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Legal Does Not Mean Safe!

Legal Does Not Mean Safe!
September 29, 2014 Lighthouse Network

For Immediate Release
September 29, 2014

Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio Warns of Dangers of Legalized Marijuana, Says Deaths from Prescription Meds are Warning Sign

Philadelphia—If it’s legal, it’s must be OK, right?

Very wrong, says Karl Benzio, M.D., a psychiatrist and founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network (www.lighthousenetwork.org), an addiction and mental health counseling helpline. With the rush to legalize marijuana for recreational use, many assume that pot is safe and accepted, with no risks.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, Benzio says.

“There is a great danger when social policy or accepted public opinion dictates that something is right or safe,” he says. “We are at that dangerous tipping point with the legalization and normalization of marijuana. We teach our kids that their parents, teachers, the president, and any authorities know more and are in a place to look out for our kids’ safety. So when our kids hear some of their authorities approve of legalizing marijuana, both medical and recreational, and see it is more widely accepted, they believe pot is safe and its use will have no consequences.”

Benzio points to the skyrocketing rates in the abuse of, and deaths associated with, prescription medications as an example—medications that are, in fact, in many cases safe and prescribed by a doctor. But a new CDC report shows that deaths resulting from prescription drugs have nearly quadrupled over the past decade. Specifically, according to a National Center for Health Statistics brief, the rate of opioid-analgesic poisoning deaths increased from 1.4 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2011.

“Prescription drugs are certainly seen as acceptable and safe if used within their correct dosages,” Benzio says. “Now, we see the same thing happening with marijuana. More and more people think it’s fine to experiment with pot recreationally because legalization is being pushed—and medical marijuana is being promoted. But we’ve seen from the downfalls of prescription drugs that ‘legal’ does not necessarily mean safe.

“We can look at many, many celebrities who died as a result of a dangerous mix of safe, legal prescription drugs that were prescribed by a doctor,” he adds. “These were not drugs bought on the street under the cover of darkness, but drugs written on a prescription pad by a member of the medical community. Yet, things went very, very wrong with these ‘safe, legal substances.’ When we give too much leeway to drugs that have so much power to damage a person and society on so many levels, it’s just a matter of time until we reap the predictable destruction.”

The push for the legalization of marijuana is not a project of the masses, Benzio says. The Washington Times recently reported that billionaire philanthropist George Soros has spent $80 million since the mid-‘90s toward making pot legal, along with marijuana proponent, the late Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, who contributed another $40 million to the cause. Marijuana legalization has not been a grassroots effort, but rather a well-orchestrated campaign backed by celebrities.

“Instead of putting that money into lobbying and buying votes or trying to sway public opinion, why aren’t they putting their money into research to find out the facts and use the facts to make their point,” Benzio said. “The reason: The research shows and continues to show the dangers of marijuana and cannabis, so they invest their money into buying votes to support the habit they don’t want to give up, hide, or feel ashamed about. Legalization will validate their childish, me-centered addiction to getting high with pot.”

Benzio offers alcohol as another example. Consuming alcohol is legal, yet the dangers are evident.

“We can see the damage alcoholism has caused,” Benzio says. “There are innocent victims of drunk driving, and a national support group, Adult Children of Alcoholics, is a testimony to the other life-debilitating consequences of alcohol on the user and the people in their life. Yet, alcohol, this dangerous and addictive substance, is widely accepted. As narcotic pain medications are legal and easily acceptable, we now see similar damage as with alcohol. Now marijuana is widely accepted, too, and legal in a few places. It isn’t rocket science to be able to see the pattern and predict similar outcomes of destruction and hurt. Additionally, marijuana is not as scrutinized and studied as it should be, and we don’t yet know all the effects of this drug. Considering that pot is readily available to so many—including teenagers and twenty-somethings—we’re making the access point even easier.”

Benzio noted that those struggling with addictions can be helped through a three-pronged treatment approach involving the spirit, mind and body, as well as a recognition of the important and necessary ongoing growth and transformation process.

Those concerned about a friend or loved one should reach out for help through a trusted mental health resource or hospital. And the most effective help will incorporate God into the healing process, because without Him, no amount of rehab, treatment or medication can bring lasting healing and transformation.

Lighthouse Network offers a free, 24-hour helpline, 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242) for those who are struggling and for their family and friends. Lighthouse Network also provides online resources for those concerned about a friend or a loved one. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/im-family-a-friend.

Lighthouse Network representatives and counselors also help those in need navigate the complex health care system and complicated insurance processes, offering expertise to clients to maximize their insurance in order to obtain the best treatment option with minimal out-of-pocket cost. Lighthouse can also help those without insurance find treatment options,

Benzio shares insights on various mental health issues in the one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” airing on approximately 425 radio stations across the country, including 200 stations in the American Family Radio Network. The purpose of the “Life Change” program is to bring scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine some common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s obstacles and enjoy fulfilled lives. For more information on “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/life-change-with-dr-karl/.

Lighthouse Network works to guide struggling people through storms to achieve peace and find answers for those who have a hard time defining their problems. Lighthouse Network also offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

Lighthouse Network’s web site, www.lighthousenetwork.org, provides information to those struggling to find help for their addiction problems, as well as to family members searching for help for a loved one. Topics addressed include alcohol abuse, addictions, and other mental health or life management issues.

Lighthouse Network offers several resources for those struggling with addiction and their families, such as Stepping Stones, a free daily devotional for managing life’s stressors and storms and equipping readers with healthy decision-making skills. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones/ to read the devotionals and sign up to receive them daily via email.

For more information on Lighthouse Network, visit www.lighthousenetwork.org or call the Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

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