Irritable Bowel Syndrome
 by Anonymous

I just turned 49 years old and I am divorced. My marriage lasted 17 years and I have no children. My husband was an active alcoholic and drug user. My occupation for the past 20 years has been in the employment field. I was fortunate to find something I loved early in my career. At various times I have worked for others in recruiting, owned my own firm, had a partner, and freelanced. Currently I am a senior researcher at a wonderful company in New York City.

During high school and college I used marihuana recreationally. Living in New York City during the 1970’s it was easy to find pot, and I got high for about 2 years before I ever touched liquor. I experimented with other drugs but never enjoyed any of them as much as pot, so I never used them again.

The illness I use marihuana for is irritable bowel disease. My symptoms appeared as a child, although I was in my early 40s before I was properly diagnosed and shown the road to recovery. During my adolescence I was diagnosed with appendicitis, kidney stones, ulcers, arthritis and various other ailments. They were all wrong. The doctor that made the correct diagnosis in 1992 was a homeopath and M.D. in New York City.

During my marriage I learned the signs of substance abuse from my participation in Al Anon. My husband never did stop drinking while we were married, and from time to time would use other drugs like cocaine and pills. He was not able to keep a job or personal commitments. I was under a lot of stress during the last years of our marriage because of his behavior and my constant battles with diarrhea. Owning a business provided me with an escape for the long hours when my husband was bingeing.

It was during that time that I stumbled on the effect a joint has on active diarrhea. It was a weekday morning and I was due at my office. I hadn’t heard from my husband all weekend. Because of that I had not slept well, was agitated, and experiencing a lot of diarrhea. At about 6:30 AM he walked in the front door. He knew I would be upset, because I always was after he was missing for a few days. As a "surprise" he handed me a joint when he walked in. I had never smoked in the morning before, although I enjoyed a joint in the evening now and then. I smoked it out of sheer anger at him, and guess what happened? The pain in my gut eased and the urgency to defecate became controllable. I went to work feeling in control of my bowels instead of the other way around.

At that time I was not yet diagnosed with IBD, and so I only realized pot helped the diarrhea, but I had no idea that I was chronic. I hit a particularly bad period in 1990 that started with an episode of food poisoning. I became increasingly ill and unable to leave the house. I eventually closed my business in Manhattan and worked out of my apartment when I could. My husband was employed at a large company at this time and he had excellent medical benefits. I began seeking answers and after many doctors I found the answer.

I have been taking amitryptiline for the past 3 years to control my bowels. This drug has few side effect but a tremendous effect on my bowels. I take it every night. During difficult times, when I have pain and cramping and diarrhea, I take Pro-Banthine. It has many side effects. It makes me slow and constantly thirsty. It affects my eyesight, eye-hand coordination, and ability to focus and concentrate. It gives me headaches and often causes me to be constipated. I become depressed. Now I use marihuana as often as I use Pro-Banthine. I prefer it but I cannot always use it. I roll it into a joint, although I would prefer to steep it in tea if I knew how and was sure it would have the same beneficial effect. It is expensive at about $70 a quarter ounce. The amitryptiline is $5 a month, but the Pro-Banthine (?) is $35 a bottle. The pot is also of benefit when I needed to gain weight, and I still often need to stimulate my appetite. I have never been in legal difficulty due to pot and do my best to buy from reliable and familiar people. My husband's time spent in rehab as well as my own involvement in Al-Anon leads to connections as well.

I believe that marihuana is as much a drug as Pro-Banthine, Viagra, Prozac and alcohol. It should be dispensed under the same conditions as either drugs or alcohol, meaning either through a doctor or by letting us have access to it in the way we do to liquor. I use it regularly and in combination with other therapies I have found successful (visualization, meditation, positive thinking etc.). I have chosen to keep this from my family and professional colleagues because of the social stigma of "drug use" (it did, however, confine my recent job search to companies that do not require a drug test). I do not see myself as an abuser. I maintain healthy personal relationships and I am professionally successful. I do not have a high rate of sick days and feel better at this time in my life than I ever have before.