Asthma and Anxiety by Anonymous


I am twenty years old and I will soon be graduating from UCSB after only three years at the university – quite an achievement for a daily marijuana smoker.  I was diagnosed with asthma at age 8, when I was prescribed the Albuterol inhaler for my asthma attacks.  I had mild attacks whenever I ran or did any other physical activity, at least a few times a week.  This was especially detrimental for me because I was a dedicated ballet dancer and would often have to take breaks during class to take my inhaler and catch my breath.  At age 14 my doctor prescribed Singulair to prevent attacks, which I am still currently taking.  Singulair greatly reduced the frequency of my attacks but I still used my inhaler occasionally, and I began experiencing the unpleasant heart racing, jittery side effects. 


As a high school senior I began to crumble under the stress of my busy schedule.  Before I went to college I had never smoked marijuana because I was a “good kid” in high school – honor roll, two afterschool jobs, and student government topped my list of achievements.  When my responsibilities grew, I began having anxiety attacks.  Eventually I realized I had suffered anxiety throughout my life, agonizing decisions and fearing failure even as a kindergartener.  After I started college and experienced the crippling stress of finals, I went to a psychiatrist and was prescribed Paxil CR to control my anxiety.  At first I was prescribed more than double the dose I am currently taking, and although it relieved my anxiety it also had sexual and personality side effects that I found intolerable. 

I smoked marijuana for the first few times recreationally.  I enjoyed the effects but it wasn’t until two close friends who were prescribed medicinal marijuana for injuries explained the therapeutic effects of marijuana to me that I saw its potential in alleviating my illnesses.  I began smoking marijuana more regularly and found the symptoms of both my anxiety and asthma greatly reduced. 


I have been smoking marijuana daily for two years, mostly using a water pipe.  I have found that my asthma sometimes reappears when I smoke blunts or joints and for that reason I choose filtered smoke.  The most beneficial effects for me are that marijuana stops the constant stream of anxious thoughts running through my head and allows me to think and concentrate clearly.  I was able to reduce my dosage of Paxil CR to 25mg, one of the lowest prescribed amounts.  The dosage is low enough to reduce the side effects of the medication, and smoking marijuana further reduces my anxiety enough for me to function coherently, even in class or at work. 


Smoking marijuana also motivates me to read and write more frequently, which has helped my GPA – I earned a 3.7 during the last quarter.  I rarely use my inhaler now, even after exercise, and it is a relief to have my asthma under control.  When I smoke, I can instantly feel the bronchial dilation that my inhaler gives me, without the jitters and bad taste. 

I have also noticed a significant reduction in sinus infections and colds, which I suffered from frequently in high school.  That change could be due to my change in location, but I have had hardly any seasonal illnesses as well since I began smoking regularly.  I do notice that when I am sick it takes longer for me to recover, but the effects of the illness are alleviated by smoking marijuana so I am still able to function.