca­tion; the liver, lungs and kid­neys.

“Drugs of abuse are detox­i­fied and elim­i­nated in your body, and those or­gans can be­come very dam­aged, so the pur­pose of this is to nour­ish those or­gans and to help calm peo­ple down.”

Acupunc­ture is one of many tools to help peo­ple with ad­dic­tions.

“With smok­ing ces­sa­tion, it needs to be avail­able three times a week, plus they need to be do­ing ed­u­ca­tion and coun­selling,” said Stuyt. “It’s not some­thing you can do alone. It helps peo­ple be more open to a whole range of treat­ment.”

Stuyt says first-time drug users start with a choice, and that choice can quickly lead to ad­dic­tion.

“The way drugs of abuse work in the brain is that they hi­jack the brain and it no longer be­comes a choice,” said Stuyt. “Once some­body is ad­dicted to some­thing they are no longer choos­ing to do it.”

Colorado le­gal­ized Mar­i­juana in Jan­uary of 2014. She says part of the prob­lem is the lax laws in Colorado.

“With our com­mer­cial­iza­tion of mar­i­juana there’s no reg­u­la­tion. We have dis­pen­saries putting out stuff that isn’t what they say it is.”

Also, there is no up­per limit on the amount of THC in mar­i­juana sold in Colorado.

“Colorado has a rep­u­ta­tion of hav­ing the most po­tent mar­i­juana in the world, so peo­ple come from all over to get it,” said Stuyt. “The av­er­age po­tency in the dis­pen­saries is 20 per cent, and as high as 40 per cent. I’m not sure you can get the lower stuff any­more.”

Stuyt fears high-po­tency mar­i­juana is more likely to bring on psy­chosis, es­pe­cially in young peo­ple.

One young adult she re­cently treated suf­fered a se­ri­ous psy­chotic episode that hos­pi­tal­ized him for two months. He was even­tu­ally ta­pered off his an­tipsy­chotic drugs but went back to smok­ing mar­i­juana, and, again, he needed to be treated.

She’s also con­cerned mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in Colorado are rec­om­mend­ing mar­i­juana to preg­nant women.

Stuyt ac­knowl­edges that Canada’s laws are stricter than Colorado, but she still en­cour­ages peo­ple to be cau­tious.

“Dur­ing ado­les­cence, we’re cre­at­ing new neu­rons in the brain, and de­cid­ing what neu­rons to add and what to get rid of,” said Stuyt.

“When you put an out­side form of THC in the brain dur­ing ado­les­cence you have no idea what you’re do­ing,” she added. “This is why there’s more and more re­search out there show­ing de­creased IQ and nega­tive ef­fects on sig­nif­i­cant cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that are per­sis­tent into adult­hood.”

The le­gal age for smok­ing mar­i­juana in Canada is 19. Stuyt says that’s too young to be smok­ing pot.

“The brain is not de­vel­oped yet at that age,” said Stuyt. “You’re go­ing to start see­ing a lot of dum­my­ing down, I’m afraid.”

The NADA meet­ing was the first re­gional meet­ing ever to be held in Canada, and peo­ple came from through­out the Mar­itimes and North Amer­ica take part.


Libby Stuyt was one of sev­eral guest speak­ers dur­ing a five-day Na­tional Acupunc­ture Detox­i­fi­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing in Amherst. The meet­ing also pro­vided NADA train­ing and three com­mu­nity clin­ics, which were open to the pub­lic and very well at­tended.

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