Drug counselors see red flag in third arrest


Although Damon Stoudamire's most recent marijuana bust may be drawing snickers in some quarters, addiction counselors say the Trail Blazer guard could have a serious drug problem that would benefit from professional treatment.

'Anytime anyone is arrested on drug charges, public intoxication or driving under the influence is a cause for concern,' said Tim Hartnett, director of Comprehensive Options for Drug Abusers, a local nonprofit treatment program.

Stoudamire has been arrested on marijuana charges three times in 17 months. Although he has not been convicted in any of the arrests, the latest occurring last week, police reports say that on all three occasions he admitted either possessing or using the drug.

Stoudamire and his attorney, Stephen Houze, could not be reached for comment.

'If someone is arrested three times on drug charges in a short period of time, I'd have to say it's not just bad luck,' Hartnett said. 'Three arrests for anything is serious.'

Certified drug and alcohol counselor Erik Martin said he thinks Stoudamire already may be showing the effects of serious drug abuse. Stoudamire was arrested at the Tucson (Ariz.) International Airport on July 3. Police reports said he walked through a metal detector with marijuana wrapped in aluminum foil and admitted that the drug was his.

'That represents incredibly poor judgment that could be the result of chronic marijuana use. Everyone knows you can't even get on an airplane with fingernail clippers these days,' said Martin, director of the state's certification program for alcohol and drug abuse counselors.

Mark Schorr, a certified addiction counselor and communications director for Cascadia Behavioral Health Care, said: 'The simple definition for addiction is, if it's messing up your life, you're addicted. Damon Stoudamire's drug use is definitely messing up his life.'

Schorr said that marijuana addiction is a serious problem.

'Some people think marijuana isn't a serious drug,' he said. 'There's a lot of Cheech and Chong-type humor about it, especially among people who grew up in the '60s. But we know now that marijuana is a lot more serious than we knew then, and today's marijuana is much stronger as the result of intentional breeding.'

Martin agreed.

'The National Institute of Drug Abuse has determined that marijuana has the capacity to be an addictive drug,' he said. 'Clearly, this is a guy with a lot to risk and a lot to forfeit for his drug use.'

Martin said that several different treatment options are available for people who abuse marijuana. They range from residential facilities, such as the Hazelden Springbrook center in Newberg, to 12-step programs operated by Marijuana Anonymous, a nonprofit organization that holds six sessions a week in the Portland area.

According to Martin, all of the programs attempt to educate users on the most recent scientific evidence that marijuana is addictive and can harm brain functions.

'They teach them about the pharmacological effects of marijuana,' he said.

The programs also confront users about their rationales for using drugs, he said.

'Some people say they can't live without drugs or can't have fun without drugs,' Martin said. 'There are hundreds of rationales that have to be confronted.'

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